Marie Freeman

Recollections of wartime in Southwark and High Wickham.

Hartley's jam factory

In 1939 Marie was four years old. She lived in Southwark with her parents. When she was five years old she remembers her father taking her into the bathroom and covering her head with a pillow during raids, to save her from falling bombs. During heavy raids the family travelled to Hartley’s jam factory to shelter. They slept on sacks of sugar. In January 1941 a bomb fell on the factory which was ‘terrifying’. As panic ensued her father, who was unable to serve in the forces, climbed onto a chair and began to sing in an attempt to calm people. The next morning Marie’s mother and aunts went to work. Marie, her father and grandmother caught a bus to the Church Hall at High Wickham. They waited with other evacuees to find a billet, before returning to London to collect her mother and aunts. Marie’s mother refused to leave the family home until her father told her that he had secured a private cottage for them. He told her the truth only half an hour before they arrived.

High Wickham

Eventually they were able to rent a blacksmiths’ cottage. Marie remembers the spikes which protruded from the walls where horseshoes had been hung. The family spent the remainder of the war in High Wickham and largely enjoyed it. Her brother was born on D-Day. Her mother often put him outside in his pram, and found oranges and lipsticks left by American servicemen from the nearby camp. Marie’s meetings with Italian POWs were always positive. They attended the local church and made toys for children. After the war ended, the family returned to London and lived in New Cross, where Marie stayed until she got married.

Seeing London on fire

Photo:Photograph of Marie's younger brother in a naval officer suit made especially for him.

Photograph of Marie's younger brother in a naval officer suit made especially for him.

Marie Freeman

As High Wickham was close to London she frequently saw fires burning during raids. She remembers her grandmother taking her to the cinema whilst her parents returned to London for the day. As Marie watched news footage of a raid she was terrified as thought it was happening at that moment and that her parents would be hurt.

'Are you alright dear?'

Marie rarely felt deprived during the war as people helped each other. On her birthday a neighbour made her a jelly. Her family made friends with a Jewish family who owned a fish shop. Subsequently they often received fresh fish. The father of the family owned a tailors business in London which made uniforms for officers. She has a photo of her brother in a naval officer suit which was made especially for him. On one occasion Marie’s father was driving to London when doodle-bugs fell. Both he and the driver of the car in front of him stopped. The male driver ran for cover leaving his female passenger behind. Marie’s father helped her out of the vehicle. After the bomb had dropped they went back to the car and the man joined them, whilst asking his wife ’are you alright dear?’

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To read more about Marie's warime experiences in her own words please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 06/06/2012.

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