Interview with Pat Harrison


Interview with Pat Harrison


Pat Harrison was born in Lincoln and was the only girl of four children. Her father joined the Royal Air Force after serving as an air raid warden. Pat remembers the arrival of evacuees in Lincoln and also recalls occasions when bombing resulted in fatalities and injuries. She was witness to several friendly aircraft crashes and also makes reference to a Hampden crashing onto the Greestone Stairs and also the use of V-1s. As a young girl, Pat remembers helping her mother with Co-op milk deliveries by horse drawn cart and later using an electric van. She also remembers various buildings, cinemas, fire station, etc. in Lincoln. Pat recalls the bodies of German aircrew being recovered from Brayford pool. In later life, Pat became a nurse and met her husband at Lincoln’s British Legion Club. He had served in the Royal Navy and joined the Police force after the war. They had two daughters.




Temporal Coverage





00:47:58 audio recording


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AHarrisonH191111, PHarrisonH1901


MC: This interview is being conducted on behalf of the International Bomber Command Centre. The interviewee is Pat Harrison, and the interviewer is Mike Connock. The interview is taking place at Pat Harrison’s home in Lincoln on Monday the 11th of November 2019 at Mrs Harrison’s home in Lincoln. I’ve said that. Also present is Mrs Harrison’s daughter Sue Harrison. Ok, Pat. We’ll start right at the beginning. Just a bit of information about you. Just tell me a bit about when where and you were born.
PH: I was born in 38 Drake Street in Lincoln. And my parents must have moved down in to Baggeholme Road not long after that, or when I was quite young because the Junior School was across the road from the house, and we were there until it was bombed.
MC: Yeah. So, I mean you were born and bred in Lincoln then.
PH: Yes.
MC: Or you’ve lived around this area all of your life.
PH: I’ve been away to work. I started nursing at Osgodby, but then my father had gone abroad and mother had got us, and she had to work during the war so I came home to be with her.
MC: So when were you born?
PH: June the 24th 1929.
MC: 1929. That’s a bit significant, isn’t it? Ninety nine.
PH: I’m going for the hundred now.
MC: Good for you.
PH: And do you know what my daughter says? I won’t tell you.
MC: You can tell me. It’s alright [laughs] So what did your parents do then?
PH: Well, mother, well my father went into the air, when they were first married in about 1924, I think it was, ’23 or ’24, and they had my elder brother Neville. He became a councillor in Lincoln after serving in the army for twenty two years. And they, at one time they were living at somewhere near Stowe. They were married at Stow Church so it was that area there. And when they came into Lincoln. I think dad was working at Fosters at one time. Fosters. Where the tank was built.
MC: Yeah.
PH: And that. And when he went into the RAF, and I’m not quite sure which year that was. Mother had to work of course, because she was there at that time when I was, when I’d left the junior school mother was still only in her late thirties, and that and she became a conductress on the —
SH: Roadcar, was it?
PH: The Roadcar.
MC: The buses. The buses. Yeah.
PH: And she loved the job, and liked to be there. But I might, might get these thing mixed up a bit, but before dad went into the RAF of course he was an air warden. Air raid warden in the Baggeholme Road district, and they used to have a meeting place in Sparrow Lane and meet up there. And often us kids got involved in concerts they were putting on around the city to make it a bit happier for older people who couldn’t get out and that sort of thing. I remember doing a concert at South Bar Church. Friends and I. And I remember once getting a big box of chocolates from the ARP wardens because I acted as a casualty for them, and I don’t know why I always got roped in because I’d got three brothers.
MC: How old were you then?
PH: Well, only I think probably eight, nine or ten. Not, not very old then and, which I didn’t mind but I remember doing this concert at I say at the South Bar Church and doing the, and I was Britannia at the end and I was so thrilled. And [laughs] but as the war came, and I must have left the Junior School which was across the road from us before that. Before I was actually eleven with it being war time. Then there was more evacuees and that coming into Lincoln.
MC: Because you’d be about ten when war broke out.
PH: Yeah. Actually it then went to eleven didn’t it —
MC: Yeah.
PH: When you changed schools to eleven to fourteen. But we must have gone earlier and of course after the place was bombed we had to sort of go to different schools and just fit in where we could.
SH: When did you get to the newsagents? When did you move to the Baggeholme Road newsagent’s?
PH: Well, that, that was quite later on. That was after. Well, just before I was married I’d say so, but in the younger days my eldest brother Neville he was a messenger. I don’t know where Brian was but both Neville and Brian they then eventually went in to the Army as boy service.
MC: So you, how many brothers did you have?
PH: I had three but John was a watch repairer in Lincoln. In Baggeholme Road. I don’t know whether you heard of him.
SH: He had polio as a child.
PH: He’d had polio as a child.
MC: Oh right.
PH: And he was affected from the waist down. And he went to, eventually went to a training school in Northampton somewhere through the help of Wilfred Pickles.
MC: Oh yes.
PH: Can you remember?
MC: Yes, I do indeed.
PH: He used to do a lot for handicapped children. Mother had got in touch with him. Taught John watch repairing and that. Came home, and then he worked for Mr Fry in St Mary’s Street.
MC: Fry’s the jewellers.
PH: Yeah. And he got, after John died Mr Fry put a lovely comment in the Echo about that. But as I say going up to Spring Hill we just walked up there every day and the girls have often said to me, ‘Well, what did you do?’ and I said, ‘Well, we just carried on as we could.’ We went to school. There was air raid shelters in the grounds, but they wouldn’t have been much good because they were brick built if anything had hit us. And I say on a Friday we used to call at the fish shop on there just to have our lunch or it was packing up. There was no ready-made lunches at that time, and I remember in this queue one Friday sirens went, and we had to go back which was only across the road to the school, yard, go in to the shelters and of course we were in there quite a long time and we hadn’t had any lunch and luckily it was cookery day. We used to have half class cookery and half, you know just ordinary housework things, and doing like that because there was so many of us, we couldn’t all be there at once. So and I remember Miss Stole who was the cookery teacher and she made us a little sandwich of what would be a little Hovis loaf and a drink of orange juice. And of course then we had to wait until we got home, but no —
MC: And which school was that at?
PH: That was Spring Hill.
MC: So did you enjoy your early school days?
PH: Yeah. I never, you know, I never saw any bullying. There was probably little arguments sometimes, but I never saw any bullying and when the teachers remembered one of them Miss Watson I got on ever so well with and people used to say she was a bit of a tiger, but I always got on well. And when she knew that I was going to start nursing and that, she was very interested and kept in touch.
MC: So life was growing up just before the war was —
PH: Growing up that was.
MC: Was hardship. Was it?
PH: Well, it started then. The war had started then.
MC: Yeah.
PH: We were walking to school through the war and that.
MC: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
PH: And then.
MC: So originally you went to Baggeholme Road though.
PH: Yes. That was just a Junior School. You know, up to what would have been from five to eleven wouldn’t it? But they had to go earlier. But no, we, after we’d been bombed which fell on the school. There was one in Baggeholme Road. A place which is still an opening. I think it’s just got a garage in it or something now. Avondale Street, Mr Brown was killed opening the shelter, which was a brick shelter, which is in the next street. Which way is it, Sue? That’s way isn’t it?
SH: That way. Yeah.
PH: Yeah. And Mr [Medd] in Coningsby Street, a lovely old gentleman, he was killed and his wife died later. Mrs Morris, she had head injuries from that. And at the time for years I thought there had only been one bomb on the school but apparently there was five in the area. Another time I was in the back yard one Sunday afternoon. I’m sure it was Sunday, and looking at this plane going over and we sort of began to recognise the sounds of them, and I thought that sounds funny. And it was when they dropped some bombs on, at the hospital.
MC: Oh right. Yes.
PH: And I used to say to my father, I said I think it was that they said there was four bombs dropped, and I kept saying it was five, or it was five, and there was six, it was. And he kept saying, ‘No,’ he said, There wasn’t,’ he said. They, the [unclear] them all, didn’t they, eventually found another one didn’t they in, under the High Bridge.
MC: Oh did they? Yeah.
PH: Didn’t they, yeah.
MC: So when this bombing round here took place, did you, you didn’t see the aircraft at all.
PH: No, because it was early hours. It was in the night or early hours of the morning. And we didn’t see that. But we ought, mother, they had a bay window in her room with a blanket box on it, and we used to, her and I used to stand on it and watch the aeroplanes going out because there wasn’t just one Lancaster in the sky. And when they came back they were sort of circling and waiting to land. And a girl I knew whose dad was the barber in Baggeholme Road, her husband was killed waiting to land, and he couldn’t land because there was all the other, I forget what they called it when they were just circling around.
MC: Circling, yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Yeah.
PH: And waiting to land and that. And they were such a lovely couple. She hadn’t been married very —
MC: Did you have any warning of this air raid? No?
PH: Not that morning.
MC: No.
PH: Not the Baggeholme Road one.
MC: No.
PH: No. We were fast asleep and we had an elderly lady staying with us and she was made comfortable in the front room. And she had, there was one of mum’s sideboards there where she used to put her extra sugar and things like that and the night we all wanted tea, we lived on tea in those days, and she went around because she couldn’t get through. It would be like a door like this. She couldn’t get through that. It had gone all wonky and went round. The policeman wouldn’t let her in until he made doubly sure she was who she was saying she was and it was, you know it was things like that that we —
MC: Yeah.
MC: But of course it left [pause] you said your prayers every night after that.
MC: Yeah. Because you didn’t know. Yeah.
PH: And knowing those people who had died and been injured. Yeah. And, but —
MC: So there was, you reckoned that there was supposed to be five bombs that were dropped were there?
PH: Yeah. I thought as I say with being young I thought there was only one.
MC: Yeah.
PH: On the school but there was there was five in the area.
MC: Oh in the area. Yeah.
PH: I think that’s what it said in one of the Lincoln books later.
MC: Yeah. I heard a bit of a story that there was one in Arboretum. I don’t know whether you ever heard that story?
PH: Yeah.
MC: Apparently it could be still there.
PH: Yeah. Well, that’s what I say. It could be when Sister Swan’s was bombed which I saw.
MC: Oh yes.
PH: Them come out. And I think —
SH: There was one on —
PH: I think that was about four o’clock in the afternoon. It was, it was quite.
SH: There was one off Lindum hill you said, wasn’t there?
PH: That was an aeroplane. That was where the French teacher at the High School was killed.
MC: Oh yes. It crashed in to —
PH: Yeah.
MC: Yeah.
PH: And that was very sad.
MC: It was Greetwell wasn’t it? Greetwell steps.
SH: Yeah.
PH: Greetwell steps. Greestone.
SH: Greestone.
MC: Greestone.
PH: Greestone Stairs. Yeah. And that saw the plane come down on St Matthias Church, and as I say his mum and I used to stand on this blanket box. When my dad found out he said, ‘You’ll get your —’ so and so, ‘Heads knocked off one of these times. We waited, because we used to hear the planes go out, and then sort of try and count them in again, but it was just something that you did.
MC: Did you ever hear about what happened to that German aircraft that dropped those bombs?
PH: No.
MC: Oh. Yeah.
PH: No, but then, because there was talk at one time that they thought it was an English plane who had dropped it. And —
MC: I was actually talking to somebody today about it and he said that German aircraft were shot down near, just south of Lincoln.
PH: In one of the villages. Yeah.
SH: What was that one you told me about where it was up near the common and they, you, they thought it was some Americans.
PH: Oh no. We [pause] it was, would it be with Neville? I’d got relations living at a farm on the Branston Road not far from where Sue lives now. And we decided one day to go and visit Aunt Nell who’d already got I think six or seven children of her own. She’d got two sets of twins and that, and she always made us so welcome. And it was when there was a crossing at Durham Ox if you’re —
SH: Pub.
PH: You’re new to Lincoln you wouldn’t know that but —
SH: This side of Pelham Bridge.
PH: Yeah. it was a crossing —
MC: I do remember it.
PH: Over there and there were steps that you had to go up to get over and we’d been to Aunt Nell’s and had our lunch with them. We thought we’d better be getting home again. Mum would be worried. And of course we walked, and not getting on the bus and we were pushing John in the pushchair, and all of a sudden we saw these two aeroplanes coming over and it was, it turned out actually by what I read later that it was two Americans practicing stunts or whatever. And of course they immediately closed the gates, so we thought well how are we going to get home because we wanted to be the other side? And there we had to pull up John in his pushchair up the step, across the thing, down the steps again. And when we got home near Baggeholme, we were going along Coningsby Street I think it was, mother was having a fit because she’d seen the plane as well and she’d seen them come out with their, on their parachutes thinking they were Germans. You see, it was, it’s things like that, that sort of worried you and after we were bombed and when my dad had gone abroad he went to North Africa I think most of the time especially if the sirens went mum had us kids under the stairs.
MC: So your dad was in the Air Force right through the war was he?
PH: Not till the beginning but he was there, but not until the latter part of the war. He went to North Africa. But —
SH: When were you with nan on the milk when they —
PH: Oh, that was when I first left school at fourteen and mother had been, she was working at the Co-op and delivering the milk down Tower Estate and Greetwell Road. We used to take two big churns to the prison. Just let in the first gate. Not in any more. They wouldn’t. Just went in and signed them off to the chappy in the office. So I have been in Lincoln Prison [laughs] And then we would go up Queensway. Down. Do the St Giles area, come back up and go around Eastgate and, and then go along the finish on Winnowsty Terrace where there used to be Mr Flint in a little shop. And he always, we always used to stop and talk to him. Take his milk in and he would probably give us a drink, and, but there was also further along Winnowsty Terrace was Mrs Hoyes, I think they called her. Well, she smoked like a trooper, she did. And of course mother smoked in those, you were encouraged to smoke in the war years, and Mrs Hoyes gave mum and of course I would be fourteen, fifteen. That’s because I went nursing when I was nearly sixteen to this hospital. And she said, ‘Do you want a cigarette?’ I said, ‘No.’ Mother said, ‘No, she doesn’t want it.’ She said, ‘Oh go on she said have one.’ And then of course I started smoking. And then when I was —
MC: You were only fourteen then.
PH: I was only fourteen. Not quite fifteen. And then when I was in the Dairy office one day, and I can’t remember what his name was, the boss there then, but he was a Scotsman, and he was a, quite a tartar, you know but I always got on well with him. Mum and I did. And he said, ‘Do you know your daughter’s taken down those with that cigarette?’ She said, ‘Well,’ she said, ‘I’ve tried to stop her and she won’t.’
MC: Anyway, I did when I was, later on. I didn’t, I think I was twenty one when I had Carol, my elder daughter. Twenty seven when I had Sue. So it was, I think I stopped when I was twenty one, and I had, was expecting Carol.
SH: The milk float. You must tell about Dolly the horse.
PH: Yeah, well —
SH: It wasn’t —
MC: Oh, it was a horse drawn.
SH: It was horse drawn.
PH: Yeah. To start with. And then we got promoted. When we went to do the Hykeham run we got promoted to an electric van. But no, oh Dolly when we stopped at Mr Flint’s shop especially if it was a warm day Dolly would stand there quite content for a while and then all of a sudden she’d cross her legs like that and the next thing you know she was down in the floor. And she’d put her hip out. So I had to, mother said, ‘Go and ring the boss at the stable,’ which was on Newland then. And he said, ‘Why? What’s the matter?’ I said, ‘She’s put her hip out.’ And so he said, ‘Oh, not again.’ And he sent this great big horse, a stallion type horse. Well, there used to be cross, railway crossing on High Street. Where the one is now and one further down at St Marks.
MC: St Marks. Yeah.
PH: And, and this Dolly was a beautiful little horse really, but if you got stuck between [laughs] I mean I was fourteen, just taking notice of lads and that, and the RAF cadets who were going to the school on Wragby Road used to be pulling our leg and that shouting and saying we’re going up Lindum Hill to go. To go there. And I used to hate it. And I bet if we got stuck at those crossings, if the horse didn’t stop to wee at the first crossing she did at the second and I used to be so embarrassed. And I used to, I was so pleased when we eventually got an electric van to go to Hykeham. But —
SH: What happened the day of the stallion though?
PH: Oh, I know. Well, I know. I was naughty really. When I, when I rang, when I rang him he said, ‘Why don’t you, why don’t you want that?’ Well, I forget what we called it. The bigger one. I said, ‘Well, it’s got five legs [laughs] And as I say —
SH: And that used to embarrass you with —
PH: Oh, it used to embarrass me. I was so pleased when we finished with the horses though.
SH: But, what happened on Lindum Hill one day with the cart.
PH: Well, we used to come down Lindum hill with the cart. You know the milk, and the horse.
MC: Yeah.
PH: And he’d come down there and there was the police in the tub one day and you know you can’t always control a horse, and it sometimes we would go around it and in to Silver Street, go through the Bow and down High Street to go to the Dairy to unload and then we had to come all the way back to go to Newland to stable the horse. Put the horse away and that sort of thing. And one day we were going down and of course High Bridge was a bit more like that. The cobbles on it in those days, and Dolly slipped on it and of course mum went off the side. Took the reins with her and I was just left helpless. There was nothing to hold on to or anything. Anyway, mum soon scrabbled back, and I forget what it was she said back to me but I just said, ‘Where have you been?’
SH: Probably swore knowing Gladys —
MC: So the dairy was on Boultham Park Road then.
PH: It was the end of Dixon street. Yes.
MC: On Boultham Park Road.
PH: On the corner of Boultham Park Road. Yes.
MC: Yeah. It was there for a long time wasn’t it?
PH: We used to be unloading on the thing there.
MC: But the stables were on Newland.
PH: The stables on Newland. I think, is it a garage now, Sue?
SH: I don’t know. It could be.
PH: You know, just as you get, you know that awkward bend.
SH: Yeah.
PH: What we called Buckingham Palace. It’s the council thing.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
PH: You just go round and it’s on —
SH: It could be. Yeah.
PH: On there. I think it’s a garage.
SH: Yeah. Yeah.
MC: Oh, I know. Yeah. I know.
PH: It’s placed in that street you can come down.
MC: A filling station.
SH: Yeah.
PH: Yeah.
MC: And car hire place.
SH: But didn’t the policeman in the, in the tub tell you to —
PH: Oh, and the policeman said to Mam, it was, Dolly kept going on and he come running after her and she was trying to pull Dolly up and he said, ‘Didn’t you see my hands holding up to stop you?’ She said, ‘Yes, but —’ she said, ‘The horse had a different idea,’ she said, ‘And if you want me to take that all back up there,’ she said, ‘Here’s the reigns. You do it.’ And I mean things like that happened to us, you know but it was.
SH: But there’s a little tale against that because my, on my dad’s side, my dad’s dad was a policeman.
PH: Policeman.
SH: Who used to stand in the, in the —
MC: In the tub.
SH: Directing traffic in the bottom. That could have been grandad, couldn’t it?
PH: Yeah. In his young days. Yeah.
SH: In his younger days. Prior to them —
PH: Yeah. I mean, and that as school kids we knew all the policemen there. There was, there was Billy Harrison which was my husband’s dad.
SH: He was the first policeman in Lincoln who was mounted?
PH: Bill Steveson, and I forget what the third one but they were sort of a gang of three those three, and they always had a joke and a laugh, and you know telling us to behave ourselves and that sort of thing, and you know you really knew them, and Bill Steveson lived in Eastbourne Street. Billy and Katie, Ron’s mum and dad they lived in Rosemary Lane, because during the war the fire station was at the top, on Monks Road. You know, do you know where the police station was, the magistrates court used to be?
MC: Oh, I know where the fire station was. Yeah.
PH: Yeah, and It was there and he lived in a police house at Rosemary Lane because wartime, Billy was attached to the Fire Service as well. When sirens went they had to go out for both, you see. And, and I forget where the other one lived, but and then eventually my husband when he came out the Navy he, he joined the Police but I think his dad wanted one of the boys. They had four sons. And well one, Ray the eldest was in the Air Force. Doug was on trains going up and down the country, which was quite a dangerous job during the war. And Ron and Jed both went in, well Jed was Navy, Ron was Fleet Air Arm because he was on aircraft carriers. And as I say she was quite bitter at one point because one of her sister’s boys got off, only son and her four sons all went on dangerous jobs. Yeah. There was a lot of that during the war.
PH: There was. There was indeed. Yeah. That’s right.
MC: Going back to the air raid a bit. You talked about the people who were killed. How much damage was actually done? You know, buildings wise.
PH: Well, the, that building was destroyed and Mr [Medd’s] house was. And Baggeholme Road all our front windows went out, opposite the school. And as I say there was this old maid across the road from the Crown Pub in Baggeholme Road. There was damage in John and Thomas street. I always get them mixed up. It was John or Thomas.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
PH: I always get, I mean I’ve lived in Lincoln all my life, and I still get mixed up with those two. And as I say Mr Brown in Avondale Street.
MC: Because they’ve changed the name of the Crown haven’t they?
PH: Yes. I believe they have.
MC: The Birdcage or something.
SH: Yeah. Something like that.
MC: Yeah. Yeah. That’s right.
PH: Well, I, I remember the, I say when I was, it was before I went nursing so I’d be probably be getting on for sixteen and the mothers used to invite lads, crews and I saw them.
MC: Yeah. You had all the boys chasing you did you?
PH: [laughs] and they used to say to my brothers, ‘Now, if you see any of them —' they would, at Christmas time particularly, ‘If you see any of them wandering around —’ because things were shutting up there wasn’t really many shops open.
SH: Aircrew this is.
PH: Aircrew.
SH: Yeah.
PH: And they, she said, ‘Ask them if they’d like to come and have a meal with us. They’re very welcome.’
MC: Well, you’ve answered my question because I was going to ask you a question. Did you had any contact with any of the airmen, and obviously you did.
PH: Yeah. I knew one of them whose name’s on there. Well, I knew. I can’t remember the crew, but I knew one of them who was killed.
MC: One of the names on the walls. Yeah. Bless you.
PH: Yeah.
MC: Yeah.
PH: He, they came down and, oh and they said to Neville and to his friend Ronald, ‘Just tell them there’s no hanky panky.’ [laughs] My mum was straight to them.
SH: Who was the lady at the pub who was, you said was quite feisty?
PH: Well, she didn’t live, she lived in one of the houses not far but from where we were, but she used to play the piano in the pub, and of course we took some of these lads to the pub and then they come down to other times when they could and I got quite close to this lad on, who was killed. But you know it, it was heart breaking really.
MC: So where was he stationed?
PH: He was on Lancasters, and he was a rear gunner and I’m not sure where. He never said exactly where he was stationed.
MC: No.
PH: Because there were so many little airfields around, so —
MC: There was.
PH: I don’t know whether he met up with the rest of the crew. But there was one of them I remember, Eric was very, very badly burned and his, his face, and it was quite hard to look at him sometimes. Especially when he was young and that. But they, they were they were really were nice lads and as I say there was, we all had a laugh and this Doll Curtis, as she was called used to play the piano and they used to love to go there. But I remembered when I went with them because you weren’t supposed to. I think you were supposed to be eighteen in those days. I think things were relaxed though there, and I went, I mean. Mother saw to it I only had light drinks or something. Probably a, I’m trying to think what they called that drink. It was the, it was the wartime drink. I know I mean, I still often just have a sherry shandy. I don’t drink much else. But as I say it was such a nice way of all the mothers getting together to try and give these lads something, you know. To —
MC: Yeah.
PH: To really —
MC: So you were fifteen, sixteen. What sort of entertainment was there then? You talked about the pub.
PH: Well, there was film. There was film. There was the central, which is where that opposite St Swithins Church which is now a café isn’t it? Tom, I think they call it.
SH: Going up Broadgate.
PH: Going up Broadgate and to turn —
SH: Left as you come round the Garden of Rest.
MC: Oh yes. Yeah.
PH: Because it used to be the Savoy which is now —
MC: Yeah.
PH: More than one cinema thing isn’t it? The Plaza which was on Newland. What was the one in the market, Sue? You won’t remember I know.
SH: I don’t remember.
PH: But I think we talked about it. I can’t remember because my brother and his friends they were devils to us girls when we went out because if we went and, and of course with my dad being abroad I think mother had a thing about keeping me out of mischief, and that, and she was always telling Neville to watch out what I was doing, and who I was with. And —
MC: Did you go away nursing then when you went?
PH: I went to Osgodby.
MC: Oh, you said.
PH: Which was a fever hospital. And it was so hard as, as I say. There was no, there was one bus a week which was Friday night I believe to go in to Market Rasen. Well, you know how much, well although there used to be a cinema. As you came, it used to be where, near the King’s Head goes back into a, as you just go in to the village, and the cinema used to be there, and I forget what it is now because it’s been a long time since I’ve been to. But no. We worked darned hard there and with being the new ones, and of course it was mainly measles, scarlet fever.
MC: And you lived there did you?
PH: And we were there. Yeah. I was there and we just had one day off a week and we did all that for four pounds something and buy our own shoes, tights, and thermometers if you broke one, and I was a dab hand at doing that, and she [unclear] on the floor. And she was a bit of a tartar the Irish matron I remember. But she was very, she was just like a big battleship coming down the ward and she’d got this blue dress with this high collar on, and this little lacy cap with a bow under her chin. And she was married to an RAF man who, I think we saw him about twice all the time I was there and she had two children. But she had one of the nurses who looked after the children while she did. But we always said she was ruled by the moon, because she could be so lovely at one time, and then another day she was a devil. Yeah, she. Nothing was right and that. And she, when she went over to Ireland, she often used to bring two Irish girls back and you know get them used to it. But I made the biggest mistake though just going to a small hospital. But I did try to get in to Lincoln at sixteen, and they wouldn’t entertain you until you were eighteen there. And of course with not having a High School education that didn’t help either. But it was just so and I always remember mother when I came home one day, sort of saying, ‘Oh, your hands, my duck,’ she said, ‘What have you been doing?’ And you know, it was just hard work.
MC: It was hard work. Yeah.
PH: Yeah. And it was an atmosphere I was unused to, you see. Right in the heart of the country, and even the quietness sort of was strange to me.
MC: Especially after being brought up in the city.
PH: Yes. In the city all my, the time. But no it, it just makes you wonder how you do get through these times some times.
MC: Yeah. But looking back. Looking back good times generally.
PH: Well, as I say it —
MC: Strange times with the war.
PH: Strange times and we had to grow up quickly. This is was what I tried. There was no making excuses for us that, you know if we’d done anything wrong or anything like that, you had to get up and carry on and do things. And I remember when we thought the war had moved or stopped in Europe. We took the blackouts down. And then we had the siren because we could hear doodlebugs going over. I can’t remember any dropping in Lincoln, but we heard them, and we heard them stop.
MC: Did you really? That’s interesting.
PH: And of course there’s mum and I trying to put the blackout [laughs] I mean it wouldn’t have mattered. I mean it was those things that you laughed at, and —
MC: Rationing?
PH: Rationing. Well, as I say we all had perfect figures in those days. There was no [laughs] there was no getting fat. And I remember my father sending some bananas home thinking he was sending us a treat, and they were as black as night when they arrived. We didn’t think much to them. But, but we, I suppose we were healthy. We got to a certain age you would get orange juice, the young babies and there was cod liver oil which they used to shove down.
MC: Yeah. At school. Yeah. Yeah.
PH: But as I say, we didn’t get a lot of sweets and that. And there was just a sweet ration.
MC: Yes.
PH: And I can’t remember what it was, but I mean butter wasn’t anything, sugar wasn’t. If every, if all the family, as I say there was four or five of us in the family, so when dad was home so you didn’t get much to go around five people if they all took sugar and that. So we learned not to have sugar, and no it, it’s a different world. And I remember —
MC: But during wartime, you know —
PH: Yeah.
MC: Growing up. I mean especially growing up as a child in wartime it’s a bit —
SH: Was there a time, did you mention to me about when the German planes used to follow the river?
PH: Yeah.
SH: Which was just beyond the newsagents.
PH: Yeah. Neville.
SH: Did you say there was a plane crash there.
PH: Because they were coming to the works you see. And Brian and Neville had gone camping down the thing, by the water thing. And Brian had a fringe. he was the younger one and he, they came flying in one night, this fringe stood up on his head and he said, ‘The damned Germans were following us.’ And then of course they were following the river up to the works.
MC: Yeah. They quite often did that.
SH: Didn’t they get, did you see a plane being recovered out of the river? Was that you?
PH: No. I saw an airman.
SH: An airman.
PH: Saw them taking an airman out. He’d gone in at Brayford.
MC: Oh really.
PH: He’d brought down. And of course you know what kids are. All nosy and wanting to go to see what was going on and they were getting this young airman out. But —
MC: Yeah. Thank you, Pat. That’s, that’s been very interesting.
PH: But as I say, just let show you this about High Bridge?
MC: So you said you met at the British Legion. Your husband.
PH: We met at the British Legion. Yeah. Because him and Jed were on, not on embarkation, the one where they’re finishing, and they had to go back to then be signed out the services for so long.
MC: This was at the back end of the war.
PH: Yeah. I think it says that here.
MC: Yeah. The back end of the war.
PH: But he was, they were called up at eighteen, and by twenty he was in the Pacific. And they, he was at the, one of the escort things. He was, went into the Japanese harbour and in that thing he said it just looked as if there was thousands of ships in the harbour for the signing. And then they had been sent on to some island to pick up civilians who had been prisoners of the Japanese to take them back to Australia.
MC: So when did you meet him?
PH: I met him at the British Legion.
MC: You said.
PH: I happened to go in —
MC: When was that?
PH: With somebody else. The top of Waterside.
MC: When? That would be — ?
PH: That would be 1940. The end of ‘46.
MC: Ah late ’46.
PH: ’47. We were married in ’48.
MC: That was my next question.
PH: Yeah. We were married in 1948 and as I say we got on ever so well together and, you know, and then when he came out for up to me having Carol he was in the Police force. Then of course with being in the Navy and away from here he had a different outlook he had on life and he said it was a lot of petty discipline in those days. You know stopping workmen. You know we used to have a lot of bicycle men going to Robeys, coming up Dixon street, and you were, they were encouraged to stand in a doorway and just grab somebody who didn’t stop, that sort of thing. And I’m afraid it got to Ron a bit. He said, ‘No,’ he said, ‘I’ve seen all too much,’ he said, ‘To be doing that.’ And of course his dad did twenty two years with him being wartime. He had to go over his normal time that he would have done.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
PH: So [pause] But no it, and he just mentions having a dance partner Fifi somewhere [laughs]
SH: He could have stayed —
PH: We weren’t married then.
MC: No. No.
SH: If he’d stayed in Australia we wouldn’t be here now.
PH: No. He wouldn’t, he wouldn’t have minded going back to Australia. Ron wouldn’t.
SH: Apparently, he was too young. He was old enough to go to war.
PH: Yeah.
SH: But too young to get the rum ration.
PH: The rum ration. That rattled him a bit.
SH: But all his mates used to make sure that he got the rum ration on the —
PH: Yeah. I think they used to share it out a bit. But they don’t get it now do they? They stopped it. Yeah. But he said it always rankled a bit that, the thing. And that was his, that was his badge.
MC: Oh, this is a picture of his —
PH: Yeah.
MC: HMS Ruler.
PH: Yeah. There’s a picture of that.
MC: A picture of his ships badge.
PH: And it’s just a small escort one, but they had, they did have planes on it.
MC: Oh yeah. A carrier was it.
PH: Yeah.
MC: An aircraft carrier. Yes.
PH: Thought I’d put it. These are all the ships that were in the war and of course the Ruler was an American ship.
MC: Oh, was it?
PH: It was one that they’d sent us. And I can’t see. Now, where is it. I thought I’d must have marked it up, I must.
MC: So this picture you’re showing me of HMS Ruler is, is, Ron was actually on that during the signing of the peace treaty.
PH: The peace treaty. Yeah.
MC: To go back.
PH: They went as escort to the bigger ones. Yeah.
MC: That’s fascinating.
PH: And he said, the one bit that I found in that story of it was when they went for training. He was called up and he was given the choice of either, he found out later that the choice was to go in the Services or down the mines. And he said he was so glad that he said that he would have liked to have gone in the RAF because he was working at the railway before on, I don’t know what they called it but it was something like Morse Code, and that sort of thing, and he would have, but he wasn’t A1. I think he’d got a heart murmur or something there.
MC: That’s alright.
PH: Have you ever heard of Slapton Sands in Devon?
MC: I have. Yes.
PH: That’s a book if you’d like to take it and read it, of what actually happened and —
SH: And a lot of Americans got killed.
MC: Oh right. Yes. I have heard of that story. Yes.
PH: Yeah. We went down.
MC: Yes, and I do know the story. Yes.
PH: I forget. Is it a tank that’s on the sands now?
SH: Yeah. There’s a tank.
MC: Yeah. Yeah. When the Americans —
PH: Yeah. Yeah.
MC: Were rehearsing. Yeah.
PH: A lot of them were killed. And you can actually see the bullet holes in the village that they cleared. I mean it must have been dreadful for somebody to come along and say you’ve got to get out of your home because they want to - —
MC: Take it over.
PH: Take it over.
SH: I didn’t realise that about dad saying that about the Kamikaze pilot.
PH: Yeah. He said —
SH: [unclear]
PH: No. Your dad said very little about it actually. It was just things that he would laugh about. He did say when they went back to Australia the Australians, they got lots of invitations to go in to the Blue Mountains and that sort of thing, but he said, of course he said, ‘Being my age I preferred to go out with the lads not the Blue Mountains.’ And he said they were invited to these little party things at night. Probably like little dances, but he said it was so funny because he said they were at one end of the room and the Australian families and that were sat at the other. He said, it was like they mustn’t talk to us. He said it was a bit strange but he said he wouldn’t have minded settling in Australia. And one of his mates did. Nearly broke his mother’s heart. She lived in Montague Terrace and I can’t remember what her [pause] that one opposite Rosemary Lane.
MC: Yeah.
PH: It must have been dreadful, the, to think your son didn’t want to come home wouldn’t it?
MC: Yes. It would, yeah.
PH: Yeah.
MC: It would indeed. Yeah.
PH: After that.
MC: Well, thank you Pat that’s been most interesting.
PH: Well, I hope that was alright for you.
MC: Thank you for taking the time.



Mike Connock, “Interview with Pat Harrison,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 16, 2024,

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