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Wartime Memories

We would put one plant pot on top of another with a lighted candle inside to keep warm


Photograph of Air Raid Precaution badge

Air Raid Precaution badge

When the war started, I was nineteen years old and I was exempt from National Service because my mother was blind and I had to look after the home, so for my contribution I had to be an air raid warden.

We had a brick shelter in the back yard.  My father made a bed in it and we heated it with one plant pot on top of another with a lighted candle inside.

I remember incendiary bombs dropped outside our door and we had to undo sandbags on the lamp post and put the bomb out.

On 30th September 1941, a firebomb hit the Wesleyan church in Coach Lane.  My friend Elsie Davison, who was Dr Stonier’s receptionist for many years, lived next to the church in Stormont Street and their house got a direct hit.  There were no casualties, but they had to move in with relations until they got rehoused.

I liked cooking, but with rations so small we had to make biscuits putting five ice cream wafers together with butter cream and cutting them into fingers.  I remember queuing at Etam’s in Newcastle when we heard they had stockings in, also for queuing for fat to make chips at the tripe factory down Coach Lane.  It had a horrible smell but if you boiled it with water it wasn’t too bad.

For all we had blackout we were not worried about going out.  We went to Northumberland Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve where crowds gathered to greet the New Year.  I remember when the Rex Cinema was bombed; we lived in Lovaine Place West and our ceilings came down.

My father often worked night shift in the shipyard, and we were so worried when the planes came over.

I went to dances at the Plaza and we walked home at one o’clock quite unconcerned.  I remember in 1943 I had a miscarriage and had to wait in the ambulance outside Preston Hospital gates during an air raid.  It was a dreadful night when Wilkinson’s Lemonade factory was bombed – over a hundred people lost their lives sheltering underneath.

I was in Newcastle station one night waiting for my husband coming home on leave when Manors station got a direct hit.  We were hustled to a shelter outside Newcastle station for a long time and then we had to come home via Jesmond as the lines were damaged.

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