VE Day: A first hand account of Hackney during the war

PUBLISHED: 13:41 08 May 2015 | UPDATED: 13:41 08 May 2015

Irene (end of the back row) hosting a party for children during the war

Irene (end of the back row) hosting a party for children during the war


Irene Samain, 90, or Harman Estate, Hoxton has vivid memories of the war.

Irene hosting a party for children during the warIrene hosting a party for children during the war

She said:” When the war ended everyone came out into the street. We all had parties with long tables and food and kids everywhere. My two sister-in-laws went to the massive celebrations in the West End but I stayed.

I don’t think I’ll do anything for this anniversary but watch it on T.V.

“When the war started I was 15, and by the age of 16 I was working in an engineering factory. I wanted to work for the Land Army because of the uniform! It was quite smart and I liked that. But the woman who examined me, who was as big as a walrus, said I couldn’t go – even though I wasn’t being saucy.

The factory was called G.J.Worssam, and it had been there for years, making copper stills for Wenlock brewery. When I was there we made parts for aeroplanes and ships. One day we actually got trapped inside the factory because of the bombings. Ammonia was leaking in from a burst tank and not everyone survived.

People don’t realise what you went through, we were lucky to survive. People you worked with didn’t turn up for work and you used to see people in the street who had been buried by debris after bombings.

But I enjoyed parts of the war. At the beginning we used go dancing in Tottenham Court Road, and the Yanks came over and taught us the jitterbug, flipping us over so you could see our briefs! We thought let’s go mad today because we might not be here tomorrow.” Mrs Irene Samain, 90

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