Interview with Pauline Holloway


Interview with Pauline Holloway


Pauline Holloway grew up in Harrow and turned eighteen one month before the end of the Second World War. She recollects listening to Churchill’s speeches on the radio, sheltering during air attacks in a purpose-built extension to her house, and hearing the distinctive noise of V-1 and V-2. When a bomb landed near her school, she remembers her teacher running ahead of the pupils to take cover. Holloway’s father moved his office from Oxford Street to their home, her brother joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and her mother ensured they never went hungry. As her only source of information was the cinema, she notes that she rarely felt scared and only came to appreciate people’s suffering after the war was over. Finally, she describes her post-war life and her opinions regarding the criticism against Bomber Command.




Temporal Coverage





00:58:57 audio recording


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CB: My name is Chris Brockbank and today is Tue- Monday the 23rd of October 2017, and I’m in a small village called Field Assarts near Witney, talking to Pauline Holloway about her recollections of the war as a minor, as an M-I-N-O-R. So, Pauline what are your earliest recollections of life?
PH: Of life? I suppose my father and mother, ‘cause my father was very stern but kind, he was a chartered accountant and worked in Oxford Street in London, and mother was very maternal, and I had a brother, who was nine years older than me. I used to be rather reserved, liked reading and animals but not people very much [chuckles]. I had one set of grandparents, the others had died, and again my grandfather was very strict [pauses]. I’m jumping now to when the war started.
CB: Ok.
PH: Because I remember the day, I remember Churchill speaking on the radio ‘cause Churchill became quite a, a pin-up for me, I thought he was wonderful. I’ve learnt about him since but I remember that on the radio and I remember the siren going off almost immediately, but nothing happened thank goodness although people were in a panic. I don’t know what my parents thought. I wasn’t personally very scared ‘cause I didn’t really know what was going on. My brother joined up almost immediately, and eventually he went into the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders for some reason, he was persuading that we had Scottish ancestors. I remained at home, I was offered homes in New Zealand, America and South Africa from relations to the family, but I didn’t want to go, and my parents didn’t want to make me. I don’t know when it happened but father had a brick shelter built on the side of the back of the house, in which there were two bunks, where mother and I slept during the Blitz. He moved his office to Harrow from Oxford Street, and he had a big office in what we had as a morning room ‘cause we had quite a large corner house, and he used to sleep under the metal table, mother and I in the bunks and I was always worried ‘cause the little dog had to sleep under the kitchen table and was shut away from us, so I really was worried about that, but parents wouldn’t have dog in with us [pauses] I seemed to go on going to school, which was quite a way away. I’ve been trying to work out the distance but it took me about ten minutes, quarter of an hour to walk or I cycled, and I don’t seem to have be worried about what was going on in the air maybe, but perhaps that was because most of the raids were at night. We used to stand outside, first of all having heard the bombers (well they presumed they were the German bombers) come across and then we used to see this red in the sky, which went on for hours which was the, obviously the effect of the bombing on London. Again, I didn’t really appreciate what was going on, mother and dad must’ve done. I was more worried because I had a rabbit outside, and during one of the raids after having a litter, she ate them all. I think to protect them. School, we had a large hall which was sandbagged, I don’t think it really was much help with bombs but we went in there if there was a, a siren, and we did have a bomb once opposite and I can’t find out quite where it was ‘cause we were in the high street, Harrow, and the railway line was somewhere opposite but I think it was beyond that but the probably might’ve been dropping it on the railway line, or it was jettisoned I do not know ‘cause it was just one bomb. But what I very, very firmly remember is that the teacher went out first, instead of marshalling us together and we followed her out but she rushed out first, which I didn’t think much of. Then we had no more bombs near us but we could hear the doodlebugs go over, which I didn’t like at all, I was scared of those ‘cause you heard them cut out and you didn’t know where the, the next blast was going to be. I think quite a few went down into the South Harrow, Wealdstone area where there was a Kodak factory and I don’t think, I can’t remember what Kodak was doing in those days, but it was doing something obviously. [Pause] I remember we went up to stay with the grandparents early in the war, who lived in Birkdale, Southport, and we thought we’d have a peaceful time up there for a bit, and low and behold they came and bombed Liverpool that night so we heard the most horrific noises going on. We came down to Minster Lovell to stay during the war, I think it was after the main bombing was over, we used to come down for two weeks at a time to stay at the Swan at Minster Lovell, which consequently my father brought a plot of land after the war, had a cottage built there. [Pauses] I was trying to think back to the rationing, but we always seemed to eat well, mother was very clever, and we had a good greengrocer, and I think we must’ve had some extra from somewhere but I don’t think it was black market, and I remember crystalised fruits being sent over from South Africa by the relations over there, and also, I remember VE Day evening celebrations spent with girlfriends up on the hill at Harrow, which was all very jolly. But what amazed me was, after the war- Blitz was over, not the war, we had terrific thunderstorm and I was more frightened of that then the bombs, and that’s all I can really remember at the moment. About my brother he, he was damaged on training and hurt his back and consequently had a lame leg afterwards and he didn’t go abroad for fighting but he was busy down on the coast when D-Day occurred. He was doing some work down there. All that you saw of the war was when I went to the cinema and saw the trailers. It’s amazing what we hear now, what we didn’t hear then, which was a good job, I think. So that is really all I can remember.
CB: You spoke about going to school down the road and a bomb went off nearby?
PH: No, I was at- We were in school?
CB: In school, yes. What, what was the reaction of the other pupils to that?
PH: I think we all just calmly went into the hall but it was this teacher rushing in front, save her own skin, which rather put me off.
CB: So, she vanished, did she?
PH: She wasn’t a very nice teacher anyway. She stayed there [chuckles]. No, all I can remember the war, it was jolly cold at school ‘cause we didn’t have much heating.
CB: So was it the same school throughout your-
PH: I went there from-
CB: -learning, or?
PH: Yes, about eleven to eighteen I think it was.
CB: And what, what were you specialising in, in particular yourself, of interest?
PH: Well, I was interested in being outdoors, so I ended up doing horticulture.
CB: And what age did you leave school then?
PH: At eighteen, and couldn’t go to the college until the year after war ended because it, it had been bombed down there, it was in Kent.
CB: What the horticultural college was in Kent? So, which one did you go to in the end?
PH: I went in the end to Wye college, the South-Eastern Agricultural college it was then, then its name was changed. ‘Cause I was going to Swanley and Swanley was bombed. So, we had a mix up of people going to university ‘cause of course we had people out of the forces, land girls, green people like me straight from school. It was a good mix up.
CB: And what tales did you get from the land girls and the people who’d been in the forces when you were all on the course together?
PH: I don’t think we asked much about it, my sister-in-law was a land girl actually, my brother’s wife. They got married during the war and I can’t remember what date.
CB: What made them get married in the war and not wait till the end, do you think?
PH: I don’t know, maybe because of his damage. Because he certainly wasn’t- I always think he was damaged by the war because he’d done this in battle training, this leaping about and hurt his back and of course in those days back operations weren’t like they are now.
CB: But he was able to continue service in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders?
PH: I think he went on in that for a bit, yes, ‘cause he was stationed out on the Shetland Island-
CB: Oh.
PH: -for some time, at Lerwick.
CB: And did he correspond with home regularly?
PH: Not very.
CB: What about coming home on leave, did he?
PH: Um, that I can’t remember, not a lot. He was glad to get away because he didn’t want to be a chartered accountant, which he was, he would’ve liked to of done what I did [chuckles] but, sadly it wasn’t to be.
CB: So, you made a career in horticulture.
Ph: Yes.
CB: Was your husband in the same type of business?
PH: No, he was a farmer.
CB: Right, and how did you meet him?
PH: Met him after the war, obviously, at a young farmers club dance. My mother met him first, she got chatting to him, she came with me, because I was just driving, I’d just passed the test and she came with me and met him.
CB: Gave a stamp of approval, did she?
PH: Pardon me?
CB: She gave a stamp of approval?
PH: Yes, I think so [chuckles].
CB: So that was local to here was it? Or where, where did you meet?
PH: It was Burford.
CB: Oh, in Burford, right, and what were you doing at that time.
PH: Well, I was starting up a nursery garden, cause my father was keen on me doing that, at this cottage that we’d had done, I mean this is quite a while after the war, and we started up what we called the stone wall nurseries, and I’m afraid he died, forty-nine, and I gave that up. So, I did jobbing gardening for a bit, and of course my mother had an acre of garden so I had to look after that.
CB: So, when did you parents buy the house, in the first place?
PH: Pardon me?
CB: When did your parents buy the house?
PH: Well, he had it- It was only a shell of the cottage and he had it restored which got, got the date up. Well there were two cottages and another piece, piece of cottage, which he didn’t use so they really- They weren’t- You weren’t allowed to spend more than a certain amount after the war on building.
CB: Oh.
PH: So otherwise, he was wanting a bungalow built up the top of this piece of land which would’ve made a lovely outlook. But it’s beautiful the cottage, well it, it’s basic but it’s lovely, and he was going to retire there, he managed to come down for bits of time and then he died, so mother came down with me and I couldn’t- hadn’t got the money to carry on with the nursery, so as I say I looked after the garden and did jobbing gardening.
CB: And they- This was the restriction of the town and country planning act?
PH: Yes, I think so.
CB: Yes, did, did they grow a lot of vegetables in the war as required by the?
PH: Oh, we were doing things in our garden in Harrow.
CB: Yes.
PH: Dad and I were growing a few potatoes and odd things like that.
CB: How big was the garden in Harrow?
PH: Well fairly big in a corner house but not enormous, we had a few fruit trees in the back and the summer house, and this shelter thing.
CB: The shelter was-
PH: I can’t remember when he had that built. Must’ve known before the war because it was up quite soon ‘cause I can’t even remember when the blitz started.
CB: In 1940.
PH: 1940, yes. Yes, ‘cause that's when we started. Oh, we went down to Southhampton at the beginning of 1940, or Christmas because my brother was down there so we went to visit him. ‘Cause I remember playing darts with an admiral I think it was. I hated going there ‘cause I hated going away, and didn’t like sleeping upstairs on my own [chuckles] I was a terribly nervy person. I think that’s the only time we went down there, then we kept coming to Minster Lovell. Through a clerk of my fathers who found the place, and said it was nice and peaceful, so we came there.
CB: But Southampton itself was on the receiving end of a good deal of bombing, so what did you experience?
PH: Well yes, I think that was afterward you see, we didn’t- It was early on then.
CB: Oh, this was 1939 you went there?
PH: It might’ve been, might’ve been 1940.
CB: Yeah, the early part of ‘40.
PH: Yes, yes.
CB: Right, Christmas ‘39. ‘40.
PH: No, it wouldn’t’ve been Christmas ‘39 I don’t think.
CB: Because the bombing had well and truly started in, in-
PH: Had it?
CB: -in 1940.
PH: Well, it probably was then, maybe.
CB: ‘Cause the Blitz went right on through the winter.
PH: Yes, yes cause he- If he joined up at the beginning, he would’ve been in, in there- Yep, I should think you’re right, yes.
CB: And what about relatives of yours who were around the country, did, did they experience bombing as well?
PH: Most of them were in Surrey, and some were at Sussex. I don’t, I don’t recollect you see. If things were going on you weren’t always told.
CB: No, right.
PH: You were sent out of the room when serious things-
CB: Oh, were they? Were you? Yes.
PH: I was a lot.
CB: What were they actually talking out do you think?
PH: I don’t know, some of the time.
CB: You weren’t at the door with a cup to get the better sound?
PH: No, I didn’t, I didn’t listen in.
CB: A glass, yeah. But they asked you to go out did they, or told you to go out when they were talking about certain things?
PH: Sometimes, yes.
CB: So, you mentioned doodlebugs earlier, so the bombing essentially was in two batches-
PH: Yes.
CB: -there was the Blitz-
PH: Then there was the-
CB: -and then in ‘44 the doodlebugs started, so.
PH: ‘44, and what was the other one afterwards?
CB: The V, V-2.
PH: Oh, they were horrible.
CB: So, what did you actually see of the effects of those?
PH: I didn’t see anything. I didn’t actually see anything until I probably- We probably went up to London after the war. So, all as I say I saw was on film.
CB: Did you go to London after the war particularly, specifically to look at the destruction caused by the bombing?
PH: No, I wouldn’t’ve done.
CB: Or were- Did you go for another reason?
PH: I must’ve gone for gone for something else.
CB: And during the Blitz, from Harrow, what did you do there ‘cause that’s 1940 so, by that time you’re fifteen.
PH: Well, I just remember keeping on going to school.
CB: But did you view these fires that you mentioned earlier?
PH: Well from the distance ‘cause it was quite a distance away from [unclear].
CB: Yes, would you go up the hill to view them-
PH: No
CB: -or could you see them perfectly well from-
PH: [unclear] from our back- Outside the house. No, I never went to view anything.
CB: And when you looked at this burning what did that- What went through your mind?
PH: I don’t remember. This is where I don’t seem to have registered. I mean they must’ve been horrified, my parents. But I suppose I felt secure where I was, I wasn’t frightened when we were sleeping in our bunks. I just didn’t like much sleeping in a bunk with mother underneath, and the dog shut in the kitchen. But we must’ve been there all through the Blitz.
CB: You mentioned the teacher who was first out, when the bomb landed nearby. When everything recovered, in other words, the school carried- went back to normal-
PH: I expect we did, yes.
CB: - what was the conversation amongst the students and the teachers about what had happened?
PH: I’m afraid I don’t remember.
CB: And was there, in the curriculum effectively, was there a running commentary of what was going on in the war?
PH: No, no I think we were just going on with our ordinary lessons.
CB: And did you have assemblies in the school?
PH: Yes.
CB: And was that an opportunity for the head to say something? Did- Were-
PH: She probably did, ‘cause she was a very sort of upright person in more ways than one. She had us all under her thumb.
CB: And what was your parents' attitude really to the war? That you perceived?
PH: See I’ve never asked them about it afterwards.
CB: But were you conscious in the war of them being more strict, more careful, more vocal?
PH: Oh, mother was more nervous cause she was that sort of person. I think they rather sheltered me. Well, she was nearly forty when she had me, you know, cause my brother was born was earlier.
CB: What about friends you had, did you have a circle of friends or a best friend at school?
PH: Yes.
CB: And what happened with them?
PH: Well, one of them lived down below me, on the way to school, I’m thinking down the road, and she- Her father had a nursery garden in Pinner, or near Pinner. They moved away to Loudwater but I think that was afterwards. He’d been in the merchant navy but I think it must’ve been, it can’t’ve been in the second world war ‘cause he used to walk me home and tell me about the stars sometimes, from her house.
CB: Oh right.
PH: No, it’s strange how I can’t remember what I thought, or what other people thought at all.
CB: So, Harrow is something over fifteen miles from the centre of London, and a bit more from the city. Are you saying that actually it was almost like being in a different world because it wasn’t happening with you?
PH: Not really, no. It did seem quite near, but I didn’t think of anyone suffering or any, what went on.
CB: ‘Cause people in the community will have- Some of the people in the community will have had loved ones lost or injured.
PH: Yes.
CB: To what extent was the population aware of that?
PH: There again, I don’t really know.
CB: One of the volunteer factors operated in the war was fire watching, which people with occupations like your fathers had to do. What did your father do?
PH: He didn’t do anything ‘cause he was quite old I think and he was very decrepit, he had gout and-
CB: Oh right.
PH: My husband was in the, Dad’s Army [chuckles].
CB: In the Home Guard?
PH: On the Home Guard.
CB: What was he doing then?
PH: ‘Cause he was out here in the country, they had the odd bomb. In fact, one was- I think one fell over Leafield but that was jettisoned.
CB: As the bomber was going home?
PH: Yep.
CB: Did you see any of the intruding planes in the daytime, or just aware at night?
PH: I might’ve done, I can’t remember. I just know the drone.
CB: Of course, near Harrow is Northolt.
PH: Yes
CB: As an airfield, RAF airfield in the war, so how much did you- How conscious were you of the flying that was going on there?
PH: Not at all, we didn’t seem to worry us. I mean I don’t know if we would’ve been in the flight path of bombers, I can’t work out, you know, coming from Germany.
CB: Well, Northolt was a fighter field but I’m just wondering whether you were conscious of the planes going up and perhaps challenging the bombers you see.
PH: No.
CB: Going back to your brother, what was your parent's reaction to your brother's injuries?
PH: Oh I think they were very distressed about it. We all were really because I was affected a bit by that.
CB: In what way?
PH: Well, I rather idolised my brother ‘cause he thought the world of me, his kid sister, and I was concerned about him but he always had a limp afterwards [pause] but he’s been dead quite a while, so.
CB: Yes, well he- Did you say nine years older than you?
PH: Yes.
CB: Yes
PH: He died in ‘86, father in ‘49 and mother in- I was only just about twenty-one or something when father died. Yeah, I think, it might’ve been the first time I went up to London. I went up to London ‘cause he wanted a grapefruit, he was so ill in a nursing home, he would go into a nursing home but he didn’t want my mother worried. He was in Harrow, and I went up to town to find a grapefruit ‘cause I know I was so upset, I was crying in the train [chuckles]. I did find a grapefruit, but you know we hadn’t had those during the war, nor oranges.
CB: No.
PH: Yet we kept very, very healthy on bread and potatoes didn’t you.
CB: You said you were never short of food so-
PH: No, we didn’t seem to be. Mother must’ve been very clever.
CB: Yes, was it a combination of careful cooking and the fact that-
PH: Yes, this greengrocer down the road who seemed to have everything. A good fishmonger somewhere.
CB: So, the rationing had less effect?
PH: I think it affected us, yes. I didn’t like the egg, dried egg mixture much.
Other: No, they were still using that up when I went to school [laughs] like in 1956. They had stocks and stocks of it, which they sold to schools as far as I can work out. Awful [chuckles].
CB: We’ll just take a pause there.
PH: We came down to live at Ramsden, just along-
Other: Oh, just down the road.
CB: What-
PH: I don’t know what he was-
CB: So, you’re- Why did your brother go in the army?
PH: I don’t know, haven’t any- Don’t know why he did.
CB: And then his great friend did what? What did his great friend do?
PH: The friend went in the RAF.
CB: Yes.
PH: And who went where first, I don’t remember that.
CB: Right, were they similar age?
PH: Probably.
CB: And how much did you keep in touch with them?
PH: I don’t know, the parents lived in Harrow so they were in touch with my mother and father-
CB: Yes.
PH: -and me, up to a point ‘cause they hadn’t got any other children.
CB: What about evacuees, because some people were evacuated-
PH: I know.
CB: -to outer parts of London, did you see any in Harrow?
PH: I don’t think- No and I don’t think any of my friends were evacuated.
CB: What about children coming from East London into Harrow, did you?
PH: They may have done but not-
CB: Not in your school?
PH: Not in- No.
CB: And were you aware then as a child about the evacuation system?
PH: Was I- I don’t know? See I’ve seen so much about it now, there’s films made of it.
CB: Yes, yes.
PH: I don’t probably think I did, ‘cause again we weren’t told. It wouldn’t be on the radio very much. We didn’t have the media, did we?
CB: No. Right, we’ll just stop there again. You spoke a bit earlier about family members abroad who effectively were offering evacuation, what, what was your parents' reaction to that?
PH: Well, I don’t think they, they didn’t ask me if I wanted to go and I don’t think they wanted me to go ‘cause they probably thought there was no need. I don’t know why the family offered it, but very kind of them, but two lots were the- There was the brother of my father in New Zealand and a brother in Massachusetts I think it was, and I can’t- Oh yes, a brother in New Zealand and a brother in Massachusetts or Canada, both his brothers went abroad.
CB: And you mentioned South Africa as well?
PH: That was cousins.
CB: Right. So, their motivation was similar presumably?
PH: They’ve probably- They thought it would be a good idea to offer because- Keep me safe.
CB: And if you’d had to option, which you said you didn’t, what would you have thought?
PH: Well, I was a terrible homebird, I wouldn’t’ve wanted to leave.
CB: And friends of yours were similar age, so they wouldn’t’ve been in the forces in the war.
PH: No, no.
CB: Did you, did you consider, and did any of them consider joining the forces after the war?
PH: I don’t know, I know one did. A woman who became quite high in the, in the WAAF, and I can’t- I can remember her name but I can’t remember what position she held. She obviously was keen, and did someone go in the land army? I can’t remember. No, I don’t think so. No. No one else wanted- I mean I would have wanted to go in the land army if I'd- If the war had still been on. I also thought about the na- the women’s navy but I don’t think I’d have been much good on boats. No, I think the land army would’ve been the thing.
CB: Right, let’s pause there for a moment.
PH: No, I can remember listening to Churchill, all his speeches, and being very hyped up with them. He really was a pin up.
CB: As a teenager, what did it make- Listening to him what it- What did it make you?
PH: Well, it almost made me feel that we were doing well and, how wonderful everyone was being.
CB: Did it give you the feeling that you’d like- If you were older, that you’d like to be involved?
PH: Not really, no, no.
CB: And what did you think about women joining the forces when they were old enough?
PH: Well, I should’ve been quite happy about it I expect, if they wanted to.
CB: I’ll just stop there then. What did you do when you were a younger child before the war started?
PH: I say, I suppose most of the time I spent up in my room reading [chuckles]. Dad and I did a bit of gardening, I mean I worshipped him. I loved him in away more than mother cause when he died, I transferred cause my mother needed support. But he was one of those that inspired you, you know, we used to- Well it’s when we came to Minster Lovell so this is after the war, we went for long walks and stopped at pubs and I had to sit outside with a shandy and he went in and had a beer and talked about gloving[?] to the person. But he was, he was an interesting man and he loved words. That’s why I’m on crosswords and things like that. I think he was more, more educated in his way than dear mother was. She’d come from a large family, they all had to fend for themselves because their father had died early, and mother had brought them up, but she was a lovely lady, really, everyone spoke very highly of her after she died. No, I think, like you said, I was a happy child in a way.
CB: Did you feel that there was any restriction on the availability of food?
PH: No that’s why I’m amazed to hear how difficult people found it since seeing clips about the war since.
CB: But fruit?
PH: Fruit of course, no I don’t think it worried me. Perhaps I wasn’t a fruit person then. We had apples. I mean we had things like tripe and stewed chic- stewed rabbit. Mother made some very good things with sauces but, didn’t like tripe [laughs]. Black pudding because my father came from Lancashire so,
Other: Black pudding’s alright.
CB: What had brought him down here in the first place?
PH: I don’t know. He trained to be a chartered accountant up there and then he came and set up an office, he was quite clever, and then eventually the company merged with another company. Well, that was after- No that was before he died, after he’d moved from Oxford Street.
CB: Did he change from one company to another?
PH: No, the other company- Somebody joined him.
CB: And then when he came to retire what did he do?
PH: Well, he didn’t retire, he was still working.
CB: Oh, he was.
PH: Then he became ill and all sorts of things go wrong with him and went into a nursing home and eventually died, and he wouldn’t have- Mother and I weren’t allowed to go to the funeral, he was that sort of person, you know.
CB: Gosh.
PH: Only my brother went to the, well I think it was a cremation. I suppose that’s typical Victorian. I realise that now, that I had some partly Victorian upbringing, you see. If you look back.
Other: So, was it his own business, did he start the business that was in- Was it his own business?
PH: Yes.
Other: And so, when he shut down his office in Oxford Street and moved to your Morning room-
PH: Well, he had one in Harrow as well.
Other Oh, he had one in Harrow as well.
PH: Where the clerks work yes.
Other: So, did that, did that effect his business, did he find that he got more business or less business?
PH: I don’t know, he had business all over the place ‘cause he had these people up in Aberdeen who asked me for a hol- I went for a holiday there with a friend after school. Was that in the war? No, I don’t think so, it must have been after war had ended.
Other: Did he travel a lot and did he drive?
PH: He used to go up to- He didn’t drive himself he always had a chauffeur, but my brother and he used to go up to the Lake District and fish.
Other: Oh right
PH: He was a fisherman and a golfer.
Other: So how did he get into work here in Morning before he moved the office?
PH: I think he used- One time he walked home from the station but later on he had, had a car and someone to drive in.
Other: So, he didn’t go on the underground then?
PH: No.
Other: No, no.
PH: No.
Other: And can I carry on Chris like this? I’m intrigued by this shelter, he, he built in the garden
PH: I’m intrigued by it and I haven’t got a photograph of it
Other: And I mean-
PH: But it was brick.
Other: Yeah, and was it done inside- It was a lead to, to the house-
PH: Yes it was.
Other: - or was it underground?
PH: We had to get into it from the house.
Other: Ah right.
PH: The door was from the room that father had the office in.
Other: So he had to knock a whole in the wall?
PH: Yes they must’ve done that. I don’t even remember it being done.
Other: No, and was it a sloping roof like that?
PH: I think so yes.
Other: Yeah, so it’s just a normal add on really?
PH: Yes, yes it was, I suppose, you know, if the house collapsed, we’d be better off in a smaller place?
Other: Outside, yeah, yes.
PH: Don’t know if anyone else had any.
CB: Most people had Anderson shelters.
PH: Yes.
CB: But you didn’t have one of those as well
PH: No. I don’t know if there were any next door. Can’t remember seeing any.
CB: After the war, you said you’d seen all these films.
PH: Yes
CB: So what, what was your appreciation of what had actually been happening, from that?
PH: Well from that I realised what had happened and, my marvel at people’s resilience, ‘cause some people went through horrific times didn’t they?
CB: They did, yeah.
PH: You see- What I'm also thinking is bomber command, what- Were they the ones that were criticised for bombing Dresden?
CB: Yes.
PH: ‘Cause I always thought that was, that was a poor show because they shouldn’t’ve been after what we’d put up with.
Other: [Chuckles] Exactly. No, I think it was thought not to have been cricket really.
CB: And so when did you, when did you think that the criticisms of that emerged?
PH: Well recently when I, suppose during the last few years when I heard about it.
CB: These years, recently?
PH: Recently.
CB: Yes, yes, yeah.
PH: Yes, I thought about that war quite a lot the last few years because I watch and listen to these war- Well some war films and there’s been some quite good bits on Freeview yesterday about war.
CB: What was that about?
PH: Well about rationing and people not having much to eat, and not much coal to have any heat in their homes.
CB: Just stop there a mo. I think we’ve done really well, thank you, [unclear].
PH: Would you like a cup of tea?
CB: Oh, that’d be lovely thank you.
Other: That would be lovely.
PH: You like tea or?
Other: Yes, tea.
CB: Yes
Other: Did you, did you-
CB: We’ve exhausted that-
PH: If you need a cloakroom there’s one down here.
CB: Oh yes thank you. [Pause]
Other: She said that the V-2's were horrible, but she hasn’t actually said much more about that yet.
CB: No, we’ll cover that, yeah. That’s a really good point, thank you. We’ve covered evacuees. I wonder whether part of that is the-
PH: Did Roy live in Easten as well?
CB: Pardon?
PH: Did Roy live in Easten as well?
CB: No, he lived in south London.
PH: I thought he-
CB: I’m just trying to think where it was. Elton- Oh no he lived in Welling so he was originally in- Which is right next to Woolwich.
PH: Oh yes
CB: So, that’s where it was, yes.
PH: She probably told me but I-
CB: So, stuff was coming over? I tell you the bit (John’s just reminded me) about V-1's and V-2's going, ‘cause the kettle is on is it, you’re waiting for it? You mentioned earlier about V-1's and V-2's, what is it particularly that strikes you about those?
PH: I don’t know, it was just the noise of them ‘cause when you heard planes going over it’s different ‘cause they were higher, these things seemed to make a horrible noise and then-
CB: That’s the doodlebug, the V1, yes.
PH: And then I'm sure a lot were aimed down at Wealdstone where this Kodak factory was-
CB: Factory was, yes.
PH: -possibly manufacturing something else, during the war, I think it was, I can’t remember what. But I didn’t like those, I think I was realising more, I was older you see.
CB: Yes.
PH: That’s what I was a bit scared of, I think, when I went to school.
CB: Did you actually hear one come down somewhere, the explosion of a doodlebug?
PH: Yes
CB: In Harrow area?
PH: Somewhere in the area, yes.
CB: I’ll have to look it up. And what about the V-2, what, what perception did you have of that?
PH: I don’t know, I just thought they were horrific.
CB: Yeah.
PH: I didn’t like those.
CB: No I wondered how you formed that view, you see.
PH: I think I must’ve suddenly realised that there were dangerous things about ‘cause you didn’t know what was gonna happen. If there was a plane above you might expect a bomb, but They were so unknown weren’t they. Very before their time weren't they.
CB: Well, a number of people found V-2’s unnerving because they were unexpected and impossible to detect, even if you thought you might be able to.
PH: Realising then, what was going on. Do help yourself to another one.
Other: Thank you, very much.
CB: The school leaving age at your time of studies was fourteen, why did you continue school till you were eighteen?
PH: Partly cause my father wanted me to learn more, and I wanted to stay on, and my school was, being a private school, it, we did usually stay on but also, I had to retake my maths O levels again because they have been rather, my worst subject.
CB: You probably weren’t alone with that.
PH: [Chuckles] No, I've used them so much since.
CB: So, it was good to stay on?
PH: Yeah.
CB: Now, what about your contemporaries, because you left school just before the war finished- The war finished one month later after your eighteenth birthday.
PH: Well one particular friend went off to do Froebel[?] teaching.
CB: What was that?
PH: It’s a special form of teaching children. It was a Froebel[?] - It was a training course. I think it was Froebel[?], and one seems to have gone into the RAF, ‘cause she did very well. Another went, her father was one of the directors to Marks and Spencer's so she went into that, and other ones. One was a teacher, I can’t remember, I can’t remember what my friend down the road went to do, don’t think she did much. Oh, she was doing art. That’s right. I’d like to have done art but I didn’t.
CB: And the RAF one did you catch up with her again later or?
PH: I think I corresponded with her for one time and then it was someone else who told me what she’d, she’d become to this commander or something, I know it was quite a high office. Then I lost- I didn’t have her address so lost touch and I didn’t go to the school to have a reunion which I should’ve done.
CB: Ah right. What, what was your father's expectation of your career?
PH: Well, he was very happy that I ended up working outside, and he was very keen on this nursery with me, I think he was living a dream through me, which would’ve been fun but, I did sell a few flowers. We had masses of fruit to pick too.
CB: Could you get rid of the fruit fairly easily?
PH: Yes, yes. ‘Cause I think a local pub had some of them and my mother was a great bottler, she bottled.
Other: Kilner jars.
PH: Yes, that’s right. Yes, runner beans in Kilner jars, I didn’t like them.
CB: Which type of vegetable did you like most?
PH: I don’t know ‘cause we all- ‘Cause they were always in a season them, weren’t they? I think I liked them all at that time.
CB: It’s just some of them are more trouble to rear than others, but some of them the taste-
PH: I don’t like some cabbage, when it’s cooked too much, but cabbage can be a lovely vegetable.
CB: Stop there again.
PH: - could speak to them.
CB: Yes.
PH: You have more in common. Well, I’ve beaten them anyway, I was getting older than- My aunt lived to a hundred-and-five, I hope I won’t.
CB: That’s an interesting amount.
PH: She was wonderful.
CB: But extraordinary
PH: She was in Australia during the war
CB: Oh right. But what, extraordinary that your mother should have arthritis at twenty-one.
PH: Yes, she was in a wheelchair she said at twenty-one.
CB: Was she really? So somehow, they’d had successful treatment, had they?
PH: Yes, oh she went to have beestings and all sorts of things, and they went to these [unclear] which- I remember there was a great cupboard that’s what put me off pills I think for the rest of my life. Great cupboard full of notions and potions and tablets and things, at Harrow.
CB: So, as you were growing up to what extent were you aware of your mother's difficulty, even suffering?
PH: I was aware as I got older obviously, and then she had a massive operation. Actually, this is what I say it was a year, when we came up in ‘61 it was just fortuitous, and we came to live here because she was up in Minster Lovell in the cottage with an aunt, and I think it was another aunt not the one that was a hundred-and five, and she had a massive operation for bowel cancer, and my brother and I sort of spent hours in the hospital, supported her. Then she came home and she wasn’t too well for five years but she, she coped but I did a lot more for her then and I think I realised then what she was going through. So-
CB: And your father was supporting her all this time?
PH: No, he was dead you see, 1959 he had died.
CB: Oh, he was dead by then.
PH: He died about, aged 65 I think he was.
CB: Average age for that era.
PH: No mother was eighty-one, and the aunt- Well all the aunts, they’re all dead now. They were quite an age but this one was, was old. She said it was her drop of gin that kept her going. She signed the [unclear], came back to live with mother and of course they had a lot of gin. She had a budgerigar and she taught my mother’s budgerigar to say, ‘Have a drop of old dear’. [All laugh]
CB: You mentioned you-
PH: With an Australian accent.
CB: Oh right [laughs]. You mentioned your parents playing tennis, did you enjoy sport a lot at school?
PH: I wasn’t great, I played netball but we didn’t do much else. I did, I did play a bit of tennis but I was going to take it up again when I was adult and the children had gone to school, but I had a bad back which, which was through the gardening that I’d done. I think also a bit hereditary, my son’s got aches and pains and we think it’s through my parents, whereas Jane is ok.
CB: Is she, really?
Other: Well, your brother had- I mean he suffered with his back?
PH: Well, he did, yes, after this damage. He was alright before, it was a shame.
CB: Right, well Pauline Holloway thank you very much for a very interesting conversation.
PH: Well, it’s been, it’s been getting my brain working. I should probably find everything after you’ve gone.



Chris Brockbank, “Interview with Pauline Holloway,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 1, 2024,

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