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Did the punishment fit the crime?

by actiondesksheffield

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

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Betty Smith (Nee Stansfield)
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07 September 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk — Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Betty Smith, and has been added to the site with the author’s permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

Did the punishment fit the crime?
Betty Smith (Nee Stansfield)

During the early part of the Second World War, gas masks were issued to the public in case gas was used, as in The First World War, I was a pupil at Hammerton Council School, Ouseburn Street Darnall.

We had to practice putting the masks on and off, and I was in a, class of 9-10 year olds. The teacher Miss Bowie was called into the hall to speak with the Head Teacher, and her last words were, "Do not take off the masks till I get back." Nearly five minutes later (which seemed like an eternity), three quarters of the children had taken off their masks.

When the teacher came back with a face like thunder, she lined about 20 children round the classroom and caned them all, including me. A lot of the older generation will know how the eye piece steamed up, the new rubber smells ghastly and the straps get very tight. What an afternoon we had, I shall never forget it - but did the punishment fit the crime?


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