When I came back from Bisham I became a buttonhole maker for Curtis, just a small firm, putting button holes in nurses capes and soldiers jackets.

We hadn’t been long back in London when the bombing started. They wanted to evacuate my brother out. Mum packed all his clothes up, but he didn’t want to go. Most of the children were evacuated.

I left the button factory, I don’t know why, and got a job at Dalston Lane, When I was 18 I had to sign on for war work and they put me at an aircraft factory in Feltham and I lodged at Feltham with young girls. It was good fun, we had the weekend off and we came home to our families. We did night work. Went to work at 8 o’clock, stopped to have a break about midnight, then went on to about 6 in the morning. I was on the rear part of the Spitfire planes riveting the tail end of it. Wasn’t hard work it was fun really. I was pushing the rivet in once and one of the girls said, ‘that’s gone through, it’s gone through my hand as well’. You’d sleep during the day, then me and the girl next door, we’d go to Hounslow and sit in the pub and have a couple of brown ales, talk to the soldiers that came off of Hounslow Barracks and then we’d go into work. We got about 25 bob a week (£1.25). I did that for two years.

I’d been sending letters to my mum and said we’d been in the pub and met some Scots soldiers and had a drink, and she showed your Grandfather the letter. So when I came home one weekend he said ‘when’s your holiday’ and I said in June, so he said ‘right, we’re getting married in June’ and that was it! I was having too good a time!

I knew Ernie when I was 13, he was Uncle Alf’s friend. They met at a bus stop. They were going off to work and they got chatting and Uncle Alf said why don’t you come round the pub one night and have a game of darts.

He used to go round for Sunday tea and he’d say to me go and get me a packet of fags and he’d give me a penny for going. Ernie said do you fancy coming to the pictures and that was it. I was about 16 then.

Ernie and Daisy

Photo taken of Daisy and Ernie at the time of their engagement.

We got married at the Holy Trinity Church in Dalston, I was 20 and Granddad was 28. The church we got married in is the church that all the clowns use once a year for get together celebrations (See text box on page 15). After the wedding Mum got a joint of boiling bacon, mashed potatoes and peas, and people just helped themselves. My uncle had the pub, so he saved up what he could and he asked all his mates in the licensing trade, and he came up in a big taxi on the wedding day with a load of beer. I think there were about 30 at the wedding, relations and a couple of Ernie’s mates from work. You didn’t have a party, everyone left about 7-8 o’ clock to get home before the bombing started. Honeymoon was in the bloody Anderson shelter.

Holy Trinity Church in Dalston is known as the clowns church thanks to the annual service held there on the first Sunday in February every year in memory of the great Georgian clown Joey Grimaldi, and to light a candle for contemporary clowns who have died over the past 12 months. The annual institution dates back to 1946, moving to Holy Trinity after the Islington church where Grimaldi is buried closed. The church is a Grade II listed building built in 1878/1879.

One night we were in the Anderson Shelter in Hackney in our bunk beds. The raid was bad and we were laying there and we were asleep and I had such a pain in my face, it really hurt and I started screaming ‘shrapnel’s coming in, shrapnel’s coming in’ and one of them got the torch and we had a look and there was no holes in the Anderson. My brother had dropped the ashtray down on my face! I had a big black eye and I had only been married a week or so. When I went out shopping neighbours (jokingly) said ‘oh he’s bashed you about already has he’.
Once we were married I didn’t go back to work at Feltham, I got a job in a factory that made ammunition boxes and I was putting felt lining in them. It was bombed out from there. The firm moved to Tottenham. Then I fell (pregnant) with your mother and that was it.
Ernie worked for FJ Edwards in Euston Road, just by Kings Cross Station, as a machine tool maker. If you got to a certain age the government called you into the army. He did try to get in the navy. His mate got through but he didn’t because he was skilled. His mate went on The Hood and drowned when it was sunk by the Bismarck. 1,500 people died.

The City was really bombed, St. Paul’s and the docks, it really was bad there. Each day felt like you were on borrowed time. Our house was bomb damaged; windows blown out, walls cracked. You just got on with it. One of the chaps I knew, he came back blind, and another chap’s face was a mass of scars where he had got blown up with shrapnel.

You had your ARP (Air Raid Precaution) warden walking round. There was stables round the back, and with these incendiary bombs it was catching light, and Horry and my dad and other men went round and got the horses out.

Some of the men stood on top all night in the raids. The night we had the incendiary bombs we were in the underground shelter in the street. We didn’t have an Anderson shelter. Everyone had to do firewatch but my mum was too deaf.

Our family house was so bomb damaged that we had to move out of the City Road and into Hackney. You couldn’t get a room, everybody was bombed out. We only got to Hackney because the insurance man told us of it. Mr. Lock used to come every week for money for the insurance and he said that there were rooms in Hackney.

We didn’t have an allotment in the City of London cos there wasn’t the room but when we moved to Hackney we had one. My dad grew potatoes, onions, cabbages, beetroot and celery, you had that up in cardboard to stop the dirt getting into it. Just stuff that you had every day. He didn’t have fruit. Sometimes he’d be up there on a weekday night but mostly weekends. We all went over there to dig up. It saved mum queuing up when she got home from work. We had tomatoes in the garden. He gave it up when his firm moved and he moved to Kent.

previous | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | next

It's just the way things were - e-mail: warren@itsjustthewaythingswere.com © Copyright 2013