Interview with Joy Joy. One


Interview with Joy Joy. One


Joy Joy was evacuated from Hull at the start of the war. She returned home for Christmas. She was again evacuated as the bombings began. She took responsibility for her younger sister although she was only six years old herself and she says that from that time she never really had a childhood. Joy’s brother Harry was Bomber Command aircrew who was killed during an operation. He had wanted to support her education and she felt this made her want to achieve more. She joined the WAAF and trained as a dental hygienist. She met her husband and amongst their postings was several to Germany including one near Belsen.




Temporal Coverage





01:45:38 audio recording


IBCC Digital Archive


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AJoyJ170920, PJoyJ1701


CH: This interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Centre. The interviewer is Cathie Hewitt. The interviewee is Joy Joy. Also present is Phillipa [unclear]. We are at Joy’s home at [buzz] in Washingborough, and the date is the 20th of September 2017. Thank you very much Joy for inviting us here to interview you. Perhaps you could start by giving us a little bit of information of where you were born and where you were brought up.
JJ: I was born in Kingston upon Hull. I know. Now, you’ve heard it all on the television, haven’t you? Hull. But it’s, they don’t, they don’t call Kingston upon Thames, Thames, do they? And that, that is, that’s what we were told when we were children. That was where we were born was Kingston upon Hull. And then its gradually become Hull. However, that’s where I was and I am the seventh child of eleven children. My mother and father, Harry and Gladys Margaret Carmichael. I understand that, no I remember actually that particular, where we lived. We lived in a flat on top of a bicycle shop in Hull until such times as my father’s ambition, at that time he, he was at that time when I was born he was a lighterman on the, on the Hull and Humber. And so obviously working class family. Whatever that means these days. And his ambition was for us to live in the new estates that were being built then. And we did eventually. We did move into, onto, onto the new, new council estate. It was heaven. It was great. We had anyway that. I’m getting flummoxed, aren’t I?
CH: Could I just ask you a question about your father’s job? What actually was a lighterman?
JJ: Taking supplies. They would load from the docks in the docks at Hull. They would load from the docks on to these [pause] they were like — have you not seen them? The light ships. Like big barges. And then they would go on the inland waterways. You know, to Goole and [pause] and do you not know anything about the inland waterways? Well, you see this is how goods were moved then. And, and he, he also was, I mean prior to that as you saw he’d been briefly, I’m looking at the dates it couldn’t have been all that long that he was in the First World War in the, in the Navy. And I suppose he had a liking for the sea. I’m assuming. But being on the, on the barges, on the lightships it was, that was very hard work. Exceedingly hard work. Because they loaded. I mean you didn’t have all the automatics things going on that they have now and they would be humping things around on their shoulders, you know. Loading things on to, on to the ships.
CH: Can you go back to when you went to school?
JJ: Yes. I can remember. Ah, actually I don’t recall [pause] now when did we move to [pause] Oh yes. We, we my memory of the first, my first school when I was, would be when I was five wouldn’t it? It was called Flinton Grove School. And that was when we’d moved on to this new estate. And I went, went to this, went to Flinton Grove School. But then the war broke out and that was it in ’39 wasn’t it? September the 3rd 1939 and the evacuation came about. And now, let me think. The following [pause] no. That’s right. I was evacuated with my [pause] sister Gladys, who was my next sister, my brother Stanley and another brother. I had a brother, Norman who actually he died during the war. But it was accident. It was an accident. He was accidentally drowned during the war. I don’t remember a great deal about that happening. So, I was only, what? Six. Just six when, when we were evacuated. Were evacuated with them and I was with my sister on one side of the road at this very, very posh house. It was, I think he was an army captain who was in, you know in the war but was the [pause] I can’t remember whether, oh yes I do remember seeing him once. And my brothers were over the other side of the road on a, it was a farm at the other side of the road. At Boston this was can you believe? It seemed, I mean we seemed to be miles and miles and miles away at the other end of the earth. But now, thinking about it I mean you can drive to Boston no trouble at all can’t you? And we were there. Do you really want to hear anything about —
CH: Yes.
JJ: The sort of things that [laughs] We had, had not been, we didn’t know anything about nurseries and things like that. You can imagine. As a large family. But at this house there was a big nursery with a marvellous rocking horse. You know, this big rocking horse and that. And there was a huge staircase. And when, when we first went there I can’t recall how we actually got there but I can remember walking into this house and saying to my sister, ‘I need to go to the toilet.’ And she said, ‘Oh, alright. Let’s go and find one.’ And we just, up these big stairs and we found, and went into this. It was a toilet and it was it was like that. Like this table. Mahogany. Polished mahogany with a loo in it and a handle, a polished brass handle at the side which presumably was the flush. Well, we were used to a flush toilet, you know but it was one the up there. And, you know. Fine. I went and did, you know. So we went and, and then on the way back down the stairs a maid said, ‘What are you doing up there?’ And we were hustled along and ended up in the kitchen downstairs with the cook. And that was, and she said, ‘The next time you go to the toilet,’ and she took us outside, down this pathway and there were the — have you seen the way toilets were then? Well, it was like that. And there was one for, two for adults like that. Side by side. And then a smaller one for a child. And that’s where we, that’s what we were expected to use. When you’ve been used to having a flush toilet that was a bit much wasn’t it? Particularly, however that, that was one of the things I remember particularly about that. About that place. And in the nursery we were allowed in the nursery but the grand, it was their granddaughter that was and she took an instant dislike to, well she was being invaded wasn’t she? She didn’t want to share her things with, with me. And I can, I can remember her dragging me off the bear. There was a bear on wheels. For me this was amazing because we hadn’t seen toys like that and she, I can, I can remember her dragging me off this bear and walloping me. And of course, my sister. And the next thing I knew after that was that we were then sent to another lodging. And it was a fireman and his wife who had, because in those days, you know if you had a spare room they could just requisition, you know. I suppose Freda’s probably told you that. And, but they were very nice. They were a lovely couple. But I don’t know whether you’ve heard about at that time it was called the Phoney War. So you see there was nothing going on in the way of air raids and things here. You know, in the, in the area. So my, by the time it got to it was nearly getting on for Christmas my parents decided they wanted us back again. They weren’t going to leave us there so we went back for Christmas. And I, I will always remember a parcel that the lady, they were called Rimmington, Mr And Mrs Rimmington. Amazing the way a name just suddenly comes back. That’s right. Their daughter was Dorothy who, she became, she was a good friend of my sister Gladys and they kept up, you know, afterwards for a good many years when they were grown up. And we got this brown paper parcel under my arm and Mrs Rimmington said, ‘Don’t, that’s not to be opened until Christmas.’ And it was, it was a Post Office set. I was very popular with my sisters when I, when I opened that. Mine was a Post Office set with all little stamps and a stamper and everything in it. And my sister’s was a sewing box because she was older of course. Hers, she got a sewing box. But I thought that was very, it was very kind of them considering we’d only been with them a few months but they were very good to us. And so then it was back home. And, and then came July 1940 and things started to happen again. There was, you know the bombings started and so on. And so I was seven. Seven in the February. And then my younger sister, the one who had not been with us then this particular day we were [pause] my mother was, we got ready and as I remember it we were, we had, if you can imagine a seven year old and my sister had just started school. She was five in the May so she’d just started school. I was seven and my mother, my mother, we were taken with what we could carry which wasn’t, I’m sure it wasn’t, it wasn’t a suitcase or anything. It was like, it was like a shopping bag with whatever clothes I suppose we could carry in it. And our gas mask. We, by then we’d all been. And parcel, brown paper parcel labels stuck on our clothes with your name on and taken to Paragon Station in Hull at that time. And my mother, we didn’t know where we were going and I don’t, I don’t even remember being told why we were going, you know. But there was me at seven years old. My mother said to me, ‘And remember you are not to be parted.’ And I was in charge of my, my little sister. And I think that was, it was from that moment that I, as an adult I recognised that from that time I did not have a childhood. All I can remember from then has been responsibility. And I’ve, I was very responsible for my sister. And we went to [pause] I don’t, I don’t even recall that there was any one sort of supervising us on the train but I think maybe the train was, it was a particular train or carriage full of whatever and it was just evacuees. And I do remember us stopping at a [pause] on the way. We hadn’t got to where we were going but on, on we, we were having, we had a stop where we were in like in a schoolyard or something it was. Where we were taken. And we were given sandwiches and cups of tea and oh whatever there was there. These nice ladies that came along. And my sister, Doris she suddenly started screaming her head off. And I said, ‘What’s the matter?’ And she, she was blue in the face with screaming and this lady came up to us and she said, she said, ‘What’s, what’s the matter?’ And I was feeling, I was so distressed because I didn’t know what, what to do with. I mean now you think you know as an adult and as a mother you think about that. Why wouldn’t she be? She’d just been turned, suddenly taken off with just me and not knowing where she was, who the people were around her or anything. And this little lady came out and she said, ‘Does she need the closet?’ I didn’t know what she meant. She said, ‘Did she need to go to the toilet?’ And, but it wasn’t that. It wasn’t that. I think she was just [pause] I don’t think she knew what, what it was that was happening to her. And that was the beginning of my feelings that I always had to be able to do something for my sister. And when we got to, when we eventually got to where we were going which can you believe was Belton? [pause] not Grantham. Belton near Doncaster. Belton. Which again seemed to be absolutely miles and miles and miles away. But it was to get you out. You know, away from the, from the docks. And we ended up in a school. In a school room. We didn’t, still didn’t know why we were there. Sitting in all, sitting in these desks and all very well behaved, you know. Children were very well behaved in those days. All doing as they were told. All sitting in these desks. And there was a lady and I’ve remembered her name because I got to know it afterwards. She was called Mrs Kemp. A lady with a clipboard. She sort of came around and counted all the, all the children there. And then we just sat there and every so often there were people, adults coming in and walking around these children and, and then they would go off with them, you know. Ones. It was mostly ones. And every time anybody came near me I took my sister’s hand and I said, ‘And we’re not to be parted.’ Can you believe? Because it then had dawned on me what was going on? That people were taking children home with them. And we were the last. They’d all gone. And this lady, Mrs Kemp with the clipboard was looking rather worried because she was left with a seven and a five year old. And, and then this lady came in and she was full of apologies because she hadn’t been able to get earlier and I, I can tell you she had kind eyes. And Mrs Kemp said, ‘Well,’ she said, ‘This is all I’ve got left.’ [laughs] You know, ‘And they’re together. They’ve got to stay together.’ And I heard, I can now call, we called her auntie so I will now call her auntie, this lady. She, she auntie said, ‘But, well,’ she said, ‘We had thought of someone, one older child.’ And I can remember thinking. I was thinking, ‘Please take us. Please take us.’ And she said, she said, ‘Oh, alright,’ she said and she turned to us and she said, ‘Now,’ she said, ‘You two,’ she said, ‘Wait. Wait here and,’ she said, ‘I’m,’ she said, ‘I’m on my bicycle so,’ she said, ‘I’ll see you back at the house,’ she said, ‘You’ll be alright with,’ and she said the name of somebody and it was this chappie with a horse and cart with a like a little wagon thing. And gosh, wasn’t that, you know. For townies of course this was all new to us. You know. The countryside was completely new. And I, so we had a ride, a ride with the horse and when we got to auntie’s which was, it was a, I suppose you’d call it a cottage but it was a very large, it was a very large cottage. And I’ve always thought about, not at the time because as a child you can’t think these things but as an adult auntie’s, she and her husband, her husband he was part owner of a farm I think across the road. But they were in their [pause] they were middle aged and they had a son in the Air Force. He was flying in in the Air Force. Just one. Just one, an only son. And I’m thinking and now I think goodness me I wonder what on earth she said to her husband before, just in those few minutes before we got there. Because we learned he’d he was a lovely he was a lovely man in the sense but he was very strict and disciplinarian and he, I mean as you know I mean I’ve, in my time wives did as they were told. So goodness knows what it would have been like for her when she said, ‘And we’ve got two children of five and seven.’ However, they were wonderful to us. They really. And we were there. We were with them for all the years of the war up to 1944. When my brother, Harry he came to visit. It would have been, oh I can’t remember. Various ones of the family would have from time to time came to visit. Not, not a lot you know. I mean they couldn’t get around then with the way transport and things were. But he’d visited with his, his then fiancé and, and he’d said to me I, I don’t, I don’t know why or what it was that he’d seen in me or, but then of course I mean he’d seen me grow up hadn’t me up ‘til that age? And he said, he said, ‘I want you,’ he said, ‘Take your scholarship,’ as it was called then. Eleven plus. He said, ‘And pass it.’ He said, ‘I know you can do that,’ he said, ‘And I’ll see you through Grammar School.’ Because initially you know, you did have, you had to pay and you had to pay for your books and what you had to pay for everything and of course I mean he knew my parents you know weren’t in a position to do, to do that. And I took it. And he never knew that I’d passed it because [pause] you know, my mother received the awful telegram that they used to send to them. First of all it said, “Missing in action.” And actually my letter that I had sent to him because we used, we used to write to each other my letter came back some time later. And it said, “Missing,” on it. It hadn’t been opened, you know. It just said, “Missing.” And to, do you know there was something. I’ve now worked it through but for a long, long time I felt guilty at the fact that when I heard that my brother had been killed my first thought was, ‘Oh, well now I can’t go to the Grammar School’ [pause] And I got, I thought how awful that that was my first thought because it was. But then you see you realise as an adult don’t you, you work out. As a child you don’t have adult thoughts and as a child you haven’t reached that point where you know grief as such. Not in the same way. I don’t know whether it might. No, because I talked, I talked to a friend of mine. Her mother had died when she was seven. And it wasn’t until years later that she grieved. It didn’t, she said she couldn’t remember at the time what it was like. You know, that feeling that her mother had died. So we’re full of all these inexplicable at the time, inexplicable kind of thoughts and feelings aren’t there? So, and I say and I was actually, to me then because we had been brought up as sort of as being very independent kind of children you know. We depended on each other and looked out for each other. And so because we didn’t have, you know we didn’t have luxuries or anything like that I didn’t, I didn’t, I just accepted that oh so this is the way it is now. And I [pause] so I thought oh well that’s, you know I shall just carry on now with the way things are. But in fact my mother, it was mostly my mother because my father was off on other things she had found out that she could get a, a grant that I could, I could still go. Go to school. Go to the school. So I was then, we went back to, back to Hull in 1944 and the, there was still, at that time there was still you know there were still raids and things [laughs] And the first strange thing was that when we got back, the day we got back my brother Stanley who, I haven’t got a picture up there, he, he was, had been sent to meet us and I don’t know how he’d managed to miss us or we’d missed him and again you know there’s me, mind you I’ve grown up a bit by then hadn’t I? Responsible for my sister. And I and I went to, this always amuses me when I see Dr Who, you know. The police box. What do you call it?
CH: Tardis.
JJ: Pardon?
CH: Tardis.
JJ: Oh, the Tardis. But it was, those were, you know. They were in, this was not far outside the station in the, in the town centre. The city centre. And it says something doesn’t it? I had no, no, no qualms at all about going and knocking on the door of that and telling the policeman in there that we were lost because we were. I’d no idea where, how to get home from there. I mean having left at, not been back since I was seven years old. And they, they looked after us there until and then of course you see we had such trust in, in policemen then and then my brother it occurred to him to come and, and ask if the policeman had seen two little girls wandering around, you know. So, but that was our homecoming. Again. And so and then I went to [pause] yes I did. Started my [pause] my time at Malet Lambert. And when my, when I say when Harry’s effects, his personal effects eventually were sent back to us it was a suitcase with things in. And how I wish now that I had, I mean I don’t know where everything you know, what my mum did with it. But his logbook must have been in there too mustn’t it? But his, what did impress me. I did, I don’t know what happened to them but I did, my mother let me, thinking about it my mother did sort of, she did seem to depend on me quite a bit. Maybe because I’d proved that I could be depended on. I don’t know. And she, she let me look through his training, all his exercise books from his training. And do you know the thing that impressed me, it’s probably inspired me too I suppose was they were all so neat, neatly written. And the marks, they were marked, you know they were marked as he was going through his training and there wasn’t not on any of them was anything less than seventy percent pass on it. And I can remember thinking I know, I know that had an effect on me. And I always felt somehow that I, I had to, had to do well. I had to do the best I could for his sake. Because if it hadn’t been for him I wouldn’t have been going, I don’t think. No. I know I wouldn’t [pause] And I’ve often wondered, still do, what, how things would have been had he not, not died. Because I, well I suspect because I did, I did get my, I did get Oxford School Certificate and matriculation and I can remember when I went for my results. My English master said, ‘Now, Carmichael,’ you know all the girls were still called by their surnames, ‘Now, Carmichael, what about sixth form?’ And I, I had no choice but to say, ‘I’m sorry, sir but I have to earn my living.’ Which was true. We couldn’t. We, each one of us had to earn our own living and he just said, ‘Waste. Absolute waste,’ spun around and walked away from me. And I think that had my brother been still been around you see that wouldn’t, that wouldn’t have happened. I probably would have ended up going to university which was what I would have liked to have done. But there we are. That was a bit ambitious in those days wasn’t it for [pause] but neither would I have met my wonderful husband. And how about that you see? I thought about it later and it was that, it was as though somehow because what happened then you see because I had to go and [pause ] No. There’s a bit got missed out there because I left school. I was sixteen and a half then when l left school. And in the meantime my auntie, the lady that we were evacuated with. Auntie. She and of course I’d been in touch with her ever since. You know, wrote regularly. Saw her. She, she’d written to me and asked. She’d been, she said she’d been in, she’d had to go into hospital. She’d had an operation before. She said before I started work would I consider going and being companion with her while she convalesced and she would pay me to do that. And so I did do that and here again you see I was plunged into [pause] I didn’t know. People didn’t. They didn’t talk about it then. But I came to realise when I was with her that she was getting, instead of getting better she was, she was getting worse. And it in the end I sent for her sister. But it was cancer. And, and she died. And I went, I went back home. Oh, and she left me a hundred pounds in her will. And that was a lot of money at that time. And fifty pounds for my sister. And I bought, I bought a sewing machine. I thought I’ll invest. I bought a sewing machine. It was a second hand one but it was, I bought she was an amazing seamstress herself. She made all our clothes. Beautiful clothes she made for us. And, and I bought that. And a second hand bedroom suite to help, help my mum you see. It was, we all, we all used to try and [pause] we had to. You had to. People don’t, you know they talk about people being in poverty these days. They don’t. We never considered that we were in poverty but gosh people would have thought if they’d seen the way that we, you managed and how little you had. They would realise what it was and I [pause] I had to find a job of course, you know. And that’s something else you see. Look at the way children now. There’s all these helps for them and they don’t, I literally on my own had to go and find out how to get a job and, and I wasn’t, I, I really wasn’t. What I really wanted to do was go on learning. That that had been my, you know, I honestly wanted to go on learning and I, however I, I went to, I went to the education department. One of my friends said she had got a job with the education department so I went to the Education Department and asked them if they’d got anything going. And I’d got a very good reference from the headmaster at the school. And I ended up as a junior clerk in the office of the College of Art in Hull. On Anderby Road in Hull. Well, I was, you know it didn’t matter what, what your grades, well they call them grades now don’t they, had been it still didn’t, it doesn’t equip you for just being thrown in to [pause] and I was on, I had to, there was switchboard in the office. I’d do the switchboard, do the timesheets for the, for the students. It was all in, I suppose it was interesting but I was a very reticent teenager. I wouldn’t say boo to a goose. I was good. I was good at doing as I was told but I wasn’t, I wasn’t any good at pushing myself forward. You didn’t do that. You, you were brought up to be, to respect authority and grown-ups and all the rest of it you see, so. So I wasn’t. When I look at the teenagers these days you know. There’s such a difference. Which is good. It’s good. But I, I [unclear] could you imagine having to go and collect the time sheets as a person I was. Go and collect the time sheets from the life class. And walk in. The first time no idea. I’d no idea. I’d no idea what I was I was going. I was just so [pause] and collect the timesheets from the life class and walked in and there’s a male model in the altogether [laughs] and of course, can you imagine all the students mostly men, or young men and they thought it was hilarious because I was, I was obviously, I’m beetroot red. And I could have died. Yeah. Anyway, I, I really I would come to the conclusion that that, that wasn’t how I wanted to spend my life. Running after. And under I, and you see, I can’t, it must have, it surely must have had some influence on me that with my brother being in the Air Force I thought now what can I do that I can go on learning in some way? And I thought ah, Air Force. So I went to the office, the Recruiting Office to find out and see what they’d got on offer. And, and they went and they sort of take you in and sort of give you a kind of an interview thing and I found that I said, ‘Well, what, which is your longest course?’ And they said, ‘Well, dental hygienist. Or if you’ve already got some kind of a qualification, nursing. Which I didn’t have. So I said, ‘Or,’ they said, ‘With your educational level you could go in for a commission as, in the admin. Why get out of an office to go into another office just because you were going to you know and it didn’t mean a great deal to me then. It still doesn’t. This idea of rank. So I said no. I, and besides I’m no good at, at giving other people orders. I can take them but I’m not terribly good at giving them. The only place that I’m good or have been good at being a disciplinarian is being with your own children but then that is your concern isn’t it? And I, so I said I’ll be a dental hygienist. One to one. I liked that sort. I liked one to one so that’s what I did. I went and I was, I actually was on the first. I was one of the first. Did you know that dental hygienists started in the Air Force?
CH: No.
JJ: It was the air force that actually started it. They realised that a lot of, of trouble you know with the troops with their teeth and things. A lot of it could be prevented if, if they got someone to show them how and tell them about it and so on. All the rest of it. So it was, it was the Royal Air Force that started dental hygienist and in fact when I was, or during the time that I was there it was also the first, I didn’t finish what I was saying. It was the first time that we were, when we passed out at the end of our training that we were, we were certificated also by Eastman Dental Clinic as civilian, so that you could work in, as a civilian dental hygienist. And it was the first time on my course that we had WRAC in as well. Army. No not, they were Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps. Yes, that’s right. Four of them came on our course. They were lovely girls too. And I, when I passed out I did a mobile dental. I was asked if I’d like to have mobile dental surgery. So I went from, it was taken from one station to another and I was under the charge of the dental officer there obviously but I had my own surgery, mobile surgery. Until I met my husband who was my patient. And the first thing I, the best, the first thing I really took notice of with my husband it was, was his teeth, you know. It was his mouth that I saw. But strange actually when I met him I was already engaged to be married to someone else I’d already met. He was in the medical side. He was a medic in [pause] so, so that was, that was, I’m full of strange things have happened to me. Because my, when honestly when I first met my husband he was a patient and that was it, you know. He was just a patient. I never expected. He was going to take the photographs at our wedding. He was a photographer. He was a very keen photographer besides whatever else he was but he was. And I, he was just my patient and we got chatting. It’s only afterwards isn’t it that they then tell you what they had in mind at the time. Wasn’t, I was engaged and that was all there was too it. it was definitely nothing going on with me. But he, I told you he was going to take the photographs at my wedding until it all went pear shaped with my fiancé. That’s another story, isn’t it? And so we can’t. I’m sure you don’t want to hear about that.
CH: Yeah.
JJ: Well, the thing was, Geoffrey, my husband, my darling husband over there look. That’s him in there, and he’s listening to us now. I can see that glint in your eye. He, he, just a minute where was I? Just a minute. What was I saying? Oh dear, dear, dear, dear, dear. Yeah. He was, he was just a patient and he was going to take the photographs at our wedding. He’d, he did, he was, he was very keen on jazz and he said, on one of the appointments he came to me and he said, ‘Look, I know you’re engaged and,’ he said, ‘Obviously,’ he said, he said, ‘I’m just asking you this as, would you like to come with me to — ’ it was a Sid Phillip’s Concert I think it was, big band thing at the Shire Hall. This was in Hereford. And I said, he said, ‘Just as a, you know, as a friend.’ And I thought I didn’t see anything wrong in that. And I told my fiancé, you see. I said, ‘Oh, I’m going.’ And I told him about him taking the photographs and whatever and I said, ‘I’m going.’ And then we went to a couple of things and that was — oh and he [pause] I was posted. That’s right. No. He was posted because they were only in on the, it was a course that they were on why they were at Hereford. And then I was, that’s right. Where did I go next? I can’t remember now. In the Air Force and you get sent all over the place. And I didn’t, I didn’t, oh that’s right. Then it came at Christmas my fiancé then he was staying with us at our house for Christmas and I, I got, Christmas cards had been sent on to me from my station and he said, I’d got this pile of cards and things, and he said, ‘May I?’ Meaning, you know to help me open them. So, I said, ‘Yeah.’ And of course he picks one up that says, and it says, “Geoffrey,” on it. Nothing. And he said, ‘Who’s Geoffrey?’ I said, ‘I told you. He’s the one who’s going to take the photographs at our wedding.’ And he said, he just turned most peculiar and from then on he just [pause] it was as though he didn’t trust me anymore. So under, gradually it got to the stage and it gradually got to the stage and I remember this particular night. Oh, I was at Yatesbury then. By then. I’d been posted to Yatesbury and he, he’d rung me and told me, he said, ‘Well, what I want to know,’ he’d said some things that I didn’t find very edifying, and he said, ‘What I want to know,’ he said, ‘Are we engaged or aren’t we?’ And I said, ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I really don’t know.’ And he, I put the phone down. And then the next thing was he said he wanted his engagement ring back. And I thought, oh dear. It seemed to me because I’d bought him a very nice signet ring actually, and I thought it wasn’t a terribly expensive engagement ring because I was that kind of person. We’d gone to choose it and I thought well no we’re not spending a lot of money. It’s what it means not that. And I bought him a gold signet ring anyway. So, I said, ‘Well,’ I said you’ve got as much value on your finger as I’ve got on mine so,’ I said, ‘And I wouldn’t dream of asking you to send yours back.’ So I kept it and can you believe my, the next move I made which was to Reading. I can’t think of the name of the station but it was in Reading I put my ring, I just wore it on the other hand then, you see, put it on the, on my side thing. And that particular day when I came back it had gone. I don’t know who. How. It had obviously been stolen. And I thought oh well. So that’s the end of that. And I was fancy free and I thought, no. I couldn’t. I didn’t. I never looked at somebody and thought I’m going to, I’m going to make a play for him. It always surprised me when I found that people wanted me. They wanted to take me out, you know. And this, and this, it happened several times and I did, I, and I had a number of boyfriends and then I’m trying to think how I met up with Geoffrey again. By which time he was, he’d been promoted as well and anyway we got together again. Because I’d said to him, I can remember saying to him at the time I said well I said there’s one thing when I was getting, getting married you know initially getting married to my fiancé I said, oh I said, I said that, ‘Wouldn’t it be stupid to marry somebody with a name like mine? Joy Joy.’ Well, actually I was baptised Joyce but I was always known as Joy. I mean even as Joyce, Joyce Joy. It just sounds stupid doesn’t it? So, when I ended up he said, ‘Oh well,’ he said, ‘You’ve been specially,’ he said, ‘You’ve been especially picked out for me,’ he said. Yeah. And we were married for fifty three years. So that was that part of it. We were married in the 1954.
CH: Can I just go back when you first met Geoffrey. What was he doing in the Air Force?
JJ: Oh, he was ground staff. He was in supply. In Supply.
CH: Had he gone through the war himself?
JJ: No. No, because he was [pause] oh when was? Just a minute he, he was three years older than me. No. Two years older than me. No. So, and he, no he was in, he was in boarding school when, when the war started. Lots of his stories there you see being in boarding school and all the things that happened. They were evacuated. The whole school was evacuated. That sort of thing. No. He was called up. National Service in, oh gosh [pause] I can’t really see. This is where I can’t immediately, I can always look up dates but I can’t immediately recognise, remember them and he was in, and he was in the Air Force in National Service at eighteen until he retired from the service at fifty five. When he was fifty five. And we, so he was that was he was thirty seven years in that. So how long would that be when I was with him? It was just a few years less. But I was obviously Air Force wife during all those years and we went [pause] we were in oh we had Valerie only a year later after we were married. Valerie in ’55. And we went out to Germany. We went to Germany. And we, and we had three, three different postings within Germany during the time we were there. I had, never been easy. To have three, three different stations, and another baby while I was, while I was out there. So that was, he would send, he was sent out initially to close down certain stations. You know. It was after, after the war to close, some of the stations were closing down. And we went to Rheindalen which was, which was the first one we went to. Yes. Rheindalen I think it was. Butzweilerhof, which was a strange. Actually, that was one that was just being, was one that was just being built. We got some being built and some being closed. And that was Butzweilerhof was the one that was being built. Then we went to another one to close. It was [pause] gosh I can’t think of the name of it now but it was near Belsen. You know, the concentration camps. And it was while we were with that, while we were there we did visit and you know they’ve sanitised all these places now haven’t they? Because when I see on, on the television Belsen. It’s not the way it was when we, when we went there. It was just these huge huge graves, you know. Just. And the thing that struck me when we walked in there, silence. Absolute silence. There were trees all around and no birds singing. Not a bird song anywhere. Strange, isn’t it? And we lived next door to, oh I wish I could remember the name of that Air Force base. We lived next door to [pause] there was some Air Force and some Army there and next door was a German wife of an English Army chappie and we got quite friendly with them. Valerie was a toddler then and she, she was very, very adaptable and they were teaching her German and she was picking it up. And, and this, her mother used to come and talk to us and she was telling us about what happened there during, during the war. She said they would hear all the, the trucks going through, you know. And the rail was sort of just further along. The railway. There were woods and then this railway. And all these, the trucks would be going to Belsen and she said this particular night the British bombers came in and I mean so far as they were concerned it was, it was just, it was just railway trucks, you know and they bombed them. So that, but a lot of, so you know prisoners all came streaming out. The ones that hadn’t been hit into the woods and the German soldiers came along and just mowed as they were coming out. Just mowed them down. And Maria, Maria’s mother, she said, ‘We went out and we said, ‘Schweinhund,’ you know, ‘To the soldiers.’ And she said they just turned with the guns to them. So, she said we knew we daren’t, we daren’t do anything. They wanted to go and help the prisoners. And that was, it wasn’t a very nice part of our time in Germany. The third part of it when we moved the third time to [pause] was the headquarters was when, and Michael was born there. So that was our first son. There’s three years between Valerie and Michael and [pause] that was, that was a happy, a very happy posting. But he was only, he was five months old when we came back to [pause] came back to England. Yeah. [pause]
CH: Let’s take a break for a moment.
[recording paused]
CH: Ok. Thank you.
JJ: So, I say my eldest, the first of our family was Daisy May and she was born on the 6th of May 1921. Harry, was August the 18th ‘22. And then Rolf, 1st of May 1924. Norman, June the 11th 1926. Gladys, January the 20th 1928. Stanley, March the 7th and this is the interesting bit you see is that Stanley was March the 7th 1930 and then I didn’t come along until ’33. Whereas these have always been about two years or just under two years between them and then it was three. It was a full three years and then strangely after that my brother Stanley when it came to me we then had four girls. It was like I can remember Stanley telling me that it was, you know they’d been like this, he would be three before I was born. And it was like another little, it was like another family and it was all girls. It was just, you know literally I was the eldest of four girls. And then that was Doris, Violet and Mary. Mary was the youngest one that was born just before the war started. And then John didn’t come along until March the 17th 1946 when my dear mum was absolutely certain that she couldn’t have any more children. So he came along to make up the football team which unfortunately had been depleted by then anyway. But he, so he became my baby. I was fourteen. Thirteen or fourteen when he was born and I, there again you see I’m saying to you about responsibility and I, I was the one who I sort of [pause] John is the, he’s the clown. Or a bit of a clown. He [pause] he, he became my, he was sort of my, my, you know I would take him. Take him. I can remember when I was at, I mean when he was born I was still in Grammar School. Rocking the pram with one hand while I did my homework with the other. Seriously, I did. And then I used to take him out and give him treats and especially, and when I joined the Air Force and I came home in uniform he was absolutely fascinated. He thought his big sister with brass buttons and sort of, yeah. Family. And yes, so —
[recording paused]
And we all. Daisy married Alf Richardson who, he was in the Navy in the Second World War and he was in, always at our house we always seemed to be having service personnel dropping in you know when they came back on leave and whatever. But after the war Alf too was a lighterman. You know, he did this. It must be something about the Navy and then they can’t, they can’t leave it behind can they? On the, on the, the water. And as I say Rolf. Yes, Daisy married Rolf. Harry. You know what happened to Harry. And he was engaged actually at the time he died to a lovely young woman. I think, I think she was a trainee school teacher she was at the time. Yes. She was. Dorothy. By the way there was something else about Harry. He was a very gentle kind of person. And he, he always, he sort of always seemed to be thinking of other people. And we, I do know at Christmas time I can’t have been very old. No, because it [pause] was I was probably the youngest. I don’t know. Christmas time. We were putting the Christmas tree up which you never used to do until Christmas Eve in those days. And there were all these chocolate things. Little animals and chocolate things to hang on the tree and I can, I saw him deliberately put his finger through one of them and then said to my mum, ‘Oh, mum,’ he said, ‘This one’s broken. Can I give it to Joy?’ And he’d done it deliberately. He’d done it deliberately so it didn’t go on the tree. He gave it to me. Yeah. He was lovely.
CH: So when Harry joined the Air Force were you at home or had you been evacuated by then?
JJ: No. I was, I had [pause] I was evacuated. We were evacuated then. Do you know thinking about this because of this I, I realise that from the time he left school because remember in those days you left school at fourteen. And from the time he left school at fourteen ‘til the time he died was only eight years wasn’t it? He had, he only had that eight years. Isn’t it a sobering thought? And I can remember. I remember when he first, the time that he was at work his first job was delivering orders, grocery orders for Jackson’s that at that time in Hull were a big grocer’s firm. And that, that wasn’t where he wanted to be and he, he went to night. He put himself through night school and then he became a, and he became a projectionist. A cinema projectionist at the cinema not far from where we lived. And then of course he joined the RAF VR voluntary and went and did his training at, in Canada and America. So, what, but in that, and in that time he taught himself. He bought and taught himself piano accordion which, and he was very good at it. Actually, my dad was too. And my, my Daisy. My eldest sister. There must have been something there because I can remember Daisy didn’t read music. She just played. I don’t know about, about Harry. Whether he learned music but certainly Daisy, and she played piano like nobody’s business. And I’ve, me I love music. I’m very into music but I’m, I think I’m, I don’t know. I can’t be tone deaf because I can tell if something is off key or not but there must have been something there that was, you know, inherited. My father was very good. And I can, because I can remember sitting on my father’s lap as a, I can’t have been very old, sitting on my father’s lap while, and he played his mandolin to me. He a the mandolin. So [pause] and then my Rolf, the one that went into the army he, was a drummer. He was a really good drummer and he had all the stuff and the [pause] They were all, you see you’d call them entrepreneurs these days wouldn’t you? They all did something other than their day job that brought in an income. And he used to, he made his thing to go behind his bike to put with all the drum kit in. Bass drum and all the lot and he would play at dance halls. He’d hire himself out to the different bands. They would play. And when he was in the army. Oh, and oh gosh you see things start coming back. He was apprenticed. Properly apprenticed as a joiner. You know joiner and cabinet maker. In those days you did sign up as a, for a seven year apprenticeship and he was apprenticed with, it was called, this firm in Hull then was called Spooner’s. And, and then when he went, and then of course he was called up to the Army during the time he was, so during the time he was in the Army he made, or he was, he did his drumming and things you see and he made for the, the band wherever he was with the West Yorkshire he made all the band’s like music stands. But they were I don’t mean metal things. I mean nice, really nice wooden ones. He made, he made all those things. He was, he was excellent at his, when he came back he went back to them and he finished his apprenticeship and he was really good. I don’t, I don’t think they do it now, it was. Do you know what I mean when I say French polishing?
CH: Yeah.
JJ: Yeah. And he would, I remember him doing Daisy’s dining table and the time he took and the way it looked when he’d finished it was wonderful. He was really. But all the boys were really good. Not only with their heads but with their hands, you know. And my father. My father couldn’t read or write. Now, I am absolutely convinced he was dyslexic but no one now but because he couldn’t, the only way, he could sign his name but he did that because he’d somewhat you know he’d been shown how to do it. And then he would. Then this was what he was brilliant at was remembering things. I will never understand how someone who couldn’t read nor write could be a sign writer.
CH: Right.
JJ: Besides being, you know doing these lighterman’s things he used to do the sign writing on the, the lightships and things. They belonged to various companies and he did it for, it was called Whitakers then. That was the shipping company he was at. And he would, you would have the name of the boat or whatever it was. The name on there and then it would say, you know Whitakers and some whatever and he would, as long as somebody wrote down what had to go on. He then did it in sign writing in the sense of he did beautiful you know with seraphs and blocks and whatever. That came out. I can only [pause] I had a rabbit and I can’t remember now how I acquired this rabbit. I did. And, and my brother in law gave me a big hutch that they’d had that they were fed up with. They’d been keeping rabbits and that, and he got this and he painted it all, and then he put like, sort of in, you know. There were two doors on it and it was, I called my rabbit Horace and he did it beautifully, “Horace Bunny.” And this was a man who couldn’t read or write. I tried to teach him. I felt, again this responsible thing came in. I thought my father is very clever and nobody knows because it was an obvious embarrassment to him and I thought [pause] there was one stage I said to him, ‘You know, dad,’ I said, ‘You could run your own. You could have a business of your own.’ Painting and decorating he was great at as well. Honestly, I know this sounds. I don’t expect people to believe me but it is true. And my niece, one of my nieces she keeps saying to me, ‘Do you remember how granddad,’ not granddad. Yeah. Yes. It was her granddad. He used to make all these you know if you a new toy, some sort of we’re not in the thinking back before the electronic stuff when it was. Can you remember anything that you had a clown? And you went like this. There were two straight bits and across the top was a corded piece. And there was a clown on it that made up in wood but sort of flexible, you know and if you squeezed the bottom the clown would do acrobats and things. Well, my dad he’d seen one in a shop and he just made them. Well, I mean those they had to be properly drawn didn’t they? The thing. And then cut out, you know. Fret. He had a fret saw and things, and he, oh, he built his own shed in the first place and I can’t, I’ve how do you put together a building with a door and, oh I think, window and glaze it? He obviously, he must have written numbers down and I don’t know how but he did. He honestly did it. And he made, he used to make doll’s furniture and built, I do wish I knew where it went, he built us a fantastic dolls house. We didn’t have spare money for anything so everything was, was made out of something and you could go to the wood yard and get wood and things, you know quite cheaply and he would make. We all had a push horse, you know on wheels when we were learning to walk and things. And wooden scooters. And he made my, my daughter Valerie she still talks about this. About her grandpa making her a cot. Because being in the Air Force we were always, you know on the move and you’d got to be able to pack things up. He made her, and he worked this out for himself, now you’d call it flat packed furniture wouldn’t you? But this was way before that came in. He worked out a cot, a doll’s cot that went all, all folded flat. Went together. And she, she, and an ironing board. Just like an adult one only it was a small one and he padded it. I know I don’t, a lot of the time I just don’t expect people to believe me because it sounds [pause] When you say you’re one of a large family somehow, and this was my sister, who is now in America, my only sister now. She had, she said she had to overcome this, was that somehow if you’ve got a large family you’re all idiots. I’m not saying now. Well, no actually that’s strange isn’t it? You don’t have the large families now. But it was as if you couldn’t be if your parents had a lot of children and you weren’t very well off obviously with a lot, you somehow weren’t, you weren’t as intelligent. Well, probably they thought why have you got a lot of children. Well, you can’t be very intelligent if you’ve, if you’ve got all these children. So the children can’t be very intelligent either can they? It’s just, it was just a thing at that time. I can remember my sister. You see I’m all muddled up aren’t I? You can’t be making head or tail of this because my head is going from one to the other because of the triggers that come into my mind. All of it. You know at one stage I had I suppose I still have family in Australia, family in America, family in India. Now, I’ve got and now I’ve got a son in Sweden and it was just we were spread. You know spread. We’ve been, every, every one of us that’s oh I do wonder what would have happened with Harry and Norman. But each one of us have, we’ve had, you know had an interesting life. It’s, it’s been a done thing. Like my sister went out because Rolf emigrated to America. He went out there and strangely I thought that he would have been doing his, you know cabinet making joinery. That’s that what he would be doing that. And he didn’t. He ended with a big motor company out there and did very well. He was a [pause] I don’t know what you call them over there. He was over, you know, I don’t know what you call them. And then he, he was responsible for, my sister decided you see she was another that decided that what she was doing wasn’t, wasn’t satisfying her. She worked in an office and she went. She went over as a comptometer operator. Now she’s very good on, on computers. She is. She took like a duck to water with that when they first came out. So she’s ok. But we’ve all, there’s been something that we’ve, we’ve all achieved something and led interesting sorts of interesting lives. And I don’t know where I’m going from here because I’ve forgotten what it was I was going to say.
CH: Well, I think what we’ll do now is we’ll finish now because I want to thank you so much for telling us your story. A wonderful family. And thank you very much.



Cathie Hewitt, “Interview with Joy Joy. One,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 17, 2021,

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