Peggy Cornforth

Wartime memories of life on the Home Front.

Photo:Peggy Cornforth.

Peggy Cornforth.

Angela Cornforth.

When war was declared in 1939, Peggy lived in a rented house close to the railway in Ilford, with her mother, father, brothers and sister. Peggy and her sister were eventually evacuated to their Aunt Daisy but their aunt was not particularly friendly towards her nieces. Peggy was very homesick and wrote to her mother every week, asking to return home. In time their mother agreed and the girls returned to Ilford.

Looking for work

At fourteen years of age, Peggy had to look for a job – she went with her father who was on leave, to Moulton’s, a department store in the High Street. Having been interviewed by the manager she began work the following Monday. Peggy worked at Moulton’s for four years, across many different departments, and she made many friends. Her favourite department was Haberdashery, where she used to add up the takings at the close of business each day, and encourage extra sales to boost her commission.

Air raids

Photo:Peggy pictured with her sister Sheila.

Peggy pictured with her sister Sheila.

Angela Cornforth.

During this time air raids were very heavy and Peggy and her family spent many nights in their uncomfortable shelter. One night Peggy and her brother wanted to sleep in the house – an argument ensued and eventually they agreed to sleep in the shelter. That night a landmine landed in the street, which completely destroyed Peggy’s home. The event affected Peggy’s mother very badly and she went to stay with Aunt Daisy in Chelmsford, whilst the family stayed in their shelter and waited to see whether they would be assigned a requisitioned house. In the end her father found alternative accommodation for them in Hornchurch.

Although the department store where Peggy was employed was hit a bomb and closed for nine months, she was able to continue working, ensuring that damaged goods were suitable to be sold.

Conscription

At the age of eighteen Peggy was called up and was employed at Temple Mills in the wages office, processing pay-as-you-earn income tax. One day she heard the engine of a bomb cut out a couple of miles away and knew that it was travelling in the direction of the office. All took shelter under a railway bridge and the bomb fell on a soap factory nearby, sending hundreds of bars of soap flying through the air. When she returned to the office she found that the ceiling had been damaged – she was unable to speak due to the shock and so was granted two weeks leave. The stress of the air raids, the destruction which they caused and the injury suffered by people took their toll on Peggy as the war dragged on.

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Peggy Cornforth
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To read more about Peggy's wartime experiences in her own words please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 28/01/2012.

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