World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                 Kathleen Beaumont 

Happy Days

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Kathleen Beaumont nee McErlain, Mary nee McErlain, Margaret nee McErlain
Location of story: Niddre, Edinburgh, Elgin, Scarborough
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Katherine Wood of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Kathleen Beaumont nee McErlain, and Mary Knight nee McErlain.

Kathleen was born in 1935 in Niddre, Edinburgh. She was four years old when war broke out. She remembers going to Elgin, where my father was stationed. My mother, Margaret and Kathleen stayed in a big old farmhouse.
She then remembers them all going to Scarborough (like a holiday), and staying with this lady who had two Scotch Terriers. This lady took Kathleen to the beach to collect coal. At this time, father was stationed there. It was around Christmas time. They had a party at the barracks where a soldier dressed up as Father Christmas. They all got presents; Kathleen’s was a ‘mint green’ knitted dress and Margaret’s was a blue one.
They returned to Edinburgh. Home was a tenement building. They lived in a single end. This was a room at the top of the building like a bedsit. She remembers the stairs to the end of the room were wooden; the rest of the tenement had stone stairs. This building in Braid Place was declared a risk, being in Edinburgh and being so tall. The tenants were asked to leave it.
My mother, Kathleen and Margaret went to live with Auntie Cassie in Craigmillar. She was my mother's sister. My granny Sharkey, my mum's mum, lived there also. I was born in 1941. We all lived there till the end of the war. I was about two years old before I saw my Dad, he had returned from Africa. Kathleen says I used to hide behind a chair and say, “Ma, its that man again”.
Granny Sharkey died in her sleep when I was a baby. My mother told me that I was asleep in the same bed at the time of her death. Kathleen remembers playing in the air-raid shelters in Craigmillar during the daytime, singing, dancing and reciting poetry, all entertaining each other.
During the summer, all the children and mothers played rounders in the streets. Kathleen was knocked out with the bat (she survived!!). Prior to this, Kathleen was in King’s Park in Edinburgh and had an accident near Arthur’s Seat. Arriving at hospital, Kathleen had to have her head stitched without anaesthetic (there wasn’t any!). In 1945 we all moved back to the ‘Single End’. There were five of us, including my Dad. The building they had been asked to leave, due to being a potential target for the bombers, was still standing, without a window broken, with my Mothers’ furniture still in place.
After the war, we moved to Herriot Mount in Edinburgh. This was a very steep hill, at the top of which were the steps to King’s Park. The only recollection I have of the war was a street party. I couldn’t figure out how they kept the tables up on our hill. Kathleen says this party didn’t happen, so maybe I imagined it!