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Belle’s Story – Having a Baby

There were other girls like me on the base, two or three pregnant at the same time as me.

I was born in North Shields and went into the WAAF’s at 17½ and was stationed at Station HQ, Durham.  It was all Canadians and Americans on the base, not many English; they were lovely people.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself; I wish I was back there.

I got in tow with a Canadian sergeant air gunner; three or four months later I found I was pregnant.  He went out on night operations.  It was a bomber station, and he never came back.  His plane was shot down and he was presumed dead.  I didn’t know then that I was pregnant, but I knew for a fact he would have stood by me; he was a lovely fellow.

There were other girls like me on the base, there were two or three pregnant at the same time as me.  The Services treated us well.  I could have got help from them, but I thought with having a mother, for all she hadn’t kept me when I was young, I thought maybe she would rally round a bit, but my sister stopped her; she was proper toffee-nosed.  She had been married ten years and found she could not have a baby, she had a misplaced womb.  When I knew that, I thought she might have taken my baby for me.  I got in touch with her, but she refused point blank.  She said she had told my mother to have nothing to do with it at all.  I had already spoken to the WAAF officer before this and told them I did not need any help.  I had to go on my own then.

It was hard, but I got through it anyhow.  I was about six months pregnant and went home thinking my mother would change her mind.  I found lodgings, a bedsit in Newcastle.  I took poorly and they referred me to a social worker who got me into Preston Hospital when I was about 7 months pregnant.  I spent two months on the ward before I had the baby.  I was in labour a long time, about 2-3 weeks.  The baby was only 5lb 5 oz when she was born; that was Jean.  They kept me on the ward for three months afterwards.  I used to knit for the sister and things like that, you know.

One day I was transferred to the workhouse.  I was there six and a half months, and was told I could not keep the baby.  She was sent to a place in Morpeth.

I saw a job in the paper for a housekeeper. I asked permission to take the job and informed the social services.  They brought the bairn to me.  She was I remember, as plain as anything; she wore a little blue two piece suit, she was really lovely.  We had been apart about seven months.

I got a job as housekeeper in Marine Avenue, North Shields.  It did not last long but I’d got my baby back.

Then I met my husband.  Within three days we were married.  We met on the Wednesday and were married in St. George’s Cullercoats on the Saturday.  I met him in the Red Lion in North Shields.  He was in the army.  My idea was to get a name for the baby.  In those days you had to be 25 before you could adopt a child; we were only 21.

Not long after I had to go into Preston Hospital to have my appendix and an ovary taken out.  My mother took Jean then, after all that bother of not wanting us before.  My mother kept Jean until Jean fell pregnant and then she sent her back to me.

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