Tag Archives: Second World War

When no one locked their doors on my street

This is a history of my street, from 1931-2011. It’s a firsthand account. So it’s not written by me. Guess that makes it a guest post.

One of my neighbours, Pam, wrote it to share with the rest of us on the street. I typed it up and printed off copies to hand out at our recent royal wedding street party (here, here and here).

I’ve slightly edited it for this blog. And I’ll give you a little context too.

The street is on the edge of a village in the south of England. Population less than five thousand people. Used to be mainly farm workers. Now a lot of people commute to the nearest city.

Pam was born on the street and has lived here most of her life.  She has some good tales. One of them features an odd woman in a beret. (Apologies. In the previous post I promised you a flat cap. Turns out it’s a beret.)

So here’s Pam’s story.

I was born at no.22, lived there for a year, then moved to no.18 for a year, then to no.17 for the next thirty years, until my husband and I bought an allotment and orchard from the owners at no.19 and built our own bungalow no.21.

Many of the houses were built in the late 1920s and 1930s by two local builders. They were mostly rented. It was only after World War II that people began to buy homes outright. Most houses have altered almost out of recognition with rooms added up and out.

I do not know if our home came with gas at first, but I do remember the excitement of just touching a switch and the light coming on when electricity was installed. Before then, one had a bracket with two gas mantles which had a chain to operate the gas flow. One then lit the mantles carefully with a match. That was only downstairs. Electricity came to the street around 1937 I think. Before then we went to bed by candlelight.

Everyone had a flower garden, a vegetable patch and a few greenhouses – fruit trees and bushes and strawberries. Everyone in those days grew most of their vegetables and shared them with neighbours.

A few chickens at the bottom of the garden and rabbits in hutches provided extra meat – especially during the war years and eggs were precious. During the war we had a retriever who when told to “catch a rabbit” over the fields, did just that and made the meat ration go further. The large oak tree (now listed) at the rear of no.17 was home to a family of red squirrels until the grey squirrels moved in.

1. It's not a woman in a beret. 2. It's the wrong type of rabbit. 3. It's a pipe not a cigarette. 4. Who cares.

Also to the rear of no.17 in the corner of the field was a reclusive lady who Continue reading

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Paddy the Pigeon

The real deal

This is the story of World War Two hero Paddy the Pigeon from Carnlough in Northern Ireland. Unlike the Desert Fox, Mad Dog McGlinchey, Richard the Lionheart, the Border Fox, Carlos the Jackal and the Black Panthers – Paddy really does what it says on the tin. He actually is, or was, a pigeon.

But not just any pigeon. He was the speediest RAF messenger pigeon during the Normandy landings.

Fake #1

The late (as in dead, not slow) Paddy has been in the news because he’s just been honoured with a fly past near his home. A fly past of pigeons. Loads of them. No doubt local car owners were delighted.

Paddy, courtesy of his medal, has Category Three Pigeon Status. (Category One: Airborne Vermin – includes nearly all  other pigeons. Category Two: Stool Pigeons. Continue reading

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