All posts in category Diary

Nov. 21st 8.15 a.m. [1943]
# ILLNESSS ALL ROUND
# MANY TASKS COMPLETED AND REVIEWED
# POSITIVE PHILOSOPHY CHEERS

Find I dated Ron’s letter and Mrs Leivers PC [postcard], Ron’s AirG. [airgraph] and 3 greetings A.G.’s Nov 11th yesterday. Letter and P.C. posted but must alter Graphs. I suppose my head was a bit muddled. I was in bed until after dinner as I had such a splitting headache when I woke at 5 o’c and my chest was so bad with tight stabbing pains. Head is better this morning and chest much better too tho’ very tight when I went to bed. It is nearly 3 weeks since I caught that wretched cold, I think I got thoroughly chilled when that blanket of fog came down while I waited for the bus’ and as colds were very prevalent in Sk[egness] perhaps caught it there, or it brought my Bronchitis on and I caught Jean’s cold. Rene is not too well either. She has done a lot of running about this last week over me and Mr Shales. He is recovering now. Don’t know whether Rene will do my washing today. It has been raining and is still a little foggy tho’ much clearer than yesterday. It was a very short dark day.

I must keep out of the steam. Was very impatient I’m afraid last week, felt I was wasting time as I could not get to my Autumn cleaning. However on summing up Sat night I found I had made Jean a school skirt, cut it out, made it and pressed it ready to wear. (Tell it not in Gath, I still have the seams to oversew.) I changed sleeves of cardigan left to right as elbows were wearing, finished dressing sailor doll for Baby Balding, cut out and stuffed Terrier Dog. Brown velveteen. Small but looks quite profess’l. It is for Patsy Adams. Making animals is fascinating but don’t like dressing dolls. I spent one evening repairing Jean’s school satchel. I also knitted about half one front of my new cardigan. Motto: when not very well look at what you have done not at what you have left undone. It’s less depressing. After Father had pneu[monia] (before M and B tablets) I used to get so tired that when I went to bed the only prayer I could seem to think of was “I have left undone the things I ought to have done”! Jean has gone to school, Father not up as he was on watch until 12. I will knit a little as it’s too dark yet to start work and I am only just settling down from my usual early morning attack of asthma, tho’ it wasn’t too bad to-day.

‘Tell it not in Gath…weep not at all.’ is from the Bible, Micah 1:10.

M & B tablets were May and Baker proprietary medication.

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

Thurs Nov 18/43 8.15 a.m. [1943]
# PLANES RETURNING EARLY MORNING
# DRESSED CHICKEN PRICED
# NEWS FROM A NOTTINGHAM FAMILY
# GREAT NIECE MAIZIE AND BABY RETURN

It is bright and clear and cold this morning tho’ it was hailing when we went to bed and I heard rain or hail in the night. There is a morning moon, when it is waned the mornings will seem very dark, still it is only 5 weeks to Xmas and the shortest day. Jean has gone to school. Just as she was going a lot of planes came over, probably returning from or setting out for a raid. Jean thought returning as they were heading more inland than towards the sea. “Snip” is washing herself after a plate of porage. I told her it was hot and she carefully skirted round the edges of the plate but very soon finished it. The animals always seem hungry these cold days. We had another rabbit yesterday, it was very good indeed as they are in cold weather. Sent Mrs Leivers word how much her fowl was. It weighed 7 lbs with feathers off, just over I think, and is 1/10 lb so charged 13/0. There is not supposed to be any profiteering but there always seems to be a loophole. Fowls, young and old are 1/4 live weight but 1/10 with feathers off so in a good fowl they get over 2/0 for that. Then if they take insides out and head and legs off they can charge up to 2/6 lb.

Had a letter from Mrs. L. Lees yesterday, it was a long time since she had written. Joan is married (she sent a PG [photograph] of group). She [Joan] will be 29 I think. They all look very nice. Len looks about 70 but Mrs. L is getting plump and looks quite young. Rosemary is 19 in WAAFs [Women’s Auxiliary Air Force], she looks quite the modern young miss, is as tall as her father and fat too. Anne and Susan look very nice in their bridesmaids dresses, Joan was not in white but looked very nice in short dress. Billy has been in India and Ceylon for two years. I think he is a Lieut. now. Want to know if we can send them fowls for Xmas. Nothing doing. Now we are not in the trade it’s not worthwhile.

Have fitted Jean’s skirt, think it will look very nice. Cut out a velveteen dog last night, and did some of my cardigan. Rene washed a few clothes for me, we did not put them out, but have got them dry indoors. There is very little wind now, it seems very quiet. Father took Gran to Aunt Mary’s yesterday when he came from Sk[egness]. She is staying there a few days. Jean said Maisie and baby and Cis were on bus’ Tue night. I believe she is coming to live with Con for the present. Ben is away for some months. She was with Mary but babies make too much untidiness for Mary. It’s a pity she hasn’t one or two.

Anne and Susan Lees, not mentioned previously, were presumably younger children of Mr and Mrs Lees (see 16 Dec 1940), and bridesmaids at their sister Joan’s wedding.

Aunt Mary, with whom Grandma was staying, was Charles Hill’s wife, Jean’s aunt.

Ben McGuigan, Maizie’s husband (see 22 Mar 1942), was at sea, serving in the Royal Navy. At one time he served on HMS Aurora.

Mary Blythe (married name), with whom Maizie and baby had temporarily stayed, was a sister of Ciss and Connie. She was a teacher, living near Grimsby, who never had children of her own.

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

Wed. Nov. 17. 8.30. a.m. [1943]
# BEAUTIFUL PHEASANT SIGHTED
# MORE DRESSMAKING
# RON VISITING CHURCHES IN ITALY

Very squally again this morning but I hope not quite so cold. It was “perishing” yesterday. It came a very snowy sleet shower about 4.30. to 5 and on the sea-bank in shade of a bramble-bush sat or rather stood, a beautiful pheasant. I was putting up black-out curtain and saw “the Sprogg” run across the lawn and creep up the fence so wondered what he saw and it was that. Its feathers blended so well with the grass and leaves that it was only when it shook its head or turned it that it could be detected. I stood and watched it some time, with “my mouth watering”, but alas, even if anyone had been here with a gun, it was no use, for the bird was in the middle of the mine-field! Sprogg crept quietly along the road and the last I saw of him was when he was starting up the sand-hills. I don’t think he had much chance of catching the bird, especially as he went up the wind side of it. I looked out a bit later and it was gone. I hopefully scattered some bread on the lawn as I have seen signs there sometimes of its presence.

Rene washed at “Bev.” ['Beverley'] yesterday. I may have a few things washed to-day if it is reasonably fine. Must wash hankies in any case. Father was on watch at 12 noon yesterday so we had early dinner. Then before Rene came for hers I changed sleeves of my A F [air force] Blue cardigan so that the elbow wear would come in a different place. They look so well that I am wondering if they were put in wrong the first time, as they were made for left and right! Usually they are both alike. I saw the idea in a book or paper and thought it very good as my cardigan was very thin at elbows in fact. I had to darn underneath one tho’ not in actual holes. Did two patterns on my new one and think found where I make mistake in patterns. It is a teaser or I am a bit stupid I think, and it is very difficult to alter mistakes in it. Think Jean’s green skirt will turn out alright but I was rather foolish to cut it out when I was so seedy as I have got it about 6 inches too long. I can cut it off but the piece left might have been more use in one piece.

Had a nice letter from Ron yesterday dated 10 Oct so not so bad. Says he likes to go in the churches they are so quiet and peaceful. It seems strange to think of him being able to go a two hours ride to a town in a country at war. It is good to think he is well away from the fighting line. He does not seem so hard-worked at the time of writing, and says it was a lovely day, everything drying up after the rain (I am afraid they’ve had a lot more since then) and he was sitting outside writing his letter. His letter was quite cheerful, but somehow I feel he was very homesick when writing. It is really nothing in his letter, but the tears came to my eyes as I read of his liking to visit the quiet churches, as they seemed so peaceful and he could think of home. I should think the lack of privacy, and leisure to think and be quite alone is as trying sometimes as too much solitude.

After being based for two months in Sicily with his RAF Spitfire squadron, Ron and his unit had moved on to mainland in Italy in late September 1943. He had been in Battiplagia, Salerno, about 65km from Naples, for about two weeks when he wrote the letter on 10th October.

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

Mon. 15 Nov. 10 o’c PM. [1943]
# RECOVERING FROM A BAD COLD
# MAKING JEAN’S SCHOOL SKIRT
# MORE SOFT TOYS UNDERWAY
# NEARBY MARSH AREA FLOODED

I did not write much in my diary last Wed. as I felt so tired and could not collect my thoughts. It turned out I had a bad head cold developing and I have gone thro’ the worst of it now and just feel seedy and tired to-day, hope I shall begin to feel like myself tomorrow. I have cut Jean’s new green skirt out and partly made it. She has been to school, but had such a lot of home-work and was so tired I did not get it tried on, however, I have taken measurements so hope to get a bit more done tomorrow. I have really finished the “sailor” doll. I made a few more stitches on his face and pulled it into quite a decent shape, made and sewed his hat on so hope baby Balding will like it. I don’t like making such tiny clothes, think I’ll stick to animals. Have cut paper pattern of Scottie dog and Rene cut the Terrier pat. so hope to try them this week. I finished sewing buttons on Jean’s cardigan tonight and mended her school bag strap so got no more of my cardigan done. I finished a diamont patn. this morning and cut out Jean’s skirt before dinner. As Rene did a big wash for me last Wed I am only doing just what is necessary this week. She has her big wash this week. It was so stormy she did not start to-day. Mr Shales is a little better to-day.

Father had to go on W.Bx. [watch box] for a while this morning, the D.O. [District Officer] was there. He had 45 out of 50 of his last quest[ions] right. It has been very stormy again to-day but not so many sleet-showers as yesterday. It has been one or two tho’ since dark. It turns very cold before showers and slightly warmer after. The whole house seems to turn cold before showers. I am writing in bed but it is so cold I shall soon lay down. It is 10.30. so it won’t seem long to 12 when Father comes off watch. There have been some very high tides again the last few days, sea came into Marsh again. The seamen’s work did not keep it out, altho’ one of Grantham’s boys said it kept the bulk of it out! Father took Mrs. Mason to Sutton [-on-Sea] last Wed. She is gone there to live with Mrs. Bryant, a relative. She gave Father a good enamel kettle and £1.

Mr and Mrs Shales were Rene’s elderly next-door neighbours in Sunningdale Drive (see Village Map), having moved into the bungalow ‘Chapel of Ease’ (built by the Ashley Hall family – see 1 Apr 1943) next to ‘Beverley’.

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

Nov 10 Wed. 9 P.M. [1943]
# JEAN IN ARMISTICE PARADE
# ILLNESS IN FAMILY
# PETROL USE IN LIGHTER FUEL BANNED
# CHURCHILL FORECASTS NEW GERMAN WEAPON

Sunday morning it came a snow-shower and was very cold all day. Jean had a bad cold and would go to Armistice Service at Church 2.30. as she is in L.G. [Life Girls] and they were parading.

Jean, Girls' Life Brigade uniform

Jean, Girls’ Life Brigade uniform

She got thoroughly chilled and has been fit for nothing since. Father brought her some medicine from Boots yesterday and me some from Dr. as I have had a touch of Bronchitis and Asthma this week-end. I am almost better but Jean is still very seedy. Rene did not go to W.I. [Women’s Institute] to-day. Elsie called, she had caught her new coat in cycle wheel. Rene cleaned oily place with “lighter spirit” but not all of the mark came out. Petrol being mixed or treated may not be used in pipe or cig lighters now. Father went on watch at 6pm so it won’t seem so long until he comes home at 12 altho’ we have come early to bed. There are planes droning about so shan’t be sorry when he is home as Gers seem to drop bombs somewhere nearly every night. Churchill in speech to-day at L[ord] Mayor’s lunch says that altho’ the Russians may drive Gerr. to a complete collapse there is always the possibility that he may devise some new way of warfare against us still. He can scarcely be called an optimist! Wrote to Ron yesterday and to Emily to-night. Jean wrote to Esther Meldrum to-day. We had neck of mutton broth to-day.

‘Life Girls’ was an alternative name for the Girls’ Life Brigade (see parade assembly photograph: 16 May 1943).


Esther Meldrum, John’s sister (see 25 Oct 1942), was Jean’s friend, affectionately known as ‘Tib’. She was probably back in Scotland where she had lived previously.

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

Fri. Nov. 5 8.15. a.m. [1943]
# GUY FAWKES DAY – 20 YEARS PREVIOUSLY
# AUTUMN CLEANING POSTPONED
# RISING COSTS AND RATIONING
# ‘MAKE DO AND MEND’ ADVICE
# CHERRY JAM ENJOYED

November 5th. Guy Fawkes Day. What funny things stay in our minds. Now almost the only Guy F. day I remember particularly, is the one when we lived at Lab[urnum] Cott[age] and autumn-cleaned kitchen. I remember it was a wet day. I whitewashed ceiling or was it still boards and did I wash them? I think, in fact I’m sure, I papered it and Father painted it red. That must be almost 20 years ago and the same paint is still on tho’ I remember we were told we had to paint it inside every 5 years. Well, Goslings never painted it all the 17 years they were there and the same wallpaper is still on sit[ting] room wall that I put on unless it has fallen off now the house is empty. I do remember Amy came on day when we were at Sunny Side on G.F. day and I always used to think I was late if I hadn’t aut-cleaned by then. I haven’t started yet this year but it doesn’t seem so urgent when we have no seaside visitors, and flies are barely gone now as the weather has been so open. Caught mouse No. 2 in trap last night.

I rose at 7 this morning. Father went on watch at 6 am, he brought me a cup of tea and bre. and butt. Perhaps the thought of the fire already made tempted me and I had slept well all night. Am afraid Jean is in for a cold, hope it isn’t the flu’ which is very prevalent at Sk[egness]. Miss Baker called yesterday to tell Rene the time of parade to Church on Sunday. She had a linen tea-cloth in her hand, said she got it at Hall’s, don’t know price, 1 cou. It was not large, about what we used to give 1/0 for but looked as if it would wash thin. They are 4/3 to 8/6 now. I used to give 10D or 1/0 for what I did not get with Watson’s soap coupons and they were linen of a good average quality. Have no coup. to spare for any just now. The last I bought is not very big but good and I gave 1/6 for it at Stow’s but that is a long time since. I have spent most of my coups early this time on 1 pr. stk [stockings] 1 pair shoes and 2 nightdresses. As I had bought no stks for year, no shoes for over 2 years and no nt-drs since the war started I was hardly extravagant. Things wear out eventually however well you treat them. I got a “Mend and Make do” book Govt. issue 3 from Sk. but found very few new ideas. At my time of life one has found out and tried a good many things if money has never been very plentiful. Well it all comes in useful now. It is pretty hard going for people who have always been able to buy new when old things looked shabby and who have never remade and adapted things. One of the things was how to lengthen jumper that had run up too short, as they will in spite of careful washing, in time. I smiled when I put on mine this morning and noticed in the mirror that it was lengthened with a piece of corded velvet to match colour, and not lately either.

Rene and T[om] brought my groceries down last night. She had got me 1lb Tickler’s cherry Jam. I had some once from Cook’s at Grimsby. It was lovely, but was never able to get any more. Tried to make some once but it was not a success. Had some visitors in who had lived in Belgium (it was 1939) and I asked her if she had made any (she had her home made jam with her). She said not in Eng. and she thought she bought a special kind of cherry for it in Belgium.

Goslings, mentioned here, were almost certainly ‘Jonty’ and his wife Mary (see photograph 14 Mar 1943), on the assumption that ‘Laburnum Cottage’ had been an alternative name for ‘Keal Cottage’ (see Village Map). Jonty, who outlived his wife, was believed to have died during the first half of 1943. Two sons, Syd and Ernest, and their families, lived in the village but neither of their homes was likely to have been known as ‘Laburnum Cottage’.

Soap coupons were those issued by Watsons, the manufacturers.

Ticklers’ jam – a popular brand since World War I.

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

Wed. Nov. 3/43 10.45. P.M.
# MORNING SHOPPING IN SKEGNESS
# CAR PETROL RUNS OUT
# HOME GUARD ON PATROL
# SOFT TOY MAKING AND KNITTING
# EVENING AIRCRAFT ACTIVITY
# WAR NEWS GOOD FROM ITALY

Have just come to bed. Jean has been in some time but I stopped to write an airgraph to Ron. However I have not finished it as I could not remember what I wanted to put in. I am tired after going to Sk[egness] this morning. Went on 10.30 bus’ and came back with Father. He took Mrs. Atk.son to catch 12.20 train. He had his hair-cut 10D and we went to try to get fish to take home for dinner. Did not fancy gournets with skin on and Halibut was 2/9 lb. so did not get any. Got sausage rolls (very good) and cheesecakes and with a bit of cold ham for Father made do for dinner. Rene came just after we arrived home between 1 and 2 o’c, she had done a big wash. Hope it dried. It was first fine day this week. It was so warm that we sat on seat near back door after dinner. We should have been home earlier but just got to corner of Lan[caster] Av. [Skegness] where Dr Menz[ies’] house is and pet[rol] gave out. It was a long way to walk to Pet. St[ation] on Burgh Rd. but Father found a good Samaritan who let him have a quart, very illegal, but helpful, as the garage man might have refused to put him some in a tin. He did do tho’ when we finally arrived there to fill up so Father left it at Hallgarth’s on way home. Mr. Bell had borrowed it for Father when he fetched Mrs Seal and baby home from Huttoft. What shifts we are reduced to. Shall we ever become honest again. Heard chatter and clatter of feet go by just now. Wonder if it’s H.G. They are supposed to be out tonight. Wonder how Pete Taylor is feeling to-night. I bet he wishes he were out with them.

I had been showing Eff my toy horse this aft and it was on table when H Blanchard came. He promptly asked how much it was and gave me 5/0 straight away for it. It’s worth it too according to the toys I saw to-day in shops at Sk. Mean looking, terribly badly dressed dolls 22/6 and much worse animals than my home-made one from 4/6 to 14/6. Have cut a doll out tonight. Must make it and let Jean take it to Gerry Balding. The patterns are very good and this one encloses pattern for dress and knickers, that will take off. Have started back of Jean’s cardigan too and finished Tam o’ Shanter hat except for lining so it will be ready for Sunday, saw one in Sk. like it on someone and they looked very nice in it. I think I am going to like mine, and it will cost nothing, it being made out of materials I had. I have an old round silver brooch which I think I shall wear on side of it.

A great lot of planes went out tonight round about 6 p.m. and there was a big explosion which shook the house and rattled doors and windows just before Father went on watch. Heard planes return between 9 and ten. Wonder where they had been and if many were lost. War news keeps very good. Armies in Italy advancing all the time, if slowly. They have taken villages and places commanding plains where Gers are withdrawing, and Russians are advancing by leaps and bounds. It will be a good thing when the bloodshed is over, altho’ it won’t be all plain sailing then.

Mrs Atkinson (see 5 Sep 1943) was probably meant here.

‘Gournet’– a fish alternatively known as gurnet, gurnard, grondin, griofle.

Mrs Seal was the married name of Edith, the daughter of Reverend Bell (see 19 Dec 1942). She lived in Sunningdale Drive.

Harold Blanchard, one of the two brothers from Hogsthorpe, was almost certainly meant here (see 5 Nov 1941).

Gerald Balding, whose elder brothers were George and John, was the child of Billy (see 15 Oct 1942).

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

Nov. 2nd 10.30 P.M Tue [1943]
# WILL’S COASTGUARD WATCHES CHANGED
# RENE’S TOM JOINS COASTGUARDS
# EXPERIMENT WITH SOFT TOY MAKING
# VILLAGE LADS DUE FOR EMBARKATION
# LOCAL AIRMAN IN AMERICAN MISHAP
# MORE NEWS OF RON IN ITALY

On Monday the C.G. watches changed from 8 o’c to 2 o’c etc. to 6 o’c to 12 o’c etc. Don’t know if we shall like it as well. Father is on watch from 6 p.m. until 12 o’c tonight. Our evenings won’t seem so broken up when he goes on or comes off at 6 pm but mornings will be short when he goes on at 12 noon or comes off then. Tom has been taken on as relief Aux C.G. [Auxiliary Coastguard]. He is quite thrilled with the idea at present. Have got photos of C.Gs framed and sent Emmie hers.

On Friday evening I tried my hand at a soft toy and made a very decent horse out of Jean’s old grey flannel shorts, kapok down and a bit of wool trimming. The pattern is good and instructions very clear. Rene and I are making me a velvet tam. Think it will be very nice when finished. I could have finished it tonight I think but have been seedy all day and wanted to get on with Jean’s cardigan too so did not get it out again after tea. Have not washed yet as Rene was collecting Red + Mon and it was drizzly this morning and I did not feel up to starting either. Jo. Sharp and Jim Clarke are home on embarkation leave. Rex Lenton in America after flying mishap, have heard his plane was shot down into sea and that he and rest of crew were picked up and taken to America. Pet[er] Kirk is home this weekend after attending Ad[miral] Sir Dudley Pound’s funeral service. Sir D. was afterwards cremated and his ashes together with his wife’s (she died in the summer) were strewn on the sea.

Had a letter from Emmie on Sat. She had heard from Ron, a letter dated 17 Oct so fairly new. He is in Italy and in billets now. A welcome change after “bivvy” tent I guess. Says view from billet is magnificent, and the climate is more like home than he has been in before. I think their winter is the same time as ours. Art Belton is in Italy and says he is sick of grapes. We could do with a few here. A lot of Canad[ian] apples are coming over also a lot of turkeys and other food from Ireland for Xmas. Mrs Coulston got me 1 lb small raisins this week with my points and a tin of sw[eetened] milk for Father’s porridge. Petrol coupons arrived this morning. We all went to Chapel Sun night. It was a nice evening but very dark when we came home. Keith and Marian were there and Lau[rence] played the organ. Rev. Hodgson preached. Miss West is getting to look a very old lady. One or two church people were there as Vicar has the flu’ so no church service.

It has been an “owery” day but cleared at sunset and sun shone into kitchen while we were at tea. We did not go into room until Father had gone on watch as Rene and I had been so busy with hat we didn’t get the fire put in. Chrysanths are coming out well, as weather keeps mild. Jean’s are fine ones. She dug up old roots and set slips, and blooms are much bigger than on my old plants. Best to dig them up every year I think and set new slips. There are stray violets and polyanth’s in bloom too and a few marigolds still glow in odd corners. I am writing this in bed and a tiresome old “bluebottle” is buzzing round the room. Every now and then the wind freshens up so perhaps it will blow fog and drizzle away. Only just over 7 weeks to Xmas now. Russians have invaded one side of Crimea. Gers. look like being completely routed there before long. Think another 6 months will see the end of the War or at least it will be in sight. I wonder if Ger’s. will send any big air raids before then.

A Coastguard group photograph has already been shown (see 7 Jun 1942). The one mentioned here was probably taken later.

Jo. Sharpe was the greengrocer’s son, Cyril, known as ‘Joey’ (see 2 Feb 1943). He and Jim Clarke served in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, together until assigned to separate units abroad after the embarkation leave.

Jim Clarke, son of Jesse Clarke, living in Hogsthorpe, was the nephew of farmer Walter Clarke (see 2 Mar 1942).

Rex Lenton was an RAF wireless operator/ air gunner on a Liberator B24 bomber which crashed while attacking a submarine in the Atlantic. Jean later noted in her diary (13th January 1944) that he was in hospital in Newfoundland with a broken leg, according to his sister, Judy, when asked at school. His father, Bob, a butcher who died before the war, had owned the shop that had become Wells’. Jim Lenton, Home Guard member, was Bob’s brother, a farmer.

Sir Dudley Pound, Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord 1939-1943, died from a brain tumour.

Arthur Belton was the younger brother of Cyril, garage owner, and of Harold. He lived in Nottingham.

Rev. Hodgson was the regular Methodist minister.

‘Owery’ – a local word for ‘dirty, filthy, damp, cold’. (See ‘A Glossary or Collection of Words, Phrases, Place Names, Superstitions Current in East Lincolnshire’, Jabez Good, Long Sutton, c1900.)

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

Fri. 29 Oct 8.20 a.m [1943]
# FAMILY VISITORS BRING NEWS
# NEPHEW FRANK’S WEDDING
# PRISONER EXCHANGE REPORTED
# RED CROSS PRAISED
# BLIND P.OW. CENTRE IN GERMANY
# PARCEL POSTED TO RON

The fog has persisted all the week. Think it will clear to-day. On Wed it cleared a few hours in the middle of the day and the clothes finished drying. I had put a fire in room as I did not think it would clear but as soon as I had got a [clothes-] horse-full round fire the sun broke thro’! I put sheets and heavy things out and everything was dry by dinner time and ironed before tea. Keith and Marian came on Thur aft. Also Lau[rence] who had travelled by night to get an extra day at home. He walked in before 8 a.m. to his mother’s surprise. Mary came with them but would not stay tea. Marian’s brother is in India now. He was in N.A. [North Africa] last year when Ron was. He has been hurt or wounded. He does not tell them what happened, only they are not to worry. He is out of hospital and on crutches now. Lau. has a stripe, he is in office work. He amused himself on piano for an hour or more after tea. Jean did not get much homework done. Keith and Marian chuckled over Nip. Ann [Nipper Annual] part of the time. She does her hair in the fashionable roll now. It is so pretty it looks nice however she does it. I had a letter from Frank Lewis’s new wife on Wed and a large piece of bride’s cake which was very good.

A lot of prisoners have been exchanged with Gers this week, the wounded of course. How pleased they will be to get home. They all say the Red + is a marvellous institution and that they would fare badly but for its care. We must give all we can to it. It does one good to read about the selfless actions amongst the prisoners. When one ship docked a man ran to the side and called “Cynthia”. A woman on quay-side answered and scores of men took up the cry. It seems she was taken prisoner in France whilst lorry driving and in the camp where she was interned she tended and nursed the sick and wounded. She is a cousin of Earl of Southesk. Then there is Viscount Normanton who thro’ the Red + got materials sent to him and taught 15 blind men to read Braille. Above all there is the major who would not come home, he is an ophthalmic surgeon and spends all his time operating and doctoring men whose eyes are injured. The Gers. have been very good in giving him facilities for doing this, and he wrote home to his wife for his case of instruments which was despatched and received. He has a wife and three bonny children yet altho’ he could have come home he elected to remain a prisoner so that he can continue to help his wounded, blinded fellow prisoners. He has already helped many back to sight again. He had written to his wife some time since to tell her he should not come this time. In spite of her disappointment, how proud she must feel and what a noble heritage to hand down to his children. All honour to those and countless more we shall never know of who imitate their Master who “went about doing good”.

[Aside: Household coal supply to be cut down again so must be extra careful.] Yesterday we posted Ron’s parcel and sincerely hope he gets it. Rene and I had both been wishing we could include cakes. As she said, “you don’t get the taste of home so well out of razor blades and soap etc.” However, we are not allowed to send anything eatable and of course they are not in need of it. Tom sent him a new pack of cards like those he gave us last year and we put a new face-flannel in and thread etc. Persil as he has to do his own washing, night-lights in a tin in case they melted. We sewed it up in a cotton covering over the paper one after packing them in a cardboard box. Letters have to be posted before Nov. 10. so must write to Jock again.

Frank Lewis, nephew, son of Jesse and Emily (May’s sister), had married Alice.

11th Earl of Southesk, Lord Carnegie, was related, by marriage, to the Royal family.

Lieutenant the Marquess of Normanby, of the Green Howards (not ‘Viscount Normanton’) and Major David Charters, Royal Army Medical Corps, an ophthalmic surgeon, were both prisoners of war who became attached to the German ‘POW Centre for the Blind’ at Kloster Haina.

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

Mon Oct. 25th 8.20 A.M [1943]
# COLD FOGGY AUTUMN WEATHER
# LETTERS FROM RON AND EMMIE
# BIRTHDAY PRESENTS PLANNED
# RON’S EMBARKATION RECALLED
# TRIBUTE TO NEPHEW RAYMOND

A thick fog this morning and rather cold at present. Hope it clears as I told Rene we would wash. So far I have done no Autumn cleaning and it’s time I did. We had another letter from Ron 16th Oct written on 2nd and Emmie one dated 6th so it is nice to be up to date again. He sounds very cheery in all of them. I wrote him a long letter last night and enclosed a 1944 calendar. We are sending a parcel this week for his birthday, Nov 26, and Xmas. We, at least, Rene got a nice leather writing case, a small one, at Sk[egness]. It has no zip but is very soft leather lined Kid. It cost 17/11. It won’t take up much space in his kit which is the main thing and will just keep his unanswered letters together and perhaps a snap or two. Emmie’s gloves have arrived, she is very chuff and she says he has bought Xmas presents for us all. Do hope they come safely. He is sleeping in a little bivouac tent now with Roy Paget his pal. Hope they have better billets for the winter as I think the nights are very cold. Says there are a lot of little lizards, very pretty and quite harmless which go like quicksilver when disturbed.

Mr Wilkinson A.R.P.W [air raid precautions warden] came for his [Ron’s] address on Friday. The B[ritish] Leg[ion] is sending parcels. It is over a year since we saw Ron. I can still see the train pulling out with Ron waving from a carriage window, and how I felt as if he was taking a part of me with him, feeling as if I must strain my eyes for as long as I could see him, knowing it might be that it was the last sight of him we should ever have. Emmie did get to Peterboro’ for a few days and he got to Yea. for a few hours. It is a year since the tide turned for us at Alamein and we won that first big battle on the borders of Libya and Egypt. Godfrey Talbot described it on Radio and the white cloud on the desert of 600 white crosses. Now 800 more British have laid down their lives in Italy in just over a month, more than that because that is only 5th Army and then there has been all the fighting in Africa and Sicily. It is a mad, bewildering, world.

Keith and Marian are here, it would be a sad homecoming, the first since Raymond’s death was reported.

“He sleeps where Southern vines are dressed
Above the noble slain.
O’er him the myrtle showers its leaves
By soft winds fanned.”

Roy Paget was Ron’s RAF friend in his unit in North Africa and Italy.

Mr Wilkinson, here, was very probably the retired policeman, Jack, the father of ‘Spitfire Ace’ Royce Clifford Wilkinson (see 29 May 1943). He used to recount his son’s exploits to Joe Kirk and fellow drinkers in the tap-room of the ‘Vine Hotel’ (see Village Map).

Godfrey Talbot was one of the best-known BBC war-correspondents.

The ‘Southern Vines’ epitaph was based on lines, slightly changed, from two verses of ‘The Graves of a Household‘ by Liverpool-born poet Felicia Dorothea, née Browne, Hemans (1793-1835). May had copied the original into her ‘Poetry’ exercise book when a pupil at the village school.

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