Sunday 13th June, 5-6pm – Living through the War
Ann’s story will touch on her memories of daily wartime life, as well as taking a broader look at the social divide between rich and poor, and the changing role of women.
Ann Ellis lived with her brother, mum and dad in Lincoln when war was declared in 1939. Lincoln was a heavy industrial town where Ann’s dad worked as an engineer, before being called up and serving away for six years. Lincolnshire was home to 42 aerodromes and bomber command, and when the blitz began in Northern towns, planes could be heard overhead daily and night raids were frequent. At first, Ann used to sit under the stairs in the centre of the house, with her mother and brother, but soon they remained in bed during raids. The teachers at her school were not so casual, and for weeks along with her classmates, Ann spent an hour or two every day in the school air raid shelters as the bombers went overhead. They were dark and smelly with only a hessian cloth in front of the sanitary buckets. When Ann’s father was relocated the family moved to a small mining village near Gateshead, among abject poverty.
As well as a detailed knowledge of all aspects of daily life during the war years, Ann experienced first hand the divide between rich and poor. Wealthy families often had the means to leave the cities to spend the nights in the relative safety of the countryside (known as Trekking). This wasn’t an option for the working classes and many had to endure appalling conditions in make-shift shelters. In London nearly 15,000 people used the Tilbury shelter, an old warehouse, near Liverpool Street station. Queues formed and the police had to control the crowds when it opened at 4pm. With two water taps and no toilets, the squalor can be imagined.
Watch Ann as she describes the Make Do & Mend scheme and how it affected families.