Our Century

Days of eels and air raids

Annie Beddows, Bilston
Born 1931

Annie Beddows

"On Saturdays during the war my father, Isaac Campbell, would take us fishing to the River Severn in Shrewsbury.

"He was a great fisherman and he made his own rods. He loved his eels but he didn't believe in over-fishing.

"If he could get a couple of eels for himself and a couple of small fish for the cat, he was happy.

"I never caught anything. My mother and I would go for walks or shopping in town.

"When we got home my mother cleaned the eels and cooked them somehow in the frying pan but I never knew how.

"We children never had the eels; they were for dad and they were useful because everything was rationed. We preferred cod.

"I was born in Wolverhampton and grew up in Hartshorn Street, Bilston. We weren't particularly well off but we were always well looked after. My dad worked in the steel mills all his life.

"My uncle Frank was away at the war and during the air raids I used to keep my auntie company, sitting on the cellar steps. When it got really bad, my dad would take us down to the shelter in the park.

"They had a rule that if the air raids went on after midnight, you were allowed an extra hour to sleep, so you didn't have to be in school until 10am.

"Even though there was a war on, I remember them as very happy days. The contrast between being in the air-raid shelter at night and fishing peacefully on the Saturdays was amazing.