Memories of the Home Front, World War II

With the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II this year, we are interested in collecting your memories of Groby during the war. We hope more will be added over the coming year…

From Enid Hull

I was 8 when the War began. I was at boarding school and we were evacuated to Wolverley Heath, Kidderminster.

We had practices to see how quickly we could reach the cellars where we had sweets if we were quick. Gas mask practice was another matter. On one occasion I heard the house maid say “Do you think we should do it again? I think they would all be gassed by now!” We slept in bunks in the cellars. We used to sing so that we could not hear the bombs. They whistled as they came down and then a big crump.

When I was at home we used to walk to Wallace Drive from Glenfield Turn to Lacy’s Nursery to queue for tomatoes. Some housewives would register one of the family as a vegetarian in order to get nuts and extra cheese!

We used to save scraps to help to feed Mr Clifford’s pigs. Then there was the black market. Beekeepers got extra sugar to make candy for feeding the bees in winter. Poaching was not unknown. Petrol was siphoned while petrol coupons would fetch a price etc.

Later on at the end of the war we made dressing gowns out of army blankets.

From Alison Coates

I was born during the war so I don’t really remember it at all but I do remember hearing about it.

My father, Richo Richardson was away in the army so I hardly saw him till I was 6 years old. Mummy, Beryl Richardson, wanted to contribute to the war effort so she joined the fire watchers in the village. However, as she was a woman, the men would not let her go on duty at night. I believe they watched from the top of the fire station, now a central heating firm, beside the modern Co-Op building. I understand it was possible to see the glow from Coventry on the night when that city was so badly bombed.

There were no toys in the shops and very few clothes for babies and small children, a situation which continued for some years after 1945. All my early toys were wooden and handmade, almost all by my father. He was fortunate not to have to go abroad and in off-duty hours, he was busy in the workshop attached to each radar station to which he was posted, on the coast of Norfolk.

I used to love cutting out pictures and sticking them in scrap books. I have seen an early one, containing black and white pictures cut from a newspaper, of our soldiers in uniform, which seems very strange now but I suppose there were not many pictures around from which to choose.

I did not like the strong tastes of cod liver oil or complete orange juice that was provided for small children but I did love the free sweet rosehip syrup. I understand that sweets were rationed until after the War.