World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Maureen & Margaret Dixon 

Wartime For Maureen And Margaret Dixon

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Maureen and Margaret Dixon
Location of story: Leeds
Background to story: Civilian


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

My twin sister and I were born in Leeds in July 1933. Our mother died in 1938, so with our father, Arthur Dixon, we went to live at the home of his sister and her husband. In 1940, we were attending Woodhouse Junior School and were evacuated. At first, our Aunt made us bags for our clothes, and with labels on our clothes, gas masks and bags, were taken by train to Wetherby, about 15 miles from Leeds, then by bus to Hunningsore, a village about 5 miles further on.

We were then all assembled in the school hall awaiting the people who would take us in, but with Maureen and me being twins, they did not want to split us up. We were the last children there, when an old lady, Mrs Stockdale, aged about 60, who lived opposite the school, said she would take us.

Her cottage had no electricity or water; we used oil lamps and had to go to the village pump down the road for water. The soil toilet was in the yard and the tin bath was in the wash-house in the yard. All this seemed very strange to us, after living in the city. We attended the village school and church. Mrs. Stockdale was very kind to us and the whole village accepted us.
Dad, who was born in 1900, was in wholesale food distribution, so he was not called up. He used to spend his holidays with us, working on the farms. We stayed for two years until the aerodromes were built around York and dad thought we would be just as safe in Leeds.

Dad and Uncle Hugh built tanks under the stairs in the cellar kitchen. I think there were only a few raids on Leeds, but I do remember seeing bombs dropped on Sugarwell Hill. We had SP painted on our house to let people know we had a stirrup pump. All windows were blacked out and all sign posts removed. Dad had to go fire watching at Leeds Market. I still go cold when I think of the air-raid sirens.

Dad married again in 1944 and we went to live in Wharfdale, about 2 miles away and on V.E. Day, we had a big bonfire. People brought out gramophones and we danced in the street. The fire was so big, it burnt down the telephone wires. Two days later, we had a party in a Chapel-room on Meanwood Road. Everyone brought food and if anyone could play the piano or anything else, or sing to entertain us, they were invited to do so.

The war was not an unhappy time for us, although we did not get many sweets or much fruit, but we were never hungry. We had to go shopping with our ration books and families helped one another.