- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Dorothy (Dot) Cushing and Bill Cushing
- Location of story:
- Holmer, Hereford
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 25 August 2005
This story was submitted to the People's War site by CSV/BBC Radio Nottingham on behalf of Dot Cushing with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
I heard the announcement of the start of the war at 9pm on the radio. It was a shock. We wondered if the Germans would invade.
I had left school at 14 years of age and went to work in a clothes shop at the start of the war. I saw military despatch riders driving around on motor bikes. I wanted to be a despatch rider but never had the chance. In the clothes shop I was earning five shillings a week.
When I was 17 I went to work in a munitions factory. Here I was able to earn £3 a week. There wasn't much to spend the money on. Often we saw queues in the shops. We had to join the queue without knowing what we were queuing for! We were sometimes lucky in the queues. If it was for a cake we thought it was a luxury.
There were three shifts in the factory - morning, afternoon and night. The shifts rotated weekly. We didn't have time off except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Easter Sunday. I had little choice. It was either work in the munitions factory or go to war. There was no unemployment.
I was making ferrels, which were used in aeroplanes. Ferrels were long thin tubes to start with. I had to put a thread in them and then cut them to size. Afterwards the screws were made to fit them. We were never told in which part of the aeroplane they were used!
At 6 o'clock early one morning, I was returning home on my bicycle from night shift. A sentry tried to stop me. He shouted, 'Halt! Who goes there?' He had a gun with a fixed bayonet. I didn't get off my bicycle but peddled on as fast as I could. He started to run after me. I don't think he could catch me because he soon gave up.
The factory was never bombed, but the station near to the factory was hit. I stayed at the factory for the rest of the war. The factory building was still there last time I was in Hereford.
A house near to mine was bombed. I could feel the blast so strongly that I fell out of bed. We saw German planes flying over on their way to Birmingham. It was frightening at times as the planes went up every night. We could see the searchlights and could hear the engines.
About half a mile away from home there was a race course where American and Indian Forces were billeted. Some of the Staffordshire Regiment were also there. I never knew much about them. I thought the Americans thought too much of themselves. I didn't like them and didn't mix with them.
My father and my uncle were in the home guard. They thought they were guarding the village. They commandeered our home. At first they only had brooms and spades to practice with and armbands for uniforms. Later on they got guns and proper uniforms. They had to train themselves to use the guns. They all came over on Sunday mornings, commandeered the bedroom and practised with the guns out of the bedroom window. They thought they could stop the Germans if they came to the village.
I got married in 1944 and have written separately about this.
We heard the end of the war announced on the radio and everyone went into Hereford to celebrate. There was a loudspeaker and music in the streets. We stayed there and danced most of the night.
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