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Whitstable at War - World War II

...Families: Marriages & Births




Service in the armed forces, tragedy, danger and rationing of food restricted life and gave rise to some key decisions. 

With survival an uncertainty, many people pondered over the question of marriage. No doubt, some decided to wait until peacetime. However, many decided that it was better to go ahead and have some married life before any tragedy struck.


My own parents decided to marry at All Saints Church. Material for a white wedding dress was unavailable and mum was dressed in a powder blue outfit. Icing sugar was also in short supply and the cake was topped with melted down chocolate scrounged from various sources. 

The wedding announcement in the Whitstable Times commented that the happy couple would be honeymooning in... wait for it!.... Eltham, SE London.... during the blitz. It was actually my grandparents house in Well Hall.

Dave Taylor


With so many people drafted into the services and clothing in short supply, men often married in their service uniforms. Local family photo albums must be stacked with with wedding groups that feature a proud groom dressed in the colours of Navy, Army or Air Force. 

Some local girls married servicemen stationed in Britain from abroad. In Whitstable, such liaisons often involved American airmen based at nearby Manston airfield. One of my cousins now lives in the USA as result of a wartime marriage. 


Having Children...


Similar tough decisions were made with regard to starting a family.... and, for those that decided to go ahead, child birth could take place in unusual circumstances and with some humour....


In the Heat of Battle


Your note about the Battle of Britain takes me back to my arrival in this world in October 1940.  My mother was giving birth to me in my grandmother's house in Kindgsdown Park, and having a rather tough time.

 To make things worse, the fight was going on in the skies above.  At one point she apparently said to the doctor: "Are those our boys overhead?". He swiftly
reassured her: "Yes, all of them........except the ones with swastikas on."

I think the English sense of humour played a big part in bringing people through the war.

Diana Suard


Life Amidst Death


October 11th 1941, the day a mine dropped on Whitstable, was to remain etched in my memory. Not however because of the mine dropping..... nor the 2 deaths resulting from the explosion.  

A stork dropped a sister off for me to help restore Whitstable’s population numbers. At that time, I was not only beginning to wonder why the gooseberry bush had got the sack but learning where babies really came from... so, the stork was under suspicion.  

There was a stork in the babywear department in Lefevre’s in Canterbury. Since about the age of three, whenever Mum took me into Le Fevre’s, I was encouraged to ask the stork for a baby sister. What is worse, or at least it turned out that way, I was also encouraged to save up for one.... without getting any pocket money I might add.

Nevertheless by that October 11th, I had 5/6d to ‘buy’ a baby sister. Well, the mine blew up, the shock sending mum’s ‘confinement’ bed across the room to hit the fireplace and return to its starting place. 

Nurse Clark was sent for and sister duly arrived.  Some explosion!  Some sister too – sort of.  There was this tiny little skinny pink rabbit like thing for which I was required to hand over my 5/6d to Nurse Clark. 

She must have sensed I felt short changed because she refunded 6d to me. Ever since I have reminded my sister she was only worth 5/-.  

All wartime manufactured items were of specified ‘Utility’ standard and marked accordingly. Because of the 6d refund, I considered my sister must be a ‘utility baby’ and therefore not up to peace time standards. I had been dudded - subsequent events proving me right as far as I was concerned.  

Now we joke about what a nuisance she was to me over the years - a nuisance she admits to deliberately being at times. I got a lot of blame for things she did.

One interesting point is that Mum’s bed legs stood in Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup tins filled with sand. The idea being to absorb the shock of any explosion and prevent premature delivery.  As my sister was 10 days late, I don’t think we should blame the syrup tins failing or the mine explosion for her arrival but one wonders who dreamt up that idea?

Brian Smith
Hoppers Crossing


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