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by AgeConcernShropshire

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Archive List > Family Life

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Alice Elizabeth ROWE; Dorothy Alice ROWE (mother); Winifred (Winnie) ROWE (sister)
Location of story: 
Harley, Much Wenlock & Shrewsbury, Shropshire; Torquay, Devon
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
15 October 2005

In 1939 when War was declared I worked in a butchers shop in Much Wenlock. I lived at 18 Red House, Harley Hill with my parents. My mother kept pigs and poultry - turkeys, geese, ducks & chickens. Every week she would take at least 20-25 dozen eggs to the packing station at Rousehill in Shrewsbury, where they would be stamped with a little lion. Every Saturday she would stand Shrewsbury Market to sell her poultry. At Christmas she took ready-dressed poultry to the Market - the more she sold the better our Christmas would be.

My sister Winnie was planning to marry a man from Torquay, who was a Managing Director of an Insurance business. We went down to Torquay just before the wedding in
December 1941, we were horrified to see a town so badly bombed. Winnie's fiance moved us to a hotel that was further inland, for the 2nd night of our visit. It was a good job that he did, as that night the hotel we were to stay at received a direct hit and was bombed to the ground.

Whilst we were in Devon we saw Plymouth Harbour alight after being hit by incendiary bombs, this is something I can never, never forget.

When the evacuees came to Harley from Liverpool in 1942; they went first to the Harley schoolroom where they were cleaned-up and washed before being sent to their billets. Twelve girls were billeted at Harley Rectory; the Rector had moved to a new Rectory leaving the old Rectory available as a billet for the evacuees.

My mother worked at there on Mondays and Wednesdays - she was paid one shilling a day and given her dinner - washing on Mondays and ironing on Wednesdays. She washed the clothes in an old fashioned boiler and ironed with a flat iron that was heated in front of the fire.

Twelve girls created a lot of washing; there were 12 frocks, 12 pairs of knickers, 12 Liberty bodices, 12 nightdresses or pyjamas and 12 pairs of socks!!! Plus, of course, 12 sets of sheets and pillowcases.

At the time when the evacuees came to Harley I was working as a Land Girl at Harley Farm. The Farmer's wife was taken seriously ill and I was asked to help in the house. At the age of 17 I was looking after Mr & Mrs Brookshaw, their son, their 2 daughters, the nurse, 4 Italian Prisoners-of-War, a Land Girl, 3 evacuees and myself. Fifteen people made a lot of work and was a huge responsibility - particularly in war time - but I was very happy.

Later in 1942 I went to work in Shrewsbury at the Zephyr Engineering works at the bottom of Wyle Cop. The girls at the Works held a weekly draw to raise money to be able to entertain the blind men from St Dunstan's; the men were billeted at Church Stretton. They came by bus every Saturday to Shrewsbury, we took them out to tea and took them to the pictures, because though they could not watch the films they enjoyed listening to them. We took them back at 7.00 p.m. to catch the bus back to Church Stretton.

On a very cold, foggy day in November 1942 I remember seeing a German bomber flying over Shrewsbury, it was so low that I could see the swastika and the pilot in his cockpit. He was looking for the Railway Station, he didn't find it and a little later I heard a loud bang, he had dropped his bomb on the Ellesmere Road about a mile away.

On the 14th September, 1991 there was a re-union of local people and the evacuees who had been sent to Much Wenlock during the War. It was held at the Priory Hall (a school during the war years). A grand time was had by all; the party went on until late in the evening.

Story: This story has been submitted to the People's War site by Muriel Palmer (volunteer) of Age Concern Shropshire Telford & Wrekin on behalf of AE ROWE (author) and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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