War Time Memories 1939-45. By Margaret Gerrard. Nee Blackledge.
I was on holiday with my parents & younger sister when war broke out in 1939, i was 12. I remember Mr Chamberlain speaking on the radio, at the hotel were we stayed. My father helped the people there to put up the black out curtains.
We decided to return home early, we got home to switch on the light, to be told from outside in a stern voice ” switch that light off”. When the bombing started especially of Liverpool, we spent many nights sitting under the stairs, I remember hearing the bombers going over. One night as things had been very quiet of late, my father said we could go to bed upstairs. I was lying there listening to the noise of an aeroplane overhead which seemed to be saying “you you you” then there was a tremendous crash, followed by some more. My father who was an air raid warden came rushing in and made us all get up, and back under the stairs again. Fortunately there were no more bombs that night.
The next day i went into school, at that time i was attending Ormskirk Grammer School. There was a large bomb crater outside the hospital. At Lunch time I visited my aunt who lived in Derby Street, all the glass in the front door & windows was smashed as the blast from the bomb had blown all the windows out. Another large crater was in the yard at Bath Springs Brewery, we heard later than one man had been killed. During the war we had shorter summer school holidays as they wanted to keep children off the streets,We attended school instead, having easy lessons with much reading to us by the teacher.
My father was appointed Deputy Food Officer for West Lancashire, part of his role was dealing with the homeless or those who ‘had been bombed out’ providing food parcesl for them or coupons, he also had a role in animal slaughter ensuring that animals for foods were correctly slaughtered and accounted for. In 1944 I went to teachers training collecg in Cheltenham, a lovely place, but the food was awfull. The classes we taught were very large. On my final teaching practice I had 47 children in class.
Before i left school i had joined the ‘Womans Junior Air Corps’ as we all had to do something for the war effort. I remember doing first aid along with aircraft recognition. I also recall being taken to the airstation at Ringtail in Burscough, we saw planes being repaired and taking off and landing. After the war ended we had a large bonfire at my school, it seemed so strange to see everything so well lit up after the blcakout for five years.
When I returned home, my friends and i attended several dances locally to raise money for those who had been killed in order that they be added to the War Memorial. One of the names was Sgt W E Lowe my second cousin.
Sgt William Ewart Lowe 1479071, aged 22.
429 Sqdn (Royal Canadian Air Force)
Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery. Kia 26.11.1943.
Flying Handley Page Halifax Bombers.
Son of William & May Lowe of Skelmersdale
We were invited to the ceremony for the dedication of those who had fallen in the recent war.
Mrs Leech sister to above. Nee Blackledge.
Seven years younger than her sister her memories are not as vivid obviously, but she does recall having to practise getting under school desks and wearing a piece of rubber between her teeth in the event of bombing & blast. She also recalls having to carry her gas mask everywhere, as did everyone, she liked to listen to Mr Churchill on the radio he always cheered everybody up !
Daughters of Pte 34019 Rendall E Blackledge Loyal North Lancashire Regt.