Bombs dropped in the ward of: Hounslow South
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Hounslow South:
- High Explosive Bomb
Number of bombs dropped during the week of 7th October 1940 to 14th of October:
Number of bombs dropped during the first 24h of the Blitz:
No bombs were registered in this area
Memories in Hounslow South
Read people's stories relating to this area:
Contributed originally by PeterFrancis (BBC WW2 People's War)
I would have been about three years of age when this happened.
During raids and alerts, my grandmother would sit in my bedroom until I had fallen asleep. We lived in West London, and it never seemed to be worthwhile to go to the shelter during raids, so I slept in my bedroom. On this occasion, my grandmother had stayed with me until I fell asleep. I do remember vague memories of searhlights, and the noise of the Anti aircraft batteries firing from Ravenscourt Park some distance away.
I awoke some time after the raid had finished. I lay awake listening to rather strange noses coming from outside of my bedroom, but within the house. I got up out of bed, opened the bedroom door and walked onto the landing. There in the stair well, up and down the stairs, numbering at least between fifteen and twenty, were smoke-blackened exhasuted filthy London firemen. They had fought the fires from the houses up the street, set alight by incendiaries, and my mother and grand-mother were busy giving them tea, cigarrettes and whisky. They were still dressed in their thigh boots, and protective clothing, wet and dirty with the effects of the fires. I will never forget the strained haunted look on their faces, before my mother came over, and put me gently but firmly back into bed. I fell asleep, and the next day with great excitement saw the results of enemy action.
Contributed originally by ediesdaughter (BBC WW2 People's War)
My mother, Edie Lambourne, died aged 92 in June 2000, but over the years she told me stories of her experiences in World War 2, which I’d like to put on record.
In 1938 my mother married George Lambourne. Dad joined the Royal Horse Artillery in the early 1920’s and served for a number of years on the North West Frontier, but in 1938 his time was up and he had left the Army and got a job as a commissionaire. My parents had just put down the deposit on a brand new semi-detached house in Whitton - it cost £645 and they had taken out a 25-year mortgage, but before they could move in the War broke out and Dad had to return to the Army. As an older, experienced NCO he was kept back from active service, and spent his war training new recruits in various Army camps up and down the country. He told my mother: “Every new squad I get, I tell them they’re the worst lot I’ve ever seen.” He visited my mother when he could, and she occasionally managed to visit him briefly where he was stationed — Catterick, Newport, Woolwich etc. Sadly Dad died in 1955, so I don’t have many of his memories to pass on.
The mortgage still had to be paid, war or no war, so the house in Whitton was rented out in order to keep up the payments, and my mother moved back in with my grandmother, who was by then very elderly and infirm and living alone. They lived in a terraced house at No. 7 Kings Avenue, Hounslow, and next door lived her sister Ellen, her husband and their young son.
The sisters shared the job of looking after their mother, but Mum also worked at the Gillette razor blade factory on the Great West Road. She had been a factory girl before she married, but until the War all women were expected - indeed, forced - to stop work when they got married. Mum didn't think this was unfair, although she did know some girls who had kept their weddings secret so that they could keep their jobs. The War changed the rules, and Mum went back to work at Gillettes, before conscription for women was introduced.
The hours for the machine operators were 8 to 6. Working the machines was quite physically tiring, and the factory was very noisy. The girls communicated by signs and lip reading. They were usually on "piece work" i.e. paid by the number of items completed, and if the machine was faulty or broke down, you just lost the money for the number of "pieces" you couldn't do. Repairing the machines was a man's job, and the repairmen could be very awkward and bloody-minded about coming to fix your machine - they would often claim that there was nothing the matter with it - the girl must be doing something wrong!
A film clip of workers at the Gillette factory singing along to “Music While You Work” is often shown in TV programmes about the Home Front, and although Mum is not in it she could name most of the girls who were. There was supposed to be a “top secret” department somewhere at Gillette’s which made items for agents who were to be dropped behind enemy lines — razors with secret compartments and so on.
When the air raids began, Anderson shelters were installed in the gardens of No. 7 and auntie Ellen’s house next door. However, my grandmother was too infirm and slow on her feet to make the journey down to a cold damp shelter when the sirens went, so she stayed indoors and generally whichever sister was with her at the time would stay indoors too. At first they would hide under the dining room table (just an ordinary table, not a Morrison shelter), or in the cupboard under the stairs, but later on, when the V1 “doodlebugs” were about, my grandmother was confined to her bed in a downstairs room. Mum said that they would listen to the engine and pray “keep going, keep going…” but if they heard the engine of the doodlebug stop, she and her sister would throw themselves across their mother’s body, “as if that would have done any good”. Then came the awful silence until the explosion - but if you heard the explosion then you'd survived, until the next one...
Although Hounslow didn’t suffer as badly as other parts of London, there were many air raids aimed at the factories on the Great West Road or the various railways in the area. Unexploded bombs were sometimes left in the area for days until the Bomb Disposal teams could get round to them — there was one by the bus stop in Kingsley Road for some time. The hole was covered and roped off with a warning notice and a red roadmender's lamp to warn pedestrians, who in fact took very little notice and walked past as usual. Not all the unexploded bombs were found - two were discovered in the 1990's when Hounslow East station was being redeveloped. Every house was issued with a bucket and a stirrup pump for putting out incendiary bombs, although Mum never had to use hers.
On New Year’s Eve 1940 my mother and her brother and sister-in-law went to a party. On the way home, driving down the Great West Road after midnight, my uncle realised that there was a strange red glow in his rear-view mirror — they stopped the car and looked back up the road to see “all the sky was on fire over London behind us” - from the fires started in the City and the East End by the huge air raids that night.
Mum remembered vividly the day when Churchill made his famous “we will fight them on the beaches” speech on the radio. She remembered that she and her sister got out all the carving knives from the kitchen drawer and sharpened them in readiness…
The blackout was a problem, and Mum remembered one particularly dark and foggy night when she became completely disoriented on her way home, missing the turn into Kings Avenue and eventually finding herself in a builder’s yard several hundred yards away. On another foggy night my uncle Percy, who lived about half a mile away, waved down a double-decker bus which had lost its way in the fog, and was far off its route and heading for a railway bridge too low for it to pass under.
My uncle Percy was a plumber (a reserved occupation) and spent a lot of time reconnecting water supplies to bombed areas. One of his memories was of a house which had been bombed so severely that only one wall was still standing — “and on the second floor there was a shelf still fixed to the wall, with a row of jars of jam still standing on it unbroken — the rest of the room was gone.”
Another of his stories is perhaps less creditable — a café owner for whom he had done some work offered him some butter off the ration. The owner's explanation was this: “I was allocated so much butter per month for the cafe. At the end of the month I had stayed within my allocation and had a little bit left over — and like a fool I said so. Next time they set my allocation they reduced it. So from now on, if I have a bit left over, I’m not telling them. Would you like to have some?”. The quantities involved were not large, but very welcome.
During the Blitz the house in Whitton was badly damaged when a bomb demolished three houses about 50 yards away. Mum went to inspect the damage. “I thought they’d have to knock it down. All the tiles were off the roof, all the ceilings were down, all the windows were broken, there were cracks across the walls and all the fireplaces had been blown out into the middle of the rooms”. However, the authorities arranged for the house to be patched up by a local builder, and it was made habitable again. The former tenant couldn’t face moving back in and went to live in the country, but new tenants were found and the house survived the rest of the war.
Years later the results of the damage and the hasty, botched repairs were still coming to light. Behind one of the hurriedly replaced fireplaces was an empty space which gradually, over the years, filled up with soot until one evening in the late 40’s the whole accumulation caught fire. Luckily my parents were in the room at the time and put it out before the house burned down. In the 60’s we were told that the badly-repaired ceilings “could have come down any time in the past 20 years”; and to this day large crack-marks can be seen across several walls and none of the rooms are precisely "true". I am still not sure what would have happened about the mortgage if the house had been destroyed. Anyway, it wasn’t, so the Leeds Building Society got their money.
On VE day, my mother and my aunt went up to London to join the huge crowd in the Mall — in the films you see they are somewhere in the picture, shouting “WE WANT THE KING! WE WANT THE KING!” at the tops of their voices until he appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. My grandmother did not live to see the end of the war — on D-Day she struggled to a window to watch the huge flights of aeroplanes droning over towards the Channel, but the effort brought on a stroke from which she died shortly afterwards.
Contributed originally by epsomandewelllhc (BBC WW2 People's War)
I was 9 years of age when the war started. I was in church with the Brownies on 3 September. We had only just settled down when the Vicar said that he had been told to send us all home. It was just after 11 o'clock when Chamberlain had made his announcement that we were at war. At the same time there was a false alarm and all the air raid sirens went. We filed out of church and I noticed many people kneeling at prayer.
As soon as we got outside we were told to run as fast as we could to get indoors. It took us about 20 minutes to get to where we lived, and every time we stopped some passers-by would tell us to run. I got home and sank down in the kitchen, quite exhausted.
My mother had gone upstairs where my grandfather was in bed and had said to him: "I don't know what to do. War has been declared, there's an air raid on, and Pam's out". He said: "Don't worry. She's in church, so she'll be all right", little thinking that we would have been turned out.
For some weeks we were unable to go to school. Apparently workmen had started to dig underground shelters on the school playing field, but had struck water, so they had to build brick shelters above the ground.
After some weeks those of us who would be taking the 11-plus the following year were allowed to go to school for one half-day a week.
The school was used as an ARP (Air Raid Precautions) post where men and women were on duty all day, waiting for the siren to sound and being on the alert for any bombs that might fall. There was a complete blackout. We had to have heavy blackout curtains at our windows as well as our ordinary curtains, street lights and car lights and traffic lights were dimmed, and air raid wardens would go round the houses and if they saw so much as a chink of light through a curtain they would knock on the door and tell us to draw the curtain properly.
Every man, woman and child was issued with a gas mask because it was expected that the Germans would use gas against us. The masks were rubber, tightly fitting round the face, with some sort of substance in the lower part which would enable us to breathe. For small babies there was a large mask which covered their whole bodies.
For the first few months of the war life went on much the same. There was a large barracks where we lived and suddenly there many more man - and women as well, which was something new - being trained for the Army. Anyone who had a room to spare was asked to have a soldier or AT (Auxiliary Territorial which was the women's service) billeted on them. Many of my friends' families did this, but we didn't at first because there were already five of us living in our house.
Rationing didn't begin to bite until the beginning of 1940. Every man, woman and child had a ration book which was marked out for every week of the year and items like meat and dairy products and sugar were strictly rationed. The amounts per person were:
1/2d (about 6d) of meat.
2 oz bacon
4 oz cooking fat
4 oz margarine
2 oz butter
8 oz sugar
2 oz cheese
1 egg (if available)
3 pts of milk
Some other items like jam, tinned fruit, dried fruit, jellies, soap, sweets, were on points. You had a certain number of points and you could use them on any of these items until you had used them up.
Coal, which most people used to heat their houses, was also strictly rationed and I remember my mother having a furious row with the coalman because he said he hadn't any coal for her and my grandfather was seriously ill and there was no way of heating his bedroom.
One day I had taken a large ball like a football to school with me. As I was coming out of school with my friends one of the man on duty at the ARP post signalled me to throw it to him. Soon we were having a game with the ball, but after some minutes we realised that someone was shouting at us and saw that our Headmistress was standing on the other side of the fence. She told us to go home at once and we did. the next day in assembly she told the whole school that she had seen "a sight that I hope I never see again - some girls playing netball with those men out there". I as the owner of the ball had to own up and was told to keep it at home in future. To this day I can't understand what the fuss was about. It wasn't as if we were teenagers who might have been flirting with the men - it was all quite innocent, but that's teachers for you.
As 1940 wore on we realised that things were getting very serious. Norway and Denmark were invaded, then Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, and the final disaster of the fall of France.
In August the Blitz began. My father was on holiday from work, but there was no question of going away. We were discouraged from travelling, and anyway most of the South Coast was covered in barbed wire. We had gone out for the day and were just getting off the bus when the air raid siren sounded. I said "But we haven't got our gasmasks". Although we were supposed to take them everywhere with us, most of us had got blase about carrying them and left them at home. We got home without any further alarms, but I felt very frightened, expecting a bomb to fall at any moment.
From then on there were constant air raids. School was often interrupted by the sound of the siren and we would have to go immediately to the shelter. We were told to get together a tin of essential food and a first aid tin in case we had to stay for hours at a time in the shelter. Of course, we ate the food, usually within a few minutes of going into the shelter. Lessons would continue in the shelters. Sometimes we weren't able to go to school at all - once a land mine had dropped near the school. My father was in the Special Constables, so was often on duty in London all night, and we didn't know until he arrived home if he was safe.
Many families had what was called an Anderson Shelter, named after the Home Secretary of the time. This was made of corrugated iron and was put in the back garden. It had to be sunk some way into the earth, and was fitted with bunk beds. We didn't have one because my grandparents were too infirm to climb into a shelter, but when the bombing got serious we moved out beds downstairs. My grandfather had died by that time, so my grandmother and I slept together in the front room while my parents slept in the back room with a large mahogany table pulled over them. We now had a soldier billetted on us and he slept upstairs.
In November 1940 five bombs were dropped in our road. My father was out. I had been in bed, but couldn't sleep because of the noise, so had gone into the dining room with my mother and grandmother. There was a heavy thump, and crash of glass, the light went off and then came on again, and then all went quiet. My mother went outside and said that there was a fire down the road and I said "Was it just in incendiary bomb making all that noise?" Then someone came knocking at the door. It was an air raid warden who said that a mine had been dropped and might go off at any minute, so we would have to leave the house. My mother said: "But we've nowhere to go" and he said that we could go to a Rest Centre, a place, usually a local Hall where people who had been bombed out could go. She said:"But how can we get there? My mother can't walk" and he said they could send a car for us. Then she said: "But my husband is on his way home from work. He won't know where we are" but he said that they could leave a message for him at the ARP post.
Soon a car came along and we got in. We were taken to a local church hall where we were shown into a room with one camp bed and several chairs. Soon some neighbours of ours arrived. while we were settling down my mother was trying to telephone some of the places where my father might be, but the lines were affected by the bombs and she couldn't get through. She said that I had better get to sleep, so I settled down on the camp bed. Some time later I woke up and asked where my mother was. My grandmother said: "she's just gone outside for a little while". Almost immediately my mother appeared with one of the neighbours. She told me that my father was dead. He had been making his way down our road when the bombs dropped. He had been blown down an alleyway between two houses just ten doors from our home, and had been killed instantly.
Some time between his body being found and his arrival at the hospital someone went through his pockets and took all his money, including his pay packet which he had just drawn. My mother would say afterwards that this hurt her more than anything else.
The next day we went to stay with my father's sister at Southall and stayed there for a week until the land mine had been removed and made safe.
From then on our lives were drastically altered. My mother's pension was quite inadequate to cover our needs, so she had to go to work full time. My grandmother died a year after this, so I spent many lonely hours at home on my own. I would stay at school until the last possible moment to put off going home to an empty house and I dreaded the school holidays and Saturdays
Contributed originally by MARJORIE PEARSON TOOMER (BBC WW2 People's War)
Mechanical teats or udder bliss!
Expectations of a pending war loomed on the horizon one year prior to the actual outbreak on Sept. 3rd 1939. In 1938, being 18 years old, I knew that my “call-up” was inevitable and having been born into and living the first 8 years of my life within the atmosphere of a Cavalry regiment background, it was automatically assumed by my parents and myself that a female section of the army would be my choice.
However, the months went by and in June 1939 it was again expectations of war and I became aware that the Women’s Land Army were recruiting and that one recruiting venue was in a private house not far from where I was living with my parents in Ealing, West London - so along I went and duly enrolled. What a change of ideas on my part - especially as I’d been scared of cows until an incident cured me of that fear. Although my father had finished his army career by then, we were living in a country location near an army garrison and in order to catch my ‘bus’ to take me to Grammar School 7 miles away - a walk of a mile from my home along a route also taken by cows making their way between milking shed and the grazing fields. We didn’t coincide until one morning - when they must have been either early or late and oh what horror, what was I to do? The answer was simple as in those days one wouldn’t consider missing one’s bus and being late for school. There was no choice even though no cowman in sight to provide confidence, so a question of braving it, holding my case of school books and lunch box close to my side as a shield, trembling somewhat and walking in amongst the cows, being bumped into by one and another of them until at last I emerged ahead of them - where upon a huge sigh of relief escaped my lips and fear miraculously fell away. Talk about feeling like a conquering hero(ine) and surprised at being quite safe. Maybe an ulterior motive of meeting a boy from my schooldays who I rather fancied and a desire to return to country living was the reason for joining the W.L.A. - although I was happy in my office job at Head Office of Gregg Publishing Co./Schools in Russell Square, London and the travelling by tube train Monday — Saturday was no burden. A couple of weeks after the war started I was instructed to go to Oaklands Agricultural College near St. Albans, Hertfordshire for 4 weeks training where I met up with several other W.L.A. trainees and kitted out with our uniforms - Breeches, short sleeved Aertex blouses, knee length woollen socks, Wellington boots, sturdy lace up shoes, long sleeved pullover, dungarees and jacket, thick riding style short overcoat, gabardine ‘mac’ and felt hat plus tie and badge. Underwear was our own. The first evening was in classroom where the Principal explained the various courses: Dairy - which included hand milking and various jobs in the cowshed, plus young bullocks and also the piggery: Poultry: Horticulture. We were given a choice and yours truly the only one to opt for Dairy etc. so the Principal asked for a volunteer to keep me company and only one girl offered. Next morning it was up early to start in the cowshed at 6.00 a.m. and learn to milk - not with a real cow but a contraption consisting of a make believe udder filled with water and fitted with valve controlled teats - this set up was slung from a cross beam between wooden uprights. What excruciating agony in fingers, wrists and forearms in trying to “milk” the water into the pale clasped between one’s knees whilst sitting on a three legged stool. This agony lasted for 3 or 4 days and oh what a relief when the pain subsided as one became proficient at milking and then transferred to a real cow. Utter bliss by comparison with the wooden cow, although that didn’t have a tail to swish and catch one’s face a stinging blow - however, all part of the job along with swilling clean the cowshed floor afterwards. Then off to feed the pigs and clean out their pens and take about 6 for a walk! Yes that’s right, preparing them for a show ring apparently - I cannot remember whether young boars or gilts. A couple of land girls and a pigman, each with a light stick, just used to guide them along the track. Another job was to go, armed with a halter, into a field of young bullocks, catch one and proceed to take it for a walk also - “in a string as though with racehorses”. This was for the benefit of a documentary film being made at the time. Mine would insist upon trying to push me into the hedge and one had to be tough to prevent that happening but I had my foot trodden upon which resulted in me repeatedly losing, regrowing and losing a toenail for many years afterwards. Never mind, all part of the course! In spite of it all - such a difference to London office life and I took it all like a duck to water and was rather surprised at the end of the 4 weeks to hear the lady supervisor tell me that when she first saw me, didn’t think I’d stay the course - must have appeared pale and willowy I suppose. Rather on a par with my Father who had said “I’ll give you three months and that will be it”. Apparently he’d worked on a farm for a while before joining the Army - but that was way back about 1900 when conditions would have been much harsher. To round off the 4 weeks I was thrilled to be asked to stay on an extra week-end in order to help in the show ring. How important I felt, leading a heifer or two in front of prospective buyers. Then it was down to earth with a bump from near perfect conditions to the reality of the usual farm conditions of those days when I was sent to one near Potters Bar in Middlesex and had ‘digs’ with a family on a new housing estate nearby. After paying the stipulated ‘digs’ money and insurance stamp - you were left with the princely sum of 6 shillings per week. Two incidents stand out from this posting - having ‘a go’ on the bottle washing machinery — thinking that it would be much better than milking. Once was enough for me - this shed was open to the elements on one side, it was November, the bottles and the water so cold as one removed them from the moving belt into crates. Soon became stone cold from head to toes - ugh! The other incident was when detailed to stand almost at one end of a longish passageway between two rows of cattle pens in a large shed — wave my arms about and deflect a young bull into one of the pens whilst a cowman was driving it from the other end. Hair raising to say the least. Once again, as in the experience with the herd of cows in my school days I ended up unscathed and not trodden down. I was happy enough in my work here but did want to get into the area of my latter schooldays in Hampshire and found an advertisement for a W.L.A. girl - milking and general farm work in a village close to that location and moved in late January 1940.
Hides, shrapnel and romance!
Everything about this new job was a great improvement even though hard work and I did soon meet up with the boy afore mentioned! a bonus indeed and by now a young man of 20 and still working his apprenticeship and not yet called up. So romantic - I remember it well - being busy washing the pails etc. in the dairy and being brought a letter which turned out to be a Valentine card and having been in the same form for 4 to 5 years, I recognised the handwriting. How did the sender know I was there? via another boy from our form whom I’d bumped into inside the Post Office a week or so earlier when I’d cycled into Andover on my free Saturday afternoon and who had obviously relayed the fact to our mutual schoolfriend.
The next year passed happily with varied farm work - milking being the main one and various unforgettable incidents - two of which could have been very serious but thankfully fate ordained otherwise. A bomb, one of several meant for a nearby airfield fell exactly where my boyfriend and myself had been sat on our bicycles at the driveway entrance gates to the farm chatting away after an evening at the cinema. The village air raid warden had come along and asked my boyfriend to help him remove an airman who was blind drunk and lying in the middle of the road some quarter mile away. We said Goodnight and went our separate ways - boyfriend to help with the airman and on then back to Andover and myself to the farm and bed. Before I had undressed there was such a lot of noise, the room shook and crump, crump --------bombs. My first experience and I didn’t know whether to dive under the bed or what. The noise died away and I ran downstairs again to join the farmer, his wife and the cowman. The cows were in a field close by so the men went out to investigate. Two or three were killed outright, another one or two had to be humanely shot and the remainder were brought into the cowshed. Next morning before milking we were picking bits of shrapnel out of their hides. The other incident was when I thought it would be a good idea to clean the gulley between the two sloping roofs of the cowshed, so put up a ladder and as I was about to step into the gulley, the ladder slid away and me with it. Landing on the concrete yard I didn’t stop to see if I was hurt - disentangled the foot still on a rung, jumped up and ran straight through the cowshed - obviously reaction to shock. Thankfully no-one was around to witness my ignominy and I pulled myself together but abandoned the original idea and found another job to get on with. Goodness knows how I didn’t break a leg or worse. On another occasion the wind changed direction and blew flames from a bonfire in my direction, resulting in singed eyebrows and hairline.
During these 12 months I’d met and become friendly with the land girl on farm just a couple of hundred yards along the road. She hailed from the Isle of Wight, but became homesick and returned there and I took her place as I’d become friendly with that farmer and his wife - their son and daughter were attending the school I’d been at and I lived in the farmhouse en famille. The farm that I’d come from belonged to someone termed “gentleman farmer” who lived in the large country manor with farm and parkland. My first ‘digs’ there was in the farm bailiff’s house, occupied by a bachelor and his sister-in-law with her young son, she acting as housekeeper and whose husband was in submarine based on Malta - after a couple of months she was able to join him out there and then an older housekeeper was employed who didn’t stay long so I was moved into the ‘big house’ having a large pleasant bedroom in the attics and meals with the cook/housemaid.
High fashion in the rain and fire watching duties
I spent another 12 months on this second farm in the village but unfortunately developed milkers neuritis and had to give up milking so was sent to a market garden at Staines, Middlesex. However, life continued to have it’s incidents whilst still on the farm - one dark winter’s morning, milking alone in the cowshed, with a hurricane lamp in the feed bin when the door opened and all I could see were three tiny points of light - I was petrified as there was always the fear of enemy parachutists - but then a disembodied voice announced that “George couldn’t be milking as he were bad”. It was the boy’s father the carter from another nearby farm and the points of light were from his hurricane lamp hidden inside his overcoat and the light coming through the button holes!
The market garden was nowhere near as interesting as farm work and the animals but one can usually find compensations. I could be with my parents every week-end as it was not all that far from Ealing-and travelled using tube to Hounslow and bus from there to Staines. There were about 10 W.L.A. girls here in addition to ‘civilian’ men and women who lived close by. Our first day was spent mending wooden boxes - used for packing vegetables - armed with hammers and nails. I don’t remember anybody missing a nail and hammering themselves. We were billeted in various houses close by - in pairs as I remember. Work was varied according to the seasons. Potato planting and harvesting, frozen brussel sprout picking, trying to get swedes out of the ground and resorting to kicking them out, indoor and outdoor tomatoes, indoor and outdoor flowers, washing carrots in a special contraption. On particularly wet days, it was the fashion to tie sacks around our shoulders, waists and legs on top of all our other clothing in a vain endeavour to keep dry. Then there was fire watching duty on a rota basis in pairs - using the shed cum office which contained two large old sagging armchairs and a tortoise stove with a limited supply of fuel for it - plus fuel for ourselves in the shape of thick slices of cheese and thick slices of bread which we toasted on the stove - delicious to ever hungry land girls and washed down with cocoa. We dozed in the armchairs in cosy comfort until the stove burned low and then to ashes and we’d wake feeling decidedly chilly. The owner told us to look to ourselves first if incendiaries were dropped as, with all those glasshouses around, it would be lethal to attempt any heroics with water buckets and stirrup pump. Luckily nothing nasty happened but we were glad to be in pairs on this duty. One memorable occasion during my twelve months here was when our area social overseer had received a consignment of clothing from America - known as ‘Bundles for Britain’ and invited us to her home in Laleham, Middlesex for a social evening and to distribute the clothing. We were able to choose a garment in order of length of service. I had my eye on a warm full length coat lining - probably sheepskin - but was pipped at the post by a girl who had enrolled about a week before me and she too had her eye on that garment. However, I came next and chose the next item of warmth - a two-piece ski suit made from a thick blanket type material which was just my size. Another year had passed and my father’s prognosis of 3 months had turned into 3¼ years! Reason for leaving? Marriage - to the “boy” from my schooldays.
I’m still in contact with the “girl” I met at the market garden — and shared those “sagging armchairs and tortoise stove” on fire watching duties.
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