- Contributed by
- St Peters Residential Home
- People in story:
- Location of story:
- Wallsend, North Tyneside
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 15 December 2003
My name is Minnie Corrin and I am 91 years old.
I am the youngest of four sisters. My father worked when it was available as a fitter and turner. My sister worked as assistants in a draper shop, an office and a bakery.
During World War II, I worked as a shop assistant in Newcastle for a notorious local hard man who had 14 shops. I worked 5 and half days from 8.30 in the morning to 8.00 at night. We had an hour off for dinner. In the summer, we got paid more because we sold more fruit.
My average pay was 12s 6d - I gave 6/6 to my mother and was allowed a shilling a day for myself — 5d for the bus fare from Wallsend, 3d for the trolley bus and 4d for a piece of cake. It cost 1/- for a ¼ of a stone of potatoes, an onion, a turnip and a rabbit (we had to skin the rabbits) and 6d for fruit and cream.
It was quite difficult and creepy coming home at night. The bus windows were darkened and the buses didn’t stop if the sirens went off. When I was walking home one night in the black out, I had to use a flashlight to see the road in front of me. I could hear a man coming up behind me and I was frightened. The next day, a man approached my sister and said, “I hope I didn’t scare your sister last night. I was only walking behind her because she had a light and I wouldn’t have been able to see the road otherwise”.
I only remember being worried about bombs a few times. I can remember when they bombed the local burn and bridge in Wallsend . There was also a couple of scary daytime raids.
The nearest house to us that they hit was in the Holy Cross area of North Tyneside and a couple of people were killed. My worst memory was when they hit the goods yard on Newcastle quayside, the bus had to divert down City Road and back up to Pilgrim St and you could see all the flames.
Whenever anything happened, there were always big crowds. I remember the blaze at the Wilkinson’s lemonade factory which blazed for 2-3 days. The raids only happened every now and again.
I recall both North and South Shields suffering air attacks where a lot of damage occured. I recall a really sad story of staff who were sheltering in their factory and all the machinery crashed on top of them. They were buried in the rubble and their bodies were never recovered. I was terrified by the noise at first but I got used to it eventually and could nearly pinpoint where the bombs were falling.
When the sirens went off, I knew I had to grab some blankets and pillows and head straight to the air raid shelter, which we shared with another family. Sometimes I had to stay there all night, but at other times, I only had to stay there for half an hour. When the anti-aircraft guns went off it was scary for me. One time, my sister came in from getting fish and chips, and we had to move fast and she grabbed a bag with cough mixture in it by mistake. That night we ended up being very hungry. When the air raids were on, the men would stand at the corner and watch for the planes fighting in the sky.
My strongest memory is of the end of the war. On VE night, we went to the Theatre Royal. There were chains across the road and no buses because everything had stopped at teatime. Everyone was dancing and singing in the street. On VJ day, I also went to the theatre. There were parties in the street, with people sitting on the kerbstones drinking beer. At that time you could get a jug of beer for 6d.
I now live in St. Peter’s Court Residential Home in North Tyneside.
As told to the student’s of Churchill Community College on Friday 28th November 2003.
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