Darby L

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It Has Been A Rough Year

I am adding this additional chapter to my introduction, because after I initially wrote the introduction, it was very difficult to come back to it and try to make sense of all that I have experienced through the various stages of my life and the trials that I have endured or overcome.  I wish ...


The Birth of Charles Leonard Wiggins

The story has already been written for awhile on my blog "From the heart of Praise, Prayer and Perseverance. 0; Here is a link to that posting, Below are the pictures of the blessed event.   http://fromthehea rt-dotwigg.blogsp ot.com/2008/03/an other-2-prayer-re quest-answered.ht ml


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Darby's Story > Chapters > The War Years to 1948

"D Day, David and A Doodlebug" 


Date Range: 03/01/1944 To 01/01/1947   Comments: 2   Views: 4,317
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My Grandmother's Recipes

Christmas Pudding             (2 large)


Self raising flour                                        8 oz

Breadcrumbs                                            12oz

Suet                                                         16oz

Currants                                                   16oz

Raisins                                                     16oz

Sultanas                                                   8oz

Prunes                                                     3oz

Dark brown sugar                                     12oz

Mixed peel                                               3oz

Lemon (rind and juice)                              1

Apple (grated)                                          1

Carrot (grated)                                          1

Cinnamon                                                 1tsp

Nutmeg                                                    1tsp

Mixed Spice                                             2tsp

Black treacle                                            2tbsp

Eggs                                                        6

Salt                                                          pinch         

Brandy                                                     2tbsp

Beer to mix to dropping consistency


Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Add fruit with apple and chopped soaked prunes. Add eggs and treacle. Mix well. Add beer to dropping texture. Fill greased basins and cover with greased greaseproof paper. Cover all with pudding cloth. Steam 5 hours. Steam further 2 hours on serving day.




9 inch square = 10 inch round                     

Prunes (diced)                                           4oz

Currants                                                    20oz

Raisins                                                      8oz

Sultanas                                                    8oz

Glace Cherries                                          8oz

Mixed Peel                                               4oz

Margarine                                                 12oz

Plain flour                                                 6oz

Self raising flour                                        6oz

Lemon (rind and juice)                               1

Cinnamon                                                 1tsp

Nutmeg                                                    1tsp

Mixed Spice                                             2tsp

Apple (grated)                                          1

Eggs                                                        6
Black Treacle                                           2tbsp

Salt                                                          pinch

Brandy                                                     1 gill

Beer if needed


Beat marge and sugar to a fluff. Add eggs one at a time. Add lemon, treacle and Brandy. Add flours mixed with salt and spices. Add fruit and grated apple. Add cherries cut in half. Mix well adding a little beer if required for dropping consistency.

Fill tin lined with well-greased greaseproof paper. Wrap outside with thickness of brown paper. Place on cardboard or thick paper in oven.

Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Reduce to 150°C for cake. Cook for 31/2 hours. Test with skewer in centre. Will come out clean if cooked.


Ted’s brother married Joyce and had a daughter Pauline and a son Keith but that was later on. I remember putting makeup on for the wedding and Ted saying I looked like a tart and to wash my face. I did but I kept my cheeky little white hat that sat over one eye. I still only weighed seven stone and looked as slim as could be so wore calf length skirt and tailored jacket. Both navy blue with a white blouse and Louis heeled shoes. How with-it.                           

Another thing.. when war was declared the old order of being polite and saying in a shop whose turn it was to be served went; we had to queue. First come first served because supply often ran out. We still queue. It’s a habit.
          I am now expecting my fourth baby. We are quite happy about it as Ted says “It only proves how much love there is in the family.” He is as good as men were in those days. Home and family were woman’s work. Men went out and fought and earned the bread. Somehow though things were changing. The women were working in factories and learning to drive. Even having to join the forces and land army. The line between male work and female work was fast changing.

         The only blight was mother insisting there would be no visits to their house until after dark as the neighbours would see I was expecting. I was flabbergasted but I just didn’t go at all. Less stress all round.

           My health was not the best but I had a doctor who cared. The day the baby was born was “D Day”. Planes had been going over all day and there were rumours of landings. Some said invasion, some said landings. I kept going until the six o’clock news that a successful landing had taken place on the French coast.

            I looked at Ted and said “I have to go. I can’t wait any longer”. An ambulance rushed me to the nursing home while bombs dropped and whistles blew and police waved us on. It was still early hours of the morning, six o’clock before he was born. I had a German nurse, a catholic refugee, and what a mess up. She told the assistant nurse to give me chloroform and the dill poured it straight on my face. My skin and eyes were burnt and in the muddle the sister declared the baby wasn’t breathing and placed him on a marble shelf. At that moment the door opened and in walked Ted. Hearing the nurse say he was dead he grabbed him and started to massage and breath into him. Lo and behold he whimpered and Ted wrapped him in a blanket and told the nurse to see to him.     
           Meanwhile I was haemorrhaging and causing concern. Everything calmed down and the doctor finally got through. I was exhausted.

           That day I tried to feed baby but as usual no milk but I gave him his feeds by bottle.

           The second day the nurse said he was sleeping and would be kept in the nursery for the day. I wasn’t happy and began to demand to see him. Then all hell broke loose.     
           A “Doodle Bug” landed outside. How I ended up under the bed I don’t know but about a ton of dirt was on top of me and I had to be dug out. Ted came tearing over and I demanded to go home. If we were going to die we would all go together. The staff refused to let the baby go until Ted threatened to call the police. We were dressed and out of there in no time flat.

           Once at home we had to go to the shelter in our dining room. It was a large metal box supposed to protect one from blast and debris. My first thought was baby’s feed but he couldn’t get the teat into his mouth. Then I saw his tongue was swollen and falling back his throat. I hooked it out and picked him up and ran to a doctor at the end of the road. At first she said come in the morning but one look at him and she said follow me to the hospital and soon as you can. We bundled the other kids in the car, which I had a special permit for on health grounds, and raced to the hospital.

           My baby, now called David, was whisked away to isolation and I was told I could only view him through a small window. I was beside myself with worry. He had infantile diarrhoea which at two days old had a ninety nine death rate. The doctors advised me not to try to see him so that the loss would be easier. What a hopeless thing to say to a mother.

           Apparently at the nursing home the sterilisation equipment had broken down and all nappies etc. were washed by hand. It was found other babies had died but it was covered up. I had to give a statement and eventually the people  responsible went to jail.

           The day came when I could take David home. He was so frail and skin and bone. Against the other babies he was fragile. Of course he had to go down with pneumonia. I slept on the floor for nights and what do you know Bryan came down with measles. Was that a time. White coats, rubber gloves and masks. Change for each visit to a room. David didn’t get it though and slowly pulled through.

           When David was so ill at the hospital an S.O.S. went out for bananas. Americans flying lend lease aeroplanes in to Britain would bring them in and the hospital would pick them up. They made a food for David from them I was told.

           David grew and seemed perfect until my last visit to the hospital when I saw the doctor attending him. He shocked me by saying of course I understood that David’s brain was affected and he would never be more than five years old in brain development. At first I cried and then got my back up and said “He’s wrong. David will be as good as any of them.”                             

           I worked continually with David teaching him little things at first and then letters and figures. It was a strain on my patience but we persisted. He learnt his letters by a jungle made from chairs and cushions. A mountain was a chair with a letter at the top. Hurrah! A cushion was a lake or swamp that he had to swim to another letter. It was a great game and he learnt the letters. By the time school came he could cope and while not clever was not left behind either.

           When he was five an elderly doctor told me I was killing him with fussing. To wrap him up and send him out into the snow with the other kids. It was hard to let go but I did and he survived. Bryan was my mainstay. He always looked out for David and cared for him.

           The war continued for awhile but we were lucky. A petrol ration was allowed us on a doctor’s order as I was so ill. I didn’t think I was ill but why refuse a gift of that order.                         

           Life continued with little change. The rations still went on but there were no bombs to deal with.

           Ted decided we would go for a drive one afternoon and on the way back we passed a house well set back from the road. I suddenly said ''Stop. That’s an Elizabethan Manor.” Lo and behold a man came out of the house and pasted a FOR SALE notice up on a board.

           Ted left the car and walked away saying “Just stay there.” He walked up to the front door and disappeared inside. When he came out he was all smiles. “Would you like to live there” he sprang on me. I was overjoyed. In the days that followed there were bank and lawyer meetings and then the day came when Ted said “The house is yours”. Meanwhile he had given notice to the house agent and we could arrange to move.

Ted arranged for his mother to come over and look after the children while Ted cleared up and I went with the removal van to the new house. I had cleaned like a madman the day before but his mother set too and bless her heart did the final cleaning.

           Of course that morning I felt really ill and by the time the moving men left I was acting by rote. I lit a fire in the dining room, put a rug down beside it and just passed out. Ted arrived with the family and kneeling down shook me but I only groaned. He rang a doctor who came quickly and next thing I was in bed with pneumonia. Ted's mother set to and saw to everything, for which I was very grateful. A few days later I was back on my feet and to the doctor’s horror carried on as usual. It was all very well lecturing me but the family needed feeding, washing and everything else.

Ah well I survived.

           When I tried to thank Mother-in-Law for her help she informed me she did it for Teddy. The children were always referred to as “Teddy’s children”. Well that was true. I was only the chosen vessel. The poor woman couldn't see that we should at least be friends. I can understand her fixation but it was a pity.



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Member Since
Nov 2010
Rance J said:
posted on Nov 13, 2010
Ok Darby...

I'm on the edge of my seat....can't wait for more. You've led such an incredible life.  

Member Since
Feb 2010
Alan Stanley said:
posted on Dec 25, 2010

Hullo Darby.
Used your recipe for my Christmas cake this year. Had to wait for the supermarket to get the marzipan in stock before I was able to put the Victoria Icing on the cake but it hardly had time to get hard and every slice had gone Christmas week. Nearly made another one but the obergrupenfuhrer said one was enough. Nice one. Will use your Grandma's recipe and make it earlier next year!  Alan.