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15 October 2014
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Wearing the trousers

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > United Kingdom > London

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Joyce Merifield, Eric Merifield
Location of story: 
Hampton London, High Holborn London
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

This story was gathered at the Hillcrest Centre Newhaven. It was transcribed by Paula Thompson on behalf of Joyce Merifield who understands the sites terms and conditions.

I was born in 1920 in Kingston on Thames. My parents were Harry and Daisy Richards. I was 19 when the war broke out and was working as a shorthand typist at Crittles Metal Windows in High Holborn in London. I worked in the centre of London throughout until the companny relocated to Braintree Essex in 1942. The journeys to work were extremely difficult at times. I was travelling in from Hampton Court area via Clapham and at times it could take three hours to get in because of disruptions due to bombing.

When the war was first declared amd we had the first air raid warning I remember my father shoving two chairs in the cupboard under the stairs for my mother and I. He pushed the piano up against the wall and slept under that on cushions until we eventually got a Morrison Shelter.
I was engaged for all of the war. My fiance joined the RAF in July 1940 and was sent in December 1940 the the Middle East. On Christmas day his ship was torpedoed and he spent hours in the water before being picked up by the Capetown Castle. He was away for the whole five years and we were married on his return in June 1945.

My future parents in law's house in 55 Somerset Road Teddington was bombed and they had a lucky escape as they were in the communal shelter at the time.

I lived with my parents at Hampton and was an air raid warden I can remember it was rather novel to wear the blue serge trousers for the uniform I had not previously worn trousers! We patrolled in twos and I was always with an older man. I was scared at times when the bombs were dropping. Bloxham Crescent in Hampton took a bad hit and I remember the Banks family house being hit.

The sight of the sky glowing bright red/orange when the docks were ablaze 12 miles away was very striking.
When I moved to Braintree to continue my work for Crittles who had changed from making metal windows to war work (munitions?) I was no longer an Air Raid Warden but instead volunteered for the Red Cross.I was billeted with a family, Mr&Mrs Owers for three years and to this day remain in contact with their daughter Joy Rudkin.

I returned to Hampton at the end of the War.

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