Saturday, 31 October 2015

My Nan talking about the Second World War in London...

Six years ago, I got a camcorder and I went to visit Nan... my Nan... in Swindon.

I don't know why I did it.

I heard her talking about, you know, watching flying bombs from her window when she was in Labour with my Dad.

And, I don't know why but I wanted to ask her some questions about the War, Second World War, in London...
and I know she was moved around the country.
I was just curious.
So here's the chat.

It goes on for a LONG time.
So I'm going to be breaking it up into different videos.

I wish I'd followed up with some questions afterwards but I just left the tape in its box - I've just digitised it now. And transcribed it.
The full transcription is below.

But this is what we talked about.
And I'm sorry if I missed anything or didn't follow anything up because...
I can't do it again now. But it's a nice thing.
It's a bit of family history in there,
bit of social history,
bit of oral history,
and some stuff about the Second World War.

Nan talking about the Second World War in London - part 1/5

You were a researcher, weren't you?
When you started off? Yeah, yeah.
Which is... 15 years ago this summer.
How many? 15.
Only seems the other day, doesn't it. Yeah. Yeah.
They were playing um... they had erm records playing in the car. You know the Top 40 Pick of the Pops.
Oh yes. From that year, and it was like 15 years ago.
I know. Jean went to see Priscilla in the week, at The Palace.
Who's Priscilla?
It's a film. Ooop.
It's a musical show at The Palace.
It was all about transvestites.
Oh Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.
Queen of the theatre. Yes.
I think it was the Queen, or was it the palace. Ooh. That's me.
And she said it was 1988 music.
Oh, you'd know that. She knew the music, you see. Her time.

[EDIT] (1:24 How Kathleen was called up.)
I got discharged then.
When you got pregnant with with Dad?
Your grandad had just got forms for me to be an officer.
Not just a Leading Aircraft Woman.
He wanted me to have a commission, cos he'd got one.
I don't know where to start really.
Actually, I was called up in 1942.
That was working in the Ovaltine Offices. It was called Wander, a Swiss firm.
And then I had papers in and they'd got me... called up?
I was called up. They got me delayed for a while. Said they needed me.
What the Ovaltine Factory?
Offices. No. In Kensington. All the offices.
What did you do there?
Oh well, I was learning shorthand, so I was doing shorthand typing.
I was getting to be a short-

because once you were married then, you had to leave the firm you know.
You couldn't stay on. A woman left, because she got married, so I got the job. Manage the shorthand typists.
This was 1939? Yes it's be 1939, '40.
So did you start working there before the War started?
Yes. Yes I started before.
And then war was declared. Declared in 1939, and I got the call-up papers you see, and they deferred me. They got me deferred for a while.
The company managed to do that?
They must've done. I got deferred for a while.
But then I was called-up and they couldn't do any more again. You see they got deferred me for a while, I don't know how many months.
Yeah. Because first of all I went for an examination for the ATS (Auxilliary Territorial Service). And they wouldn't accept me because I wore specs.
What's the ATS? The Army Girls. Territorial Army. Yes. They wouldn't accept me for that, but they accepted me in the WAAF (Women's Auxilliary Air Force).
And did you choose to go to the WAAFs?
No I didn't choose anything. They just said what I was to do. I didn't choose anything.
Cos I didn't want to volunteer. When it was the WAAFs I didn't mind.

So then I went to Gloucester. Called up and went to Gloucester. And the family saw me off at the station. And er, I got kitted out there. We... what were these army sheds? You know those Army huts... Nissan huts? Nissan huts, thank you. You'll have to come to my rescue. Stayed the night in a Nissan hut, with lots of other girls. Wasn't used to that sort of situation.

So where were you living when you were working at Ovaltine?
I was in Ealing. With mum and dad. Sometimes I cycled there.
And what were they doing at the time?
Your Mum and Dad.
Dad was a printer. And Mum, I think sometimes Mum did making jam. Two teachers retired, and they were private schools I think and they were making jam. Mum must have seen a notice somewhere, and she was helping them. She took their dogs out for a walk. And she was buying us a piano was it? It was something.
She did jobs like that to buy a piano for us to have music lessons.

And this was in Ealing. Where you lived, because I don't know any of this, do you know where it was, the address or anything?
I don't remember where because she used to go when they went away, she used to go to their house and take the dog out. You know for walks and things like that, and I can't remember what the address is now.

So you lived in Ealing, and you commuted into the Ovaltine -- Kensington,
yes. Every day.
And you were there before the war. And then-- do you know roughly when you joined the WAFF.

Yes in um, 42. 42?
So it was a good 3 years in the office?
Oh yes, I must've been. I must've gone there at 15. Must've done. And went through different departments. Until I got to be a Manager's typist. Shorthand typist.
I know I cycled. And yet when I first bought a bike. Well my dad bought me the bike. I said I'd pay you back, but I never did. It's only about 30 bob then. I used to go out with Grandad, with Eric. And we used to go riding around somewhere. I wouldn't go right! Cos I couldn't go right. So I had to keep going round to the left. Because you were scared to turn in the traffic? Scared to turn right yes! And then in the end I cycled to Kensington! So I got over that.

So I don't know when did you meet Grandad?
16. Oooh I was 16 at evening classes. So that was around 193...8? 1940?
(Twenty one, thirty one...) about 37 wouldnt it be. When I was 16. No it was before 16 when I met him. I'm sure I wasn't 16. Cos what was I doing? I was learning shorthand you see. In evening classes? In evening classes. He was doing everything. Like Accountancy, and Drama. Everything - what different lessons? Oh yes. Cos he said he saw me... I don't know whether the Principal was probably acknowledging us all, and thanking us for going. And coming, and do this that and the other, I can't remember what we were told to do. And he was supposed to have seen me. In the thing. And he must've said to someone, who is that over there? And they said oh that's um and they thought it was somebody else. He didn't know it was me, my name at all. So he must've got to know me that way. I don't remember all that. I must've met him there and got chatting, and preceeded from there.

(Hoover Factory, or Headquarters. Perivale. Or is it Greenford. London. Or Middlesex.)

And what job was he doing at the time?
He was working in Hoover's at the time. That was his first job. Hoover's in Perivale.
Do you know what he did there?
No, I should just think he was an office worker, I should think. Cos the next job, then he went to um, went to Hayes, Borough Council. Then he went to Greenford. Borough Council? Yes, and that was all to do with Ealing borough council. All to do with that.
And was that in cleansing? Must've been. Yes, must've been. Don't know whether it was called cleansing, suppose it was.

And then of course when he was called up, when he got discharged, he did all the exams for engineering. Cos he wanted to go to University. But he couldn't pay for it then. I don't know if they were taking adults then, after the war. Do you? I wouldn't know that.
He did it at home, it wouldn't be like... the Open University. That's where he did all his exams. He did two lots of engineering. I threw the certificates away when we moved from Castle Dore.

So when you were working at Ovaltine, Grandad was working in... Hoovers. Hoover, but was he immediately called up?
No, he volunteered. Knowing your Grandad. He would volunteer for something he wanted to do. He wouldn't want to be told what to do. Or what services to go in!
So he went to the RAF? Yes, RAF, volunteer reserve. Was it called volunteer reserve? See I've forgotten lots of these things. Neil, I'm not very good. Volunteer reserve, I believe.

He was a volunteer first of all in the RAF.
So then, that was in 1939, he went straight away, into the RAF?
39, yes.
Was he based in Northolt then?
He went to Northolt. West Drayton. Northolt. And then Uxbridge.

And then of course, I think it was the year I was pregnant. So that'd be 44 wouldn't it. Jan/February, he was called abroad then.

Full transcript and the other videos, are all here...

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