My guest today is popular historical romance author, Pam Howes, who is interviewing Alice Lomax, the main character from The Factory Girls, a heart-wrenching family saga about women in World War 2. It is the first book in the Lark Lane Series
The struggles of war will build the strongest of friendships…
1940, Liverpool: Best friends Alice Turner and Millie Markham work for the war effort at Rootes munitions factory, making shell caps and Halifax bombers. Alice’s sweetheart Terry is home from the front for a brief period of leave, and the women are excitedly planning a whirlwind wedding.
But the honeymoon is soon over, and the ever-present air raid sirens quickly bring Alice back down to earth. When a terrible explosion at the factory leads to a tragic death, and a loved one is announced missing in action, it’s only their friendship and the support of the other factory girls which help to keep Alice and Millie’s spirits up.
As the war stretches on with no sign of an ending, can Alice and Millie help one another make it through – and find happiness even in the darkest of times?
What readers are saying about The Factory Girls of Lark Lane:
‘Absolutely brilliant… I would give it more than 5 stars if I could.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
‘Oh what a corker… Fantastic… I am flabbergasted… The Factory Girls of Lark Lane literally moved me to tears, filled my arms with goosebumps… Truly spell-binding… Historical fiction at its finest.’ The Writing Garnet, 5 stars
‘An emotive and gripping read… I literally could not put it down… Highly recommended.’ By the Letter Book Reviews, 5 stars
Now over to Pam’s interview with Alice.
Hi Alice, thank you for agreeing to speak to me about your experiences during WW2. It must have been a very frightening time for you and millions of other young women who were left to literally keep the home fires burning while your menfolk were stationed abroad with very little contact. How did that feel?
It was a very difficult time for many. I’m the middle child of three and my older brother Rodney was away fighting in France, my younger brother Brian had been evacuated to the country and that just left me and my widowed mother at home. She wasn’t very well and I became the main bread-winner. I got a job working at Rootes munitions factory at Speke Airport and apart from shells being constructed on the floor above me; I worked on riveting sections of wings for the Halifax Bombers. I felt a real part of the war effort and it wasn’t something I ever imagined I’d be doing. One of our friends in munitions was killed when an explosion occurred. It was a very dangerous job for a young girl.
Before the war started, did you have any plans in place work wise?
It had always been my dream to train as a nurse. Sadly I never got the chance, but I hope that one day my daughter Cathy makes nursing her chosen career.
You got married during the war. What made you decide to do that?
It was an impromptu decision. Terry and I had been courting since school and when he knew he was to be sent to the front line he proposed. We were only eighteen and had very little time to make plans. It was a simple registry office wedding, we had a one day and night honeymoon and I never saw him again for five years. A lot of weddings took place like that. And there was no guarantee your husband would ever be coming home. All we had was the one day and plenty of hope.
So your daughter Cathy was conceived on the one night you spent together.
She was. It hadn’t been in the plan, but it happened. Cathy was born in a shelter in the middle of an air raid surrounded by my fellow workers who helped to deliver her. I don’t think I ever quite got over the shock of that. I went back to work fairly quickly and left Cathy in the care of mine and Terry’s mothers. Terry didn’t see his daughter until she was five years old, apart from photographs we sent him.
And your brother Rodney was reported MIA.
Sadly yes. We kept telling ourselves that no news is good news. Until the telegram arrived, confirming he’d been killed in France. My mother never got over the shock of that, she died not long after. My younger brother Brian was brought back to Liverpool from his evacuee home and I brought him up alongside Cathy. I was twenty two years old, providing for two children so I had no choice but to keep on working at Rootes. We struggled, food was on ration, we lived off pans of scouse and the national loaf, and there was hardly a night went by where we didn’t have to dive into an air raid shelter. Our beautiful city was practically destroyed during the Blitz and beyond. But we Scousers are a hardy lot and nothing dented our sense of humour. Not even the Utility clothing we had to wear. There were some sights around, I can tell you.
It wasn’t all gloom and despair though, was it? You had some fun with your friend Millie.
Oh Millie’s a hoot. She used to sing with a band and we’d get up on stage at the Aigburth British Legion and do our Andrews Sisters act. We had some really good times and Millie is still my best friend, she’s the sister I never had. She wrote to Terry’s best pal Jimmy while they were away and they became close.
And what happened the day the boys came home at the end of the war?
On their demob day, we went down to Lime Street station to wait. We had no idea what time train they’d be on, just mid afternoon, Terry had told me. It was heaving, but it was wonderful to see all the young soldiers being met by their excited families. Our boys arrived and we waited patiently until they came down the platform. I felt nervous seeing Terry again and of course for Cathy it was the first time she’d met her daddy. It was a very emotional time for us all. And Jimmy grabbed hold of Millie and proposed to her there and then. So we’ve got a wedding to look forward to next year.
Thank you Alice for your insight into the problems most women faced at a very difficult time.
You’re very welcome. With a bit of luck that will be the last we see of war forever. The country needs to get back on its feet. But at least we proved we could do it! Practically every plane that flew across the channel was built by women. We kept the home fires burning all right.
Pam Howes’s hometown is Stockport in Cheshire. The working-class mill town has a strong musical background and is the inspiration for her first self-published novels – The Rock’n’Roll years series. Her first novel, Three Steps to Heaven, set in the sixties, was inspired by her time as a teenager, working in a local record store and meeting musicians who frequented the business. That first novel evolved into a five book series. Pam is currently involved in a campaign to have Blue Plaques erected on local clubs, now closed, but still firmly in the hearts of Stockport’s recycled teenagers.
This year Pam signed a second contract with the award winning publisher Bookouture to produce three books in the Lark Lane Series. The first novel in her previous Mersey trilogy, The Lost Daughter of Liverpool, was a Number 1 Kindle Saga Bestseller.
Follow Pam on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pam-Howes-Author/260328010709267
And Twitter @PamHowes1
Thanks for dropping by, Pam. Good luck with your book.
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