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Whitstable at War - World War II

Family Life: Make Do, Mend... and Share

   

Make Do & Mend....

 

With most things in short supply, local people made use of what they could find. Sometimes the conflict itself provided material.... and one particular type of trophy was much sought after to cover the basics of life....

 

My cousins John and Bill Wood "rescued" silk parachutes from target practices off the Whitstable beaches and my aunt Agnes converted these into "ladies garments".

Sue Pidford
New Zealand

 

However, for some, there were brushes with the establishment....

 

My Grandmother (Gladys Foreman) was given a silk parachute from the wreckage of the crashed Dornier at West Beach. 

I can recall how she told me that someone reported her to the authorities and a policeman called and took away the contraband.... but not before she had "liberated" enough of it to make a slip or two though! 

Mark Foreman
Brooks
Alberta
Canada
 

 

There was also the problem of differentiating between the various types of a parachute. Not all would make the lingerie section of posh department stores....

 

You mentioned a sea mine being dropped by a small parachute.  To the best of my knowledge all air dropped sea mines had parachutes but they wouldn't have been small.  

Sea mines were usually quite large and certainly heavier than the fattest airman (Goering excepted). So, the parachute would almost certainly have been bigger than those used by airmen. 

I have a vague memory of Whitstable women talking of what they could get out of a sea mine parachute as it was so much bigger than normal.  I do not know this as fact but I would expect such parachutes to be made of material other than precious silk.  A couple of reasons for using silk for airmen were compacting into small space and free running when 'unpacking'  for opening.

Brian Smith
Hoppers Crossing
Victoria
Australia

 

Thus sea mine 'chutes provided quantity rather than quality. Other types were also short on volume... 

 

There were a few much smaller parachutes found than those used by unfortunate airmen. As far as I can recall, they were about 3 feet wide and were used, so some said, to drop incendiary bombs. 

Brian Smith
Hoppers Crossing
Victoria
Australia

 

At the time, Whitstable was still alive with workshops.... and very skilled people. Spare time was often used to create toys for children.... 

 

My cousin Bill Wood was an excellent craftsman and made many of our childhood toys, including a pogo stick, stilts and butterflies on wheels who's wings flapped when pushed along. We only have a rather battered carved, fully jointed, Pinocchio left. As it was war time all our toys were played with lots and passed on when out grown. 

My aunt Agnes made dolls from old stockings and soft toys from what ever came to hand.

Sue Pidford
New Zealand 

   

A Sharing Society...

 

We have mentioned the "make do and mend" nature of play and toys. However, this was not always the case.....

 

Earlier I wrote of an unexploded bomb causing the Potten family to move from what I recall was Regent Street to a house in Canterbury Rd. Perhaps this location was a temporary one but it was very fortuitous for Brian and Bernard Potten as well as me to some extent.  

As I recall it, the son of a neighbour was missing - perhaps killed in action.  He had been given or had collected a large amount of Meccano and Hornby clockwork trains and rails etc. Several tea chests of those ‘treasures’ were given to Pottens to play with. I believe the thought was to return them if the missing son eventually returned home. 

I enjoyed many a school holiday at Pottens’ playing with the trains. A circuit around the front room, down the passage to the next room, back to the passage, down a step to the kitchen then on into the scullery and return to the front room.  Bernard usually ‘collared’ the biggest loco, a 4-6-0 I think to which he added the best carriages. Brian used a smaller engine possibly a 2-4-0 with carriages or freight trucks while I had a choice of the remaining small 0-4-0 locos any left over carriages or freight trucks. 

It was a marvelous fun wartime memory for me and I often wonder how the family put up with the track throughout the house, as I recall it, for days on end.

Brian Smith
Hoppers Crossing
Victoria
Australia 

        


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