The “A Village at War “ CDs
The “A Village at War “ CDs are now available from Graham Noble and are free of charge. This of course will be on a first come first served basis, I am available on g.rc.noble at btintetrnet.com and phone contact is 01373 859770.
CDs will also be available at our next talk.
Interview with Lily Carter
Dilton Marsh History Society 28 May 2014
So were you born in the village?
I was born in the village and I was born before the nurse could get there. Mrs Noakes brought me in the world, yes, you know Max Noakes, and well his mother brought me in the world.
What year would that be then Lily?
1930, January 1930, when the war started I was 9.
Was that something you were conscious of, when it started or not really?
Yes, I can remember we was in Church on a Sunday morning ad Mr McKenzie stopped the sermon and he said we are now at war with Germany and he said a prayer and he turned his back and made the sign of the cross I can remember, that stands out in my memory that, yeah
Whereabouts in Dilton did you actually live?
You know where the little shop is don’t you? Opposite there, just along there’s a big house innit, stands on its own, double fronted, well that were my grandfather’s house and we lived at the back in a bungalow. Yeah and then going on around the corner there was the old bake house that were my fathers.
How many were in the family at that time?
Well in my family, 3. I had a brother but he died years ago.
And your dad worked on the railways
Yeah my dad worked on the railways but his father was a small little businessman. That’s the big house you see. And he did bake the bread and he had a little horse and cart and he did the deliveries in the village, Chapmanslade and Rudge, Brokerswood.
Did he do it during the war?
He died when I were about 5 so he were gone. They were married about 11 years before they had their first child and then they had Dad 5 yrs after so you could say they’d been married about 15 years before they had dad so they must have been getting on when they had their children you see. Cos I never really knew my granny she died when I were a baby. I only knew granddad.
So your dad drove trains?
Yes he wouldn’t carry on with the business. No. My dad started a lamp porter on the railways like they did years ago then he went on the lamps you know, up the ladders done that and then he got too old for that and then he went Station Foreman and he ended up as Station Foreman down Westbury Station.
And he met a lot of, cos he had to, he met Archbishop Fisher, he lived in Sherborne, and he used to come up on the Weymouth train and Dad would to see to him cos he’d have travelled up for nothing you know as bishops do – they don’t pay. And he’d have to find his seat you see that was his job and he met the Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman and Sir John Betjeman came to Westbury, went up to Dilton Marsh hall, got off and walked to Old Dilton Church and looked round it and he came back and he wrote a poem on Dilton Marsh Hall and he gave it to my dad and my sister had that and I did say to her “have you got that poem?” but she were such a muddly person she didn’t know where it were. And one day my husband were out in the shed doing something and it brought it up on Wiltshire radio and he tried to catch the number but he didn’t get the number and I would have rung in and I would have said she had the poem! But she lived in such a muddle.
What school would you have gone to?
We went to bottom school you know near The Firs. Dad and although mum were churchy you know dad insisted we go to a county school so we went down there. My sister went there til she were 11 and my brother but then they brought it in that they made our church school into a county school and I had about 18 months at the church school.
Do you remember that in the war?
Yes I remember that in the War. And I can remember when we had one Thursday morning we had the spitfires and the German planes fighting over at Haynes Road up in the sky my husband went outside and watched it you know he told me. And we all had to line up and go into the church for safety, (laughs) if it came to it we had to dive in under the pews… I can remember that well yeah
You don’t remember a trench being dug opposite the school do you where you had to go into?
No, but Mr McKenzie was our vicar. He was a very nice man. Very homely. And then we had the evacuees. We had quite a few, they did come and they did take them down into the school then people did go down, innit sad, and they say “oh I’ll have you and I’ll have you” weren’t that terrible? You know, in those days.
Where did they come from mostly?
London. We had a mother and her little girl; we slept 3 in a bed, my sister, me and this girl (laughs)
Did you get on with them all right?
My sister did but I didn’t I think I were the youngest and I were a bit jealous. You know what children are like. I was no different to nobody else. Anyway I have got a photo of…
Going back to the evacuees did they get on alright at school?
Yes to tell you the truth they did come and they didn’t like the smells of the farms and they didn’t know that milk came from cows, they didn’t know strawberries, thought it was a weed. They did walk about and their mothers did come and they did get together and a lot of them went back. They didn’t stay long.
Do you think that was towards the end of the war?
That was at the beginning but there was a… going down the village… past the middle pub go on down there was an old couple and they had an evacuee and his name was Tony Turone, I never forgot and he were a bit older than what I were and he stayed there with this old couple and they had a lovely home you know what I call a good home and it came to _ I suppose it was 15 in them days when we left school – and he had to go back cos his people then wanted his money you know cos he was going out to work and they wanted his keep, and he got killed. Some things is good and somethings is sad,
Were there people you knew in the village who had lost members of their family?
Yeah, Bishop at the back of us, um she lost a son and the 2 I knew like Leonard Ball and Clive Heath I knew them they were a bit over my sister see cos when I was a little girl we did go to Sunday school and my sister got older and she had her friends and they used to go out for walk after, you know, boy and girl after Sunday school and of course I were there I had to be the decoy you know. I often think about it, it was all harmless you know and to think they never came back cos they were 2 nice people.
Did your mum have to do anything in the war apart from looking after you?
No never done nothing no and dad used to you know once or twice he had to go with cos he had to go out on guard when it was the war you see and be a guard and so he ere out on the trains, they used to take this ammunition didn’t they on the trains sometimes he’d be out for hours and run out of food they did and once we had a nasty air raid and it was only mum and us children there and we were a bit scared and I think Dad were down in Taunton he didn’t even know what happened.
But I don’t think there were anyone killed in the village, not with shrapnel, I know Mr Coles the farmer, his brother was at Frome he stood outside the front door and a piece of shrapnel killed him. We had a bomb dropped on Leigh Road that was a house now it’s a bungalow. My husband was cycling past there cos when he left school he worked for the coop up where Hase road that shop ….that sell the leather… and that were a butcher he’d been delivering on the bicycle he said he heard the thud and he never cycled so quick in his life.
Can you recall American troops?
Yeah in Hisomley, well, the on the top of the hollow going towards chapmanslade on the left you know where Briggs is well it was the field before that, that’s where they camped.
What in tents?
Yeah in tents. Whether they did have a hut I couldn’t tell you. But it was a lot of Americans what was confined to barracks and they used to get out and come to the village and whats it the MPs the military police would hunt them out and my sister courting her husband who she married, and he was having a drink before he went home and they came down the side of my fathers bungalow and went in the greenhouse and hid. And dad ewere a bit frightened and he said John will you come out , course john were a 6 footer see, not cos he could do much but
Did you ever go up to see the camps?
No we passed by. They had dances over the hall once a week and I used to stand round the front and watch them going up. Cos I was only a girl see.
But you didn’t talk to them at all?
No. Some did. There was a family of Youngs, Roxy Young, Diana and they lived half way down the village and Roxy went out with one and they gave her father a pair of boots cos hey always had plenty the Americans so compared to what the English did. It was snow and he was a signalman her father and walking through the snow the pattern of the boots was US army
Some stories we have heard say there were black American troops did you ever see them?
At Westbury up on The Ham. If my husband were alive he could tell you although he were in the air force but they were up on the HAM but they were quite big men and one or two children left behind from them but that’ s all I can tell you about them
And you mentioned the village hall do, that was regular
Yes most weeks they did have a hop as they called it
And were there any films
No course we did have a cinema, cos the swimming pool was closed it was a rest centre, trouble came and they took you there. I don’t think there were any need to, you know it was boarded. I was 15 when it was opened again.
Were there any effects to the hospitals did any troops come back to be treated
I don’t think so no not at Westbury, the nearest were Bath because it had some wards what they did do more for the cancer and I think that was, oh and also you know the old St Martins at Midford that was the Americans had that and a lot of operating theatres in there like Frenchay that was Americans you see, that was small huts it’s closed now. They done good things gown there but it was very old
How about getting around in the war
Oh nightmare cos no signs up no signs!! All to like Frome and that you know, we went to Bath one Christmas, my other granny and grampy came, they used to live near Warminster and we didn’t know whether we were in it, it was only mum and her mum and dad and me and we’d been to bath and we were coming back and it were dark and they didn’t shout out Westbury station see and grampy said ‘are we there?’ and we said no I don’t think so next minute we went chuffing up the bank and we got to Mank warl ?? and there was the gipsys cos there were always gipsys at Mank wall?? by the old pumping station so when we saw that we knew we were heading to Warminster. We had to get a taxi home.
Did they not have signs at the station?
No cos one chap got off the train before Bath and course it was the river an he went down into the river. He lived to tell the tale
There weren’t many cars
No. And like the food you did queue up and you didn’t know what you were queuing up for.
Did you shop locally in Dilton?
And Westbury. Rames’s and you just queue up there and you didn’t know whether it were going to be rock cakes or what it were going to be whatever they made and you did wait. I think how did our mum manage. 2 ounces of butter a week and when we got married we still had ration books see. Gradually one by one they were going but still lasted about 18 months after we got married.
Do you remember any special treats eating wise during the war?
Oh yes mum did conjure up a certain thing she was a good cook. Sometimes you could have so much corned beef and then she’d mash it and potato and make a pie yeah. She used to buy bones boiled them and get what you do get out of them and if they’d have waste what people do waste now, if you could see what we had, it were dig for victory weren’t it
Do you remember anything about the home guard?
Yeah. My dad wasn’t in the home guard. But there was a man near us I can’t remember… Collier Mr Collier he lived in the orchard in one of the houses, Pearl Collier she still lives in the village and they used to meet where did they meet? there was a hut at the back of Vince Maceys, there’s a hut they play skittles there, they did meet there. Someone else might tell you. Oh yea. In uniforms, like Dad’s army. Very like that. How they would have saved us I don’t know.
Can you think of anyone else in the village that deserves a mention in the war?
Miss Bartram the school teacher she had a room as you come out the council house there’s 2 houses stand opposite she had a room there was only 2 teachers here an another one, but the villagers were very close during the war. If anybody and the district nurse and where I lives, was a little bungalow that was where she used to live were Lewis Ball lives, she’d go round and see you were alright.
Can you remember visiting a dr during the war?
Oh yea, Dr Richards, my brother would have been ill then. He had a surgeon come out to Bath and he came in here, can you see them doing that now.
But your family weren’t ill during the war?
It was only my brother who was a weak one, he lived til early 40s but he had heart disease. He had rheumatic fever an they say he lived the length of time you know you can live with what he had
When you think back do you get, what are your overriding memories, was it sad?
We made the best of it, we used to walk miles we used to walk to Westbury and my older sister had some friends belonging to her husband and we’d walk over the hill and catch the bus back from Bratton as was our highlight of our week. Couldn’t get to the sea it was all barricaded up it was all mined right round to Boleys’ cove but dad was delivering things to the armies. Quite dangerous really. But you may think, everything was rations and you had coupons for clothes, mum didn’t give me many coupons I was more of a tomboy. My sister had some wool and she knitted a navy pullover cos you copied what the airman the like glen garry cap and you did copy and I wanted to knit a pullover and mum said no you will never finish it. Well I did beat them I bought some darning wool at Mrs Gaysforth the post office you know Mr ford it was his housekeep Mrs Gaysforth was his housekeeper he was a widower, Mr Ford did do the post office and the other side she did run the shop, underwear, flannels soaps, wool and I bought darning wool with my pocket money down there and I sewed it together and I did make a pullover , that were determination weren’t it.
How old would you have been then?
About 12 or 13. Cos yesterday one of the neighbours came over and said what are you doing and she said Derrick (that’s her husband) he’ll come over and help you and I said I’m alright I’m only trying to squeeze by or something I were going round there and they do look out to me you know I said to them let me do it so long as I can do it and she said yes I can see you’re a bit more determined. Well I do try to be independent. I have a man in he came in yesterday afternoon a gardener you know cos I got a big garden, did you have a big garden? Too big, it’s all down to grass but its quite tidy
There weren’t many cars in the village was there a garage?
There was no petrol in Dilton you could buy we had Harry Millar he lived down next to the post office and down that slope and he had an old Charabanc and taxi and he did take the children to school so I couldn’t tell you where he got his petrol and he used to take the people from Brokerswood and Rudge, don’t know about Chapmanslade, he used to go on a Wednesday to Frome and Tuesday to Trowbridge and Saturday to Frome again, used to go to Frome twice a week and then go back and get the children out from school cos of course they didn’t come out as early as what they do now, so he was home about 3 pm to get the children.
And going back to Hillary she’s a housekeeper to a nursing home you see cos she lost her husband he was only 52 when he died but anyway a man came over from Brisbane to check something cos I suppose they got other places and he said what part of England are you she said Wiltshire he said do you know Westbury, she said yes I do know Westbury he said do you know Dilton Marsh she said yes my granny and grampy lived there he said he was belonging to a Mr Ford at the post office and he’d been over there since you know and he came back last year and bought his son back