All posts in category Diary

Oct 1 Sun. 8.15 PM [1944]
# ECONOMISING ON ELECTRICITY USE
# CALAIS GUNS SILENCED AT LAST
# RECALLING INVASION FEARS
# GARDENING ADVICE UNWELCOME

I had just written the date when the light went out. I am afraid E.L. [electricity] is going to be an item in the winter tho’ the rebate will make it easier. Shall have to be very careful with wireless and do as little ironing as we can. I use a candle upstairs as I often need a light nights and early mornings. Cannot do with less than a 60 watt bulb in the kitchen for sewing and reading. It cost about 2/0 last week and it is a long time yet to the shortest day. It has been a lovely autumn day, cold and bright until tea time when the wind got worse and a storm blew up ending in rain and a lovely rainbow that seemed to be only at the bottom of the garden. Afterwards it thundered very heavily over the sea towards the North and came another heavy shower. We did not get to Chapel but Jean went this a.m. and to S.S. [Sunday School]. Rene came this afternoon. Ciss’s arrived home on 6.15 bus’ except George who is staying until Wed at Mary’s.

Mary sent us (not Mary Blythe) a nice little cockerel for dinner, it was very good, with beans and bread sauce. A little bit left for tomorrow. Mavis says Vic Hill died from the injuries received from flying bomb, the head injuries being worse than believed at first. My potatoes not turning out so well now, they don’t do well so near apple-trees. Ted and Albert Hall are on leave. They were digging potatoes on Fri and Saturday. Mrs. Ted Brown brought me some lovely roses on Thurs. They are lovely rich colour and named “Autumn”, sweet-scented too. Rene and I took some of them and a white gladiola and mauve, pink and white asters to the churchyard last night. We put a few asters in the memorial stone, vase.

Harriet fetched a young rabbit on Thursday. “Jimmy” is dead. Eva is at Mrs. D[andison]’s for a month. Calais has fallen to us at last, and the cross-channel guns are silenced at last too. Dover has been celebrating this week. What a relief it must be to them after 4 years. A few flying bombs, presumably launched from pick-a-back planes, continue to come over still. Planes go over us nearly all day sometimes and night too, but no enemy planes lately. My nerves seem fairly good tho’ I fear it would not take many “bumps” to unsettle them. How thankful we ought to be that we have lived in such a favoured area, tho I tremble to think of what would have happened had Ger. invaded Lincs. as he clearly intended by the plans found in Paris. How near the edge of a volcano we were unconsciously living at one time! We think and hope that time is past now.

John Short is able to cycle now tho’ he cannot walk without boots. Edith Bell (Mrs. Seal) had a daughter on Thurs. night or Fri morning. David is about 13 months old. Jean rolled new lawn on Sat. I took thistles and dandelions out first, I saw Coote looking over the hedge at it, with what I felt in my bones was a disapproving eye! Tom told Rene to tell me it wanted rolling when it was about three inches high, I am afraid I rather ungratefully told her I was tired of advice about the lawn. Jean and I are of the opinion that if we’d had as much help as advice about it, it would have been 6 feet high by now! I don’t profess to be a professional gardener, but as my father was so good in the garden and his father and grandfather were gardeners before him, I am not altogether dense, especially as we have always had a garden and have grown flowers and vegetables so long, even if I did not do the work on the veg. patch at least I was always there, and learnt most of the ropes. In one way at least I can beat them all. Dear Will had a tool for everything, so I do not have to borrow. One thing however I do lack and that is a light little barrow. It would be very useful. I sent George’s back to Con. before we came here and even if it had been ours it was too heavy.

George Ranson was probably staying with his aunt, Mary Blythe, in the Grimsby area (see 18th November 1943).

The other Mary (NOT Mary Blythe) here, was Charles Hill’s wife.

Vic Hill, killed by a flying bomb, has not been identified and may not have been a relative. The incident would have been in the south-east of England as flying bombs did not reach Lincolnshire.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Sep 27 Wed 8 o’c pm [1944]
# PARATROOPS RELIEVED FROM ARNHEM
# YOUTH PARADE IN SKEGNESS
# JEAN’S TYPING LESSONS ARRANGED
# MORE FLYING BOMBS REPORTED

At the beginning of my last entry I put the Invasion of Holland by Paratroops. Owing partly to the bad weather we were a long time linking up with them and only to-day have we heard the welcome news that they have been withdrawn to the south of the river and linked up with our other troops. I judge we were not strong enough to break thro’ the Gers to get to them, but we are all deeply thankful that they, or alas, all that are left of them, are relieved after 13 days. Owing to the weather conditions they had the ordeal of seeing food and ammunition being dropped into Ger. lines instead of to them. It will be one of the epic stories of the war, small comfort that to those at home who will have lost sons and husbands and brothers.

It is still very stormy tho’ the wind has settled a bit again tonight. On Sunday, the Harvest Festival, it poured with rain all day and we neither of us got to Chapel. Jean should have paraded to Hogsthorpe in the afternoon. There is a big Youth Parade at Skegness to-night. Ciss says bus’ does not leave Sk. until 9.45 so there will be some sleepy-heads in the morning. Ciss and P[ercy] and Gw[en] have been to Boston and now Gw has gone to Sk. but she is on holiday. Jean stayed at Sk. Was going to get tea at Joyce’s if she could. Took them some apples. I went to Sk on 5 pm bus’ yesterday to see Miss Cusack. Jean is to commence Ty[ping] and S[hort] Hand lessons next Wed. £1.1 for 12 lessons. She will leave work early those days. It is at the far end of Grosvenor Rd so will mean a good walk to the bus’ if she is not cycling. Sat near Miss Eva Scarb[orough] coming home. Her hospital received direct hit from Flying Bomb.

I did a little baking this afternoon in case Mrs. T[ed] B[rown] comes tomorrow, expect she will as I have had no letters. Rene came after tea for a few minutes. Mrs. Y. goes home tomorrow. Rene thinks she is looking forward to going home to her husband after 3 weeks away. Rene will not be sorry to have the house to themselves I expect, tho’ Mrs Y is very pleasant. I have missed Rene very much, but am pleased to say I have not been really laid up tho’ very seedy at times. Mr. Marsh and Miss Robin married on Sat. Went away Mon. morning. T[om] Coote went to see niece at Sutton to-day, Mrs. Sh[ort] says. She brought me some pears, and parsley-tops for rabbits to-day. She was taking Mrs. Hall some tomatoes for chutney to-day. Flying bombs still come over most nights and Gers. still holding out at Dunkirk and Calais, expect they are dug in so deeply they will take some ousting. Shall be so pleased when we need no longer black-out. I have not proper ones as we hope the necessity will soon be over, and they are a nuisance doing every night. Have dug 2 rows of pot. to-day. Don’t think there will be a very big crop, so many are only seed size. Have pulled all apples except Brams. Red ones go bad very quickly. I sent a few apples to Harvest Sale also a “Saucy Rabbit”, it only made 4/0. Rene brought me some of the carrots she bought. Jean did not buy anything. J[im] Hall brought me ½ lb. nice biscuits today, Frear’s. I had not seen that name before but Rene knew it. Planes are droning all the time, it is a lovely night with a bright moon.

I thought it thundered this morning and the rain certainly seemed like a thunder-shower tho’ it was so cold. I have seldom seen it pour faster than it did Sun. and the wind was almost a gale. We were amused at the red-hot pokers in T Cootes garden, they are getting passé and the wind bent their heads over and as it caught first one and then the other they bobbed their red heads and long necks forward like a crowd of turkeys.

Had a cup of tea out of Ciss’s pot (I had kettle boiling when they got home on the 4.40 bus’) and did not have a sit-down tea, so think I’ll soon have supper. Have put a kaolin poultice on my foot as it is rather red and inflamed. C and P have gone down to Con’s. P. is having a week’s holiday, says he will have the other when Peace is declared! I cannot see that much before Xmas myself. Cleared up the shed a bit to-day. I wonder if it will ever be easy to go in and out and handle the tools without being so sore at heart.

9 o’c News
Some 2000 out of 8000 men withdrawn Mon night from Arnhem after 9 days, 1000 some hundreds left behind wounded. R.A.M.C. men stayed with them.

Operation Market Garden’ as previously mentioned (see 18th September 1944) proved to be a tragic venture. After suffering huge numbers of Allied casualties the operation ended with the evacuation of what remained of the 1st British Airborne Division from the Arnhem area.

Miss Eva Scarborough, a chiropodist, was the sister of Elsie (see 3rd February 1941).

Mr Marsh and Miss Robin, who married, have not been identified.

RAMC – Royal Army Medical Corps.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Mon Sep. 18. 9 30 pm [1944]
# PARATROOP LANDINGS BEHIND GERMAN LINES
# SWARMS OF AIRCRAFT OVERHEAD
# ENCOUNTER WITH TOM’S SISTER
# SUNDAY AFTERNOON VISITORS

Invasion of Holland by Paratroops. Sep. 17 /44

Yesterday, Sunday, we made 3 Paratroop landings behind Ger. troops. Gliders and Parachutists landed with guns and probably small tanks. Considerable supplies for them have been flown there and landed to-day. To-night round about 7 o’c planes flew over here, going out over the sea and a little to the N.E. As far as the eye could see, between sea and wolds and N. and S. planes swarmed like flies for some time. We can hear a drone of planes now and wonder if they are returning.

I have been to Rene’s for dinner and tea to-day. Mrs. Young was tired so we stayed in the garden. She is not really easy to talk to, and is very puffed up with her family connections, ahem, some of them. She has travelled and read a lot and is very musical. She is looking better for her holiday. I called at Mary’s as I went. Gordon has joined the forces and is in Scotland. Annie Graves is in a very poor way with sciatica and both lungs affected by T.B. What a lot of trouble there is in the world even apart from war. I washed two blankets before I went. Ciss helped me wring them, also I washed two of Jean’s blouses. Rene came after tea to get wool Jean was getting for Mrs Y to knit Tom some socks. She was not able to get real wool but got some kind of grey yarn 6 ozs of it as they said it needed more than wool. 4 oz 1 coup. It has been a lovely day fresh and breezy and it was lovely yesterday. Farmers are getting on with harvest now. Red + Sale and garden party realised £80. Rene won a gilt necklace in a raffle. I went to Chapel Sun night. Mr Noble sang two solos. Jean was with G.L. [Girls’ Life Brigade] parade to Hogs[thorpe] Church. Ted B[rown] and Eric and Bessy came Sun. afternoon. Bessie looks older tho’ well. Mrs. B will probably come on Thursday week.

Operation Market Garden’, involving thousands of Allied paratroopers and other forces, was a daring attempt to secure key bridges across rivers in Holland, intended to enable a rapid advance into the German lowlands. However the outcome was disastrous as will be reported in the next Diary entry (27th September 1944).

Annie Graves was presumably related to Mary, née Graves, the wife of Will’s one surviving brother Charles Hill, but the connection has not been identified.

Mr Noble, the accomplished singer, lived in Newark but often visited his mother who lived in a permanently-sited ‘caravan’ at the furthest end of Landseer Avenue (see Village Map).

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Saturday Sep. 16 1944 10. o’c P.M.
# END OF ‘DOUBLE SUMMER TIME’
# LAST DAY OF TOTAL BLACKOUT
# JEAN INVESTIGATES TYPING LESSONS
# VISITING FAMILY GRAVES
# APPLE PICKING AND GARDENING
# NEW WAVE OF FLYING BOMBS

Tonight we put back our clocks one hour so that we are only one hour in advance of G.M.T. Pips were broadcast at 9 o’c as Big Ben was going to be put back. It is a memorable day in most of Eng. as it is the end of total black-out. Our area is not included tho’, as we are on the coast and our black-out must remain total at present. I wonder if it would not be better if it was kept up every-where for a time. The cartoon in D.M. [Daily Mail] depicts a warden knocking at a door and informing the inmates that they have “no light showing” the house being blacked-out and its neighbours windows glowing thro’ ordinary curtains. I have stopped my clock. When the hour is up, (9.45) we shall go to bed. It will be nice to have an extra hour of daylight, (and rest) in the morning. Just lately I have been very sleepy at 7. a.m. which is not usual. Tonight Jean and I went to see Mr Mc.Cullam re typing etc. He is not taking any more pupils, as he finds it too big a strain. He is getting on in life. He recommended a Miss Cusac? at Skegness. Jean then went to Toc. H dancing-class, I am not much in favour of it. Jean objects to P.Hs dancing.

I took flowers to the churchyard, I really had a nice bunch out of our garden to-day. Pink and mauve asters, larkspur, and purple spike for the brown jar and red antirrhin[ums] and dahlias for the other, I put a few on Mark’s mem[orial]. It was 27 years on Wed Sep. 13 since he was “killed in action”. It was lovely weather not like this wet cold summer. He was 21 so would have been 48 now. “They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.” “We that are left”. Grandma has seen 4 of her 5 sons go before her. Jean went to see her tonight as I thinking I should be home first took the key and she did not know where I was. She says G.ma has a very bad cold. Rene hasn’t been to-day as there has been a Red + garden fete.

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial - WWI

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial – WWI

War Memorial Inscription - In Memory of Mark Hill

War Memorial Inscription -
In Memory of Mark Hill

Jean and I pulled a lot of the sweet apples to-day as birds and wasps and flies are eating them on the trees. Some of them are very big and a lovely colour. I cleaned out rabbits and put a partition in young ones cage. I wonder if they will knock it down. Have collected grass off dyke-side for food and bedding, a good thing we got it yesterday as I saw Short collecting the rest of it. Coote mowed it. Have severely pruned? the veronica or more probably, box privet, shall most like likely saw it off by the ground as I think it will shoot out again. Must keep it under control then. Hope the grass seed will soon be up, it was sown last Mon. I also chopped a piece off the privet hedge by the gate so that we have a way on to the bank to mow dyke bank and trim the hedge and clear up. I can’t climb under bridge and don’t think it’s necessary. If the Council should object they can’t very well put it back and I intend seeing it doesn’t grow any more, it was only one root I destroyed, at least I have destroyed the top and hope the root will die with a little help. It is after 9.30 by B.S.T. so think we may soon start the clock and go to bed. Planes are going over, fly-bombs came over S. and Lon. again last night after 2 weeks rest. They were probably launched from pick-a-back planes. Evacuees who insist on pouring back would get an unpleasant reception. The govt. keeps warning them not to return as it is not safe yet and so many houses are down or unfit for habitation.

This Diary entry was the first of the final series of entries, found on loose sheets of paper. Earlier entries had been in ‘school’ exercise books which usually began and finished with a short rhyming verse. The loose sheets, as well as two ‘missing’ books and many of May’s poems, were discovered amongst the possessions of Ron’s wife Emmie after her death in 2007.

Alfred Henry McCullam, approached for typing tuition, lived near the chapel in Hogsthorpe. He was believed to have been a schoolteacher.

Miss Cusack was a typing and shorthand tutor in Skegness. May was unsure of the spelling when first written here.

Mark Hill, the youngest brother of May’s husband Will, was the only man of the village to be killed in action during the First World War. A private soldier in the 5th Royal Berkshire Regiment, he fell on 13th September 1917, aged 21, on the front line at Monchy, near Arras, France. The war memorial in the grounds of St Leonard’s Church was erected in his honour by the villagers and bears the inscription shown in the photograph. His name is also recorded on the Arras memorial, near to the battlefield.

Charles (Charlie) Hill (see 16 December 1940) was the only surviving son of Annie Hill (‘Grandma’) after the death of Will.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Fri Sep 15 10 p.m [1944]
# 100 DAYS INTO SECOND FRONT
# PENETRATION INTO GERMANY REPORTED
# LONGING FOR RON’S RETURN FROM WAR
# LAST PAGE IN CURRENT DIARY BOOK

The last page of this fateful year’s diary. The sec. front over 100 days old and we are over the border of Germany, a 6 mile breach in the Siegfried Line and we are hoping for peace by the end of the year. So much is altered for us all this year. We do not look for Peace, at least I do not, with any particular hope or fear, except that I long for Ron’s return. I have sometimes cherished a defective or cracked article for a long time, then one day it has fallen apart and I have realised that it can never be restored, with a queer empty feeling of regret and loss. In thinking of my sorrow one day I had that same feeling, but greatly intensified and it suddenly came to me that what I had been holding so carefully and trying to hide, was my heartbreak and that I had suddenly realised, it was really broken and nothing could ever really heal it. One does not die of a broken heart or at any rate not at once and it may be that I shall recover in some part and find a measure of happiness as it is my duty to do in my children, but at present I feel that nothing can heal it in this world. Only the hope of a world where there is no parting can help me now and the feeling that God is a very present help in time of need.

Unusually, there was no concluding verse for the Diary from January 29th 1944 to September 15th 1944. The inside back cover contained the following list:

Finished week ending:

Dec 31

Dog
Elephant
Quilt
Re’s slippers
Fa’s slippers

Feb 19

Blouse & Dog

Re’s Gloves

Feb 26

Shopping bag

2/4 Buttonholes

/5 1 Buttonhole

Mar 4

Aunt J’s Dress front
doll.
T cosy
Altered Red Dress

July 29

Lining in black coat

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Wed Sep 13 10.15. P.M [1944]
# SCHOOL CERTIFICATE SUCCESS FOR JEAN
# LETTER FROM RON IN SOUTH OF FRANCE
# HEAVY EXPLOSIONS HEARD IN VILLAGE
# EVACUEES RETURN TO LONDON
# TOM’S SISTER KATE VISITS

Jean had news on Mon that she had been successful in gaining School Cert. also Matric. She had 5 credits. She has done well considering all the set-backs she had. She was very excited, which probably caused the bilious attack she had yesterday or it may have been too many plums. I went to see Mrs T[ed] Brown and when I arrived home (Rene arrived at the same time) Jean was sitting over the fire having left work at 4.15 and cycled home. Ciss had given her hot peppermint and she was feeling a little better and had lit fire and put kettle on stove. She had Bovril later and a little sleep on couch, then to bed and was better this morning. Had a letter from Ron yesterday, Jean and Rene had one too. No news except that his ear was much better but not quite well. Says he managed to take his spring mattress to S. France with him so is well off the ground, they are in tents. Sounds rather tired, think he is working hard. War news is still very good, we are 5 miles over Ger. frontier.

There were two heavy explosions this morning early 2.30 and 3.15 am but there was no enemy activity reported. Evacuees are streaming back to London in spite of contrary advice. Gerry may still have something up his sleeve and apart from that practically half the houses in London are down or damaged so accommodation will be a problem for some time tho’ I can quite understand the people wanting to be at home if it is reasonably safe.

Mrs Young, Tom’s sister, came Thurs. Very pleasant and little trouble. Rene brought her in chair on Mon. Jean and I went to Chapel Sun morning, Tom preached. A swallow flew in during the sermon and stayed. “A bird of the air shall carry the news, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.” Harriet, Gladys and Grace came Sun even. They brought Eileen. She is lovely but spoiled. They brought me some plums and Eff brought me some Vic[toria] plums from Grandma. I have made about 6 lbs jam and bottled several jars, keeping enough out for pie and pudding. Have packed a box of apples for Emmie. Percy is sending them off tomorrow from M[um]by Rd [Station] as he is coaling from there. Sowed lawn seed on Mon ev. Jean rolled it in so hope it grows. No doubt several critical pairs of eyes will watch it with amused interest. Hope I sleep tonight. I scarcely slept at all last night, but went back to sleep after Rene went home to-day. She came and cleaned bed-rooms. Had asthma rather badly when I woke and toe was so painful I had to bathe it (in Ep[som] salts).

‘Matric’ refers to London matriculation exemption, which Jean earned by achieving a sufficient number of ‘credit’ grades in School Certificate (SC) examinations. Matriculation would have been a step towards qualification for university entrance, normally preceded by Higher School Certificate examinations after a further time in school. However Jean left school immediately after the SC stage, to enter employment (see 15th August 1944).

The chair used to convey Mrs Young, was probably the invalid basketwork ‘bathchair’ which had been used by Tom’s first wife.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Sat. Sep 9 10 o’c P.M [1944]
# AUTUMNAL WEATHER APPEARS EARLY
# JEAN AND OTHERS AT BOYS’ BRIGADE SOCIAL
# MORE SOFT TOYS MADE

It is cold but fair and calm after rain and wind. The sea rattles like a frost and it sounds very much as if autumn had arrived very early this year. Next Sunday, clocks will be put back one hour so it will seem autumn more than ever. Jean has gone to B.B. [Boys’ Brigade] Social. Sk[egness] B.B. are camping for week-end at Chapel and our B.B. are joining them but may sleep in the Hut. Jean and Mav[is] are leaving at 10 so Jean should be home shortly as she cycled and, strange to say, her lamps lit alright tho’ my torch had corroded and I had to have a new battery. Ciss and her visitors have gone to Social. I find that tho’ I am not really nervous, I am not quite easy and comfortable alone. Have just looked out, there are a lot of stars and it smells like a rime frost already. It looked more settled tonight, but it has done that before and then been a wet morning. Jean went by bus’ to-day as it was wet and windy. I cooked beef for dinner and beans and potatoes and remains of yesterday’s pudding. Rene came last night after tea, she did me some baking. I had forgotten to get flour and Jean was getting it. Rene brought some too so made my pastry, I let her take one apple tart home as she had visitor. She seems to be quite homely and nice. Rene came again tonight. I finished my pink dog ready to send to Emmie with Penguin which I finished Thurs. I have also cut out a horse and rabbit. My toe still discharges and foot is swollen again. Jean is home so will soon go to bed.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Sep 7 Thur 8.50 p.m [1944]
# PERSISTENT RAIN THREATENS CROPS
# BLACK-OUT REGULATIONS RELAXED
# HOME GUARD DUTIES BECOME VOLUNTARY
# RON WRITES FROM SOUTH OF FRANCE
# TOM’S SISTER ARRIVING FROM LONDON

Still it rains, it is getting very serious for the farmers and we should be thankful we are nearing the end of the war or we might be short of bread. Great news to-day that black-out is to be greatly moderated in near future except in a few coastal districts. Cycles may use lights with only reflectors painted white and side lamps of cars need only one thickness of tissue paper. How pleased Father would have been, he hated to drive at night with the bad lighting. Home Guard duties are to be only voluntary, there are to be no more comp[ulsory] drills and parades. Had two letters from Ron, he is still in S. France and says we need not worry over him, there are no bumps in the night or day. Fly-bomb menace seems practically over, only a pick-a-back plane or two over just lately. I wonder if we have seen the last of the war here. We have been greatly privileged.

Yesterday I went to Sk[egness] as Jean’s cycle was in, at Curry’s. It is a Raleigh and cost £8.15.9. Tom is contributing £1.1. which is very nice of him. His sister is arriving to-night I expect (Mrs [Kate] Young). She has been ill and is from the London district so no doubt needs a change. Rene came and cleaned bed-rooms and ironed for me. Can’t expect her much for the time Mrs Y is there. I have finished the penguin tonight. It looks very well, but Golly is still to finish and have not started on dog yet except I have cut one out. I have not been able to sew this week. My toe still not quite better, I think it will make me feel ill until it finishes discharging. Jean cycled to Sk. this morning and home tonight, it rained to-night but she arrived home about 6. Called for her shoes 4/8, after this she must pay for her own. Am very tired so better go to bed when we have had a cup of tea. We do not need much supper as we have a “high tea” when Jean gets home. I did baked potatoes, cheese and egg, and baked apples for Jean’s dinner or tea as she has sandwiches etc. for dinner.

Ron’s own listing of his locations shows that he was based at Ramatuelle (St Tropez Bay) from 15th> to 25th August 1944 and then at Sisteron (upper Provence) until 5th September.

Mrs Kate, née Ambridge, Young was Tom A’s sister – Rene’s sister-in-law.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Sep 3. 44 Sunday 1.45 PM
# DIARY RESUMED AFTER ONE MONTH
# FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF WAR DECLARATION
# RAPID ADVANCE THROUGH FRANCE
# YORKSHIRE VISIT MARRED BY PAINFUL FOOT
# RECALLING WILL’S FONDNESS FOR THE BLACK PONY
# JEAN’S FIRST WAGES PROMPT BUDGET PLAN

Five years ago to-day (it too was a Sunday) we declared war against Ger. It was hot and sunny and I remember just how dry and brown the grass looked on the lawn at Lenton Lodge, when Ron came home from Chapel, Father and I were looking out for him to hear if there was news. He brought the tidings that war was declared at 11 o’c. In the evening we saw 12 bombers go out and later we heard all returned. To-day is an autumn day everywhere sodden with last week’s rain, the gardens torn with last night’s gale, and an icy nip in the air. We have crossed the Frontier into Belgium in more than one place and Gers. report we are fighting on their side of the Maginot Line but we have not confirmed this yet. We have driven so fast thro’ France we can’t keep up with the news.

Have not heard from Ron since the week we returned from Yea[don]. Wonder if he is in France after his rest in B.N.A.F. It was a tiring journey to Yea. I had my foot trodden on and the toe I had extracted my corn from went septic so that I only went out twice. On the Sat to cricket match and pictures. (21 planes have just roared over from sea.) I rested Sun and Mon except to Park and walk after tea Monday. Then as my foot seemed better went to Ilkley Tue, but toe gathered again and foot was very swollen, had to see Dr. Wed night and as I could not get shoe on on Thur stayed until Fri and Emmie came back with us. Good journey to Lincoln tho’ asthma was squatting on Retford platform and returned with me. At Lincoln no train until 5.45 which meant no bus’ at Sk[egness] so deciding it was easier and cheaper to bus’ remainder of journey and catch bus’ for home at Sk did so. Had to stand in queue nearly two hours. Emmie returned the following Sat catching 6.30 am train and arrived home 1.30 pm.

My foot is still septic and swollen again, had to poultice it last night and have lint on to-day. Shall not go out to-day but rest it. Altogether I do not feel much better for the holiday, it was I think too soon to go where we had that so happy few days. Everything reminded me of those days, and sitting outside the door so long, as I could not walk, it seemed as if all I could see or think of was the picture of him talking to the black pony at the meadow gate. They were all so good and kind but I felt my sorrow and loss more even than at home. I think this wearisome toe and this last week’s bout of asthma has run me down. I am so depressed and nervous, must get into the garden if I am able next week. I feel more free now that Emmie has gone and Wilsons have been and gone. I have told them I can’t “feed the mice” any longer. It worried me when I could not get. They were not much trouble but very tedious. Mr W tries to be a funny man but isn’t, and Mrs W’s cheerfulness is exceedingly tiring to me, tho’ I admire her very much as she has a trying time with his nerves and illnesses and her only son away in Italy with the troops. She is looking years older lately.

Jean was paid on Wed and proceeded to make out her budget to the uttermost farthing. W.I. Concert last night for British Merchantmen. Also tea and Bring and Buy stall. Result £17, £10 being the target. Rene bought my tea and gave Jean ticket for concert. Very good according to reports. Ciss’s visitors from London arrived Sat. First night in bed in house for 13 weeks. We profess to have almost settled F.B.s [flying bombs] by overrunning platforms etc. Hope we hear from Ron soon now. I have got my toy licence at last. It is rather obscure but shall carry on. Have order for 2 large dogs and a penguin from Emmie and still have that Golly to make for Mrs Hutton. Must buckle to this week. I have not been well enough to sew last week. Walter Banks is on leave, he and Eva were at Chapel Jean said.

The memory of husband Will (‘Father’) with the black pony at the meadow gate in Yeadon was poignantly recalled in May’s poem ‘The Black Pony’ written on 28th August 1944.

‘Platforms’ here refers to ‘launch platforms’ for V-1 flying bombs (nearly 10,000 of which had been targeted on Britain). Unfortunately, the first V-2 rocket, which was impossible to shoot down, struck Britain in September 1944. Over 1000 were launched up to the end of March 1945 (see ‘V-weapons in WWII’).

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Thur 7.a.m Aug. 10 [1944]
# PREPARING FOR TRAVEL TO YORKSHIRE
# RECALLING LAST GLIMPSE OF RON ON SKEGNESS STATION
# FEARS OF RON BEING POSTED TO FAR EAST
# PLIGHT OF LONDONERS AND EVACUEES

To-morrow morning we shall have to be up before this as we go to Yeadon if all’s well. It is fair and not misty this morning tho’ dull. However it is only 5 o’c by the sun so plenty of time to be a fine day. It will be better for travelling tomorrow if not so hot, and the adage “It is better to travel than to arrive” will I hope not fit the case for us. What a lot of last minute jobs there always seem to be, or do we decide to do a lot of things that don’t matter? Must have everything packed to-day and will take Mrs Russell’s slippers with me to finish if I can’t get them done here. I am not used to travelling and rather dread the journey. I have always depended so much on Will at these times. The other time when we went he was there too and the last time I was on Skeg[ness] Station Ron was going away, I see his face now framed in the carriage window as he waved his last good-bye to me for many a day. I try to put the dread fear that he may be going East out of my mind but it is there nevertheless and he does so hate the heat. Still the fact that they are in a way acclimatised to it and the intimation some time since that some of our forces would be available the year for the war against Japs seems to point that way. To us it seems that they might let the U.S. troops go there, they have not been at war 5 long weary years. Fly-bombs come over day and night.

Don Iddon in D.M. wrote a serious article yesterday, he thinks the governt. and press are not letting rest of country know how serious it is but news must be filtering thro’ now with all the evacuees and people who come for a few days rest all over the coast. One woman who came to Con’s has left her two little boys, torn by anxiety to have them safe and unable to stay away from her husband who is working hard and no doubt has an A.R.P [air raid precautions] job of some sort too, most men and lots of women do. She has had to leave them and return to London knowing she may not see them again. I suppose they cannot use tube shelters in daytime and the “things” as Radio so crudely calls them come any and often all the time. They are trying to reduce the chaos of different warnings to one distinct signal. It should have been planned ahead if they knew as long ago as they profess to do of this menace coming. It is of no use to pretend it is of no war value, it is striking at the inside of the fortress and however brave and fine the people are, loss of sleep and continual harass[ment] must wear them down in time, and thro’ the sufferers here spread to our men abroad. If a man’s wife and children are killed in Eng. it will take all heart out of him. He is fighting for them first of all. If they are gone and nothing to look forward to at home it must make the fight either a fierce fight for revenge or induce a “don’t care much” feeling in a lot of them. Patriotism is more than half love of our own close little circle of home, not all are able to fight on in the same spirit for love of country and friends. As time goes by life becomes more and more memories and looking forward less and less, a thing of the moment. We try to live one day at a time now, as regards the future on earth we dare not plan ahead. I am getting nervous again so hope the holiday will set me up. Must get up, it is 7.20 and Jean not up yet either.

May’s recollection was of her last sight of Ron, at Skegness station, before his posting abroad (see 30 September 1942).

Don Iddon was the Daily Mail’s New York diarist at that time.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?