- Contributed by
- BBC Radio Norfolk Action Desk
- People in story:
- Mrs Doris Wilson
- Location of story:
- Gt Yarmouth,Luton
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 December 2005
This contribution to People’s War was received by the Action desk at BBC radio Norfolk and submitted to the website by Eric with the permission and on behalf of Mrs Doris Wilson.
I was one of seven children. We lived in the Rows. My father died in the first year of the war and my mother had six of her daughters called up. Life was hard for her and money was very tight without the breadwinner. One sister worked in Johnson’s factory on the benes making waterproofs.
I was sent to Luton to work in the SKF ball bearing factory fitting ball bearings onto spindles that in turn were fitted to planes. I had a cushy job.
I had board and lodgings - the first ones were not good (not much food) so I found another one that was much better.
However I would travel back home to Yarmouth each weekend on the train which entailed going into London and then back up out of Liverpool Street. The carriages would be full of soldiers all on the move with some complaining they were being sent to this little old fishing village on the east coast called Yarmouth! Little did they know how different it would be?
Life in Luton was not too bad, I didn’t have any time for too much recreation as I was too busy working, but Luton did not seem to be affected by the war half as much as Yarmouth.
On returning home each weekend I would give mother five shillings “to help mum out “. Weekends at home were not too comfortable, as I would sleep in a deckchair in the Anderson shelter in the garden. We would be awakened twice on most nights. The first time by the planes going over to bomb a city inland and then again later when they returned droning back to Germany very often unleashing any left over bombs on the town. There were also two shelters in the row and it wasn’t long before some of the old women were putting flowers and old bits of carpet in them. I was last in the shelter one night I stood in the shelter but my feet were outside and there were two old boys Mr Sutton and Mr Beech , there was a great big bang and when we looked these two had glasses that were shattered - they looked very strange indeed.
One night when Yarmouth was hit very badly by incendiary devices one of the ARP wardens said that St Nicholas church was well alight and the sky was a sea of fire. There was a terrific explosion outside and after the all clear we went out and mum found her door keys but sadly there were no doors to unlock , our house had been demolished, we never saw our cat from that day on.
We walked for two solid days and at last got put up with a friend. We went into beneside and got some second hand clothes but sadly the lady who put us up was accused by the council of sub letting and we had to leave there as well. We went to stay in Cobholm where we slept in a Morrison shelter which was better than a deckchair!
I woke up one morning and there were bits of something on my pillow and I asked mum what it was and she said it was mouse droppings! The thought of a mouse running about on my pillow whilst I slept on it frightened me more than the bombs dropping. We took the mattress and pillows out and thereafter we slept on top of the shelter leaving the mouse as safe as house , well nearly!.
I remember one Christmas morning I made mum a cup of tea and took it to her. I can see her now sitting on the top of this shelter surrounded by two pillows to fend off the mouse - I bet that didn’t get much to eat cause we didn’t either.
Yarmouth was a garrison town with soldiers in most of the B and B’s and hotels, they were all along the front with their rifles at the ready on the quayside they would be guarding the MTBs. I remember one night I and a friend decided to go to the floral hall over at Gorleston against mother’s advice. We went by bus and had a fine old time dancing the night away with the sailors and soldiers about there. When it came time to come home the buses had stopped running and there was a raid on so we had to walk home. My friend left me near Southown station and I walked alone over the bridge and along the quay. I felt quite safe with all the soldiers on duty but when I got to the bottom of our row there were ten or a dozen soldiers standing at the bottom of it. As I went up the row I could hear these footsteps behind me quickening so I walked quicker and so did they!! I broke into a run and so did they so I stopped to confront them (God knows what I thought I was going to do) when I turned to look they were still at the bottom of the row running on the spot and laughing their heads off.
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