World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                      Rose Addison 

The Sewing Ladies

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Rose Addison
Location of story: Macclesfield, Chesire
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Doreen Partridge of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Rose Addison.

Rose Addison
The Sewing Ladies
History had never been my strongest subject at school. I had heard all about the First World War or the 1918 war as it was sometimes called. My father had been in the trenches, or as some said, over the top, but as was the case with most young people, that didn’t mean much to me. He was at home now, fit and well, so what did it matter?
Little did I think that in later life history would mean much more to me, and that in 2005, I
would have the privilege of writing about the part that I have played in the 1939-45 war,
and paying my respects to so many others who had played a greater part - some with their lives, leaving behind grieving families and others suffering from the scars of wars.
There was a lot of talk about war in 1938, and as a 14-year-old country lass I was a bit

What part could Macclesfield play? It was very famous for its silk mills but nothing else
that would be of much help during the war. All at once I was 15 years old. War was declared and I was working in Catlow's factory with a lot of other ladies, some from London and the other big cities, all escaping the bombs. We were told that our work was to keep the forces warm and safe. So the first job was safety as we started to make camouflage coats for the army. It was hard work - the materials
and the oils that were painted on them didn’t agree with everyone’s skin. Still we carried on thinking of our men who had to be safe.

Later we were transferred to another factory - Belmonts. Here we made RAF uniforms.
Some of the girls put letters in the uniform pockets with their addresses on hoping to get a
reply. I doubt very much that they ever got outside the factory. Along with a friend. I did an extra little job to help in the war. We joined the Red Cross and after work, went into the hospital and gave what help we could with such a shortage of nurses. This was to decide my career when the war over because I loved nursing and caring for

My father was an air raid warden. He went out at night and often came home and told us
how bad the raids had been over Manchester and Sheffield. He made sure that all our
blackout curtains and blinds were tightly closed, 'the tiniest glint of light could attract
attention. We also had lots of refugees but apart from that there were lots of soldiers, the Y's (R.E.M.E.S and quite a lot of Americans).

Later on in the war we had some prisoners of war, mainly Polish but some Italians. These
young men were put to work on the farms. It was a great help to the farmers whose farm
hands had joined the forces. Some had gone as Bevin boys. It was pitiful at first to see the prisoners of war. They were so afraid of us; some were unable to speak English and it took quite a while for them to realize that we were their friends. Some attended our church and many said how grateful they were for our hospitality.

Now the war was over crowds gathered outside the town hall dancing, some crying,
laughing and others very confused. Where would they live or when could they go back to
their hometowns.

So although I had escaped the blitz or loss of family, my home and possessions, I did feel
sad for those who had suffered such terrible losses. Quite a few of our boys and men from Macclesfield served in the forces. Sadly I pay my respects to those who did not come home, and also their families. But I feel that along with many more people, I did my little bit for the war, helping to clothe the armed forces, keep them safe and as some say, we were the forgotten ladies who worked behind the scenes, but I still think the sewing ladies did a good job, forgotten or not.