Win Walder's Story
Many thanks for the email, and the information. I may be one of the oldest
members of the group, as I was a temporary secondment clerk to the LCC for 6
months to help with the logistics of sending all you evacuees to your various
temporary homes. I was 17 years old at the time and from there I took a job
as telephonist - clerk for a firm of Carbon Paper and Typewriter ribbon
manufacturers in The Borough, London. I remember very clearly the fire of
London, when Jerry flooded the city with incendiary bombs. On that morning, I
was travelling to work accompanied by my older cousin who had been called up
and was reporting for duty. I walked along Borough High Street from London
Bridge Station, only to find burnt ruins and everything cordoned off. I had to
get permission to go to my office. The staff and I dug through the ashes
trying to rescue what records we could (which were very few). We all reeked of
smoke for days; it seemed to get into your pores. The business had to
transfer to a house in Brixton, which was all we could get at the time. From
there, at the age of 18 I joined the Land Army with a friend and we were sent
to a place called Sempringham, about 12 miles from Sleaford and 12 miles from
Spalding, in Lincolnshire. The most interesting thing about Sempringham was
the 12th Century Norman Church (or its remains) was still standing, sans roof
but still holding church services and the farmer whom I was billeted with was
a bell ringer at said church. It was lovely in Summer but b------y cold in
Thanks for all the emails, and your wonderful memories of taking off for the
unknown at such tender ages. Being a little older, I missed that trauma, although
I felt for you all when I watched Pathe News at the cinema where you were
all "front page news" so to speak.
By the way Gerry, a seconded clerk was nothing special. By this stage you couldn't
take jobs just anywhere, but were directed wherever the Government thought you
could be useful, so I was "seconded" to the L.C.C. for as long as it took to get all
you 'kiddywinks' sent to safety.
As for Guy Fawkes Day, I used to make a "guy," put it into a doll's pram and paraded
the local streets soliciting coppers to buy fireworks with. We used to have parties with
friends rounding off the evening with hot roasted chestnuts and steaming cups of cocoa.
In N.Z. when my children were young, we carried on the tradition until it was banned.
I remember one night we'd gone to friends whose next door neighbors kept chickens.
The noise of the bangers and rockets upset the chooks so much they didn't lay
for ten days, poor things.
Hi Steve and gang,
You brought back memories for me of the early air raids we used to get, when Jerry
was dropping landmines, one of which dropped opposite where I was living, in
Sydenham. The saddest part was that it was a direct hit on the Anderson
shelter where three families were, and their houses got only minor damage,
as did our house, with bathroom tap coming through the roof and landing on
a bed, which no-one was using at the time. My father had a land mine drop on
his shop, which was behind Liverpool Street Station. He lost his business and
finished up "Roof Spotting" in the City. Another of the unsung heroes.
I was 18 when I joined the Woman's Land Army with a friend, the uniform was quite smart, but
working gear was a pair of fawn overalls and army boots, which were as tough
as anything, You used umpteen tins of dubbin to soften them, but still
finished up with feet covered in blisters. I used to pray for rain so that I
could wear my "welly" boots which were much more comfortable.
Yes, we Land girls did live on the fat of the land (and got fat with it).
For the first six months I was billeted on a farm where they still had oil
lamps and the old kitchen range, but what the farmer's wife produced out of
that range oven was unbelievable. The most wonderful home baked bread, pies
etcetera. Served with fresh milk and farm fresh butter churned by Mrs.
Todkill. It was just as well we were physically employed.
The first day's work was setting (planting) potatoes, and at the end of the
day, I couldn't straighten my back. The farmer's sons had to lift me onto
the back of the dray to get me back to the farm. When I got back, the postie
had just arrived, and he asked for a hot flat iron and some thick brown paper
which was placed on my back and I had the pain and stiffness literally
ironed out of me and I was able to stand erect once more. I couldn't believe
how quickly it worked.
When my friend and I arrived at the farm on our first day as land girls,
we were quite naturally very nervous, neither of us having been away
from home, but because we hailed from London, we were considered
"Scarlet Women". What a laugh!
Hi Gerry et al,
Thanks for all the emails, especially hello to Audrey who lives where I
may still have 'rellies'. In fact, I need to trace some of them, but
that's a long story which will get told at a later date. My Grandparents
had a Fruit & Veggie Shop in Hackney Road near Cambridge Heath. It was
opposite a pub whose name I can't recall; neither can I remember the
name of the other road which it was on the corner of. I know it lead to
The last time I saw the shop which was over ten years ago it was a
I used to go shopping with my mother in Mare Street, when I was young
and I had a visit to Hackney Hospital when I shook a pepper pot and got
pepper in my eyes and was taken there to get my eyes washed out. I don't
remember much about the treatment, but I was only an outpatient. I was
also an outpatient at Homerton Hospital with a broken finger. I can
remember what ogres the nurses were in those days.
Can you remember the od "gazunda"? The chamber pot we used to keep under the bed
against such emergencies as being taken short in the middle of the night?
Srangely enough, when we first had a house built in NZ, there was no sewerage ,
and septic tanks werent allowed at that time so we had an outside dunny. This was
in 1950 and it was like going back into the dark ages. My daughter, who was a
toddler at the time, followed me out into the garden one day and managed to push
the outside bolt across, effectively locking me in. I had to stand on the seat and
shout for a neighbour to release me. That was a talking point for months.