"Being the only woman on these musters, I often had to set the men straight right at the start!"

I got married when I was 18 to a real mongrel (although he was alright at the time). I was with him for 13 years. l left him because he used to use me as a punching bag when he'd been drinking. He used to go up north for weeks at a time and I wouldn't hear from him - I found out he had another woman. I had 5 kids with him and I did everything for those kids. They were aged from 13 to 2 years old when I left. The kids stayed with him and l haven't seen them since. They rang me later on when they were older, but all they wanted was money.

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Dione Brockwell
"The sirens were going off, and next minute our roof was blown off"

If the sirens went off when we were at home, we all had to get into a small cupboard. In this cupboard was a shelf, and on this shelf there were always two bottles of beer. One might be empty, one might be full, or both full or empty, but there were always two bottles. 

Like a lot of kids I was sent away during the war. My family sent me to Wales to live with my Grandmother and my Aunty. My mum stayed in London with my new brother, and my dad was needed in the factory making machine engines. He couldn’t join the forces because he had perforated eardrums.

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Dione Brockwell
"I was adopted when I was 7 days old - I fit into a shoe box"

I was adopted when I was 7 days old - I fit into a shoe box. My mum and dad already had a 6 year old son when they adopted me, but he never liked me, even when we became older, we just never got on.  When I was 44, I found my birth mum, but she wasn’t a very nice person – she was an alcoholic and often told me she wouldn’t have allowed me to marry young.

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Dione Brockwell