Frances Sewell

Fire watching

Frances talks about her fire watching duties.

The Blitz

Frances recalls her experiences of the Blitz.

The return of an injured husband

Frances recalls her husband's return from the Army.

Photo:Frances Sewell pictured in her home in 2012.

Frances Sewell pictured in her home in 2012.

June Balshaw

Photo:Frances undertook fire watching in the area where she lived. This enrolement notice outlines her Civil Defence duties.

Frances undertook fire watching in the area where she lived. This enrolement notice outlines her Civil Defence duties.

Frances Sewell

Recollections of fire watching and scars of war.

Married life

Frances Sewell was born in 1920. As an eight year old girl, Frances moved to Woolwich with her family. She remained in the area for the duration of the war. In March 1940, Frances married her husband. However, as he served in the Army the couple could not start a home together. Therefore, Frances lived with her mother until she fell pregnant at the end of the war.

Fire watching

Frances worked in an office in the City and was exempt from conscription. Frances recalls, ‘I would have liked to have gone in the Land Army…[But] they wanted me in the office to keep the business going so that was it. So I was exempted…Which I regretted at one time’. However, to assist the war effort, Frances undertook fire watching duties: ‘[W]e had a routine. Certain days you went out in the evenings. You sort of walked round the street watching to see if there was anything. If you saw a fire you were supposed to put it out or help put it out. I never did get a fire’.

The return of an injured husband

During service in North Africa, Frances’s husband was injured. For nine months he was in hospital in Jerusalem and South Africa before returning to Britain. Frances recalls meeting him at the station on his return: ‘We met him at the station and I was ashamed to walk along with him. He had his khaki army trousers on that were all stained. No underclothes and an overcoat that was ten times too big, and a few little belongings in a little cotton bag’.

There were times when Frances’s husband was judged for not being in uniform. She recalls, ‘Once or twice…we’d been on the bus with people who said, ‘Huh, why is that man not in the Army?’ Because to look at him he looked fine and that was a bit embarrassing cos in those days I wouldn’t speak up for myself so I just ignored it’. The injuries he sustained during the war affected him for the rest of his life.  

Downloads

Interview with Frances Sewell
Interview with Frances Sewell (171k)
To read the transcript of Frances's interview please press the above link.

Fire watching
Fire watching (130k)
Transcript of audio clip with Frances Sewell.

The Blitz
The Blitz (134k)
Transcript of audio clip with Frances Sewell.

The return of an injured husband
The return of an injured husband (135k)
Transcript of audio clip with Frances Sewell.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 04/10/2012.

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