July 19, 2020|
Joyce Cleife – Cycling to Work
Joyce was l8 when war broke out and living with her parents in Fareham. She was working for Flux’s Laundry in their office in High Street, Gosport, handling the invoices for the luxury yachts that moored in the harbour. When war broke out, the yachts were commandeered and she was moved to the laundry’s office on Gosport Hard. She didn’t stay there long, because the man who ran the company’s office inside HMS Dolphin was called up and she was offered his job: the only female in the place and working for a man’s wage.
She cycled from Fareham to HMS Dolphin each day over Haslar Bridge and was able to claim back from the MOD the ld for herself and ld for her cycle that it cost to cross the bridge each time. When the bridge was blown up, she had to cycle the long way round and demanded the right to wear trousers to work as she had to cycle such a long way along the seafront.
She was required to sign the Official Secrets Act, as she could ascertain from the requests for laundry from the batmen, which officers on which ships were leaving port at any time.
ln cycling to and from Gosport, she was frequently late home due to air-raid warnings. There was a
surface shelter near Cyanamid where she sheltered when a bomb landed at Fort Brockhurst and demolished
many houses in Dunkeld and Chantry Roads.
She married in 1941 and returned to the head office in High Street until her first child was born in 1944. Her son claimed he never had a cot as it was easier to carry a drawer from a dressing table with him in it down into the shelter. She was then living by HMS Sultan (then called HMS Siskin) and when an incendiary gutted much of the establishment it also brought down the lath and plaster ceilings in the house.
Her pram had no springs and required some pushing. So, when she heard a buzz bomb (V1) overhead, she ran
pushing the awkward pram until she saw an open front door. She grabbed the baby and threw herself onto the hall floor, just as she heard the bomb’s engine stop. On another occasion, she left the pram in the middle of the road for several hours when ordered into a shelter by an Air-Raid Precautions (ARP) warden: she was more frightened of him than of the air raid.
She also remembers:
• Having three men being billeted with her mother who were building mulberry harbours.They had damaged hands
from working with the concrete.
• Doing Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS)work providing snacks for young lads working at HMS Collingwood.
• Doing Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) work and looking after ARP wardens who had been sent down from London for a rest.