World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                Jean Alison Dickinson 

Raw Recruits

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Jean Allison Dickinson
Location of story: Scarborough
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 Jean Alison Dickinson.

Raw Recruits

Jean Allison Dickinson

We marched along in perfect time
While the Sergeant Major shouted 1-2,1-2
And we sang as we marched near the sea and the sand
Our boots clattered on early pavements
And we came smartly to attention

The golden curve of the sand stretched away in the distance
But in the evening after the sun had gone down
We donned our best black shoes
And off we went to the Royal Hotel
To dance to the ragtime blues
The orchestra played its most romantic tunes
And the girls stood tapping their high heeled shoes.

The fishing boats were anchored near the pier
The smell of tar and rapes and gear
We remembered the whelks and the shrimps
And the fish and chips eaten an the pier.

And as we marched to come back we vowed
When the war was over and peace was declared
To smell the sea and walk on the beach
And squelch our feet in the wet wrinkled sand.

(The new recruits were billeted in a lot of the hotels on the South Cliff in Scarborough and the Royal Hotel was a well known venue for
the local girls to go and "pick up" one of the popular "boys in blue").




The First Dance

Jean Allison Dickinson

The girls had practiced every week
With Mrs. Deightan, who taught P.E.
Slow, slow, quick quick, slow
The piano beat out every tune.

The day was approaching very fast
A dress had been sewn and shoes bought
With precious coupons and every thought
Was centred on which boy would ask her to dance

The time had arrived and she was ready
The dress looked quite well but her legs were unsteady
But off she went to the school great hall
And they all stood around like dolls on a stall

A boy was coming across the floor to ask her
Her legs felt like jelly and her heart beat faster
When into the air with a shrill crescendo
The siren sounded and all pandemonium
Broke loose and into the shelter they all had to file
The Jerries were dropping bombs but they missed by a mile
They were all in the dark but the teachers had torches

Then in came her Dad to walk her home
And that was the end of the dancing that night
So she didn't get to know how the lad held her tight
Or how it was to do the quick step
With a well dressed young man scrubbed clean and bright

All the weeks they had spent learning to dance
But her Mum said "Never mind
It could have been worse
You are still in one piece –
Your very first dance!!

(The German bombers came over Whitby practically every night to set the Moors alight thus giving them a marker for bombing either Hull or Middlesbrough, in the process many an incendiary bomb landed on the houses in West Cliff where the writer was living at the time - The Metropole Hotel suffered a direct hit and there were two huge craters in Stakesby Rd. near to a Petrol Pump near the old Station).




Thoughts of Scarborough
(from Canada 1942)

Jean Allison Dickinson

Are there bacon and eggs for tea, Mum?
Do you ever think of me?
While the bombs keep coming down,
Searchlights shining above the town.

I’m seven thousand miles away –
Its not just across the bay,
The bay with sea and sand and shrimps,
There’s nothing like that over here,
They don’t even have old-fashioned beer.

Soon I’ll qualify for my wings
Then I’ll be amongst the Kings
Soaring in the sky at night
‘Neath the stars shining bright.

Set the table now for tea Mum,
Light the lamp and mash the tea,
Soon I’ll be there to join you,
Flying high o’er land and sea.

(Many of our young lads were sent over to Canada to learn to fly, where there was no risk of enemy action. The Queen Elizabeth I, and Queen Mary were stripped of all their beautiful fittings in order to accommodate thousands of troops. Hammocks were strung up in the swimming pool, while a shift system for meals was set up. There was a great danger from enemy submarines, and after ditching rubbish, the ship had to maintain a zig-zag course until the rubbish had dispersed).