Interview with Margaret Ottaway


Interview with Margaret Ottaway


Margaret Ottaway lived in Louth, the sixth of seven children, and tells of her childhood there. Tells of an air raid shelter they had in the house. Witnessed, as a seven year old, an enemy air raid on 19 February 1941, which caused damage and casualties and gives a vivid account of it. Tells of herself being buried in rubble and discovering many years later how she survived the bombing, unlike her sisters. Tells of her family: her father a special constable and a business man, a seventeen year old sister serving as an air raid warden. Talks about her marriage and her husband, a watchmaker who was among the establishers of Gibraltar Point Natural Reserve. Tells of a memorial dedicated to the victims of the air raid.




Temporal Coverage





00:58:49 audio recording


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AH: This interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Centre. The interviewer is Anna Hoyles. The interviewee is Margaret Ottaway. The interview is taking place at Ms. Ottaway’s house in Louth, Lincolnshire, on the 21st November 2016. Can you tell me a bit about your childhood?
MO: I can. My mother and father were married before the First World War and they both grew up in Grimsby, Cleethorpes area and my father was one of twelve, and very poor and my mother was one of three and I don’t know why they came to Louth but they came to Louth, well, before I was born and before my late brother was born. But I think there were seven children and I am the sixth of seven. They lost two little boys, one when he was three, I think it was, and the other was three months and of course in those days there was no family allowance or help and of course the standard of the food was very poor and especially in a dock town and so my parents had that to cope with and I don’t know how they coped with it really, they came to Louth and then there was my brother who was seven years older than me, my sister was ten years older than me and I had a brother who was five years older than me and then we had a little sister, Prue, I don’t know when, a long, long time ago now we found out that she was Down syndrome and you can look at the photograph and see she was and we came to live in Louth and they lived in several houses before we lived on the top of Grimsby Road and the A16 as it was and when I was a little girl was a semi-detached house and of course there was not the population and there wasn’t the traffic and there weren’t the dangers even though it was wartime, as a child, you know, and I was always, had this outgoing attitude, I must have had because I can remember going into nearly all the houses both sides of the road, my younger sister didn’t come with me very often but she did come to some of the houses and you know, when you are a child, if you have a community, you are very cherished and I’ve realised that obviously more as I got older cause I love children and I’ve always loved children but anyway, oh, I know my father was in the army although because of his health he actually was registered in the army for a very short time I have some information about that and my mother was, worked in the Toc H in Louth and there were three houses and my maternal grandma who lived in Cleethorpes and was killed with my mum eventually, she spent a lot of time in our house because there was always sowing jobs to do and she used to make dresses for us and all that sort of thing, so my mother didn’t work and we always had a cleaning lady, some lovely cleaning ladies and one is still alive now and we had a very happy childhood from what I can remember, I know my brother who was five years older than me, he was always aggravating me and my older brother that by that time he’d gone into the RAF and in 1941 he was in [unclear] down in Bedfordshire but they were always at me, like big brothers are but I think it’s been a really good training because then of course my father started with a, in the 1920s with one lorry which was solid tyres which of course I’m drawing off and I got a photograph of, that’s a thing I must say, it’s staggering, we all know when photography started, well, I don’t know the exact year, but you know, it’s all these photographs, they are so important, and it’s alright having things on gadgets like computers but they can be wiped off and the hard copies that I am about to show you, it’s amazing, anyway my father started with one lorry and by the time I was around, there were about thirty, which is a photograph over there, and so he had thirty drivers and his business yard at the time was down in what is now Church Street, opposite the bus station but it was called Maiden Road and it was, I can see it now, because as a child, you know, you did lots of exciting things, really, like children do today but a totally different scale. But we had, always had this cleaning lady, the one we had at the time, she had brothers and they either had a small holding across the road, at the top of Grimsby Road, or they were, her father was a farm worker, of course we had a big farm at the back of us, relatively big not like today, called Howard’s, Mr and Ms, Howard and then we had Fanthorpe Lane, which is still there, but it’s dissected by the bypass and I used to go down there to take Sunday papers to this family called [unclear] and this family is been established a long while and people have said to me, in some of the things I’ve done in my life, the stability of families in an area like this does contribute to the community spirit that people that are strangers say, there is, I know there’s a community spirit but they feel it when they come in, so I’m very lucky because I have all sorts of proof about what happened to me because I didn’t know what happened to me except that my godparents were from King’s Lynn and they used to come and stay, we only had three bedrooms and we had, you know, Len, Darcy, John, Margret and Mary and mum and dad, so where we all slept I don’t know, we also had an air raid shelter, cause my father having thirty lorries was a very wealthy man for the time and but the family had a phone call from my auntie in Grimsby to say they were coming over for tea on Sunday afternoon, because one of her brother-in-law’s got a gallon of petrol from the army, that was a fatal thing to do, I can tell you, so they came from Grimsby and there was my auntie Violet, my uncle Walt, Genie, who was five as far as I know, and my uncle’s brother and his wife, they came in this, in the car and parked outside and they stopped for tea, usually one of my sister’s best friends used to come up to the house to keep me, to see my mum as well and my elder brother’s girlfriend used to come, when, if there’s anything on the siren, to keep my mum company and with the children, you see, on this occasion, because they knew the Grimsby family was coming for tea, they didn’t come, so they were all getting ready to get back to Grimsby, according to my late brother, who was in the house and he was upstairs, we were, for whatever reason, downstairs, my sister, my cousin and myself, we’d been put to bed downstairs in the front room, obviously we couldn’t all get into the air raid shelter, but I had no proof of why we didn’t go in but I assume it’s because of too many and as soon as the siren went, my father got his uniform on as a special constable and together with another lady called Ivy Platt who was very, very deaf and who was, the Platt family were big friends with my father’s, even when I was a little girl of four, [unclear] the photograph there and I don’t know how long they’d been friends but I think Ms Platt’s husband probably got into some financial difficulties, he was a grocer in Louth just up the road from where we are now and my sister Dorothy was an air raid warden at seventeen so they went down into the town, they took Ivy to her mum’s, Ms Platt and then dad went on duty and my sister went on duty with the air raid wardens cause they had different areas that they did, I mean, I don’t know cause I never asked her you see, you don’t ask [unclear] and I have all the records and just exactly what the gentlemen wrote Mr [unclear] that roughly it gives the time, it’s the official document, give the time, two screaming bombs were dropped on Louth at the top, at Grimsby Road, we don’t know exactly where but later found out it had dropped on a house and people were killed and injured, we later found out, seven were injured, seven were killed in that incident, we later found out that it was A W Jaines, Arthur Jaines, a special constable, it landed at his house so he’s lost with his daughter who was an air raid warden, fellow air raid warden, they lost seven of their kin and the seventh one was actually the lady who was visiting her daughter next door. And all I can remember is being aware that I was under rubble, trapped in rubble and that’s all I was aware of, you know, then I heard a drill and then I remember very little about being actually rescued and then the next thing I remember is being in one of the either the Toc H houses or the red cross places and you know those little beakers they used to drink out of, with the little spouts, I’ve got an example upstairs. Well, I can remember being offered that and a seven year old, as I say, I must emphasize this, you weren’t like you are today, are today, and I remember the atmosphere in that place, and there was someone brought in on the stretcher, now I obviously don’t know and I’ve never investigated it if it would be one of our family because of course it’s not far from the top of Grimsby Road to the hospital and then, so I don’t know about that, I do know that my brother who died last year, John, who was thirteen, I do know that he went somehow, my father wasn’t allowed to go up to Grimsby Road, which he wanted to do, and obviously my sister would be with him, and they went to Ms Platt’s because Connie was a red cross nurse although she was only seventeen and she was engaged to a police officer and so their home became a sort of centre for my dad and my sister and they had one of those metal shelters under their table cause they lived behind the shop and the shop, you know, is packed with things and they have this metal table and my, Ivy was also under the table and I have a tape where my Ms Connie who became my step aunt, she recorded it with her son cause I kept saying to her, why don’t you write it down? Cause I think, because she was seventeen, and far more aware, she couldn’t face writing it down, so her son, who’s, I think he’s retired now, but he has two chairs at the university, I think one was Cardiff, and I’ve been meaning to speak to him about it really, but anyway, so I also remember, going to my, being taken, I don’t know who took me but to my uncle’s house on Brackenborough Road, just near the post office on Brackenborough because my, a lot of my cousins of my generation have all died and with my father being one of twelve, some of the family came here, four of them came to live here because my father was here, and the others stayed in Grimsby so we’ve like two families. And my cousin who died several years ago now, she often used to tease me, she said, when you came that night, she said, it was about midnight I think, and you got into my bed and it was just like sleeping in a bed where you’ve been eating biscuits, that’ll be of ruttle, wasn’t it? And she said, I remember when you went to the lavatory, it was all lino in those days, the grit fell out of your trousers and she used to tease me about that but I, the next day I went to live at [unclear], uhm, I don’t remember being taken there, I think I must have been in shock, you know, and I think I was traumatised and people have said different things but I went to live with this family called John and Ethel Clark and they had a daughter, Beryl, who was a bit older than me and a son called Jim who was a bit younger and the [unclear] school I went to it has a church and it has a big house and we were in the big house, her mum and dad lived there and John Clark’s younger brother Henry lived there and they had cows of course and gas man and the village at the time had a school, a church, and you used to have and walk up cause it was very deep in the Wolds you’d have to walk up, and there’s a museum out there now, with farm machinery and a smith’s family lived there and a railway line runs through there and I can remember, I never seem to be unhappy, I don’t remember being unhappy there, Jim used to tease us a bit but I those days they used to raise money for the prisoner of war parcels and there was a big barn of course and had garden [unclear] and things like that and we went to church [phone rings]
AH: I just switch off.
MO: We always used to walk up to catch the bus at the top cause there’s several [unclear] you know, they’re all the same but if you look at a map you will see from Louth you can go several ways up to the Bluestone Heath Road, which is one of the longest roads, from, you can go from the Lincoln Road right through to the, if you were going to Alford and Skegness and we used to stand at the top there and it was chalk, you know, and it was freezing cold and things like that and then we used to go and I was sent by Ms Clark, bless her little heart, she was a very, very old fashioned lady and it was one of the best things she could have done for me, because I went in the, what they called the kinder garden which, if you walked down Schoolhouse Lane, and facing you is Suffolk House and it says, I think it’s three or even four stories high and then there’s the cellar, and that was where I went to school and I never achieved anything in exams or anything like but I did use to, but it obviously affected me and my teacher, who was a, taught scriptures as we called it and she became the first major of Louth, she would, she’d died unfortunately, her partner, lady partner, she knew me as the major of Louth, but it was amazing really what influence that school has been and still is because I’m still involved with it now all these years on. Anyway, I had a really happy time there, I used to go on the back with the big carthorse and the, you know, the all sorts of different carts on, and we used to, I used to go with Henry, I don’t know how Henry would be now, must ask his son cause his son’s living in Louth now, and I used to go and take the food with him and I was with them from September about the 9th until after Christmas because my dad, of course there was no house left, and we went to, dad lived at Ms Platt’s I think, just along the road here, and my sister, and we were all scattered really, but I don’t ever remember anybody saying to me, I remember one day when I was in the car with Mr Clark, he always had lovely cars and Mrs Clark was very old fashioned really and he was a bit of a lad I’ll have to say [unclear] my dad could have been as well, as most dads are, although not yours of course, and I don’t know why but I just feel that he might have, I might have been with him when the funeral was on cause obviously I wasn’t involved in that and I never asked my brother whether he was but it’ll be, I’ve got the list of the funeral of mourners and everything so that’s another thing we can, I can look at, but about, be about I think three months and then we moved up into a house just opposite the catholic church, in Upgate, they are very big houses those, and because my father had all these workmen, he had one chap called Sid Day, and Sid could do anything, he was actually like the yardman for my dad and his wife, they lived down in Upgate, they’ve widened the road now, [unclear] flow, you go up, there’s no garden and you go up the side of the house and it was all, there was no car pits or anything and it was like a room, but it wasn’t a room, it was more like a big shed but it was within the house, you see, and then you’d go into the kitchen, and then there was a front room which we hardly ever used and she had a big family and there were three girls and four boys I think, and there was a grandma was always there, but they used to babysit me and I used to wander about, you know, a seven year old, I used to go with my dad, seven year old children in my day, you didn’t and if dad happened to be in the Masons Arms, I was allowed in but girls weren’t even allowed in pubs, children, you see, so I’ve had a very different life from any other child at that age and I think that’s why I’ve got so much confidence you see and the other thing is I’m an avid cook and baker, all normal, ordinary stuff, and I can make meringues, I can make lemon meringue but I’m not into this, all this fancy stuff and Mrs Platt had a big kitchen and we all met up in there, cause of course there was a range and it was behind the shop, behind where they weighed all the soutanes and you know, I had a wonderful childhood and lots of love and still do have love from those families, especially my stepfamily and my dad’s friends, you know, four generations on. And not many people can say that, but I do get on people’s noses and I think it’s, my attitude is that bloody Hitler didn’t get me and nobody else did and I had to be tough, I had to be tough, anyway I obviously went to school, I was at Kidgate school but I was very independent and I can remember my, the cousin that I slept with that first night, she had an older sister called Pam and we decided, I should think Pam decided and I was well for it before the bombing that we would cycle to Grimsby and see our granny who lived on [unclear] Road and so, we didn’t tell anybody, and I had a fairy cycle and she would have one a bit bigger and I can remember doing that as if it was yesterday and we stopped at a house for a drink of water as you do, when we arrived at granny Jane’s, she was a very different cup of tea from my other granny, granny Walt, who was killed, we got told off and she rang my dad and we put on the bus and sent back. Now my cousin that I stayed the night with, on the night of the bombing, she actually married a German prisoner of war, which of course upset my father and, but he was a lovely man, much better than the one that Pam married, but I was sent, as I say, to the girls grammar school when I was seven and I went through the school until I was sixteen but I don’t think I got any qualifications, I don’t remember getting any qualifications, and so I left at, well, of course, and years later none of my brothers really encompassed education. Fortunately they’ve had sensible mothers but my father by this time had married Ivy Platt who was a lovely, lovely stepmother, she didn’t have a lot of maternal things with her son but my father was going to be the major when Michael was eighteen months old and so I was, well, I was told that I, cause I loved him anyway, so I looked after Michael so I didn’t go to work and then when the [unclear] was over, I decided I was going to go on work, I decided, I really wanted to be a [unclear] nanny but my father wouldn’t pay, it wasn’t that he couldn’t pay but he wouldn’t pay and probably didn’t want me to go away cause I always have felt for many, many years that I thought my father was protecting me, see, in actual fact, I’ve realized I’m the one that supports everybody else, I’m the tough one. And because I was always with my father and he died when I was twenty four of cancer but he was a very kind man, he was beneficiary to this little hospital, Crowtree Lane hospital, and St Margret’s children home, children’s home and with a group of the business men of the town, you know, they all and of course the war effort, Louth was an amazing place for raising money, you know, and all the railings were cut down and there was concerts in the town hall and it was, you know, I think that’s why I am like I am because there was so many good influences around, had plenty of bad ones but I’m four and [unclear] [laughs] but it was, it was very hard because I wanted to get a job and I went to the international stalls and made an arrangement to see the manager and my father found out and, oh, he was crossed, he was furious, you are not going to work behind a shop counter! If only he knew the things I’ve done to earn money since he died [laughs]. Anyway, I got a job at the Louth district hospital and, as receptionist, and it was five pounds an hour for forty eight hours and we lived at the time back up Grimsby road in a different house and when Michael was born, we actually lived at the house which is called Mount St Mary’s at the bottom of Grimsby Road where you go over the river lodge and where the floods came down in the twenties and then in 2007 and it’s next to the old cemetery and we lived there and then my father’s insurance man didn’t tell the whole truth about licencing and my father had to go to the high court in London, cause I was not really aware of all this, and he was fined fifteen thousand pounds and so he had to sell the house where Michael was born and we went up to Grimsby Road, so but, you know, my father had a rough time and then in the nineteen late forties, early fifties, the Labour government nationalized all [unclear] so, you know, we had no choice, and it broke his heart, broke his heart it did, cause you know, it was his baby, he did actually start another business for a short time but it wasn’t long, he died when he was sixty two. So that takes me as far as me getting married. I don’t know whether I’m telling you what you want to know or if you want to see some of the photographs of the bombing.
AH: I do in a bit but if you carry on.
MO: Right. Well, my late husband was a watch repairer and he used to park his car near the mount near the [unclear] saw him on a regular basis, you see, and so we started to go out a bit cause in those days you weren’t, you didn’t walk in and say to your parents, oh well, so and so has invited me out so I am going, there’s none of that, and so we used to go very regularly to Grimsby to the cinema or Cleethorpes and then to the lovely hotel called Kingsway for afternoon tea and believe you me, if you ever get a young man like that, enjoy it, because if you get married to him, it’ll all stop [laughs] but he was a gentleman, oh, he really, really was, he was often late, he was very casual about his business and at that time he’d been in the RAF, it never occurred to me that he was a lot older than me, he was actually twenty years older than me and he lived with his mother, his widowed mother in Alford, but he also had through his uncle a huge interest, which he was aware of, when they went fishing in a boat up where Bempton Cliffs is, in that area, and he was taken by all the birds and his uncle was interested mildly but anyway he had been in the RAF conscripted, he could have stayed at home and looked after the shop that they had in his, when his father died, this was before I knew him and he decided he didn’t want to do the shop, he was never interested in being a jeweller in a watch repairer but he’d done the training, eight years he was training at Lincoln at Mannsell’s and I have a letter from his father telling him really to pull his finger out and anyway he, at that time he was friendly with people obviously in Alford and they were starting the Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve and he is one of the people that started it, Charles Lenton Ottaway and a lot of the memorabilia that they sent down there after my husband died of course was washed away in the floods, I’ve never been back but we got engaged down there and he was a gentleman of the top order, he really was and we had a lovely wedding and then, as I say, we were living with his mum, he had a sister who didn’t like me apparently, there’s a surprise but I was shocked the letters she wrote to me four years after my husband had died and I looked after her mum for twenty five years, not all the time, but you know, and she was in a nursing home for ten and died when she was ninety six. You get lots of things like that, you know, you do your best and then I think my sister in law never got over the loss of the father when she was eight, it was very bitter and I don’t, I know that when I was twenty two I remember when we had, we moved from here cause we needed another bedroom but kept the shop and I remember thinking, what sort of woman do I want to be? And I decided that I didn’t want to be one that was a bit of a like [unclear] floozy, I wanted to be a proper mother and wife and cook and do and the lady across the road that, her husband used to be a partner of Eve & Ranshaw’s she, I’d known her all my life cause my sister went there to work when she was fourteen I think and if the children were poorly, she would come across and or if she was poorly needed some shopping I would do it and that’s who really, that sort of person is what I wanted to be and I’m not a warrior and I’ve learned over the years that you have to accept some things that happen to you and you don’t have to respond to people unkind to you, you feel sorry for them, I have a huge faith, I am grateful that I married my husband because he brought intellect, no common sense, I’ve got the common sense and no, hadn’t done the intellect got a bit now with the years and a lovely community with my mum and dad and the families that have been so lovely to me and still are, so that’s on the school. The school, my faith, my husband and my family and community and those are the four things that have stood me in good stead really and I am still very motivated, you know, I like to know, [unclear] my finger on the pulse, I get muddled [laughs], I went to put the milk, [unclear] with the milk just this afternoon, I thought you silly woman, you know, you, I was just tiding up I think and I put it in the cupboard, that’s right, where I bought the new porridge to put it [laughs], yes, but the extraordinary thing about the bombs dropping, there were two bombs dropped in February, February the 19th, at about four o’clock in the afternoon, 1941, and they were aimed at the railway station and I really just started to research the names on the memorial although I knew some of them, over the years I’ve known some of them, and the bombs seemed to roll, or one of them did, so it damaged the railway station and it killed a boy who was a grammar school boy and his father was a vicar, and when you walk down Eastgate, past Morrison’s, you come to, you can just see some of the railway bridge and he lived, they lived on, in a smooth brick house which is now for adults with learning difficulties and that’s, I could tell you, I don’t know if it’s [unclear] but the name is still the same and he and his friend had come home from the grammar school and he was a messenger boy, on a bike he used to that and he, his mother sent his friend home who lived across the road, he was from Grimsby really but their family had been evacuated from Grimsby to Louth and his father was a major in the army and he was under the kitchen sink. Now I think the kitchen sink would be like one I got out there now, an oblong of thick porcelain I’ll call it, you know, not, and he was killed and he was sixteen, another lady, there were two or three names on the war memorial where people were injured elsewhere and then died in Louth hospital, that’s why [unclear] war memorial. It’s all very fascinating, it’s all in paperwork I have but it was a obviously it’s, it doesn’t leave you and because of the way my life has gone and it’s now, you know, there’s lots of lovely people, I mean, this picture here, his name is Drewery who has hedgehog care and her daughter is Swing Out Sister, the lead singer in Swing Out Sister and she’s been a jazz singer and she, when I became the major, which was a huge honour, she send me a card and said that she liked and tried to paint a portrait, could I send her a picture of the, of me in the roads with a nice expression. And it’s on hardboard [laughs] and she brought it in one day, to see if I liked, if I was alright, just, if you don’t like it, you know, just put your plants on it, it’s lovely, I think, and I haven’t really realised because I don’t do things for attention, I really, really don’t but I know and a friend said to me yesterday a lady not, she’s older than me, and of course they still remember they’d been in Louth and she said, you’ve done so much for Louth, and everybody is always telling me that, cross with me now because I don’t ask them to do things for me now, but I didn’t realize I was doing it, you see, I was interfering really, I think it’s an interfering busybody, that’s what I am [laughs]. Yeah, if I was to go out and down the passage and see you off and somebody was mouthing off a lot of language, I’d be shouting, I shout out the window in the middle of the night, they wake me up, you know, I’m not scared of anything but mice, I put my grandchildren, my son thinks it’s hilarious, they really do but I’m so grateful that all these things here, you know, there was an exhibition in March in the museum and without people and then here’s an example, this is a letter, I was just tell you this because nowhere or I think only once have I seen my name mentioned in any of the newspaper accounts, the newspaper accounts they don’t say in Louth, in Lincolnshire, they say an eastern market town and G W Clark actually became my step uncle but at the time he was a nineteen year old police officer, he was engaged to Connie Platt and there was a mix up with bodies and because he was a family friend, which obviously he was because Connie isn’t on there and [unclear] isn’t on there but the little girl that I said was Margaret next to me with more hair than me, her mum is just behind her and she was Connie’s elder sister and Ivy was Connie’s elder sister as well, Connie was the youngest of four girls and two boys but this was sent to Bill although it’s G W Clark, Imperial War Graves, 21st of October 1941, Dear Sir, I have to thank you for returning the forms which was sent to you and for the information contained in your letter of the 15th, a form in respect of the late Ms Ward was sent to you with the other forms but apparently had gone stray I’m enclosing another form and would appreciate it if you would kindly complete it and return it to me. Your assumption, that Roland Hallett’s name will be included in the record of his Majesty’s forces is correct. Well, Roland was the brother of my uncle Walt. And it says, yours faithfully, G W Clark, which is really P C Clark, one of their [unclear], now the tape I’ve got, it’s not all as I have been told, you know, she was only seventeen and she brought this copy of this tape and she sat where you’re sitting, and I think I was sat here and she said, I thought it would be nice if we listened to that together, well, I didn’t want to do that, I really, really didn’t, cause I couldn’t say no, so we had a coffee and after the tape had run, I said to her, Connie, is there mentioned in all the press cuttings I’ve got, about why I survived when Mary and Genie didn’t? We were all in the same, if we weren’t in the bedroom we started, we obviously were very close, so she said to me, do you really want to know? And I said, I do, and of course it wouldn’t be easy for her to tell me she said, well, when Bill was sent, well, he went up there obviously because it is all much more casual then it is now, and I mean the whole, the area, there were a lot of people injured and as I say, Howard’s farm, one bomb dropped in the field just on our hedge and then the other one dropped just outside our back door as our two uncles were getting ready, getting the car revved up and ready to go back to Grimsby and so they took the full force, you see, my auntie Violet, who lost her husband and her daughter, she was trapped in the house and it was, you sort of went in and I think there must have been a sink there but it was arranged like [unclear] and she somehow was blown into the fireplace and a police officer was given an award, he’s only been dead a few years now, and he got a commendation for rescuing us, he was very seriously injured, so she said, do you really want to know? I said, yes, so she said, well, they got Genie out and Mary out and they were going to get, and they got to you and they thought you were dead as well and they protected me so that was a bit hard, really. But if it hadn’t been for Bill being there, and you see, because Mary’s name began with M, but on one of the paper cuttings it does say Margaret, but it’s only one. But so what you just have to think that you, I’m driven, I’m absolutely driven, I won’t say I hate being old because, I mean, that’s something that we all get to be, but I hate it that I can’t do and interfere [laughs], some of my fellow counsellors which I drop off the perch [laughs], they’ve had it [laughs], that’s where the, this house wasn’t there then, there was another bungalow and that’s, they were very seriously injured in there and this is the rebuild, and it’s not 32 now, it is a different number, but that was the site and I’m not quite sure what to do about some of these because, was trying to find the house, and that’s the back of the house
AH: Oh Gosh!
MO: And this is not our house, that’ the neighbours, and if you look, this picture here is a bigger one, if you look at these, the window here and our house is here, and this would have been taken down, our house, our remains would have been taken down because it wouldn’t be safe.
AH: No.
MO: Because my brother was upstairs in all this and so, it wasn’t quite as flattened as that, but that shows you, doesn’t it?
AH: This is completely gone.
MO: And my brother, when he went to, cause Connie was a very regular visitor, I think she got a red cross uniform on, went round to the red cross, that’s right, and John was there and so on the recording, I’ll lend you the recording, I’m a bit loathed to do it but you’ll look after it, won’t you?
AH: Yeah.
MO: And it’s about half an hour long and it’s very moving, it’s not exactly as I‘ve been told but Connie was very, very fond of my mum and when my dad married Ivy and then Ivy died, she, I was fifty, nearly fifty when Ivy died, and people loved to tell you, but of course your father was carrying on with Ivy, I’m not saying that he was, cause I’ve said already, my dad was quite, cause Ivy couldn’t hear, she was stone deaf and she couldn’t get a job very easily so dad let her work at the office and eventually when she married dad, she had the first, really, the first hearing aid in the town and it was, if you have a hand bag that’s like that, you know, one of those old fashioned sort of handbags and the batteries were in there and hearing aids were sort of very, very rare, by the time she, Amplifops it was called, by the time she died, she had these little hearing aids, but I mean she was always with us, always, and she wasn’t , you know, she wasn’t like some of these, you know, when we get themselves dressed up now, cause the young women got themselves dressed up with all the heavy lipstick, so that’s come back, hasn’t it? But the whole family, and I am still in touch with my cousin Margaret and my cousin Anthony, his mum and dad were in the RAF at the time, and I met him and his wife in Lincoln for lunch not long time ago, yeah, so it’s been lovely, but I’ll, I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll let you take the tape, now I’ll just show you this, and you’ll see on here, these are the ones that were killed and these are the ones that were injured and some of them, this is all on the night of the September the 7th, you see, it’s amazing, I knew this chap, this is Steven, he was a police superintendent I think,
AH: And this, what’s this? Were they aiming at Louth, do you know?
MO: No, that’s the next piece of, oh, here is one, no incident in area d, that we all did a quick dive for the floor as two bombs streamed down over the town, we could not make out where they had fallen at the time but found later that they had dropped on the Grimsby road, regret seven people were killed and others seriously injured, we express our deepest sympathy to A W Jaines special and D Jaines fellow warden in their bereavement, six members of the family were killed, now there’s
AH: You read that, sorry.
MO: My uncle Walt, he was my, he became my uncle Walt, come in!
AH: Just put on pause.
US: Hi!
MO: When, I’ve been so lucky to get all these cuttings from people and this is a copy of the cutting I got, I think from my auntie Connie, a sympathetic note, I find it difficult to express here in these simple notes the sympathy we all are feeling today for Mr A W Jaines and his family in the tragic loss they have sustained. Ms Jaines was a canteen leader in the second talvert house, she gave herself on sparing [unclear] for this work, and her cheerfulness was an inspiration to us all, it was only three days ago that I was with her at the second house and it is difficult to believe she has passed on. She gave her time to us knowing that other mothers were doing the same for her son who was serving, to all who are bereaved and to the sick and sorry I send these lines hoping they might be of some help in the difficult days in which they are passing. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. And I put, added, one died on the September the 7th 1941. And this tribute was written on the 10th of September 1941. Now, to not have a [unclear], and know, because everybody’s told me, and I mean, the cleaning ladies we had, they’ve all said the same thing, and the funny thing is, the most amazing thing to me and I must give her a ring because I haven’t heard from her, when my mum and dad’s friend was Mrs Whitfield, the one on the left there, holding a little boy, when our mother was killed, my sister Dorothy obviously, well, through dad as well I suppose, used to keep in touch with her, and of course when Dorothy died, I took it up and Mrs Whitfield’s now died so I’m in touch with one of her girls, it’s on that photograph, we’ve been corresponding as families all these years, and her father used to work for Vickers, Vickers aircraft in Newcastle and I thought he was in the army but he wasn’t and this is only coming out recently cause one of her sisters, she was called Evelyn and I’m in touch with her, one of her sisters is called Daphne and my daughter, Linda, was named after Linda Lorden Smith, very elderly lady who used to live in Upgate, and my husband used to do her clocks for her and everything and so when we had Linda, I said, why don’t we call her Linda? Well, Linda’s daughter, Linda Lorden’s daughter died and I remember, Mrs Lorden’s was saying to me that the girl, the lady that used to help her, named one of her daughters after Daphne, Daphne was in her nineties, so I was saying to Evelyn on the phone, I said, cause they’ve bene to see me and her mum must have been born round her but I haven’t quite found out her maiden name, and she came, they came, two of the girls came and stayed in a B&B and went visiting people that they were connected to down on the coast but I never twigged that she’d worked for my mother and it was only a matter of two, three months ago, I said something about, cause her surname, her maiden name is Whitfield, and so she said, my mother used to work for somebody called Jaines, cause she hadn’t twigged either that that was my name [laughs], I said, you’re joking, she said, oh no, and you see, we’ve always sort of picked a lot up as we went along, she went to work for a lady, this Mrs Whitfield, went to work for a lady before she was married, down on the coast and she was a maiden lady and she had two little girls and it was Ms Measures that she worked for and we, Evelyn doesn’t know anything about Ms Measures, so I’m trying to research Ms Measures cause she was horrible to their mum and that’s all come through I think through my sister to me, cause I can’t remember where I’ve heard that, but I wouldn’t make that up and so my mum and Evelyn said that this lady wasn’t very nice to her mum and so that’s why she was working for my mum. And so that tells you a lot, doesn’t it? Now you see, I don’t think for one minute, my, Ivy’s son, Michael will know all about that, he knows all about dad cause he bores everybody to death with it, cause dad was a very, very successful man for his days but I met him the other day, I was with a couple, Michael that is and he just come out of the solicitors, but I was walking arm in arm cause it’s going up a sloop right Rosemary Lane, it’s not much and I, we are only acquaintances really but we are friends if you know what I mean, and then Michael came out the office, he didn’t look down, he just, so I said [unclear] and he turned round and he came back, he never does that, and said, these are friends of mine, that spent half the time in France and half here, so he says, l alright, I said, this is my brother, he says, hallo, he said, I don’t suppose you knew that dad walked down here and walked into the wall cause it’s an adjacent, there’s as wall that sticks out and then you go down a bit and then there’s another wall and he was a special and he had glasses you see and he liked his whiskey and so I said, no, I don’t think I did know that, oh alright and then off he went [laughs], our niece who lives opposite the Brown Cow, where Michael drinks now with his partner, she said, she came in on Saturday and she said, he never says anything, when I walk to the pub which, they don’t go in as much as Michael, he says something to her about dad every time, he’s so boring [laughs]. Anyway there’s plenty more for you to go at, has it given you something to start with?
AH: Yes, that’s lovely, thank you. What’s your date of birth?
MO: My date is the 25th of the 6th ’33.
AH: Thank you.
MO: And I’m lovely with it. Now if you’d like to.



Anna Hoyles, “Interview with Margaret Ottaway,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 24, 2024,

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