GLORIA JOY

I'm Gloria Irene Joy but I was a Taylor and prior to that I was a Baldwin. I was born in 1939 but within three months my dad died in the war on Sept 11, 1939. He was among the first to die. He was on the destroyer HMS Vanquisher and they collided with another boat trying to block a U-Boat off Ireland.

I have a brother Brian who was born in 1937. Mum brought us up on her own. She was married to Richard and lived in a little cottage next to what was the Red Cow in Tudeley. When she was told of Richard's death she had no money because he was under 25 and the Royal Navy never gave out any pensions under the age of 25.

She had to give up her little house and go back and live with her mum at the top of Tudeley Lane -- with eight brothers and sisters.

A crowded house ! I think she was there probably for a couple of years as my (step) father Joe Taylor who was only 18 when my dad died went to her and said he would always care for her and look after her and I think five years down the line they got married.

Gloria and school friend in the 1950s waiting for a bus in the shelter on the Green
Gloria and school friend in the 1950s waiting for a bus in the shelter on the Green

My first memory is about aged four, I think. We used to walk from Tudeley to school which was about two miles. I went to Capel School with friends. One teacher was called Miss Reed and there was a Miss Baker and the headmaster Mr. Fiddis.

My brother went to Tonbridge School and I went on to Hillview at age of 11 until 15. Then I worked at Matfield with a couple of young friends that I had got to know. We worked for a man who had a scientific instrument place making little jewels you put into compasses in aeroplanes.

It was like going from school to bad school. We were not allowed to talk. He put up on the board a sheet of behaviour and progress in work and everything. We put up with that for two years then we all decided to up and leave and we all went down to the plastic factory in Paddock Wood.

The Old Post Office and Forge
The Old Post Office and Forge

There were five of us, all ladies. We were paid £4.50p a week. We all rebelled and walked out. It was not the done thing in those days, was it? He used to bible-teach. We didn't mind to start with that much but it got worse and worse.

He read the Bible to us two or three times a day. Almost unbelievable these days, I know.

Prior to that my brother and I used to go hop-picking from aged about eight. We had half a bin each and that's what you did for three weeks in August, summer holiday time, to earn your school uniform. What was left from the money you could have for a gift.