World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                         Bessie Furniss 

Life in the ATS and after.

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Mrs. Bessie Furniss & Mr. Frederick Furniss
Location of story: Luton, Dunkirk, N. Africa and Italy.
Unit name: ATS and Royal Engineering Catering Corps.
Background to story: Army


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Anne Payne of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Mrs. Bessie Furniss.


I was based in Luton as a clerk in the Stores between 1942 and 1945. I had met my husband Frederick in Sheffield before the war, and we married in 1942 at St. Thomas’s Church, Crookes. Fred was with the Royal Engineers Catering Corps as a cook and had been rescued from Dunkirk. Before being posted again, we were based at Ampthill near Luton, for a while, so we were able to spend some time together. After that, he was sent to North Africa and later was posted to Italy, where he remained till the end of the war.

After repatriation, things were very difficult after the war and we both found it very hard to settle down. As we had no home of our own, we lived with my parents for a few years. During this time, I worked with the Ministry of Food at Carver St. while rationing continued, and Fred went on a joinery training course with an allowance provided as part of the repatriation package. Eventually, we were able to rent two rooms for about 9 months until our first daughter was born. Fred stayed in the joinery trade for 20 years until we bought a Transport Cafe in 1965.