Interview with Susan Jones


Interview with Susan Jones


Sue Jones was born in Manchester. When the mill where she worked closed at the beginning of the war, she went to work for Avro. She worked on Ansons, Manchesters and then Lancasters. She describes the camaraderie on the factory floor. She also found herself in front of the magistrate because of being late. She was more scared of the cockroaches in the shelter than the bombs, so she volunteered for first aid duty and civil defence fire watch.




Temporal Coverage





01:03:33 audio recording

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GR: You can even tell us what your first Manchester United match was as well.
SJ: Oh.
AM: In a minute.
SJ: Well I’ll tell you something now my husband, eh, go on. We’re getting too carried away.
AM: We are aren’t we? Let me stick that somewhere where it’s not obvious. Right, so today is Monday the 11th -
SJ: Yeah.
AM: Of January.
SJ: January.
AM: 2016 and this is Annie Moody on behalf of the International Bomber Command and I’m with a lady called Sue Jones today in Failsworth near Manchester and Sue is going to tell us her story and if you would Sue, going right back to the very beginning you told me you were born in 1923. So where were you born? What area?
SJ: Ardwick, Manchester.
AM: in Ardwick. Right.
SJ: And unfortunately I was about four year old when we had to leave Manchester because we lived in Viaduct Street and opposite was a railway station and you know the sulphur fumes and that got on my brother’s chest and we had to move. So my grandma lived in, my mum’s mum lived in Failsworth. Well Failsworth then was just a little village, right and it was, the air was purer and the doctor said, ‘If you don’t get this lad out of this, you know, area, he won’t live to be that long ‘cause he was very, he was a fourteen pound baby when he was born. Yeah. So, and he suffered with his chest you see.
AM: Right.
SJ: So that’s when we come to live in Failsworth. And I’ve been at Failsworth since then.
AM: Ever since.
SJ: Yeah.
AM: How many brothers and sisters have you, did you have?
SJ: Well my mother had eight children and they were five sisters and three boys.
AM: And where did you come in that?
SJ: I was the eldest of the lot.
AM: Oh Right.
SJ: I was the little mother. Right and there’s Rosie, she’s fell -
AM: We’re just exclaiming ‘cause the doll’s just fallen on my head but I’ll be fine. What did your mum and dad do, Sue?
SJ: Well my mother never worked obviously in them days.
AM: No.
SJ: They didn’t work when they had children and when they got married they didn’t work. My dad worked. He came out the army ‘cause he was in the Royal Horse Artillery, came out of the army and worked with horses on the railway. On the railway, you know the railway yard.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: And then he left there and went to the post office and he finished his days at the post office.
AM: Right.
SJ: Manchester.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: In Newton Street.
AM: The big one in Manchester.
SJ: Yeah.
AM: I know exactly which one you mean. Yeah. Yeah. What sort of house did you live in?
SJ: Well we lived in a few houses you know. It was just a two up and two down and then as my mum started having the babies we had to move and get a larger one, you know, three bedroom but at first we all scrambled in together. There was two in a bed, you know and not like today when you can have your own bedroom and your own bathroom sometimes you know but they were good days. We enjoyed them but we always, we always got the childhood diseases you know. We got everything that was going and my mum said to one of the doctors down there in Manchester, ‘Why is it my children always get everything that’s going? And those little ones next door, you know, in the next street they’re running about with nothing on their feet, and their noses are running and everything,’ you know and he turned around and he just said one sentence. He said, ‘You keep them too clean.’
AM: Too clean. I thought you were going to say that.
SJ: Yeah. He said, ‘Let them rough it.’
AM: so you’re not immune to all the dirt and -
SJ: Exactly.
AM: [Grub?] Blimey. What sort of thing, when you said you had good fun and you were playing outside and that, what sort of things did you play at then?
SJ: Well we just played with a ball. We didn’t, never had any money hardly you know because in them days I mean my dad was working, he was, when he started at the post office he was on a better wage but it was only about two pound odd a week you know and we just played. My dad made us a lot of toys with wood ’cause he was good at carpentry and he used to keep and breed, linnets and canaries, my dad and he had them all around the wall you know. Unfortunately, I opened the door once and let one out and he never got it back again so I was in the bad books for a few weeks after that.
AM: When you say all around the wall you mean in cages.
SJ: In cages.
AM: In cages.
SJ: Yeah.
AM: Right. Linnets. That’s got a really nice singing voice hasn’t it?
SJ: Yes.
AM: A linnet.
SJ: You don’t hear linnets now do you? You hear canaries but you never hear much about linnets do you?
AM: No. So where did you go to school? What was your school called?
SJ: Well my first school was Burleigh Street School in Ardwick.
AM: In Ardwick, Yeah.
SJ: And then of course we moved up here and I went to St Mary’s Road. It was a big school there and I was the top in the school there and I passed to go to the, what they called the Central School, you know. I don’t think there was, there were grammar schools but they weren’t like the schools what they are today.
AM: No.
SJ: And I passed to go to the one overhead at this school and it was, they called it the Central School but you see my mum couldn’t afford to let me go because you had to have hockey sticks and you know.
AM: Uniforms.
SJ: And my mother couldn’t, well we didn’t have any money you know but she was a good mother, a good parents we had. So loving and we were brought up you know –
AM: Proper
SJ: To respect people and everything. We had a different bringing up then what they are today. I think they let the kids grow up too quick today. The children, you know.
AM: So you didn’t get to go to central school then?
SJ: No.
AM: What school did you move to then?
SJ: Well we moved then to Holy Trinity. It was a church school, just Failsworth. The school’s knocked down now obviously but the church is still there at the bottom of Broadway and I loved it there.
AM: Did you?
SJ: Yeah but I was marking time for two years there because I was, I’m not boosting myself you know but I was very clever at St Mary’s Road. You had to be. It was forced into you, you know, then. I mean if you only turned your head then you got a bad mark and after, on the Friday you always separated in to four different houses. I was in Beech. Beech house and if you got, if you just turned your head like that - bad mark and if you got three or more, three or more bad marks - cane, you know. And your name in the punishment book.
AM: Even the girls. Caned where? On the hand?
SJ: Yeah. Cane or the strap. And then my report came back saying she’s very intelligent but what did I say it was?
Other: Insolent.
SJ: Insolent
AM: Insolent.
SJ: So when my mother’s mother, my grandma got hold of this and she was a very self, she self-read you know and everything. She was very clever my grandma and she looked at it and she said, ‘Insolent?’ She said, ‘Have you been giving cheek Susan?’ I said, ‘No grandma,’ I said, ‘You daren’t. You daren’t even speak, you know, to the teachers.’ You were frightened to death of the teachers then. ‘Right.’ so of course she went to the, yeah, she went to the headmaster, Mr McCabe. I’ll never forget him. ‘What do you mean by this? What’s the meaning of this? Has she been giving you cheek?’ ‘Oh no Mrs Cooper,’ she said, ‘She’s very very intelligent but,’ she said, ‘It’s the way she looks at you.’ So my grandma, she said, she was amazed, she said, ‘How dare you put anything like that in front of a girl’s report, my granddaughter’s report. Alter it,’ she said, ‘Or I’ll have you before the Manchester Education Committee.’ Ooh she was there and I think we all take after her in a way, you know. We will not stand for anything like that. So we altered it. And then and I cried when I left that school because I was fourteen years old. I was at, I left school on the Friday and on the Monday I was in the co-op laundry. Working.
AM: Right.
SJ: At 8 o’clock in the morning.
AM: How did you get that job then?
SJ: Well one of our, in the same street where we lived, we’d moved from my grandma’s then to another street and the lady in there was on the union, you know, she was a union member and she got me the, ‘cause in them days you could go in one job, out of one into another, you know. There was no problem. Well I didn’t like it at the laundry so I got a job in the cotton mill and in fact it was this one here, what is Morrison’s now. Morrison’s.
AM: Yeah. Yeah.
SJ: Supermarket.
AM: Yeah. I’ve seen Regent Mill as we came down.
SJ: Oh that was farther up.
AM: Yes. Nearer to -
SJ: Farther up the road. No this is Morrison’s here.
AM: Right.
SJ: It’s the big supermarket as you know and it was there I worked in that cotton mill.
AM: So what did you do in the mill?
SJ: I worked in the card room. Do you understand it?
AM: I do.
SJ: In the card -
AM: I do.
SJ: Room. Well you know the cards?
AM: Yeah.
SJ: Well I had fifteen of them. I had thirteen of them Egyptian cotton and the other was American cotton. Well of course the Egyptian cotton when the war started like, they had to shut the mill down and that’s when I got a job at Avro’s.
AM: That just, just I’ll come on to Avro’s in a minute. Just going back to the cotton mill. What was it actually like then? Was it as noisy everybody says?
SJ: Oh very. Very. My mother didn’t know because she had two brothers who worked in the spinning room there.
AM: And that’s even noisier with the shuttles going backwards and forwards.
SJ: And they came home to my mum and they said, ‘What are you letting our young Susan go to work at the mill for?’ my mother said, ‘I didn’t know she even worked in the mill.’ I said, ‘No,’ I said, ‘I didn’t tell you mum because you wouldn’t have let me go,’ I said, ‘But it’s more money,’ and that’s what I went for, the money, because I used to tip everything up you know. So they said, ‘Well get her out. She’s no rights to be in there,’ but I loved it in the mill. I did. I only worked there twelve months.
AM: Camaraderie, was that the word?
SJ: Exactly.
AM: You were all mates together.
SJ: All my working life has from, up to Avro’s was all camaraderie.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: You know it was, I’ve loved my working life. Well I’ve had to do because I mean there are been some places what I’ve worked at like Ferranti’s. Do you remember Ferranti’s?
AM: I do.
SJ: Well I worked there, soldering and could I solder? Could I bugger, excuse the language. I kept, everytime, kept melting the wax
AM: We’ll come –
SJ: You know.
AM: On to that in a bit. So you’ve worked in the laundry.
SJ: Yeah.
AM: You’ve sneaked off to the cotton mill without telling your mother.
SJ: Yeah.
AM: And you worked in the cotton mill twelve months.
SJ: Yeah.
AM: So what year are we now? ‘38?
SJ: ‘39.
AM: We’re up to ’39.
SJ: Yeah. Round about near as 1940.
AM: Right. Ok.
SJ: I think it was. Just before I started at Avro’s.
AM: Right.
SJ: So out, what, how did you move from the cotton mill to Avro’s then?
AM: Well this, it closed down and we had a choice of going in the forces, going to another cotton mill or going in munitions. Well I wanted to go in the navy and my mother wouldn’t let me go.
AM: Why did you want to go in the navy?
SJ: Well at that age I thought it was –
AM: See the world.
SJ: Exciting and see the world.
AM: But at this point we knew war was coming.
SJ: Yeah and well I dearly wanted to see a bit of, you know -
AM: A bit of excitement.
SJ: Exactly. So mother, she wouldn’t let me go so that was the end of it so of course I plumped for munitions. I didn’t want to go back in the mill again.
AM: No.
SJ: I plumped for munitions and I went and started at the Ivy Mill in Failsworth and they had to do a rota, like, nights and days. Well the first month I was on days and then I thought my friend was, who I’d made friends with there she was going on nights. Well I was only sixteen and my foreman said, ‘What do you want to go on nights for? I said, well I said, ‘Betty’s going on. I want to go on with her.’ He said, are you, ‘How old are you?’ I said, ‘I’m nearly eighteen.’ I was a good liar I’ll tell you. And he said, ‘Well alright,’ ‘cause they didn’t bother then so much like they do today. It’s all health and safety now and everything isn’t it and they were, the union wasn’t good then. Anyway, it was only in its infancy then the union. So, and I started there. I started on nights and I continued for five years solid.
AM: Right.
SJ: And the first twelve months I worked twelve hours a night for seven nights a week and no break.
AM: Blimey. Tell me what -
SJ: All we got was once a month we got what they called a late night. Instead of starting at 7 o’clock I started at half past nine so we used to go in the Church Inn then and we used to have, my mam used to give me two bob, two shillings to get my dinners and what I used to do I used to get four port and lemons which was six pence each. Six pence for a port and lemon.
AM: Which was a lot of money then.
SJ: Yeah. So I used to get them and then I’d go singing after and then I went, I went in Avro’s after. I weren’t drunk. I were just a bit merry.
AM: A bit laughy.
SJ: A bit merry.
AM: Go back to the beginning at Avro’s then. So you went, you went to work at Avro’s. What, what was it like and what did they do? What was the factory like?
SJ: Well there, that’s the factory there.
AM: Right.
GJ: That’s the –
AM: I’m looking at an empty picture of it but I’ll take a photograph of it afterwards.
GJ: Yeah. That was the actual [third floor] -
AM: So it’s just a huge -
SJ: On the third floor.
SJ: It was just a huge floor.
GJ: The same as it was during wartime.
AM: Yeah just a huge, steel framed building with pillars.
GR: What was your actual job when you started? What was you doing?
SJ: Learning to, on the ribs of the undercarriage door. I don’t know if you understand that.
GR: Oh Yeah. Yeah.
SJ: Before your skins were put on.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: I was learning to rivet and drilling, you know. And then I I moved myself up then to completing it.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: You know, I was a very quick learner.
AM: I was going to, how did you learn, how did they teach you, you know? What was your first, tell me about your first, can you remember your first day at Avro?
SJ: Yes. The first day I went I was in short socks, short white socks, a wrap over pinny -
GR: Short white socks.
SJ: No not like that, you what [laughs]
AM: We’re looking at a picture which all which I’ll also take a picture of.
SJ: If my dad would have seen me like that. Oh no.
GJ: She’d have got sent home.
AM: We’re looking at a cartoon of a Rosie the riveter now. So short white socks but a pinny.
SJ: And a wrap over pinny.
AM: Right.
SJ: And I looked around and my hair was long but it wasn’t curly. It was straight. I’m telling you these things ‘cause I altered afterwards. When I’d been there six weeks when I got back on nights. I wore the dungarees like, like in there you know. And I did my hair, I used to sleep in forty, forty -
AM: Curlers.
SJ: Steel rollers. I can’t even sleep in plastic ones now never mind -
AM: Tell me about your rollers after. Go back to your first day. So you got your pinny on and your white socks.
SJ: And I was taken up to the supervisor’s office. The foreman’s office. And he said, ‘Right. Go over there and there’s a chap there,’ I forget his name now, I can’t remember his name, he said, ‘He’ll teach you. Show you what to do.’ So of course he sat me on the bench. He said, and you, you know, he put the rib of the undercarriage door. He said, ‘Now I’ll show you.’ I had a gun and do you know what I mean?
GJ: Rivet gun.
GR: Yeah. Yeah.
AM: I was just going to say that -
SJ: Riveting gun.
AM: But, but explain to me for the recording what that was like then.
SJ: Well it was a long metal thing.
AM: Right.
SJ: And he had a sleeve on the end because I had to do mushroom head rivets and countersink.
AM: You’ll have to explain that to me.
SJ: No. Well you’ll, he’ll explain it to you won’t you cause he knows don’t you?
GR: No. No, you explain.
SJ: Well, mushroom head was like a mushroom head you know.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: A mushroom.
AM: Yeah I do. Yeah.
SJ: And it was about that long.
AM: Right.
SJ: Right. And then the mushroom head was on the end of it.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: Well to get the countersink there was a flat head and they had it, they did that for speed apparently. I believe so. They told me that anyway. And they used to put a sleeve what they called a thing what used to go over the what can I, what can I say, over the, where I’m pointing.
AM: Yeah. So -
SJ: The thing on the end. You see I’ve forgotten a lot of this. You know. The names of these and that.
AM: Oh that doesn’t matter. It’s just what you remember.
SJ: Yeah well anyway I put the sleeve on you know and I was I was the quickest riveter on nights ‘cause like I say I was pretty clever at that.
AM: You were intelligent. Yeah.
SJ: I used to pick up things very very easily you know and I stayed on nights then for five years. So the first twelve months of course we didn’t have a break only then till half nine and then after that they knocked the Saturday nights off and then didn’t we have a ball on the Saturday nights believe me. And then we found out that, you see, I was only getting three pounds three and six pence a week because in the engineering you didn’t come into your top money until you was twenty one. So, you see I wasn’t on top money.
AM: And were you all, presumably you were nearly all females as well.
SJ: Well no. When we went on nights half of them were men.
AM: Were they?
SJ: And they resented us at first when we first when we went on because they thought we were going to try and take their jobs off them.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: Well, I mean how could you do? There was a war on. Everybody had to do a job, you know.
AM: Did you get paid as much as them?
SJ: Oh no.
AM: No, I didn’t think you would.
SJ: They were on top money them, you know. Men.
GJ: Yeah, but you still did the same jobs.
SJ: Hmmn?
GJ: You still did the same jobs.
SJ: Oh Yeah.
AM: That were why I were asking really, it’s just -
SJ: No. We did the same job.
AM: It was an accepted thing that the women got less than the men regardless wasn’t it?
SJ: Well I think they do now. I don’t think they’ve altered much really but anyway and you know most of them wanted me to work with them because I was that quick. I was getting, we was sort of weeks in front with our jobs you know. I mean the foremen and the rate fixers didn’t know that or else they’d have timed the job again you know.
AM: And everybody else would have had to go quicker.
GJ: They used to make her go in the toilets. The ladies. When the rate fixer came around.
SJ: Yeah.
GJ: ‘Cause she was too fast.
SJ: The rate fixer.
AM: Because she was too fast.
SJ: You know to come and time a job, a new job like said, you, and I’m going to, I’m going to swear now. Oh no I won’t swear ‘cause I’m -
AM: Oh go on. You can.
GR: Go on. You’re allowed.
SJ: My mate used to say, ‘Piss off into the toilet. Go on. Go and piss off in the toilet,’ he said, ‘And stop there till I come for you,’ and they got the slowest riveter to time the job you know.
AM: Right.
SJ: No, so no I loved it there. I did really.
AM: Gary, you’ve probably got better questions than me about the riveting and everything.
GR: Well obviously the Lancaster didn’t come along until about 1942. Can you remember what the first planes were?
SJ: The first one I worked on was the Anson. Avro Anson.
GR: Avro Anson. Yeah.
SJ: Right and then the Manchester came.
GR: Of course ‘cause it was Avro. Yeah. Then the Manchester.
SJ: And that was no good so -
GR: Yeah.
SJ: The Lancaster was born out of the Manchester.
GR: Yeah because the Manchester was just a two engine.
SJ: Yeah.
GR: Bomber although it was the -
SJ: A bomber.
GR: Same shape as the Lancaster.
SJ: Yeah. Similar.
GR: Then they put the extra two engines in it and that so –
SJ: No. It was oh it was my baby that. I loved it. I loved my Lancaster. And -
AM: If you, were you always working on the same bit or did you work on all different bits of it?
SJ: No. I worked on the undercarriage doors. I worked on, they had the bomb doors there for a few weeks but they found out like that it was too big, too long so they moved it to Woodford.
AM: Right. In Cheshire.
SJ: And I worked on the trailing edge. That’s on the wing.
GR: On the wing. Yeah.
SJ: And the ailerons.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: You know the ailerons.
AM: Yeah that’s the, even I know what that bit is.
SJ: Yeah.
AM: The flap things.
SJ: And the nacelle. You know, the nacelles.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: Covering the nose.
GR: Yeah. Yeah.
SJ: And things like that.
GR: And was that all in the same factory?
SJ: Oh yes.
GR: So you -
SJ: You see the reasons I worked on them was sometimes if you got a shortage of the undercarriage doors they would put you on another job. You know, until you know the shortage -
GR: Yes. Yeah.
SJ: Of stuff. So, oh I really loved, I loved it there. I did. Honestly.
AM: What, when you say, why did you love it? ‘Cause of the people or the work or -
SJ: Well the people and then and not only that they moved these girls and men from different parts of the country, redirected them into munitions [excuse me] and we had some girls from Newcastle and Durham and oh what lovely people they were. They was, you know really lovely people. I love the Geordies.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: You know, ‘cause they are such a lovely people.
AM: Where did they all stay if they brought them down?
SJ: Well they had different people on registers what would -
AM: Taken in.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: Take them in. Lodgings you know.
AM: You know, going back to the Lancaster then so you were working on very specific parts of it.
SJ: Yeah.
AM: When did you see your first one? Full one.
SJ: Well sometimes they used to run trips out to Woodford ‘cause they assembled them at Woodford.
AM: Right.
SJ: And every now and again like you didn’t get any time off. If you wanted to go it was Sunday afternoon before you started Sunday night work. So we went and we went on these trips sometimes and I had a little inspector. Jimmy he was called. Oh he was a swine him. Absolutely he was. Everything, he, ‘that won’t pass. Take it back and do it again,’ you know and I’ll tell you what we did with him one time. Anyway -
AM: Hold that thought.
SJ: Anyway, we went to Woodford and, but Jimmy he says to me, not only me, there was a few of us, you know, he said ‘Now, I’m going to try and get us in a Lancaster just for taxiing up’, you know which he did and we got a taxi ride you know. When I tell people this I say oh no we didn’t go on any bombing missions. We only just taxied up, you know and I daren’t have said anything to anybody till the war was over and everyone had died. You know what I mean. And oh and I’d have got into trouble ‘cause I did get in trouble you know. I’m a criminal actually.
AM: Come on. Tell us.
SJ: Have you ever known anybody late on nights?
GR: No.
SJ: No. Well I was ‘cause I used to do my hair up and put my make up on you know and got, you know -
AM: All this comes back to the rollers and everything -
SJ: Exactly.
AM: From the long straight hair then.
SJ: Yeah when –
AM: When did all this change then from long straight hair and white socks to something different.
SJ: Well I’d seen the girls what were there and I took notice of them. They were all dressed like, in glamour although we was working. We didn’t wear turbans or anything like that like she did. You know what I mean. Oh you’d spoil your hair if you put a turban on, you know. Anyway -
GJ: You wore scarves though didn’t you?
GR: Yeah.
GJ: Sort of thing like.
SJ: No I didn’t.
GJ: Oh I thought -
SJ: No. I didn’t wear anything on my hair. None of us did. Only one woman and well she was a lesbian so I mean -
GJ: You’re being recorded.
GR: It doesn’t matter.
AM: That’s alright.
SJ: Well it don’t -
GR: Speak as you find.
SJ: She used to get up on the stage singing, “oh Johnny. Oh Johnny,” you know and she always wore trousers and -
AM: Oh Johnny, oh Johnny.
SJ: And walked about and her hair cut like a man. You know.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: I didn’t know what a lesbian was, me, at that age. Did I heck. Somebody told me later on and I said, ‘Well what’s a lesbian? What are they?’ Anyway, and they told me and I said, you know, I said, ‘Oh alright then.’
AM: Come back to your hair.
SJ: Anyway -
AM: I want, I want to know about this metamorphosis. Is that the word?
GR: Yeah.
AM: From your white socks and your long straight hair to your curlers.
SJ: Well then I -
AM: and I’ll bet you had makeup on as well.
SJ: Right. Well, I was made to wear dungarees.
AM: Right.
SJ: Right. Well that was the start. And then, and the reason I put that scarf on then was just it was part of the makeup of like when we go to Saddleworth.
AM: Yeah. From your re-enacting.
SJ: Yeah for re-enacting.
SJ: And then I started putting these curlers in my hair and I started doing my hair ‘cause it was long you know and I had all curls down here and a big bunch of curls here. I looked in the mirror and I thought, ‘Well you will do me now.’ you know.
AM: How old are you at this point?
SJ: Sixteen.
AM: Sixteen. Yeah
SJ: And nothing fazed me. I wasn’t frightened of the bombs or anything like that ‘cause I, I’ll tell you another story after but where was we now?
AM: So you’ve got curlers in.
SJ: Oh so I’ve got curlers in.
AM: Did you wear makeup? When did you start putting makeup on as well, lipstick and -
SJ: Well you know I was part of a gang then with the girls like you know so I –
AM: What did your mum think of that ‘cause that must have been a big change?
SJ: Well my dad used to, didn’t allow us to wear makeup or anything like that. And lipstick. You know what I used to do if I was going out on the Saturday night?
AM: Put it on -
SJ: I used to put it in -
AM: In the shed at the end.
SJ: In the toilet
AM: How did I know that?
SJ: Yeah. And I’ll tell you what. Before -
AM: And wipe it all off before you came home.
SJ: Yeah and I tell you I used to pull the chain in the toilet and put my hankie in it, in the water and wipe it all off. That’s how I had to do. I know it sounds, it sounds, you know, awful but these are the things you had to do. [laughs]
AM: So there’s about three, three stories you said you’ll come back to. Tell me what you did to Jimmy.
SJ: Oh alright then. Well we was that fed up with him. He was on nights you know and we used to brew up for him so I said, oh I said, ‘I’m sick to death of him.’ I said, ‘I know what I’m going to do.’ so I got a packet of Epsom salts and I put them, I put them in his brew and bags of sugar, stirred it up and he drank it. Well for the next six nights he wasn’t in work. And we were going-
AM: Do you know what Epsom salts do don’t you?
GR: Yeah we do.
SJ: And we were going around saying, ‘Oh don’t tell anybody. If we got found out they’re going to hang us. We’ve murdered him.’ you know, and we was terrified. We was walking on eggshells for a week. Anyway, he came in on this seventh night and we said, ‘Oh,’ and we’re all, five girls there was, all went out together you know and we all gathered around him and we said, ‘What’s the matter Jimmy? Are you alright?’ You know, ‘What’s happened?’ you know. He said, ‘What’s happened?’ and I’m going to swear again but it’s not my swearing it was his, he said, ‘It’s that bleeding cheese and onion pie what I got in the canteen.’ [laughs] Well, honest to God we daren’t say anything at all. We kept it to ourselves until we left you know and I never told anyone because I thought if it gets back to him but honest we were frightened.
GJ: Would have been hung.
SJ: Terrified we was. The police are going to come. They’re going to arrest us. And then another story what I told was when I started [laughs], do you want a tissue?
AM: Thank you.
SJ: And I’ve told you before have you ever known anyone what’s late on nights.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: Well I was, well I got told by the management, my manager, he told me and then I got a verbal warning and then I got a written warning and I had to go before the magistrates in Manchester ‘cause this is what happened. You was on war work. You was -
AM: Yes.
SJ: You know, everything had to be so, you know you couldn’t be late. You couldn’t do this, you couldn’t do that and I come before this magistrate. A big fat fellow. I’ll never forget him. And I’m only sixteen and I’m stood there. You know and I must have been insolent then because I didn’t care. You know, I just stood there waiting while he said something and then I could go home. He said, ‘Susan’ (my single name was Madeley, you see, he said, ‘Susan Madeley.’ I said, ‘Yes sir. He said oh so and so and so and so about being late and things like that and he said, ‘Do you know there’s a war on?’ I said, ‘Of course I know there’s a war on.’ I was dead insolent you know. Dead cheeky. I said, ‘Of course I know there’s a war on,’ I said, ‘I work in munitions.’ he said, ‘That is the reason why you should be on time.’ He said, ‘I’m going to fine you five shillings,’ he said, ‘And if you come before me again,’ he said, ‘I’ll put you in prison for seven days.’ so from then I had to be early every night. I had to make sure, you know.
AM: I’m laughing but I’ve never heard of anything like that before.
GR: Yes.
SJ: Yes. Oh yes.
AM: That you would actually end up in front of the magistrate.
SJ: You understand don’t you?
SJ: Yeah. Yeah.
AM: Have you heard that?
GR: Yeah it’s like a soldier absent without leave. It’s, it’s in war work
GJ: War work.
GR: War work.
GJ: Yeah.
GR: But how late was you? I mean if your -
SJ: It was about a quarter of an hour, half an hour, half an hour.
GJ: Half an hour.
SJ: Yeah.
GJ: That is late.
SJ: Well -
GR: What, every night?
SJ: Oh no. Just about a couple of times a week, you know. Caught.
GJ: She had to make sure she did her hair before she went out to work.
SJ: Oh Yeah I mean I had to go looking -
GR: Good.
AM: You know, right, all this thing about doing your hair and everything ‘cause all the girls did but were you looking at boys at this point?
GR: That’s a nod of the head [laughs]
AM: That’s a nod. But in a much more innocent way, I imagine than than we -
SJ: Well they weren’t the boys because the boys was called up.
AM: Right.
SJ: You know I mean my brother our Ned he went in the navy. He was only eighteen. I mean he went in a boy and came out a man. Fortunately he came home but they were boys. To me they were elderly. They were in their forties or fifties or something
GJ: Oh yeah.
SJ: What couldn’t be called up?
AM: Right.
SJ: You see.
GR: Because that’s what I was going to ask you. The men you was working with in the factory they were older men.
GJ: Yeah.
GR: Who, so there were no younger men.
AM: For whatever reason weren’t -
GR: And they’d all been called up.
SJ: There was just my, my mate there. Cliff. He was, he was about twenty but he was waiting to be, he was waiting to go in because he said, ‘I’m going in the air force,’ you know.
AM: Right.
SJ: You know.
AM: And for quite a lot of people like that they had their initial interview and all the rest of it but then it might be quite a few weeks or even months before they got called up for their training.
SJ: Yeah exactly.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: Or they could go voluntary.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: You know well he was waiting he was going voluntary you know but no and we had and another time we went, used to be able to take wounded soldiers out. St Marys Hospital, you know, they had a scheme there you know the wounded soldiers what came home anyone could take them out for the day.
AM: Right.
SJ: So of course us girls decided we’d take them out like you know so, but before we could take them out we had to get some money to take them out so we had raffles. And oh we raffled one of my friend’s umbrella. We had nothing to raffle anyway.
AM: And you tipped all your money up to your mum didn’t you.
SJ: Yeah exactly.
AM: So you didn’t have any money.
SJ: And we’d nothing to raffle so somebody else give us a duchess set like you know
AM: Like a mirror and a brush and that. Is that a -
SJ: Yeah. Things like that you know so we’d raffle that and then we thought well I’ll tell you what we’ll get a hundred Gold Flake cigarettes ‘cause the canteen used to get a ration of cigarettes you know. So they only had eighty so we said we’ll have to make, give us the full strength then you know the Capstan full strength. So we shoved it in the middle of the gold flakes because they were a similar colour like. So we got the money. We got eleven pound odd which was a lot of money then. Anyway, we went to St Mary’s and we got there. They said they weren’t doing them anymore. [laughs]. We had all this money. So we thought, ‘what are we going to do?’ so we went in Yates’s and -
AM: You went drinking [?]
SJ: We had gin and limes and we got a small bottle of, we were spending, we spent all the money.
AM: How many of you were there?
SJ: There were -
AM: Ish?
SJ: About eight of us.
AM: And you spent eleven pound.
SJ: And we got bottles of gin to bring home.
AM: Ah. Right you didn’t drink it all at once then.
SJ: Oh we had enough.
AM: I was going to say you’d never have got out of there.
SJ: We’d had enough. And we used to come home on the car and there was a lady one of the conductors and we always called her Greer Garson ‘cause she looked like her and she knew where we worked you know and one of our girls was going up and down the -
GJ: Tram.
SJ: The tram singing like, songs obviously, everybody was joining in, you know. Well we got -
AM: You can just imagine them can’t you?
SJ: So we got in there and honestly we crawled up the stairs.
AM: What did you -
GJ: In work, at Avro.
AM: What did you have, oh in work? You went to work after.
SJ: Oh we went to, well we had to do.
AM: You’d be back in front of that magistrate if you’re not careful
SJ: I know. I’d have got put in prison I’ll tell you. So we gets there in work and of course when my mate sees me he said, ‘Piss off into the toilet. I’ll cover for you.’ Well, I was as sick as a bloody parrot. Oh I was sick that night. I could not, I couldn’t do any work. We were miles in front mind you. You know it wasn’t as if we were behind.
AM: It’s good you were good at your job.
SJ: Well, we said, ‘What are we going to do?’ Of course they didn’t say anything to us that night ‘cause -
AM: There’s no point if you’re all that drunk.
SJ: ‘Cause we were all the same. Anyway, the next night when we went in they said, ‘How did you get on with the wounded soldiers?’ ‘Well, when we got there they wasn’t doing them anymore.’ ‘So what have you done with the money?’ So we said, ‘Well we went in Yates’s’. Honest. You know honestly.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: We went in Yates’s and you know we had a bit of a whatsit you know.
AM: A bit of a knees up.
SJ: Well we got sent to Coventry then for about three weeks.
AM: For spending everybody else’s money that they’d all paid for raffle -
SJ: Yeah.
AM: Raffle tickets for.
SJ: Well what could we do? We didn’t know who’d bought what and who’d bought, you know. I mean we couldn’t go and divide well we could have done. We could have divided the money out but we didn’t.
AM: For people listening.
SJ: We had no money left anyway.
AM: For people listening to this tape in years to come tell me what Yates’s was like.
SJ: Oh.
AM: In comparison to a posh pub nowadays what was a Yates’s wine lodge like?
SJ: Well it was a long bar, you know and our, we just stood there like, you know. I think we sat down. I think we had to sit down actually because we couldn’t stand up at the finish you know so we had to sit down and we just sat there and everyone was enjoying theirselves you know and people were singing because although there was a war on I mean people’s natures never altered. I mean there was no, you know, people sort of stuck together and helped one another and the same myself nothing phased me. It was my parents what did all the worrying. I didn’t do. The only thing I worried about was when the bombs, not the bombs, when the planes came over we used to work through, through the sirens until the imminent danger. That was when they were overhead.
AM: Right.
SJ: Well then we had to go to the shelter. Well they were cellars and there was cinders floors and whitewashed walls and going up the walls were big cockroaches like that and when I looked at these I thought I’m not sitting in here with that lot you know so I joined the first aid and I got a medal for that after the war. It’s only a bit of tin anyway isn’t it?
GJ: that’s nice. It’s a civil defence medal
SJ: I know. Well
Other: The defence medal.
AM: You got the defence medal.
SJ: Aye. I never wear it. Anyway, I don’t know where it is now. I don’t know anyway.
GJ: On your coat.
AM: So instead of being in the cellar with the cockroaches -
SJ: I joined the first aid and the civil defence. Like you know, civil defence and fire watch and then I had to go on the roof with my stirrup pump.
GR: Yeah.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: That was one of my jobs and I thought, right I was more frightened of the bloody.
AM: Cockroaches.
SJ: Cockroaches then what I was with the bombs.
AM: How often -
SJ: Do you know what I mean?
AM: Did that happen, that there were there bombing raids over?
SJ: Well.
GR: This was during the Manchester blitz wasn’t it which was 1940/41?
SJ: Well no, I wasn’t there then.
GR Oh.
SJ: No. I wasn’t there at Avro’s then but they did try to get Chadwick and you know Greengate?
GR: Yeah.
SJ: They did try and get, they did, they had a gun on the roof or something.
GR: Yeah, ‘cause the Luftwaffe targeted the docks in Manchester.
SJ: Yeah.
GR: And they were after the Avro works.
SJ: Yeah.
GR: ’Cause, you know there were quite a few of the works dotted around Greater Manchester.
SJ: That’s right
GR: So yeah.
SJ: Yes. We had a bomb.
GR: Did they ever come close? Did they get you?
SJ: Yeah, no, while I was up there?
GR: Yeah.
SJ: No. No. No. I was stuck there with my stirrup pump.
GJ: Yeah.
SJ: And my water and had nothing to do.
GJ: They were in the area though because -
SJ: Oh yes.
GJ: There were places in Oldham that got bombed.
GR: Yeah. Yeah
SJ: They dropped one in this next street.
GR: Yeah.
GJ: In the next street in Ardwick.
GR: Yeah. And they bombed Old Trafford.
SJ: Oh I know. I know. I know they did really. I was really upset about that.
AM: Tell me about football then. We were talking before we switched on about, about you went with your mate from Avro, did you say? To your first match. Or -
SJ: Who did I go with?
GJ: Not Cliff.
SJ: No. I think it was a lad what I was knocking about with at the time. I think he was -
AM: Define knocking about with.
SJ: He was a United supporter you know. So of course it suited me that so we went and funny enough it was raining but that was my first match and I put my umbrella up. [laughs] Well, you can imagine what happened. The fellas at the back they were get that f-ing thing down and I turned around, ‘Who do you think you’re talking to,’ you know. Oh this fella said, he moved away. We had to stand up then you know. There was no seats. He moved away from me. He said I’m not standing near you while she’s talking like that and he’s talking like that to her but that was my first -
AM: Match.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: Mistake really. Putting an umbrella up but then of course I met, Avro finished then you know and -
AM: When did Avro finish?
SJ: 1945.
AM: Right.
SJ: That was the end of the war wasn’t it?
GR: Yeah. Yeah.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: Well -
GR: And then they scrapped all the Lancaster’s didn’t they? When the war finished.
SJ: Oh.
GR: There was thousands of -
SJ: I know. It’s terrible.
GR: Lancasters after they brought all the prisoners back and used them for shuttle services but they just -
GJ: Yeah.
GR: They scrapped them.
SJ: Mind you they did the Manna
GR: Yeah. They’d just been -
SJ: In Holland, didn’t they?
GJ: That’s right. Yeah.
AM: Yeah. Operation Manna. Yeah.
SJ: So, but after that I went, I went back in the mill for about three weeks because I was accused of flirting with one of the women’s husbands and I weren’t flirting with him. I was just talking to him.
AM: I was just going to say and did you?
SJ: Yeah. I was just talking to him. Anyway, I left there and then I went to, where did I go then, I went to -
GJ: You went to Morgan Evanite.
SJ: Lilly works.
GJ: Oh Lilley works and then Morgan Evanite. Yeah.
SJ: And then I went from the Lilly works to Morgan Evanite doing, making battery boxes for cars and things, you know.
AM: And you mentioned Ferranti’s as well.
SJ: Oh, yeah.
AM: You were doing some welding at Ferranti’s.
SJ: I worked at Ferranti’s. That was where I made the, I’ll have to get a new set of teeth. No, I made the biggest mistake there. I worked in the railway room there where they were doing the soldering you know but I worked at the Hollinwood one and then I worked at the Moston one and there they always asked you had you had worked at any of the others. Well if you said yes they would have looked up your record so you say no you’ve not worked at anybody else’s, you see. So that was another lie. I was a good liar you know. I was really. And then I worked on making, drilling and putting screws and, not screws. Yeah them -
AM: Bolts.
GJ: Fuses.
AM: Bolts.
GJ: Fuses. No.
SJ: No. You drill them. Yeah screws, don’t you, you drill the screws. I was doing that when they knew I’d worked at Avro’s with the driller they put me on.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: Fire, you know, fire places because we used to make them for the Queen Mary. You know the fire -
AM: Yeah.
SJ: The fire things, you know.
GJ: What? Fire guards.
SJ: No. Fire -
AM: Fire hydrants, fire -
GJ: Extinguishers.
SJ: No.
GR: Fireplaces.
SJ: You know fires, fires, the fires you know electric fires.
GR: Electric fires. Yeah. Yeah.
AM: Oh Right. Got you.
SJ: I was trying to think of that.
GR: Yeah. Yeah.
SJ: Electric fires. Yes we used to make big ones for the Queen Mary.
AM: When did you meet your husband? You know you talked about knocking around with boys.
SJ: Oh. Well yes but there was one thing about it in my day you went with a lad, I went with quite a number of lads. I’ve been engaged four times. [laughs] that was difficult.
AM: Did you get to keep all the rings?
SJ: Yeah. I pawned them after.
AM: Go on.
SJ: No. What it was, the lads were going abroad and you know and they said -
GR: Yeah.
SJ: We want someone to come back to, you know, and unfortunately two of them came back home at the same time so I had to stay in and I sent my mum out to them you know and she said, ‘No she’s not in love. She’s working,’ you know. But what you had to do. And I felt sorry for the lads you know and they said well let’s get engaged, you know and they were only cheap rings. You know what I mean they weren’t, ‘cause they never minted any 22 carat gold. No. I mean when I, when we got married I mean I had one what had been pledged. You know a 22 carat.
AM: Yeah. Yeah.
SJ: Because there were no, they were 9 carats.
AM: So you got engaged four times. What happened to the four blokes then?
SJ: Well I never seen them again. Only them two. So I just imagine that they got killed.
AM: That they didn’t come back.
SJ: You know.
AM: Yeah.
GJ: One of them was a GI wasn’t he?
AM: Oh an American.
SJ: Oh aye.
AM: Did you go dancing? Palais and all that.
SJ: We used to get, when we was on nights. Tuesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon we used to go to the Plaza and the Ritz.
GR: The Ritz.
AM: Oh the Ritz.
SJ: And that’s where all the Yanks were, right. And we used to have a good dance with them, you know. And I met this bloke and he was, he come, he told me later on like that he come from Paris in Texas and I wasn’t ready for settling down at all me you know what I mean. I used to think there was something wrong with me because I was never in love with anybody. You know what I mean, like you’d hear some girls saying, ‘Oh I think he’s gorgeous,’ and all this that and the other you know and I used to think, ‘he’s alright,’ like, you know. I didn’t like anyone who wore grey socks and I didn’t like anyone who -
GR: I’ve got black on.
SJ: [laughs] Oh it’s different now. No. No. If I seen a lad with grey socks he turned me off. Anyone who didn’t have nice teeth. No.
AM: Oh I’m with you there. I like nice teeth.
SJ: Yeah I couldn’t stand that. But you see in them days going out with a lad you could go out with a lad three or four weeks and you’d never get a kiss off him. He’d shake your hand and say, ‘It’s been lovely. Can I see you again?’ They don’t believe me when I say that. Today, I said, you only meet them one day and they’re in bed the next day aren’t they? But you see you didn’t do things like that because on the back of every, in Piccadilly there used to be toilets downstairs.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: Right. Because I worked, another story was I worked at Lewis’s? You know Lewis?’
AM: I do. I do.
SJ: When we knocked the Saturday night off I used to finish work on the Saturday morning, take my mum a cup of tea up, get washed and changed and be at Lewis’ by half past eight, quarter to nine and I used to work in the haberdashery. We all did. All the girls did for more money and we worked then till 6 o’clock. Now, having no sleep from the Fri, you know, early Thursday night to the Saturday night and then from when we finished at Lewis’ we used to go to the Piccadilly, a wash and brush up and put our make up and go and have a drink on Rochdale Road you know. When there was any beer to be had. We used to go pub crawling, you know. You used to have to take a glass with you so they’d think you’d been there and been drinking you see otherwise if you just went in for a drink they wouldn’t serve you because they’d know that you hadn’t been drinking there all night. Oooh I could go on and on and on.
GR: Brilliant.
AM: So, so you’d been out with all these various different lads.
SJ: Oh yes.
AM: You’ve never fallen in love until
SJ: Well I worked -
AM: Sorry. You go on, your work, keep going.
SJ: I worked at Morgan Evanite. It was a rubber works making, like I said them rubber things for car engines you know.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: Batteries. And this bloke come in and must have started like you know and I said to this mate of mine, I said ‘Oh look at him over there,’ I said, ‘He’s, isn’t he lovely, him.’ do you know? So she said, ‘Oh here she goes again.’ I said, ‘I’m going to talk to him,’ So I went and when we were finishing work he was starting night work you see so when we were getting ready to clock off I just moved up near him and he was sat down so I said to him, ‘Oh hiya,’ I said, ‘what are you thinking about?’ he said, ‘I’m thinking about the fun I’ll have when I get married.’ So I said, ‘Oh’ I said. Are you getting married?’ So he said, ‘No.’ he said, ‘I’ve not met the right one yet,’ and I thought, ‘Well you have now [laughs].
GJ: You have now [laughs].
SJ: So from then on he said when he come on days he knew where I worked then and he said and, ‘I started taking notice of you,’ you know and of course he asked me out then and I chased him till he caught me. [laughs] Oh I loved him. Oh he was a lovely man.
AM: What was he called?
SJ: He was called Albert. Albert Jones and he was on his demob leave. He’d been in the navy.
AM: Right.
SJ: You know and he’d been all over the world. He’d been on the Russian convoys. He’d been on Malta convoys. South Atlantic, you know he’d been on that one as well. He wasn’t on D-Day cause he was always abroad somewhere else. Oh he was a lovely man and I loved him. You’ve heard of, I don’t know whether you believe in it or not, love at first sight.
AM: Yeah.
SJ: ‘Cause I fell in love with that man.
AM: Well it obviously was cause you’d been engaged four times. You’ve been, you’ve never seen what everybody else was going on about and then all of a sudden, I’m having him.
SJ: Yeah. That’s it exactly. I said well you have now, he’s ticked most of the boxes. He’s not married.
AM: Not got grey socks on.
SJ: Not engaged, he’s just come out of the navy, you know.
AM: Right coloured socks.
SJ: Oh yes black. Black socks. But no we -
AM: So you got married. When did you get married then?
SJ: No, it was, I’ve had a very colourful life but a clean one if you understand what I mean. It was -
GR: Yeah.
SJ: It was a clean life because I mean, you didn’t, you didn’t sleep with them then like they did now even that Yank he was, he used to take me to the officers club in Deansgate you know and he used to just bring me home, bring stuff home, give it to my mam you know like tins and stuff what we couldn’t get and he, he really, he was a really nice bloke. In fact I had a letter. He was engaged when back home and I had a letter from his young lady. She was called Helen. And she said, ‘I’d like the truth,’ like you know, ‘if you tell me if there’s anything between you.’ and of course I thought, right away I answered it, you know and I said, ‘No. No way.’ I said, ‘No,’ I said, ‘They come over here and their lonely, you know for home, you know,’ like you do and it’s just company, you know. I said, ‘No. He’s a very nice person.’ and there was no way would I, I’d marry a Yank and go. I was a home bird me really. You know I’d never go to America me. Never. Although we’ve been to Russia haven’t we?
GJ: Ahum.
SJ: And Malta. We’ve been most. And Australia we’ve been so, you know, I mean I’ve been well travelled. Do you know what I mean?
AM: How long were you married for? I take it Albert’s -
SJ: Well.
AM: Not with us anymore.
SJ: No.
GJ: Yeah. He’s been gone twenty eight years now.
AM: Oh Right. Quite a good while now.
SJ: No. We was married, he died in the June didn’t he? And if he would have lived up to the December I’ve just celebrated my anniversary now, 20th of December.
AM: Right. Just before Christmas.
SJ: Just before Christmas. It would have been sixty eight years.
AM: Right.
SJ: But he died just before our ruby wedding. So yes and I talk to him and I play hell with him sometimes you know and say what are you doing up there? You should be down here with me, you know.
AM: Enjoying yourself at these re- enactments.
GR: Yeah.
AM: Have you got any more stories to tell me?
SJ: Oh I don’t think so. I’ve wrote me, I’ve wrote -
GJ: You have. You’ve filmed with Ewan McGregor.
SJ: Oh I’ve filmed with Ewan McGregor.
AM: Go on then.
GJ: At RAF Coningsby.
AM: Oh course he did that thing about the -
GJ: Bomber Boys.
GR: Yes.
SJ: Did you see that thing about the Bomber Boys?
AM: His brother’s a pilot isn’t he?
GJ: Yeah.
SJ: Colin. Oh their lovely lads. Absolutely. They’re just like talking to you. You know, so natural and -
AM: Yeah. Normal.
SJ: Exactly.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: Yes they are and we were in there on one of the days. Was it Remembrance Day? And they’d just come out of the Lancaster.
GJ: it was the week before when you filmed with them on the Wednesday before.
SJ: Well, anyway, whatever.
GJ: Yeah.
SJ: Yes that’s Right it was wasn’t it and they did the, and Colin had just flew the Lancaster and they’d just come in to land and whatsthename was with him, Ewan and he’d seen me. I was just stood there like that looking at it, you know and he clapped eyes on me and he come running across. Ewan give me a big hug and then Colin come and give me a big hug you know and I thought, I looked at this woman and bet she thought, ‘Who’s she? Is she one of his grandmas?’
GJ: It was Remembrance Day
AM: It’s the woman who built this bit.
GJ: And that was after filming. The weekend after.
SJ: That’s Right.
GJ: They chauffeured us down to Coningsby to film ‘cause my mum,
GR: Yeah.
GJ: They’d got me on the phone to me ‘cause we’re re-enactors and we do a lot of stuff like that and they got on and said, ‘Could your mum teach? We’re doing a film “Bomber Boys.” We want your mum to teach one of the stars to rivet,’ but we didn’t know -
GR: Yeah.
GJ: About Ewan McGregor then did we?
AM: So did you then? Did you teach him how to rivet?
GR: Yeah.
GJ: Yeah. Showed them how to do it.
SJ: Yeah I sat them there and Norman, we had a laugh with him, Norman, one of the crew up there, you know, we see him every year he said, ‘I’ve got to put this microphone’ I said, ‘well where do you want it?’ He said, ‘I want it down there.’ I said, ‘Well put it up here like that,’ you know. So he said, ‘Do you mind?’ I said, ‘Oh go on. You’ve seen it all before. Go on,’ and like that and he put it up there you know and the microphone and I’m sat down and I got hold of this gun but oh honestly it was so heavy to me then.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: To what it was then, you know years ago.
AM: You didn’t have muscles like that.
SJ: Yeah. That gun there. And I said, ‘I’ll tell you what,’ I said, ‘You sit here.’ I said, ‘You do the gunning,’ I said, ‘And I will put the the rivets in,’ and Norman was at the back doing the rivets, you know, with the flat lump of iron.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: Flattening them at the back. So there we was and it was like that and he said, ‘I’m going to take that,’ he said, ‘back to Los Angeles with me and put it on one of my motorbikes.’ I said, ‘Ah that’s nice,’ you know.
AM: And is that on the film? I’ll have to Youtube this.
GJ: I don’t know whether he says that on the film.
GR: No.
GJ: But the film shows my mum coming, about twenty minutes into it, “Bomber Boys.”
GR: Yeah.
GJ: She’s on his arm coming into the hangar at Coningsby and looking up and she’s touching the Lancaster.
GR: ‘Cause we watched the film and I think that’s the one with, John Bell was there wasn’t he that day? Because John Bell was in the film.
GJ: I can’t remember.
GR: I think Frank Tully is. Frank Tully.
AM: I think it might have been recorded over a few days.
GR: And there was about six, yeah they did because Frank Tully went for two days.
AM: Right.
GR: So yeah.
GJ: Yeah they did different days of filming.
GR: Yeah.
GJ: ‘Cause they filmed at that pub. The -
SJ: Bluebell.
GJ: The bluebell.
SJ: Yeah. Well my name’s up there on the ceiling.
AM: Because?
SJ: They got me to get, get up and sign on the ceiling near Prince William. Next to Prince William’s because he went in there.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: And all the pilots and all the lads who had been in the Dambusters.
GR: Yeah.
SJ: Them what was still living like all signed. So I said, ‘How am I going to get up there now?’ You know, they’ve no steps.
GJ: You said you’ve got Stan who was the previous owner of the Bluebell before he retired a year or two ago he said, ‘Come on,’ he said, ‘Rosie we want your signature up there ‘cause you worked on the planes,’ you know.
SJ: So they humped me up there and I looked around and I said, ‘Take your hands off my bum.’
AM: On that note, thank you.



Annie Moody, “Interview with Susan Jones,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 28, 2024,

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