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The Day Before Yesterday: 45 Domestic And War Requirements

...Anyone with iron railings around their property lost them for the war effort, as it was called. They took all the railings from the parks to help make munitions and scrap metal of any kind was collected for this too.

They realised at last they had underestimated the power of this man Hitler, and our country was not prepared for the onslaught that was needed to put this madman in his place. We were all encouraged to 'dig for victory' and grow our own vegetables....

Gladys Schofield recalls the stark days of World War Two.

Friends and families were loosing sons and husbands now. It was not compulsory for men over the age of forty years, though plenty joined over this age. The over-forty were needed as Air Raid Wardens, Home Guards (Dad's Army) and Voluntary Fire Fighters, all able bodied over-forty had to join one of these groups.

Girls as well as men were recruited over twenty. They had a choice of the forces, on munitions or working as land girls. Some farmers joined up, but this was not compulsory if the owner was short handed. The Home Guards would learn and practice, though defensive weapons were in very short supply.

Soldiers were sent overseas, mainly France at first, though they were not given information. Everything was hush-hush. They would practice sounding the air raid warning and all clear. They did tell us to expect this from time to time, and air raid shelters began to take shape in the large industrial towns. They knew Germany meant business now. France was next on his list.

Ration cards were distributed for clothes, food or other things you would normally need to exist. We were lucky to have bought our furniture when we did and even rings stopped being 24 carat. My tiny ring was bought just in time. They were usually 9 carat after 1940, and furniture got to look like boxes. It was called Utility furniture.

Anyone with iron railings around their property lost them for the war effort, as it was called. They took all the railings from the parks to help make munitions and scrap metal of any kind was collected for this too.

They realised at last they had underestimated the power of this man Hitler, and our country was not prepared for the onslaught that was needed to put this madman in his place. We were all encouraged to 'dig for victory' and grow our own vegetables.

You could exchange egg coupons for poultry food as you were encouraged to be backyard poultry keepers, being allowed to keep up to six hens if you had enough ground for this. It was well worth doing. Adults were only allocated one egg per week, but children under five got three. Bread became rationed, children twelve to eighteen, getting slightly more than adults.

We never seemed to go short, so it was adequate to requirements. Our milk didn't seem to be rationed; it was still delivered from a can into your jug. I think young children got it cheaper, but I am not sure of the date for this.

We got 2 ounces of butter, 4 punces of margarine and bacon, 8o ounces of sugar, very little meat. Tea and coffee and bananas were classed as a luxury. You queued for these when a ship managed to get through about every six months and were allowed one pound per family. Expectant mothers were always able to go to the front of a queue. It was up to the individual families to do their best for themselves. There was always some black market goods for those who could afford the high prices.

We painted lines down the middle of our legs at the back, to make it appear we were wearing stockings, as these got very scarce and expensive, but we kidded no one but ourselves.

As it got close to Easter the snow began to thaw. The black ice covering the remnants was worse than the snow itself and very dangerous. I had been terrified of falling, now I had another life to consider. I was hoping this would be the end of winter but temperatures change very slowly and our 'dig for victory' had to be put on ice.

This winter had got me wondering how I would manage with a small baby if the war continued much longer and Cliff was called up. I had booked into the new maternity home, as this was my first baby and I didn't want an experience like my sister.

My tiny snowdrops seemed to pop up from nowhere, and a faint tinge of light green, touched the branches of some of the trees. A chorus of bird song was again wakening us all much too early, so spring could not be far away. I soon had a scattering of bright yellow crocus. These and a few polyanthus were all I could grow in my tiny garden.

It was close to the road and ran for about six feet along the top of my steps. Every now and again a plant would disappear overnight and I worried about this and wondered who could be holding a grudge against us, or was there a nutcase in the neighbourhood? It seemed a very childish thing to do, and this added to my uneasiness. We would find the flowers uprooted over the wall in the wood. Each morning we missed one, but had thought they were perfectly safe each night when we went to bed.

I began to wish we had not moved to such a remote area, as we didn't know too many people around. What kind of person could do a thing like this? But war brings all sorts out of the woodwork, so we decided to look for another house.

We were not long finding a place in New Hey Road. It was on the main road not far above my Aunty Miriam's and still within walking distance of this countryside. The man with the pleasant smile obliged us by using his wagon as a furniture van and moving us to our new abode.

Cliff and I walked down past the Golf Links, climbing again to the main road before reaching our destination. I was six months pregnant and carried my now full-grown black cat in my arms. He would miss this place. He was such a good mouser inside and out, and I hoped the new house was to his liking.

It was a better house than the last, two good bedrooms, a cosy sitting room with a tiled fireplace and a long narrow kitchen with another fire, so we could dine at one end and do the cooking at the back. It also had an added bonus, a gas boiler and a boom for my washing.

The yard at the back housed the toilet. This was modern and our own and not so lonely to get to. And our black cat seemed to settle. We knew the people in the end house, so it wasn't so lonely, and the bus stopped right outside the door.

Still not getting much garden, but more than before and no one to steal my plants.

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