University of Oxford
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Rural childhood life during WWII

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posted on 2024-06-05, 19:20 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

We lived on a smallholding called Caledon Cottage, Common Lane, Corley Moor, next door to the Bull and Butcher pub.

I was the second daughter of Arthur Samuel and Lydia Marriott (nee Ashby).

My elder sister was Joy Margaret Marriott, who was 21 months older but is now deceased.

The property was a cottage surrounded by fields and we had lots of hens, ducks, pigs and dogs.

We used to walk to school in Corley, 2 or 3 miles, to get to school.

Mother had TB and died when I was 7, but Dad was like Mum and Dad to me.

When WWII broke out Mum was in a sanitorium in Warwick, but it had to be vacated for the war effort.

Dad converted an outbuilding to keep Mum separate from us.

Dad was in WWI for 4 years and was gassed in the trenches; his stomach lining was destroyed.

When WWII broke out I wondered what was going to happen and he took me to one side and explained. When Coventry was blitzed in April Dad took us up in a high field and we saw the 'planes flying over and the fires.

When food became scarce we were OK as father had a large garden and an orchard; we had ration books, but for milk and eggs we were self-sufficient.

Our neighbours gave us each a calf; Joy's was called Mary Anne, mine was Dolly Dimple, but they had to be slaughtered when they got older.

We were very lucky to live in a village where people kept an eye on us.

We didn't really need toys, but we had a see-saw and a sandpit.

Dad worked for W.H.Jones Builders in Coventry; on my birth certificate he was described as a scaffolder, but later he became a foreman and then he was Clerk of Works for Warwickshire County Council.

After Mum died Aunt Nellie, who had been widowed in WWI, looked after us and we had a bed in her house. There was a woman who worked at the same company as Dad, a cashier, who Dad known since they were young, Edith Esther North, and she was from Bell Green, Coventry. They got married in 1942 or so and we left Corley Moor and moved to Brownshill Green; Joy went to school in Coventry, while I went to Corley Moor C of E school.

Edith became our second Mum.

Whatever happened Dad looked after us and made sure we understood why we couldn't have new clothes without coupons.

We were never bombed out, but the gas works about 3 miles away was attacked and an unexploded bomb was brought to the common to be disposed of.

We were walking home from school and jumped into the hedge, as we'd been told to.

My husband was 15 years older than me and had served in the RAF as a navigator; we met when we worked together at Courtalds.

He'd trained in America and Canada.

I remember walking through rubble to go to school for several years.


Person the story/items relate to

Arthur Samuel, Lydia, Joy Margaret and Sheila Marriott

Person who shared the story/items

Sheila Hughes

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Self and immediate family

Type of submission

Shared at Millennium Hall, Leicestershire on 17 September 2023. The event was organised by the Burbage branch of the Royal British Legion.

Record ID

106101 | BUR006