Interview with Fay Price


Interview with Fay Price


Fay Price was nine at the outbreak of the Second World War living in Grimsby. A twin, they were the youngest of six siblings. Her memory of the start of the war was the ending of birthday parties. Her father was a fish merchant and was able to barter: sugar is the only thing she remembers being short of. Although Grimsby was rarely attacked, because of its close proximity to Hull, there were many hours spent inside dark and damp air raid shelters. Eventually they moved out into the countryside at Brigsley, to a bungalow with no water or electricity, where she was close to several airfields. Fay describes how they used to cycle to the airfields to watch the aircraft taking off. She started to attend dances from around the age of 12, borrowing clothes from her elder sister Pam. She would creep out of the house, get changed and cycle off to the dances. She used to return and change back into her own clothes, but remembers being late back once and her father waiting for her. Fay also attended afternoon tea dances in Cleethorpes with American aircrew. Although being too young to date, the airmen were always happy to have a female dancing partner. Pamela was also a regular attendee at the dances but became known as a Jonah because so many of her partners failed to return from operations. By the end of the war the family had returned to the family home in Grimsby. Fay still attended the dances, but her leaving school coincided with her mother being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and she remained at home rather than obtaining employment. At the age of 18, she enlisted in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and trained as a driver.







00:51:01 audio recording


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HD: My name is Helen Durham and I work for the International Bomber Command Digital Archive. It is the 22nd of May 2017 and I’m here to interview Mrs Fay Price and the time is ten past two. Thank you, Fay. Thank you so much for allowing us to come and meet you and to interview you. To start off with can you tell me what life was like before the war?
FP: Yes. Only a little because of course I was, when the war started I was nine and well it was just we played in the street with our friends. And we walked a fair distance to school even at that age. And, you know, everything was just normal. We had our kiddie’s parties, birthday parties which of course all went when the war started but really there’s not a lot else I can think of really about my childhood.
HD: Yes.
FP: We were twin —
HD: ’Cause you were nine, you said.
FP: Yes. Yes.
HD: When the war started.
FP: My twin and I. We were the youngest in the family. I had two older sisters and two older brothers and we were the youngest and, yes. Yeah. We had an orphanage near us. A big orphanage. And the children used to come down the street. We used to watch them because it was a kind of cul de sac. It had posts and they went through. But no cars or anything. Used to come crocodile, you know from the orphanage to school. Just a little way around the corner from us. A different school to what we went to.
HD: And whereabouts was this Fay?
FP: It was in Grimsby. Just not far from the marketplace. Not far from the centre. Near the main crossings. And yes they used to go along. And we actually went for tea once and we had a banana and a piece of bread for tea. We couldn’t get over that [laughs]. No. And yet they seemed happy. Yes. So, and that actually I think that was still there quite a time after the war. It’s not there now. There’s not an orphanage now. No.
HD: So, when the war came what did your parents do?
FP: My father was a fish merchant. And of course my mother was just a housewife looking after us.
HD: And when the war came how did that change your family life?
FP: Well, we, we actually went to school at Cleethorpes. To the, from when we went from the primary school we went to school in Cleethorpes. So, I think that was perhaps a year after the war started that we went. I don’t remember an awful lot about that time. I don’t know exactly when we moved. But my eldest sister, she went to work in the Telephone Exchange for the air raid wardens and that. So she didn’t go to war because she was doing a job. She didn’t go to serve. And my other sister, she was seventeen at the time. She was just at home helping my mother look after the house. And, but I do remember spending, we had this air raid built in the garden and we didn’t have a very large garden but it used to get a lot of water in, you know. But I can remember us going down, oh many nights to sit in it when the air raids came along. And then my father always used to stand outside looking up at them because there were sometimes dogfights up above us and I remember her screaming at him to get in [laughs] in the shelter. And then this one time somebody said that a train coming in had shone a light and they said they dropped the bombs because it hit the railway station. Then it hit in a line. Four bombs in different streets. And one man sat at, stood at his gate watching was killed. And the shrapnel from one of them, when we went upstairs was on the pillow in my mother’s bedroom. You know, so that was interesting. And then my, my brother used my sister’s air raid hat and you know, we had a wall outside the air raid shelter. He used to get me to stand behind it and he had an airgun and he would shoot at the hat. But he missed the hat and hit me on the forehead. Missed my eye but he panicked and he got hold of me and he was three, three and a half years older than me, you see. He took me down the back because they were terraced houses and we had the back passage. The dustbin men used to come all the way around and take your dustbin from your garden. Then he took me to the lady up the way because it was bleeding, you see. So I was very lucky he didn’t damage my eye.
HD: Yes. You didn’t have any damage then.
FP: No. No. And that’s really what I remember about before the war. And then I think because of all the air raids my mother was worried about us missing school and not getting our sleep. So she rented this bungalow in Brigsley. Because I remember my other brother, my older brother, we were going around looking at the different places for rent and him carrying me on his shoulder. One of them was a nice big house but we didn’t finish there. We finished in that bungalow. So, there was six of us.
HD: And where was that, sorry? That was in —
FP: Brigsley.
HD: At —
FP: At Brigsley.
HD: Brigsley.
FP: Yeah. Near Waltham. Near the side of the aerodrome, you see. Waltham Aerodrome. And it seemed that the actual one that we looked at which we thought we were going to go in was actually in Waltham. Yes.
HD: Yes. Yeah.
FP: But it was, it didn’t have any running water, it didn’t have electricity. And they had, when we first moved in we had to pump it, you know, the water.
HD: Yeah.
FP: We all took turns doing twenty pumps a time to get the water. And they did have electricity put in. But there were only two bedrooms. So there was my mother and father in one. And then my twin and my sister. Eldest, elder sister and myself in a double bed. And my brother in a single bed. And then my other brother used to sleep on the settee in the room.
HD: A house full.
FP: So there was the living/kitchen with the old range. You know, where you boil the kettle on. But then there was a way out. They had a kind of conservatory through building where the oven was. Where she did the cooking, you know. We had a little pond at the side but a lovely big lawn. My father grew vegetables so that was a help. And he used to come home with things because being a fish merchant he used to do some swapping, you know. We gained because he was a fish merchant. He would give fish and they would give him something else. You know.
HD: So rationing. Did it affect you really? I mean.
FP: Only, the only thing I remember about rationing I think my mother was amazing, was that my brother Derek, he was spoiled, my brother Derek. And he wouldn’t have saccharines so he always had sugar and we had saccharines. So, I don’t know if that’s interesting [laughs] but yes, he always — I don’t know whether he, they hired a car once and he was in the back with my elder sister and us two and he fell out.
HD: He fell out of the car?
FP: He fell out the car and they didn’t know. And somebody else took him to hospital, you see.
HD: Oh, my goodness.
FP: So, because it was a big old car with the glass partition and dad and mum in the front and us in the back you see. Well, Pam, my sister Pam couldn’t control us and that. That’s what happened. But I think because she had a guilt complex she spoiled him you see. I think she had a guilt complex about —
HD: Because he’d fallen out of the car.
FP: Yeah. He, we shouldn’t have been in the back alone like that, you see.
HD: No.
FP: So he was spoiled which we resented a lot.
HD: And did he have bad injuries?
FP: No. He hadn’t but, he didn’t but my sister said his nature changed. You know. She said.
HD: [unclear]
FP: Yeah. I have got a picture somewhere. I should have got it out for us. On the beach at Cleethorpes when we were all little. But yes, so that’s what happened at Brigsley. So we used to get, that’s why we, we went for what was it? We must have been there ten. 1940. We must have gone in 1940 because we went up to Ravendale to a private house for our last year of school before we went to the senior school, you know. And then we used to catch the bus and my mother used to give us sixpence each and we’d go all the way back in to Grimsby to the Canteen. You know. I’ve forgotten what they called them but you could tripe and things in the Canteen for lunch. Which we didn’t like. But they had that Canteen during the war, you see and so a couple of days in the week we’d go on into town and get a meal and then come out again. We’d do that by ourselves. We were only ten.
HD: Goodness.
FP: We did a lot by ourselves.
HD: You were quite young. Yes.
FP: Yes. Yes.
HD: So when you lived in Brigsley you went to school in in Brigsley or —
FP: No. It was Ravendale.
HD: Ravendale.
FP: It’s the next village up on the way to Binbrook.
HD: Right.
FP: You see, because from Grimsby you went that way. The 46. Yeah.
HD: So, did you see the Lancasters taking off on their missions? Were you ever aware of the RAF stations around you?
FP: Oh yes. I did because later on I first started, I mean I was just twelve when I went to Waltham. To the dance hall in Waltham you see. And I used to dance with the airmen because they used to go there you see. And, and they used to go to Barnoldby le Beck. To the pub there. My sister, have you heard of it?
HD: I have.
FP: Barnoldby le Beck. My sister used to go there, you see to the pub. I didn’t go into the pubs but they all used to go there you see. But I used to go to the dances. And also the other one, a dance that I used to go to. Do you know I’ve forgotten the name of it. As we come out of Grimsby it was a dance hall. Darn it. It’s gone out of my head I’m afraid. Yeah. Because that was another place that the airmen used to go dancing, you see. So, and then I took my twin to this hall to a dance but I said, ‘Now, don’t tell anyone you’re my twin.’
HD: You didn’t look alike.
FP: How old I — no. No. We were not alike. And I used to put a bit of make up on. Then it was just a bit of mascara and lipstick, you know but they all thought I was older than I was. So I used to cycle then down [unclear] Lane which is quite a long way to the Louth Road. And then I used to turn left and go to Holton Le Clay. And on that, the aerodrome, Waltham Aerodrome came really quite close to that road. In fact, they closed the road through from, from the 46 to the Louth Road. They closed that you see. And I would see the bombers going. They’d be like the bottom of my garden. I would watch them take off. Yeah. I’d just park there on my bike and watch them take off.
HD: And was this in the evening?
FP: Ahum. Ahum. Yeah. When I came, because then you used to go I used to go on my bike. I used to cycle to Cleethorpes from Brigsley and go. I used to go swimming. No. I used to go to school. Play rounders in the morning and then go swimming in the swimming pool. I don’t know if you — you won’t remember it was a swimming pool will you?
HD: No. I can’t remember that.
FP: It’s the baths now.
HD: Right.
FP: You know, it’s indoor but then it was open and it was seawater.
HD: Oh.
FP: You know. Because you would sometimes get eels in swimming with you [laughs] It was quite large though.
HD: Yeah.
FP: But cold. It wasn’t heated of course. And then I would go and go there and then I’d cycle home. Have tea and then cycle to, I think it’s Waltham it was called. Not Waltham. Scartho. I’ve got it. Scartho. Have you heard of Scartho?
HD: Yes. That’s right.
FP: Yeah. Well, that’s, that’s where I used to cycle to.
HD: And what was —
FP: And then dance all evening. And then cycle home.
HD: And what was it like watching the bombers take off? How many do you think there were and —
FP: Well, I don’t remember them as an amount but I was fascinated because they were so big, you know and so close and so low as they were taking off. But I mean I used to know about the airmen but it never registered at that age about them all going missing. But there were lots, you know that didn’t come back. A lot of the airmen that I knew were trainees. You know, they wore the white because they used to train there you see and those, there were quite a few of them that I knew were trainees. Yeah. But it, and then at Holton Le Clay I used to dance and it was the army there [laughs] So I desert you there.
HD: So, going back to the bombers taking off it must have been incredibly noisy.
FP: Yes.
HD: The noise.
FP: Oh, they were. I think of my brother in law in that plane, you know. Never really, he was fairly quiet, Ron was. I never really talked to him a lot because my sister was only about seventeen when we met. There was never anyone else but him for her, you see. And he was posted from Binbrook. He used to be billeted in the back. You know. Not on the actual aerodrome. They had huts at the back and he used to be billeted there and then, and this was after the war he was posted to Hemswell. That’s where he, you know.
HD: So, tell me about Ron. Which sister did he marry?
FP: My twin.
HD: Your twin.
FP: Yeah. Yeah. My twin. Yeah.
HD: I see.
FP: And she had four children. I had four children. She had four children.
HD: And what happened to Ron? What? He was the navigator.
FP: Yes.
HD: Can you tell me a bit about him that you know about him in Bomber Command?
FP: Well, I’m not sure. He must have still been in Bomber Command because he was in for quite a few years when he was posted to Bovingdon after they were married. Yeah. I think, I think he went abroad after they were married as well because she had her first child, Simon and she lived with my mother and I in the park at Grimsby while he was abroad. But I can’t tell you where. And of course she has dementia now so she doesn’t remember anything.
HD: No.
FP: I always meant to get all these things from them, you know. Before. Even our past. What, because everybody remembers different don’t they?
HD: They do.
FP: They always remember as different. But then he finished up at Bovingdon and the Americans were there as well because we used to go and have big steak meals on a Saturday night. Bovingdon. Yes. And they were in, lived in a bungalow at Chesham which is near Bovingdon. I’m not sure if he didn’t come out of the Air Force then. He did, I don’t know if he did twenty two years but he, he then worked for Basildon Bond.
HD: Oh right.
FP: The paper people. Yeah. And so he got a council house. And that was at Chesham. Yeah.
HD: Yeah.
FP: And that’s where he, their evenings, they were different to ours. My husband and I. Their social life was going for a drink. That’s all they ever did. But we never did, you see. My husband and I. We were not ones for going out for a drink at all. But that was and they used to talk all the time, you know. When they went. That was their evenings out for a drink.
HD: Yes.
FP: And I used to think how good it was.
HD: Yeah.
FP: And my sister still likes her drink.
HD: And so can you tell me a little bit about your sister who used to go to the dances?
FP: Pamela.
HD: And how much older was Pamela to you?
FP: She was, I think Bid was, yes, she was seven years older than me and I think, because Bid was eight years older. My older sister she married an airman as well. He went to India. But Pamela, well I don’t know how to describe her. She always wore a hat. She was very outgoing. You know. You couldn’t miss her. And I’ve really I will tell you what I did used to do though. I used to borrow her clothes and I used to leave mine outside the window you see. And then when I came home at night I’d change [laughs] back. And she used to be getting so cross with me you see when I went to the dances because of course my older sister was horrified that I was going to dances at my age and meeting with airmen and that. You know. She was, because my my granny had brought her up for most of her life ‘til my granny died. So Bid was horrified and Pam used to get cross with me for taking her things.
HD: Taking her clothes.
FP: Yes. I think I vaguely remember briefly my father waiting for me one when I was late back and I got a good telling off. I couldn’t. I couldn’t change back. I was a bit of a holy terror really.
HD: Why not?
FP: Yeah.
HD: Why not?
FP: But then you want the war years, don’t you?
HD: Yes. So, Pamela. She used to go to all the dances as well.
FP: Yes. And she worked in the, that canteen. The forces canteen, you know. In town. It was actually opposite the, opposite the bus station in Grimsby, upstairs, this canteen. And they volunteered to go because she couldn’t go in because her eyesight was so bad. She couldn’t, you know do any war work but she used to do that. Go in and do that. So she also met a lot, a lot of Americans. Yes. Because that’s another story. When we went to a dance and we all came [pause] Humberston Corner it’s called. Do you know where Pennell’s is in Grimsby?
HD: Yes. It’s on the outskirts, isn’t it? Pennell’s
FP: Yes. Yes. Well, if you’re heading towards Grimsby you then come to this roundabout and you either go right to Cleethorpes where my schools were. The boy’s and the girl’s schools or left for Grimsby. And one night when we left the dance we sat there. There were seats there and we sat there and the Americans had bottles of whisky. And my twin was there this time. I can’t remember how old we were. Only about fifteen, you know [laughs] And they were passing this bottle of whisky and it was horrible, you know. Passing it around but we didn’t, we wanted to be, show we were ok and we were taking a drink of it, you see. My twin, she passed out. So my sister really got in trouble from my parents when I had to bring her home in a taxi. She had passed out. My twin was shy. She was the opposite to me you know. She was quiet and she was shy.
HD: Oh dear.
FP: Yes.
HD: There would be trouble at home then.
FP: But she was very attractive, Celia was. She was fair and blue eyed and, you know. They all liked Celia. Yes.
HD: And so you went along with Pamela and Pamela must have been very attractive. You all were, I think.
FP: Yes. Although she was different. She had her hair. She had very fuzzy hair so she had to control it and she used to put it in a kind of long bun at the back. You know. And both her and my older sister had a tendency to buck teeth, you know. But she was so outgoing. I’ve forgotten the word that describes her.
HD: Vivacious.
FP: Yes. Yes.
HD: Yes.
FP: Very. You know, as I say in after years she always wore a hat. Never went anywhere without a hat. My twin never went anywhere without stockings. I never went anywhere with.
HD: So what did, so this, the dances would take place on a Saturday evening, did they?
FP: Yes. Yes. At the Café Dansant at Cleethorpes.
HD: At Cleethorpes.
FP: Yes. Yes. It was a lovely place. I used to go from school and the Americans were there for the afternoon tea dance and they were quite, I mean you were in your uniform. Had to go in our uniform. But they were quite happy to dance with you. You know how they used to shuffle around, the Americans did and do the little twist. They didn’t care whether you were young. They didn’t date you but they were quite happy dancing and that, you know. Having partners. That Café Dansant was, was really the elite shall I say. Not like the Gaiety in Grimsby. Have you heard of the Gaiety in Grimsby?
HD: No. I haven’t.
FP: Haven’t you? Well, that was a large dance hall. My uncle had a garage right beside it. It was called the Gaiety Garage. We used to go because they were a bit strict and they wouldn’t let us in. They could see we were too young you see and they wouldn’t let us in. So they used to have the doors open with screens so we used to stand and look in at them dancing you know, there. But the Café at Cleethorpes, the Café Dansant was elite. Elite. It was a round, a round one and your tables and chairs were all around here. I always remember being there and somebody coming up to ask my sister to dance and she said, ‘What does he look like?’ Because her eyesight was so bad. ‘What does he look like?’ [laughs] But that’s where she used to go a lot. The Café Dansant. Actually, unfortunately that, that went quite a few years ago. They changed it. It’s just a Café now, you know. Chairs and tables for the public. And even the Winter Gardens opposite. Have you, have you heard of that?
HD: I have. Yes.
FP: The Winter Garden. That’s gone. Now, I used to go there. Yeah.
HD: Yeah.
FP: It was all dances you see and most of the time the men never came in ‘til the pubs shut at 10 o’clock. And the airmen and all of them that used to be, you know they’d go for their drinks.
HD: And then.
FP: And then come to the dance. Yeah. So we danced together ‘til they came in. Yeah.
HD: So you were saying about Pamela. That she had a very special gentlemen.
FP: Yes. Yes.
HD: Can you tell me a little bit about that?
FP: Because they did call her, she did have a name because they called her a Jonah. Have you heard of the Jonah?
HD: No.
FP: A Jonah was, they called anybody whose boyfriends didn’t come back. A lot of them didn’t come back. So they would say, ‘Oh, don’t go with her. She’s a Jonah.’ You see. Because they didn’t come. Because so many of her boyfriends didn’t come back. But Alan, she was very young and all I can, I can still see him coming up the garden path. Fair haired and very young. The only one. But I didn’t realise how much she felt about him. But she really did and as I say just one night he didn’t come back. But this is Pamela. Unlike us she would go off to the Café Dansant and all the dances and she’d spend the whole evening crying. I mean, we couldn’t, it horrified my older sister that she could go out and be crying you see.
HD: So, how many boyfriends did she have that didn’t return? Do you know?
FP: No. I don’t. I’ve no idea. Because it was such a [unclear] and you see she was, we moved there so if I was, I was ten she was seventeen when we moved there, you see. So she was going all that time because we came back I think in ’44 to Grimsby from Brigsley because my mother was never happy there. She was always a town lady. And she didn’t like the countryside much at all. But yes. So, she was all those years wasn’t she? Four years, you see. Going with them. She always had a boyfriend.
HD: Yeah.
FP: She even, she met some you see that she went with from Binbrook and Kelstern you see because she would meet them at the Canteen and at the dances. I only ever remember her going with one American. She didn’t go with the Americans. Yeah. It was mainly the Australian Air Force, you know because they were at Binbrook. I mean I had an Australian boyfriend. Also from Binbrook. He went [pause] he used to come to, to the house when we went back to Grimsby in ’44. Because the war was still on. It didn’t finish til ’45 did it?
HD: No.
FP: But yes, and we knew quite a few Australians. I went to a dance myself at Binbrook and it was in the summer and all the haystacks were there. I don’t know whether this is of interest. There. So we used to take our strawberries and our cream and sit on the haystacks.
HD: Wonderful.
FP: Yeah. But —
HD: Yeah.
FP: So I really can’t remember a lot. Bid, now her, sorry it won’t interest you. Her boyfriend was air sea rescue. You know. He was in the boats that went out to rescue. Yeah.
HD: Did you have an air raid shelter at the bungalow?
FP: No.
HD: So what did you do if there was an air raid?
FP: Well, we didn’t get air raids out there. You didn’t. You didn’t hear an air raid siren out there. No. You just, I mean it was very dark, you know. No streetlights. Extremely dark. But you used to hear all the planes because you’d hear them coming back to Binbrook and Kelstern. So it was noisy. But then it was lovely when the moon was out. The moonlight, you know. I always liked the moonlight because that was the only light you had. But yes. No. They did have a cinema at Waltham. On the camp. And we were allowed to go . They used to show films in a hut. You know. One of the huts. And we used to go and watch that. Films there.
HD: So you were telling me that your father was a fish merchant. So did he ever have any part to play in the war?
FP: Well, he was in the First World War. He was a pilot in the First World War and he crashed and was a prisoner. And he lost the sight of one eye. And so my mother always said he rushed off to join in the second war and she said, ‘He’s gone off to join and they won’t let him in.’
HD: And he never flew again.
FP: No. He never flew again. No. I’m sad because you know when you’re young you don’t ask your parents, do you? You don’t think, you know to ask. That I didn’t ask more about his time as a prisoner. Because he never talked about it.
HD: Do you know where he was a prisoner of war?
FP: No. I don’t know anything. But I did think and I believed that I could perhaps write up and find out, couldn’t I?
HD: I’m sure.
FP: Yeah. Because I think they’ve listed all of that.
HD: I’m sure.
FP: Haven’t they?
HD: Oh yes. Yes.
FP: I didn’t realise until I went to your meeting that perhaps I could.
HD: Oh, I’m sure.
FP: Find out.
HD: I’m sure. So did he go over to France in the First World War?
FP: I don’t know. All I know, because he used to pretend that it was a glass eye and I believed him for years. That he had a glass eye you see. But it was his own eye, He was just blinded in it. But eventually he did have to have a glass eye, you see. But for years he used to kid us that it was a glass eye, you know.
HD: So, during the war years then can you remember anything else that happened in Lincolnshire or for you in your daily lives? Any particular incident?
FP: No. I can only remember us at school going into this air raid shelters in the daytime. At school. And playing that whisper in your ear and see what it finishes up as when it gets to the end. You know.
HD: Yes.
FP: And we used to have the, they turned the playing fields into growing potatoes so we used to pick the potatoes, you know. And then at lunchtime we used to, the dining room was on the second floor, on the first floor and we used to wave to the Americans as they went back, by on their convoys. You know. They always used to be going past in convoys.
HD: Okay.
FP: We used to wave to them.
HD: And when you were in the air raid shelter did you actually have lessons while you were down there?
FP: No. No. We didn’t have lessons. No. Because they never seemed to last all that long these air raids. They didn’t seem to last all that long.
HD: And that was during the day obviously.
FP: Yeah. So it was, yes and then I used to because we used to catch the bus. The bus used to go from the marketplace to Binbrook through Brigsley you see so we had to catch the bus. And I used to run like mad from school to get to the marketplace because there was a shop there that sold jacket potatoes that they cooked there and then you see. You just used to manage to get one before the bus left. To get on the bus.
HD: The bus. Yeah.
FP: But I don’t know whether that’s, you know, of any interest. Yes. As I say I just can’t seem to remember much more about it really. Just that. Yeah. In the double summertime my friend and I when we were out at Brigsley we used to climb on the haystacks and just sit there because you would get the RAF coming from Binbrook as well going past. So we were always waving at the forces, you know. It was we didn’t realise really, you know.
HD: And how old were you when the war finished in 1945?
FP: Fifteen.
HD: And did life change again for you then when the war finished?
FP: Well. Not, not for quite a time because when we came back we used to take the buses out to all the aerodromes to the dances you see. So it seemed as far as we were concerned the boyfriends carried on you know at the camp and we were still going to school. No. We weren’t. No. I left school at fourteen. I didn’t do very well at school. You won’t be surprised. And I left. And my mother had started with Parkinson’s you see while we were at Brigsley so my sister Pam had been helping. And then I left school and I started to help. Pam had met an airman. Ken. And he and his family went to South Africa so she went with them but she didn’t last very long out there. I think the parents were too much for her because they ran a hotel out there you see. So she was soon back again and having lots of boyfriends again.
HD: Did she ever get married?
FP: Oh. Yes. Well, she married Ken you see.
HD: Ken.
FP: Then she came back. Yes. And then she married John. Now, he was in the Navy. He was a Navy but I can’t remember what year it was and she married John and then she had Kim. Her one son. That’s all. And they went. He, when he came out of the Navy they did. They went into one of the breweries. They managed pubs when people were at hotels you know. While they were away.
HD: So, how did life change for you when the war ended? You would have left school and you were helping with your mother? Did you have a job at all? Did you?
FP: No. No. My twin did. She went to Estelle’s which was the elite hairdressers in town. A Guy and Smith’s Estelle salon was. And my parents paid for her to train as a hairdresser there. They had to pay for her to train to be a hairdresser. So she trained as a hair dresser and I stayed at home and looked after mum. And I think Pamela, when she came back she was there for about a year. And then at eighteen I went into the WAAFs.
HD: Right.
FP: Yes. I was, I wanted to get away because of course it [pause] you know I’d been four years looking after mum. But I always had a guilt. Always had a guilt and [pause] of being away and not looking after her. Is it still running? Yeah.
HD: And so tell me a little about when you were in the WAAFs. When did you do that?
FP: When I was eighteen. Yes. Yes. I went in just before I was eighteen.
HD: And where did you start off in the WAAF?
FP: Well, I started off by coming, coming from my medicals to Lincoln. I had to come to Lincoln for my medical and I had to get up really early and I fell down the stairs. Yeah. My head hit the bannisters all the way down. And I had my medical and they didn’t even know that had, you know they didn’t know that had. But then I went to Yatesbury to do the basic training. That was quite horrific for me because of course you went to bed at ten and when I was at home I never went to bed ‘til midnight. You know. It was quite a shock to the system. And you used to climb through the window so you didn’t mark the polished floor for the inspection the next morning. And you put your stockings under your mattress to dry them. I know one of the WAAF officers on parade looked at me and she said, ‘What’s this?’ ‘My hair.’ She said, ‘Do something with it.’ Well my hair was always thin. I could never do much with it. Yes. So then I passed out at Wilmslow. Wilmslow it was called. That was Manchester. And then I was posted. I went in for driving. MT.
HD: And what year was this?
FP: Well, it would be — when did I get? Yatesbury I did my training didn’t I? So when did I get to West Drayton? I was only in for two years. I was the last intake that could sign as a WAAF. A WAAF. After that it changed to WRAF and they had to sign for four years. But I just did the two years. So it was the same year that I went to Yatesbury. It would in 1949 wouldn’t it? 1949.
HD: So, yes. It was after the war.
FP: Yes.
HD: Yes.
FP: Yeah. And this big hut at Yatesbury with its heater thing and about ten of us each side sleeping you know.
HD: Yes. They were quite primitive. The conditions. Weren’t they?
FP: Yes.
HD: They were.
FP: They were really. Yes. And I could never eat any of the food. Never. I used to send, spend the pittance we got on food because we didn’t get much money. It used to run out at a certain week. I think we were paid once a fortnight.
HD: And what did you do in the WAAF? What was your —
FP: I drove.
HD: Oh yes. You said.
FP: Yeah.
HD: Sorry. You were a driver.
FP: And we trained at Yatesbury and we were also on the lorries, you know. The QL s as we called them. We trained on those. Going around Blackpool.
HD: So, you were driving lorries.
FP: Yes. Yes. Driving lorries. Yes. Blackpool. And then I was posted. I had a very nice friend because I never had close friends, you know. I was too independent. Estella. She was very nice but she still wanted to tie me down, you know. I was posted to West Drayton which was not far from Heathrow.
HD: Yeah.
FP: And it was, it wasn’t, it was just a, I don’t know what exactly they did there because it was an office type camp. You know. No, no aircrew. No. Nothing like that. Though the Americans did move in after I’d been. After I went to Yatesbury. After a year there somebody wanted to exchange postings from Yatesbury so I changed with them.
HD: Changed.
FP: Because there was nothing to do. But I’ll tell you what I did do. I went on from there. I went on the Remembrance. You know the Remembrance Service. We went and stood by the Cenotaph when King George was king. He was still king then and we stood in line, you know. And we stayed at Uxbridge overnight and then I was at the Royal Albert Hall for the Remembrance Service there and I was dressed as a tennis player. And we spent two days being ferried back and forth from Uxbridge. We actually stayed in Uxbridge and ferried back and forth to — for this rehearsal. And all I can remember is the [unclear] sound of the bagpipes. It seemed to be always the bagpipes. But we, you’ve seen the services haven’t you?
HD: Yes.
FP: Yes. Well, at ours our team was sports. So different people came down those steps. I dressed as a tennis player with a tennis racket. And others came as cricketers and that sort of thing and then we were all. It was quite nice.
HD: Quite an honour. Yes.
FP: Yes. It was quite nice.
HD: Did you get to meet King George?
FP: No. But I wasn’t far from him. No way. No. We stood as kind of guards, you know. The RAF. They do it now. They have a row and then they have the Navy, don’t they? And yeah, that’s how we, that’s all we did there.
HD: Wonderful. That’s very special though.
FP: Yes it was.
HD: Very special.
FP: Yes, it was
HD: So where did you meet your husband?
FP: I met him at Yatesbury.
HD: And he was in the RAF.
FP: Yes. He was also a driver in the RAF. He’d come from Henlow. He’d been posted there from Henlow and he used to drive the RAF Band around at Henlow.
HD: That would be an interesting job.
FP: Yes. It was wasn’t it? So that’s where we met. But we were, we didn’t marry for four years. We, I came, I came out after two years and is this of interest to you now?
HD: Oh yes. Yes. Definitely. Oh no. No. No. Definitely.
FP: Yes. I came out after two years and then I took a job as a mother’s help because I don’t have any training you see. All I knew was driving. I did think — oh no when I came out Frank was still there. I forgot. I went to work at Calne. You know, Yatesbury is near Calne and they had the Harrison’s Sausage Factory there and I went to work there. I was only there two months because it was horrendous, you know. People had worked there all their lives. In the winter you got up in the dark and went to work and you came home in the dark. You know. Because they were long hours then you see. You were eight ‘til six you did. And most of the time what I was doing was putting the top on pastry. You know the paste. The jars of paste.
HD: Yes. Yes.
FP: That little top.
HD: Top. Yes.
FP: And then they go past and that’s all you were doing. And some people were doing that all their lives.
HD: You didn’t rotate.
FP: No. No. They didn’t. So I didn’t last long.
HD: I’m not surprised. No.
FP: I didn’t. But of course it was all experience wasn’t it?
HD: It was. Yes. And how did you get back to Lincoln then? How did you get back to Lincoln?
FP: I think — I’m trying to remember. I came back I think to look after mum again for a couple of years. I think I came back to look because we had moved from Manor Avenue to the park because my grandfather had died so we moved in to his house in the park. And then I went off again. Celia was there with her baby and I went off again. Left her looking after. Another guilt session. Left her looking after my mum. And I actually went in to Reading because Frank had come out and he was teaching driving for the British School of BS. Whatever you call it. School of Driving in Reading. So I got lodgings there and I worked in Huntley and Palmer’s Biscuit Factory. So this is why I always nagged my children to get trained for something so they didn’t spend their lives in factories, you know.
HD: And they’ve all done well.
FP: Yeah. They’ve all done well.
HD: Good. Good.
FP: But yes so that was another long hours because when I first started we were on our feet all day. And when I got back to my lodgings I had to sit with my feet in water for ages they were so, you know.
HD: Sore. Yeah.
FP: Not used to. But I lost a stone in weight.
HD: Even with the biscuits.
FP: Yeah. I was doing lifting the biscuits off a pallet two at a time. Putting them there and then pasting on the label. Then lifting them down.
HD: Goodness me. Yes.
FP: So you can imagine that.
HD: Yeah.
FP: So —
HD: Is there anything else you want to mention about the Second World War years? About the family or anything else that we’ve missed maybe?
FP: Well, no. Only my brother Keith. He had bad eyesight. And there was my sister, big sister Pam and then my brother Keith, you see. He had bad eyesight so he worked on the docks with my father. But he was in the cadets. The RAF. When we were at Brigsley he used to walk up and down swinging that thing. Practicing. Swinging that. That’s what he used to do with the cadets. And then my brother Derek and this was the end of the war. Then he was only just old enough. He went in to the Merchant Navy. So really they didn’t have a lot to do with it. Keith used to cycle from Brigsley to help dad because then on the fish docks they would have, they had the pontoon and they’d have a row. I don’t know if you’ve ever been.
HD: No.
FP: A row of huts for each fish merchant. They’d have these huts. And then on the main part this was a kind of pontoon you see with the huts by the water and then on the main part they’d have an office you see. And this was at Riby Square. And it hasn’t changed a lot since. No. I have driven around it to see.
HD: Yeah. And they weren’t bombed. The docks weren’t bombed.
FP: Well, I can’t remember that happening because they didn’t come for Grimsby you see.
HD: No.
FP: It was Hull all the time. It was only occasionally.
HD: Yeah.
FP: But we used to get all these sirens you see.
HD: Yeah.
FP: But it was, we did used to have, it was very handy because we would have fish twice a week. The rationing you see.
HD: So you ate quite well really during the war.
FP: Yes. We did. Yes. We ate. They managed very well. Mum and dad. Especially with the coupons for clothes because I was a holy terror tearing my stockings, you know and that. But yes it was quite hard for mum really when I think about it. And then my brother Derek, going back to Brigsley. One day we suddenly looked out of the window and he was stood there with a donkey.
HD: Had he found the donkey?
FP: From somebody. He got it from somebody. Got it from somebody and brought it home and thought he’d be able to keep it. And I went, I got friendly at a farm and she let me ride a horse. I never had any training. Because I came home to show them at home one day and I came through the fence and my foot caught and I came off it. But fortunately the horse didn’t run because my foot was stuck in the stirrup. But I did bring a dog home. A puppy home. And that one day, she was lovely, Sally her name was. Lovely little. Her whole body used to go. She used to look for me coming for school. She’d wait for me. And one day she wasn’t there. And I didn’t know it my sister my mum had got my sister to give her away you see. They said she’d been run over but she hadn’t. They’d given her away.
HD: Away.
FP: Because she was too much for my mum, you know. With the rest of us.
HD: Yeah.
FP: But that was at Briglsey but as I say there’s not a lot I can remember. But as I say I always remember those standing and watching those bombers take off. Yeah. Thinking about them in there. Pity I didn’t get really to talk to Ron more about it wasn’t it?
HD: Well, thank you ever so much for giving the interview. You’ve given us lots of wonderful stories.
FP: Well, I hope you can salvage some.
HD: Absolutely. No. We’ve, we’ve talked a lot about air raid shelters, about rationing, about the bombers.
FP: Yes.
HD: All sorts of things. So thank you ever so much. That’s really kind of you.
FP: Will you have a cuppa?



Helen Durham, “Interview with Fay Price,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 22, 2024,

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