Edith, an eyewitness participating in IWM's We Were There programme

9 Questions

  • Where do you call home?

    I was born in Redruth, Cornwall. But I have lived in South London since I was 18 – so London is home.

  • What conflict(s) do you discuss when volunteering for We Were There?

    Second World War.

  • How were you involved in that conflict?

    I was born during the Second World War and my memories are like snapshots from an old album. Due to air raids we had a ‘Morrison Shelter’. I also remember the preparations for D-Day, the drone of German aircraft, blackouts, parachute silk, queues, the popular radio comedy programmes – It’s That Man Again and Workers’ Playtime, and rationing. Meat was tough as old leather, but anything could be put in a Cornish pasty!

  • How long have you been volunteering for WWT?

    I have been volunteering with We Were There since it began, 10 years ago.

  • What do you enjoy most about participating in WWT?

    I have always found IWM staff and fellow volunteers to be friendly and helpful. Aside from the serious nature of the subject – it’s full of fun. I also believe that visitors to the museum should hear as much as possible from all sides of conflict. Having a space for personal first-hand accounts and discussions with visitors is invaluable. It’s also my small part in aiding British tourism!

  • Tell us your favourite moment so far during the sessions?

    Every session there has been moments that have stood out and stay with me. The little boy who knew much more than me. The dear lady in her best sari from Sri Lanka who sang A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square with me. The young student who spent so long talking to me – discussing all aspects of conflict including the Elgin Marbles. Also the ladies who cried when they saw my baby books, along with all the cups of green tea ‘fuel’ that keeps me going!

  • What’s your favourite object in IWM’s collections and why?

    My favourite object in the whole museum’s collection is HMS Belfast. Along with all those who are ‘docked’ in her. It’s like a second home. There’s nothing like the Drumhead Service on the deck, held on Remembrance Sunday. The singing of Eternal Father, Strong to Save and the children from the Scout Groups who present the wreaths, and meeting up with old friends.

  • What do you like to do in your spare time?

    Non-fiction reading, singing in two choirs, craft work, gardening, visiting art galleries, museums and National Trust houses, and going to the theatre. Travelling – railways and family outings. I am also sometimes driven to get to know my vacuum cleaner and washing machine a little better!

  • What is your favourite biscuit?

    Sugar-free choc chip biscuits!

Volunteers help bring to life the stories of our collections. Find out more. 

Stories that deserve to be heard


I could just remember, I was a child in arms and my father took me out to the kitchen door and he pointed into the sky, and the sky was orange. We lived 50 miles away from Plymouth and he said "Plymouth is on fire."

All my memories of childhood are really like snapshots in an album.

I was a primary school teacher so I never come unprepared, because you've got so many different people from all over the world. You just hope that it'll interest people. What I'm able to do is use what I was trained to do all my life so that children can be brought in to hear the stories.

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A Balloon Site, Coventry
© IWM (ART LD 2750)

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An interwar Earl Haig Fund 'Remembrance Day' poppy
© IWM (EPH 2313)

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