Headington Reminiscences

Go backwards
Go forwards

Margaret E. Colburn, Mrs Colyer (born 1923)

Peggy Colburn at school

My time in Oxford 1927–1940

An extract from Peggy’s memoir
(some personal paragraphs removed)

My early days were spent near my birthplace in Croydon. My parents had met playing tennis. My mother had been working at the Bank of England, my father, who had spent WW1 in what is now Afghanistan, had found work afterwards making bespoke car bodies (then all wood and he was a fine carpenter). However, car bodies were beginning to be made from steel, and with customers disappearing, my father found a new job at Pressed Steel Company in Oxford where these were being made, and we had to leave Thornton Heath in 1927 and go to Oxford to live.

To begin with we rented a flat just off Iffley Road, another tall Victorian house, but this time only one floor was ours, and I don’t think my mother was happy here as she missed her family and friends. I know we were only there for a short time, but it was then that the time came for me to start school. That I remember well. I had been very protected by my loving family and was always kept clean and tidy. My Aunt Alice, being a spinster and my godmother, was always knitting and sewing and I had lovely clothes, usually knitted or crocheted dresses in heavy silk threads, lovely colours and intricate patterns and I wore either black patent or white buckskin shoes. When I had to go to the local infant school in Cowley Road at 4 years old, I was shocked and bewildered by my classmates who were in general dirty and smelly and unfriendly. I loved the lessons and my teacher, but hated playtimes, and can still smell the outside lavatories which I occasionally had to use. Children wore aprons over their shabby clothes and most had filthy hankies pinned to them for their very dirty noses. I cannot remember how long I stayed at the school, a few weeks I would think, as my parents at this time found a house to buy which was being built nearer the factory in fields of poppies and daisies and I can remember going to see the house each Sunday, watching it grow and planning where to place the furniture and what to grow in the garden. We bought 13 Clive Road, and it was arranged that I would be sent to the Don Bosco convent school in Cowley village, as it was then, which was a fee-paying school for boys and girls, 3½ to 11. We moved into the house at last, that was all our own. There was then only one block built at this time, but sadly later, more lovely fields were dug up, for more houses as the factories of Pressed Steel and Morris Motors increased in size and huge housing estates began to surround our new house. However, that came later, and life at no 13 Clive Road was for me happy and contented.

Apart from one or two upsets I was gradually licked into shape by the nuns at my new school and, although I had little knowledge of Roman Catholics, I liked the atmosphere of orderliness and cleanliness and quiet reverence. The nuns glided about silently and always smelt of incense, as did the school section of the nunnery. Everywhere was highly polished with coconut matting on the floor, burning candles and holy water below images of saints and other catholic dignitaries. The other pupils were all very nice and we were a happy bunch of children. There was one episode when I was put outside the classroom as a punishment, and took the opportunity of running home, where I hid behind the kitchen door when the nuns arrived to take me back for a severe reprimand. I wore uniform for the first time, a scratchy tunic and white blouse with tie, and black woollen stockings, and I walked to school each morning, about one mile, with my friend Thelma Telling, who also lived in one of our houses. She had auburn ringlets and freckles and her mother was Cornish and very proud to be so. They grew ‘mind-your-own-business’ in their conservatory and Thelma always smelt of Pears soap and washed in a little zinc bowl before school in the kitchen.

We always bought a pennyworth of biscuits at a shop on the way and usually got 4–6 biscuits. The gate to the school opened into an orchard, which we had to walk through, and, in the summer, we added windfalls to our purchase. The grounds of the school were enormous to me then, and there were logs to climb on and plenty of space to run around. Thelma and I were friends on and off until we were 17 and I often wonder what became of her.

I think the education was excellent though there seemed little time for play. We had ‘heads down’ every day after lunch (when we always went home) which seemed endless, and this was the time I was reprimanded most. I never could sit still and relax without talking and find it hard to do so now. We had parties with our friends and for me life was good. Not quite so easy for my parents. The school fees were hard to find, so my mother decided to take ‘a lodger’. Her name was Miss Davies, a stenographer from Staffordshire. She told me stories about ‘the Black Country’ and made me aware of the bad conditions of workers there. She worked at Pressed Steel with my father and made our home, her home, and remained with us all the time we lived in that house. With the extra cash we were able to do more, and the new carpet etc. gave us an elegant ‘front room’ where Miss Davies sat every evening, and when my father wasn’t working on our new acquisition, a second-hand Rover car, he was in the garden, which by this time was very pretty, and very productive too. We had a veranda on the back of the house and a new set of the ‘Children’s Book of Knowledge’ in the sitting room for my extended education. The road outside was hardly ever used, and we played whip-tops and hopscotch and other games until bedtime. Our neighbours on one side were Mr and Mrs. Woodward who had a piano and taught me, as well as letting me practise there, but the arrangement never really worked, and I soon persuaded them to let me give it up. I went to dancing classes but was too shy when it came to the annual show, so gave that up as well. Our house had the usual mod-cons of the time, with a very temperamental gas geyser for hot water in the bathroom. I always smelt it and felt it would blow up one day, but I loved my bedroom to bits. It contained all my lovely dolls who were my children and brothers and sisters and pupils, and my books and toys, and a lovely fluffy rug of my choosing. It was ‘my happy place’ with pink curtains and eiderdown and, I always played there if I wasn’t on the veranda.

My mother collected money from Cowley and Iffley families for their hospital insurance and for district nursing. This involved calling each fortnight to collect 2d from them and they were very poor and lived in miserable conditions, but at least they were guaranteed treatment at hospital etc. if required. These days were a great eye-opener for me, and I helped count the money and marked their cards each visit. On one of these outings my mother felt so sorry for a particular family that she gave one of the children the job of coming every Saturday morning to clean for us. Her name was Olive Kitchen, I cannot forget it as it was such an appropriate name. She stayed with us for years. Also, another family slightly influenced my young life: three girls came to stay with a lady opposite, from Doncaster. They too spoke of their life in an industrial town and names of these places made me want to see them for myself at a very early age. That, together with all I learnt from my aunt Alice who was still working at the poor law hospital.

Whenever Miss Davies went away for holidays my cousins came to stay with us. Usually Lionel and John (Aunt Edyth’s sons so maternal ones) from Peterborough, and at Christmas and other holidays we usually went to them, or to my other, paternal, cousins in Gloucester, and most of the journeys seemed fraught with incidents in our rather unreliable car. Later on in my life I went to both places by myself travelling in the guard’s van with guard, mail, and luggage etc. but this was always exciting and involved changing trains and platforms and being met by quite envious cousins. The venues were totally different and I loved them both. At Gloucester I had three cousins all a little younger than myself but they had a huge garden, lots of maids, rich relations (in my eyes anyway) and I was looked after by my aunt Alice who spent her holidays from the infirmary there with her brother Uncle Harry, and her sister-in-law Auntie Dora. We had wonderful times and I cannot ever remember feeling miserable there. I learnt to play cricket and tennis and still have the same affection for my aunt and cousins. They had lots of other cousins who came to tennis and we climbed trees and got up to many pranks and had picnics in the Cotswolds and sometimes a special lunch at the Bon Marche as a treat. I add that my cousins were ill very often and were termed ‘delicate’, so nearly always one or the other were in bed with asthma or chesty complaints. I was always extremely healthy and always full of excitement of it all. At Peterborough it was a little different. Both Lionel and John were older than me and it was good for me to cope with two teasing boys whom I secretly admired. We also did lots together over the years and I retained that special relationship with them both. John was also an asthmatic and very ill sometimes, which was very frightening both for him and for us. My aunt was so good with him and so patient and I always thought she enjoyed my visits as much as I did over the years.

To revert to our days in Oxford, between my fifth and eighth years in Clive Road, I enjoyed a happy childhood with my parents but always wished I had a sister or brother, but it never happened. My grandmother sometimes came from Croydon to visit us, also my Aunt Alice, who, by this time was at Melton Mowbray. We also went to see her there which was a wonderful experience. Once again she was the Sister in charge of the Infirmary at the Poor Law Institution, and when we went, we stayed with Mr and Mrs Wainwright who were the Master (as he was called) and his wife and family. The Institution covered a large area and had a huge number of inmates, all of whom worked in some capacity or other to keep themselves and the whole establishment operating. They worked in the kitchens, laundry, orphanage, and infirmary, and all the gardens that surrounded the buildings, and the Wainwrights’ apartments were at the centre of it all. They had three sons and we cycled around everywhere and helped where we could, especially with the children who needed feeding at times and to be kept amused. Yes, they all wore uniform and aprons, most probably because they had arrived with nothing, and as a child I suppose I accepted these facts and was always happy to think they had warm and dry living conditions, nourishing food and fresh air. Mr. and Mrs. Wainwright were very popular and were always busy, and important board meetings were held in the huge boardroom above their quarters. Aunt Alice reigned supreme in the infirmary and I loved going there with the strong smell of beeswax and zinc and castor oil and everywhere spotless and gleaming as there was never a shortage of hard workers to keep it so. After some time at Melton Mowbray my Aunt moved to Newbury to work in the same capacity but under a Mr and Mrs Hillman.

Life in Oxford continued happily for me, but the small convent school was undergoing changes and it was decided to take me away from there, and send me, at the age of eight, to a state school called SS Mary and John, a bus ride away nearer the City. It was an enormous change for me, a very big school with all the boys on the ground floors with entrance and playground at the rear of the building and girls on the first floor with entrance and playground at the front, with classes of about 30, and my first teacher in 3A was Miss Nott, a slim, pretty and gentle lady. Thelma Telling was already there, and I knew no one else, but soon settled down and enjoyed all that a bigger school had to offer. Discipline was good and we had to work hard at lessons which were structured and competitive, and classes were all streamed with pupils sitting in pairs with the brightest on the right-hand side. I was usually in the second column so very much in the top third. We had a nice sports field a walk away and a dedicated staff. Naturally I was not used to mixing with some of the rougher and tougher elements of the class but do not remember this being a major worry. I actually liked the new challenge and was allowed to go to school on the bus alone which involved my walking to the top of the road, then a bus journey of about one mile and another long walk to the school with the reverse trip to get home. Sometimes I even walked back, often alone, and spent my bus fare on sweets instead. That would all be unheard of today.

One day whilst waiting at the bus stop I met another eight year old called Mary Jewell. We became the greatest of friends; a friendship that was to last a lifetime, and she also became my step-sister in later years. Mary lived a short distance away, and her father, Reggie, worked at Morris Motors where he had started years before actually working with William Morris, later lord, Nuffield. Mary was also an only child and our parents met soon after we had, and instantly got on with one another, making Mary and I very happy and we spent lots of time and holidays together in future years. I think Reggie always liked my mother, and I was not surprised when many years later, when he and my mother had lost their respective spouses, that they married and lived happily together for thirteen years. Mary’s house lacked many of the mod cons we had. We had to go to bed in candlelight which was always very frightening, and. a hand pump was used for water in the kitchen. Mrs Jewell was rather a severe lady but Mary and I accepted each other’s families happily and became inseparable. This happy relationship lasted until we were eleven, when Reggie was moved to Honiton, Devon in 1934.This coincided with our change of schools and we both left SS Mary and John’s.

I had enjoyed my three years there and home life had been untroubled for me. My father worked hard with long hours at the factory, but he played tennis and golf at weekends, and I spent many happy hours at the two clubs especially in the Summer months. Christmases were spent either at Peterborough or Hucclecote, Gloucester, and Summer holidays at various seaside resorts and we spent many weekends touring round the country in the car. These were quite exciting trips and my father loved taking us off somewhere exciting although my mother was a very nervous passenger, especially after a nasty accident when we skidded and landed upside down in a ditch and had to be rescued. Luckily we were all unhurt but shaken. Apart from the usual children’s ailments I was very healthy but did have a slight accident when a broom fell on my head at school and the nail pierced my head, and I needed hospital treatment and stitches. Even though Mary lived in Devon, Morris cars had to be widely distributed and it was easily arranged for us to be taken and delivered when new cars had to be transferred between Oxford and Devon, so we travelled in all the latest models and became knowledgeable about Morris cars and cars in general.

I started at Milham Ford School, then at Magdalen Bridge Oxford, when I was 11½. I had failed the scholarship there by such a small margin that I ended up in 3A with all the scholarship girls, but regrettably my parents had to pay the fees. I loved the new uniform and the school and all the excitement of lessons that were new to me like Latin and French etc. and cannot remember anything that particularly distressed me. I found Art extremely boring and considered it a great waste of time, and some maths I found difficult, but really enjoyed absorbing knowledge in general and was a keen participant in gym and games. I was with a lot of girls I had been with before, together with many others from the various schools around Oxford.

At Gloucester we all enjoyed tennis, cricket, climbing trees, picnics on the Hills and days at Weston-super-Mare. My cousins used to live in a house called Wallmore but about this time moved into Hucclecote Lodge near Gloucester. The house was very large, always smelt of furniture polish, had parquet flooring downstairs, a servants’ staircase, and a rather grand entrance for us, and an enormous garden. All the bedrooms were light and airy and tennis parties were arranged and we played on the lawn near the house, but cricket was always played at the bottom of the garden where there was a specially prepared pitch. Cricket was never played on Sundays but tennis was allowed after tea on that day. We went to church every Sunday to a new (Methodist) church nearby, which my aunt and uncle had helped to build, and there we met other cousins of my cousins as my Aunt Dora had many brothers and sisters and all of whom lived in or near Hucclecote. Her elderly mother lived at Barnwood and she looked like Queen Victoria and certainly behaved like her too. Her house was also large and rambling, with several staircases, stables, outhouses, and a huge billiard room and smoking room with walls lined with stuffed fish and other animals. Children were seldom allowed inside but we were all naturally curious. Tea in the garden with maids and lace cloths and dainty sandwiches and the lightest of sponge cakes, made these visits idyllic in every sense and I am so lucky to have been included. My Aunt Alice was usually there too on her holidays and was vaguely in charge of me, seeing that I had the right clothes to wear and behaved myself too. I usually liked the clothes I had, as I probably made a great fuss if I didn’t want something. I had a very plain tennis frock, sleeveless with pleats all round the bottom and low waisted. I loved this dress, especially when it had been washed and ironed and put on my bed ready for use. My mother had made this dress as well as two other cotton dresses with matching knickers in the same material but one red and the other blue. For Sundays I had voile dresses with picot edging and covered buttons and even had to wear a petticoat underneath, which made me feel very grown up, but most of all I loved my shorts and shirts for garden wear and tree-climbing. We did a lot of this as there were so many trees, and there always seemed to be fruit to be picked, like plums, apples pears etc., so days were spent filling baskets ready for all the jam etc. to be made. In those halcyon days the maids wore white aprons in the mornings but after lunch came down in black dresses and lace aprons and caps to get the tea ready. My two aunts rested every afternoon from 2–4pm and providing we were relatively quiet we could amuse ourselves however we liked. There were also hammocks around to read and laze in. My cousin Ronald, two years younger than me, was very naughty at times and always getting up to mischief and having numerous accidents. He too was a bad asthmatic, spending a lot of time in bed, so amusing him then, was sometimes my task. I was always sad when my stay came to an end and I had to return to being an only child in Oxford in a tiny house and garden. Luckily, I now had Peter, a dog I had been allowed to adopt after finding him on one of my trips to Peterborough.

Peterborough was just as much fun in a different way and my Aunt Edyth seemed to like my company. Uncle Arthur was rather tyrannical I think, but she was a very happy sort of person. Lionel and John had lots of good friends and there was never a dull moment. Christmases there were particularly exciting with card singing and parties and usually a jolly pantomime. Sometimes my aunt was in the chorus too which made it all very special. Also our parents had fun together too.

Two big changes happened when I was about 13. Milham Ford School moved from Magdalen Bridge to Marston Road and we started our school year 1936 in the new purpose-built and imposing building. It was a joy to have everything new, and Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, came to open it and we learnt to curtsey, sing ballads etc. ready for her arrival. It was all most exciting, and all the facilities were excellent. At the same time my parents decided to move to Headington too, and we saw the new house, being built in Staunton Road (79) very near the new school, so I was able to cycle each day to school down bumpy Jack Straws Lane, and everything seemed to be going well .Friends could be a problem sometimes, as I think I was quite a loyal and possessive girl and expected everyone to be the same. Many of my friends have been lifelong and I was unhappy if ever without a best friend. I joined a local church called Highfield, in Headington and attended confirmation classes and then joined the youth group. We were called The Pathfinders and were a group of 13 to18 year-olds all attached to the church. It was a very active group and we had our own hockey and tennis teams and played every Saturday and I joined in if not playing at school. We did various forms of folk dancing, including Scottish and ?Swedish, went for day-long hikes to the surrounding countryside and started visiting the occasional pub for the boys to have a beer. Suddenly we were grown-up. We played endless Monopoly after Church on Sunday evenings until all hours and until my father put a limit on the time and insisted I return by 9.30pm which made me very angry and rebellious. We worked hard for charity and went carol singing at Xmas and I remember so well deep snow and frost lanterns and mince pies and the general feeling of Christmastide. Peter came too of course, and I fell in and out of love and was either elated or depressed depending on my love life. My parents were not always in agreement with what went on and I could not understand their narrow mindedness, as apart from a few goodnight kisses or an arm round the waist we all seemed to behave ourselves .Sometimes we played tennis at 6am in the summer and we always went to Magdalen Bridge on May morning and out punting on the Cherwell afterwards. My best friend at this time was Marion Gardiner who was at the High School and we did everything together as she lived nearby but I am sorry to say that we have lost touch since we left school. We both worked hard at school and gained our School Certificate. I got credits in everything except general science and Latin and when I was ready to go back to school in the 6th form, war was declared on Sept. 3rd 1939 and inevitably, I suppose. this changed the course of my whole life.

My father was a very heavy smoker and had a dreadful smoker’s cough which I loathed and worried about and he was too thin and generally looked unhealthy and did not have a big appetite. At one period he suffered from copious boils which were ugly and painful. I hated the smell of cigarette smoke, and still do, and he was a chilly mortal even in the hottest weather and never too fond of bathing or stripping off. Golf and gardening were his favourite pastimes with card games in the evenings. He worked long hours especially during wartime, and at weekends developed a pattern with golf every Sunday morning and sometimes Saturdays too. He would enjoy a little shopping too and always came back with something he liked like crab kippers, smoked haddock or even winkles which I always enjoyed. Mother always cooked the traditional Sunday lunch and seemed to slave away all the morning but often rested in bed in the afternoon. She suffered badly from migraines but seldom complained. Jaunts in the car were another Sunday occupation, seeing interesting places and finding lovely picnic spots, and sitting alone in the back I was able to appreciate the history and the geography and have kept that interest all my life, but as I have already said, the outbreak of war on September 3rd changed this way of life forever. We all listened to Mr Chamberlain’s broadcast on that day in shock and horror and wondered what the immediate effect would be for each of us.

During the Summer after my exam results had come through, I decided that I would like to teach so prepared to return to school to do my Higher School Certificate, then to get a place at University (?Cambridge). That September, trainloads of evacuees arrived from London and at once I volunteered to go to the schools where they were arriving and help with the billeting etc. It was an enormous task but with many helpers and the Women’s Institute, of which my mother was a member, and all the other services, the children were soon found homes in, and around Headington. Later that term. I went to local schools for teaching practice to reassure everyone that I was indeed able and suitable to make my career in teaching. I loved it all, the war seemed remote to us all at that time, and life at school in the sixth form became easy and pleasant and my future organised.

I went out a lot and played tennis and hockey with my usual crowd of boys who were now beginning to discuss their futures in the Services as they were all about 18 years old and about to leave school. My father worked even harder at the factory and Mother got a job at the Milk Marketing Board, now moved from London to Headington, and she also gave board and lodging to two officers from the Codes and Cyphers Division, which was a secret branch of the combined Services also evacuated from the War Office to Headington where they were housed in Harberton Mead, a very secluded private road nearby our house. Many officers passed through this course and were later sent on secret missions and many lost their lives as a result. I enjoyed being with such erudite men and women. Later Americans joined the teams and were also living with us but by that time I had left home. I played mixed hockey for the local club on most Saturdays, fair weather or foul, when not playing for school and must say that I preferred the mixed game to the rather mundane all-girls school hockey.

My parents worried a lot about what might happen if the war escalated as most assuredly it would, and I knew that school fees plus university became an irrelevance especially to my father, and they both gave the impression that my future plans would be expensive and lengthy, and I did not altogether have their approval at this time Being aware of this atmosphere I nevertheless continued as before, when two things happened about the same time. Firstly Dunkirk, when suddenly we were all hit by the tragedy when we heard on the radio and saw pictures in the papers of the suffering and plight of our soldiers, and at the same time I had a disagreement on the hockey pitch with my PE teacher who was very unpopular and arrogant too, and I suddenly walked off and announced at home that my schooldays were over and I would henceforth earn my own living, become independent and renounce all my aspirations, and no longer be a burden on my parents. They did not send me back, and I think they were secretly relieved but funnily enough have never discussed it since.

The next day I cycled down to Barclays Bank HQ in the High and presented myself as a candidate for a banking career. I knew that to be a steady and respected occupation. I think the senior staff who saw me were either desperate for staff, or sorry for me, or may even have been impressed by my nerve, I don’t know, but I was offered a job on the spot and told to start work at on Monday at the Cornmarket Branch, the busiest in Oxford at that time. I was delighted to return home and tell my parents what I had achieved, and spent the next, two days buying suitable navy attire ready for my banking career and life in the fast lane. My time at Barclays Bank was very different from school and I was flung in at the deep end and as a junior dealing with the local clearances amongst other things between all the other banks in the City, I met all the other junior clerks who were mostly male and we met just after lunch in a small room in Cornmarket. These rendez-vous were rather fun but I was timed at the bank and hauled over the coals if I was away too long, and in any case the other work piled up alarmingly, so I had to make my meetings as short as possible. In those days there was always ‘a balance’ at the end of every day, and even if this was a penny short this had to be found even if we all had to stay on late to do so. Invariably it was after 6pm when we all left, despite closing time being at 3.30pm. I cycled to work each day to save money and time, and sometimes even went home for lunch, having to negotiate Headington Hill twice during the day. I also took typing at evening classes and also ballroom dancing with friends along with my usual pursuits with my Pathfinder group. I also had to take my turn at ‘Firewatching’ at the Bank and had to sleep in the building and watch for incendiary bombs and be ready to deal with them should it be necessary. I disliked these nights as I felt shy and insecure with both the other men and women who were on duty at the same time, as I always felt liaisons were going on under my nose which I found rather embarrassing at times. After I had been working there for about a year, I began to feel I needed a change and a higher salary too, and one day read an ad in the local paper for recruits to another company which had recently arrived in Headington. I secretly obtained an interview and again was duly accepted, so handed in my notice at the bank. The manager was dismayed by all this and tried to dissuade me from leaving but promised my job would be available if it all fell through, which I thought was very generous I loathed the very first day in my new job at Nielsen’s, having to sit at a desk without speaking to a soul with a supervisor checking figures which meant nothing to me as I never understood what I was doing. It was called ‘marketing’, and I stayed for about three days.

Again I cycled down to see my friendly bank manager and asked to be reinstated. To my great relief and surprise I was, and even promoted too, to be a more senior ledger clerk with higher wages, a job I really enjoyed but even though they were insistent that I settled down to a banking career, I knew already that this was not the life for me, and having reached the age of 18 by now, and with the war in full spate, I knew I must leave home and start nursing.

Whilst all this was happening to me, the War was becoming more serious in every respect. We had suffered the evacuation of Dunkirk, ships and men were being lost in the Atlantic, London was being bombed unmercifully, and the news from around the Globe was very depressing, and we seemed to be standing alone amidst the mayhem. Many other cities were being bombed like Coventry, Exeter, Birmingham, Plymouth, to name but a few, and although Oxford escaped there were many nights when we saw the red glow in the skies from these cities and wondered when our turn would come. We heard the German aircraft overhead and soon recognised the various planes and saw the direction of their path to destruction. Nearly everyone over 18, men and women, had joined the Services and my friend Mary, now back from Honiton to Headington with her parents, had fallen in love with an Air Force Officer called Bryan, and was working in the local chemist as a Dispenser. Bryan, later her fiancé and husband, was very handsome and worldly wise and all my previous boyfriends had joined up and were in uniform too, so it was indeed high time I did the same, and as nursing was in the family, and I had always felt the need to help those less fortunate than myself, and I wanted a training that didn’t involve an outlay by my parents. I wrote to three hospitals, Guy’s, St Thomas’s and University College Hospital. I had interviews at all three and liked UCH best, so was overjoyed when I heard that I had been successful and could start my training there in September 1941. No more banking, no more nine-to-fives and no more living at home: I was in heaven!

Postscript by Mary-Ann Turnbull (Peggy’s daughter)

Peggy wrote the above in the 1990s

UCH was evacuated to Ashridge (now the Management College), beautiful surroundings, where Peggy met David Colyer, a doctor in training. They were married at Headington Old Church on 4 April 1944, with a reception at Fuller’s Cornmarket, just before David went away to prepare for D-Day. He did not return till December 1946. He then retrained as a dentist, and in 1950 they moved to Cheltenham, where he set up in practice. They had three daughters. David died in 2005.

Three people are mentioned by name. Mary Jewell became Peggy’s step-sister and their friendship lasted until Mary’s death in 2014. Marion Gardiner may have moved abroad (brother’s obituary). Thelma Telling worked as a teacher and lived in Oxford, a committed member of Cowley parish, till her death in 2018.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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