Hilda Wiffin, Baby Nurse

The Mothers' Hospital
Interviewed by Natasha Lewer

Hilda Wiffin was born in Hillingdon, west London, in 1928. Hilda was just sixteen and "still very green" when – without telling her mother – she applied to be a baby nurse at the Mothers'. 

It was 1943, and the middle of the Second World War. When she arrived at the hospital, she found two of the wards had been hit by a bomb, and most of the staff and patients had decamped to Derbyshire. She chose to stay in London, and remembers the Mothers' as a caring and friendly community with strong Christian values. 

As well as looking after newborn babies, Hilda worked in the hospital reception, was sent on errands across the bombed city, and made herself useful wherever help was needed. Her year there was tough, at times, but it was an invaluable experience that shaped the person she was to become. 

Hilda returned to west London where she trained as a nurse, married, brought up a family and went on to have a fulfilling career in district nursing. She now lives in Hanwell, west London, not far from where she was born.

Click here to read about the Mothers' Hospital  during the Second World War.

Below you can listen to extracts from Hilda's interview.

First day at work

Hilda remembers her first day at the Mothers': she was shown her room, given a uniform and then was thrown straight in, "there were no fussy bits". Being one of the most junior staff at the hospital, she was given a variety of different tasks in addition to looking after babies.

Willersley Castle

Many of the staff and patients had been evacuated to Willersley Castle, in Derbyshire, but Hilda chose not to go. She visited the Castle later, and got an idea of what it would have been like to work there.

Bomb damage

Hilda never saw a bomb fall, but she often heard them, and she saw the devastation they caused in east London, particularly around Cambridge Heath Road. Here she remembers how the 'Buzz Bombs' and V-2 rockets became a part of life, and how it felt when the air raids finally ceased and lights began to show around London again.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Hilda Wiffin, Baby Nurse' page

© Natasha Lewer

This page was added by Natasha Lewer on 30/09/2009.
Comments about this page

I would love to listen to these interviews but cannot get them to play, no matter what I do! Do you need special software programs?

By Jennie Walters
On 21/03/2011

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