Seventy-five years ago, Mrs Olive Day was the subject of a series of photographs – now held by The Imperial War Museum – showing the realities of living in wartime Britain. Here are some of them.
Posted on 28/05/2016
1. Mrs Olive Day wakes up at 7am at her home in Drayton Gardens, South Kensington, London. On the bedside cabinet, her gas mask, torch and a book are ready, in case a quick dash to the air raid shelter is required in the night.
2. Mrs Day opens the curtains of her bedroom in the basement of her South Kensington home. Unfortunately, as the glass has recently been knocked out of the windows by a nearby air raid, Mrs Day cannot see outside, as oiled linen has been stretched across the window frame in place of the missing glass. Her cat, Little One, watches her from the bed.
3. Mrs Day spends half an hour or so on the housework before she leaves for work. Here we see her polishing the bannisters. Above her head, we can see a large patch of missing plaster on the ceiling, caused by a nearby air raid.
4. Mrs Day points to a hole in the ceiling where a firebomb recently came through into her South Kensington home. Scorch marks can be seen on the ceiling next to the hole.
5. Mrs Day makes up a bunk in the air raid shelter in the cellar of her South Kensington home. The bunks are kept ready in case any night raids force her to spend the night in the shelter. The bunk will hopefully mean that she spends the night in some comfort!
6. A shopkeeper stamps Mrs Day’s ration book during her shopping trip on the Kings Road in Chelsea. In the foreground can be seen the tea, sugar, ‘national butter’, margarine, cooking fats and bacon she is allowed for one week.
7. Mrs Day is helped by a female conductor onto the bus that will take her to work.
8. Mrs Day works as a ‘girl clerk in a wartime organisation’ and that filing takes up most of her time. She works Monday to Friday between 10am and 6pm, but as this photograph was taken on a Saturday, she will be finished by 2pm. If there is a rush of work, she will work Sunday as well.
9. Mrs Day puts her dinner into the oven after a busy day. The Ministry of Food encouraged people to cook their entire meal in the oven as a way to save fuel.
10. While her evening meal is cooking, Mrs Day settles down on her bed with the evening paper and a spot of sewing. She is working on a balaclava and is accompanied by Little One.
11. Mrs Day runs to greet her husband Lieutenant Kenneth Day at the door of her South Kensington home as he arrives home on leave.