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Tollesbury - Village of the Plough and Sail

Learning to Jive and Jitterbug

I was fourteen when the War started and remember going out at night with my Grandfather to check that all the members of the family were safe. When I started work I went into service in a big house on Lexden Road, Colchester. We had to wait on the ATS who were stationed in the house. We were off one Sunday in three so I was able to get home.

Grandfather Frost was worried about me being out at night in a big town so he fitted blakets to my shoes so that when I walked along the road I sounded like a Soldier. I didn't like it but I was never bothered.

They wouldn't call me by my name as they said that Pearl wasn't a servant's name. So they alwayss called me "Chatterson". I was the under-parlour maid and had to make fires, clean the ATS Officers shoes, run their baths and wash up. Luckily for me when things got bad and the bombing worse, the family decided to go to Scotland.

I came back to Tollesbury and worked at the Co-op shop until I got my papers to be called up. I had to report to Hoffmans in Chelmsford with one of my friends. They couldn't find lodgings for us, so we were sent home.

Alf Drake offered me a job at his works in the village. The men were making 27' whalers for the Navy and our job was to make the oars and paddles. That was my job - also helping Violet Drake in the office.

During 1942 the American forces arrived in Essex. All around Tollesbury, aerodromes were being built. Some were in easy reach of Tollesbury and American Soldiers were soon enjoying a drinking in the Tollesbury pubs when they were off duty. On Saturday nights trucks would come over to Tollesbury
Square to pick us up and take us to the camps where the hanger roofs would be draped with coloured parachutes.

Wonderful bands would provide the music and there would be masses of food and drink. The Soldiers also came to dances in the village and taught us to Jive and Jitterbug. For a short time we forgot about the War.

©Pearl Barbrook, WW2 People's War
Reproduced under the following terms

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