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Memories of WW2 - Mary Grace McCorie

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posted on 2024-06-05, 19:51 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

I can remember clearly everything about the war. I remember the announcement on the Radio. We were told that an announcement was going to be made. I remember the announcement even though I didn't know what it meant!

I remember my dad going off to war. I remember my Dad walking off up the lane and being picked up by an Army lorry. Indistinct. My Mother was expecting my brother and so he never knew our Father until after the war.

We lived in Gloucestershire. I didn't see my father from the start of the war till the end.

I was 5 at the start of the war. Indistinct. I was at school, St. Johns. Because I could get home in under 10 minutes, if I ran, I wasn't allowed to use the (school) shelter. If the alarm and air raid sirens went off in the morning we didn't have to go back to school. When the sirens went off we knew that the planes were coming and we felt scared. We saw the planes coming over and using the River Severn. I was very frightened.

My Grandfather was living with us, he had been gassed in the First World War. When there was a raid he wouldn't stay indoors but insisted on the doorstep looking up as the bombers flew over. The ARP would come rushing up saying, "Put those lights out, Bill, and shut that door, Bill!".

The windows were all taped up. Indistinct There was an ammunition factory nearby and my dad was scared it would be hit. They bombed the Black and White bus garage. We lived in a cottage with the landing being one of the bedrooms! They had to put iron crosses on the outside of the cottage with rods to hold the building together. With the windows all taped up.

We had to carry our gas masks everywhere we went. We had to wear the Mickey Mouse Gas masks for 1 hour a day to get used to them and as I got older, the small adult ones. Now, I cannot stand anything over my face.

We stayed in this house with my Gran, my Grampy, my Uncle and my Cousin (plus me and my Mum). Martin the young was born in 1940. There was a catchphrase that went around and was used if we couldn't find, for instance, mum. One of us, or whoever was there, would shout "She's gone out with a Black man!" that was because there were a lot of Black American soldiers over here. My sister said that Dad was very annoyed when he came home and he asked where mother was only to be met with "She's gone out with a Black man!".

We saw black men walking around! There was no fruit during the war. Then I had to go into hospital. Mum received money from the Army and [indistinct] came round with a biscuit tin collecting my allowance. There was no NHS so when I had to go to the hospital for treatment, mother had to pay for it. It wasn't very serious. If you didn't have the money, you didn't go to hospital, it was as simple as that.

Dad served in the Desert Rats in North Africa and preferred to sleep in the garden when he was at home. Father never spoke about the War. He served 1942 - 1945 and was captured and became a prisoner of war but I don't where he was captured or where he was held. He never liked the doors being shut all to do with him being a POW. He never spoke of the war. He said one day to John (her husband) after they had been down the pub, that he knew what it was like to walk across bodies. We now recognise it as shell shock and as I am older I realise he must have seen terrible things.

My husband, John, who also served in the Army, always went to Remembrance Services and on one occasion got very upset when some boys started laughing at the occasion and he turned on them stating that "if it wasn't for his father-in-law's service they wouldn't be sitting there".

I still think that they shouldn't have done away with national service that would have taken the edge. We would make fun of our dad by hiding his sock and then putting it back with him saying he knew it had been there. We did know what he was suffering from, we didn't know about shell shock. I wish we hadn't made fun of him so much. I remember the V1s going over and you would wait 5 seconds, after the engine cut out, to hear how far away the explosion was. We were very proud of the cracks in the walls of our house due to the bombing!


Person the story/items relate to

Mary Grace McCorie and her family

Person who shared the story/items

Mary Grace McCorie as dictated by David G.P. Morse

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor


Type of submission

Shared at Ahmadiyyah Mosque Hall, Warwickshire on 7 October 2023. The event was organised by Leamington History Group.

Record ID

95608 | LEA002