Memories of Jonathan’s Grandad – Alan Knowlson


When WW2 started young men at 18 were being called to join the army, Navy or RAF.  Most did not have a choice unless they had been in the Army or Navy cadets or the Air Training Corps.  A young man who had been in the ATC would have been interested in particular aspects of jobs connected with aeroplanes.  Those with a technical interest would have been attached to many trades in the Air service.  One such was a flight technician or as they were known as flight mechanics progressing to engine or frame fitters.  Those jobs dealt with the maintenance of aircraft in all its forms.  A new recruit to flight mechanics would first of all be introduced to discipline.  This was carried out at special training camps and was known as basic training.  This lasted about 6-8 weeks.  Then the new recruit would be sent to a technical school course.  These courses lasted for about 4 months after which he was sent to a squadron to commence his duties.  Every day or night inspections were made on the aircraft as to whether the aircraft was ready for operations.  Usually a particular plane had squadron identification and a letter ie “G” George painted on the side.  The mechanic would have been allocated to a particular plane and he was responsible for this particular trade.  Inspection had to be made daily.


Jonathan thoughts – This made me feel thankful because people 18 and a bit younger had to leave their family and work long hard days and some didn’t even get through it due to German bombs.  So I feel thankful they made sacrifices for people they didn’t even know.


Memories of Robert’s Granddad – Bob Noble


He was an electrical engineer.  He worked at Bletchley Park (near Milton Keynes).  He was working on the first ever computer for the intelligence side of the war.  But most importantly he was one of the people who worked on the Enigma Code breaking machine, which was one of the most important reasons why Great Britain won the war.


Robert’s thoughts – I have been inspired by the fact he was using the limited amount of technology they had to give the army intelligence, to try and give them the upper hand.  The Enigma code breaking machine was a very important asset and I am just proud that my Granddad worked and developed it.


Memories of Simon’s Auntie Mavise


She was evacuated from Leeds to Harrogate in 1942.  She was living in a farm house and was under the care of the farmers, Mr & Mrs Thornton.  She was very scared of all the bombs in the cities and was scared about her family back home.


Simon’s thoughts – I have been inspired about these memories because it shows that my Auntie Mavise’s parents were smart enough to know the safest place for her to be was in the county.


Memories of Victoria’s Grandma – Catherine


She was evacuated on the Friday and came back on the Monday because she was frightened and didn’t like the people she was staying with because the man was always working down the mine and the woman was always in the Pub.  She was only 10 when the war started.  The people she stayed with lived near Doncaster in the countryside.  She only took a few clothes with her in her suitcase.


When the air-raid siren went off she sheltered in an Anderson shelter in Burley Park.  They sang songs and drank tea to try and keep everyone happy and distracted.


Rationing was awful because there was little food around, if they wanted a treat they would have a rationing book with tickets in that they would have to take it to the shop and the shop keeper would pull the tickets out when they bought something.  For breakfast they ate cereal and lunch and tea would be potato and onion pie.  Maybe once or twice a week they would have a pudding, something homemade like rice pudding.


Clothes were rationed and you had to wear “hand me downs”.


They experienced a few bombings but not as many as some places.  Very scary because a lot of people were killed and injured.  You could tell when the bomb had dropped near because the noise was horrific.


Memories of Olivia’s family friend – Keith Stuart


In 1943 when the first load of fruit came in to England from Jamaica after years, so much was risked.  Ships were sunk and people died but it got there.  It was bananas sent to boost the morale of the nation.  I remember my Father knew the warehouse owner and he took me to get some of the bananas which couldn’t be sold as they were bruised from the journey.  When we got them I didn’t have a clue what they were but I had a banana in each hand and I played guns with them.  We had two bags of banana – my first taste of this fruit.


I remember when the war was over, there was great excitement.  Once a date was given when all the lights would come back on we were so happy.  On the night everyone came into the main street to be there for the moment they would come back on.  As they did at 6 0’clock, there were cheers all around, you could hear, them for miles off, it was a great relief.


Olivia’s thoughts – It’s really interesting hearing about the war, the extraordinary things people have done and faced.  Some people have some of the greatest memories which are so nice to share.  They make you realise how different things were.  Its inspiring to see how in the war people developed comradeship and pulled together.


Memories of Stephanie’s Grandma – Kathleen Marshall


I was 10 in 1939, and evacuated   sometime after the Battle of Britain.  Our school was to be evacuated to Pateley Bridge.  My sister and I were going to go; Mum bought us all the equipment needed.  Three of everything (clothes), a coat and haversack.  She took us to school where we would be picked up.  When we got there Mum changed her mind and said if we were going to die we would all die together.


I never used the gas mask in a real situation but I had to take it everywhere with me.  The only time I had to wear the gas mask was in “gas mask drills”.  They were horrible to wear, made of rubber, smelled awful and extremely tight on the head.  When I first put it on I would hold my breath as if underwater because of the smell, but I eventually got used to it and breathed normally.


I don’t remember rationing being hard, but I was only young.  I remember you had to register with a particular Grocer or Butcher and then you had to get your ration from them each week.  No food was wasted, everything got used.  One of my memories was egg rationings, I don’t remember how many you were limited to but it wasn’t many one or two.  Any fresh ones where given to my sister whom my Mum believed was weaker than me and needed building up so she got the eggs.  Some items weren’t hard to find but shops found it hard to maintain stocks.  If you could afford to eat at cafes you were fine.


There were not allowed to have street lights on at night and no light shining out of your window.  You had to blackout windows with black curtains and make sure they were shut every night.  We didn’t have a cellar so during air-raids we would use the neighbours opposite.  The air-raids in Leeds were during 1940-1941.  I lived in harehills at the time the Barnbow was the number one target as it was a tank factory, but they never managed to hit it.


My husband Bill was a messenger during the war and he would take his bike and deliver messages to wardens, he did this in the evenings and also during air-raids, he also covered the switchboard at St James Hospital.  He was only very young between 10 -14 years of age.


My war efforts were knitting with wool. We would knit jumpers for sailors.  We also knitted scarves and gloves and enjoyed getting thank you letters.


Stephanie’s thoughts – I am very proud of what my Grandma told me and thought her war efforts were good.  I like the memory of my Granddad who I hardly knew and thought he was very brave.  It has inspired me to see if I could knit gloves or a scarf.  I also wondered if I could ration chocolate.  I think it was good that neighbours shared shelters.  I was also inspired to talk to my Grandma more.


Memories of Christian’s friend Jake’s Granddad


Worked for UXB which was a company that disabled bombs that hadn’t blown up.  It was very scary and dangerous but he had no choice.  There were many blackouts & rationing shortages but they just had to deal with it.  At the time Jake’s Granddad was 24 and his wife was 20, she just had to work in factories.  They had a bomb shelter that was quite small but could manage.  Another relative was imprisoned by the Japanese but sadly died in the camps.


Christian’s thoughts – This has inspired me just by thinking of all the hopes and fears they must have experienced through fighting for their country.  Just thinking of how they stayed and fought until the end and how brave they all were for not bottling out.


Memories of Suzy’s Grandma – Ethel Restrick


I came from a big family of 8.  When I was evacuated we were all split up and I was sent to a family who were quite posh.  It was a big difference, this new life in comparison to my old life.  The new family owned two Florists and were quite rich.  They had an only son who was quite spoilt and snobby.  I was treated okay by the family but I missed my own family awfully bad so it wasn’t a very enjoyable experience.  I received letters from my family regularly.  When I came back from school I used to go to the bathroom and read my letters and cry.


I didn’t miss out a lot on food as whatever we didn’t have we could swop in return for flowers.  On the times we were caught in an air-raid we would run to the back of the garden to the air-raid shelter. “Uncle Ted” played the piano, we had placed inside, and whenever it got too noisy we would all sing loudly to cover up the noise.  We rarely had any fun at these dangerous times.  On occasions we would go to the cinema at weekends.  We used to play a lot of indoor games and would listen to the radio.  I read a great deal of Enid Blyton, Sunday stories and a weekly magazine.