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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Sybil Priest
Location of story: 
Stockwell, London
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

I got married in April 1943 - having saved enough clothing coupons to buy a new suit and blouse - everything else for our honeymoon in Devon was borrowed.

My husband had lost most of his belongings when the ship he was serving on was torpedoed, so he borrowed a suit from my brother (fortunately the same size!). I made my wedding cake from long saved and scrounged Ingredients, no cochineal, I tinted the white icing with red ink to decorate it! The week in Devon with butter, cream, meat etc., no air raid sirens, was bliss and I didn't want to return to London and the Blitz.

Food rationing was acute - one egg would stretch to pancakes for the family or extended with breadcrumbs to make scrambled egg for two.

If caught in the street away from home in an air raid and no available Public shelter, we would knock on any door and ask to share the occupants' shelter.

We would queue at local Sainsburys for a couple of pork sausages or two rashers of bacon etc. We would paint our legs beige colour and draw a seam with an eyebrow pencil. My dear Merchant Navy husband brought nylons from the U.S.A. - buttons (we sewed and altered our own clothes). Such luxury.

Then we secured a two-room flat (only enough coupons to furnish one of the rooms) I dyed some hessian (similar to sacking) and made a loose cover for it.

I was in an underground shelter in Stockwell which was bombed, 17 Unfortunate girls were killed or badly injured - I escaped with fragments of shrapnel - piece in forehead and finger.

My husband survived the war, mostly in convoys to America, and to Australia, Italy and New Zealand. He escaped from no less than three merchant ships which were torpedoed and sunk.

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