Interview with Hilda Ledger

Title

Interview with Hilda Ledger

Description

Before the war, Hilda Ledger lived in Berkley and worked in a big house. During the war, she registered to work, as required for her age, and was sent to Metrovic, a Lancaster bomber factory in Manchester. She describes working nine-hour shifts, five days a week, and using a checklist to ensure everyone was completing their work. Although she enjoyed living in Manchester, she was glad to return home. Ledger travelled to India to marry her husband, an intelligence officer, where they lived for a short time before returning and living in Manchester.

Creator

Date

2017-03-02

Coverage

Language

Type

Format

00:17:48 audio recording

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Identifier

ALedgerHS170302

Transcription

IP: This is Ian Price and I am interviewing Hilda Ledger today the 2nd of March 2015 for the International Bomber Command Centre’s Digital Archive. We’re at [buzz] Thank you Hilda for agreeing to talk to me today. Also present is Stuart Ledger, Hilda’s son and Tracy Ovington who is one of the care workers in the home here. It is 10.25. Hilda, as I say thanks ever so much for, for agreeing to talk to us. It’s great really, and to get a different view on what was going on with the bombers. First of all could you just tell me something about your early life? Where you were born, where you lived, what you did? That sort of thing. Before the war this is.
HL: Before the war. Well, I lived in Birtley and I worked in a big house called Leafield House, looking after two little girls. And that was my job before the war. Nothing very special. But then during the war we had to register and they sent us to Manchester to work.
IP: So, this is interesting to me. So, you, you were, were you required to register?
HL: Yes. Everybody was. Of a certain age.
IP: Ok. And, and then how did you find out that you were going to Manchester then?
HL: Well, it was through the post I suppose.
IP: And did they just tell you to — so you just got told to go to Manchester and presumably to a, to a particular factory?
HL: Well, not a factory exactly. We went. A family met us. We had to meet at a certain hall and a family met us and took us to their home. And we went from there to the different places where we had to work.
IP: Ok. So, alright so you went, and did you go straight then to Metro-Vic?
HL: To Metro-Vic?
IP: To the factory.
HL: Yes.
IP: Ok. So, and what did you, what did you do? What was your task as a, in the factory?
HL: Nothing very much. We just did, made Lancaster bombers.
IP: But, but which were you working on a particular part?
HL: Well, everybody worked on different parts. Each person had a part to work. Nobody worked on one particular, a whole one place. Everybody worked in just little bits of the factory.
IP: And can you remember which bit you worked in then?
HL: I cannot really.
IP: Ok. Alright. Ok. So, and the other thing that interests me was were there a lot of women there working in the factory? And how were you treated by the people who were already there?
HL: Alright.
IP: So the men, the men that worked there treated you as equals did they?
HL: Yes.
IP: Ok. Could you describe a typical day then when you were working at Metro-Vic? How, from getting up in the morning to when you got home.
HL: [coughs] excuse me.
IP: It’s alright.
HL: No. Just got up. We caught the bus. We were in lodgings you see with the family and we caught the bus and went to wherever we had to go to work. And that was it ‘til the end of the day and then you went home. Well to the lodgings.
IP: And were, what was the day like when you were actually in the factory?
HL: Well, it was alright because I’d never been in a factory before. It was alright.
IP: Can you describe the work to me? How hard it was and what sort of work you did.
HL: It wasn’t hard work at all. It was just checking different things on a piece of paper. That’s all.
IP: Ok. And excuse me I’m just going to have to —
[recording paused]
IP: So, so you used, used checklists.
HL: Yes.
IP: Was that, was that to check what other people had done? To make sure that they’d done the work properly.
HL: Well, it was sort of everybody did the same type of work. Everybody did the same work so that was it.
IP: And, and what sort of machinery did you use?
HL: Oh, I cannot tell you that. It was just a machine.
IP: Can you tell me what the machines did?
HL: No. They just, well I didn’t think it was a machine. I thought it was just, I don’t know what. I was ignorant really. I just know that I had to go to work there and I went and signed on in the morning and signed off at night. And went to the lodgings at night.
IP: Can you remember how long the days were and how many days you worked a week?
HL: We worked about five days a week. And they were long days. We started work about 8 o’clock in the morning and finished about five in the evening.
IP: And what sort of thing did you do when you weren’t at work then? What did you do socially?
HL: Well, whatever there was going at the time. There was one or two of us together that’s all. We used to go to the pictures or to the theatre or whatever was going on.
IP: Can you describe how life was in Manchester compared to how it was at home during the war? When it was during the war.
HL: It was a little bit hectic to compared to home because home was very quiet. But Manchester was a bit more lively.
IP: So you enjoyed it there.
HL: Yes.
IP: It was an adventure was it? Good. Now, what, so what, what did you think about your role? Was it, were you — well, just tell me what you thought about what you were doing there.
HL: Well, I don’t think, I just knew I was there because they sent me there. I didn’t have any choice. Nobody had any choice. You just registered and you were sent to where you had to go.
IP: And how did you feel about that then?
HL: Well [coughs] excuse me.
IP: That’s alright.
HL: Well, at the beginning I was a bit upset because I’d never left home before, and I had to leave home to go.
IP: And then, and then how did you feel after that?
HL: Oh, I was quite happy then because we went, we were like hens in this queue. We stood and this a lady came and chose so many of us and we went to her house to live. So it was alright then.
IP: And you made good friends.
HL: Yes.
IP: Good. Good. When, when did you actually finish working there then?
HL: Oh, I cannot remember.
IP: But were you there for the whole war?
HL: Oh, not the whole war. No.
IP: So, so what happened, what happened when you finished working at Metro-Vic?
HL: I just went home and started work o themself.
IP: Working as a nanny.
HL: Ahum.
IP: Ok. Alright. So how did you feel about that then when, when it was all over and you had to go home?
HL: I was glad because I’d never lived away from home before.
IP: And what did you feel about your contribution to the war? Can you, did you think about that? Can you describe —
HL: I didn’t think anything. I just know I was sent there and that was it. I wasn’t thinking about whether I was doing good or bad or what.
IP: Ok. Because the, I mean the bomber effort was a, was a huge effort, you’ll know. Going and bombing Germany. And I imagined you’d be proud of what you were doing. That you were contributing to that but did you? Did you feel that at all?
HL: Not really. I didn’t feel anything.
IP: Ok.
HL: It was just a job and that was it and I got paid for it.
IP: Ok. Now, I also understand that you went out to India to marry your husband who was with the, went out with the Durham Light Infantry you said didn’t you. And he was an intelligence officer.
Other: Yeah.
IP: Just tell me, just tell me about this experience of going out to India if you could.
HL: Oh. It was an experience. Although George was there so he met me when I got there and we had a nice bungalow and everything was alright.
IP: How did you get out there?
HL: How did I get there?
IP: To India.
HL: I don’t know how we went in them days. I cannot remember.
IP: Did you sail in a ship?
HL: Yes. I sailed in a ship. I remember. But I cannot remember very much about that part. Just I know he was there and met me when I got there. And he was there all the time I was there.
IP: There can’t be many people to have gone, got married in India. I think that’s fantastic. So, how long did you spend out in India then?
HL: Oh, not very long.
IP: Not long enough I suppose.
HL: Hmmn.
IP: Ok. And then, and then you had to come back home.
HL: Came back home because his work was home, you see.
IP: How did you find it? How did you find getting time off from work to go out to get married because you must have from leaving Manchester to getting back must have been a fairly long time I guess.
HL: To what?
IP: How did you find, was it easy for you to get that amount of time off from the factory?
HL: I don’t know what — I cannot remember.
IP: Ok. That’s alright. That’s ok.
HL: I just did what I was told.
IP: Sure. Ok. So then can you tell me a bit about your life after the war then? What, what you did and what your life was like?
HL: Yes. It was just back to normal.
IP: But then when the war ended and George came home what, what [pause ] how was life after that? Can you tell me a bit about that life?
HL: Well, he just went to work. Got his job back and went back to work and that was it.
IP: And what did you do then?
HL: Well, I was just at home. I didn’t work.
IP: Ok. And where you living?
HL: With my mother at Manchester.
IP: Right. In Birtley? Was it in Birtley?
Other: Yes.
IP: Yes. Ok. Ok. So you lived with your, did you live with your mother when you were married then first of all?
HL: Yes.
IP: Ok. But eventually, presumably you moved into your own house.
HL: I suppose so. I can’t remember that far back.
IP: Right. Ok.
Other: Dad was medically discharged from the army, mum. That’s why he came back. And he spent a lot of time in hospital when he came back.
HL: He what?
Other: My Dad wouldn’t have got straight to his old job when he came back because he was medically discharged.
IP: So, so when George came back from the Army and went into hospital what happened to you at that stage? Were you still working in Manchester? Or did you come?
HL: Oh I was still working in Manchester but I was just in lodgings. That’s all.
IP: Ok. Alright.
Other: You weren’t, mam. You were home.
HL: Hmmn?
Other: you were in Birtley.
IP: So, I imagine it was a big change from working in Manchester to to coming back and living at home again.
HL: Yes.
IP: Can you tell me about how big that change was? How you felt about it.
HL: Well, I liked it because in that time you see I had started going with my husband again and then we married.
IP: Ok. Alright.
HL: Was in, getting married and come back home.
IP: Can you remember what it was like then when you got off the ship and saw George?
HL: Oh yes. Why, everybody would remember that.
IP: And how? So can you tell? Can you describe it to me?
HL: Well, we both cried. We were so pleased to see each other.
IP: And then where did you get married? Where did you go to get married?
HL: Where?
IP: Where did you get married? Where did you go?
HL: I can’t remember now. Where was it?
Other: [unclear] I think.
[recording paused]
IP: So, Hilda before the war then can you tell me much about when you were at school?
HL: Yes. Just went to the ordinary council school. It was in Birtley.
IP: How old were you when you finished there?
HL: Must have been about fourteen I think. People finished at that age and started work.
IP: And where did you go to work?
HL: Some factory or other. I cannot remember.
IP: Ok.
Other: Were you not working at Dainty Diners at Chester.
HL: Dainty Diners.
Other: The toffee factory.
HL: Horners.
Other: Horners, yeah.
IP: So you worked in a toffee factory.
HL: Yeah.
IP: Ok. And at some stage you became a nanny.
HL: Yes.
IP: To the two children.
HL: Yes.
IP: What was, what was that like?
HL: It was a nice big house and it was near where I lived at home. And I used to look after these two little girls.
Other: And you used to go across the Lake District with them, didn’t you?
HL: You what?
Other: You used to go across the Lake District with them.
HL: I couldn’t hear. Yes. Yeah. They had a cottage at the Lake District and we used to go there for the summer.
IP: Very nice. So was it hard to leave? When you went to Manchester then was it hard to leave that family behind for you? Was that, was that difficult?
HL: Well it was because they were my family then. I’d known them more, as much as I’d known my own family.

Collection

Citation

Ian Price, “Interview with Hilda Ledger,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 5, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11166.

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