Jean Gordon

The outbreak of war

Jean recalls the first day of the war.

Sheltering

Jean talks about her experience of sheltering.

'No news'

Jean recalls the time her father's ship was sunk in the Indian Ocean.

Photo:Jean Gordon 'digging for victory'.

Jean Gordon 'digging for victory'.

Jean Gordon

Recollections of life on the Home Front.

The outbreak of war

Born in 1926, Jean Gordon (nee Morton) lived in Ramsgate with her mother at the outbreak of war in 1939. Jean recalls when the air raid siren went on the first day of the war:

‘Soon after we had gone to bed that night the siren went off and my Mum got me up and dressed and was urging my Nan to “come on” because we had to walk down a lot of steps to the seafront to the old railway tunnel for shelter.  My Nan kept saying “Wait ‘til I’ve done me ‘air” (she had to make two plaits and then do a circle of the plait to cover each ear!)  By the time she had achieved this the all clear sounded as it had been a “false alarm”.’

Life on the Home Front

Although Jean’s school had been evacuated to Wales at the beginning at the war, she remained at home with her mother. After a short spell living in Sittingbourne, Jean and her mother moved to Chatham where the family had lived prior to the war. In Chatham she rejoined her old school, Fort Pitt Day Technical School for Girls. Life on the Home Front was affected by restrictions such as rationing.  Jean recalls, ‘food rationing was very frugal and so we had our own chickens and rabbits and I was encouraged to ‘dig for victory’ so that we could grow our own ‘spuds’!’ 

'No news'

Jean’s father served in the Royal Navy, and in April 1942, his ship was sunk in the Indian Ocean. It took four weeks before Jean and her mother received news that he had survived. Jean recalls going with her mother to a public phone box near Chatham Town Hall ‘where my Mum had to ring the Admiralty in Bath to see if they had any news for us.  We did this over a period of nearly four weeks and my Mum would come out of the phone box shaking her head which I knew meant “No news”.  The day she came out crying and ran to hug me I knew that Dad was O.K.!’ Jean’s father had been in the water for over thirty hours before he and the other survivors were rescued and taken to Durban, South Africa.  

Downloads

Interview with Jean Gordon
Interview with Jean Gordon (192k)
To read the full transcript of Jean's interview please press the above link.

Jean Gordon
Jean Gordon (43k)
To read more about Jean's wartime experiences in her own words please press the above link.

The outbreak of war
The outbreak of war (136k)
Transcript of audio clip with Jean Gordon.

Sheltering
Sheltering (136k)
Transcript of audio clip with Jean Gordon.

'No news'
'No news' (135k)
Transcript of audio clip with Jean Gordon.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 12/06/2012.

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