All posts in category Diary

Tue Jan. 25. 10.o’c. P.M. [1944]
# HOME MADE TOFFEE ENJOYED
# ANOTHER SOFT TOY MADE
# IMPROVEMENTS IN MEN’S CLOTHING

This morning our toffee was nicely set and very good. We have eaten all of it. The wind rose to a gale last night. I was pleased when Father got home just after 12 o’c. I got very little sleep until morning and felt too tired and unwell to get up at 7 o’c. so Jean rose and put the kettle on the stove and lit the fire which refused to burn. She brought me some tea and got her own breakfast. She walked to catch the bus’ as the wind was so strong tho’ gradually lessening. When I rose the fire had gone out again and when I relit it took a long time to get really going. Think it was a bad load of coal or there was too much draught for it as wind was in the door. However it was burning fairly well when Father got up. I felt better for staying in bed, but it made me late with work. Rene stayed at Bev[erley] to wash her own things and as it looked like rain waited to take them in before coming about 3.30. My clothes got half-dry yesterday and as it was bright and sunny and wind not too strong I put them out for an hour or two and they got dry. I folded them after dinner and have left them to be ironed tomorrow. Eff came after dinner. I paid for meal and the lb of marmalade she let me have. She stayed a good while and helped me fold sheets. I have done a bit more to my quilt tonight sewed and stuffed the doll I cut out, body ought to have been bigger, finished thumb on Rene’s glove and started second finger. My little ex[ercise] book won’t contain much history as it is almost full. Jean has bought me a larger one today for 9D, this was 5D I think and we used to get a big one for 1D or 2D. Men are to have all the pockets in their suits again and trouser turn-ups. Utility suits (men’s) are to be 20 cou[pons] instead of 26. Think no one buys them unless obliged and shopkeepers have a lot on their hands.

Meal, here, was probably barley-meal for pigs, or it could have meant ‘fish and chips’ which Eff may have previously collected and brought for the family as she sometimes did (see 5 Sep 1942).

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Mon Jan. 24. 9.50. P.M. [1944]
# KNITTING AND RENOVATING GLOVES AND GAUNTLETS
# FIERCE FIGHTING IN ITALY REPORTED
# GEORGE FORMBY ON WIRELESS
# MAKING TREACLE TOFFEE

Father is on watch and Jean and I have been busy all the evening. Jean with school-work, hair washing tho’ I washed it, and then with a little glove knitting and is now putting curlers in her hair. I knitted a little after tea at Rene’s glove which I am renovating, re-knitting gauntlets, from wrist as the hand and fingers were worn out with cycling. I am using 3 different oddments of wool and they will look quite nice I think and be very useful. We did a fairly large wash, as we left sheets last week. It dried slowly and started to rain soon after dinner so they were only half dry. Still they are ready to put out tomorrow if fine and won’t take so long to dry in the house if it is a wet day. Wind keeps rising. I think it is probably rain-squalls. It rained fast when Rene went home and when Jean came from school. Father chopped his thumb when getting kindling and splitting little logs. The shed floor is springy, not good for chopping on.

New landing in Italy very successful, but Gers. fighting very fiercely on old front. George Formby gave the Postscript on Sunday night. He and “Beryl” his wife had been on tour of the Med. Forces. He was most interesting and absolutely unaffected. I detest his broadcasts as a comedian, but was pleasantly surprised with his P.S. and feel he is a better man even than comedian, popular as he is. His wife must be a fine woman too. I have done a bit more to my kapok quilt, in fact I did about 2 to 2½ hrs work on it and I think it is going to look very nice and be useful too. Now I have got a good start it doesn’t seem so formidable a job. During the evening I made some toffee with treacle, sugar and marg. No recipe. It is very good, but perhaps not boiled quite long enough. When we try to get a piece out of the tin, it reminds us of the way the elephant got its trunk. We prise a piece up, seize it and pull. It pulls out longer and longer and at last a piece comes off. It’s most eatable tho’. Sometimes we feel as tho’ we must have something sweet, over and above our sweet ration.

The Postcript’ was on the radio, following the evening BBC Nine O’Clock News. Audio clips of comedian George Formby and his wife Beryl, describing their activities as wartime entertainers, are available online.

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

Sun Jan. 23 7.45 PM [1944]
# MINERS’ WAGES AND COAL PRICES INCREASE
# ALLIED ADVANCES IN ITALY
# BNAF SOLDIERS RETURN TO BRITAIN
# NEW BICYCLE FOR RENE

Miners’ wages, including those of “Bevin’s boys” are raised. Coal and coke is up 3/0 from 1 Feb. In Italy part of 5th Army has landed between German divisions and Rome, West coast Italy. It was a successful operation and we have advanced several miles inland. Russians doing so well in North that Finns are wondering whether Gers are going to be able to hold them. More and more Forces reported all over as returned from B.N.A.F. Alex, May L’s husband came to Newark on leave last week. He went out round about time Ron did. Wonder if Frank Adams will come too. He was in Sicily, but has been in B.N.A.F. some time now.

Rene has her new bicycle a Rudge. Very pleased with it. I tried it on lawn and as it is a modern type with little room between seat and handles I got my foot fast and sat down flat on lawn to the no small amusement of Rene and Jean and Elsie G[rantham]. Neither cycle or I was hurt except a wee bit of skin of my thumb knuckle which was bruised too (I bathed it in boracic). I am very stiff to-day tho’ about neck and shoulders so expect I wrenched them a bit.

Jean went to C[entral] Hall Fri. night to see a film Rev. Hodgson had brought. It was “Mr Deed goes to town” and very good. Ron saw it in London when he went with B.B. [Boys’ Brigade] and I believe he saw it some years later in Sk[egness]. The “Panto” Aladdin is at Sk. Only one matinee (on Sat) which was booked weeks before so had no chance to see it as last bus is at 7.15. Mrs Hall and [Mrs] Cooper went and Father fetched them back at 5 from mat[inee] as they knew bus’ would be packed. Rene came before tea, had a cup and piece of cake but not a full tea. Tom had gone on patrol. The flower I made for her coat looks very nice.

I have started to read Don Quixote, have read extracts before of course, but have never read all of it. It belongs to Mavis. I am expecting to enjoy it. Jean is enchanted with it. Have written to Ron and Mrs Fletcher and Bessie Brown. It is nice to get letters thro’ to Ron so quickly. Had a letter from Mrs Russell Fri. She says Emmie had just had 10 letters from him, very cheerful ones. She says they hope to come in June. Was not at work yet but hoping to start in a day or two.

Bread is very dry and chaffy but we must not complain as we have bacon and dripping in addition to butter and marg. ration. It was a very wet night but turned fair about 10 o’c. A.M. and was a bright sunny day tho’ windy, a west wind which went after a sudden squall about 5.45. Have turned out all my cut flowers and still snowdrops will not be out yet and my one anemone bud grows so slowly. I have a wee chrysanthemum plant in a can which is just coming into flower only one bloom tho’. I think it will be white tho’ at first I thought it was yellow. Eff came Sat afternoon, brought me some fat bacon, 1/0 lb which will be useful.

Bevin’s Boys’ were industrial/ mine-work conscripts. Although some were conscientious objectors many had elected to join the forces but were not given the choice, as May noted. (This policy also caused problems after the war, when ex-servicemen received more favourable support.) Ernest Bevin (Labour Party) was Minister of Labour and National Service in the coalition government.

Operation Shingle’ began with the Anzio landings on the west coast of Italy on 22 January 1944.

Alec Hunter (written as Alex) was the husband of sister Emily’s daughter May, née Lewis (see 18 May 1941).

Mrs Cooper, wife of Walter Cooper, cobbler, whose home and shoe-shop was near Belton’s garage at that time, is probably meant here. Walter was in the local group of the Royal Observer Corps and their son, Eric, in the Boys’ Brigade.

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

Fri Jan. 21 8.15. a.m. [1944]
# FIRST INCOME TAX RECEIPTS
# MORE RUSSIAN PROGRESS REPORTED
# BOMBERS SPOTTED BOUND FOR BERLIN
# CIVIL AVIATION PLANS
# SYMPATHY FOR COAL MINERS
# FRUIT BOTTLING AND CANNING DESCRIBED

Yesterday we received receipt from first Income Tax we have ever paid £1.6.9. I am not sure that we haven’t as many of the amenities of life as F. Smith who pays £100. After this if we pay any it comes off the weekly pay from C.G. [Coastguards] I believe.

Russians are progressing at a great rate and we seem to be steadily going forward. I think we are going “according to plan” there which is I think to keep as many Germans busy there as possible. Planes went out last night between 5 and six and were gone a long time, a lot more seemed to return this way than we heard go out tho’ it may be that they were flying lower. I think it was Berlin that was bombed again. They had not been for some days because of fog. I expected it was going to clear when they commenced to go out last evening. The whole sky looked as if mosquitoes were flying there, not thickly but perhaps we could count a dozen at a time spread over the sky, but all coming at one steady pace that looked slow, but they came in sight in the West and were over the sea in so short a time that they must have been flying swiftly. Once a fighter sped over at a tremendous speed.

New 50 and 100 ton planes are in preparation for Civil flying, it may be 1950 before the 100 ton planes are ready, they may not be jet-propelled but there seems to be a hint of an even newer method. Jet-propulsion is talked of for ships now. Oh, I remember, in civil flying, safety and economy come before speed and 200 miles an hour is reckoned the maximum for passenger planes to fly with comfort to passengers. Great planes are being used as transport planes now, they carry 4 jeeps or other motor vehicles, and will be used as passenger planes after the war. Now that the “civil flying maggot” has bitten the money makers, I can’t see the war lasting many more months.

I am sorry for a lot of the boys who have to go to coal-mines, not alone because of the work, but tho’ some of the miners homes are amongst the best in the country, some are very different, and boys used to refined homes are bound to suffer in mind and feelings if not in body. I hope they will be kind to them and that the boys will be as reasonable as they can, but at present the billeters seem all out for making money out of them, and naturally the boys are upset as they had no choice of Services or pit but were sent there “willy-nilly”. When they have paid for billets etc they have less than Service men and no clothes provided. Coal and coke is already to be raised to 3/0 ton from Feb 1st. We had three more bags yesterday. I thought I had only one but Per[cy] said 2 and left three as some people don’t take all, tho’ we aren’t supposed to do that. Rene doesn’t burn all hers but she is here most days for dinner and often bakes with me. I must try to be more careful with it. I dried most of my clothes by the fire but used wood, slack, and coke.

Packed up my Xmas parcel for [sister] Em L last night, rather belated owing to our illnesses. I saw in paper yesterday that the Preserve ration can be used either for jam or sugar until further notice, so we may be able to get a bit more in hand for jam-making season, as we still have a few lbs of home-made jam. The canned fruit is so nice Rene and I have planned to can it with syrup next year if possible and to can as many large plums as possible tho’ damsons are very good. Bottled fruit has kept well this season tho’ apples have not. We had a blk-currant pie last week made with bottled fruit and they had kept perfectly. They were sealed with mutton fat, which if properly done and made air-tight is as good and easy a way as possible.

Receipt
Fruit is packed in narrow necked jars and placed in oven, when hot, boiling water is poured over carefully so that no air is left in if possible, a tap or two will bring any bubbles to surface. If plums, skins should just crack, but not a failure if they don’t. Then pour about ½ inch hot mutton suet fat on top. Water should come to and into narrow part of jar. Cover with paper and screw lid.
P.S. After fat is cold pour another thin layer over.

F. Smith, here, was almost certainly Fred, cousin Amy’s husband.

Percy Ranson, niece Ciss’s husband, was the coalman, as usual.

‘Receipt’ (which appeared in the margin) was probably the traditional use of the word, meaning ‘recipe’ or ‘method’.

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

Wed Jan 19. 10.P.M. [1944]
# JEAN PLAYING HOCKEY
# MAKING SOFT TOYS FOR SALE
# SEWING AND KNITTING TASKS

It seemed a little brighter early to-day so did some washing, however before dinner it turned very damp again, the little wind there was fell and it kept spitting with rain, and about 4 o’c came on to rain in good earnest. Jean had been playing hockey and her stockings and legs were very muddy. A mad idea to play on such wet ground as there is now. It was still pouring with rain at 9 o’c. I can hear the hump, hump of the sea so think tide is in. Father is on watch until 12 o’c. Yesterday I sent Aunt Jet some bits of cloth for her rug. She said she had not enough. Post 9D. I doubt if they were worth it. I also put 2 balls coloured cotton in, left over from slipper making, for her to knit up if she liked, as she says knitting cotton is dear and no one pays her for her dish-cloths. The time hangs heavy on her hands as being almost blind there is little she can do. I told her I wanted it for a tea-cosy as my wool one is worn out.

I have made another soft toy, an elephant this time. Jim Hall says a licence is needed to make toys for sale, and that there is a big purchase tax on them, hence the price. So I shan’t make my fortune toy-making. Still it may come in useful. They make very nice presents at any time, and children are ever with us. I have made Jumbo red eyes, don’t know if that is correct, but I recollect reading of an elephant with “wicked red eyes” and they look very effective against the grey cloth. I must make him a back-cloth and perhaps a head-square out of Emmie’s scraps of red silk. We had a letter written Jan 1st from Ron today and an A.M.L. written on 9th so that is very good indeed. The A.M.L was in answer to my letter of Dec. 23. I think that is about the quickest exchange we have had. He is very well.

I must finish off a few of my sewing jobs soon now as it will soon be time to turn out drawers and cupboards ready for Spring cleaning. I have a blouse of Jean’s to make, it’s cut out and I have just started it. Then I am determined to get my kapok quilt done, I have made a start. I have started to knit new palms and fingers to Rene’s old gloves and my cardigan is only half finished. I have a new pair of sleeves cut out ready to renovate a dress for myself. Last week I made 5 buttonholes of leather and the petals left over from Jean’s cap at Rene’s wedding. 3 for [sister] Em L’s girls, one Rene is having and one Jean took to Doreen [Hodgson]. Rene has brought a knitted tea-cosy to send to Em. It is knitted like a dress with a little doll at top with a bonnet, very pretty. They are belated Xmas presents. Eff came for “Standard” which we had borrowed, as I sent new one to Ron in mistake.

Doreen Hodgson, Jean’s school class-mate and long-term friend, lived in Skegness.

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

Mon 17. Jan 8.50. a.m. [1944]
# NEWS OF CHURCHILL’S RECUPERATION
# SPANISH ORANGES CONCEAL BOMBS
# EISENHOWER IN ENGLAND TO COMMAND INVASION
# REPLYING TO MANY LETTERS HOME FROM RON

Still a thick fog and frost, but it is thawing rapidly and wind freshens now and then. It may blow fog away or it may turn to rain. It is not fit to think of washing unless it quickly alters. Father has gone to Sk[egness] with Mrs Evans and Jean to school. Persuaded her to put her Navy Pilot Coat on. Mr Churchill completely recovered. Has been recuperating in Morocco. Next news will be that he is home I expect.

Last week a time bomb exploded amongst oranges in transit from Spain destroying a lot but no one was hurt. Now all cases have to be searched before leaving Spain. Some others have been found. I believe they are disguised as oranges and are no larger, but capable of doing a good deal of damage. It is a mean spiteful trick and of no practical use to Gers. We shall not get our lb of oranges this month as expected as apart from delay, they may a lot of them be overripe now before they arrive. Hope it won’t cause strained relations between us and Spain. I think we are giving them to understand they must keep their Axis friends in better order. It is a ticklish job, because they have always been more or less on the Gers side, having a grudge against us since their own civil war. Eisenhower has arrived in England to take over Command of Invasion Army. I wonder how soon it will be “Now’s the day, and now’s the hour, Lay the proud usurper low.” We have discussed it so long, but I know when it comes it will shock us, and we shall (at least I shall) get that weak trembly feeling in my stomach and feel the icy chill of fear of the future, sweep over me.

Seagulls are screaming around and yesterday I heard the wild geese honking before I was up. So far there have been very few of them about. The winter has been so open and comparatively mild. What changes will there be, I wonder when they come screaming round the houses for food next winter. Oh dear! If all is well, even, we may not be in this house. Mrs F[letcher]‘s mother is dead and she says she is ready to come back anytime. I hope she’ll change her mind. We have got nicely settled and the house is the size we need. I loathe the thought of “flitting”. Still we’ll not meet trouble half way, unless we get something suitable, we are legally tenants until Ap. 1945. Answered Ron’s 7 letters last night and sent an Airgraph to Jock and an A.M. Letter to Frank A[dams]. It was far too foggy to go out, even Rene did not come, tho’ she was at Chapel in the morning. Jean went to C[hapel] and to S.S [Sunday School] in the afternoon.

Mrs Evans, here, was probably the married daughter of Will’s Coastguard colleague Albert Parish. However there was another Mrs Evans in the village.

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

Sun Jan. 16 8.35. a.m. [1944]
# BLACKOUT DIFFICULTIES
# CHILDHOOD MEMORIES OF ‘MAGIC GARDEN’
# RON CONFIDENT IN ALLIED VICTORY

It is a rime frost this morning, everything white and icy. I thought it was as, tho’ not cold in bed, every time I moved I seemed to feel an icy breath. I discovered too after getting up that I had left the window open, which is not always possible now we have to “black-out”. It is difficult with casements to get a light-proof curtain if there is the least bit of wind. We leave door open to landing when we shut the window. Both were open last night so perhaps that is why I slept so well. We were never used to sleeping with closed windows. Father went on watch at 6. a.m. so, tempted by the fire, I rose at 7.30 and have had my breakfast of tea and toast by it after taking Jean cup of tea and bread and butter. The cat, Snip, sat at my feet looking for a piece of crust now and then. She loves toast and Sprogg is learning to like it too, but his cough still persists and he had to go out again after his milk.

I have been reading a rather sentimental chapter on rooks, in Bac[helor] in Arcady (it is a totally different book to any other I have read by Halliwell Sutcliffe, tho’ his style of writing comes out here and there the same as in his books of feud and clannish war on the dark moors). The rook chapter brought back very vividly to me autumn days at “Woodvilla”. The misty autumn mornings melting into the brief golden hours of late Sept or October, with the sound of the rooks, caw, caw, caw, from the elms and oaks at the old Trusthorpe Hall. A few late plums still on the boughs, juicy apples, and sweet little pears on the high pear tree, mostly at the top, from which we brought them down with wildly aimed sticks, and ate them sitting on the chain [chair?] swing which was made with a pole from forks in lower branches of the two main trunks that sprang from the roots. There was a sparsely planted hedge or thicket about 3 yds deep planted at the far end of the orchard and I remember the first time I ventured (the small bushes then well above my small height) thro’ the little opening in it where Grandmother used to go to wave a duster when it was time for Grandfather to come to dinner, if he were working at the next yard. It was a great adventure, I fearfully parted the branches and won thro’ to the ploughed field beyond and viewed my familiar world from an unfamiliar angle. I could see the backs of the houses I only knew from the front, and all the way to the sea, at least a mile away but quite hidden from view, when in the orchard. The railway too running between us and the sea and beyond it I knew between rail and sea was my own home. I saw the little house only on Thursday very little changed, except a glass room built over door and pump to the little gate.

May’s grandparents outside Wood Villa, their home near Trusthorpe Hall, around 1895

May’s grandparents outside Wood Villa, their home near Trusthorpe Hall, around 1895

On Thursday we had two letters from Ron and 6 on Friday and Rene had one too. So quite up to date again. He is well and sounds in capital spirits and very confident of victory. He had received denture washer and was very pleased as his was completely worn out.

Halliwell Sutcliffe, author, was mentioned in the notes added to the previous Diary entry (see 14 Jan 1944).

May’s grandmother, her father’s mother, was Charlotte, née Selby, Simpson.

May’s grandfather, her father’s father, was John Simpson.

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

Friday January 14. 1944
8.15. a.m
# ANOTHER DIARY BOOK BEGINS
# BATTLE OF BRITAIN RECALLED
# BACON AND HAMS INSPECTED
# MORNING STAR OVER CHAPEL POINT

This little book so small and slim,
An emblem of the shortage caused by war,
May yet contain a tale of deeds more grim
Than written in the books that went before.

I wonder what will have happened in this grim struggle before these few pages are filled. I did not intend it to be a record of war, when I started my diary, just our ordinary doings during the days of war. In spite of good intentions the war creeps in, as it has crept in and around all our daily life. So tho’ no record of battles and campaigns is kept, a little of the trend of war is threaded thro’. The second front looms ever nearer, then we shall feel the effects in this country, more than we have done since the “Battle of Britain” and how very little we knew of that down here just sheltered behind the sand-hills, while the tide of war went over only a few stray bombs that only damaged property, not people, fell round us.

Wed. night the newly-hung bacon which was just beginning to sparkle with dry salt crystals, turned wet again, I think it was the rain and humid atmosphere. Hams wept salt tears all day yesterday and even the flitches, hung in the white-tiled corner near the fire were weeping by evening. Weather has changed again, I looked out when Jean went to school and it was clear and cold, the morning star shining brightly over the Point. I hope it does not freeze with the sunrise as I put my chrysants out in the rain yesterday and forgot to bring them in, and they have been in so long it would nip the new shoots I expect. The two cats have eaten their bread and milk and are sleeping on the mat. Snip nodding upright but “The Sprogg” curled in a ball. He still coughs but I am sure he does his best to suppress it, as I put him outside if he coughs more than once. I do not think it healthy to have sick cats in the house, and they are hardy and have plenty of cover to go to.

Rene said Mrs Shales had fallen and hurt herself. She stood on a chair to reach something and it was not level and she over-balanced. Rene did not know until yesterday, she was getting over it then but had been pretty bad. Rene was going in again at night. She herself does not look too well. Think she had a chill early in the week, probably got it on wash-day, it was so cold. I am reading the book, “Bachelor in Arcady” which Aunt Jet gave Jean (she sent “The Rosary” to Mavis). It is very readable and amusing. She also gave her 5/0. Amy gave her two for music.

Flitch – side of bacon – salted and cured abdominal wall of a side of pork.

‘Bachelor in Arcady’, was written by Halliwell Sutcliffe who died in 1932. He wrote many popular novels, most of them historical romances set in the Yorkshire Dales.

‘The Rosary’ by Florence Louisa Barclay was first published in 1909. It has been described as one of the most beautiful books ever written, and the author compared to Jane Austen. It is available in the publc domain as a free e-book.

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

Thur Jan. 13 1944 9.15. PM. [1944]
# VISIT TO RELATIVES AT TRUSTHORPE FARM
# LETTERS FROM RON IN ITALY
# NEWSPAPERS RUMOUR SECOND FRONT

It has been raining nearly all day but not cold for Jan. It cleared once or twice but came on again, and is raining now I think, tubs are too full now to hear if it is running in and wind seems to be rising. It was fine and sunny on Mon and dried all the clothes, but very cold. Tues it was colder still and snowed in the afternoon but turned warmer afterwards.

On Wed Rene and I went on 9.30. bus’ to Trusthorpe. We had to sprint to catch it and but for the fact that the driver and cond[uctor] have a hot drink at Miss C[anning]‘s we should probably have been left, as it went to village while we were on the wrong side of G.ma’s. It was damp and misty but cleared before we came home. Found them all pretty well, having escaped colds and flu’ so far. Aunt J[et] looks very well again and is endeavouring to “peg” a snip rug. It helps to pass the time. She gets tired of knitting and the cotton is dear. I try to think of something she can do, but do not seem able to find anything and I am sure the hours seem very long, and she does not seem able to accustom herself to going about the yard alone with a stick except just across and back [see note]. Amy says she has been much better to live with since being here that week. So perhaps she found she would have some trials wherever she was.

Had 2 letters from Ron to-day. I was writing to him after Jean went to school and it is still dark until nearly 9 indoors, Father went to bed when he came off duty at 6 am after making tea and having his porage. While writing I thought I heard someone coming and as no one knocked went to door. No one there so went to front and to my surprise found letters at 8.45, usually it is 9.45 or later. Perhaps as it was so wet, the Anderby postman dropped them in. Ron’s letters were dated 21 Nov. and 12 Dec. so not very recent. They were the ones saying he had received greetings cable for Birthday (Nov 26) and Xmas parcel. We had heard all this before. His letters were very interesting this time. One very funny. When putting away his washing the vest unrolled and it was a ladies! His pals were much amused. He had seen the laundress and she had promised to retrieve his for him. He gave us a nice little word-picture of the room where he was sitting up in bed writing, some of his pals reading, some just smoking and one packing parcels, another one, like him, sitting up in bed writing. They are a decent lot together there I think. He sounds quite resigned if not exactly content. His parcel arrived with everything quite safe and undamaged. He is very pleased with Writing Case.

Papers are full of sec[ond] front and invasion lore. The many new air-bases in Britain are ready for use, and are to be the invasion bases. There are such a lot within a few miles of us that I fear we may see more of the war than we have so far done. I am not looking forward to the start of sec front. It might mean moving off the coast too. Ke[ith] and Ma[rion] were on bus’ when we returned last night. They had been to Legbourne. Said there was snow there. Hope we don’t get it. The winter has been mild so far. Amy had a lot of ‘Wannias’ out. I noticed a flower on one of mine. Fred was having to help a neighbour to thrash so he could get help in return. Labour is scarce. Was grousing (the farmer’s privilege) because he has to grow sugar beet. Would not mind if all had to but some get off. It is the same in everything. Ken belongs to Young Farmers League or Club. It will be good for him to get about and mix with people I think. He is a nice quiet boy.

Heard from [sister] Em L. Gl[adys] had a son on Jan 4. They are pleased as they have two girls. So E has 4 Grand-d[aughter]s and 2 G.sons now. Jean is wanting to go to bed so I had better make an end, indeed I’ll have to as my new book is in the other room. Jean and I are in kit[chen] tonight. Amy tells me Aunt Fanny says Mother used to write poetry. I have a stiff covered ex[ercise] book with poems in her writing. I wonder if she wrote them. I remember my father reciting one of them once.

This began on S. Swithin’s Day in a shower of rain.
It ends in January of another year and still it rains
But sunshine has heightened many days in between
And this year’s wheat grows fresh and green.

‘Across and back’ referred to visiting the outside toilet, across the yard from the farmhouse.

Legbourne village is near the town of Louth (see East Lincolnshire Map).

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

Sun. Jan. 9. 8.30. P.M [1944]
# WELSH SOLDIERS ATTEND CHAPEL SERVICE
# CHANGES TO FOOD RATIONING
# CONCERNS ABOUT JAPAN PROLONGING WAR

Dull morning, turning to drizzle at dinner-time then to steady rain. Still raining at 8.30. It has been damp and chilly, but not bitterly cold. Saw a bus load of H.Gs [Home Guards] come by this morning. Jean went to Chapel, said about 15 soldiers were there, they are a lot of them Welsh. Some have already gone on leave. Jean said Tom said a few words of welcome to them, he was preaching next Sunday and would have some Welsh tunes for them to sing. Father took Spence to Louth Hos[pital] to-day so Jean (who has a cold and did not go in rain to S.S. [Sunday School]) and I went in car to Rene’s and had tea with her and came home with Father after he had brought Mrs Spence to her house. He had a cup of tea, but came home for his meal as it was so wet and soon dark. We had canned Vic[toria] Plums with egg custard for tea. Very nice. “Bill” was distinctly annoyed because we took up all the hearthrug. The kitten is grown very big and is very playful. Rene let me have ¼ tea as I am quite out. New period starts tomorrow. Tinned Herrings, Pilchards and Mack[erel] need less points. We are not very fond of tinned fish, except salmon and do not care for that very often. It needs too many points to get much of it now. Sprogg still has a cough and Jean is doctoring him with Tibs. Doesn’t seem to ail much but doesn’t wash himself much and looks very grubby. Jean and Father both seem to have a slight return of their colds. I do hope Jean will be able to start school.

Charles came yesterday to see if Father could fetch Ke[ith] and Ma[rion] from Sk[egness] Stn. at 8 p.m. but he has not enough light and was on watch too. C[laude] Evison could not either so don’t know what they would do, take a taxi I expect. They had just sent a telegram in the morning. It is early for another. I do hope he [Keith] is not on Draft Leave so soon after losing Raymond. I am afraid there will be a lot have to go soon now. Russians are 10 miles over Polish border now and pushing on. Tonight Stuart Hibbert [Hibberd] reminded us that the end of the German War did not mean the end of the war as a whole and that we should still have a tough job to conquer the Japs. Somehow we seem to push this distant war out of our minds as much as we can, forgetting that covering it up does not alter the fact of its serious existence. I hope Ron does not have to go out there, but then I don’t want him to come home just now either. We do not know what to wish for them. It is best to leave it, and live from day to day, thankful that so far he is spared. Oh, if it were only all over, and no more “wars or rumours of war”.

‘Spence’ was believed to be Mr Spence whose wife was previously mentioned (see 2 Feb 1943).

Stuart Hibberd was a well known BBC radio announcer.

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