West Lulworth

a Registered One-Place Study and part of the Dorset OPC network


Memories of wartime

by Lilian Chambers (later to become Lilian Pidgeon on her marriage to Donald Pidgeon) contributed by Angie Wild

Extracts from account written by Lilian Pidgeon, WW2 Peoples War

My brother, who is 5 years younger than me, had by then been sent down to Dorset before the war was declared and was living with Sid and Dulcie Pidgeon, at Newlands Farm, Lulworth, who were later to become my father- and mother-in-law.

In 1941 the next wonderful event in my life was becoming engaged to Don, the son of Sid and Dulcie Pidgeon whose Dorset farm, Newlands at Lulworth, my brother had been sent to, to get him out of London. We had known the Pidgeon family for years. We met when my father, mother and brother and I holidayed in our caravan down there. As I had been working in London I had never met Don who was in the Air Force, until he came home one weekend while he was stationed at Warmwell and I was on a weekend break. We hit it off straight away and we were eventually married at Holy Trinity Church Lulworth in July 1942.

I left there on the last weekend in June to go to Newlands farm from where I got married on July 11th 1942 at Holy Trinity church West Lulworth to Don. Straightaway he was posted to Northern Ireland so I went with him. Life there was certainly a contrast to England. Don found a lovely billet with a Mr and Mrs Skimmings who were a really lovely couple. At one time I was really ill and when Don went off to Newtownards after breakfast each day Mr Skimmings would carry me downstairs to be with his wife during the day until Don came home again in the evening. He did this every day for nearly a month until I recovered. In May 1943 I returned to Newlands farm in Dorset to have our son who was born on May 20th. We called him Christopher.

Later that year I returned to Northern Ireland with Christopher. A very tearful Pop Pidgeon saw us off from Wool Station. We had to take a train from Wool to London then travel across to Euston where we booked a night sleeper. I took a small spirit stove with which to heat Christopher’s food. We were halfway into the journey when the train stopped near Crewe, as there were air raids. Eventually we arrived at Stranraer where we boarded the boat which took us to Belfast and from there we went to Newtownards. It was quite a journey with a baby but thankfully he was as good as gold. We were all glad to get to our destination safely and we were all together. Every moment was treasured as in wartime you just didn’t know what might happen. You never knew what tomorrow might hold.

We stayed there until Don was posted to Belgium in 1944. I returned to Lulworth with Christopher where I witnessed the forces of many nationalities massing for D-Day 1944. It was very spectacular. Although Lulworth didn’t get off lightly, as our farm, Newlands farm had a searchlight and gun emplacement and enemy aircraft often tried to attack them.

I was at Newlands farm when victory in Europe was announced but being on a farm life just more or less carried on as usual. We didn’t have any definite celebrations. We were just happy to know that one theatre of war was over. Victory in Japan was not until July and by then Don was in India as immediately after VE Day he was sent straight to India from Belgium and I didn’t see him again until he returned in 1948. By this time my father-in-law had given up the farm in 1945 due to ill health, and eventually after many moves, I moved back with Christopher to my parents’ house in Grange Park in London where we stayed until Don returned from India.

This account was contributed by Angie Wild, daughter of Donald Pidgeon (now deceased), and Lilian Pidgeon who's story 'Memories of Wartime by Lilian Chambers later to become Lilian Pidgeon on her marriage to Donald Pidgeon' is told on this site.

WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar