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Renee Davies née KellyMy Family during the World Wars

by Renee Davies

My name is Renee Davies née Kelly, I was two days from being 18 years when the Second World War broke out, and I was learning a trade to become a confectioner and cook. My birthday was on a Saturday and with all my birthday, cards came my calling up card to tell me to report to Bolton Labour Exchange. Eventually, I got a place at Fishpool across the way from Townleys, as assistant cook. The cook was Miss Emma Stewart and her sister Miss Stewart worked in the nurse's kitchen. I got on very well with Emma and we arranged a better working time and relationship with the help of Matron Taylor.

Fishpool is now part of Bolton Royal Hospital and we used to go through the infirmary to get to the kitchens. One day whilst working at Fishpool, I was wearing a lovely green dress. Someone offered me two coupons for the dress and in those days they came in very handy so handy they helped towards my wedding.

I remember being about 19 and me and my friend Alice used to go skating at Lower Bridgeman Street above the swimming baths. One night on our way, home the doodle bomb exploded at Moses Gate. We were at Green Lane and some boys pushed us to the floor to protect us. I was very concerned about my mother worrying about me, so I refused to enter the air raid shelters. As I walked with my friend we passed the explosion at Moses Gate and carried on home.

During the Second World War, we were all rationed and had to sign up with a green grocer, the Coop and the butcher to receive an allowance of food. We had just barely enough to live on. My mother and me exchanged different foods especially as she had more to feed in her house. I also worked extra days to earn more money for the family and was often given flour from the bakers Pimbley's where I worked. I baked bread and sometimes cakes with the extras. In addition, when I was training I was given anything left over from the shop. We were so grateful for the help.

Edwin KellyEdwin Kelly - My father

My dad, Edwin Kelly joined the army in 1916 he was in the First World War. His dad got married again and did not get on with the family. He lived in Sutherland Street off Worsley Road and my mother worked at Lower Nuttalls Mill nearer by, and she lived in Antelope Street Kearsley. She used to walk over the Moss, so I presume that is how they met. He came on leave and asked the Padre for a licence to marry on his day off. They met on Market Street, Congregational Church but had no witnesses so they asked the church cleaners to be their witnesses. Therefore, they got married and he had to return to camp as he was going abroad.

He was at the Battle of the Somme and was shot along with two other soldiers. He said come on to the other soldiers, we need to get to the next trench, but one was already dead and he thought the other one was breathing. So, he carried him on his back to the First Aid Tent and the medics said 'aye lad you've been carrying a dead'. However, as they took him off his back he collapsed himself. His body was covered all over in shrapnel; he had been shot in his knee and had three holes in his lower leg. So he was made convalescent and made chef with the French men.

He was a very good cook, he used to make broth with vegetables and herbs on a string tied to the handle of the pan. He made many other great dishes along with my mother. He never got a pension for his wounds. Although my brother who had been in the last War, was an avid reader and discovered that my dad could claim. He was awarded 50 pence but they did not give him for the years in between. My brother was keen to ride a motorbike in the War, although because of his office skills at Chloride that's where he was placed.

Edwin KellyMy dad's trade was of spindle and fly maker but after the war the mills did not want any more workers. Therefore, he worked at Ashton Field Pits. One day there were three of them carrying a steel girder and the other two dropped it, my dad fell and his middle finger was chopped off to the first joint. They took him in the ambulance with the severed finger that was very dirty, although they couldn't stitch it back. He then he went to convalesce in the miner's home at Blackpool. There was always a lot of people getting hurt and sadly he only managed one more holiday.

He eventually retired from his last job in a foundry on Folds Road. On his, way home on a rainy day, he was on the kerb and a Lay Preacher knocked him down as he was driving very fast. The police were coming along the road at the same time, so he had to stop his vehicle. The ambulance and paramedics asked where it hurt, he replied all over - they gave him morphine but he died.

And he was a good dad.