Interview with Joan Rosemary Macklin


Interview with Joan Rosemary Macklin


Joan’s maiden name was Fellows. She speaks of her school days up to leaving at 16 and a half when she took up an apprenticeship with a dressmaking shop in Hastings. When war was declared the dressmaking business suffered, so she went to Islington to stay with relatives and got a job at Debenham & Freebody helping to make army uniforms. In her leisure time she went dancing, ice skating and playing tennis. She remembered staying with a friend in Bromley and diving into a hedge when a German bomber went over.
Joan got engaged on her 21st birthday in October 1939. Her finance got his call up papers to join the Royal Sussex some days later.
Joan and her mother went to Hastings for Christmas 1944 to stay with her grandparents. They returned home on boxing day to find that their house had been destroyed. The shelter which they would have used was burnt out and the occupants were all killed. She stayed in Hastings to look after her grandmother until she married. Her husband was a stretcher bearer and was taken prisoner in May 1940. The prisoners had to march from France to Poland where he was in Stalag 7B. During that time, he had appendicitis and was operated on by a German doctor. While a prisoner he worked with horses and in the salt mines. The prisoners were marched from Poland to Germany towards the end of the war before being released. When he returned home, they got married and he worked as a prison officer at Wormwood Scrubs. He retired at 55 and died at 57.
Joan had a variety of jobs since the end of the war and retired at the age of 63.




Temporal Coverage




01:35:55 audio recording


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CB: My name is Chris Brockbank and today is Saturday the 27th of January 2018. We’re in Grendon Underwood and we’re with Joan Macklin to talk about her experiences during the war in London. Joan, you came from Hastings but what are your earliest recollections of life?
JM: I remember going to school. I was five when I went to school and I can remember all the teachers, and that was in an Infant’s School. Then I went on to a Junior School. And from there I went on in to a Senior School where I took the Eleven Plus and finished up at a Central School which don’t exist now at, and I stayed there until I was about sixteen and a half. I didn’t want to leave school because I loved school, but my headmistress got me a job as an apprentice as a, to a dress making to a rather posh shop in Hastings, and from there I carried on until the war broke out when everything seemed to close down. Nobody wanted any clothes or anything at the time. My husband, well he was my fiancé then, because we got engaged on my twenty first birthday. That’s the 3rd of October 1939, and he got his call up papers to go into the Royal Sussex on the 13th of October 1939. As I couldn’t get a job dressmaking I went to London to see if I could get a job in one of the big shops, and after writing round I wrote to Selfridges, Debenham and Freebody’s as it was then, Swan and Edgars, and I got an immediate answer from Debenhams to go for an interview. I went for an interview thinking I was going to do dressmaking and it finished up it was making army uniforms. And there I stayed until as I say I was bombed out, and that was that job finished. We when we were working at first they used to let us go down to the basement to shelter in the raids. But then raids got so frequent, often, they told us we’d got to work through the raids but we would get compensation if we [laughs] was injured or anything [laughs] which we didn’t think was very good. But anyway we, one weekend we gave up, and they asked for volunteers to go potato picking and that was to help the Poles, Poland. The money went to Poland that we would have earned. We used to go to the London Meal Service for our lunch. We used to get a good lunch for about two and six old money. We still carried on life as normal. We went dancing of a Saturday. We used to go to the Regent Polytec, Regent Street Polytec for dancing. I also used to go playing tennis. We went ice skating at the Queen’s. We just carried on. Well, you couldn’t do anything else, you know. I never knew what the raids were like in, in, at night because I used to go to bed in the cellar. Go to sleep and used to sleep through the raids, and in the morning I used to get a shock when I went to work, all the different places that had been bombed, and the buses weren’t on the same route and, and I used to travel mainly on the tube. I had one weekend with a friend at Bromley, and during the raids I was awake then. As the bombs came down the blast, you could hear the tiles on the roof rattle, and the next morning we had someone knocking at the door. They were looking, there was a, they said there was an unexploded bomb had landed in our garden and they were looking for it and I’d slept all through that [laughs] Another time, another time oh, weekends the girls I worked with, we used to go for a walk along the Thames from Putney to Kew. We used to take a little picnic with us and quite enjoyed that. We got out as much as we could. Oh, while I was staying at Bromley with a friend we were walking out down the fields there and a fighter, German fighter came over and we dodged into the hedge but he was machine gunning. We missed that. But as I say the Christmas 1945, was it the war ended? I went to Hastings for the weekend. My mother came with us because she was staying with my aunt and uncle, and we went down to keep my grandmother and grandfather company for Christmas, and we were getting ready to get the train Boxing morning, and a policeman came to the door and said we weren’t to go back. We’d got to stay where we were in Hastings. And my mother said, ‘Well, I expect it’s only windows broken. Let’s go back and see if we can salvage anything.’ And when we got back there was nothing there. There was just a hole in the, in the, it hit a crossroad, and it hit all around the crossroad. There was, the room that we would have been in when the bomb came down. We’d have gone down into the cellar where forty five people went and they were trapped. My uncle tried to get to them, but the wardens wouldn’t let him go down. He said he could get them out but they wouldn’t let him go down, and a fire broke out and they were burned to death. I stayed in, in Hastings then until [pause] well I was ordered to go back to London to work. Still on uniforms, but I got permission to stay and look after my grandmother who was eighty because I had nowhere to go, and there was no point in me going back to London. I’d only got the clothes I stood up in, and I stayed there. My husband in the meantime, he was taken prisoner in May. It would be 1940, wouldn’t it? The first year of the war. He was a stretcher bearer and they got a message for his Italian to go to a farmhouse where there was people injured, and he had to go because he was medical and while he was there it was a trap. The Germans took them, and he joined all the other prisoners. They had to march from France to Poland and when they got there, there was nothing there for them. They had to build their own huts to live in. And there he stayed for, until the end of the war. He came back about three weeks after, no. It must have been a week after the war finished and we got married on the 3rd of, err 2nd of June that year. We didn’t wait. We got married. We’d been engaged five and a half years and we thought [laughs] we might as well get married. We didn’t have anything, but we were, we were ok.
CB: Right. We’ll stop there for a mo.
[recording paused]
CB: Now, just going back a bit Joan we talked about, you mentioned that with the beginning of the war the smart dressers didn’t want dresses, so you went to London but why did you go there and who did you stay with?
JM: Now, well, as I was out of work and there was nothing doing. Everything closed down in the town, so my aunt and uncle, they owned a pub in London and they said, ‘Come up and stay with us. You’ll find plenty of work when you get there.’ So my husband, as I said, he joined the Army on the 13th of October and the 14th I went up to London to stay. During, my aunt and uncle, my uncle had a cellar all shored up, and bunks put in so that the barman and his wife had one bunk. My mother had another bunk, and they had their own bed down in the cellar as well. So we all slept down in the cellar at night.
CB: And whereabouts was this in London?
JM: This was in, well I say Holloway but it comes under Islington. We lived at MacKenzie Road. The pub was called the Prince of Wales, and on the morning of the Boxing Day 1945. No. ’44 —
CB: ‘44. Yeah.
JM: That would be. At the lunchtime my uncle said he went through his tills to see how much he’d taken, and there was four hundred pounds in the till which was a lot of money then.
CB: Yeah.
JM: And when he eventually got out of the pub there on top of all the rubble was his tills and the drawers were empty. They’d taken it. And my aunt she was buried in the pub, but we had a dog. Sometime earlier someone had found a stray dog and my uncle took it in, and gave it a home and that dog dragged my aunt out of the rubble. We never found the dog. The dog ran away afterwards and my uncle put up a reward to find that dog, but we never did. So whether it ran away and died of shock I don’t know. Because we were bombed out, it was a V-2, I had to go too, and well I was in Hastings when it happened so I was fortunate. I didn’t experience the bombing of that.
CB: There was a lot of people killed, wasn’t there?
JM: Forty nine.
CB: Yes. And what was the, they demolished the pub but what did it look like, you said it landed in the crossroads.
JM: Yes. But the —
CB: Did it make a big hole or —
JM: Oh, I didn’t see the hole. We only got as, we came in the road and saw the space where the pub was, and someone told us that my aunt and uncle were at a Rest Centre. So we went and found them at the Rest Centre, and my aunt came up the stairs, I came down the stairs. I was going to look for something, or go and get something to eat I think and as I passed my aunt I didn’t recognise her. And I got by and I suddenly said, ‘Oh, is that you?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’ She was still, got the rubble in her hair. She was in a terrible state. So I went and helped her wash her hair and tidy her up, you know. And then I said, ‘Well, I’ll have to go back to Hastings anyway,’ because I had a cousin. He was only three. Their son was only three and I’d left him with my grandmother, so I said, ‘I’ll go back and look after him while you get everything sorted out,’ you know for the war, for the damage and that you know. They eventually came down to Hastings to live themselves.
CB: Because they ended up with no job. No pub. No job.
JM: Yeah.
CB: Did they get a job down in Hastings?
JM: He owned the pub so he looked at other pubs, but he didn’t fancy any of them and he finished up being a sleeping partner in a, in a groceries shop and he also worked for an estate agent.
CB: When a building like that, particularly a pub where there was a lot of activity going on and they were earning money what compensation did they get, or if any from the state?
JM: I don’t know. I know there was a compensation of a hundred and something pound each person that was bombed out that owned things.
CB: Yeah.
JM: But I got ten pounds. And my, my aunt I thought she was going to throttle the people that was, they gave me two grey blankets and ten pound. That was my compensation. She said, and this person had made a whole new lot of underwear and all ready for my trousseau. I’d got an electric machine there, my bicycle. There was a cupboard in the cellar. I’d got all my twenty first birthday presents in it. All cut glass and that sort of thing, and he said, he went, as I say he went down the cellar but they wouldn’t let him go any further to rescue the people and that cupboard was on the floor. But when he went back as I say he saw the till and there was my cupboard smashed up on top of the rubble. So they’d had that as well.
CB: Were you conscious of the fact that there was a large criminal underworld operating in the areas of bomb damage?
JM: Sorry?
CB: Were you aware of the fact that there was a large group of people who were criminals?
JM: Well, you got it everywhere. People were looting, you know. You didn’t know who they were, but I mean between you and I there was a warden at Hastings. He had nothing at the beginning of the war, but after the war finished he’d got silver and goodness knows what, you know. So you knew what happened.
CB: Yeah.
JM: But you can’t prove these things.
CB: So, just going back to your work. From Holloway, Islington to the West End you travelled on the Underground.
JM: Yeah.
CB: How did you find that, because people were living in the Underground, were they?
JM: Yes. As a matter of fact my mother she used to work in a canteen in the tubes and take food around to the people that were sleeping in the Underground.
CB: Who supplied the food, did they have to buy it or was it supplied?
JM: I think the council.
CB: Right.
JM: They had to buy it but I think the council. It was the council’s job, you know.
CB: Because —
JM: Then after that she, she worked on munitions
CB: Oh, did she, whereabouts?
JM: I don’t know. She never used to talk about it.
CB: But there were munitions factories in London?
JM: Yes. I think like places like Enfield, or —
CB: Right.
JM: Somewhere, you know.
CB: Out of town. Yeah.
JM: Yeah.
CB: OK. So she would travel by train in the opposite direction.
JM: Yes. Yes.
CB: Right. Now, how long did it take you to travel to work normally?
JM: I’d say about half an hour, because I had, had to change from one line on to the next. I can’t remember what lines I went on. I know I went from Caledonian Road through, I think it was Piccadilly. And then from Piccadilly I went to Bond Street.
CB: Right, on the Northern Line.
JM: And Bond Street.
CB: Then the Bakerloo.
JM: Nearly opposite to where I worked.
CB: Was it, right. And was this five days a week or did you work more than five days in a week?
JM: Five and a —
CB: And Saturday mornings?
JM: I don’t think we did Saturday morning. No. I think it was five days a week.
CB: And what were the hours that you worked?
JM: That was, I think it was half past eight till six, or something. Half past eight to five. Yes. Because some days I had to walk from Oxford Street to home, because there was no buses. Well, the bus route didn’t come near me, and the tubes weren’t running at the time so I had to walk. And run a lot of the way.
CB: Did you?
JM: Because as soon as it got a bit dark then the air raids started.
CB: Right.
JM: We did an awful lot of walking.
CB: Yes. Obviously. Yes. And food was on ration, so how did you get on with that?
JM: Well, it didn’t affect me really. Being a pub I know it wasn’t really I suppose legal, but the men when they went for a drink instead of giving money perhaps they’d give some cheese or fruit because they worked in the Caledonian Market. We’d get a bit of fruit and everybody seemed to do bartering, you know, one for one like. You sort of helped one another and of course my aunt did the housekeeping, so I don’t really know how she managed but we never seemed short of anything.
CB: Right. So the Caledonian Market was the key issue there because you were near, very convenient.
JM: Yeah.
CB: Yeah. And what did you get paid for doing your work, or was it piece work?
JM: No. I think it was about thirty five shillings.
CB: A week.
JM: Yeah.
CB: And overtime?
JM: No. We didn’t do any overtime.
CB: So what were you working on specifically in uniforms, did you make the whole uniform, parts of it?
JM: No. When I first went some were sewing on buttons on the uniforms. Some were doing something else. And then when they did for Norway they had these fur, like fur coats, and we had to use a needle which was triangular to pierce the material to sew buttons on that. And then some, the uniforms were made in pieces like one person would make sleeves, another would put pockets in and all that sort of thing. We all had different jobs, and I finished up making button holes working a button hole machine, and we were on American Red Cross and their uniforms and material was marvellous, you know, beautiful material. But their overcoats were very heavy and I had to get them into the machine to get the buttonholes in, you know. I button holed my thumb once.
CB: I was wondering what happened to your fingers doing all this hard intricate work.
JM: Yeah. Well, I put the material in and the machine started up and it clamped the material and it clamped my thumb in so it took the side of my thumb but it’s alright now. But I had a —
CB: It had a hole in it with a button on top.
JM: And that’s when I first, when they used, they called it A&B Powder but we realise now it was penicillin.
CB: Oh.
JM: To dry up the wounds. Yeah.
CB: So they had a first aid station.
JM: Yes.
CB: In the work.
JM: Yes.
CB: Station. Work point.
JM: Well, we was you see Debenham and Freebody’s, and Marshall and Snelgrove, two high class shops in those days they were really amalgamated so that’s how we had more facilities than perhaps other people, you know.
CB: So what sort of accommodation was there for making this, the uniforms? Was it the shop floor that had been —
JM: Well, it would be in the rooms where they used to do the dressmaking, you know.
CB: Were the shops open for business?
JM: Yes.
CB: And did they take some of the shop area —
JM: No.
CB: To work on, quite separate was it?
JM: No. No. No, work rooms were separate. We were down a lane off Oxford Street.
CB: And how many people would be working with you in a room?
JM: Oh at least fifty.
CB: So, was it all automated, or just some of it? Were machines used for everything or just for some tasks?
JM: There were divisions in I suppose where people used to work making the clothes where the machines were, and we were at the far end when we were sewing buttons on. We had one big long table sort of thing, and all worked around that. But the machines were in separate sort of cubicles doing the work.
CB: Did many people have an accident on their machines or was it quite rare?
JM: Not very many I don’t think. The person that operated a button hole machine before me she had the same accident, you know. It was one of those things that, you know you couldn’t avoid it.
CB: How did they train you to do the jobs?
JM: They didn’t. You watched other people doing it. I saw the girl doing the buttonhole machine and when she, as I say she came off when she hurt her finger. I asked if I could take over the job because it fascinated me and I got it. But no, you didn’t get any training. You just —
CB: Learned on the job.
JM: I suppose knowing you was dressmaking you knew how to use a machine, and that and that’s all there was, you know.
CB: So there wasn’t a lot of variety if you were just putting on buttons.
JM: No.
CB: How did you feel about that?
JM: I had a job where they made collars, and I had to iron them to shape them with the iron, but I had to come off that because I had nightmares. I used to think I was burning the sheets in my bed, you know and that sort of thing. So I had to come off that. I couldn’t stand that. I never like ironing anyway [laughs]
CB: So, did you see the whole garment completed?
JM: No. No. We had two supervisors, and they used to examine them and we never saw them go away. It was all, I suppose in the work. How they worked, you know.
CB: You talked about some being American ones but were they only, were they only Army uniforms or did you have Navy and Air Force as well?
JM: No. Only Army to begin with and then we went on the American uniforms.
CB: So why did the Americans ones come in, they could make them at home.
JM: I don’t know whether, because we were only a sort of a sub contract for a Jewish firm in the East End you know and we used to get these sub contracts, and I suppose they got more money for the Americans.
CB: Ok. We’ll pause there for a mo.
[recording paused]
CB: You were talking a bit earlier about the tasks you did, and they were various but they were a bit boring. So what about holidays?
JM: Yes. We used to get a fortnights holiday. I don’t remember going on a rota, but we must have done you know because we couldn’t all go at once, and I used to go down to Hastings. Being as I was born in Hastings I was allowed in. But I took a friend of mine, she was in the WAAFs. She used to work with me at Debenhams but then she volunteered to go in the Forces, and she was in the WAAFs and she was on leave and I was on holiday so I took her down to Hastings for a holiday and when we got to the station to where we were going the police were there. They let me through because I was born in Hastings, but they made her go back to London again. She wasn’t allowed through.
CB: Why was that?
JM: They didn’t allow anybody to go to the seaside. Well, to these areas because they were, I don’t know what you’d call them.
CB: Prohibited areas were they?
JM: Yeah.
CB: So what was special about Hastings?
JM: I don’t know. Only the bombing, that’s all I know.
CB: So, just talk —
JM: But the bombing wasn’t so bad then. There was a lull in between, you know.
CB: We’ve been talking mainly about London bombing but what happened to Hastings. Was that bombed?
JM: That was very bad. Very bad.
CB: So, we’ve got a book, we’ve got a booklet here called, “Hastings & St Leonards in the Front Line.” And it’s significant the amount, the huge amount of damage in Hastings.
JM: Yes.
CB: So anybody got —
JM: There was one church in St Leonards that was laid back from the Promenade and a Doodlebug, or buzz bomb or whatever you like to call it went straight up the front of the church and landed at the door and blew the church to pieces. And when they rebuilt it they built it in the shape of a [pause] would you call it the hull? The bottom of a ship, you know. In that shape.
CB: How strange.
JM: But there was a great hole where this Doodlebug went up in, but yeah they got no end of the Doodlebugs because one thing the airmen used to, our airmen used to go up and they found a way if they got near the Doodlebug they could tip it so they altered its direction. Of course, it didn’t always work, you know. But yes they’d got an awful lot there. Ones that I suppose didn’t come far enough for London. They dropped their, they also got the bombs from, if the Germans didn’t drop all their bombs they used to empty them before they went across the Channel, and they got all that as well. It was indiscriminate bombing.
CB: Of course it’s on the sea. It’s on the seaside, Hastings.
JM: Yes.
CB: What other type of attack did it experience from the air? You talked about earlier about the German fighter strafing.
JM: I don’t know. I’ve never read that.
CB: Right.
JM: I’ve only looked at the pictures.
CB: Yes.
JM: But —
CB: This can’t be all V bombers. V raids I mean.
JM: No, there was bombers.
CB: V-1s and V-2s this is.
JM: Yeah. I think most of those are bombing.
CB: It talks about tip and run raids and —
JM: Yeah.
CB: The Germans used fighter bombers to come and make nuisance raids.
JM: Yeah.
CB: Is that what happened here a good deal in, yeah? It says here, “The use of fast fighter bombers which swept in from the sea at a very low level or sneaked in from behind the town under the cover of cloud left coastal towns with no doubt that they were still very much in the front line, although other parts of the country that were bombed — ”
JM: I remember before the war broke out when it was a lovely moonlight night we used to lay in bed my mother and I and we could hear the German out taking pictures and that sort of thing.
CB: Oh, could you?
JM: You could hear. There’s a different throb to the German plane to our planes.
CB: Yeah.
JM: And you could hear that throb. Also, we had the, what was it, The Graf Zeppelin.
CB: Oh yeah.
JM: That went along the Channel. That was taking pictures. We were waving to it. I mean the war hadn’t broke out. No thought of war, you know. Yeah. They were going right along the coast taking pictures. We realised in the end you know.
CB: Because that was quite big was it, the Zeppelin.
JM: Yes. You could even hear the engine from the, you know when you walked along the Prom you could hear the engine as it went along. Quite close to the shore they were.
CB: Just outside the three mile limit.
JM: Pardon?
CB: Just outside the three mile limit.
JM: Yeah. I expect so.
CB: So, what was the general mood in Hastings with all this destruction that was going on?
JM: Well, as far as I know they lived life quite, you know as I say a lot of them used to go to the caves and sleep. You know, there was little alcoves where you could make your own little room sort of thing. I went down one night. Spent one night down there but I don’t like caves [laughs] But, and that was a good, good place because it was well ventilated, although they were caves because apparently Queen Victoria used to keep her wine there because it was ideal for that sort of thing. That’s years ago, before [laughs] before the war.
CB: Of course. Yeah. We’ll take another break there.
[recording paused]
JM: It did come down in Chiswick.
CB: It did. The first V-2 did. In Chiswick.
JM: Because they used to tell us it was one of these gasometers.
CB: Oh yes.
JM: Had exploded.
CB: Had blown up. Yeah.
JM: And I know I was walking down the road home from work and it was light so it must have been summertime when one came down, and I felt the blast hit me in the back. And the man, he had a couple of shops not far from our pub, he came out and he said, ‘Oh, is it another one of those gasometers burst?’ You know. Yeah.
CB: Well, just off Sutton Court Road which is where that V-2 came down, there is a plaque and we went to see it.
JM: Yeah.
CB: And took a picture. Yeah. Of the effect. Yes. Interesting.
JM: I’ve never been back so I don’t know. Someone told me there’s a block of flats where our pub was.
CB: Oh, is there?
JM: It used to be if the pub was there and the license was there they should have built a pub there, another pub there. But someone said there’s flats there. I don’t know. I’ve never been back. Although I lived in London nineteen years after the war
CB: Did you?
JM: I never went over that area at all.
CB: Gosh.
JM: So that —
CB: So, why was that? Did you not have a curiosity?
JM: No. It never, it never even dawned on me to go, you know. Whether it sort of, you put it to the back of your mind and forget it all, because when I came back that weekend to work to tell them what had happened I had to go to the police station, and there was a police station opposite because I’d been reported missing believed killed. So I had to go and tell them that I was alive [laughs]
CB: Yes.
JM: Yeah.
CB: You talked about the result of the pub being demolished meant you had nowhere to stay in Holloway in London.
JM: Yeah.
CB: You went back to Hastings. What was the process there because the war was still running? You wanted to stay down —
JM: That’s when I —
CB: To look after your grandmother.
JM: I was interviewed by these three ladies
CB: Who were they?
JM: They made me so cross, because there were all dressed up, you know and they’d got a radiator and they were hugging the radiator and I was cold and they’re telling me I’d got to go back to London. I mean, I think the bombing was still on and I said, ‘No. I’m not going back.’ As I say I got a certificate to look after my grandmother. She didn’t want looking after, but you had to find some way of beating the law.
CB: And how long did you stay in Hastings again?
JM: I stayed there until I was married.
CB: Right. Which was just after the war.
JM: Yeah.
CB: Right.
CB: Yeah. My husband came back a week after the war finished and we got married a fortnight later.
CB: Now, when he was in the prison camp was he able to send any communications to you via the Red Cross?
JM: I got the occasional card from him, and I had two or three photographs of a group of the people in the Stalag.
CB: What Stalag was it? Do you know?
JM: Seven B.
CB: Right.
JM: At Posen, Poland.
CB: What sort of conditions did your husband-to-be experience there?
JM: Well, he had appendicitis while he was out there but if you’d seen the operation you couldn’t have had it done by anyone better, although It was a German doctor. You wouldn’t know, you couldn’t see where they’d done it. Yet I’ve seen people done in this country with real scars but he didn’t have a scar.
CB: Amazing.
JM: But he had a hole in his arm where he had an abscess through bad food and that. That never healed up. Well, it healed up but left a hole in his arm.
CB: And what was the origin of the abscess? Did he, was he wounded before he was captured?
JM: No. No.
CB: Did it come as a result of his work when he was in the prisoner of war camp? What did he do?
JM: He worked with horses.
CB: Right.
JM: He was in the salt mines.
CB: Doing what? What did he do in the salt mines?
JM: I suppose they were getting the salt out, you know.
CB: Digging it were they?
JM: He never talked about it. He never talked much about his life in the prison. All I know is that when he come home he couldn’t sleep in a bed. He slept on the floor. He couldn’t get used to getting in a bed and also if a plane went over he’d shake like a leaf, you know. He was thinking of the bombing, because they’d got the bombing all around them being in Poland, you know because they had the Russians as well. But when he got out, well they marched them from Poland in to Germany all through the winter. All through the ice and snow and that. And when he was free in Germany he met some [pause] Well, I think the Americans had something to do with them, and one of them said, ‘There’s a Mercedes along the road. We’ll fill it up with petrol. Go for a ride round for a week. No good going to line up for the planes to get home. You’d do better to wait a week and then you’ll get away quicker that way.’ So that’s what he did. Touring somebody’s Mercedes.
CB: So he was flown home was he?
JM: Yeah.
CB: Do you know where he went from and to?
JM: He landed at Wing.
CB: Oh, did he?
JM: Yeah.
CB: Just up the road here.
JM: Is that where it was, I don’t know. He said —
CB: Operational Conversion Unit. Yeah.
JM: It was Wing.
CB: Yeah.
JM: They wanted him to go to, straight to hospital but he wouldn’t go. He said no. He wanted to get home. We’d been, his mother and I had been to the Red Cross and asked them to make sure he didn’t go to London because we didn’t want him to see the damage there. For him to come straight down to Hastings. He didn’t. He went to London didn’t he and saw the damage and he went to the police and they told him, you know where we were and he came down.
CB: Do you think he had a lasting concern about his experiences in the war? Did he have nightmares, or did he just wake in the night?
JM: Not that I know of. No. No. Never seemed to. Only as I say if a plane went over he shook but he soon got, you know back to normal again. He was only eight stone when he came home.
CB: And what was his normal weight?
JM: Well, when he died he was eighteen stone.
CB: But in his younger days what would he have been?
JM: I would say about twelve because he was a big man. Well built.
CB: Yeah.
JM: Well, you see. There’s his photo there.
CB: Yes. What do you think was the reason why people who’d been, had experienced the war didn’t want to talk about it afterwards?
JM: Well, I think probably they’d had enough and like he’d got, managed to get back to normal. He didn’t want to remember the rest of it as I say. He never, never spoke about it much and I never, I never queried anything, you know. I think we was too busy getting on with our life. Existing after the war, you know. Because he had got no clothes and I’d got no clothes so [laughs] His mother had given away all his clothes when he was taken prisoner of war.
CB: Did she know what had happened to him?
JM: Well, she’d got the message to say he was a prisoner.
CB: Right.
JM: No. That he was missing. And my uncle asked her to send the telegram to him and when he saw it he said, ‘It says missing. It doesn’t say believed killed. So he must be a prisoner.’ As I say he was taken prisoner in May, and we didn’t hear till the August that he was a prisoner of war. The first we knew was I’d got a card from him and he was asking for all kinds of things, chocolate, condensed milk, oh all kinds that we couldn’t get anyway. We reckoned the Germans made him write this all out, you know. But at least we got a card, and we knew where he was.
CB: What about your grandchildren? Did they manage to enter any conversation with him about what he did?
JM: No. No. My granddaughters, my granddaughters were only four and two when he died.
CB: So they weren’t in a position to do much from that point of view.
JM: As I say well because he was in the prison service so —
CB: Oh, was he?
JM: Yeah.
CB: Right.
JM: That’s why we lived in London. We were at Wormwood Scrubs for nineteen years.
CB: Oh.
JM: And then he come up here on promotion. He was a principal officer here, and he put in for his chief and they invalided him out because he’d got heart trouble and so he never finished his service.
CB: What age did he retire then?
JM: You can retire at fifty five I think it is but he was fifty seven when he died.
CB: Right.
JM: Well, he went back to the prison. Not as a prison officer. He went on their switchboard for them.
CB: Right.
JM: They said he knew all the ins and outs of the prison so he was a good one to be on the switchboard, so they employed him part time on that.
CB: Yeah. In your own case we talked about your husband’s reaction to that and what he did but in your own case you said you didn’t return and never have to Holloway. What was your feeling at the end of the war after your experiences?
JM: Well, I’d got the pleasure of knowing my husband was coming back. Well, he wasn’t my husband then.
CB: No.
JM: But he was well and coming back to us and as I say within a fortnight we were getting married. We didn’t have time to think about anything but what we wanted, you know. I had a borrowed wedding dress. And my husband was a grocer before he was called up. He went back to see his boss and he gave him all the ingredients to make our wedding cake because they weren’t making wedding cakes then. And I think my grandmother made the wedding cake but we’d got a baker and he did the icing for us. So we had a proper wedding cake and people bought us different things to make sandwiches and that, you know. We had it at home. Just a few friends, and that was that and then we went to Bournemouth for a three weeks honeymoon because his aunt lived at Bournemouth and she said, ‘Come down to us.’ So we went down there. At the end of the three weeks we hadn’t got any money so we had to come home. She didn’t want us to come away but we came back to Hastings, and then we lived with my mother in law for about a fortnight, and then we managed to get a flat. Yes, it was a job to get anywhere to live then, you know.
CB: Yeah.
JM: Because everyone, all bombed out and that.
CB: Where was the flat?
JM: That was in Hastings.
CB: It was.
JM: Yeah. Yeah. It was two doors away from my mother in law [laughs] but I got on very well with her so —
CB: Ok. We’ll pause there a mo.
[recording paused]
CB: So you met a lot of people in the war, what friendships developed?
JM: Well, one friend, she that I worked with, she wanted to go in the Navy, the Wrens because her brother was in the Navy and you could only get in the Wrens if you had someone in the Navy. But when she went for her medical they wouldn’t pass her but they passed her for the Air Force. So she went and she was posted to Cornwall. Perranporth in Cornwall. She was a batwoman and I went down and had a fortnight’s holiday down with her. And on the way back I called in to my mother in law was then living at Camel’s Head, Plymouth and my mother had gone down to stay with them so I met up with my mother at my mother in law’s, and we had a weekend there and we had a tremendous, really bad air raid while we were there because Plymouth suffered terribly during the war.
CB: Yeah, of course. Yes.
JM: My sister in law’s two young girls they used to walk about with saucepans on their heads if they went out at night because of the shrapnel.
CB: Oh yeah. From the anti-aircraft guns.
JM: Yes. And as I say I had a friend that lived at Bromley. I went and had a weekend with her. And then another friend was one that I used to go dancing with. There we met two Naval chaps, one short and one tall. My friend was tall and so she had the tall one as a partner, and I had the short one and he was the chief petty officer in the Navy, and I used to meet him on a Saturday for a drink and dance and I went out a couple of times with him. He knew I was engaged and I knew he was married. He’d got a wife and two sons you know and he said to me, ‘I’m glad I met you because — ’ he said, ‘You kept me on the straight and narrow,’ he said. We were just friends and that was it, you know.
CB: Yeah.
JM: And then one night when I was coming home from work well going to Bond Street to get the Tube he was stood outside. He said, ‘I’ve come to tell you that I’m going away.’ He’d been ordered to go to Scapa Flow.
CB: Oh right.
JM: And he said, ‘But before I go —’ he said, ‘I’ll tell you, I’ll send your husband, well your boyfriend some long johns and a thick woolly vest.’ You know they were Navy issue. He said, ‘I’ll send them out to him for you.’ And I never heard another word. I reckon he went down at Scapa Flow.
CB: Really.
JM: Because the Navy didn’t do very well there.
CB: Well, they got bombed a lot.
JM: Yeah.
CB: It was the main —
JM: Yeah.
CB: Base for the Navy in the north.
JM: Yeah. And I never, my husband never mentioned that he ever received anything like that and he wouldn’t have known anyway, you know. And that friend that I used to go dancing with, not him, I can’t think of her name now, but anyway she married the other chap.
CB: Oh.
JM: She did get married.
CB: Right.
JM: And they lived in Lancashire somewhere. And she used to say to me, ‘Oh dear,’ she said, ‘I wish they weren’t so clean.’ She said, ‘We have to take the stair carpet up every week and scrub the stairs and put the carpet back down,’ she said. And she had some lovely underwear she said, and her mother makes her boil it all. She said, ‘She’s ruined all my underwear.’ But I never heard any more from her. But my friend that went in the WAAFs when I got married she was my bridesmaid. She had a bride, a dress that she’d had for another wedding so we changed the, it had bows on it and we changed the colour of the bows and that so we had a proper wedding.
CB: Amazing. Yeah. What could you do about the reception after your wedding?
JM: We had it at —
CB: I mean there was still rationing.
JM: Yeah. We had it at home as I say. People brought us different things for sandwiches, and we got the cake made, and we had to have it at home because well, there wasn’t time. We didn’t give them time to arrange anything. We weren’t worried about a reception.
CB: How many people came?
JM: I should say about twenty five. My grandmother had a big sitting room, you know. There was just family and one or two of my friends there so —
CB: And after the reception how did you leave that to go on your honeymoon?
JM: We had to go up to London by train, and a couple of my friends that came from London travelled up with us but the guard came and locked the door to our carriage so nobody could get in with us [laughs] So we had the carriage all the way to London on our own. And then from there we stayed at my sister in law and brother in law. They had a flat in London so we stayed the night in their flat. They were back still in Hastings. But I didn’t sleep all night because the bed when we saw it, it was like that. The ends were like that and I thought they’d rigged the bed, you know so it would fall.
CB: [laughs] Yes.
JM: So, I didn’t sleep. Then the next morning we got up and we went down by train to Bournemouth.
CB: Right.
JM: That was the only way you could get to Bournemouth.
CB: Yeah.
JM: By going to London first.
CB: We’ll stop there for a bit.
[recording paused]
CB: They didn’t evacuate the mothers but only the children.
JM: No, only the children.
CB: Right.
JM: I’m just thinking how. Oh, my cousin would be about ten. Nine or ten.
Other: Right.
JM: And you had to give permission for your children to go.
Other: Right.
JM: They didn’t force them to go.
Other: Right.
JM: And he was evacuated to Bicester.
Other: Oh.
JM: I always remember my aunt going to the station and asking for a rail ticket to Bi-cester, but he didn’t stay there for very long. It wasn’t a very nice place, and she told all kinds of things about him. Said he was this and he was that.
Other: Oh dear. Yeah.
JM: And we knew different, you know.
Other: Yeah. Yeah.
JM: So my aunt went and fetched him back. A lot of the children didn’t stay very long. The parents went and got them. They weren’t happy, you know. But no. As a voluntary thing but all the children went. There were I think some grown-ups went but, you see it was getting billets for them anyway.
Other: Yes.
JM: You know.
Other: Yes. Yes. Yes.
JM: So these people took like foster parents, you know.
Other: Yes. Yes. Yes. Well, I went to this farm in High Wycombe through friends of my mother’s. They said they knew somebody that would take me.
JM: Yeah.
Other: And I mean, you know it was lovely. It was on a farm and I can remember when I could walk having a calf of my own with a rope around its neck —
JM: Oh. Yeah.
Other: Called Primrose. And I can remember sitting on the farmer’s lap on the tractor.
JM: Oh yes.
Other: And that sort of thing.
JM: Yeah.
Other: But yeah but it’s always puzzled me why, you know as a baby she could let me go.
JM: Yeah. But that’s why.
Other: Yeah.
CB: Yeah. There were two parts of evacuation really weren’t there? One was early part of the war.
JM: Yes.
CB: And then the phoney war made people think nothing was going to happen.
JM: Yes. They did.
CB: So they went back again.
JM: Another lot. Yes.
CB: So then when it got serious they started again. What was the impetus really for the second one?
JM: Well, also they also shipped a lot of children to Canada.
CB: Yes.
Other: Really?
CB: And America.
JM: Yeah.
CB: What affect do you think it had on the children when they were evacuated and afterwards?
JM: Well, I think a lot if they got a good billet they were quite happy, you know. Like, as you say if they were on a farm they enjoyed the life on the farm. But as I say my cousin didn’t, didn’t get on at all well and so my aunt got him back again. She said she wouldn’t let him go. But then in the end he went to Rotherhithe. A Naval school. And he was in the Merchant Navy. He used to go to Australia. He’d be gone nine months, and then he came back for three months. And while he was in Australia he had cancer and they operated, and he was very ill coming back on the boat but the chaps used to hide him in a, in the cabin because if the authorities knew he was on board ill they’d have put him off at the next port, you know. But he wanted to get home so he got home. He managed to get to his door and he collapsed on the doorstep and he was riddled with cancer and he was only thirty four. And while he was in hospital the, one of the shipping line that he was on told him they’d just bought a new ship and he was going to be the master of it and he was going to be the captain.
CB: Gosh.
JM: The youngest captain in the [pause] but he never lived to see it.
Other: That’s sad.
JM: But he was, he was in the Mediterranean at sixteen.
CB: Was he?
JM: With the Merchant Navy during the war. Yeah.
CB: What would you say was your most memorable experience in the war, Joan?
JM: I don’t know really [pause] I know I was in the tube once and it was a buzz bomb come over and the driver went into a sidings behind a very thick wall, and the buzz bomb dropped the other side of the wall. We were safe, but [pause]. I can’t, and as I say I was nearly machine gunned. And on the Tube at at Piccadilly there’s a bend on the tube where the trains used to be packed. Getting out in the crowd they pushed you off and I went between the train and the platform. I had my library under my arm and my handbag in the other hand, and I went down like that and arms came out and lifted me out and I hadn’t hurt myself. Hadn’t even laddered my nylons which would have been —
CB: A cardinal sin.
JM: Terrible in those days because we used to get word that Selfridges had got some nylons and we used to all go trooping up there to try and get our nylons. We had lots of fun during the war. I mean, once a month we used to go to the theatre. I think I’ve been to all the different shows. We used to get someone to put a chair out in the, and we used to queue to be up in the Gods for about one and three and we used to see all the shows. We used to take a flask of, a drink of some sort with us, and get a buttered bun at lunch time and take that with us to eat when we were there. We used to go straight from work and queue up to go to the shows.
CB: Fascinating, thank you.
[recording paused]
CB: So what did you do in the evenings during the war?
JM: For the evening I used to sit up either in the office behind the bar and listen to the radio. Listen to Vera Lynn. Or I’d be upstairs because my cousin was born in 1940 so I was more or less babysitting then and I’d be doing sewing and that sort of thing upstairs. And about 9 o’clock I used to go to bed as I say because of the air raids, you know.
CB: Yeah.
JM: So, I’d be asleep before it got too bad.
CB: Down in the basement. Yeah.
JM: But no, there was nothing you could do apart from that. I think I went to the pictures a couple of times but, because there was a picture house just at the top of the road, but no I wasn’t interested in doing that, you know. As I say, I looked after my cousin more than anything and took him when we went on holiday. Took him with us, you know. He was in the Air Force. But that was after the war.
CB: Now, all military people had identity cards. What did you have as a civilian to identify yourself?
JM: I had an identity card. I’ve found one but it’s since then.
CB: Yes.
JM: Since the war.
CB: Is it? Post war, right.
JM: Yeah.
CB: So why did you have one after the war?
JM: I don’t know. I thought we all had them.
CB: And this one is called National Registration Identity Card.
CB: Yeah. And it’s stamped 12th of March 1948. I’m just curious. But you did have one of these during the war.
JM: But that was the same identity number as I had during the war.
CB: It sounds as though you lost yours. Yes.
JM: Yeah.
CB: Right.
JM: I think my granddaughter may have it amongst all the things I gave her.
CB: Yes. What was your maiden name?
JM: Fellowes.
CB: So clearly you’d have had a different card for that. And this has got the address Du Cane Avenue, W12. That’s because your husband was working.
JM: That was the quarters. Prison quarters.
CB: Oh, it was a prison quarter was it?
JM: Yeah. They were bocks of flats in front of the prison.
CB: Right. So, what was it like living in a prison environment?
JM: Never took much notice of it really. Used to see the visitors come through. All nations, you know. And people used to say, ‘Well, aren’t you frightened that if a prisoner got out?’ You know. I said, ‘Well, if a prisoner got out he’s not going to stay around is he? He’s going to get off as quick as he can.’ You know. So I never worried about it.
CB: No.
JM: I went in the prison several times.
CB: Did you?
JM: Went in, because they had big shows in there. A lot of the show people were crooks really [laughs] I mean they all had double lives, you know but they used to bring the big shows to the prison.
CB: Yeah.
JM: And I know I went in once and I was the only woman in there amongst all the prisoners and they got an armchair for me to sit in. And when I sat in it, it collapsed didn’t it? Yeah.
CB: Gave them their brief moment of joy.
JM: Yeah [laughs] Yeah. I saw several shows in there and I used to go along if my husband was on night watch. I used to go along to the gate as they called it and he’d let me in to his office with him. I used to take his supper along to him.
CB: And then to get promotion your husband came out to Grendon Underwood in Buckinghamshire.
JM: Yeah.
CB: What prompted that?
JM: Pardon?
CB: What prompted him to do that?
JM: Well, he put in for his promotion, and got it but then you don’t get any choice of where you were going. We were told we were coming to Aylesbury and we thought oh nice. A nice little country town, you know. It would be nice. We landed up at Grendon. I didn’t like it one bit.
CB: Didn’t you?
JM: I didn’t. The first Saturday we were here we went into Bicester shopping, half past four in the afternoon and everything was closing. It was dead. I said, ‘What have we come to?’ I still used to go up to London to work.
CB: Did you?
JM: Every day. Yeah. Because I worked for the telephone side of the [pause] I don’t know what. I can’t think.
CB: Of the Prison Service.
JM: Not of the Prison Service. Civil Service it was.
CB: Oh yes. Right.
JM: I saw an application, you know. They were asking for people to join the Civil Service and I went and took the exam, and I landed at Bromyard Avenue, which was only around the corner from where we lived. It was supplying the telephone lines and the telephones and in those days there wasn’t the number of lines so people had to have what they called a party line.
CB: Oh yes.
JM: I expect you remember those.
CB: Yes. Yes. Yes.
JM: Yeah. And then we had a rep go out and see if the place was suitable for phones and that sort of thing. I was on the sales side. Selling the phones.
CB: Oh. How did you feel about that?
JM: I quite enjoyed that. I was there two and a half years. But after six months, the last six months travelling backwards and forwards I put in to go to Bicester but they wouldn’t transfer me although it was still Civil Service. They wouldn’t transfer me to the Army. I had to stop my service and go. Start again. But when I got there they accepted it, so it counted with my years in the civil service so I was back in Ambrosden.
CB: Oh right.
JM: Yeah. I worked for the REME to begin with. And then I was on signals another time, and then after that I was on uniforms again. People that were small, you know wanted special sized uniforms.
CB: Yeah.
JM: Or big, big uniforms. I was on that before I retired.
CB: Right. Any more?
Other: No.
[recording paused]
JM: I lived in London.
CB: So when you were in London you had an opportunity to do lots of jobs. What other things did you do?
JM: The first thing I did I worked at Hammersmith Hospital. I used to take a shop around to all the patients on a trolley. I did that for five and a half years.
CB: What sort of things?
JM: Then I left there.
CB: What sort of things could they buy from the trolley?
JM: Papers, cigarettes, sweets, drinks. Or they’d ask me if I could get them something or other that they wanted, and I used to take it in to them. And then from there I went to a tobacconist in Regent Street. Lewis I think their name was but I worked on the cosmetic and medical counter [laughs] I was telling people what to take for their illnesses. I used to ring it all up and tell them. Men would come in. They wanted perfume for a girlfriend or something, you know and I used to have to do the ordering for it as well. Then I went to Marks and Spencer’s for an interview and got that job and she said, ‘You’d start right away.’ I said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I’m going on holiday for a fortnight.’ So I lost that job. But I saw the Co-op were advertising so I put in for the Co-op. They’d opened a big store in Oxford Street. On the Oxford Circus, you know. There’s four corners and they had one of the big corners. Used to be Peter Jones’ years ago. But they took that over and I went in there. I was selling fancy goods they called it. All bits and pieces. Then I saw the wool counter and I said, ‘Oh, I’d like to change to wool.’ So I went over to selling wool but that, this job was commission and you didn’t get a lot of commission because people would come in, they’d buy a fourpenny pattern. You’d tell them what to do and all the rest, and advise then what wool to buy but they’d walk out. They didn’t buy the wool so I didn’t get much there. Then there was a vacancy came on the corsetry department so I put in for that and when the supervisor left from the corsetry department I took that over. I went for my exams. I went to St Martin’s School in Charing Cross Road and passed my exams to be a fitter of corsetry. And I was there [pause] oh three or four years I was there and then I decided I’d like to go in an office for a change. So I went to an office. Telephone and cable company, and I was doing the accounts there but I wasn’t very happy because the, the chap that I worked for used he used to go out selling components for different things and when he came back and I was doing up the books I perhaps put down he’d sold a hundred capacitors, and he made me put down that he’d sold two hundred.
CB: Oh.
JM: Because he was working on commission and I was cooking the books for him all the time. Then I saw the advert for the Civil Service so I was talking to a cousin of mine. I said, ‘I’m too old for that.’ I was, I think I was about forty then. She said, ‘No, you’re not.’ She said, ‘You have a go.’ So as I say I had a go and got in. So that was all my variety of jobs since the war.
CB: Yeah. Amazing. What age did you retire then?
JM: Sixty, sixty two I think it was. Sixty two or, sixty three I was when I retired. I had to sign on year by year because you should retire at sixty but if you wanted to stay on and you was doing your job all right, you know you could sign on year by year. I was getting a bit fed up then, you know.
CB: What about the travel? Did that get a bit much?
JM: They used to put a coach on for us to go to Ambrosden.
CB: Oh.
JM: Used to pick us up at 7 o’clock and bring us back at. We used to pick the coach up about half past four. Be back about five.
CB: Very good. Well, Joan that’s really interesting. Thank you very much. There was one other question though which is this. School leaving age when you were young was fourteen.
JM: No. It went up to fifteen.
CB: Right.
JM: When we went to the school we had, my parents had to sign that you would stay to fifteen. A lot of them broke it but I stayed on. I didn’t want to leave school.
CB: No. You said.
JM: Yeah.
CB: You enjoyed it. Yeah.
JM: Yeah. In the end, as I say my head mistress got me a job [laughs] and I had to leave.
CB: Good.
JM: I think that’s why my daughter was a school teacher because, you know, from me. I liked school.
CB: Yeah. Thank you.
[recording paused]
JM: A very placid woman, and —
CB: We’re talking about your mother’s reaction to the war and being in London.
JM: Yeah. Yeah. She just, just got on with her job and that was it, you know.
CB: Yeah. One other thing also was you talked about the Doodlebugs and the V bombs. The V-1s were the Doodlebugs.
JM: V-1s and V-2s.
CB: The V-2s were the rockets. What was the general feeling about the arrival of those?
JM: Well, as I say if you saw the Doodlebugs and you saw them you knew you were safe because they were going.
CB: [unclear]
JM: As soon as their engines stopped then everybody used to dive for shelter, you know. But I know I did have an attack of nerves with the V-2s because you had no, no idea because you couldn’t, you didn’t hear them.
CB: No.
JM: And I know my uncle he was on guns and he said they couldn’t track them.
CB: No.
JM: They were so fast they couldn’t track them so they didn’t know, you know.
CB: Well, you got the sound of the arrival of the V-2 after the explosion of the warhead.
JM: Yeah.
CB: Because they were supersonic.
JM: Yeah.
CB: So what did your uncle do on the guns?
JM: I don’t know really much about —
CB: He was in the Army running the guns was he?
JM: He was in the Army. Yeah.
CB: Right.
JM: Because he finished up guarding the prisoners of war, the German prisoners or the Italian prisoners of war.
CB: Yes.
JM: So we seemed to have been mixed up with prison for a few years.
CB: Yes. Well, of course at Bicester you talked about earlier with people being evacuated.
JM: He was at Quorn. A place called Quorn.
CB: Oh.
JM: I don’t know where it was.
CB: No. We’ll look it up.
JM: And then he was, one time he was at Brecon Beacons.
CB: Oh yes. Middle of nowhere.
JM: Hmmn?
CB: Middle of nowhere that is.
JM: Yes.
[recording paused]
CB: Yes. What was the, what was the situation like when you were getting married of getting flowers?
JM: That was it. We went to the nursery.
CB: Yeah.
JM: And they did them for you.
CB: And you wanted —
JM: I wanted red roses.
CB: Yes.
JM: They said, ‘No. We don’t do red roses. Only red carnations.’
CB: Right. So that’s what you did.
[recording paused]
JM: Dunoon. We used to go to the dance band.
CB: Could you just say again how you first met him? You first met your husband.
JM: The first time I ever saw him.
CB: Yes.
JM: Was at a display of the Boys Brigade.
CB: Right. In Hastings.
JM: In Hastings, yes. And then I saw him again at these band parties because he was with a friend of a friend and then —
CB: On the pier.
JM: On the pier. Yeah. Not on the beer.
CB: That later.
JM: And then he went out with my friend but she didn’t cotton on. And then he asked me to go out and that’s, we went on from there, you know.
CB: Yes. When did you get engaged?
JM: On my twenty first birthday.
CB: Oh, you said earlier. Yes.
JM: Yeah.
CB: And you were resolved to wait until —
JM: Yeah.
CB: How long were you going to wait?
JM: Forever I suppose.
CB: Before you got married.
JM: Only a fortnight when he came back.
CB: Yes. So how did he seem? How did he seem to be when he came back? Was he different or the same?
JM: No. He was, still seemed the same. I did say to him that if he wanted to change his mind because I had waited you know. Oh no. He hadn’t changed his mind at all. So I gave him the chance, you know too. I hadn’t changed my mind.
CB: No. That was good. Yes.
[recording paused]
JM: The vicarage was bombed.
CB: Yeah.
JM: And next door to where my cousin, no my cousin, another cousin he lived in the house next to the bombing. There’s a picture of the shop, house where he lived.
CB: This is in Hastings.
JM: Yeah.
CB: Yes. And the house at the end of the road? What happened to that? You said, was there one at the end of the road that was demolished?
JM: There was. Yeah, there was a whole lot demolished. The end of the road I used to live in.
CB: Yes.
JM: Yeah. The school I went to that was bombed, that’s all in there.
CB: What was the casualty rate like?
JM: I don’t know. It probably tells you in there.
CB: Yes.
JM: I say you didn’t know a lot because people didn’t talk about —
Other: No.
JM: Well, you were told to keep mum weren’t you?
Other: Yeah.
CB: Yeah. Yeah. Fascinating. Good. Thank you.


Chris Brockbank, “Interview with Joan Rosemary Macklin,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 5, 2023,

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