The Crouches
Kitty Lashly
Rita King
World War II
Tom Edwards
Ernie Treagus
Mel Baker
Madeline Ambrose
John Sexton


Julia Moore

Walter Hart

Dulcie Hart

Sidney Morgan

Charles Routledge

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A village history in West Sussex


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By Rita King (neé Johnson)

Living and working in shop premises, one of the first things I remember was the rationing, food especially was in short supply. Ration books were issued and we were each allowed a very small amount of tea, sugar, butter, margarine, cheese, bacon and meat per week. We were given "points" which we could use to obtain other foodstuff, and when it was available. Everyone was encouraged to "Dig for Victory". That meant cultivating every garden and spare piece of land with vegetables and fruit. My family were fortunate to have an allotment on the opposite side of the road. Not only could we grow things but we had room to keep chickens, and we were thankful for their eggs. We also kept rabbits in hutches and some of these we killed when fully grown for us to eat to increase our meat ration. Clothes were also rationed, and we were given "coupons" to use for these. It wasn't any use trying to be fashion conscious, as we could only buy what there was in the shops and when our coupons were used up we had to make do and mend until the next "coupons" were issued. It was believed that Hitler would try and conquer us using poison gas, so we were each given a gas mask and we had to carry it with us everywhere we went. My father, as well as being a general store owner, became an ARP (Air Raid Precautions) warden. He was issued with a special gas mask and helmet and every time the sirens sounded their wails he had to report to the ARP post at Morgan's Shop. We were able to buy black material and special fasteners to make blackout curtains. If anyone's house had even the smallest chink of light showing the wardens would knock on the door and shout, 'Put that light out"! Being close to Portsmouth with its naval ships and dockyard we were in line for the enemy planes going to bomb there. Fortunately none fell on Westbourne although a few stray missiles landed around the area. Thorney Island being near was also a target but as soon as the sirens sounded the planes that were based there took off and flew around overhead. For this reason they were called the Thorney Circus! Some of the night raids were particularly heavy and my mother and I used to make a bed under the dining room table. We thought we were safer there but we didn't get much sleep!

I was in the Pavilion Cinema in Emsworth one evening when a very intensive raid on Portsmouth badly damaged the Power Station. Consequently the film stopped and we all had to go home. The result of that was we were without electricity for three weeks! Fortunately for us we cooked with gas and as we still had gas brackets in the house and shop we also had lights. During one daytime raid a German plane was shot down in Stubbermere near Stansted. When we heard of this, Daisy Whiting and I jumped on our bikes and went there. A couple of dead German airmen were lying covered up under the hedge. We felt sorry for them but we were fortunate in getting some small pieces of the plane and shrapnel as souvenirs.

In Emsworth, approximately where the Co-op shop is now, was a building which became a TOC H Servicemen's Club. There were a few amenities there for them such as billiards and table tennis. My mother and I and some friends used to go and help serve the food which was provided. This mainly consisted of beans on toast and paste sandwiches! The men who were too old to be called up for service duty, and the young men not yet old enough joined the "Home Guard'. They were fully equipped with uniforms and rifles and used to meet for drill and practice in the Old Fever Hospital in Emsworth Common Road.

There were some light hearted times. My mother and Eva Freeland ran a social once a week in the Baptist Church Hall and servicemen from the Army Camp in Cemetery Lane were invited along. The local young women would come and we would play such games as 'Spin the Plates', 'Musical Chairs', and 'I Spy'. Daisy and I used to go to Ballroom Dancing classes in Southbourne and on a Saturday evening we had a dance in the Church Hall there. Most of the young men had been called up so unless we could get some servicemen to come along, some young ladies had to take the gentleman's role, almost always I had to do that! In the final phase of the war, the Germans sent over "Buzz bomb". These were especially frightening as we could see and hear them coming. Then when the engine cut out, they fell to earth and exploded and we would have to dive for cover!

All the time the war was on the church bells were silent because if they were rung it was a signal that we had been invaded. However, we wanted to be able to ring them for victory, so Peter Edgell formed a small group of ladies, Barbara Brownlow (later his wife), Ida Robinson, May Carver, Daisy Whiting and myself, to practise ringing with them with the clappers tied off. When the war was eventually over and VE Day 8 May 1945 was celebrated, we were very happy to be in the church belfry ringing out the joyful peals of victory.

Source: Parish Magazine   

WORLD  WAR  TWO  1939 - 1945

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