Alice Monk

  • RankCivilian, Land Girl, ATS Driver
  • Age17 in 1943
  • Regiment/ServiceWomen’s Land Army & Auxiliary Territorial Service.

alice monk

Alice (left) and her friend Nora in their Land Girls uniform

Alice was born in 1925 and lived at 28 Dunne Street, Hackney E8 with her family until the house was demolished as part of the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney 1935 slum clearance programme. She attended Shacklewell School leaving at age 14 to work in a local factory. When the Second World War broke out she went to live with her Grandmother at 121 Hindle House as her Grandfather was in hospital and her Uncles Christopher and Alfred had been called into the forces.

On the night of 18th September 1940 Alice recalls…
“There were 3 bombs dropped. The first hit Simpsons clothing factory, the second hit our flats and the third a small greengrocers. My Gran, bless her, had just gone into the kitchen to make a cup of tea when the bomb hit. She was small and frail and took the full blast and lost her life. I tried to reach her but was unable to because of the debris. The fire in the grate had been blown into the room and everything was catching fire. My brother Wal, who had been outside when the bomb hit, got us out through the blown out windows”.
Alice had lost her Grandmother and just six months later there was more tragedy, her heartbroken Grandfather passed away and a few days later her Mother received two telegrams telling her that her brothers Christopher and Alfred were both missing. Christopher had been killed at sea and Alfred had been found alive and taken prisoner of war; this was a very sad time for the family.

In 1942 at age 16 Alice decided to get away from London so she joined the Women’s Land Army (WLA). The WLA was a British organization set up in the first and second world wars to work in agriculture to replace men who had been called up to join the military. Alice enjoyed 3 years working in Honiton, Devon where she became good friends with a girl from Lancashire called Nora.

When it became evident that Britain would win the war farmers were released from the forces to replace the Land Girls and so they became redundant. Alice decided to enlist in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). The ATS was a women’s branch of the British army. Alice trained as a driver and passed her driving test, she then worked as a driver in the ATS until she got engaged to her future husband Jim in 1947.


Sources:

Mrs. Alice Hayes (née Monk) memoirs 09/2013
“There were 3 bombs dropped, the first hit Simpsons Clothing Factory, the 2nd hit our flats and the 3rd hit a small greengrocers. My Gran, bless her, had just gone into the kitchen to make a cup of tea when the bomb hit. She was small and frail and took the full blast and lost her life. I tried to reach her but was unable to because of the debris. The fire in the grate had been blown into the room and everything was catching fire. My Brother Wal, who had been outside when the bomb hit, got us out through the blown out windows.””There were 3 bombs dropped, the first hit Simpsons Clothing Factory, the 2nd hit our flats and the 3rd hit a small greengrocers. My Gran, bless her, had just gone into the kitchen to make a cup of tea when the bomb hit. She was small and frail and took the full blast and lost her life. I tried to reach her but was unable to because of the debris. The fire in the grate had been blown into the room and everything was catching fire. My Brother Wal, who had been outside when the bomb hit, got us out through the blown out windows.””There were 3 bombs dropped, the first hit Simpsons Clothing Factory, the 2nd hit our flats and the 3rd hit a small greengrocers. My Gran, bless her, had just gone into the kitchen to make a cup of tea when the bomb hit. She was small and frail and took the full blast and lost her life. I tried to reach her but was unable to because of the debris. The fire in the grate had been blown into the room and everything was catching fire. My Brother Wal, who had been outside when the bomb hit, got us out through the blown out windows.””There were 3 bombs dropped, the first hit Simpsons Clothing Factory, the 2nd hit our flats and the 3rd hit a small greengrocers. My Gran, bless her, had just gone into the kitchen to make a cup of tea when the bomb hit. She was small and frail and took the full blast and lost her life. I tried to reach her but was unable to because of the debris. The fire in the grate had been blown into the room and everything was catching fire. My Brother Wal, who had been outside when the bomb hit, got us out through the blown out windows.”