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The Wartime Memories of
Margaret Thompson (nee Carr)

Margaret was born at Hagg Dyke, above Kettlewell on the slopes of Great Whernside, so the family was used to life on a remote farm when they moved to High Trenhouse on Malham Moor when Margaret was only four.

Despite the war Margaret has memories of a very happy childhood.  Food rationing did not affect them.  The farm kept pigs, sheep and hens and grew potatoes, turnips, kale and corn.  Of course an Inspector from the Ministry of Agriculture visited the farm from time to time but he was very partial to a joint of lamb, or a ham and a few eggs so there was never a problem.  ‘Dad would kill a pig and we’d share it with our neighbours, and they would share with us in their turn,’ says Margaret.  ‘There was always brawn, lard, sausages, bacon, hams, joints of lamb and eggs.  When I came home from school and in the morning before I went to school my job was to feed the hens and the dogs.  There were always jobs to be done.’

Petrol was strictly rationed but farms had an allowance for moving stock and running tractors.  Margaret remembers with amusement that when shopping in Settle was necessary, as High Trenhouse was a long way from anywhere, Minnie the sheep, a family pet was whistled up.  She would trot into the trailer towed behind the car and thus provide a justifiable reason for the excursion!

Once a month a man arrived in a van with groceries such as flour and precious sugar, an important day with so much baking being necessary to feed the family and farm hands. 

High Trenhouse on Malham Moor was too far from civilisation for the family to be able to hear air raid warning sirens, although they could watch Messerschmidts on their way to bomb Liverpool.  Margaret’s Grandparents also lived at High Trenhouse, and Grandfather was diligent each night in ensuring their blackout was secure.  As the farm was high on the moor a light would have acted as a beacon for enemy planes.

Margaret’s father, Mr Jack Carr, served in the Home Guard.  The Home Guard post was at Malham Tarn House under the command of Col Hastings Clay.  The men had to drill with walking sticks even though most were farmers who owned guns.  Mr Carr was an independent man.  He found drilling with orders to ‘left turn’ or ‘right about turn’ foreign to his nature so he elected to drill on his own!

The nearest Malham Moor ever came to seeing enemy action was when a line of bombs fell on Black Hill, probably jettisoned by a German plane which failed to get over Liverpool.  This was, of course, very alarming for the Carr family, whose only air raid shelter was the dining room table as was the case for remote farms.  Mr Carr alerted neighbours and travellers advising them to be on the look out for Germans who could have parachuted in.

Extra income for the family was earned by snaring rabbits, the only unrationed meat.  Billy Rigby called once a fortnight to collect them and sell them in Preston market.

Lambing time was so labour intensive that Margaret had no time for homework.  ‘I used to get into trouble at school - Settle Girls’ High School – but that just couldn’t be helped.  There was such a shortage of farm workers,’ she says. 

Large areas of Malham Moor had to be closed off when the Army undertook exercises with guns and armoured tanks. 

For entertainment the family sang round the piano, played parlour games and organised parties.  Although the Carr family owned a radio this was run on batteries and batteries were very scarce.  This meant that use of the radio was strictly rationed and only turned on for news bulletins.  Margaret remembers sitting on a stool at her Grandfather’s feet to listen.  Grandfather would place his hand on Margaret’s head during the broadcast to remind her to keep completely silent!

Despite the war it was a happy time for Margaret. 

Read the Wartime memories of other Malhamdale residents:
Edith Carr
Veronica Fletcher (Fell)
Rob Foster
John Geldard
Norman Heaton
Barbara Purcell (Hoare)
Frank Sharp
Ethel Taylor
Dora Varley (Watson)
Marion Wellock


 

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