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Fetching the Fish and Chips

by derbycsv

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
derbycsv
People in story: 
David Hollis
Location of story: 
Derby
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5545974
Contributed on: 
06 September 2005

This story has been added to the site by Alison Tebbutt, Derby CSV Action Desk on behalf of David Hollis. The author has given his permission and understands the site's terms and conditions.

At the start of WW2 I lived at 78 Broadway, Derby. In 1940 I was nine years old. The war had been on for about a year. Looking out of my window one morning, I saw Army Lorries driving into a drive opposite where a Mrs Richardson used to live, called the Leylands. When the war started Mrs Richardson had to find somewhere else to live as the big house and grounds was taken over by the Ministry.

There was about twelve Nissen Huts, showers, toilets, wash places etc. There were probably about two hundred A.T.S. soldiers and officers. After they had settled down the A.T.S. girls started to walk to the shops. One of them asked me ‘is there a chip shop round here?’ I said yes, and that I would take her. So I showed her where the shops and chemist were. After we got back I said that I would fetch their fish and chips for them. She said she would ask the rest of the girls. Two days later I saw her again and she asked me to go to the shops for her and the other girls. She gave me her order and some money and off I went. When I got back I told the Sentry on the gate, who told me to take the food to the huts. The girls gave me six pence and asked me to come again in two days time. I went again and the Sentry asked me ‘will you bring me some cigarettes?’ and gave me some money. All this ended up happening three to four times a week. Then one night they asked me if I would clean some shoes. So, I was shopping, cleaning shoes etc, and earning around two shillings a week. This lasted three to four years.

When I was nearly twelve years old, I was taken ill with Bronchitis. I went to hospital for a month, and was then taken to Sudbury Hall for convalescent. Lady Vernon let one of her bug bedrooms to the Children’s Hospital. This was for about twenty children of ages one to fourteen. I was the oldest there.

On most days American soldiers used to come past our door and go to the lake to fish. I asked a soldier if I could go and he told me to ask the Sister. I asked and she said yes, so off I went with this soldier. I rowed the boat while he fished. After about an hour and a half we got back to the ward. He said thanks and gave me a shilling and some candy.

The Americans found out about my birthday. They asked the sister if I could go to their camp hospital for a couple of hours. A nurse and I went after they picked us up in a jeep. We spent all afternoon there. When I got home I got candy, sweets, chocolate and gum in every pocket. After one year I went back again on my thirteenth birthday, and the same thing happened again.

When I returned home I went potato picking with German POW’s. This was for a shilling a day at Snows Farm in Mackworth Village.

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