Dorothy was born in 1921 and during the war she lived very close to Thornaby Airfield in what is now Cleveland. Being close to an airfield and major factories the area regularly came under bombardment from German aircraft and she and her brother Norman would regularly get into trouble for not staying in the air raid shelter, going outside to see what was happening. Dorothy recalls she and Norman would count the RAF aircraft out and back in again and sometimes fewer would return.
One night she went to The Globe Theatre with a local lad to see a harmonica player. An air raid siren sounded and they went home. That night three bombs landed all around where Dorothy lived but her house was not hit. Her young friend was not so lucky however – his house was hit and he was killed.
Dorothy remembers two of her school friends who went to war; one was a gunner in the RAF and he was killed and another was a Far East prisoner of war and returned home ‘just skin and bone.’ Times were very hard.
Dorothy wanted to join the RAF but her father tore up her papers and threw them on the fire. She had to go to work in F. Mills and Son’s factory making propellors (‘a horrible job’).
Dorothy’s first husband Tom was in The Royal Navy and his ship HMS Enterprise was sunk off Africa. He survived but died later. Her second husband Laurie was in the RAF, they met through being pen pals.
Dorothy was one of Rothbury House’s first guests back in 1996 and she has returned every year since with the support of her local branch at Hartlepool. She loves the excursions, the entertainment and the company and looks forward to each visit. ‘I feel very spoilt at Rothbury House!’ she said. ‘The staff are wonderful – if I need anything they are right there.’