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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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A. Doreen McInnes - WW 2 Wartime Experiences

by Wirral Libraries

Contributed by 
Wirral Libraries
People in story: 
Doreen McInnes
Location of story: 
Lancaster, Oswestry, leeds
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 April 2005

My military calling-up papers arrived in February 1942, just before my 21st birthday. I was then given a six months deferment as I was working in the food trade dealing with ration books.
It was August 1942, when I was ordered to leave home to train for the A.T.S. (Auxilliary Territorial Service - the women's branch of the British Army). Before I left Rock Ferry there was a Farewell Meeting at the Salvation Army Hall led by Major and Mrs Coombe. We sang a special chorus "I know the Lord will make a way for me, if I live a holy life, shun the wrong and do the right!"
A crowd of girls gathered at Lime Street Station, Liverpool, and we were then taken by train to Lancaster and marched to a reception centre on the perimeter of the city. The Town Band accompanied us and it was a tearful reminder of the dear old Army band I'd left behind in Rock Ferry.
After a lot of form-filling we were ready to begin our basic training and to size each other up and to look for a friendly face. Chatting with a girl called Normah, I found she had a cousin in the S.A. Birkenhead Corps, Lillie Mottershead, and so a friendship was formed.
Our camp was in the countryside outside the city and we housed in nissan huts. On the first night, by God's grace, I knelt to pray by my bedside. I then discovered two more Christians who also had the courage to witness in this way. The Lord had prepared the way for me!
We were soon moved to Oswestry for further training and I was able to find the S.A. Corps and attend a meeting. The next move was to Leeds to join the 588 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery where I was trained to be an Aircraft Spotter. I had to learn the shapes and sizes of all the aircraft, both British and German. On my first free day I went into Leeds to see if I could find the S.A. Hall and spotted two Salvationists in uniform who directed me to the Hall. The first free Sunday I was on Church Parade and aws able to drop out of the march near the Hall and attend the meeting.Everyone made me very welcome and I received two invitations to lunch!
Not long after I had been posted to Leeds I was joined by my sister Jean. She had volunteered for the A.T.S. as soon as she reached call-up age rather than being drafted to work in a munitions factory, as was happening to a lot of girls.Jean quickly settled in and aws made welcome by my new S.A. friends. Being a talented pianist, Jean often played at the Hall to accompany the Songsters, and she was also in great demand at the camp canteen to play for sing-alongs and dances!
There were a lot of tense and frightening times ahead before we reached V.E. Day on 8th May 1945. Not long after we were transfered to the Army Pay Corps and worked office hours in what had once been a wool mill in Leeds. We could now leave the nissan huts and be billeted out with civilian families. Jean and I were lucky enough to be taken in by our Salvaton Army friends, Mr and Mrs Knott, and we stayed with them and their three daughters for over a year.
We joined the Songsters and enjoyed the Sunday meetings, especially as everyone stayed and had Sunday tea together in the Hall and everyone brought what they could from their rations.
With some of the wartime travel restrictions lifted, our parents were able to come to visit us. Mother, Father,Douglas and Ruth came to stay with the Knott family and somehow,despite the food rationing, Mrs Knott was able to serve us a wonderful Sunday dinner, complete with Yorkshire Puddings!
Finally it was time for me to be demobbed from the A.T.S. and return to Birkenhead. Normah was to remain a friend for life, and the Knott family would never be forgotten for all their kindness.
God had prepared the way for me, and the people to care for me!

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