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WW2 Page Two

At the beginning of the war John Rothermel Watson and Florence were posted to Grantham in Lincs to manage the Pharmacy in the High Street. This was very near Sleaford where Harry Bird had been born and had relatives, so he and Dorothy came to visit. They were very against their meat eating pharmacist son in law, who went totally against their principles. Thalia , Florence's sister was also posted to the area to work in a factory, there were many military bases in Lincolnshire. She was a vegetarian of course. Irving Slome used to come up and stay to see Thalia and it was difficult to feed everybody. Irving used to have oranges flown in from South Africa, John and Florence used to say in part payment for medical fees in his practice in Harley Street. He used to bring the consignment up to Grantham. John had an allocation of sugar syrup to make medicines in the Dispensary so between the four of them they would make jars of marmalade on his visits and felt very priviledged as no one else had eaten it for years! Irving wrote to Thalia every single day during the war , on leaving Grantham he would leave John a bundle of letters with instructions to post one every day until the next time he visited.
The letters all said the very same thing

"My Dearest Darling - I love and adore you and cannot wait until we are together again" Irving

As soon as the war started people were worrying that Britain was full of German spies. The government was also concerned and locked up lots of Germans and Austrians living in this country. Our wartime leaders feared that some British people could be working for the enemy, so they put up posters everywhere, warning the public to be careful. "Careless Talk Costs Lives," was the message on the posters, which were often funny. Some showed people talking on a bus or in a café, with Hitler listening in the background. Others used cartoon characters, such as Popeye, to attract attention. Another slogan used was "Keep mum - she's not so dumb," as well as "Keep it under your hat," and "You never know who's listening!" The aim of this information, or propaganda, was to stop men and women gossiping about how the war was being fought in case spies overheard them. The posters were a huge success because they were easy to understand and made everyone laugh.
This is probably why Julius Rothermel with his German roots changed his name to John Watson

During the war years,1939-45, it was not only food, fuel and clothes that were in short supply. The availability of tablets and medicines was also affected. The National Formulary for 1941, listing pharmaceutical substances, their formulas, uses and methods of preparation for use by doctors, pharmacists, etc. stated "War conditions make it imperative to exercise the strictest economy in prescribing...many important substances are available in but limited amounts for medicinal purposes. They are more urgently required for other branches of the nation's war effort." The ingredients that were available were weighed out precisely on scales using tiny brass weights (2ozs; 1oz; 1/2oz; 1/4oz). The tablets were then dispensed in circular, cardboard pill boxes. Paper-based pill boxes were patented in 1890 by Robinson & Son (today Robinson Healthcare, Worksop) whose business began in 1839.

Many things that were in short supply people could do without. The one thing that was a necessity rather than a luxury was medicine But, just as in the First World War, drugs and bandages were in short supply.
Committees were set up around the country - known as 'Herb Committees' and women would go out into the country with their children to gather the much needed recourses for the chemists. Items such as nettles, foxgloves, Coltsfoot, Deadly nightshade and other herbs were gathered and dried. The older women would make drying racks from net curtains nailed onto wooden trays to dry the herbs. Bandages were made from sheets and anything else that was available.

After the war when Alastair was born and began having epileptic fits the family blamed John and Pansy for using drugs from the chemist shop - this they said accusingly, was the root of all his medical problems.

Julius Rothermel's dispensing notes

Julius Rothermel's dispensing notes

Pansy and John were Air Raid Wardens, part of the Civil Defence Corps, he being the local Chemist and his wife. At first the service was run from the shop. Their duty being to establish and advise on air raid precautions in their sector. They would be at posts and report the particulars of air raid damage, assist the inhabitants and warn of unexploded devices and seal off effected areas. The ARP Warden Service was formed in March 1937. The wardens would perform many jobs and provide immediate help with bomb damage until the rescue services could arrive. They had to have a detailed knowledge of the local area, where any dangerous chemicals, petrol or oil were located, where useful rescue materials might be located and the positions of useful reporting points as well as the location of the local rest centres, first aid posts and hospitals.

The first posts were in the warden's own front room or a shop, but later these were purpose built locations, with power, telephone and a shelter for the warden. They were also issued with gas masks, anti-gas suits and other rescue equipment. The early scheme had one warden per 500 people, but later it was replaced by a scheme of not more than 10 warden posts per square mile, so a warden should not have to move more than half a mile to a damaged area. The sectors were each served by five wardens under a senior or Sector Warden, while several sectors were covered by a warden's post under the control of a Post Warden. The post areas were grouped under a Head Warden, sometimes known as an Area Warden, who would be in charge of an area containing six to eight thousand people. Large towns of more than 150,000 population would be divided into divisions of eight to ten Head Wardens, and all the Head, Post or Area Wardens had a deputy. The local Warden Service was controlled by the Chief Warden at the local authority's headquarters and would have a reserve of wardens as reinforcements.

Wardens were trained in everything they might need. Rescue work, organization, elementary first aid and bomb protection as well as ARP procedures. They also had to oversee the public shelters but these were taken over by a Shelter Marshal, later renamed Shelter Wardens and under the control of the Warden Service.



Ladies fashion 1942

Ladies fashion 1942

Hair styles in the 1940's

Hair styles in the 1940's
You didn't need a ration book to buy cosmetics during the war. What you did need was a huge slice of luck - and a friendly chemist. Foundation, powder, mascara and lipstick were like gold dust. Well known brands such as Ponds and Goya had almost vanished from the shelves. Some enterprising chemists made their own cosmetics from simple ingredients. They could offer their customers jars of cold cream, hand cream and talcum powder.
No wonder Pansy always had the most beautiful skin which everyone commented on !!
Lilian said she gave up dyeing her prematurely grey hair when the war started. Also they
marked up a line on the back of their legs as pretend stockings with an eyebrow pencil. Pansy was also grey at a young age but always managed to dye her hair jet black all through the war!


Janice - a War Baby

Janice - a War Baby

1940's Britain was a high point for handknitting - women on the Home Front could make a contribution to the war effort by knitting for the troops using patterns that were given away free. Once the war was over both clothing and knitting wool were still rationed so people turned to knitting as a cheap way to enhance their wardrobe.


War baby knitting patterns

War baby knitting patterns

More family War babies - these two born at Esdaile

More family War babies - these two born at Esdaile

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher
Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts in the town of Grantham in Lincolnshire, England. Her father was Alfred Roberts, who owned a grocer's shop in the town, was active in local politics (serving as an Alderman), and was a Methodist lay preacher. Roberts came from a Liberal family but stood—as was then customary in local government—as an Independent. He lost his post as Alderman in 1952 after the Labour Party won its first majority on Grantham Council in 1950. Her mother was Beatrice Roberts née Stephenson, and she had one sister, Muriel (1921-2004). Thatcher was brought up a devout Methodist and has remained a Christian throughout her life, reportedly now an Anglican
Her father was a powerful influence on her. Although passionately interested in politics, she didn't believe that she could afford to become a Member of Parliament. She studied Chemistry at Oxford University and took part in student debates.
The Watsons and the Thatchers became friends as they were both in business in the High Street. Amazingly enough in the mid 50's the Roberts moved into Knole Road Dartford - the very same road as the Watsons !! Their friendship continued and definitely influenced Julius's politics although Pansy always claimed to have voted Liberal.
The Roberts' also appeared to have an influence on the religious upbringing of Janice and Alastair who were brought up in the Methodist faith. Very active in the church, Sunday Schools MAYC, the choir etc etc. until the age of 16. Although Julius claimed he was an Agnostic and Pansy C of E.

Canvassing in Dartford 1951

VE Day London

VE Day London