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Sirensuits, oranges and spam

by threecountiesaction

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Archive List > Family Life

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Pat and Kathleen Mulryan
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13 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War Site for Three Counties Action on behalf of Pat and Kathleen Mulryan, visitors to the Bedfordshire County Show on 9th July 2005. The story has been added to the site with the authors' permission, and they fully understand the site's terms and conditions.

I (Kathleen) was two years old when war broke out, and Pat was seven. We were on holiday with my mother in Southport and my mother suddenly said:'We've got to go home beacuse there's a war.' My Father was in the Territorial Army and on manouevres and she knew he would have to enlist.
We lived on the outskirts of Manchester and at the end of our street there was an anti-aircraft gun which one night hit a plane. It dropped its remaining bombs and a house was destroyed and a whole family was killed.

We did spend night after night in the air-raid shelters. We would put on our sirensuits which were kept ready by the bed - all in one suits with a hood, and a flap at the back for toilet purposes!.
In the air-raid shelter a candle covered by a plant pot provided some warmth, and the man upstairs who was an air-raid warden would bring us tea. A neighbour whose husband was an air-raid warden would come into our shelter too. Pat would entertain us by singing 'You are my sunshine.'

You were allowed to go into school late the next day if there had been an air-raid. On one occasion Pat was very upset because she only got half marks in a test - but she was short of sleep. We must have been short of sleep a lot of the time.

We had dried egg which made very good scrambled egg. Scrambled egg has never been so good since! Pat like spam very much, though it wasn't very popular. Oranges were almost impossible to get, and when my mother knitted herself some orange gloves people would think she was carrying oranges and go to the shops.

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