Veteran Stories:
Margaret Ellis

Army

  • Margaret Ellis' war bride visa, 1945.

    Margaret Ellis
  • Margart Ellis's War Bride Visa, 1945.

    Margaret Ellis
  • Margaret Ellis, 1943.

    Margaret Ellis
  • Margaret Ellis, 1941.

    Margaret Ellis
  • Margaret Ellis's shoulder flashes.

    Margaret Ellis
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"We stood on London Bridge and watched the bombs come down into the docks and every time the bombs came down, more flames came up of course."

Transcript

Well, as you know, the war started in 1939. And Hitler had decided to do a little bit things ahead and my oldest brother, who I admired at the time and I loved very much, his ship was sunk. So that made me mad. [laughs] And I went to New Scotland Yard [headquarters of London Metropolitan Police] and applied to join the army. Well, I wanted to join the WRNS [Women’s Royal Naval Service], but they hadn’t started because my family are nautical, they’re all navy. And so they said the ATS [Auxiliary Territorial Service] had started, so I went there. And then about three weeks later, I got notice to say that I had an interview at New Scotland Yard and then I told my parents. [laughs] I hadn’t told them because I was only 17 and I was underage, of course.

Anyway, I got into the army, I did my training in Aldermaston in Reading. Then about three weeks after I’d done my basic training, they suddenly realized I wasn’t 18, so they sent me home with a form to my father and for him to sign if I wanted to remain in the army. And seeing as how I’d already done that, I said definitely. And my father’s words to me were, if I sign this, don’t you dare cry to me. And I’d already done my crying, [laughs] so I wasn’t going to do it anymore. And then I was posted to Hounslow in Middlesex and for some unknown reason, the Germans just did not like our barracks there. So every night, we slept in an air raid shelter and that’s a little Nissen hut in the ground, like an Anderson shelter as they called it. And my landlady used to meet me at the door with my pajamas and dressing gown in one hand and my dinner, my supper in the other hand [laughs] because they always came at suppertime for some unknown reason, Germans always came at suppertime. Then we’d dive into the shelter and stay there for the night, and then I’d go back to the office the next day, you know.

Well, after Hounslow, I went to Reigate in Surrey with the Command Chief Clerk’s Branch, of course. And I stayed there for years and it’s funny enough, because when we left Hounslow, they hadn’t hit our barracks once. They’d hit the houses all around it, but the night we left the barracks, they hit the barracks. When there was nobody in it, they hit the barracks. [laughs] But, anyway, then I went to Reigate in Surrey and I stayed there; and then I was posted to Birmingham. And from Birmingham, I went to Melton Mowbray; and from Melton Mowbray, I went down to Aldershot. By that time, my brother’s ship, my brother had been saved and my other brother in the navy had been sunk for a change …. My cousin had been shot down with the Lancaster bombers and my sister married a Metropolitan policeman one week, and we were at his funeral the following week. He was killed a week later.

So I had a lot of cause to not like the Germans at that time, you know. [laughs] My own home was bombed and we lost my home. And my parents had to split up. And it’s kind of difficult when you get 24 hours leave, whether you should go visit your father and your grandmother that way or your mother and your grandmother this way. [laughs] You went one way, one way and one way the other. M’hmm. And one of my first leaves from Hounslow is when they bombed the docks in London and you could stand on London Bridge and read a newspaper, the flames were so high and so bright. And I got my leave and the train went as far as Victoria [Station]. From there, nothing was going, no buses, no trams, no trains or anything.

So I met a fellow there who was very, very nice. I of course didn’t know who he was from Adam and he lived at Rotherhithe which was on my way to Greenwich where I was born. So he suggested we go together. And we stood on London Bridge and watched the bombs come down into the docks and every time the bombs came down, more flames came up of course. And the water firemen were trying their darndest to put it out of course and they hadn’t got a hope, you know. I must say, I was very against the Germans for years for what they did to my sister and what they did to my grandfather and to my cousin, and friends of mine that I grew up with, like were killed in the desert and killed at sea and stuff like that.

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