Sylvia Jacobs

By Pam Schweitzer

If you would like to listen to a short section of the interview as you read, please press the play button on the right. If you would like to read the whole interview transcript please follow the download link at the bottom.


It was about 1942, when I really came into the rest centres. I wanted to do something helping people, I could never have joined any of the forces and I think in some respects I saw more action that way than I would have done if I'd been sent to some remote quarters of England to be a typist in some R.A.F. office.   At that time the rest centres were all run by the old Poor Law department of the London County Council. I was in what was called Area 6, which was Hammersmith, Kensington, Paddington and Chelsea.  The idea was to have places where the people who had been bombed out of their homes could go to immediately, before they went back to their own homes, or had to be found alternative accommodation, or people who actually had to leave the town altogether.  At the very beginning of the war there was an idea that there wouldn't be this necessity.  They seemed to assume that everybody would be killed. And we were told very early on, when I joined the rest centre service, that the London County Council had provided hundreds and hundreds of papier mache coffins for the remains of people, but they had not provided for people who would be alive. And it was only after the big blitz and the fire of London, they realized there were actual survivors. So they took over the council schools to be run purely for this, although during the day and during the time there wasn't any bombing the children were there. I first of all joined just as a general assistant, which was a sort of a washer upper and cleaner upper and so on and graduated to being a welfare advisor. Now the staff at the rest centres consisted of a manager, I can't remember what his proper title was, or her proper title, a deputy manager, two welfare advisors, who alternated and then the general assistants who helped to provide the meals and clean up and do odd jobs.  Now the hours were 24 hours on and 24 hours off and when there wasn't any population, that is bombed out population in the centre, you could have a few hours sleep during that time. But you had to be sitting  up and fire watching.


Sylvia Jacobs
Sylvia Jacobs (5977k)

This page was added by Pam Schweitzer on 10/03/2014.