Beryl: I was born in March …. 1929 …. and I was 10 years old …. when the war broke out …. and I remember it completely and …. as though it was yesterday …. the day that it all happened.

My …. my mother’s younger brothers …. were brought up as my brothers …. because my Grandpa died at a very early age …. and my mother was married and had me as a small child …. and she took the youngest ones of my Granny’s …. because she’d had a stroke.

Charles Clague (left) with his friend Harry Candlish

So, it was like a big family of 5 of us …. and the two boys were both called up. Billy went at 21 …. they were all 21-year olds, were called up …. and put in bell tents in Arrowe Park. Arrowe Park is in Birkenhead …. it is a great big park …. and Charles was in the Territorial Army …. So, he was called up as well …. so, they both went before the War was declared …. and the day, the War was declared …. we were all sitting, listening to the radio …. and my Mother was so worried about the boys …. and they both went, throughout the War.

Chas was …. in the RASC …. which were, of course, the logistics …. and he drove a petrol tanker …. he was a sergeant when he came out of the war …. and Billy drove a tank …. a Churchill tank. They were both in Dunkirk …. and they were both at El Alamein …. they really did …. see the war out …. Now, my brother Charlie [actually her uncle] …. was 6ft 6in …. and he always remembered Dunkirk quite well …. because his head was above water! A thought, he always remembered …. and he came home on the King Orry from Dunkirk …. the Liverpool – Isle of Man boat …. so, he always talked about “The King Orry brought me home ….” But they both had, when I say, “Good Wars ….”, they both came home.

Beryl Walls and her sister Pamela

The War to me …. was excitement …. because …. because we lived in Birkenhead quite close to the docks …. so, of course, whenever there was an air raid …. they aimed right for us. Now …. We always knew when there was going to be a raid was due …. because my father would come peddling home …. and say …. “Get them in the air raid shelter.”

Well, we shared the air raid shelter with next door …. this Mrs Robertson and her brother, Archie …. but they never came in the Anderson shelter …. so, we had it to ourselves …. but when they got a bit heavier, they started coming in …. and we started having whistling bombs …. don’t know whether you recall them though …. they used to come …. [whistling] …. and they’d whistle, and then they’d stop …. Archie, the eld…. the brother used to say “Hush! Hush!” …. and Mrs Robertson used to shout “Duck!” …. so, they were known to us as ‘Hush and Duck’! ….

I mean, they just …. well, they only came in if it was bad …. Now …. we just went to bed in the Anderson shelter, and that was it …. you know, you expected it …. but then one night, my dad came home from work and he said …. “Annie, get the kids down, it going to be a bad night, we’ve got all the purple lights on …. He worked on the Dock Board …. He was an Engineer …. So, my mother collected the eiderdowns off the beds and …. we went down to the Mersey tunnel …. down to, not the Mersey tunnel …. the Mersey Railway tunnel …. Hamilton Square …. and we sat on the floor …. at the platform …. and I can remember the Station Master saying “Come on, come on …. it’s closing down now, you’ll have to go ….” and my Mother saying, “We are not moving out of here …. until this raid is over ….” Well, it went on all night, it was the Blitz ….

And when we came out of the …. Mersey Railway …. we had to walk home, there were no buses or anything …. and when we got home, there was no home …. it had gone …. completely and utterly ….

Now, in that corner of where we lived …. we lived here …. my Grandma lived backing on to us, you could go …. right through the two …. yard doors …. My Granny lived there …. we lived here …. my Auntie lived at …. 2 Aunties lived over the road to my Granny …. and one lived round the corner …. and we were all bombed …. we didn’t have …. a brick, standing anywhere …. it was completely gone …. and the …. people from the Town Hall came round …. and gave a tick…. a name and address …. that we were to be billeted on …. because we had no home …. and we couldn’t …. the dog was missing ….

So, my father …. my father dug down all this debris to find the dog …. and we found the dog …. and he took it over to my Unc…. my Uncle in Wallasey …. and would you believe, he lost it, it run away …. we never found her …. but we were all bombed …. There was …. my Granny, Nell, Auntie Connie …. Auntie Doris …. we were all bombed out in one night …. it was just bricks ….

So, we were given this address where we could be billeted in Upton …. and my father went out to see what it was all about …. and the old woman put her head through the door and she said, “You are not coming my house! …. I am having no evacuees here!” You can go. So, she wouldn’t let us in the house. So, we came back and we had nowhere to go …. so, only the air raid shelter in the back yard …. anyway …. We took ourselves back down to the …. Mersey tunnel …. the Railway tunnel …. and there were hundreds of people there that night …. there was only us the previous night …. there were hundreds of people walking round …. Now, there was, we had no food, we had nothing …. and they opened up what they called ‘British Restaurant’ and they used to send the bus …. and take us down to this British Restaurant …. to get fed …. and then they drive you back …. and you get stood …. by the bricks …. and the soldiers were digging for survivors on the other side of the road ….

Eventually …. one of my father’s friends arrived …. and he said, “I have been looking for you all day ….” He said “Come on …. I am going to take you home ….” and he took us to West Kirby …. Very kind of them, but they had no beds …. so, we slept on the floor …. and every time, we got in a bath …. you came out as black as you went in …. it was engrimed in it!

We were there for about 6 to 8 months …. it was …. there was no bombing there at all at West Kirby …. but …. eventually, we eventually got a bungalow in Gronant …. in Wales …. and we went there, and it was down …. it was a cabin, you know …. a Summer …. thing that we were living in …. and …. on the sand hills …. and every night, the soldiers used to come …. and light big bonfires on the beach …. to guide the …. planes in …. and they used to come along the coast and up the Dee, or the Mersey ….

Well, we were there for about 6 months, and we came back to Birkenhead …. because my father didn’t like all the travelling to work and back every day …. So, we came back to Birkenhead …. it was …. I can’t say it was exciting, but of course it was to us as children ….

I …. I can remember rushing out of the …. shelter every morning, going looking for shrapnel …. bits of shrapnel in the street …. and at night …. when the raids started …. there’d be …. guns, dragged along …. by lorries and parked at the end of the road, and ….

You know …. we were so near the docks …. we were going to get it, anyway …. and then they got …. Tate & Lyle’s sugar factory …. so, went “dooooom”, you know …. still, they had lights everywhere for …. it lit the whole …. Liverpool and Birkenhead up …. and then they got a land mine …. right on top of the gasometer …. so, that went up …. and we were living amongst it all, you know ….

We had nowhere else to go …. and then my father …. we got a house in Claughton village which was just outside …. of the main part of Birkenhead …. and then we got two …. a bomb on the two houses next door to us …. it just seemed to follow us about …. but to us as children, it was excitement ….

I can remember …. lots of things happening …. we never …. you never went to bed …. you went to the air raid shelter …. But, we eventually got this house, the last house, we got in Haldane Avenue …. in Claughton village …. and so, we were all right, we had a house …. no furniture, but we had a house …. and then you got utility tickets and you were able to buy second hand furniture ….

But …. everything happened in that house …. we had lots of …. lots of happenings …. But we had a huge …. air raid shelter …. in the front room …. and it was made of iron …. it was like a great big table …. and you climbed underneath it, and it was all wire …. and you put these wire cages …. round it …. My mother wouldn’t get in it …. so that was taken out and they built us an air raid shelter …. in the back garden ….

Now …. everything happened …. the lads were away …. both in Dunkirk, both in El Alamein …. and …. well, we just mucked in, kind of thing …. everybody just …. and then my mother got another house …. for my granny and her sister …. and then another sister got a house round the corner …. so, we were all back together in Claughton village …. which was ….

My mother and her sisters were as thick as …. you know …. kick one and they all fell over!

But, the lads used to come home on leave …. but they came home on leave …. and there was no house, they went back to the old house and there was nothing there …. and they went round looking for everybody because there was so many of us …. so many uncles and aunts …. and we had all gone together in one night ….

It was a funny old world …. the rationing was bad …. we registered with the Coop …. and the first man on the bacon counter …. my father always said he was the first man on the bacon slicer …. he got made a manager …. in a tatty old Coop shop, down in the town …. and he said to my mother, “Can I take your ration books with me?”

So, our ration books went down the town to a …. a tatty old Coop down Birkenhead …. and he used to send us the order …. with the bread man …. so, the bread man used to …. come up past us and he’d bring the order …. but we could never put an order in …. we had to rely on what …. they would send us …. so, we didn’t do bad …. you know …. we didn’t do bad …. because he was in a tatty shop …. the people didn’t want the butter, they wanted margarine down there ….

So, sometimes you’d get a bit extra butter and …. so, we were all right during the war ….

My mother used to bake …. my mother could bake anything …. and we had …. I reckon when I think about it now …. that the food we got in those days …. did us far more good …. than the food we are getting …. because …. we’ve lived a long time …. and all the others all died in their 50s and 60s …. and I am 88 …. and I feel still good and strong …. well, I hope so ….

00:13:02

Sally Probert (daughter): What was school like?

Beryl: Pardon?

Sally: What was school like?

Beryl: School was …. not bombed …. my school wasn’t bombed …. but the Catholic school over the road was bombed …. So, we used to do a day each …. one week, we’d have Monday, Wednesday and Friday …. and the next week …. you’d have Tuesday and Thursday …. because we had to share it with the …. Catholic school over the road …. They had nothing …. and then eventually …. we got 2 days a week, and then you got 3 days a week …. and eventually, they put …. cabins up and …. and the Catholic girls went over there …. back to their old school …. but they were cabins ….

Now, during the war …. if you were in school and the air raid siren went …. you had to grab your gas mask …. and your notebook, and your reading book …. and you go and sit in the corridors ….

Now the corridors, when I think about it, was such a silly place …. because as you went along the corridors …. the classrooms were on either side …. and they were only half brick, and the rest was glass …. and we were sitting in the corridor …. but worse than that …. the corridor used to have a big …. sort of metal grill …. that ran along the corridor …. for heating ….

We used to have to go and sit in that corridor …. with your brace of books, and you’d have mental arithmetic and all this sort of thing …. We were sitting on top of the boilers! When you think about it, it was ludicrous …. but we sat amongst the boilers.

School was …. Well, it was all right, I don’t reckon to have had education …. I reckon I had more education when I left school …. than I did, ever at school …. because the teachers had been called up and …. we had old ladies …. But they were happy days …. it was happy days ….

My mother wouldn’t allow us to be evacuated …. because you had to stand in a hall when you were evacuated …. and the people that were going to have you …. would come and choose one …. and my mother wouldn’t have that …. so, we were …. went …. to Gronant …. and my mother came with us …. and she took …. a bungalow there …. but my father objected to all the travelling …. so, we came back to Birkenhead …. just in time …. to next doors to be bombed out …. but it was only a bomb, it wasn’t a land mine …. because they were land mines that were dropped on us …. they just exploded and …. one exploded, as I tell you, in the gasometer …. and that was a …. tremendous fire.

Uncle Vic used to come home …. he was on …. he was on the Duchess of Richmond …. a Merchant Seaman …. he’d been a sailor before the war …. and he went back in the Merchant Navy …. and he used to come home …. with a tea …. tea …. [tea case] …. a cardboard …. a wooden box …. and it was full of goodies …. tomato ketchup …. and tins of …. tins of meat, and …. he’d bring …. all his wages were spent on food to bring home …. and he was on the Duchess of Richmond all through the war …. and he wouldn’t take a leave …. he never took any leave …. because you didn’t go back on the same ship …. and he didn’t want to leave …. he was bosun on the Duchess …. Now, he used to come into Liverpool …. and my mother used to go across to Liverpool …. to collect his allowance …. because his wife and his mother’s sister worked in the Coop ….

So, my mother used to go and get the …. his wages …. and she used to always go to the same little man who used to give her the money …. and he’d say, “You are going sailing on Friday night, aren’t you?” and my mother would say “Yes”. Because that was him telling us …. that the Duchess was coming in on Friday night …. and so, we used to take the ferry …. to Liverpool to New Brighton …. up and down we’d go …. and eventually you’d see the Duchess coming in …. and my Uncle Vic waving a broom …. you know …. and then, but he never took leave …. because you didn’t go back on the same boat …. You know, you could be put on a coaster …. you know, you could be put on anything …. so, he never took leave …. because he was in Liverpool anyway …. you know …. but he used to bring us the most wonderful boxes …. tea chests …. with …. and a big hand of bananas …. you know, we couldn’t get a banana …. unless you had a Green Book ….

Now Green Books were for children under the age of five …. and if they had any bananas, they went to them …. But my Uncle Vic would bring you a big hand …. green bananas …. he was a wonderful person …. But he sailed on the Duchess of Richmond …. right throughout the war …. and she came home as good as gold …. but one night, after the war …. Uncle Vic came knocking on our front door …. and he said to my husband …. “Tony, can you take me to Liverpool?” and Tony said “Yes ….” because we had a car …. So, he took him to Liverpool …. and Uncle Vic stood on the docks and cried …. the Duchess of Richmond was on fire …. But they changed her name after the war …. they changed her name to ‘The Empress of Britain’. [Records suggest the new name was Empress of Canada] but she’s the old Duchess …. but she went on fire in Gladstone Dock …. and my Uncle Vic just stood on the quay …. and he was a big sailor man, you understand? But, he sailed on her all throughout the war …. and he was just upset ….

We had no clothes left, of course …. we only had what we’d gone down to the tunnel in …. which was a homemade pair of trousers that my mother had made …. and a jumper, and you had nothing else …. so …. you had no more clothes, they were all gone ….

Eventually, they gave us extra …. coupons, clothing coupons …. and we were able to buy a bit of a school uniform to go back to school …. but I was only 13 when I left school …. I was nearly 14 …. and you were allowed to leave …. in that area …. So, I left school at just on …. not quite 14 …. but I went to a commercial college …. and I went to work in an office …. Truman’s Brewery …. and …. do you know Truman’s Beer? Truman, Hanbury, Buxton ….

Michael: Indeed, yes ….

Beryl: Well, I went to work for them …. and the dockers had gone on strike because there was no beer …. and they came hammering, hammer …. on the doors, and there were …. you know, in the office …. because the dockers were complaining there was no beer anywhere …. so …. yes, that was fun …. and I left there, and I went to work in Littlewoods …. the pools people …. now Birkenhead had no work for women …. until Littlewoods came …. there were factories in other towns …. cotton mills and things …. but we had nothing for women in Birkenhead …. and once you were married, you had to leave …. you didn’t employ married women …. but during the war, of course, they did …. and I went to work for Trumans …. but my wages were appalling …. absolutely appalling …. so, I left there and went to Littlewoods …. Littlewood Pools …. and it was an amazing jump in my money …. but …. we managed, my mother took all your money off you anyway!

[Laughing] You didn’t get any …. she took your packet! And gave you a few shillings ….

00:20:58

Sally: During the war, Auntie Lilly got married ….

Beryl: Oh, don’t tell them that!

Sally: Go on, tell us about the wedding …. What did you do, because there was nothing for a wedding ….

Beryl: There was nowhere to go, you couldn’t get anything, you know …. but my mother was very well in with …. quite a few of the …. Anyway …. my mother had to call in a few …. so, the wedding was at our house …. so, she borrowed a couple of trestle tables …. from the church …. and …. and she called in a few favours …. So, the Coop man …. manager gave her a big tin of ox tongue, you know …. a big tin of ox tongue …. and she got a big piece of ham …. from the …. from the butcher man ….

We did very well …. but there was no cakes …. but my Uncle Fred …. worked at the Coop bakery …. so, he brought us …. a cake he’d made …. just an ordinary …. current bun thing …. anyway …. they made …. a cardboard box …. that went over the cake …. decorated, do you understand?

Michael: Yes ….

Beryl: So, we had this wedding at our house …. So, we had, like, we’d done very well …. and my Uncle Fred, working in the bakehouse …. also brought us …. I can remember it well, a big wooden tray …. with ‘fancies’ on it …. Fancies …. for the wedding …. So, we did all right …. for the wedding, we had salad and stuff and all that ….

But Wilf’s mother …. Wilf’s …. the fellow Lily was marrying …. had been called up and was being put in the Navy …. and he’d been out in the Mediterranean for 2 years …. I mean, he had a rotten war, Wilf …. because he was on minesweepers …. escorting …. convoys into Malta …. and he’d been in the Mediterranean for 2 years ….

So, of course, the minute he got home …. he wanted to get married …. so, he and Lily got married …. but they had the reception at our house …. because there was no places to have receptions …. But my mother called in all these favours, and had …. here was the thing …. but Wilf lived in Wallasey ….

Now, somehow, his mother had thought …. that we lived just the other side of the docks …. Well, we didn’t by this time because we’d been bombed out …. and we’d moved out to Claughton village …. So, they …. she decided and a couple of their neighbours …. would come to the wedding, and they’d walk ….

Well, they walked all the way from Seacombe …. to our house in Claughton village …. and this poor old woman …. Ahhh, I shouldn’t tell you this [Laughing] …. I really shouldn’t tell you this …. This poor old woman, she was a big fat woman, and she’d walked …. and they didn’t realise how far it was, but they …. they arrived …. and this poor old fat woman was in absolute agony …. and then they found out what the trouble was …. she’d wiped her bot…. Well, you didn’t have toilet paper, you couldn’t get toilet paper …. and she must have used a magazine …. paper out of a magazine …. and she was in absolute agony …. and when she got to the bathroom, she found …. she’d got a staple …. a staple off the magazine up her backside! Poor bugger had walked all the way from Seacombe ….

It is something that lives in your memory forever …. this …. well it would, wouldn’t it? …. It would …. Yes, oh dear me, I shouldn’t say that, I shouldn’t have told you that …. poor woman, so happy, she could almost dance when she ….

Anyway, we had plenty to eat, it was a big wedding, it was quite a big wedding, you know …. but that was one of the incidents in the War …. and we had a couple of sheets …. as table cloths …. we had no big table cloths …. we hadn’t any table cloths …. but we had some sheets …. and so, they were …. the table cloth …. and we had this ox tongue and salad …. and the cake with the cardboard box on it ….

Michael: Not the sort of wedding you will forget in a hurry, by the sounds of things ….

Beryl: No, it wasn’t …. you’d never forget it …. You really wouldn’t forget it ….

Michael: You …. I mean, you have just told a very funny story …. Are there any sad stories that ought to be mentioned, do you think?

Beryl: Well, the sad story was …. the whole area was bombed, we lived in …. there were no houses …. left …. There was just rubble …. everywhere …. street after street after street …. but you must remember …. we lived quite close on the docks …. Not too near …. but …. we lived near the docks …. and there was nothing left …. but there were 22 people killed in our road ….

I mean, that was terrible …. but in the corner house …. there was the Campbells lived …. and there were 2 girls and 2 boys …. The 2 girls were much, much older than the 2 boys …. and they’d had …. the 2 elder daughters …. had dates with RAF …. blokes, because they were stationed not far …. and they …. the 4 of them had gone to the pictures …. but the fire sirens went and they came out …. Eileen and Vera …. and they …. decided, they had these 2 RAF boys with them …. that they’d shelter, so they got in these …. brick shelters that were built in the corner of roads, you know …. and one got in, “No, no, I’m getting ill, I’m going home ….” So, Vera and this RAF boy who was with her …. and Eileen stayed behind and stayed in this air raid shelter …. but she, Vera, ran for it …. and the lad with her …. and they got home …. and they got in the air raid …. the brick air raid shelter in their mother’s …. yard …. and she was killed …. the bomb came, well, they were land mines …. and she and the boy were killed ….

Michael: Oh, dear ….

Beryl: It was sad …. it was awful …. My friend …. Maureen Conway …. she was killed …. together with her mother and father …. The Germans bombed our Chippy ….

Michael: That’s disastrous!

Beryl: It was …. you heard the story of …. what was his name, was it John Bishop who told the story …. The Germans …. yea …. Well, on the corner, just round the corner was the Chippy …. the Sherlocks lived there …. Mr and Mrs Sherlock and their son and daughter …. and of course, …. they’d had the fires going in the …. but they’d all …. gone under their stairs …. Well, of course, this land mine came …. and the Sherlocks were killed outright …. amongst the 22 that was killed there …. so, there …. truly, truly …. there was nothing, nothing left ….

Still going for the bombs …. still going for the docks, obviously …. but they missed, and they got us …. the whole area was completely bombed ….

00:28:23

You know, you accepted it …. it wasn’t …. “Oooooh, they’ve dropped a bomb ….” No, no, it was just accepted …. as part and parcel of your life …. and I went to school, we went to school …. oh, I had the most awful gym slip …. you could imagine, no pleats in, it was awful ….

The clothing was awful because we had nothing …. if you had something old that you …. in your wardrobe, you could alter them …. but we had nothing to alter …. you understand, there was nothing there …. and then, my mother got …. we were given tickets …. coupons …. utility coupons …. and you could buy furniture with them ….

And utility furniture had …. 2 little half-moons …. have you ever seen them?

Michael: Yes, I have, yes ….

Beryl: Yes …. well, what furniture we got …. had the half-moons on …. utility furniture …. well, it was better than nothing ….

Sally: What did you do as a teenager during the war as you wouldn’t have had many clothes?

Beryl: We had none ….

Sally: So, what did you do if you were going out, or anything?

Beryl: You just wore your gym slip, that’s all you had …. you didn’t have any clothes …. I had the trousers that my mother had made …. and …. the top she had made for the Blitz …. for the air raid shelter …. and she’d got these extra coupons because we had been bombed out …. and she’d got a bit of a school uniform together for me …. a gym slip with hardly any pleats in it ….

Gym slips had deep pleats, but mine didn’t …. you sat it out …. and …. and you wore that nearly all the time …. you had no other clothes …. I had no other clothes …. and then …. they had this …. place you could go down to, and it was all second hand …. clothes …. and you could buy that, if you were bombed out …. if you had the ticket …. you could buy bits there, but they were ….

Well, people weren’t going to give their clothes up, were they? They’d have nothing, either …. They must have been very wealthy that gave up their clothes …. but we got second hand bits …. [Laughing] My knickers …. Oh God! …. I had 2 pair of knickers, navy blue …. and so you had to wash one …. every night, you’d wash a pair of knickers …. [Laughing] …. Yes …. And my blouse that I had was Tussar silk …. it was very beautiful silk …. before the War …. But it all had holes under the arms …. and we had nothing to patch them with, you see …. Oh God! Yes, the clothing was pretty rough …. and I had …. a jacket …. with a zip up which the Americans had sent over …. the Americans sent bundles of clothing over …. and they were issued out to the Churches …. so, the Deaconess …. Miss Barclay …. in our church …. she issued it, it was all issued from there …. and if you were her favourite, you got some good stuff …. if you weren’t her favourite, no!

And she …. I wasn’t the favourite because my Dad was the treasurer of the Church and she was the Deaconess …. and she was always asking for things and my Dad would say “Can’t afford it, can’t have that!” So, she didn’t like us …. so, we didn’t get very much off her …. but …. clothing was just …. it was washed and put on, you know …. you didn’t have anything …. and I made a nightie at school, it was my sewing thing …. I only had the one nightie ….

God, it used to be washed and put on quick! …. This nightie I had made in school ….

Sally: Yea, what about your Aunties …. what did they do ….

Beryl: Ah, yes, they were different …. now, Emma …. my Auntie Emma …. she worked at Littlewoods before the War …. and they were kept on, and they made …. It was all …. the desks and everything were all …. hundreds of girls worked there, you know …. and they were all taken away …. and sewing machines were brought in …. and they made …. balloons …. barrages …. and parachutes …. and she was an inspector …. so, she had big rubber things on her knees …. and a magnifying glass …. and they used to crawl over these …. to check the sewing, because …. people’s lives were at risk.

And the parachute material was lovely. Sometimes …. if it made a mess …. for a parachute, they’d let the girls buy it …. and so, we used to make underwear with lovely silk …. It was lovely silk …. We didn’t get that very often …. but she worked there …. but they were given a pint of milk a day to drink …. because the balloon barrage material …. was …. like rubbery stuff on silk …. but it was like a powder all over it …. So, it must have been …. I don’t know what it was …. but they were all made to drink a pint of milk a day ….

So, it must have been …. That must have been pretty rough, whatever it was …. but she worked there through the War ….

Now, my mother didn’t have to work because …. she had us as children …. you know …. Well, I was older than Pam ….

Sally: What did Lilly do?

Beryl: Well, Lilly worked …. she had to do …. she had no children …. She had to do War work …. and she worked in a funny little place in Neston …. which she had to get to every morning …. and what …. they made there …. was on big ‘berrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’ machines, wooden …. You know way …. it’s all wood …. and the wood, they got …. was off American ships …. because they used to use them, coming in …. with ballast …. and the tatty woods used to be collected …. and taken out to this factory …. where the girls made these ammunition boxes and things ….

And at the end of the War …. she was the only one with all her fingers …. the only girl in that factory …. with all her fingers …. They had big …. [demonstrating] saws, you know …. and there was all kind of horrible flies on this …. tatty wood that used to come in …. and she was bit, right in her eye here [pointing] …. She had a big eye pad …. and, I don’t really remember …. the violet ointment, they used to have …. the violet coloured …. Do you remember? You wouldn’t remember?

Michael: No, I don’t remember ….

Beryl: But this blooming purple ointment …. People had scabies …. because that was …. a lot of people had scabies …. and used to have to go down to this place …. at the swimming baths …. in a room at the side …. and you got this purple stuff put on …. It wouldn’t wear off ….

Michael: It was called Bonney’s blue, was it?

Beryl: I don’t know, no, it didn’t have a name …. it was just a purple ointment ….

Michael: Ok, there was something called Bonney’s blue that I remember as a lad ….

Beryl: Well, that would be it …. but it was purple …. and it hung all over the fingers where the scabies was …. and my husband …. which was of course after the War, he was in the RAF …. and he’d got diesel on his ears …. and he came home …. with all his ears purple …. and he had a forage cap, you know …. a forage cap …. and he came home and all his ears were purple …. I had gone to meet him at the train station …. He had this forage cap and big purple ears …. but there you go …. everybody had purple on their hands …. I didn’t …. But they had scabies …. it was very rife …. very rife ….

Sally: Where did you get your meat from in the War?

Beryl: We got it from Bob the butcher ….

Sally: What about the extra?

Beryl: Well, my mother used to give him 10/- a week …. you always slipped Bob 10/- …. and we always got extra meat …. we did very well for meat …. yes, and sausages and things ….

Sally: What about the rabbits?

Beryl: Oh well …. our houses were terraced houses …. 3 bedroomed terraced houses …. and they had big, big, big, big entries …. the way that people could get through and …. horse and carts could get through …. and there used to be …. a horse and trap …. you know a …. like a …. people go to a flat in it …. but they were from Hoylake, these people …. and they used to collect …. goan fish …. with these …. carts …. they’d take them out to sea …. and they’d get flukes …. dabs …. plaice, actually …. and they’d come up the back-entry shouting …. “Flukes! Flukes!” They all shouted it like that. “Flukes!” ….

And you’d go rushing out …. with a big big plate or something …. and you’d get a bucket, a …. bucket …. You’d get a bucket of fish for half a crown …. oh we …. you had to suck the bones, they were lovely …. Really a treat when the …. the fluke men came …. the “flu…ick”, “flu…ick” ….

But further down our road …. old Mr Cartright lived …. and Mrs Cartright, they were getting on …. and he kept rabbits …. and he had all these rabbit hutches …. against the yard wall …. loads of rabbits in them …. and he’d say …. “Do you fancy a bit of meat, Annie?” My mother would say “Oh yes, Mr Cartright ….” And Mr Cartright used to come down the back entry …. with a couple of rabbits …. and we used to have rabbit pie …. oh, it was gorgeous! But Mr Cartright kept us …. “Now all right, Annie …. I’ll see you later ….” and he’d come down with a couple of rabbits ….

The things you did during the War, I mean it was amazing really …. you know …. you just accepted it ….

Now, there was another thing, my mother …. knew a girl in Wallasey …. whose husband …. used to go delivering stuff to farms …. and she always had a dozen eggs to sell ….10/-, you paid for a dozen eggs …. I mean, that was …. a lot of money …. a dozen eggs, but my father …. used to work night and day on the docks, keeping the docks going, keeping the docks going …. and …. he had a bad tummy …. so, most of these eggs went to my father whipped up with some milk …. you know …. and …. and I used to have to go to this woman’s house in Wallasey, on my bike …. on my bike ….

Actually, it was my father’s bike …. I never had one of my own …. and collect these dozen eggs …. my God, I had to be careful …. coming across the railway lines …. you know …. in case they dropped …. in case I got the wheels in the railway lines …. and pedal home with these damned eggs for my Dad …. at 10/- a dozen …. but still, we got them ….

My mother would pay anything for …. my father …. he worked very funny hours, he worked …. If there was a raid on, he didn’t ever get …. he didn’t get home until …. you know …. because they were keeping …. He worked mostly in the Birkenhead Tower …. because underneath the tower …. were the boilers ….

Now, they just got new boilers in …. before the War …. from Belgium …. and the damned things broke down …. time and time and time again …. but they couldn’t get the spare parts, because it was Belgium …. So, he was there, most of the War …. repairing these damned boilers ….

It was a big thing …. there was a phone call, “I have got to get down there, the boilers have broken …. ” Well, the boilers used to keep the water in the docks …. because Birkenhead, of course, is a tributary of the …. Mersey …. you know what I mean ….

Michael: Yes, that’s right ….

Beryl: We came up …. Well, you spent most of his War …. keeping them damned boilers going …. because they kept the water in the docks …. We didn’t see him an awful lot during the War …. but he had this bad tummy, he had ulcers …. so, all these eggs used to be for my Dad …. you know? But we did all right in the War, my mother was a …. real black marketer was in the …. she was shocking ….

And Burt, the fellow that worked at the Coop …. he’d ring her up and say “I’ve moved to so and so, I have taken your books to the Food Office, so you are now …. I’d be rationed, we’d be rationed somewhere else …. but he always sent us the order …. and sometimes there would be a 56lb box of butter …. or sugar …. so, my mother’s family, they were all there, you know? Oh, she was a shocker, my mother ….

We didn’t go short of much …. really, but we had no …. we didn’t have a house of the furniture, we had …. it had all gone, and all our lovely China and stuff …. you know, my Granny Walls was me …. Dad’s mother’s …. It was lovely Derby, Crown Derby China and stuff …. that all went …. it had all gone …. We didn’t have very much to start with at all …. but we managed …. we managed and that was it ….

00:42:08

Michael: What do you remember about the end of the War …. VE Day came along ….

Beryl: The dancing …. Well, I was 16, 17 then …. and my friend Doreen Grey …. we were given permission …. to go down to the Square …. but we ignored it, the Birkenhead, we went down to the big square …. Hamilton Square …. down by the Town Hall …. and there’s a big …. gardens in front of it …. and everybody was dancing on it …. and somebody, I don’t know who …. had rigged up this …. radio, this …. music, and we were all dancing, you know?

My Mother and Dad didn’t know where we were …. because we used to have to walk down there because …. we weren’t allowed there …. But Doreen Grey and I used to go down there …. now her …. her father had a Ford …. the Ford Escort [probably Ford Anglia] …. and it was at the bottom of the garden, their garage was at the bottom of their garden …. and …. he couldn’t, he couldn’t use it because he had, he had no petrol …. if you weren’t in a war work or anything …. you didn’t get coupons for petrol …. so, the damn thing, the tyres …. all went to jelly …. you know ….

But we used to …. he …. he was a wide boy …. Doreen’s father …. a ran a football …. coupon thing …. and you had to count them …. in 50s …. and these men used to come and he’d give them …. the tickets and they’d bring the money back and all that jazz ….

Nothing to do with us …. but Doreen and I used to count the coupons on a Monday …. and he’d give us a couple of bob …. and we’d go to the pictures …. now, we always used their back door down to the bottom of the garden …. and they had the greenhouse …. and they grew grapes in it …. so, every time we went to the pictures …. we’d swipe a bunch of grapes! A bunch of grapes …. to go to the pictures with! Because …. I never …. we never …. my mother ….

I don’t know what happened, we never got any sweet coupons at home …. she …. you could swap the sweet coupons for sugar …. and she used to swap her sweet coupons for sugar …. and …. she was terrible …. and I …. my brothers were both in the army as I told you …. they were like, brought up as my brothers …. One was …. they were in Dunkirk and they were in El Alamein …. Chas drove a petrol tanker …. but he followed the tanks …. and …. Billy drove a Churchill tank …. and …. he used to always say “Our Charlie’s not in the War, he only follows it!” Because the petrol bowser used to follow the …. because the tanks couldn’t come back to be filled. He used to follow them in. But they both came come …. and they were in Dunkirk and they were in El Alamein.

They had a busy War, both of them …. but they all came home …. and my Uncle Vic came home from the Merchant Navy …. Now …. our Nell’s husband, Jimmy [James Douglas Candlish], he was in the Medical Corps …. and he was entrusted, it was in Crete …. and he was entrusted with some very special papers …. to give to General Driberg …. and they were in the caves in Crete …. and eventually they were taken off by submarine …. to Egypt …. and he was mentioned in dispatches, you know, he had a little Oak Leaf …. and then he was a Sergeant in the …. but they couldn’t increase his thing in the Medical Corps ….

James Candlish married Beryl's Aunt Nell, her mother's sister

So, he turned over to the Engineers …. and went to OCTU [Officer Cadets Training Unit] …. and he was the only …. man who had gone to a normal school …. an Elementary School …. all the other fellows on the course had gone to Public School, you know …. and Jimmy came out the highest …. he came out the highest in the class …. But he was eventually made a Major …. but he had to transfer from the Medical Corps and he went as an Engineer …. And his troop, when he came out of the OCTU as an officer …. he had all Liverpool dockers. They were all …. you can imagine what they were like, can’t you?

Michael: Yes ….

Beryl: Yes, so they were in …. the first day, June 6th, was it? He went in 6 minutes after the first ones …. and they were taking …. equipment in …. because it was no use being there, if he didn’t have …. so, Jimmy’s …. Liverpool dockers …. went in 6 minutes after the first lot …. and took supplies in.

They were all Liverpool dockers …. he had a terrible time with them …. and one day, they were put on parade for the Queen …. the King and Queen were coming …. They chose his gang because they’d been in …. jankers that many times, they could march!

Yes, so, Jimmy’s gang of Liverpool dockers were on parade …. marching …. because …. because they were naughty boys! Yes, he loved them …. he did, they were all …. really hard cases …. but they were loyal.

Now, he was in Egypt …. after the War …. they were bringing in the …. old tanks and things out from the desert …. and …. but they had a load of Arabs working for them …. helping get this war stuff …. back in …. and …. but they would go anywhere to go to the loo …. they didn’t care where they went …. they wouldn’t go anywhere twice …. they always went …. so, he had a load of problems with this, did Jimmy …. and so …. he got his lads to make …. a big round wooden thing …. on a spindle …. and it went round and round …. and the Arabs had to go on there …. because they didn’t know where it had been before ….

So, that was his effort for the War, yes …. they all …. we all survived it and we all …. lived happy lives …..

00:48:30

I’ll tell you what my mother used to have …. my mother, if we were really pushed, were really pushed …. for food …. We’d get salt fish …. do you know what salt fish is? Yes, well she had three flat …. salt fish …. hanging on a hook …. in the entrance of the …. to the air raid shelter …. So, if we got …. if she was short of …. nothing, if you had nothing to give us for dinner …. we’d have a …. a salt fish …. and we all loved it, I mean, you know …. there was no doing us any harm …. but my mother, as soon as she used one …. she’d go, you could buy that …. get another one, but it on the back of a hook …. so, the top one in the hook, you went …. I mean …. the things, they did to make us …. I can remember whipping, whipping, whipping, whipping …. she used to make beautiful cakes but she wanted cream ….

Well, if you get evaporated milk …. and, you’d have to whip it …. my God, for hours you’d whip it and it’d go thick …. and she’d put it in the cake …. but …. she’d just go in the kitchen and whip you a cake up, no problem ….

But when you think about what we did eat …. it didn’t do us any harm …. I mean, you just couldn’t go out and buy …. You could queue for hours for ordinary fish …. but you could buy salt fish …. and we liked it …. So, some days, we would have salt fish …. with mashed potatoes …. It were a treat, you know, my sister and I never objected to it …. but ….

It is amazing what they did …. in the food line …. what they made …. you know …. they’d got bit of …. at the butcher, like …. You know the fat they’d cut off meat …. well, he’d give her a package …. buy it …. and you’d render it down slowly in the in the oven …. and she’d get the grea…. you know the fat from it …. it was amazing really …. the food …. never bothered us …. we always had something …. and I do think, it stood us in good stead.

There was not …. of course, you weren’t allowed bananas or …. or oranges, or things like that …. but if you had a green book …. and there were bananas in …. you should get 2 bananas …. for a child under 5 …. but the others never got any …. but my Uncle Vic …. Merchant Navy, used to bring a big hand of bananas home, he’d buy them …. positively green …. and by the time he got home …. they were beginning to ripen ….

Beryl, aged about 18

The War, I reckon …. the War did us good in many ways …. that we weren’t allowed much sugar …. and you had a sweet ration …. and then you had a bread ration …. you had to take …. and then you had at the back of the ration book …. there were …. strips …. and they were for tinned food …. if you got a tin of Corned Beef, oh my God, if you got a tin of Corned Beef …. it did you a couple of meals …. what they do with it, you know? Corned Beef hash …. things like that …. we didn’t do badly ….

Michael: Tell us a little bit about …. after the War, just to sort of ….

Beryl: After the War ….

Michael: Yes, I mean, you were 16 or thereabouts when the War finished ….

Beryl: Yes, and I worked at Trumans ….

Michael: Yes ….

Beryl: And the docks …. and the dockers went on strike as there was no beer …. and so, we had to lock ourselves all in the office, all doors had to be locked …. because they were hammering on the doors …. for beer …. Yes, I worked at Trumans for quite a long time …. but the wages were appalling …. and the typewriter …. haaa …. my God, the typewriter, I had …. it was …. I think it must have been pre- the First World War …. it came in from the side …. You know what I mean …. the …. the …. and it came in from the side ….

00:52:41

I mean …. I ask you ….

Michael: Where did you meet your husband?

Beryl: Well, I knew, I knew my husband …. when we were young …. I used to go to music lessons, not that it did me any good, it didn’t …. but it was next door to where Tony lived …. and, on a Saturday morning, we would have to go for Theory …. and we weren’t allowed to …. have a sweetie …. until the boy next door came in …. and he had to hand the sweeties round …. it was Tony …. next door …. and I would think “Oh God, here he is ….” He was a right …. but I knew him …. and then, you see, at school, I knew him, he was ….

Actually, he was in a year younger than me … because I was …. getting on 7 months older than Tony …. and …. then, we were both in Scouts …. I was a Cub leader, an Arkala …. and he was in Scouts …. and we used to go camping at Overchurch Scout Camp …. and …. all his gang would be there …. so, we used to …. you know, mingle …. and then …. we did a big Pantomime …. and he said to me …. we used to have to walk through the park, home …. and, he said …. “I will walk with you through the park ….”

So, he used to walk through the park with us …. and then he would go off …. and then …. one Christmas, he said …. “Would you like to go to the Pictures?” ….and that was it! But, I had known him a long, long time …. and …. Then he went into the Air Force, of course …. and …. we got engaged ….

The wedding of Beryl Walls and Arthur (known as Tony) Harwood in 1952

Yes …. well, we married whilst he was in the Air Force …. and I managed to buy a house …. I had saved up with …. well, why we got married …. was because …. his mother, they weren’t short of a few bob …. the Harwoods …. They had a big pub, and one thing and another …. but his mother was tight …. and she had claimed …. all his allotment …. every penny of it …. in fact …. at one time, he was only drawing 2/- a week …. because his mother had claimed all the other money ….

So, he said to me “We might as well ….” We were engaged …. “We might as well get married …. “, he said …. “Then you can claim my allotment ….” because he had come home and he said to his Mum “How much have you saved for me, Mum?” And she said to him “Saved for you? I have saved nothing for you ….” So, he came up, he was very distressed, and said …. “I think we might as well get married, Beryl …. because you can claim my allotment ….”

So, that’s why we got married as early as we did …. Otherwise, we would have waited until he had finished his …. National Service …. and I was then got his allotment which I was able to save …. and put a deposit on a house …. which did us a favour …. but we weren’t going to get married until he came out of the Air Force …. but that’s why we did get married …. and then three years later …. the lady there [pointing to Sally] came along …. and we had a baby …. we were married in 1952 …. and she was born in 1955 …. and so, by that time, I had been able to save up, and we had a home ….

Sally: End of rationing by then ….

Beryl: 1952, we were married …. we were still on rationing …. We had ration books still …. a couple of years ….

Michael: Yes, that’s right, yes ….

Beryl: And Tony used to come home from the Air Force …. and he’d bring his ration card, you know …. and you’d get an ounce …. or two ounces of meat …. It wasn’t worth going for …. you know …. But, he’d bring this little coupon thing home …. it was two years or so …. until the rationing ended …. but …. I …. I was alone in the house …. and so, I didn’t bother getting the meat …. because …. I’d save all my rations until Tony came home on leave …. because it was …. a bit of fillet steak, or something, you know, it wasn’t worth collecting ….

Michael: No ….

Beryl: So …. I used to save up until Tone came home and he used to bring his …. little coupon thing …. 2oz of meat …. 2oz of meat [Laughing] …. what could you do with it? 2oz of meat …. so, he used to bring his coupons home and I’d save mine …. and Bob, the butcher, would give me some fillet steak, then …. Tone was home …. yes …. but you see, he …. he really was quite lucky in that respect because …. the money, I got, I saved hard …. and we were able to buy a house …. which was a blessing because …. people were living in rooms everywhere …. there was no property.

Michael: Yes

Beryl: Then they started building one or two houses …. but it was an old house, I bought …. [dogs barking] …. Singing …. They both go together, you know, one starts the other off ….

00:58:00

Michael: So …. let’s just go back a little bit because you didn’t say very much, I think, about your parents …. going back into the …. into the past, do you remember much about your mother and father?

Beryl: Oh yes …. my mother came from a big family …. and I was more or less brought up with them …. so, I was always like the little sister ….

Michael: Yes ….

Beryl: And my …. Lilly was only 6 years older than me …. do you understand? So, I was brought up …. with my Granny’s family as well …. as my brothers and sisters …. They were not …. we used to fight like Hell …. and my Granny’s …. My Granny had a big …. a kitchen and a big shed on the end …. and she used to have hooks in the ceiling …. and she had baskets hanging on them …. and we closed the doors …. and get in the kitchen, in the back kitchen, in the shed thing …. and get a basket each, and we’d fight with the baskets …. and she’d play Hell because …. the handles would be loose, you know ….

Michael: Yes, yes ….

Beryl: and …. but …. as a child …. they would torment, I was the youngest, obviously …. well, there was my sister, but she was much younger …. We had a happy home …. my Dad was always a difficult man …. and if he played Draughts with you or …. Ludo, he had to win …. you know …. so, you fought a hard game …. we all fought a hard game …. because …. we’d try and beat my Dad ….

Michael: Right! [laughing]

Beryl: But he had no sense of humour, my Dad …. he was very hard work ….

Michael: Had he fought in the First World War?

Beryl: No …. no, no, no …. no …. and he didn’t fight in the Second World War …. because of his …. reserved occupation …. He was the foreman engineer …. so, he didn’t fight in the …. he wasn’t old enough to fight in the First War ….

Michael: No ….

Beryl: My Dad was 64 when he died …. But my mother died first, she was only 57 …. and my father died …. my father …. actually …. my father got married again …. and it was to a person that my mother disliked intensely ….

Michael: Oh, dear ….

Beryl: So, he sent me a birthday card …. and it said, “From Dad and Louise ….” and he spelt Louise …. L. O. U. S. I. E. …. lousy …. so, guess what she was called!

Michael: Yes …. yes ….

Beryl: Yes …. Lousy …. and we went …. when he was very poorly, we knew he had cancer, actually …. because he smoked like a …. I don’t know what …. and, we went to see him …. and she said, “Wait in the dining room and I’ll let you know when he’s ready to go upstairs to him ….”

You know, she was like that, his second wife …. So, we went upstairs to see my Dad …. and he said …. “I wouldn’t be like this, you know, if your mother had been alive ….” and I said “Why?” …. He said, “Your mother would have had me up and out and done and I would have been better ….” And we knew that Louise was on the landing, listening …. Funny really …. but he’d married her, so …. we’d could do nothing about it ….

Michael: No, no …. no, no …. absolutely ….

Beryl: And at the funeral …. his funeral …. her brother came across to my sister and I …. and he said …. “Well, it was nice meeting you ….”, he said “But there is no need now …. or ever …. to call again to my sister …. She has nothing to do with you …. and she dotes nothing at all to do with you ….”

So, fine …. so, I said “I accept that …. no problem ….” but my mother in law and father in law …. lived in 35 …. and my …. mother and father lived in no. 5 …. you know …. so, it was very difficult …. it was difficult …. we started not coming in that side of the …. and coming in that side of the avenue …. because …. it was my mother’s curtains up and …. Do you understand? It was very difficult …. but one day …. one day ….

Katie, my youngest …. was staying with her Grandma and Grandpa …. in 35 …. and …. she went and knocked on the door …. and she said …. “Louise …. can we have my Mummy’s …. my Nanna’s …. pictures, please? My Mummy would like them.” Because, on my mother’s tallboy in the bedroom …. it was dozens of photograph frames …. of the children, you know? And she used to call it their ‘rogues gallery’ …. so …. Katie …. only little, she was about 6 …. and she was staying with Queenie and Leslie, you know …. and she said “Oh, oh ….” She said, “She wants the photographs off …. off, off Nanna’s …. bedroom ….”

So, she said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute ….” And she brought a cardboard box …. it was a Sunlight Soap Box, I can remember it now …. a cardboard box …. and it was full of photographs …. no frames …. just photographs …. and she said “While I am here …. can I have my jug?”

And she said, “What do you mean?” She said “I’ve got a jug that I used to have …. lemonade in ….” So, she said “Oh, yes, I know the one you mean ….” Well, my mother had a tiny little cream jug …. and it was shaped like a thistle …. and she used to give it to kids with lemonade in …. you know …. and they’d play ‘house’ with this …. So, she gave her the …. the …. little cream jug …. so, we’ve still got that, it’s in the other room …. and the photographs, we got, and that’s all we got ….

Now, I would have liked …. I desperately would have liked …. the copper kettle …. it was in the house …. and in the bottom of the copper kettle …. was 5 or 6 …. medals …. that my Granny’s brothers had brought home …. from the First World War …. and my Granny, they had given them to us, their sister, Sarann …. Sarah Ann …. Sarann …. and she’d put them in the copper kettle ….

So, the …. when my mother got the copper kettle, they were still there …. so …. do you understand?

Now, eventually …. the copper kettle lid went missing …. how in God’s name, a copper ket…. we didn’t know …. Nobody knew anything about it, nobody knew anything about the lid off the copper kettle …. So, it had no lid for a long, long time …. and then, my Auntie …. she was …. my Auntie is …. was a fanatical cleaner …. she used to scrub the back yard …. you know, she was ridiculous …. and she found this wire, and she said, “I have been wondering what this wire is, it comes from the back bedroom….”, and it went in the grid …. and she heaved the damned thing up …. and on the end of it was the acorn …. of the top of the copper kettle lid …. the lid had all disintegrated ….

The boys had made a cat’s whisker upstairs in the back bedroom …. and they needed an …. an ear…. an earth …. or something ….

Michael: An aerial, yes ….

Beryl: And so, they got the copper kettle and put wire on it …. and in the grid …. and so, all it was, was the acorn of the top of the lid, left …. So, my father went to work and the …. they had …. They had all kinds of things …. in the works at the Dock Board, and they had …. copper …. copper shop and …. fitter’s shop and …. you know what I mean …. so …. they made him a new lid and put the acorn on top ….

So …. Granny gave us the kettle …. so, we had the kettle with the medals in …. in the half …. and it meant so much, do you understand? …. Because it had …. we used to laugh, you know …. and then, when Sally was born …. and she’d play at my mother’s, you know …. and she would always put the balls she was playing with …. in the copper kettle …. Now, I would have liked the copper kettle …. we didn’t get anything else …. but we had got the jug …. that Katie asked for …. and we had the photographs …. and then …. she lived in the house, my Dad died …. and she lived in the house quite a while …. and then, when she died …. it was emptied in a …. within three weeks, the house was up for sale …. amazing …. everything had gone.

And probably her nephews and nieces, what happened to it, I don’t know …. but we didn’t get anything …. but I would have liked the copper kettle.

Michael: How would you sum up your life? Was it a happy life, by and large, or ….

Beryl: It was happy and unhappy at times …. my father was a very …. not a cruel man …. he would think nothing of giving you …. a punch …. He had no sense of humour …. and my mother did …. she was a jolly person …. how she put up with him, I don’t know ….

I used to think, when I was getting older …. why doesn’t she leave him …? And take us with her somewhere? But she never did …. But, and he was …. he was full of grace and …. Cock of the North, you know …. Lovely clothes, he always had nice clothes, my mother bought them …. but he was hard to live with ….

He had no sense of humour …. and …. I remember, he always gave the dog …. a cup of tea at night before he went to bed …. in a bowl …. sometimes …. and anyway, one night, he was out …. at one of his Lodge meetings …. and then …. I gave the dog a cup of tea …. in his pint pot ….

And when he came in …. he went to make himself a cup of tea and I said, “Wash that cup out, Dad ….” and he said, “What for?” …. and I said, “Because I have given the dog a cup of tea in it.” He went mad! He used to say “Dogs are cleaner than humans! Dogs are cleaner than ….” He used to go on, you know …. Oh, he …. and I ran up the stairs quick and locked the bedroom door …. He would have killed me!

Michael: Oh, dear ….

Beryl: You know …. I mean …. I did it on purpose you know …. because he was …. a difficult man to live with ….

Michael: What would you say was the happiest moment of your life?

Beryl: My wedding day ….

Michael: Right ….

Beryl: and the day, the baby was born …. My life with Tony was happy ….

Michael: Yes ….

Beryl: On my wedding day …. I shouldn’t tell you this, really …. we were going along in the car, the wedding car …. and I was very well known in the village, and there was …. a lot of people out waving to us from the shops, you know …. and he said to me, “Now, this is, this is your last chance …. this is your last chance …. if you don’t want to get married, now is your last chance ….”

And I looked at him …. and I said, “Dad …. I would marry anybody to get away from you ….” And he said, “What …. what? …. I said, “I am telling you the truth …. I’m just so glad it’s Tony Harwood, and I love him ….”

He never forgave me, of course, well I wouldn’t expect him to …. but it was true ….

Michael: Yes …. I’m going to have to finish at that point, Beryl, but …. thank you very much indeed …. for ….

Beryl: I haven’t really told you very much about the war but ….

Michael: Oh, you have …. you have told us plenty …. you have, you really have …. but thank you very much indeed ….

Beryl: Thank you for thinking of me.

End of Transcription

Interview recorded by Michael Thompson, Hardy Productions UK, Manchester, for WarGen, accompanied by her daughter, Sally Probert, and her grand-daughter, Anna Elizabeth Probert.

If you live in the North West of England and know someone who lived through World War 2 and who would like to record their memories for posterity, please contact Michael Thompson, WarGen volunteer, at hardyprods@gmail.com

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