World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                          Clarice Fisher 

Clarice's Most Memorable Years

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Clarice Fisher
Location of story: Huddersfield, Nottingham and Berlin.
Unit name: Duke Of Wellington's
Background to story: Army


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Clarice Fisher.

When the war on Germany was declared, in September 1939, I was almost 15 ½ years old. I was away from home in domestic service in Huddersfield, which was usual for most girls at the time. I had two sisters who were already married.

The man whom I worked for was a mill owner. In the following year, older women were being taken out of the mills and they had to go making ammunitions, which led to shortages of workers in the mills. The mills were producing khaki and other materials for the uniforms. Everybody was doing their bit for the war effort. The lady of the house took in three small boy evacuees and I went to work in the mill. I lived with my sister who had had a baby; the other sister was on munitions and both of their husbands were in the army.

By this time, my younger sister came up to work in the mills. When I was turned 17½, I decided that I was going to join the army, so I went down to the enrolment centre and volunteered. By the time I’d had my medical etc., I got my call up papers. I was 18 on the 11th of April and on the 17th of April; I was on the train to Halifax where I had to report to the Duke of Wellington Barracks. My new life had just begun; I was waking up to the sound of the bugle, followed by training, square bashing for six weeks, then I went to Dagenham on a clerical course. Why, I don’t know, because I wanted to go onto the Ack-Ack or lorry driving, but for everything I wanted to do, I was too small at 5 feet tall. We had to be 5’1½”. Eventually, I finished up in the catering corp. I was posted to Nottingham, in the cookhouse of the grounds of Trent Bridge Cricket Ground. We were billeted in some of the big houses that had been taken over by the army. I had two special friends there for 18 months, when we decided to volunteer for overseas duty. That was the beginning of our parting as we were all cooks and we couldn’t all go to the same place. We have still kept in touch though, over the last 60 years (now 2005). One of them has just died and the other is in Bournemouth. Being as I wasn’t 21, I had to have a letter of consent from my parents, which caused a bit of trouble with the family. Some were saying that I should go; Mam wasn’t too keen to sign, but dad said, “You may as well, because when she is 21, she will go.” So the consent was given.


 I came home on embarkation, and then I was posted to Versailles in France. Whilst travelling across the North Sea, I noticed that the sea was covered in ice. We had a long train journey and arrived at camp at 2 am. I was given a meal of eggs and tinned tomatoes, on American rations. The camp was in three sections, English, Russian and American. Later I was moved into Germany: Bad-Oeynhausen, then up into Berlin (Charlottenburg). We were in a big billet in a block of apartments with a big guard dog fastened on a chain ay the entrance. We were told we were the first English girls in Berlin. There were two good clubs that we could go to when we were off duty: the Jerboa Club and the Winston Club. We used to go down to the lakes sailing. 1945 winter: 40 degrees below freezing. The German ordinary people must have found it very hard. The women worked on clearing the debris from the bombed buildings, cleaning the bricks etc.

I stayed in Berlin for 22 months, after which I took demob and I arrived back in England in April and came home on the 16th. I went in the army on the 17th of April 1942, and came out on the 16th of April 1947. I had just done five years, which were the best and most memorable years of my life.