War is declared but there was a time of no action.
Where we lived in Bristol was in a direct line with Filton aerodrome. And we didn’t realise how dangerous the position was.
When the bombing started we often had left over bombs dropped on us.
Ted at once started digging a bomb shelter. He was refused for the air force, he had volunteered, and after call up was refused for the army. He had very big knots of varicose veins and as the army said wounds from the enemy were enough without introducing ones of their own. He tried any way he could but ended up in the Home Guard.
Lo and behold my mother started visiting us on her day off. A sergeant cook gave her a certain amount of pride and when Queen Mary, living near the barracks, requested her to cook for a large party of Generals etc: she was over the moon. Well good for her, she was a first class cook.
Sally (Kaye) was born one evening. I had looked at my seedlings waiting to be planted and knew if left to Ted it would never happen. Starting early in the morning I planted fifty cabbages, twenty five cauliflowers, twenty five sprouts, two rows of onions and two rows of carrots.
Well there was a war on and we had to eat. Money wasn’t that flash either.
The funny thing was that Ted had morning sickness and what he called a growling stomach. When he had boils on his leg and shoulder he went to the doctor. The first thing he asked was if I was pregnant. Apparently Ted had reciprocal conditions to the pregnancy. Nobody knows why it happens but it just does. It didn't happen with the boys.
We had not seen my mother for a few weeks and as the day for birth arrived Ted made arrangements for his mother to come and stay for a couple of weeks. As it happened the birth was fourteen days overdue but the doctor simply said my dates were wrong.
After my planting effort, at six o’clock that evening, things started to move. Ted frantically rang his mother to come. As it was by train from London to Bristol it was a hurried affair. He ran me into the nursing home, we still had petrol in those days, but he wasn’t allowed to stay with me. This was women’s business and fathers were excluded.
This was phase three beginning.
The birth of this baby seemed to go on forever. Finally things got moving. First there was a great to-do over the first baby and then the second one appeared. By now I was a wreck and only dimly heard the doctor say “It would never have lived”.
I started to panic until a fat squalling baby was placed in my arms. To cries of “It’s a girl” I cried and cried. I had given Ted his greatest wish.
In those days there was no way of testing for gender and often a double birth was missed. Medicine has advanced so much since then.
The doctor came and explained to me that the first baby was small and starved of necessary life giving fluids. The second baby was taking the lot and the first didn't even breathe when born. I was so happy with my fat little girl with hair to her shoulders that I didn’t feel any loss.
We had decided to call her Kaye and Ted’s face when he came in was a picture. I presented him with Kaye and all he could say was “Thank God. Thank God”.
He had phoned to see what was happening, as I said men were not allowed at a birth, and was told he had triplets. All boys. The woman in the next room was a Mrs Lidget and she did have triplets. Over the phone the names were confused. Did Ted have a shock. We often laughed over it.
After ten days I could go home. My milk had disappeared so Kaye was a bottle baby. Ted couldn’t pick me up because of an urgent dental case so arranged a taxi to take me home.
With a bag full of nappies and a couple of made-up bottles I went to the back door at the house, expecting Ted’s mother to welcome me and the new baby.
The door opened to an angry face saying “Go away. You aren’t wanted here. You’ve ruined Teddy’s life and he doesn’t want you. I’m taking Bryan with me and you can look after yourself. He never loved you. He only felt guilty and sorry for you.”
The door slammed and I was left on the doorstep. After banging and banging without success I decided to go to where Ted worked. It meant going into town and then taking a bus to the surgery.
At the bottom of the road a bus stood ready to go into town. I ran down and boarded it. My whole world had fallen apart. My brain was running in circles and at town centre I sat on a seat by the station and after looking around went to a cafe and asked the girl to warm a bottle for me. I was going to get a cup of tea but to my dismay I found I only had three pennies left. No bus ride to Ted, not even a phone call. The horror of my position was only now being felt.
Night wasn’t far off and the only thing I could think to do was go to the police. It was the last thing I wanted to do and I sat huddled up on the seat with tears running down my face and fiercely hugging my baby. She needed me if nobody else did.
Nearly dark and I looked up to see my dear Ted looking at me. “Thank God I’ve found you”, was all he could say as he held me in his arms.
People were staring at us so Ted gathered Kaye and I up and hurried us to the car.
“We‘re going home”. Those words were what I needed to hear.
I still had doubts and asked him if his mother was right when she said he didn’t need me. Was he only sorry for me and was I a blight on his life?
He pulled the car over and after calling his mother names and vowing never to have her in his home he hugged and kissed me with tears in his eyes.
He vowed if he ever lost me his life would end.
When we both recovered he drove home. We entered by the back door as usual and there was mother greeting me with “Now you’ve come back you had better see about a meal. I’m not waiting on you” and bounced off to the bedroom.
I hastily fed little Bryan and then Kaye and then made a meal for we three.
I remember lamb chops, potatoes, peas and gravy with an apple tart from the larder
Mother ate in the bedroom, not with us.
By now I was exhausted and could have done with some help but until the babies where settled and everything tidy bed had to wait. At last we fell into bed and tried to sleep but missy decided to cry. So that Ted could sleep I walked around the sitting room to keep her quiet.
In the morning Ted took his mother to the first train for London and was glad to see her go.
It seemed so sad to ban his mother from seeing her son and her grandchildren so I persuaded Ted to phone his father and explain what had happened and which train she would be on. Ted said his father called her a rude name and begged him not to keep her away.
As I tried to make Ted see she was jealous of him and furious that her plans for him to marry cousin Grace had been thwarted, and that she was a mother cat trying to take over his life, together we had to show her it wouldn’t work.
Kaye was still crying and in despair Ted ran me to see the doctor. Apparently she couldn’t digest milk and had to have a food called “Sister Laura’s” Half food and half water every hour on the hour. She was constantly wet to her eyeballs.
God knows how many nappies we got through. But she thrived and her first smile was for Daddy. He acted like the crown jewels had been handed to him.
Thank goodness all my plants were thriving and our food was going fine.
Ted was in the home guard. As he wasn’t able to join the forces it was the next best thing. Very handy too. The group had to practise trench digging so they came and dug a large patch of the garden and planted potatoes at the same time. Very handy but I had to pull through fifteen rifles and provide tea in exchange.
Life consisted of babies, nappies, open mouths and the garden. I was happy.
There were some strange happenings at times.
Ted was called out late one evening because a light was shining up in the air. With the blackout being so severe and being near the aerodrome this was quite serious.
Ted and a young farmer’s son were sent out to investigate and arrest whoever was guilty. Arriving at the source they found a car with headlights on. With a drawn gun Ted advanced and whipped a door open shouting “Come out or I fire”.
A very sheepish young man tumbled out minus his trousers. A girl lay on the back seat completely naked and Ted said all he could hear was the farmer’s son saying ”Coo! Blimey! No clothes. Coo!”
Ted told them to dress and removed them to headquarters. Just a loving couple forgetting all about lights.
Another night a call came to investigate lights shining from the railway tunnel near us. Ted and another guard went off to investigate and then I heard the crack of firing. Two men were showing a light beam up into the sky. As soon as the home guards appeared they fired shots and then ran. Ted said it was weird with bullets rebounding from the tunnel walls. They gave chase but lost them.
However Ted had an idea of their direction and after headquarters investigated they found a German man and his brother living in a cottage. They were giving directions to enemy planes.
The rule of the day was because so much looting was going on from bombed places that they shoot a looter on sight. It certainly stopped most of it.
Although war had been declared there was a lull and peace for a while. Ted set to and built a shelter in the front garden as it was above the road for drainage. First he dug a hole eight feet deep. Then he placed a ship’s heavy beam over the top. The sides were corrugated iron forced down into the earth and braced by struts. Then he boarded over the top, tipped a ton of rocks on top and lastly a ton of earth which I planted with flowers. Inside he built two bunks. One each with a baby. He put in a compressor in a sump hole to carry off any moisture and there was a blast wall at the entrance. How he managed it all is beyond me but he was determined to keep us as safe as possible.
Ted’s father rang and asked us to go up for the weekend to get over misunderstandings. We went but it wasn’t that happy. Mother was very distant but petted the babies so all was not lost.
We returned the next evening and it was Hitler’s first bombing raid on Bristol.