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Recollections of the 2nd World War.

Joyce Collett

Joyce Collett was asked whether she was happy to talk about memories from the war and her life in general.

Joyce was born 8th. September 1927. She lived in Draycott Moor for 46yrs. going to school in Longworth leaving at 14 yrs. old. Her father worked with shire horses for a Mr. Frost and when Joyce left school she started work as a farmworker at Cox’s.

She has many recollections about the war years which show how ordinary lives were affected in this area.

Joyce Collett

The family did not have much money but were able to keep chickens and grow their own vegetables. They ate wild rabbits and bought their clothes from local jumble sales. Rations were very meagre with 2oz. of cheese, butter (margarine perhaps) a week. Joyce can remember the blackout curtains which had to be used whenever the lights were on.

Evacuees came from London – they went to the local school and youth club. Some stayed after the war.

Land army girls came and worked on local farms staying at Heath House. Much help was needed to work on the land and Italian and German P.O.W.s worked on the fields. The Italians lived in large sheds on Cox’s farm and the Germans lived at Besseleigh being brought to work in lorries.

Gipsies also worked on the farms and camped locally.

The airport at Abingdon had bright searchlights and Joyce used to watch the planes going out and count them coming home. The airport at Stanton Harcourt was bombed. Two of Joyce’s friends (Mary and Jean) married airmen. Unhappily Mary’s husband was killed in an accident just after the war.

As the war progressed and the Americans joined us the woods at Draycott were cleared and the area used as a camp. Rimes Close was also used by the Americans.The G.I.s used to pick the local girls up in their lorries and take them to dances which were held at Kingston Bagpuize. Joyce felt that the G.I.’s weren’t always very popular.

Joyce has photographs of some Italian and German P.O.W.s Some of these prisoners remained after the war.

Source: Joyce Collett talks to Joan Lovegrove.

Dorcas Collett recalls Miss Crum.

Dorcas Collett

Miss Crum was always down there with my father because he played the violin. We done the dancing in the square and Tony’s [Gutteridge] Mum was there teaching us. We walked in twos behind the May Queen who was in a donkey cart up to Lady Hyde’s and then we had to dance for Lady Hyde and go round to the kitchen and have a glass of milk and something to eat. Then we came back in twos and skipped along behind my father playing the violin, and down to the Manor and that was were the Maypole was, which we had to dance round of course, to Miss Crum and her father. After we plaited it up, the May Queen was sitting on her throne and then she got crowned. There was a lovely tea in the barn.

Source: Dorcas Collett talks to the History Society.