Martha Barzey

Recollections of life on the Home Front.

Moving to Manchester

Martha was born in 1937 and so was very young when the war began. As her mother was widowed shortly before the outbreak of war they went to stay with Martha’s grandparents in Essex near the Black Water Estuary. As a widow, Martha’s mother was required to work to support the family. Some family friends in Manchester employed her and so the two of them moved to the luxury rectory where Martha remembers the Blitz being particularly heavy as they had to spend three days sheltering over the first Christmas of the war. One day the rectory was hit and a bomb became lodged in the kitchen which luckily caused no injury; with Martha’s mother cooking breakfast anyway! The rector’s mother passed away soon after so all travelled to her house in Cheshire where Martha enjoyed herself playing in the gardens and cellars.

Assisting the war effort

Martha’s mother refrained from signing up to the war effort as she was a widow, had elderly parents and wanted to stay close to her daughter. However, she was still a great contributor as she volunteered to fire watch and was a member of the WVS Civil Defence, the Queen’s Messengers, the Red Cross County of Essex, and the Joint Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance. Martha had chicken pox during the war and when the young local soldiers heard the news they all went to see her to try and catch it so that they could be granted leave – although it didn’t work. Martha remembers the doodlebugs and V2 rockets falling describing the former as a ‘huge brown cigar with a light at one end’.

A thank you from the King

Martha received the letter sent out by the King to all children for their contribution to the war and still has it today – remarking that the continued presence of the Royals as that time was perceived as positive and resilient. After the war Martha lived in Wales for some time and belonged to a sailing club.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 07/06/2012.

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