A Child's Memories of WWII in Longsight
by Shirley Aspinall

In my first memories it was just me and mam. Dad was away in the army for six years. Me and mam slept in the double bed together. I remember lying on the bed singing, "There is a green hill far away."

I also remember other things during the war. The air raid sirens to mark the start of a raid. We would then go off to the shelters. Our shelters were brick built with iron bunks. They were built on the croft and held about twenty four families. We children put on our siren suits, mine was camel coloured. These of course were first worn by Winston Churchill. On a recent visit to Blenheim Palace, where his grandparents lived, I saw his siren suit, which was burgundy coloured velvet with matching slippers.

During the war my mam worked in an optical factory making things for the war. While she was there, I stayed across the road at the Aldridge's. Mrs. Aldridge had three children: Peter, Dorothy and another younger boy. Mrs. Aldridge was very jolly. She could do handstands and tried to teach us to do ballroom dancing.

Christmas was a bit sparse at this time but I do remember getting a wax-headed doll.

Some children were evacuated during the war, away from the dangers. We thought they were going far away but they were only going to Marple. My cousin went to Marple. She spent a lot of time there and kept visiting until they died, which was long after the war.

Food was on ration as well as clothes and sweets. We had ration books with coupons for each week. To get ration books we went to Victoria Park. Victoria Park was a settlement of houses which had belonged to the rich mill owners. Many of the houses are still there but they are mostly all flats. In the past Victoria Park even had toll gates at the entrance.

The bomb that dropped nearest to us fell on St. Joseph's School. We thought it was because they were Catholics - "left kickers" Ironically, I and my two cousins all became Catholics when we married.

I have two vivid memories of the war, both medical.

I had to have a tooth extracted because I had an abscess under it. I remember the dentists. It was on Plymouth Grove on the left hand side going towards school. It was a really posh place to me. Detached with two gates and a double drive, two lamps with white, round lights.

I screamed blue murder when my tooth was pulled. Dad carried me home on his shoulders and I cried and dribbled blood and saliva all over his head.

The next trauma was when I got scarlet fever. Just like the time when they came and took my brother away, the ambulance came and took me away. Mam didn't come with me. I was taken to Pendlebury Isolation Hospital. They let me take my favourite doll and didn't tell me I wouldn't be able to take it home.

I remember that the ward was enormous and I didn't have any pajamas. I remember Mam and Auntie Emmy looking at me through the window. I was crying of course.

The best thing that happened was a man in a white coat coming down the ward who turned out to be my dad. He was on leave. He had brought me a lovely pair of red slippers. He drew me a funny face on the shoe box.

Going home was a bad experience. I had lost so much weight I looked like Orphan Annie. They had cut off my hair because I had nits and wearing a huge pair of wellingtons didn't improve my appearance.

When the war ended and it was VE-Day there were lots of street parties. Tables and chairs all down the streets. There was bunting and flags from the bedroom windows. There were also VE signs painted on the walls in red, white and blue. Dad came home from the army. I remember being turned out of the double bed I used to share with mam. I made such a fuss I got to sleep between mam and dad that night.