My dad then had to move us from Birmingham, so we first went to Balsall Common near Coventry and then finally to Warwick. At Balsall Common, I remember waking up one day to find all the trees and hedges covered in paper! They had bombed WH Smith paper warehouse, you see, and all the paper had gone flying all over lifted by the heat of the fire.
How we came to Warwick
My great uncle and aunt had lived and worked on the Loes Farm at Guys Cliffe in Warwick for 30 years or so and it was around now that my great aunt told my dad that there was a job going looking after the cows at the back of Guys Cliffe House at the farm. That’s how we came to be in Warwick during the War. At first, I went to work at a bakery near Myton Fields but later I worked at Loes Farm. I was too young to be called up straight away. The farm was owned by a chap called Jack Forrester. They kept the farm after the War too, but I went to work at Brook Farm, Myton Fields, where the schools are now.
It was hard work but enjoyable. I’d rather be doing that than what they do now. On Loes Farm there were seven of us to do the work. We didn’t have much machinery. We did also have four girls from the Land Army but they were billeted in town and didn’t live with us. Our nearest neighbour was up by the canal because there weren’t all these houses then, just the two cottages. They kept moving the girls from the Land Army but they were very good and tried hard.
First thing in the morning was cow milking – all by hand of course. Till about 10 o’clock and then till 12 o’clock in the night we were in the fields. Sometimes we even got the cows in after that and had to milk them. On the rations, we had extra cheese and, of course, we had all the milk we wanted. We grew the vegetables ourselves, didn’t have to buy them.
I remember I went to Guy’s Cliffe first when I was four and my dad and great uncle took me to see the new canal locks being built at the age of six. The canal was a commercial thing in those days. The narrow boats with their diesel engines going pop, pop came all the time, taking goods down to London.
Farm Workers Union
All the chaps on the farm were members of the Farm Workers Union. My dad was the secretary. He looked after the money side of things. Took the subs and all that.
When I was called up I went to join the Army because the farmer wouldn’t sign the form that was needed if I was to stay behind. Because I was from Birmingham they put me in the Worcestershire Regiment. I didn’t see any fighting and then I went back to farming just after the end of the War. My brother joined the RAF and had to go to Canada to train.
This article was published as part of the Warwickshire in 100 Objects project, part of Warwickshire Bytes.