Peggy Durham

Photo:Peggy Durham

Peggy Durham

Peggy Durham

Photo:Peggy with co-workers at Broadfield House, Crawley.

Peggy with co-workers at Broadfield House, Crawley.

Peggy Durham

Photo:Peggy (centre) in Kemsing in 1945.

Peggy (centre) in Kemsing in 1945.

Peggy Durham

Photo:A more recent photograph of Peggy.

A more recent photograph of Peggy.

Peggy Durham

Photo:Broadfield House, Crawley.

Broadfield House, Crawley.

Wikimedia Commons

Wartime memories of escaping the Blitz and working in a reserved occupation.

Escaping the Blitz

Born in 1924, Peggy Durham was fifteen years old at the outbreak of war and living with her family on the Isle of Dogs. In the Docklands, the area suffered badly in the Blitz. Peggy recalls, that after days of bombing:

‘[The] Isle of Dogs was surrounded by a ring of fire – you could feel the heat. All the family was terrified, we were tired and dirty and never slept – so one afternoon my father who was suffering with T.B. at that time got us all together and said ‘pick up a few things, I don’t know where we are going but we are getting out of here’. [So] we packed a bag, picked up a few bottles of milk and off we all went’.

The family eventually finished up in Sevenoaks. With the help of strangers the family found accommodation in a guest house. When the landlady opened the door she said ‘the night before she had looked over to London, saw the sky lit up with red and prayed for all the people. God had sent us to her’.

Broadfield House

In 1941, Peggy left her family to be evacuated with her workplace in the Isle of Dogs to Crawley, Sussex. She had been employed in the office of an oil refinery since she began work at the age of fifteen. The office staff were relocated to the 19th century villa, Broadfield House. The offices were on the ground floor and the bedrooms upstairs. Peggy recalls, ‘coming from the East End of London it was wonderland’. Opposite the house, there was an Army camp and the girls employed in the office often socialised with the soldiers. Many soldiers were Canadian who taught the girls how to dance jitterbug and square dance.

Being in a reserved occupation, Peggy was never called up to join the forces and the girls mostly enjoyed their time at Broadfield House. She recalls ‘we were blessed not to be in the firing line. We did fine duty but never had any need, in fact we mostly slept through it’. Peggy remained at Broadfield House until the end of the war but back in London she ‘found it very hard to settle back living in a council house on the Isle of Dogs’.

Downloads

Letter written by Peggy Durham (1)
Letter written by Peggy Durham (1) (37k)
To read more about Peggy's wartime experiences please press the above link.

Letter written by Peggy Durham (2)
Letter written by Peggy Durham (2) (6k)
To read more about Peggy's wartime experiences please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 20/04/2012.
Comments about this page

My great auntie Peggy is an inspiration to us all I love her to bits and she is still full of life and I am so very proud to have her in my life

By lisa
On 15/07/2012

Peg is a real "BOOTY" & we love her to bits & when we have spoken to her on the phone we always feel better for it one of lifes gems.

By Roger Jacobs
On 21/09/2012

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