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Mrs Ivy Robins Remembers

In 2005 Hartlepool's Museum and Library Services worked together on a project called 'Their Past, Your Future', which commemorated the part played by local people in the Second World War. As part of the project Ivy Robins from the 'Writing Together' group reminisced about her memories of life on the Home Front. This is her story, in her own words:

I remember the third of September 1939. My mother was crying over the deaths of her two brothers, who were killed in the 1914 war, and saying that it was supposed to be the war to end all wars and asking what they had died for.  I suppose it was a question many people were asking that day. The week before we had been on holiday in Sleights. My uncle had taken us there over the moors in his car. The moors had been deserted, but when we came back tanks and soldiers were everywhere.

I was soon evacuated to Scarborough. I was given a paper carrier bag containing a tin of biscuits and a tin of corned beef. Three of us were billeted with two sisters. I remember we used to do the washing up and roll newspapers tightly round a poker to make fire lighters. We attended school for half a day with local pupils together with children from a school in Hull. I soon grew very homesick and after a visit home for Christmas I did not return.

My father was a manager of a grocers shop and food rationing had arrived complete with rationing books for most of the essentials, butter, sugar etc. At the end of each month we would all sit round the table and help dad count the coupons, and complete a return for the Food Office. This was difficult as very often they were single and about the size of a postage stamp. In the meantime I secured a post with Hartlepool Public Library. In those days we wore overalls and they were made out of blackout material. The only colour was the binding on the pockets.

In 1942 I was called up and sent to Coventry to work in a hostel for workers in the aircraft factories. The city centre and the cathedral had been bombed. After two years I moved to Rugby as a receptionist dealing with allocation of rooms, ration books mail etc. We would sit around the wireless each evening, chatting, and making toast with Marmite. No butter of course. After VE-Day we were allowed home. My war had ended.  

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