World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                       Anne Murdoch 


By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: ANNE MURDOCH
Location of story: Sheffield
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Ann Murdoch.



I was 16 years old when war broke out. I started work at the age of 14 at a printing firm (Jepsons on Wellington Street). I knew something was going to happen when we started putting camouflage onto helmets for the army and I was right, as war broke out that year.

The night of the Sheffield Blitz was on a Thursday and my sister always stayed overnight when her husband worked nights. We were all in the Anderson shelter in the garden, when her husband (who worked for Osborne 's in the Wicker) came with another man. They had got over the gates and crawled on their hands and knees up Spital Hill with snipers shooting at them, but they managed to get home safely.

When they went back to work next morning, they expected to get reprimanded but they were in fact greeted with sighs of relief, as the rest of their workmates had been killed. My sister and I set off for work next morning, having to walk to town as there was no transport, and although we had seen the city on fire from where we lived, we were not prepared for the horror that met us when we arrived. Sheffield was still blazing, trams were on fire and what I thought were bodies were dummies that had blown out of shop windows. I cannot explain the horror of it all; needless to say we could not work as there was no water and everything was either on fire or, flooded

I left Jepsons and went to work at Strong’s British Twist Drills, but as I was not in a reserved occupation when I reached the age of 18, I was sent away to work in Baldock in Hertfordshire. It was a factory that made wireless sets, for aircraft and apart from one other girl who was also from Sheffield, the rest of the workforce were from London or the surrounding area and we thought we were in a foreign country. We were housed in a hostel, and being under age, we had a House Mother and were expected to sign in and be in for 10.30pm.

When I came back to Sheffield, I had to work on the trams and only planned on staying until the war was over, but ended up staying on for 17 years. On the night the war ended, I was working and did not take any fares from any of the forces personnel, but an inspector got on to check the fares and on that occasion I thought 1 would be in serious trouble, but he got off at the next stop and handed me back my way bill without stamping it.

When I first went an the trams, the highest fare from Sheffield City centre to the outer terminus was two old pennies. There were shields over the lamps, like tin cans with a hole the size of the present 10p coin because of the blackout. You had to be careful you didn't take any foreign coins, as you had to stand to them. Out first duty started at 4:l0am and if we finished after 11:15 pm we had to walk home from the tram route as the last bus was 11:15 pm, but we weren't afraid of being molested in those days. The fear we had was being caught in an air raid.

The trams used to line up in Weedon Street and Vulcan Road, ready for workers turning out of work and we would fill up and move on. It was a hive of activity, but there was a lot of camaraderie between everyone. The war seemed to bring people closer together. I worked the last tram round Abbey Lane, then went on the buses for my last 2 years with Sheffield Transport, but I always preferred the trams.