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The War Years

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


MacTheOldGeezer Report 20 Feb 2008 19:01


My wife told me that she went Potato picking in the fields at the edge of Malton and she also went picking rose hips in the autumn and they were used to make Rose Hip Syrup for babies
Remember the big tins of National dried Milk and the awful Orange Juice in the small bottles

You mentioned your experience with Syrup of Figs, i had a similar one with Andrews Liver Salts, I was drinking it as lemonade until one day I didnt make it to School, I cried all the way home with it running down my leg

Oh the BAD memories also coming back

My wife used to get tit-bits from over the wre at Eden Camp from the Italians


Jean (Monmouth)

Jean (Monmouth) Report 20 Feb 2008 19:41

I was quite keen on the orange juice. Used to go into the woods after the scraps of wood left by the timber fellers and carry it home to heip out with the fire as coal was rationed. You could buy coke if you lived near enough to a gasworks to fetch it yourself. Remember doing that with an old pram in 1947. Every hedgerow fruit and nut was eagerly gleaned and some were kept to improve the Christmas Pud. Any surplus fruit and veg was taken in to town and sold at the greengrocers, who were glad of any contribution. Jean

Brenda from Wales

Brenda from Wales Report 20 Feb 2008 19:44

Talking about syrup of figs has brought another memory for me.
It was the normal Friday night ritual to be given s.o.f.,and usually it was nice and sweet tasting.
My mother must have bought one that was either off,or unsweetened and bitter,and I refused to take it except with a sweet to follow.
One night,I just couldn't stomach it,and my mum said I don't know what's the matter,you never used to be like this,and my dad chased me upstairs,threatening the strap,buckle end,all the way.thank goodness he only threatened.Mother said well you'll have to have castor oil.I said yes I'll have anything except s.o.f.
So I had the oil,and dad said,never mind I'll use it up (not to waste anything).He had some next day,and he couldn't take it either.Why they wouldn't listen to me and try it I don't know,but it was definitely a bad batch!
Brenda x


MacTheOldGeezer Report 20 Feb 2008 20:56

More, More, More !!!!!!!!!!!


Be back on tomorrow with some more memories


GinaS Report 21 Feb 2008 11:14



Moggie Report 21 Feb 2008 12:32

I have never really thought about this before but when the men were away in the services how did the women manage for money? Did they get some sort of allowance from the government? I don't remember there being a Post Office in our little row of shops. There must have been Post Offices around then because I think people put money into saving certificates and war bonds.


ChrisofWessex Report 21 Feb 2008 12:40

They had an allotment book.


AnnCardiff Report 21 Feb 2008 13:06

We picked mushrooms in late summer and early autumn, blackberries in the summer, nuts in the autumn, primroses in spring and we knew where there were damson and crab apple trees for making jam. An idyllic childhood with all sunny summers and snowy winters. That’s how I remember it anyway. The snow of 1947 when I was eleven was particularly memorable because it was so deep we couldn’t see out of the cottage windows when we got up in the morning.
My mother, was born in another cottage on Thornhill. This was Rose Cottage which was one of a pair of semi-detached cottages which were sited just before the entrance to the crematorium. Mum was born in the inside of the two cottages, and in the outside cottage lived a Mr and Mrs Jones. Old Mrs Jones had been a warder in Cardiff Prison and accompanied the last female prisoner to be hanged when she went to the gallows!
There was another little cottage further down the road called Primrose Cottage. This was a thatched cottage and stood at the end of the lane which ran up to Heol Llanishen Fach Farm. The farm is still there but now in the middle of a modern housing estate. The farmer was Ivor Llewellyn and I was friendly with his daughter Ann. Her brother now lives in America and last I heard he was very involved in a Welsh Society out there.
We had no bathroom and no hot water so on Friday nights, bath night, the tin bath was brought in from it’s hanging place on the outside wall of the cottage and the gas boiler filled up to heat the water. Youngest got to use the bath first. It was a bit like a Chinese water torture in a way because the kitchen roof was galvanised iron and the steam condensed on the roof sand then dripped back icy cold on you in the bath! I suppose people pay a lot of money for such treatment in health spas these days!
For me, Rhiwbina school was sheer paradise. I was an only child for seven years and therefore had no other children to play with so I couldn’t wait to get to school, even though it was a very long walk for little legs [with obligatory gas mask hanging around my neck]. No Heol Llanishen Fach in those days so it was down to Beulah Road and then back up Heol y Deri to the school. Standard packed lunch in the summer was always tomato sandwiches, because that was the cheapest and you could grow them at home. To this day the very smell of a tomato sandwich transports me back to my days in Rhiwbina school!
My late great aunt, Bronwen Harman was a teacher at the school when it first opened. Auntie Bron was my paternal grandmother’s sister and she lived in Tongwynlais. I am rather puzzled as to how she travelled back and forth to Rhiwbina school as she lived on Merthyr Road in Tongwynlais! A mystery. She retired before I started school. When I passed the scholarship in Rhiwbina school I passed for Penarth and this was an incredibly long journey for me. Leaving the house at 7:30 am to walk to Birchgrove Halt, then to either Queen Street or the General where I changed for the Penarth train [steam of course] and then the walk from Penarth station to the school. I got home in the dark after a long lonely walk up Thornhill in the winter months.
Food rationing only affected me as far as sweet rationing went - that was a blow, but my Mum was pretty innovative and made sweets for me. Sometimes we would shout at American soldiers in the back of lorries “Got any gum chum!“ and invariably they would throw some out for us. Mum could turn her hand to almost anything, even skinning rabbits, and feathering the pheasants my Dad shot in the area that is now mostly crematorium.
We had plenty of fresh meat even if it meant that at the end of every meal there was a little row of lead pellets on the edge of the plate! Must have swallowed some I suppose. Dad grew all our vegetables, Mum made all our clothes. Dad skinned a few rabbits in an attempt to make us mittens and there were usually some petrified animal skins nailed to the outhouse door! Never worked though. I think he fancied himself as a sort of Davy Crockett or Crocodile Dundee!


AnnCardiff Report 21 Feb 2008 13:09

and a bit more!!!!

Fresh milk was delivered by Jack Rees, our local farmer from Pant-y-Scawen farm. He used to arrive in his cart pulled by Ginger the carthorse. Milk was measured out from churns on the cart and put in a jug my mother left on the door step. Water came through to the kitchen from a spring across the road. In summer when the level dropped we had to go down to the spring and collect water in a bucket. The water was gorgeous and on hot days we used to get cycling clubs calling in for glasses of water.
Groceries, with a ration book, came from Mr Burden in the Classic Stores at the crossroads. Butter was cut from a large block and wrapped in greaseproof paper. Sugar from a large bag weighed out into small blue bags, tea likewise. Biscuits came from a large deep tin and put into paper bags after weighing. All along the front of the counter were open sacks full of dog biscuits. I tried one of these one day - not nice!
The war affected us inasmuch as German war planes used Thornhill Road as a guide to the R.O.F. factory at the crossroads. Even at the age of five I could differentiate between British and German planes by the sound of the engines. We had loads of tents erected on the sides of Thornhill Road and these housed American soldiers guarding petrol dumps. Only black Americans - seems white Americans were too good to be housed in tents! These guys were absolute gentleman and were so polite to my mother who was only in her twenties. They were also very generous as they had better food than we were getting and they often gave my mother some items that we could only dream of.


AnnCardiff Report 21 Feb 2008 13:10

and the last bit!!

I recall one day a convoy of American tanks came up the road heading towards Caerphilly. They stopped and asked my Dad if they were going the right way for Newport. Dad said they needed to go back into Cardiff and go east, so they turned everything around. Such a noise and such a mess and when they eventually moved off there were no grass verges left in our part of the road because the tanks had churned them to mud! When Mum asked Dad what had been going on and he told her what had happened she pointed out that they could have got to Newport via Caerphilly!
We had an evacuee billeted on us. She was a young girl around nine or ten years old and had been bombed out in Birmingham. A double decker bus had arrived at our house and it was full of evacuees and my mother was told to go out and choose one! She decided she’d get a five year old as company for me. She brought this little girl into the house and the bus waited outside. However, once inside this little girl just stood there and screamed and cried. Some of these children must have been mentally scarred for life with experiences like this. I couldn’t understand why she was crying, I was too young to understand, but Mum had to take her back and we got Doreen instead.
Doreen stayed with us for quite a while and came to Rhiwbina school with me. The plus side of this was that Birmingham City Council paid for a taxi to take her to and from school and of course I went too, so for a while I no longer had to do that long walk. Every time there was a raid poor Doreen would shake and turn white. We all used to sit in the pantry which was situated under the stairs and wait for the all clear. I only ever went in an air raid shelter once and that was in Cardiff Castle when me and Mum were in town one day and an air raid occurred.
After a night raid by German planes we would go out next morning and look for shrapnel. Not really sure why, but shell cases seemed to be prized as they were made of brass and looked quite good as ornaments. Also we used to find what looked like strips of silver paper everywhere. Something to do with blocking radar I think. It was illegal to keep anything you found - you were obliged to hand it to the police.
However, my mother and I had a particularly “good” find one morning when we came across a unexploded incendiary bomb. Foolishly my mother stuck it under her coat and home we went. She put it under the sideboard to wait for my Dad to come home from work. Imagine - he had just cycled up hill all the way from John Williams down the docks on a hot summer day to be excitedly told by me that we had a bomb under the sideboard! I can remember it even now and could draw a picture of it - it had a small propeller in the rear end. And what did he do? He decided to dismantle it and see how it worked! After dismantling it he took the detonator into work and they all sat around the brazier at lunchtime wondering what kind of an explosion it would make. Then some bright spark said “There’s one way to find out and threw it in the brazier”. Dad said he’d never seen so many spilled cups of tea and sandwiches trodden into the ground as men leapt this way and that. Old men could have qualified for the Olympics jumping over lathes! It only went “pop” apparently. How I survived my childhood is a miracle considering Mum and Dad appeared to be rather foolhardy!


Mazfromnorf Report 21 Feb 2008 17:21

This thread is great I log in to see what else has been added id love to have it in print Deanna .maz


Harry Report 21 Feb 2008 17:33

Not noticed any mention of music, which played a big part in keeping up morale.
There'll always be an England (red white and blue, what does it mean to you).the empire too) When we stamped our feet we really thought we were helping the war effort.

Vera Lynn properly and whale meat again. White cliffs of dover. Quartermasters stores (there was eggs, eggs, walking round on legs.....). Run rabbit run etc.

Whenever their was tragedy at sea, HMS Hood etc, we always sang "eternal father strong to save" at assembly the next morning. Onward christian soldiers were OUR soldiers ..

Happy days. Rule Britannia.


Deanna Report 21 Feb 2008 18:06

Harry I remember all the lovely war time songs too.
They did try very hard to keep spirits up and the music halls worked hard to do just that.
All lovely songs which my mother and father used to sing, and the 'lesser' ones that the soldiers taught us behind daddy's back.

yes Harry, songs such as QUARTERMASTERS STORES
and Very quietly ( roll me over in the clover) shush now..... I was 5/6, and all it was to me was a nice 'jingly' song.

I went everywhere with the soldiers in the back of the lorries and sang and listened to their risque jokes, and ate their Sweet rations .... UNTIL ..... my father decided that I was too old to be going with the 'men'.
We are up to 1950 at this point.... the Korean war coming up soon.
Then I had to drive with my parents.... with my head in a book.... and no laughter.
Not that it was not allowed... but why should I laugh when I was busy SULKING??

Deanna X


Mazfromnorf Report 21 Feb 2008 18:39

Quater masters stores song is still used today on route marches in various versions. I love the imperial war museumin london. also if anyone gets to go theOosterbeek in Holland where the parachute regiments fell on the Rhine at Arhnem i think it was that is really worth a visit Maz


Iris Report 21 Feb 2008 19:02

i was born in the war, and well remember my mother making brawn with a pigs head, (which she did wellinto the 1970s), she also used to salt down runner beans into 2 stone jars ,( which i still have) and bottle up any spare apples , plums ,tomato's ect.she and my nan used to unpick old woolen jumpers to make up new ones .i think my nan was the best darner i 've ever known, so neat, but she was colour blind and darned a brown jumper with green wool, and she swore they were the same colours.
my grandfather was a farmer ,and used to get pig swill from one of the local army one lot was a table spoon (which i still have and use)with the number R A M C 5987357, i wonder who lost that. there was a aa gun in the corner of one of the meadows, and a bomb landed near the farmhouse.
after milking the cows,my mum used to sell the milk,by putting a churn on a little 3 wheeled cart and pushed it along one of the lanes near the farm.people would bring jugs ect out and she would measure out what they wanted. in the early part of the war she had a brother and sister from london living with her , they kept in touch until my faher died in 1999.

Brenda from Wales

Brenda from Wales Report 21 Feb 2008 19:57

I wasn't evacuated during the war.My O.H was,as living in London was dangerous,so he was sent to
South Wales.Imagine,this was a private arrangement,and a 5 year old boy is sent to live with people he doesn't know,for 6 years,and only seeing his mother twice.
Fortunately they were nice people.The father was a miner and there were 2 children,but he ,my OH,had to work,,even at that age,and kept chickens,and at harvest time had to go and help getting the chaff!
On the up side,the miners got more coal,and had extra rations of cheese etc,so the food shortages weren't as bad as the cities.
Going back to London after the war must have been
quite a big change to get used to.Couldn't see that happening in this day and age!
Brenda x


MacTheOldGeezer Report 21 Feb 2008 20:37

I'm back folks

Let him go let him tarry, Let him sink or let him swim
He doesn't care for me and I don't care for him
He can go and get another that I hope he will enjoy
Cos I'm going to marry a far nicer Boy

Mares eat oats and Does eat oats and little Lambs eat Ivy a diddly ivy do wouldn't you

Strange lyrics don't you think

When the buffs (ROAB) had a childrens party they made one half of the children sing "Roll out the barrel", and the other half "It's a long way to Tipperary"
The latter got changed to " It's the wrong way to tickle Mary"

Run Rabbit run got changed to Run Hitler run

Bluebirds over the white Cliff of Dover

Arthur Askey's bee song

We used to have Workers Playtime every lunchtime that came from a different factory every day

Some of the artistes were Ravitz and Landauer Arthur English (play the music, open the cage), Rob Wilton, Arthur Askey, The Chocolate Coloured Coon, (By the light of the silvery moon) Donald Peers, Kenneth Horne & Richard Murdoch, Mrs Feather (?), she played the headmistress in the orinal Trinians film and Marlene from Brum (name?)
Jimmy Jewell & Ben Warris, Tommy Trinder, Max Miller,.Yahoudi Menhuin

That's a few for now, Keep them coming



MacTheOldGeezer Report 21 Feb 2008 21:15

Be back soon


MacTheOldGeezer Report 22 Feb 2008 14:24

May not be on much tomorrow as I will attempt to transcribe all this lot

Thanks to everyone who posted



~Lynda~ Report 22 Feb 2008 18:13

Nudge for Deanna