Remembrance Day: Collier Row woman tells tale of parents’ work on the Homefront
- Credit: Archant
During the Second World War the Homefront was a significant tool in Britain’s fight against the Nazi regime, playing an important role in sustaining morale and the war effort.
While servicemen were fighting abroad, others were doing their bit back at home.
Denise Groves’ parents Patricia and James both volunteered and had experiences they never forgot.
Patricia, born in 1923 and one of eight siblings, went into the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF).
But, she was barred from the role she really wanted.
Denise, 54, of Carter Drive, Collier Row, said: “My mum was only little, 4ft 11ins, and she got a bit of a ribbing for that.
“She wanted to be a driver, but they told her she was too small.”
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Patricia was instead involved in catering for the pilots on the bases. But she was still able to make her presence felt.
Denise said: “Mum was quite outspoken; they called her a little spitfire.”
Her future husband James, born three years later and known as Jimmy, became a Bevin Boy, which meant he worked in the darkness of the coal mines.
Denise said: “He absolutely hated it. He didn’t like being in enclosed spaces.
“I think he wanted to do something else but was sent down there instead.”
The pair, who married in 1958, were spared many of the horrors of the war.
But life was still not easy.
“The conditions in the mines were really bad. It was pitch black, damp and wet.
“My mum said she would see the blokes go off and most of them didn’t come back.
“She said it was something she would never forget.”
Patricia also went through the heartache of losing two of her brothers, Billy and Johnny.
Denise said: “It was difficult, but they didn’t really speak about it.
“I am really proud of them; not many people can say that their mum and dad did this.”