Make Do & Mend....
With most things in short supply, local people made use of what
they could find. Sometimes the conflict itself provided material.... and one
particular type of trophy was much sought after to cover the basics of life....
|My cousins John and Bill Wood
"rescued" silk parachutes from target practices off
the Whitstable beaches and my aunt Agnes converted these into
However, for some, there were brushes with the establishment....
My Grandmother (Gladys Foreman) was given a silk parachute from the
wreckage of the crashed Dornier at West Beach.
I can recall how she told me that someone reported her to
the authorities and a policeman called and took away the
contraband.... but not before she had "liberated" enough of
it to make a slip or two though!
There was also the problem of differentiating between the
various types of a parachute. Not all would make the lingerie section of posh
|You mentioned a sea mine being dropped by a
small parachute. To the best of my knowledge all air
dropped sea mines had parachutes but they wouldn't have been
Sea mines were usually quite large and
certainly heavier than the fattest airman (Goering excepted).
So, the parachute would almost certainly have been bigger than
those used by airmen.
I have a vague memory of Whitstable women
talking of what they could get out of a sea mine parachute as it
was so much bigger than normal. I do not know this as fact
but I would expect such parachutes to be made of material other
than precious silk. A couple of reasons for using silk for
airmen were compacting into small space and free running
when 'unpacking' for opening.
Thus sea mine 'chutes provided quantity rather than quality.
Other types were also short on volume...
were a few much smaller parachutes found than those used by unfortunate
airmen. As far as I can recall, they were about 3 feet wide and were used, so some
said, to drop incendiary bombs.
At the time, Whitstable was still alive with workshops.... and
very skilled people. Spare time was often used to create toys for
|My cousin Bill Wood was an excellent craftsman and made many
of our childhood toys, including a pogo stick, stilts and
butterflies on wheels who's wings flapped when pushed along. We
only have a rather battered carved, fully jointed, Pinocchio left.
As it was war time all our toys were played with lots and passed
on when out grown.
My aunt Agnes made dolls from old stockings and soft toys
from what ever came to hand.
A Sharing Society...
We have mentioned the "make do and mend" nature of play and toys. However, this
was not always the case.....
|Earlier I wrote of an unexploded bomb causing the Potten family to
move from what I recall was Regent Street to a house in Canterbury Rd.
Perhaps this location was a temporary one but it was very fortuitous for
Brian and Bernard Potten as well as me to some extent.
As I recall it, the son of a neighbour was missing - perhaps killed
He had been given or had collected a large amount of Meccano and
Hornby clockwork trains and rails etc. Several
tea chests of those ‘treasures’ were given to Pottens to play with.
I believe the thought was to return them if the missing son eventually
I enjoyed many a school holiday at Pottens’ playing with the
trains. A circuit around the
front room, down the passage to the next room, back to the passage, down
a step to the kitchen then on into the scullery and return to the front
Bernard usually ‘collared’ the biggest loco, a 4-6-0 I think
to which he added the best carriages. Brian used a smaller engine
possibly a 2-4-0 with carriages or freight trucks while I had a choice
of the remaining small 0-4-0 locos any left over carriages or freight
It was a marvelous fun wartime memory for me and I often wonder how the
family put up with the track throughout the house, as I recall it, for
days on end.
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