World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                      Lilian Hemingray

My Life from the Sheffield Blitz to the ATS

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Lillian Hemingray
Location of story: Wybourn, Sheffield; Blantyre, Scotland; numerous sites in UK.
Unit name: ATS
Background to story: Army


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Norman Wigley of the BBC Radio Sheffield Action Desk on behalf of Mrs Lillian Hemingray.

In 1940 I was 18 and was courting a young man who was in the Territorials; he lived at Wybourn in Sheffield. I lived on the Manor Estate, also in Sheffield.

On the first night of the Sheffield Blitz, Thursday 12th December 1940, I was at his house when the sirens sounded and we all went to the Anderson Shelter. We were used to false alarms but this was the real thing as we found out when bombs started falling nearby.

My boyfriend was called out to assist his unit, as bombs were falling all around the area. We didn’t know much about what it was like until the all-clear sounded and we got out, and we could see a lot of damage – a crater near the house was big enough to bury two buses.

I returned home after we had found water, and my parents were very upset as they had been very worried about me. On the Sunday night, 15th December, I was again at Wybourn and the same thing happened again, but this time the area escaped serious damage.

When I went to work on Monday morning, the city centre was in complete upheaval.

In early 1941 I joined the ATS. I wanted to be a driver but I was assigned to Radio Location work. I was sent to South Wigston in Leicester, then to Devizes in Wiltshire, where I had two weeks in hospital, as during a commando course exercise, I suffered an injury. I then went to Anglesey and on to Great Hayton at Middlesborough, and on to Washington, Newcastle. We then had a rest at Helensburgh in Scotland and after many more moves ended up at Blantyre in Lanarkshire.

I got married on 17th August 1943 at Blantyre. My husband was Jack Dougan, who was also in the Army and at the same camp. Unfortunately I fell pregnant as soon as we got married and was sent home. I was demobbed on 28th October 1943. My son was born on 18th May 1944. My husband didn’t really want the responsibility of a family and we split up.

I did remarry and had a happy marriage but have now been a widow since 1983.