My name is Patricia Canon Fitzpatrick and I was approximately 5 when the war
started. We lived in London for a year or two during the war but my Father was
with the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food and therefore they decided
that even though he had to stay in central London for his work we were to to be
We moved to a place called Ansdell which is in between Lytham St Anne's and
Blackpool. We were fortunate enough to live right opposite the Lytham St Anne's
golf course. Mother, my brother and myself. Mother was never in very good
health so I think perhaps I grew up a little bit quicker than other kids of my
age. I basically had to do things as Father was in London coming home perhaps
once every four weeks for a weekend.
Our garden was dug up and we had all veg in the garden. I was in charge of
all that. One day I went out into the front, I was about 7. I saw two men
coming along carrying saws and I remember standing there with my hands on my
hips saying, 'What are you going to do with those?' 'We're taking your railings
love' he said. I said, 'What do you mean you're taking our railings? My mother
won't let you take our railings', I said. 'Oh yes we've got to take them for
the war effort.' 'Well', I said 'you can take them but you bring them back
after the war'. And I remember the look on their faces!
Ansdell's junior 'Private Walker'
Besides having the garden full of veg we used to keep chickens. These
chickens were on a plot of unused land next to a little row of shops. In those
days it was wonderful to have fresh eggs. It was my job to go to the beach to
collect shells which we'd bash up to put in with the potato peelings, and off
I'd go on my bicycle to feed the chickens and pick up the eggs.
And this row of shops got used to me coming along after school with my
bucket on my bicycle. I reckon I was the youngest you know Dad's Army, Walker I
was the youngest Walker ever because at the age of 7-8 I would go pick up the
eggs put them in my bucket and the third shop was a fish shop and he'd come out
and talk to me and one day he asked, 'How many eggs have you got?'. And I said,
'quite a few' because we had a few chickens. 'I'd give anything for a fresh
egg' he said so I said ok. I gave him two eggs and for those two eggs he gave
me a piece of fish.
I cottoned on to this and two or three doors down was a grocer so I used to
go down and talk to the grocer by the door there, 'I'll give you two eggs if
you like'. So I gave him two eggs and I got some fruit in exchange. So I would
be going out with a bucket of potato peelings and coming back with eggs, fish
and fruit. So we did quite well.
When the Americans joined the war they came to Ansdell and they were very
good to the children. I think they had bottomless pockets because whenever you
saw an American they had their hands in their pockets ready to give you chewing
gum. They were very good in the way that they used to give parties for the
children at Easter and Christmas Parties. They were fantastic.
We had a little trick living opposite the Lytham St Anne's golf course. The
Americans used to play on the golf course so we used to go we used to go over
into the bushes and when they hit the balls over we would run out and pick up
the balls come back into the bushes and then we'd say we found your ball. Well
I had to be a child some times! They knew very well what we'd done but then
they gave us chewing gum and I think they were very tolerant with us.
We'd go home with chewing gum and a favourite thing of my mother's was to
say, 'Don't you dare eat that chewing gum, if you swallow it, it'll stick to
your heart.' I know better now of course but we believed her then.
After that we had evacuees. I remember there was a hall at the end of the
golf course where they were collected. I felt so sorry for them with their gas
masks and their little buttoned up coats and little short trousers with tags on
them and they were distributed around.
We weren't allowed to have any because there was only my mother who wasn't
very well and us. Some people in our road did have them and the majority of
them were very good but one lady had two boys and one day when she went out she
came back in to find that her banisters had all been chopped up. They didn't
stay there for very long!
We had a good time. For children generally the war years weren't bad years.
People pulled together, there was no quarelling with neighbours, there was no
fighting no stealing. You'd think with having chickens like we had them, on a
piece of spare land away from the house where we couldn't see them, that one or
two of them would have disappeared, but they didn't do those things in the war
years. Everybody respected everybody else.
Moving to Wales
We came to Wales because my Father came to open the Ministry for Agriculture
Food and Fisheries in the Trawsgoed mansion. He was the first one there and I
played in that mansion. There were only six people working there and he came
straight from London in 1946 to open that as a ministry department. I spent a
marvellous childhood there. Well I could be a child there couldn't I whereas
before everything was on me because mother was ill.