Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Betty McGlinchy

Interviewed by Eve Klein on 13 August 2000

Eve Klein. Talking about wartime, is there anything that stands out in your mind during that time? You’re now what age?

Betty McGlinchy. I’ve just turned 72. I was 11 when the War broke out. I did the Leaving in 1945, so I was at school all through, of course. It didn’t make any difference at school really.

Eve Klein. Were they all women teachers?

Betty McGlinchy. Yes, an all girls’ school, and all women teachers, we didn’t have any men. The only man we had was a handy man; I’ve forgotten his name, but I remember Doogle the dog. We had air –raid – oh yes, it was quite funny. We always had trenches and things like that. Every now and then we had the air-raid drill thing, and we all had to rush and crouch in the trenches and just hope it hadn’t been raining. The boarders were in a room under the double storied classrooms. They were worried about the boarders of course, but we were just in the open trenches. We had to have a dilly-bag thing that we wore over our shoulders and we had it with us all the time. We had to have it beside us in the classroom. When we played tennis, and when we changed ends, we had to carry it from one end to the other.

Eve Klein. What about when coming home. Did you also carry that home?

Betty McGlinchy. Not when you went out, or anything private, it was just in the school you did. In it, you had a little bit of chocolate and two shillings and things to put in your ears etc. Miss Wilson, the headmistress discovered once that I’d spent my two shillings and eaten my chocolate, so every now and then she’d come round the playground at lunch time, and she’d say: ‘Now Betty let me have a look at your air-raid bag’, and it would be gone again.

Eve Klein. What else was in that air-raid bag?

Betty McGlinchy. I mainly remember the chocolate and that. When it had happened several times mum just replaced it. Mum didn’t mind, I suppose she’d have done the same thing. Anyhow the last thing was – when we were thinking we were going to be – you know people were evacuating from the Japanese – we were going to be invaded. She said: ‘Betty you are going to be in a lot of trouble if you don’t have any money on you, because if the Japanese invade us, you won’t have any money to get on the tram to go home’. That amused me no end.