Memories of dancing with the yanks at Elmfield

Our house seemed to be full of gas-masks. There was a big family of us and we all had been issued with one, but we didn’t always carry them with us. I don’t know how we acquired the gas-masks. I think they must have been delivered to the houses. I remember going to the dances at Elmfield. Usually they were arranged by the Americans. We thought we were really grown up, and danced all night with the Yanks. At the end of one night we discovered the security barriers had been brought down and we couldn’t get home until after midnight, which would have been unheard of in those days. My sister met me and warned me that my father was angry and I was severely reprimanded when I arrived home.

The mill was very busy at that time and I was one of the many who worked there. We worked a lot of overtime and often, especially at night, the sirens could be heard and everyone was sent home. People talk of the air-raid shelters during the war, but they obviously thought it didn’t matter in the country areas, and we didn’t have anywhere to take shelter. I always felt sorry for Peggy McKelvey who worked with us. She lived at Millpark, and whereas we only had to go up the street, she had three miles to go home in the dark.

We could hear the German planes going overhead, and many of the families went to the top of Hill Street (Keady Row) and watched the bright skies over Belfast. I remember the older people asking “Did you bring our pension books?”