My maiden name was Curson. I was still young when war was declared you see so I don’t remember much about that day. I do remember that plane coming up London Road.
Enemy attack on Brandon
The girls from Town Street would walk to and from the fur factory on George Street, where they worked. Those girls got hardly any pay. Anyway that plane tried to strafe them. One night, planes came across the river and dropped a bomb, but we didn’t have much else happen in Brandon, not really. So after a bit we never took any notice of the sirens and just slept in our beds. There were those Morrison shelters but we never used them.
Life in Brandon
There were the tanks, and camps down London Road. Some soldiers were billeted at the back of the Five Bells, in the room where the Oddfellows group would meet upstairs. I was aware of them as I was that age! All the fellas were after me! But we didn’t do anything because my father wouldn’t let us. We didn’t have the freedom they have now, so we couldn’t go out or anything. Some wanted to go to the cinema with me, and the cinema was about four pence. There used to be queues if there was a good film coming on, these went past the Flowerpot pub. Old Bob Coleman used to live in one of the houses near the cinema and he used to be on the door. He would let so many in and then push the others back if there was not enough room in the cinema.
We also had the Church Institute and the Paget Hall, where there were dances, but we were not allowed to go to them. I did eventually, but I always did as I was told. My father said if we were ever to go then he would come and fetch us back. Well that would show us up wouldn’t it? There were six of us kids, three girls and three boys. Alan is the oldest (92), then me, I also have a sister who lives in Southery, and then there is Mark, Christopher and Wendy. I would go with my father to deliver wood as I did not want to stay behind and look after the kids.
Father did all sorts. He bought and sold. He also sold firewood. He didn’t want us to work for anyone else, but when war came I had to go and work for someone else. I wanted to go and join the Land Army, but father tore that paperwork up! So I went into the Forestry, which was attached to the Land Army. There was a big army camp, at Worthing, on left hand side. I worked with them all through the war, cutting branches off and burning the brushwood. That was lovely working with all the girls. It was physical work but I enjoyed it. Some girls were taught how to drive tractors. I loved my time with them girls. They were from all over the country, but there were two or three from Brandon, and they all went their different ways afterwards. In them days the women were expected to stay at home and look after the kids.
Potatoes were the staple back then and you would fill up on them. We weren’t allowed much, but we always had plenty because you made it last. But there was always the black market. You could always get something and we used to get plenty of meat. My father would manage to get black market stuff, say a joint of beef. The butcher would give his friends sausages, and one of them was the local vicar. You would have to queue for ages at the butchers.