World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Mary Tesh 

Mary Tesh's War Time Memories

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Mary and Derrick Tesh
Location of story: Sheffield, France and Germany.
Unit name: R.A.S.C. 164 Coy (Inf. Bgde) B.A.O.R Forces.
Background to story: Army


I was born in Eyre Street in the centre of Sheffield on the 12th of April 1925, which was Easter Sunday. I lived there with my parents until I was 10 years old, when we moved to the Arbourthorne estate on the 1st of May, 1935. I had a sister called May, who was 3 years older than I, but unfortunately, she died of measles at the age of 3. The spots never came out; I would have loved to have had a sister.

I attended Duchess Road School from the age of 5, where I stayed until I was 10. Then I went to Prince Edward School where I passed the 11 plus examination, and then I went to Carfield Intermediate School.

When I left school, I went to work for Mappin and Webbs, the cutlery place on Queen’s road. During the war, we made parachute hooks and release boxes. I only stayed there a short while, then I went to work for Metropolitan Vickers in the offices.

I had a friend called Edna Beighton; we used to go to the cinema together. This was while I was working at Mappin and Webbs. It was also whilst I was working there that the Blitz occurred in December 1940. We were up all night listening to the planes and guns, and the explosions. I saw them drop flares on the school fields in Cradock road, early on in the raid. However, we didn’t realise the damage that had been done. The next morning, I walked all the way to Mappin and Webbs. I saw 2 or 3 trams that had been left outside City Road cemetery. When I reached Granville road, they wouldn’t let me go down it because there was an unexploded bomb at the bottom. I had to go to the bottom of Duke Street and then walk along Commercial Street. From there, I could see all the devastation. There were buildings on fire, a crater in the road, Marples Hotel was bombed with many casualties. I saw many things I won’t ever forget, but I did reach Mappin and Webbs OK.

It was just after this that I went with Edna Beighton to the Rex Cinema at Intake. Whilst we were in the queue, we met two boys the same age as we were (16). We went to see the ‘Four Feathers’ starring John Clements. The two boys were Derrick Tesh and Alan terry. Edna knew Derrick, so they both took Edna home. The next day at work, Edna said that derrick would like to take me out and I agreed, so the four of us started going out together,

When the sirens went, we used to walk home; the searchlights were on and the guns were being fired. I used to go to Derrick’s house and my mum and dad welcomed him to our house; they thought the world of him.

When he was 17 ½ years old, he joined the R.A.S.C. He wanted to get into the army to learn to drive. It was just before my 18th birthday that he went to Formby to do his training. I missed him so much and I cried when he went I wrote to him every day when he was in the army – he went in during April 1943 and came out in June 1947. He went to France soon after D-Day and he remained on the continent until August 1945. It was more than a year since I had seen him. They had fetched the people out of Belsen concentration camp with the lorries. He wrote and told me that the people were dressed in striped clothes, similar to pyjamas, and that the stench was terrible. Derrick never spoke to me about it when he came home. My son told me that he’d mentioned it to him when he and two friends were reminiscing about the war, whilst they were playing snooker. Derrick’s mum said that he never should have seen such things at his age of 19.

When he was coming home on leave in august 1945, he wrote to ask my dad if we could get married instead of getting engaged because they were going overseas again in January. My dad agreed so we had a special licence. On the 4th of August, 1945, we were married (and I became Mary Tesh) by Canon Pascoe at St. Swithin’s Church. Because my husband had been in the Scouts, they played the organ for us without charge.

When Derrick was travelling home from The Hook of Holland, he was delayed because of the tide. We had a lovely time at the wedding; everyone ‘mucked in’ and we had a lovely meat press made by derrick’s mum. My mum made jellies and pickles etc. My dad managed to get us a barrel of beer, and my mum acquired the ingredients and her friend made us a wedding cake. All of, our relatives and friends had a lovely time.

Two days afterwards, the Americans dropped the Atom Bomb on Japan and so, at last the war was over. Derrick got another 14 days leave in January 1946, after which he sailed to Palestine and Egypt, and spent another 18 months out there.

He had a brother in the R.A.F. regiment and he was over in Germany at the same time as Derrick. They didn’t get to see each other for quite some time, until they got leave together. Derrick arrived home from Palestine in June 1947. How pleased I was when he came home to stay. Our son, John Derrick, was born on the 23rd of June 1948. My husband passed away on the 8th of March 1993, aged 67. I am now 80, and this year (2005) would have been our 60th anniversary.