Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Nan talking about Doodlebugs flying over Wartime London while giving birth... part 3

Shot this video below last year, and using it as an intro to Part 3 of Nan talking about life in Wartime London (and Brighton and Bournemouth, where she was stationed).

It's what got me (a year later) to finally upload it to YouTube.

Press CC for subtitles - there's a full transcript below.
Hoping the intro will lead into the chat, shot 6 years ago.

This video includes:
0:00 On buying a wedding ring in wartime Bournemouth
1:10 Waching the doodlebugs (flying bombs) from her maternity hospital bed flying across Shepherd's Bush
2:00 More on working for the Royal Australian Air Force as a WAAF.
3:50 On planning for a wartime wedding in Ealing
6:00 Everyday sexism from a British RAF sergeant
6:30 Kath's engagement in 1942

Transcript (timings are for the full video here)

So you were sent to Brighton, when you go to Brighton, do you know for how long it's going to be?
No. I didn't know that. No. 'Cos it's was Bournemouth, I didn't know how long we were gonna be at Bournemouth. 'Cos I bought my wedding ring there. It was a jewellers along there. And I could only get platinum.

So when you went to Brighton, you were still coming home to London?
That's right, I didn't get home so quick from Bournemouth. I can't remember how long we were in Bournemouth. If your Dad were here, if Grandad were here, he'd know.

It's funny I can blot out things. I do blot out things. And some things you know really clearly. Yes, I can see it. But other things I can blot out and forget it completely.

So when you're in Brighton, you're working on the seafront, basically?
Yes, in the Metropole.
And was it odd, did you see planes flying over?
No, no.

Queen Charlotte's Hospital
The hospital in 1985. (source)

The actual windows of the Queen Charlotte's maternity hospital in 1965, (when Ringo Starr's son was born there - source)

It was worse when I got back and had your Dad.
I was in Queen Charlotte's (Stamford Brook August 1944) and we could watch the Doodlebugs going across, you know, with all the flame outside the back of it.

We knew it was going to drop it somewhere.
Didn't have anything like that at (Brighton) - we had barbed wire across the front, of course, but nothing else...

Doodlebug (V1 Rocket) before... and after (1944) - explained here

I wanted to ask again about... because dad's quite hazy about... the later years of the war... but um, so basically it sounds like quite an office job?
Office work, that's right.
Typing the same as I'd been doing.
Stencilling for the officers, for the Australian Officers.
Some had died, you know and some had got illness, it was all on there.

So all the information would come into Brighton, and it would be typed up and would go off to different records?
I suppose it would. I don't know where we put them.
We had a sergeant in charge of us. Was that a WAAF sergeant?
No, it was a man sargeant. Was he Australian? No he was English.
That's funny, isn't it... It feels odd that all the British organised their admin.

This girl, Georgina, she did their laundry. She patches the Australian's laundry that needed to go out.
So were the Australians in Brighton?
Yes they were actually in the hotel, in the rest of the hotel. The Metropole.
Were they just the officers?
No, not only the officers. Other airmen as well. I think there were flyers...

And this was their base, and then they'd send them off to an airfield?
They must do... send them to an airfield yes. We'd have some fun with those. They'd come in the office, you know... They must've been really far from home. Yes, they were, weren't they.

So you said you had a couple of friends. One of them did the laundry.
Yes, I can't remember what Anne did now... it was the other girl. She lived in Southampton. She recommended the woman where we went to, like a B&B in Torquay for our honeymoon. And she'd recommended it.

I think she came to our wedding... When you think really, they're quite selfish, aren't you. Because I think my Dad saw to her. I'm sure he did. I don't know whether she stayed the night at home. My Dad was... I didn't even ask how much you know, the cost of the wedding or anything. I've looked back and thought, "how selfish I must've been". That's the whole point of a wedding. "I'm spoilt" as my sister would say. That's the whole point isn't it, it's supposed to be a family event for the bride. I think Carolyn did more, didn't she. And I think your Mum had to get insurance for that wedding. Did she? That's what Jean told me, I didn't even know that. Cos Jean said she doesn't know if she could've done that. I think you can buy them off the shelf, can't you. I don't know what it covers. Well of course Kirsty is going to get married, isn't she. When she can afford it.

Because I've not even got to the wedding yet. Can you remember any of the Australians? Can you remember what they were like? Or who they were? Or... anything.
No, just a bit of fun you know when we'd meet up. I don't think I ever went out with one. I used to go out with a Canadian in Bournemouth. And one of the Canadians taught me how to play snooker.

Was this in Bournemouth?
That's in Bournemouth, yes. But we didn't go out with any of the Australians - none of us.

What was your day like? Was it a 9-5? Was it quite military?
Yes it'd be like that - I can't remember the time, but that's what it would be like. Because it sounds like - you had to be there in office time.
It sounds like it was organised like an office, rather than a military... it was... office-like.

Because I didn't like the sergeant - that male sergeant. I had my ring taken off - because it had to be made smaller. And of course he'd make jibes then. Oh, you're trying to leave your wedding ring behind... and make out your not married. These kind of things. He wasn't a very nice man. There's other things he probably said, that's why I didn't like him.

And were you engaged at the time?
Yes I was engaged. When did you get engaged? At 21? When I was 21.
So that was 1942, when you went to Brighton.
I think it was before then... It was before my birthday. Before I was called up.
So you were called up after your birthday?
I'm sure it must've been. In the probably towards the end of the year. I think it must've been November. Oh god, so you were in Morecambe in November/December? Mmmm.
I can't remember if I came home that first Christmas. I can't remember. Can't remember that.

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

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