Meet the family: a chat with veteran Bertha

Living in a care home can be the start of a new chapter of life for many people, getting to know people is an important part of settling into a new home. Our Activities Team spend time on a one-to-one basis with people chatting about their past and understanding their life stories. Activities Coordinator Emma Youngs spent a morning chatting with Bertha about her life in the Army.

Bertha is ninety-five and has lived at Ferrars Hall Care Home in Huntingdon since 2019.

Bertha Hall, aka W276015 Private Hall B.D, served in the British Army between 1943 and 1946 in England, The Channel Islands and Germany. Bertha was awarded The Defence Medal and War Medal 1939-1945.

War-time stories

Whilst reminiscing with Bertha she shared many stories about her time serving the British Army. A humorous memory which stuck out to her was from when she was in the quarters in Chilwell; she explained that all the troops would line up to go to the cookhouse and the Sargent in charge would do a roll call to ensure everyone had attended. After the roll call had been completed the troops knew they were safe to sneak off if they wanted to get out early. So one by one the person at the end of the line would sneak away, and the one from the middle took their place on the outside, this making it look, to the Sargent, that she still had a full troop so by the time they eventually got to the cookhouse, there were barely any troops left! Bertha was sure that the Sargent must have known what was going on, but they never did get into trouble. Bertha spent her 21st Birthday on a troop train from Germany, she said it was a small celebration, but they did have some ‘Natty Lemonade’.

Potato Pies

Another funny story which Bertha kindly told was of the famous 3p Pies! During the German occupation of the Channel Islands, food was scarce, and this continued after liberation. The people of the islands invented a pie to ensure they would not go hungry. Bertha explained that because the Germans had eaten all the potatoes they would take the left-over peelings and they would boil them up and put them into the pie for them to eat!

Italian Culture

During her time in the Army, she saw a lot of things and travelled to Europe. Whilst in Italy he remembers seeing the painting of the ‘Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci as it was being repaired in the Sistine Chapel in Milan following damaged sustained during the War. Bertha also remembers that in her time in Milan she was lucky enough to visit La Scala Opera House which she was very fond of.

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