Rose Kyle

Recollections of life on the Home Front and working at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

Family life

Rose married Frank Kyle in 1943, whilst he was serving as an engineer for the Royal Marines. After they married, the couple lived in Deptford before later moving to a council house in Charlton. For the duration of the war Rose lived with her parents. Her brother Len, who was seven years her junior, was evacuated to Bedford to stay with relatives (‘thank goodness – he was a pest!’) Fortunately their home did not suffer an excessive amount of bomb damage and they were able to shelter in the Anderson which her father constructed at the bottom of the garden. Although Rose cannot recall the exact thoughts and emotions which she experienced during the raids, the shelter was ‘claustrophobic’.

The Royal Naval College

During the war years Rose worked as a secretary at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich. The nature of the work was confidential. When she entered a room she would say ‘it’s only me Admiral Bing’ in order to identify herself. Rose had Canadian and Australian colleagues during the war. After 1945 many remained at the college and undertook training to use nuclear subs. Her colleagues were pleasant and she kept in touch with some of them after the war had ended. During the war years Rose also worked for a firm of welders in Greenwich. One of her duties was to take dictations although one of her male colleagues used to try to ‘edge himself into’ her whilst she was writing, and she would have to move further along the table away from him. She recalls how one day she kicked him and he ‘never forgave her.’

The Home Front

During the war years, despite the constraint of rationing, Rose was able to dress quite smartly as she was a dressmaker and could make her own clothes. She also made friends with shopkeepers, who told her when to queue for good quality produce. She recalls that entertainment was fairly limited during the war years although the couple spent the majority of their leisure time at the cinema. Rose’s favourite actress was Vera Lynn. She did not celebrate VE or VJ Day as Frank was still in service.

Memories rather not remembered

Whilst Rose has many wartime memories, there are some which neither she nor Frank wish to remember. For instance, she recalls feeling frightened to leave the house after dark due to the blackouts, and remembers the rush which occurred during raids as people panicked and scrambled to the shelters, particularly at night. Rose had a bag prepared which contained biscuits and drinks to take to the shelter. Rose is glad that she survived the war years and feels lucky in comparison to others who suffered. Her memories are sometimes jogged through ordinary activities – when she looks in drawers and finds mementoes which she has kept, such as books about cake decorating. Rose ‘kept herself busy’ and made many wedding cakes. She also made children’s clothes. Her Aunt taught her to sew, as she made dresses for young women presented at court.  

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 25/06/2012.

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