- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mrs Barbara Ruby Wildblood
- Location of story:
- Newton Abbot, South Devon
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 24 January 2006
Mrs Wildblood is willing to have her story entered onto the People's War website and agrees to abide by the House rules.
It was August 1939. I was a very young teacher. A friend and I were spending a holiday at Sandown, the Isle of Wight. One evening during my dinner period, a phone call came from my headmaster. It was very urgent. I must come right home as the boys of a London school were being evacuated to Ashburton and we must welcome them. Such well behaved boys. It was a treat to teach them but poor darlings they were homesick and every Monday morning one had gone home. By Christmas they had all returned except one whose parents had parted. We felt so sorry for him.
Our war effort was simple. We tried to teach the art of 'make-do and mend'. In the holidays we would walk up to the woods on Dartmoor and collect fir cones to be delivered to elderly people to dry out and help with their fires.
Ration books enabled everybody to have so much weekly butter ration measured 1 inch by 2 inches. If oranges appeared in Marks and Spencers the queue would stretch right down the town. Clothes coupons limited any purchase of garments, except the essentials. A friend and I slept in the Town Hall 'fire-watching' once a month.
We had heavy dark curtains pressed against our windows at home. One baby chink of light meant a threatening visit from a burly policeman. My father proudly served in the Special Police and was on duty most evenings. when the loathsome alarm boomed out my mother and I would creep under a fragile table. If we had to go we would go together. People in Plymouth and Exeter all had Air Raid Shelters. The ten years 1940-1950 were years of acute restriction. But in 1950 I launched out and went to America as an exchange teacher. My wonderful travel experiences were belated but now they started in earnest and have never ceased.
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