Personal Histories of World War Two
Welton in World War II (Memoir 3)
This is a record of an interview with Doris Robbins of Welton.
I was born in Welton and went to school in Welton.
There were about 100 pupils.
You went when you were five and left when you were fourteen.
I was nineteen when the war started.
The village was still not modernised at all.
There were only about 650 people all told.
I can remember helping to do a census when I was still at school.
There were no street lamps, so in the war when the black out came, we missed the lights in the windows, but not the street lamps, because we'd never had any.
Every thing was very short.
Things were rationed.
I can't remember all the details, but our food ration we had so much per person.
As far as I can remember we had 2 oz (two ounces - about 50 grams) butter and 1 oz of poor margarine.
We had 8 oz of sugar.
I can't remember if the amount of egg and meat was rationed by value, not by weight.
Butchers had a very rough time.
It was quite strict.
The black out started before the war was declared, because of foreign planes coming over.
We were all prepared and ready.
We knew it was coming.
It started on the 3rd September 1939 and we had the first air raid warning the same day, but it was a false alarm.
We were relatively safe at Welton, but the aircraft factory at Brough was a target and the river helped them [the enemy pilots].
Most raids came on moonlit lights.
If there were raids on Hull they would just say on the radio there had been air activity in the northeast and that would be Hull.
The planes used to turn above us and then go to bomb Hull.
If they got caught in the searchlights they were reliable to ditch their bombs, so they were lighter and could fly off.
There was one on the hill and if it flashed on the hill you could read a paper.
In the country we were fairly self-sufficient, because most people grew their own vegetables and from the rationing point of view, if you were willing to give you ration book to someone who kept chickens they could have chicken feed and then we reaped our rewards and got more than our two eggs.
There was also a barter system.
Very few people had water or electricity.
Some people had a pump, but there were taps dotted around the village.
I didn't have water in my house, but I managed.
When the war started I wasn't sure what to expect.
I was quite surprised when work went on as normal despite the war.
You never quite knew if the sirens went.
I don't think many people used the shelter.
In Scout Wood there was a small gun site.
There would be roadblocks on the main roads.
There were precautions for invasion.
It must have been very worrying on the south coast when Dunkirk fell.
There were strange things you were not quite sure of.
There were slogans given to us: "Be like dad, keep mum" and "Careless talk costs lives".
In the war married women went to work. I went to work at the butcher's [shop] at Elloughton.
He used to deliver and he said his son wanted to go into the army, so I volunteered to help him when it happened.
That was all a bit strange.
I quite enjoyed it.
We still delivered things.
Work seemed to go on quite normally.
We carried on despite the siren, unless the industrial warning went off at the factory and then we scooted off.
My little girl's grandmother looked after her while I was at work.
There was the land army, for girls it was like going into the services.
The girls drove tractors and got the crops in etc.
We heard the announcement on the radio by the Prime Minister to tell us the war had started.
He came on the radio at 11am, and said they had tried all they could without success and now we were at war.
I don't think any of us knew what to expect.
Those who had lived through the first war had some idea what to expect, but for some of us it was an unknown quantity.
Many from Welton died, and my husband was in the war.
I went to school with Harry Lowson.
He flew and his plane crashed.
He was stationed somewhere near Selby.
Last summer we had a school reunion at Welton school.
One of the chaps who was injured a few days after D-Day is in a home for soldiers who were blinded in Richmond.
His memory's not what it was, because he was badly injured in the head.
He fought in North Africa too, but his career ended then.
I can't think of anyone who is still around who is all right who could speak now.
People have been very bitter about the war.
People did not travel then and people imagined different things about people.
It's very sad.
There was a lot of sadness during the war.
People went away and did not come back.
One man from Welton was on a raft for 51 days.
He's dead now and his wife won't speak about it.
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