All posts in category Diary

Friday Mar. 24. 8.30. P.M. [1944]
# DIARY RESUMES AFTER 2½ WEEKS
# CONSCRIPTED NIECES OVERWORKING
# RECOVERING FROM INFECTION
# WILL UNWELL AFTER NIGHT OF DRAMA
# BOMBS FALL ON TRUSTHORPE

Alas, it is more than a fortnight later and I have done no more, violets are in full bloom now. Later on Tue. 7. after starting the wash I felt rather shaky and had to sit down. Then Harriet came for rabbit (gave me 10/6 for it). I walked a little way with her, wind very cold. She was full of news about Jack Milson’s sudden death and his mother’s stroke, she has died since, and news of Grace and Ivy who are both overworking owing to shortness of staff. Grace cooking at Revesby for Land Army Girls, and Ivy at Alford Hospital. I felt cold and had to leave washing and sit by fire again. Thought I had a nasty head cold but it turned out to be a boil in my nose or face which did not come to a head but infected my skin thro’ a tiny spot on my forehead. Dr. said it was a streptococcus germ from my nose which had infected and poisoned my skin and was a form of erysipelas, but not true erysip. I had to stay in bed from Sat. night until Thursday, but it yielded well to treatment, odious thick black lotion on my head, and as much water as I could drink, tea too. I did not feel very ill after my nose started to discharge except for the discomfort of my swollen face and dry mouth. Nose still discharges, and to-day my forehead just above left eyebrow is a little puffy.

Father been in bed all day with bilious attack and feverish cold. Think he is a little better tonight, he had a bit of cold and I think got a chill standing outside on Sun. night. It was very cold tho’ Jean and I were not so starved. It was an awful sight, the chandeliers and flares made it as light almost as day and we could see fires in several spots, some were Ger. planes I expect, as 7 were shot down (3 by one fighter). Kenwick Hall was partly burned by incend[iaries] and a plane came down at Legbourne but no casualties that night at all. Radio said a few planes. If that is a few, what must 800 or 1000 seem like. We did not realise they were so near as Trusthorpe but Amy wrote to say about 12 bombs were dropped between them and Hall chiefly in fields and that except for a few broken windows and a good! scare they were none the worse. One unexploded bomb was in centre of road between school and Hall so their road was closed. Ken had had three fingers in turnip cut[ting] box, fortunately only flesh wounds but very painful. I was still shaky from being in bed so perhaps that was why I was so nervous but the chief thing I felt was of utter helplessness as the planes roared high over head and all the doors and windows in the whole row of houses rattled before we heard each bump of bombs or planes. Wonder if they are about tonight again. There have been bumps, but it may be some of the unexp[loded] bombs going off. Still some of the planes sound sinister to me. Ours have gone out in great strength but not so many as Wed night. I have never seen as many as that before, they were like this all over the sky. Jean is at G.L.B. [Girls’ Life Brigade].We’ll soon go to bed when she comes. I am nervous especially with Father in bed ill.

Jack Milson, and brother, Len, had a farm in Bradshaws Lane, Hogsthorpe, near Sharpe’s market-garden (see 15 Jul 1941 and Village Map).

‘Starved’, here, meant ‘suffering from being cold’.

‘Chandeliers’ were large-area illumination flares used to expose bomber targets

Kenwick Hall and Legbourne were both near Louth (see East Lincolnshire Map).

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Tue Mar 7. 8.15. a.m. [1944]
# ‘CHRISTMAS CARD’ FROST
# HIGH AIRCRAFT LOSSES OVER GERMANY
# ASTHMA IMPEDES WASH-DAY ACTION
# GENTLE WEEDING

A white rime frost makes everywhere look like a Christmas picture but it is very dull, the sun not showing at all. Birds are singing. Hope day will get up as I want to do some washing tho’ it is not my “big wash” week.

Terrible raids and fighting over Ger. yesterday, 58 bombers and 11 fighters missing, but enemy losses number 120 to date and probably many more. Army on Anzio beach will probably take offensive shortly. Finns not very agreeable to Russian terms yet. Sometimes I wonder if the war will come to a sudden end and often I wonder if even this year will see the end of Gers. let alone Japs. Mary Parish not away Father says and her husband is on leave.

10.am. Percy brought 1 bag coke 3/6. It is dear but ekes out the coal and wood. Yesterday was so sunny that we did not have much fire until evening. Day is still trying to get up. Don’t know yet whether sun or cloud will win. Sun just peeped out once then went back for another snooze. I have boiled one bucket of clothes and was going to posh and rinse them, but have had to sit down. This asthma has got me weak again. The thought of spring-cleaning is a night-mare. I used to do it when asthma was worse but have lost my strength now. Yester-day I weeded a bit of front garden. The wiry sand grass (sown to bind sand-hills) encroaches so quickly. It was all amongst my violets. I got some out but the fibrous roots are so entwined with violet runners that I pulled several up. Hope it doesn’t spoil them for flowering. I threw a shovel-ful of soil and manure over them afterwards and hope for the best. Wonder when I get any more done.

Mary, née Parish was a daughter of Albert Parish (see 2 Jan 1941) and sister of Esther and Charlie. Her husband, had been based at ‘HMS Royal Arthur’ where she was a ‘Wren’.

‘Poshing’ involved using a ‘posher’, which looked like an inverted basin, with holes in, on the end of a pole-handle, to apply pressure on clothes in a wash-tub.

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Sun. Mar.5. 7 P.M. [1944]
# WEATHER SUNNY BUT WIND ICY
# RADIO GARDENER’S BOOK OBTAINED
# WILL’S COASTGUARD WATCH TIMES CHANGE
# CLOTHES RECYCLED EARN COUPONS
# ANOTHER VILLAGE LAD ON EMBARKATION LEAVE

Very cold but snow almost gone, sun quite warm out of icy wind. Rene did not come yest. but Jean went to see her. She sent cakes and “Village Memories” of Mr Middleton of Radio gardening fame. Tom had changed my library book at Boots’ for me. Jean went to Chapel this morning, was late for dinner. I gather she and David and Ken exchanged a few compliments re B.B. [Boys’ Brigade] and G.L.B. [Girls’ Life Brigade]. She did not get to Sunday School as she had a lot of home-work to do. It is a bug-bear this homework. Rene came this afternoon and had a cup of tea. Father is on watch at 8.p.m so shall soon have to get his supper.

10.PM. Father had his supper and went on watch at 8 o’ c. This new time arrangement mixes one up. He came off at 8 am, went on at 8 p.m tonight, off at 2 a.m and on again at 12 to 6 p.m to-morrow. I have written to Ron and to Jock. Kettle is nearly boiling for bottles and it is time Jean was in bed. She has washed her hair and set waves with grips. I gave Mrs Hutton her [Jean’s] old house shoes on Fri. She seemed very grateful and said she would give me one or two coupons for them. One has to be very careful in giving things away as people’s pride is easily hurt, but in these days we can always make the shortage of coupons the excuse for passing things on and most people are glad of them. (Glad of them must be a Lincs expression. I’m sure it is not grammatical.) We have had no letter from Ron for a week, hope there is one tomorrow. Chas. Parrish is on leave, Mr P. thinks his Regt. is going abroad as he has 16 days. Expect they will feel it a lot, as he is only boy and not too strong, also both girls are away now. He can hardly be 20 yet I think. Finns have not come to a decision yet. Bulgars feeling for peace but immense difficulties in the way.

Mrs Hutton, here, was probably of the family which had been evacuated from Grimsby, at first to Hogsthorpe, and at that time believed to be living almost next door, in ‘Red Tiles’ no longer used by the Army (see 11 Apr 1941).

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Thur. Mar.2. 44. 8.15. a.m.
# DESPERATE FOR COAL
# STRUGGLE CONTINUES ON MANY FRONTS
# ASTHMA DELAYS SPRING CLEANING

Sharp and cold this morning but we have no more snow. Most of it seems to have gone from wolds tho’ no doubt there is some left in shady hollows in the vales. There was either rain or sleet when we went to bed last night. Think “the Sprogg” must have been fighting as Jean says “he won’t speak” and he sits glumly by the fire. Think he is moulting too and his long hair is a nuisance. I have given him a Tibs. Percy did not come with coal yesterday, if he does not come to-day we shall be quite out. Rene brought me a basket-full or we should have run out yesterday and wood and coke aren’t much good without a little coal at the bottom.

Finns are trying to come to Peace terms with Russia. Russ is in the position to dictate them and I do not think she will err on the side of leniency. It is hard to have to accept terms from a superior power in order to save one’s country from destruction. We ourselves may yet have to accept terms for our neighbours, and be fortunate if we don’t have to give concession to Russia ourselves, that we do not like. But better that humiliation than that either the Gers. or Russ. should conquer England. Our planes were out again last night and Gers over S.E. and London again. Damage and casualties radio says and enemy planes down. There is still a tough struggle going on at Anzio beachhead but Gers. have slackened again and we have more reinforcements. American war against Japs going so well that it has even been prophesied that Tokyo will fall before Berlin but that is not a general belief. We have started third month of this year and do not really seem to have advanced much, but suppose we must have done.

Father will be home soon to take Mrs B with baby to Dr M[enzies], Skeg[ness]. Joe K[irk] is doing an hour or two [Watch-box duty] for him. If I can only overset this bout of asthma I shall start S[pring] Cleaning next week. We don’t look like getting another house at present. The strong spring sunshine begins to make things look dusty now and the house is so dry we can start anytime. Lately the cleaning has seemed to drag on so long with me having asthma. I used to be able to work in spite of it or between bouts but it seems to take my strength now for so long. Rene’s rheum. troubling her, this stormy weather.

Mrs B, here, is probably Mrs Vera Balding, wife of Billy (see 15 Oct 1942).

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Mon 28 Feb. 8.50 am [1944]
# SNOW COVERS WOLDS
# MUCH LETTER WRITING
# RON AND CHUMS IMPROVISE STOVE
# COUSIN BRINGS FARM SAUSAGES ETC.

Ugh! The snow is coming down like sago as Jean says, and the wolds are thickly covered this morning. It has not “laid” here so far tho’ we had snow showers all day yesterday. Father said it was freezing when he came in just now. He has gone to M[um]by. Rd. Stn. to take a woman from Anderby to meet the train. Snow shower has whitened roofs and fence tops, it looks more like staying to-day, but tomorrow (being leap year) is the last of Feb. so we should not have it long. I hope we don’t, I am past the age of revelling in snow tho’ I like to see it.

Wrote to Ron, Dennis, Frank A and Vic last night, must write to Jock sometime. Roy is taking a course for N.C.O. [non-commissioned officer] now. Still I expect Ron wouldn’t exchange his African Star for stripes. He says “No, he hasn’t forgotten how to smile, one of the fellows calls him smiler.” I think I am more pleased to hear that than about his star, tho’ we are very pleased he has that. He and another fellow have made a stove for the billets, complete with pipe, out of an oil drum and biscuit tin. They heat up stew and beans and make Oxo and toast over it and get quite warm he says.

Amy and Ken came on Wed. Ken is growing now, he has shot thro’ sleeves and legs of his suit and looks long tho’ not by any means lanky. Amy brought us p[ork] pie, saus[ages], and mince pies, they were a very nice change. She is looking well in spite of having a nasty cold a week or two ago. Auntie [Jet] had finished knitting my tea-cosy, was very pleased to do it Amy said. She is getting on with her rug but it tries her. Wish I could think of something else for her to do, it is so difficult in these coupon days and she can do so little too. Gers. came over several nights last week some over London, chiefly over flats, several casualties. Jean is at home, it is half-term (Friday and Monday.) I think she must do the work and I will sew as I am having a bout of asthma after being free for nearly three months, at least nearly so. Well I can find plenty of sewing.

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Mon Feb 21. 8.30 a.m. [1944]
# MASS BOMBING RAIDS ON GERMANY
# NEWS FROM RON IN ITALY
# GIFTS OF CLOTHING RECEIVED

It has continued bitterly cold, too cold to snow some people say. It usually turns a little milder before snow. So far all we have is icy cold sleet showers.

Largest weight of bombs 2,300 tons dropped in Ger. early Sun morning, 79 of our planes were missing. No, the enemy is not conquered yet. 2000 U.S.A. bombers went out in daylight yesterday. Russians have cleared up pocket of trapped Gers, a terrible waste of life there. We are having a stiff fight in Italy, if we can push in where we have made bridge-head at Anzio beach it will have a great effect on German morale, proving their West defences may not be impregnable. Our Gen[eral]s are determined to do it.

Had 2 letters from Ron Thur or Fri. Rene 2 and Jean 2. 6. Mine were the most recent Jan 19 being newest. We think he has moved on as he says he missed writing one week. He is very pleased with African Star and Clasp. Said they had a great sewing-time when they received ribbons. The actual star they will get after the war. He says they have had big frosts but it gets quite hot in the day-time. He had been washing his hair and says it is a treat not to have it full of dust and sand as in summer. Says Italian women aren’t very good laundry women.

Emmie sent Jean’s grey wool all ready knitted into a very nice jumper. She had intended kn[itting] it herself but owing to other work she could not knit at mill so got a woman to do it. Jean was very pleased as it came just right for the B.B. [Boys’ Brigade] social. I am pleased too as I have plenty of work without it. Made a little dog last week from pieces Jean’s blouse. Will do for a pram toy for a baby as it is cream colour. Blouse fits well. Mrs Wilson sent Father 5/0 and a pair of very nice slippers for me. Felt soles and inner soles and very finely knitted uppers in wools of all colours. I took blk-out down before Jean went to school to-day. Eff ‘s hens are laying again, have had 1 doz eggs and can have ½ doz again to-day. Amy coming tomorrow and Ken if all well. We have killed large rabbit (Lady) as they like rabbit and the Sunday joint looks very sick by Tues.

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Thur. Feb.17. 8.10 am [1944]
# WASHING AND SEWING
# CASSINO MONASTERY SHELLED
# FIGHTING AROUND ANZIO
# COAL SUPPLIES RESTRICTED

Don’t seem to have as much time for diary, now the lighter mornings have come. I have already taken “black outs” down in kitchen, tho’ it is very dull this morning, also rough and cold. Yesterday it rained practically all day. Washed on Tue. and got all dry. Ironed yesterday and did not do much else. Kit[chen] was clean after wash day and we don’t mess the room up much except for sewing bits and as I did not sew, Tue. night there were none of those. I was tired and just knitted and read. Last night I finished Jean’s blouse except for 4 buttonholes. It is very nice material, hope it washes well. It is only costing 4/3 with buttons. Buttons are not peach but look like pot[ato]! Jean’s psoriasis much better, she is looking forward to this summer and wearing sleeveless dresses again. Scars on arm gradually fading but show when she sits by the fire.

Allies have bombed and shelled Ben[edictine] Monastery almost to the ground and are still shelling to remove all cover for Gers. The Anzio beachhead repelled new attack from Gers. yesterday either driving them off or wiping them out. It is a stiff fight there, but leaders say they have no doubts but that we shall conquer, altho’ we have not got on as quickly as we hope. Thousands of oranges are bad owing to delay in distrib[ution] thro’ the finding of bombs. Still the loss of oranges is better than lives. They put them amongst onions later, and the cartoon in paper shows one man saying to another, “but we did not promise not to put them amongst onions”. Those are spiteful tricks as they do nothing towards winning the war and stir up ill feeling between other nations.

I think it is fair weather, but we must not complain about the rain, it has been a comparatively mild, dry winter and rain is needed for “the land”. Letter from [sister] Em. L yesterday and little booklet by Pat[ience] Strong. They are “flitting” on Feb. 28th. They “flit” most years so are used to it. I dread the thought of it. However we haven’t found a suitable house yet so why worry? Rene came in pouring rain yesterday. She said Bill just raised his head to look at the weather, then looked at her as much as to say “Well, if you’re silly enough to go I’m not.” and curled up a bit tighter and went off to sleep. He hates rain. It is coming another shower now. Percy brought my 3 bags coal yesterday to last until 1st Mar. also bag of coke. (12/10½ inc. bag coke 3/6) Must be careful now as we have no reserve and as Father is not on patrol we shan’t get any off the beach I don’t suppose. Stow’s still have no Typhoo Tea and this is nearly the end of sec. period. I don’t find any other go so far. Miners have been told it is impossible to put price of coal up any more so they will have to adjust their earnings otherwise or put up with what they’ve got. I think they are going plenty far enough. Just because they are indispensable miners and farmers seem to think they can have all they want. Perhaps if farmers had to make do with ¼ lb bacon and 1/2 worth of meat a week (no chickens or ducks or “drowned sheep”) and miners had to pay 3/1½ a cwt for coal they might understand better what it cost poor people to live.

Patience Strong was the pen name of Winifred E May (1907 – 1990) who was a British poet, lyricist and author of books on psychology and Christianity. During World War II the Daily Mirror published her poetry each day in a feature ‘The Quiet Corner’.

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Mon. Feb. 14. 10. 0’c PM [1944]
# VALENTINE’S DAY MEMORIES
# SHOPPING AND LIBRARY VISIT IN SKEGNESS
# FRIENDS VISIT – DAUGHTER ENGAGED
# WELSH SOLDIERS AT CHAPEL SERVICE

St. Valentine’s Day. I remember some of my young aunts having valentines set out on their dressing-tables when I was small. Went to Sk[egness] this morning altho’ it rained. Only a little drizzle while we were there. Got stockings for Jean. Says they are too dark so may change, she having those I got from Pontings. I have a bad pain under my left shoulder, don’t know whether it is asthma coming on or just indigestion as it comes and goes. I took Ron’s light hat to be dyed and reblocked for myself. Dark maroon, don’t know if it will be a success as woman in shop said it would not make a very big one. Of course I don’t want a very big one but don’t want one with no brim. Changed library book. Mr Middleton’s “Our Village” was not in, so got one by Georgette Hayer not one that Emmie recommended as they had not got them or they were out. Had an A.M.L. [air mail letter] from Ron Sat written Feb. 2. He had got mine written Jan 19th. He is fit and well.

Ted B[rown] and Bessie came Sun afternoon. B. engaged but says not going to be married until after the war. Well I’ve heard those tales before, she may or may not. We all went to Chapel on Sun. night. A lot of Welsh soldiers were there so the singing was very good. Afterwards they went to Cen. Hall for tea and cakes and a sing-song. Father and I did not go, but Jean did and came home with Elsie. Called at G’ma’s, Chris [Lammiman] was there, he is growing a nice little fair moustache. The boys are growing up.

Better news from Italy yesterday and to-day but the struggle is very fierce. Gers over Eng. last night about 50. Some damage and cas[ualties]. About 15 got to London but no bombs dropped. B. Brown is going to Wales when she goes back from leave, near to Bangor, for a course, she is a L[ance] corporal now.

Mr Middleton, named as author of Our Village, was probably NOT one of the local Middletons (see 11 Oct 1942), but may have been the broadcaster CH Middleton: The ‘World’s first television gardening programme’, In Your Garden, With Mr Middleton, had been broadcast by the BBC in 1936. On radio he launched the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign in September 1939.

Georgette Heyer (1902 -1974) was a popular British author who specialised in historical romance – especially the Regency period- and detective fiction.

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Fri. Feb. 11. 8.40. a.m. [1944]
# BITTER WEATHER CONTINUES
# MAIL ORDER STOCKINGS DELIVERED
# FIGHTING AROUND CASSINO CONTINUES
# ETHICS OF BOMBING HISTORIC BUILDINGS

Still very cold yesterday. We had snow and hail showers all day and this morning it looks very squally tho’ not so much wind. Father finishes patrol to-day. The sleet had cut his face yesterday. No more coal as tide is in and he cannot get far on beach, but what he has got is very useful. Have washed all drawers in set I have from Rene’s and scraped paper from inside. Have just the case now to wash, then it will be ready for use. Wish I had room for them downstairs. Did a few inches of cardigan last night. Must get Jean’s blouse made this weekend if possible. Parcel from Ponting’s came yest. Stockings etc. very nice. Rene brought me a bunch of wallflowers, they are very sweet. We cut up oranges for marmalade. Shall soak them until tomorrow I think. Eff brought me 6 eggs on Wed. I had not had any from her since some time before Xmas. Have a very small quantity of potted ones left. Jean went to pictures at C[entral] Hall last night.

We have been fighting round Cassino for 8 days now and no sign of falling yet. Even if we drive them out can’t occupy it unless Gers are driven from the Benedictine mon[astery] which they have turned into a fort, as they can shell from there. So far we have spared it! How many lives are to be lost just because of an Historic building? Nowhere in the Bible do I read that the bricks of any building are counted, but that the very hairs of our head are numbered. How dare they throw away precious lives for the sake of an old monastery. It is time some of those old monasteries had the light let into them. We pander far too much to the R.C. religion and they are getting a firmer hold than ever on Britain. Not that I mean we should shell B.M. because of that, I would say shell St. Paul’s if it were full of Gers menacing us. We would too. I cannot somehow see Gen. Montgomery sparing a building at the expense of his men. And why quibble at one building? We have not spared Cologne cath[edral] or any other in our bombing raids, altho’ not deliberately wrecking them.

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Thurs. Feb. 10. 9.5. a.m. [1944]
# POPULAR BOOK CRITICISED
# COAL SUPPLEMENT APPRECIATED
# QUILT MAKING COMPLETED
# NEWS FROM RON’S FRIEND VIC

Have just finished reading “Crusade” by Rupert Croft-Cooke. Am very disappointed as I have wanted to read it ever since it was D.M. [Daily Mail] Book of the Month. I think it rather an impossible tale of a man gradually going insane and even then he is left by the wayside after a year with nothing to show what came of his crusade except charact[er] who had many fine qualities but nothing alters the fact that he was a lazy tramp. After all Harry’s heroics one is inclined to say at the end “The dog it was that died.” No doubt I miss a lot of the characters good points but that is how it looks to me.

It is very cold this morning with showers of snowy sleet. Father is on Patrol. He finishes to-morrow. He will not be sorry if this weather continues. His coal has been very welcome, 5 bags a month is not enough this time of the year. Must order some more coke, it helps.

Finished my quilt last night button-holes and all. It will be useful even if far from perfect. Rene’s belt got 7 points. That is two of my needle-work jobs finished this week. Quilt and Rene’s gloves. Eff wishes she could make Fr[ank] a pair of slippers like Father’s. She has a pattern and went to the slipper lessons so I think she could if she tried. I wish I could get a pattern and instructions, as I think it would be easier to make them and they would look more professional. It’s a good thing I did not go to W.I. as asthma is rather troublesome and I might have blamed going out in the wind. Have finished last part of pattern in cardigan so all plain work now. Will endeavour to make an end of it soon. Had a letter from Vic yesterday.

Rupert Croft-Cooke was a well-known English writer and broadcaster who served in the British Army during WWII but later became a controversial figure.

Vic Morrall was one of Ron’s early RAF chums and best-man at his wedding (see 1 Aug 1942).

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