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World War 1

Mary Thornley came to live in Highfields in 1912.
Of course the war came you see when I was six and we had half days because Medway Street School shared the other half of the day with our school.


Well I don't know why, maybe because of staff shortages.

Do you remember much of the first world war. Does anything stand out in your mind?

Oh yes, Zeppelins and things like that. I got very scared. I used to go to bed and then come down again and sit outside the sitting room door until they found me sitting there in the cold. Yes, it was rather frightening.

Did they make a noise?

Yes they did. I can't remember any bombs or anything dropping there. They did bomb Evington Street quite near to my mother. I don't ever remember being hungry or anything, but I think that there was a shortage of some foods.

Well, I have described the house that I lived in. There were one or two quite different style houses before Oxendon Street. But the other side was quite different, they were smaller houses right on the street, the others were palisaded, they had a small bit of garden at the front and a hedge or a fence or something. I think the fences that they had when I was a small child were iron ones which had to be removed for use in the first world war. Then they had little walls and wooden fences or something like that instead. But the others were smaller houses on the other side, they were right on the street. We had some quite nice neighbours, I can't remember a great deal about them really.

in the first world war, my mother and grandmother used to visit the soldiers at North Evington War Hospital which was is the General Hospital now, it was an Infirmary place before the war I think. In the first world war it was quite a big hospital and we used to walk there from Evington Street, straight through down to Melbourne Road, up Derwent Street to Mere Road, down Parkvale Road which is at the side of Spinney Hill, cross over and you are at the corner of Gwendolen Road, walk up Gwendolen Road and your at the hospital main gates. They used to go every Thursday and Saturday or every Thursday and Sunday I think. I used to go sometimes with them and then one or two of the men if they were well enough to get away were allowed to come and have tea and one of the nurses came with them once or twice. I remember one man he came from Nottingham and his name was Waterson, its funny how you remember these names isn't it? And then there was an Australian soldier who visited them after he had been back to Australia and he came to see them after when he came to England again. That was all from the first world war but they certainly had these men in their blue suits with their red ties, they wore flannel like suits.

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De Montfort University