Veteran Stories:
Maisie Bartlett

Army

  • Mrs. Maisie (age 20) Bartlett in 1942 dressed with her Army Territorial Service uniform. The Army Territorial Service was the women's branch of the British Army in World War Two.

    Maisie Bartlett
  • Mrs. Bartlett's Army Territorial Service Release Book and Movement Order (1946).

    Maisie Bartlett
  • Inside of Mrs. Bartlett Release Book from the ATS (1946).

    Maisie Bartlett
  • Inside of Mrs. Bartlett Release Book from the ATS (1946) with a comment on her good conduct and efficiency in the Service.

    Maisie Bartlett
  • Mrs Bartlett received in 1946 the War Medal 1939-1945 for her 4 years of service in the Army Territorial Service (1942-1946).

    Maisie Bartlett
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"And every time I come home on leave, it seemed there was a raid on, after I had to help dig out people and everybody helped put their all in. Everybody gave their time. And I didn’t mind pulling people out but there was one time that really was bad for me, it took me a while to get over it."

Transcript

I remember I was working in the candy shop, well, we called it a “sweet shop” and the manageress put the radio on and she said: ‘I want to listen to this because it’s serious.’ And then the Prime Minister [of Britain, Sir Winston Churchill] said: ‘We are at war with Germany’, she said: ‘Right, close the shop, that’s it, we’re going home.’ And no more work that day.

I was called up [in June 1942]. You got a paper in the mail and you had to go. You are called up to go into the ATS [the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army in World War Two] and I was 20, it was on my birthday. And that’s it. I just knew it was a women’s army, you know, women going in and I didn’t really attach much interest to it. When you’re a teenager, you don’t worry about those sort of things, you know.

I can remember, when I went home on leave, when the raids came and the wardens got everybody into shelters [at the time when the Germans were launching self-propelled V-1 rockets in 1944], a lot of Londoners made for the underground railway, which you call Metro. And they would make their beds on the platforms and I got out the train and you had to step over the bodies that were asleep there and make sure you don’t wake them up. And there was the kiddies crying and screaming and oh, what a noise.

Anyway, you get outside, then the all clear comes and then half an hour after, another raid. And so it went on. And my poor old mom, she used to be getting really nervous, she was a bag of nerves and I’d go down into the shelter with her, we had one of these Anderson shelters [a specific type of shelter named after Sir John Anderson, then Lord Privy Seal], they were called, and it was just a piece of metal corrugated stuck over a hole. And the ground was damp. You were supposed to sleep down there. No way. My dad, he wouldn’t go down there, he used to say: ‘If I’m going to die, I’ll die up on my bed upstairs.’ And mom, every plane that went over, she’d, oh, and I’d say: ‘It’s one of ours, dear, don’t worry, it’s one of ours.’ It wasn’t but I said that.

Then we had the Doodlebugs [a colloquial name for the German V-1 flying bomb], what we called Doodlebugs, the first ones. And they did give you a warning, like it would be like a hum and up and down. And then suddenly, it would cut off and then it would crash. And at least they gave you a warning that, hello, duck, run for cover. But the second one, the V-2 [the German V-2 liquid-propellant rocket], that was a rocket and you couldn’t hear it coming until it hit you. That was bad.

And every time I come home on leave, it seemed there was a raid on, after I had to help dig out people and everybody helped put their oar in. Everybody gave their time. And I didn’t mind pulling people out but there was one time that really was bad for me, it took me a while to get over it. I pulled a leg and that’s all I got was a leg. And it really upset me that time.

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