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15 October 2014
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D-Day - The Long Goodbye

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Marie Timmings, Phillip and Nigel Timmings (sons) aged 1 month and 16 months at time of story.
Location of story: 
Southsea
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5499994
Contributed on: 
02 September 2005

It was a very hot day and during the previous two weeks or so we had seen military equipment piling up in the local areas. On this particular day, I had taken the babies to the beach, when suddenly, without warning, lines of Army recruits started to march past. They looked very hot in their khaki uniforms- and so we offered them water and lemonade. We women didn’t know what was happening, but the men looked hot and unhappy. We were only allowed a few minutes to speak with them, squeeze their hands and in some cases kiss them goodbye. They were loaded into a type of landing craft (there were lots of them in fact), and we waved and threw kisses! Later we found they had been sent to France.

I actually lived in London before my marriage. I worked as a secretary at Roman Wall House, Crutched Friars. My husband-to-be was in the Navy — having to endure the bombing in the Isle of Dogs, Fleet Street and other areas. I would go home to Willesden, sometimes walking as all the transport had ceased. I would then make my way to an ARP Centre (which was under Gladstone Park) and continue my secretarial work. I got fed up being underground and wanted to be where the action was! Reluctantly, they let me work on an ARP Post (in the local cemetery). I used to get so tired and tried to nap between the air raid warnings, and sometimes I did not know if I was waking up to the “All Clear” or if it was, in fact, a warning!

It was after my marriage, and the birth of my two children, that my husband arranged for us to rent apartments in Southsea, in the Fareham area. I was there through the worst raids (Buzz Bombs etc). We didn’t like it, but used to say “If it’s got our name on it, we’ve had it”! Money was very short and a neighbour and I used to sew dolls from old coats! We used to earn two shillings and sixpence per dozen!!
Luckily, we all survived and I am here to tell the tale — Oh happy days!!

This story was entered on the site by Elizabeth Legate on behalf of Marie Timmings. Marie understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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