One of the unexpected bonuses of all the research I'm doing is having the opportunity to talk to real people about their war time experiences. When I met with Judith the other day she kindly gave me her Mum's telephone number and suggested that I call her up.
What a lovely lady, we had a long chat about her experiences. At the tender age of eighteen all young people had to report to the old Labour exchange to be assigned war work. Young women in her area were offered either going in to the forces or to go to work in a munitions factory and she opted for munitions work. This was no easy option as it meant getting up at 4.30 in the morning after probably only a couple of hours sleep due to the air raid warnings, then an hour on a bus to start work at 6 o'clock for an eight hour shift making 25 lb bombs!
It was lovely to hear her talking about going to the dances at the American air base at OultonPark and dating the young American Servicemen. Her Mum however wasn't best pleased when she brought one of them home and told her not to bring any more home or she would be 'the talk of the lane'. The poor girl was only being friendly with the highlight of her date being a visit to the local chip shop for some 'french fries' - they really were different times - and even in the middle of a war young girls weren't frightened to walk home from a dance at midnight in the blackout.
As I've discovered from other sources, for a lot of young women the war years were probably the best years of their lives, they were young, they had freedom and money unheard of in the parents' day and for some they had the opportunity to meet young men who they never imagined they would ever get the chance to meet. Let's face it the only Americans most British girls had ever seen before the war were Hollywood movie stars, it's no wonder there were so many GI brides.