Maisie, centre, aged 16. With work colleagues at the laboratory



I was nearly 13 when the war broke out in 1939 so I was still at school. Life was much more simple in those days and we didn’t have any of the things we take for granted today. There was no television, no mobile phones or laptops, etc. For information we had to rely on the radio and for leisure we only had the cinema or the local dance halls, or to go swimming or go for walks.

I was very naive and the day war began, having been influenced by my then screen hero Errol Flynn, I really thought there was going to be hand to hand fighting in the streets with swords. Of course I was soon to realise it was not to be like this at all when the realities of war soon became evident.

All road signs were removed so if the enemy did come over they wouldn’t know where they were. We were plunged into darkness at night as all lights had to be extinguished and car headlights were reduced to just a little slit.

Homes had to make blackout curtains and put them up at the windows and an Air Raid Warden would go round to make sure they weren’t showing any light. If they showed even a little chink of light you would hear him shout out loudly: “Put that light out” as I did on one occasion as we must have shown a little chink of light. (A chink is an unintended crack that allows light to be seen)

I lived in Manchester at the time and it was one of the cities targeted by the Germans so I remember all the bombing raids, although we were not hit as badly as London or Liverpool. I remember hearing a very loud bang when Manchester Royal Infirmary was hit. This was only about 5 minutes away from where I lived. It was quite scary and I have memories of walking round the streets near to where I lived and seeing all the piles of rubble which was all that was left of the houses that had been there.


Food was rationed and we were only allowed 2 – 4 ounces (50 – 100 grams) of various things. We had to have ration books with coupons in that the shopkeeper would take out when we purchased what we were allowed. We managed to get by though with a ‘make do and mend’ policy and people tended to help each other and bonded together so although life was hard and scary at times we managed to get by and survive it all.


After the war Maisie met and married Alfred Barlow