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Mrs Betty Hyde speaking to a UCN Community Volunteer, Jackie Holmes, at Gabriel Court in Kettering, Northamptonshire.

Making ATS Tunics in Burton Latimer

Betty Buckby (later Hyde) An interior view of the Thornloe and Clarkson factory in the 1930's
Betty Buckby aged 18
The interior of Thornloe and Clarkson's factory just prior to the outbreak of war.

I was still at school when the war broke out. My dad was an air-raid warden. He used to go out in the evenings on set routes to watch and check that all the lights were out; he also checked to see if the curtains in the streets were closed. If curtains were open, people were warned. I was a teenager during the war and worked at Thornloe and Clarkson's, Alexander Street in Burton Latimer, a Leicester firm. We made ATS tunics and skirts to match. Everything had to be spot on, nothing went out that was not perfect and if it did it came back. They were serge khaki with collars and pockets at the side and were lined. They looked very smart. We made them throughout the war. We made about two a day, the older ladies were a lot quicker than us. I remember Weetabix and Alumasc making munitions. I knew quite a few people who worked there.                          .

The war years were not a bad time, we didn't get bombed here. Food rationing did not affect us that much and we never went without. Many evacuees from London came to stay in Burton Latimer and they were well looked after. Joyce from Colchester came to our house. My brother used to argue with her, like brothers and sisters do! Her real brother was placed along the street to keep the family as close together as possible. We kept in touch for a while but then it faded. It was mostly Colchester children that were evacuated to Burton Latimer.


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