Frances Remembers

Frances Turner

Born in 1931 in South Ferriby, North Lincolnshire

I was eight when the war began and fourteen when it ended. I lived with my family at South Ferriby Sluice near the cement works so we had really good views of the River Humber and could see the bombs dropping on Hull at night. When there was an air raid over Hull the whole sky would be lit up.

I can remember air raid practices at our local village school. We all had to go to the shelter together and we used to pass the time away by singing. Thankfully we never had to use the shelters in an emergency situation. I hated the gas masks and we also had to do gas mask drill. I remember once that the headmaster walked around all the classrooms and I had removed my gas mask. He sent me into one of the lower classes because he said that was where I belonged if I didn’t follow instructions. He expected me to set an example to the others as I was in the top class.

My brother was called up to fight when he was eighteen and that really worried us all. My father didn’t have to go into the forces because he had an important job guarding the pumping station on the River Ancholme which supplied the steel works in Scunthorpe with water.

I remember the evacuees that came to Ferriby, they all came from Hull to escape the bombing. I didn’t like the teacher that came with them as she once hit me across the back of my hand with a ruler. Some of the evacuees also lived in the next village and they made us all laugh by putting their gas masks onto the sheep in the fields. 

One day I came home from school to find that our orchard had been taken over by a troop of soldiers. My sister and I used two of our outbuildings as playhouses but we weren’t allowed in them anymore because the officer in charge and the sergeant used them as living quarters. One Sunday morning we couldn’t get out of our garden because the soldiers had put concertina wire across the gate because they thought that the German soldiers had come up the River Humber. My mother insisted that we were let out so that we didn’t miss Sunday School.

Later in the war my older sister became friends with a German prisoner of war who had to work on the steelworks in Scunthorpe. They eventually married and went to live in Germany together after the war ended. It seems a strange twist of fate that my brother came home safely from Germany but because of the war my sister went to live in Germany for the rest of her life.