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Author Topic: Home Life in WW2  (Read 115830 times)

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Offline Bryn Clinch

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #135 on: December 30, 2010, 10:00:47 »
Possibly on the same night as the `second great fire of London` when the skies were red over Medway, the skies over Sittingbourne were ablaze. It is believed that an enemy bomber, with unused incendiary bombs aboard, ditched the whole lot over Sittingbourne  on his way home. They fell on the Methodist Church, where I was baptised, and totally destroyed it. I remember, as a very young child, emerging from the air raid shelter and seeing the crimson skies above and later being told the the Methodist Church had taken a direct hit. My Grandad took me to see the devastation the following morning. The church had disappeared. On second thoughts, I don`t think it could have been the same night as the`second great fire of London`, probably nearer the end of the war. There is a picture of the church on the Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne (HRGS).

www.hrgs.co.uk



Interior 1930s



Rebuilt church on the same site, mid 1950s





  

Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #134 on: December 29, 2010, 20:13:24 »
I've just been reminded by BBC News that tonight is the 70th anniversary of what came to be called the 'Second Great Fire of London' (not New-Year's Eve as I originally posted). So far as the Medway Towns were concerned it was a 'normal' night of the Blitz, with the occasional enemy plane passing over, and it wasn't until my father went outside and called "come and look at this" that we realised there was anything unusual. The sky in the direction of London, 30 miles away, was brilliant red, which could be seen above the rooftops even from Ross Street, Rochester, in the 'valley' of Troy Town. We thought that somewhere near, like Gravesend, must have 'copped it'; not till next day did we learn that it was London.

Being a Sunday the City was mostly deserted, so many fires went unnoticed until too late, and it was the night that the famous photo of St Paul?'rising above the flames was taken.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #133 on: November 20, 2010, 21:39:04 »
Ref Replies#137 & 138: I've just watched an episode of 'Dad's Army', and the  sleeve insigna of the unit is CP1. The Royal West Kent badge is, of course, well known, but has the sleeve insignia any basis in reality, and if so what does it signify? 
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #132 on: November 08, 2010, 15:19:43 »
The cap badge is that of the Royal West Kent Regiment, but I don't know what the sleeve insignia under the 'Home Guard' flash signifies.

Agreed that it is a great series and I laugh as much as anyone else at their antics, but I sometimes worry that people who are less interested than KHF members will take it as a true representation, and not realise they would have been the first line of defence against an experienced and well-equipped enemy, and became professional enough to run AA batteries. While not an 'operational' duty, they were considered good enough to mount guard at Buckingham Palace on the anniversaries of their formation, on 20th May 1941 and 20th May 1943.

There's some info about WHD here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/23885771@N03/3697134339/
Note that it says they were not issued with uniforms, so who were the women in the 'Apocalypse' film with 'Home Guard' shoulder flashes?

Apparently the Amazon Defence Corps was organised by Marjorie Foster, a champion target shooter, in London. It was a 'private army' that may even have had its own uniform, but was always regarded as illegal and never supported by the British authorities.


Incidentally, my daughter's partner's father was a POW with Clive Dunn (Corporal Jones); apparently he was much the same character in real life and did a lot to organise entertainment and maintain morale.
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #131 on: November 08, 2010, 12:59:39 »

Incidentally, recent repeats of ?Dad?s Army? episodes are about the unit?s formation in 1940. Yet they are shown wearing P-40 battledress. But then I suppose I?m a pedantic old b****r.


I'm sure I remember reading somewhere that their uniforms were copied from photos of the Chatham Home Guard, right down to the unit insignia, even though they are nominally on the south coast in Sussex.  But who cares, it's still a great series!
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #130 on: November 08, 2010, 12:08:34 »
You mention women in the Home Guard, and I think I've heard about that before, but don't know where they served. Do you know any details?
Peter

Peter
Although women had been unofficially helping out in the Home Guard virtually since its inception, from April 20th 1943 a limited number of women were formally accepted for a range of duties including driving, operating telephones and clerical duties. The only uniform issued to the Home Guard Women's Auxiliary sections (as they were known) appears to have been a plastic badge!  
regards
Ian

Did anyone see the TV programme 'Apocalypse; WW2 in Colour' the other evening?

It stated that women joined the Home Guard and showed them in battledress with 'Home Guard' shoulder flashes. They were wearing P-40 pattern battledress with the buttons exposed, which was not issued until 1942 (earlier battledress had the buttons covered by a fly), so this dates the shots. Another sequence showed women doing arms drill; they were in civvies, which suggests the early part of the war.

Another shot showed Chelsea Pensioners, in their red uniforms, stating they also joined the Home Guard. I suppose it's possible, but?..!?

I recorded the programme and have just had another look at it to confirm what I saw.

This is a copy from the Home Guard entry in Wikepedia:
The Home Guard did not, initially, admit women to its ranks.
Some women formed their own groups like the Amazon Defence Corps. Later a more organised but still unofficial Women's Home Defence (WHD) formed with many groups across the country. Limited female involvement was permitted later on the understanding that these would be in traditional female support roles and not in any way seen as combatants.


It seems we live and learn.

Incidentally, recent repeats of 'Dad's Army' episodes are about the unit's formation in 1940. Yet they are shown wearing P-40 battledress. But then I suppose I'm a pedantic old b****r.
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Offline busyglen

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #129 on: November 08, 2010, 11:37:46 »
Ah, so it was the red one....I didn't know what it was called back then, too young to know.

Strangely enough Bryn Clinch, exactly the same thing happened to me when I had my tonsils out when I was ten years old.  :)
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Offline Bryn Clinch

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #128 on: November 07, 2010, 18:44:49 »
I've still got my Identity Card.  :)

Regarding the Mickey Mouse Gas Mask, my baby brother had one (I think it was red) but goodness knows what happened to it after the War.  I hated gas masks as they smelt of rubber.  It also reminds me of when I had my tonsils out when I was 10 years old.  When they put the mask over my face for the anaesthetic I struggled as it reminded me of the gas mask!

I had exactly the same experience when I had my tonsils out in the `old` Maidstone Hospital. That smell of the rubber mask I shall never forget. Wh
en they put the mask on me I fought like a tiger and managed to rip it off three times before I succumbed.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #127 on: November 07, 2010, 18:05:29 »
Some questions are answered here.

The first one shown, with the double eyepieces, was issued to the Civil Defence. The others are all labelled. The one the lady is wearing is not the basic civvy one - that didn't have a separate 'flap' for breathing out - that was done as described above the picture. I think the second of the Army Gas Masks was German - British ones had a separate canister. I wonder if the one in the link is British, and I can't see how it was closed at the bottom.

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/Homework/war/gasmasks.htm
Gas was the WW2 equivalent of the nuclear deterrent, neither side used it for fear of retaliation.
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Offline busyglen

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #126 on: November 07, 2010, 17:20:18 »
Wasn't there a gas mask for babies-in-arms that was like a carry-cot with a gas mask built into its cover - it didn't actually fit over the child's face? Was that the 'Mickey-Mouse' mask?

We were told to test our masks by putting something over the end to block it. If you could still breathe the mask wasn't fitted properly. But I don't remember carrying them after the first few months of the war.

I may be wrong, but I thought the small red mask was Mickey Mouse, which my 1 year old brother had.  We all had plain brown ones.  I have heard somewhere that there was something for babes in arms, but am not sure what it was.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #125 on: November 07, 2010, 17:09:02 »
Wasn't there a gas mask for babies-in-arms that was like a carry-cot with a gas mask built into its cover - it didn't actually fit over the child's face? Was that the 'Mickey-Mouse' mask?

We were told to test our masks by putting something over the end to block it. If you could still breathe the mask wasn't fitted properly. But I don't remember carrying them after the first few months of the war.
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Offline busyglen

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #124 on: November 07, 2010, 16:58:43 »
I've still got my Identity Card.  :)

Regarding the Mickey Mouse Gas Mask, my baby brother had one (I think it was red) but goodness knows what happened to it after the War.  I hated gas masks as they smelt of rubber.  It also reminds me of when I had my tonsils out when I was 10 years old.  When they put the mask over my face for the anaesthetic I struggled as it reminded me of the gas mask!
A smile is a curve that straightens things out.

Offline Bryn Clinch

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #123 on: November 06, 2010, 18:09:45 »
My Ration Book, Identity Card, Gas Mask and the pre-WW2 Phonograph which my Dad brought out at Christmas to amuse us. Fortunately we didn`t suffer any gas attacks as I believe these gas masks would have been useless. Has anyone got a Mickey Mouse Gas Mask? They were issued to the very young children.
I think I saw the Doodlebug which came down on the railway bridge near Rainham. I can remember seeing it and a Spitfire. I stood in the middle of the road watching whilst Mum came running down the road to get me in as I was quite oblivious of any danger.
 

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Offline ellenkate

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #122 on: November 06, 2010, 17:18:18 »
Here are a few of my memories:

              My parents and grandparents must have found it very hard to accept another time of war was starting, in the late 30s, after living through the Great War and its devastating effects when shoretages of food and clothing were severe and so many men died.      It meant sticking rigidly to wartime regulations, rations, make-do-and-mend, dig-for-victory,  and raising money for "the war effort" whenever possible;   coping with the stressful effects of air-raids, husbands away fighting and families more isolated due to restrictions on travel.   However, community life prospered and the ethics and importance of "helping others"  gathered momentum in everyone's neighbourhood, and increased over the populace in general.    Sometimes people made their fortunes in these difficult times, providing a much-needed necessity or service, but all had to work hard to survive.  Women took on new work in factories, making armaments, uniforms, and in farming, doing many jobs of the absent men.    

        I have some very clear memories of my parents first house.    It cost about ?300 and he bought it new when they married.     It was semi-detached and had a "half-circle"  wooden deco porch at the front door, and metal railings around the front garden, with a metal gate.  After only a few years, because of the need for raw materials for armaments,  railings including ours were burnt off and carted away on lorries, to go towards the  manufacture of armaments.    I remember mother held some kind of sale (on table in front garden) "for the war effort", and made treacle toffee, sold magazines, vegetables from the allotment,  and other things given by neighbours.    In the hall, on the newel post at the foot of the stairs was a metal 'deco'  nude lady, elegantly balancing with her hand on a ball, with feet upwards!  
  
     One day I was given a little "fairy cycle", with two wheels, the frame was a plum colour, and in those days we never had anything new. I thought it was wonderful.   I had had a tricycle for some time.   I learned to ride the fairy cycle along the road in front of our house - not many people had cars then, and especially not during the war when petrol was rationed and only essential journeys were done in private cars.   Cycles and shanks's pony were the main means of mobility.

Father knew all about cars, having served his apprenticeship in mechanical engineering;  when young he worked on hundreds of "Model T Fords" and knew car engines backwards.    When first married he worked, 5 minutes from tour home, and very near to mother's shop, the garage specialised in Humbers, Wolseleys and Morris cars.    When we were out in the town, if he saw a car could tell you who owned it - there were so few cars on the road.  And most were black.

      Working at Immingham Docks during the war, he left home at about 5.30am to get a bus to Corporation Road, then a tram to Immingham Graving Dock, and got back home after 6.30 and often later.   He worked on repairs to war-ships which came back into Grimsby damaged and blood-stained.  Working in cramped, hot and cold conditions, there were things he would not talk about.   He returned home about 6.30 or much later in the evenings so I didn't see him very often because of his long working hours.  But I do remember him washing at our kitchen sink, with his Lifebuoy soap, and the noise of the Rolls-Razor being worked.    I was a little bit nervous and frightened of him and regarded him as being the boss and rather strict.   His parents were disciplinarians and there was never any excuse for bad behaviour, bad language or not "pulling your weight" or "working hard".  The family were always very critical - one of the family traits.  

       "Dad's Army", or the Home Guard, didn't feature highly in father's life, he was only able to attend their meetings a few times because of his long working hours at the docks.   At the second meeting the man in charge brought father a "stripe" to add to his uniform - " I'm going now, I'll leave you in charge, and take the men through their drill"  he said to father.  Father knew absolutely nothing about drill or how to load or put a gun together.    After a few sessions, his work at the docks long hours prevented him from attending more of the Home Guard meetings.  I can just remember seeing his uniform in the wardrobe, and mother saying, after the war,  it had to be returned.   Father was also on rotas for fire-watching duties, and was in the AFS, the Auxiliary Fire Service.  I have a photo of him in uniform.  

more later...

Ellenkate
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I'm Lincolnshire born and bred

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Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #121 on: November 04, 2010, 12:22:02 »
I have just sat and read right through this from start to finish and can only thank all those who have contributed first-hand memories, especially Peterchall, from the bottom of my heart and urge anyone with personal memories from WW2 to write them down, either here on the Forum, or on paper which is then given to the local museum or reference library. Personal memories, although perhaps not always as accurate as accounts gathered from official documents and contemporary newspapers, are so much more vivid and give far more of an insight into people’s feelings at the time.

I can contribute very little to this, and that at second-hand because I was born in 1947, but it was sparked by the Google Earth map of where the first V1 came down on London, practically on the junction of Antil Rd and Grove Rd in Bow. It always sends a bit of a shiver up my spine when I see, or hear, this spot mentioned because my mother’s elder sister (Auntie Barb) lived at 108 Antil Rd with her husband, Joe Ruby who was a London postman, and my parents and I usually went and stayed with them for a week in the summer when I was a child. And I loved to stand on that corner and watch the trolleybuses go down the dip in the road under the railway bridge because there were usually sparks from the overhead collectors. The junction was completely empty, as far as buildings were concerned but it never struck me as odd because, after all, Dover was full of empty spaces…

It wasn’t, I think, until I was in my thirties that my mother spoke of it, but she was living with Barb and Joe at the time and heard that V1, and the AA guns, and saw the glow from its tail and the flashes of the AA shells reflected on her ceiling. And she heard the engine stop and grabbed the bedclothes and yanked them up over her head just before there was an almighty bang and the window was blown in, scattering glass all over her bed.
 
Alex Milton, the next-door neighbour who was an electrician (a reserved occupation) dashed off along the road to offer assistance and, apparently was gone for some hours before returning with tears trickling down his face and muttering, “Those poor kids,” over and over.

 

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