- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mrs Margaret Andrews, nee Parrott
- Location of story:
- Wallasey and Coventry
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 02 November 2004
by Margaret Andrews (nee Parrott)
of New Brighton, Wallasey, Cheshire.
I was born in 1921 and at 18 years of age, having left school at the age of 14, my life was just beginning.
We lived in New Brighton, Wallasey. My mother was one of the first WVS volunteers. I had one elder sister and two brothers, one elder than me and one younger. Joan was nurse at Alderhay Hospital, Liverpool and my brother had just started his career as a young apprentice with a Liverpool shipping line. My job was with a Liverpool furniture firm, Waring and Gillows. We were all looking forward to the years ahead of us. My younger brother at this time was still at school. He was evacuated when the war began to safer areas.
My first memory was the Wallasey sirens going just after Winston Churchill had broadcast the war had begun between Germany and England. I don’t think it meant very much to me on that particular Sunday morning because I had my first date with a young boy but my father, who was very protective to me as my sister and brother were both away, said “no, you can’t go out but bring him here!” Oh dear, I thought, is this how it’s going to be, ‘war’.
One night during the blitz when the ferry boats were stopped and there was no other transport across the river they said that they had opened the Mersey Tunnel for about 100 of us to walk through to Birkenhead which was a very frightening experience. It took us about two hours and all this time I feared the bombs may penetrate the tunnel and we would be drowned.
Life just went on. Father cut down the kitchen table and it was re-erected under the stairs and that was our shelter, along with our cat and canary, for a few long nights. It also saved our lives because we were one of the unfortunate families who didn’t escape from the bombing of Wallasey. Our house was bombed but thanks to the table we survived.
The River Mersey was busy with the troop ships packed with young boys my age. They were waving and blowing kisses to us passengers on the ferry boat going across the river to work complete with gas masks.
Returning home from work at night the ships had gone and so many young boys who never came back could have been on those boats. I remember the Royal Daffodil ferry boat going over to Dunkirk with the other boats. Some came back and some didn’t.
After Dunkirk the hospital boats coming up the river was another memory. Young lives, maybe never to walk, see or talk again. I saw bandaged heads and arms trying to wave to us on our ferry boat going across the river from Seacombe to Liverpool. The ambulances were lined up outside the dear old Liver Building waiting to take the boys to the various hospitals, my sister being one of the nurses waiting for them.
Because our house was destroyed by a bomb we moved to Coventry. I was now 20, and although I had signed up with my age group to join the forces I was sent to Morris Motors. Once again my life changed and I was working in a factory making munitions and new friends who were also strangers to factory life.
The memory of Coventry was joining the 18th Battalion Warwickshire Women’s Home Guard, one of the few forces in England. Apart from the bombs life was good with many new friends. We formed a concert party comprised of talented people from the munitions factory who came from all over the country. Our audiences were the RAF and Army boys stationed around Warwickshire.
I have very fond memories of the last show of the Home Guard, “This is the Home Guard”, which was held in the Coventry Hippodrome on the 3rd of December 1944. Our audience of over 500 packed the theatre and came from camps all over Warwickshire. That I think is the memory I have of war days. The joy and the pleasure of hearing them sing our songs and their songs; the applause we had was wonderful. At the end of this last show a senior officer thanked us and presented us with a silver medal for all our work. It reads: 18TH WARWICKSHIRE (COVENTRY) BATTN WOMEN’S AUXILIARY HOME GUARD.
The war ended in September 1945. We celebrated in London and had the honour of walking in the victory parade.
My experiences in the Home Guard were very different from the war days I knew and went through in my home town. War changes lives but memories live forever. I made many good friends and my family was very fortunate as we all survived.
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