All posts in category Diary

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.

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

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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Wed Feb. 9. 8.40. a.m. [1944]
# FAMOUS SPEAKER AT WOMEN’S INSTITUTE
# APRICOT JAM MAKING
# HOME-CURED BACON SAMPLED
# MORE ALLIED SUCCESSES
# SISTER’S FAMILY MOVING AGAIN

Cold and fine, no wind this morning, tho’ there was so much yesterday, I did not go to W.I. I would have risked it but am such a nuisance to the others if I am ill that I gave in and stayed at home. I think after all, it would have been better not to have joined. It is so disappointing not to go, and yesterday Mrs Wintringham was speaking. It was also the month for the “something new, out of something old” comp[etition] and I wanted to take my toy Scottie, made from velvet from an old dress and kapok from my large tea-cosy that I made smaller. Rene took belt made from scarlet leaves cut from an old felt hat, with old red buckle. It looks very nice and is a good idea for Xmas presents. Am looking forward to hearing about it to-day. Father got more coal yesterday, we save it for evening in room, it makes a lovely hot fire and lasts so long. I did not finish my quilt as I had not quite enough Kapok in the house, but have only an hour’s work on it now. It will be almost better than I hoped, when it is done, but do wish I had got something darker than gold for the front panels. The all blue side is very nice indeed and I am quite proud of it. It is costing about 12/0 in material. I had the other bits. It would have cost 16/0 if I had had all to buy.

[Aside: Apricot Jam recipe] Made nearly 4lbs jam yesterday. ½ lb dried apricots soaked in 1½ pints water all night (24 hours) boiled until fruit was soft, then added two lbs sugar and boiled until set when tested. Cost 1SD. To buy it is 1/1 lb so a great saving, I am getting 2 lbs sugar or perhaps 3 lbs, with my preserve ration for the month to make my marmalade.

Have started bacon, fried some and it is very good tho’ it seems rather salt after “bought” bacon, mild cured. Must boil some to-day. Have almost eaten pickled onions so must do more. Russians have captured manganese mines which Gers. have been holding so tenaciously. It will be a great blow to them to lose them, tho’ no doubt they will have got a good stock out. Marshall Is. are in Allies hands. I have an anemone in bloom and several more buds. Had a letter from [sister Emily] Em L. yesterday, says they have violets and Polly Aunts [polyanthus] in bloom, should think it is a bit milder in Newark than by the sea. The farm they are on is to be offered for sale so Jess has taken another place as tractor driver on a large farm in Lincs. They have been to look at the house, it is all freshly done up inside (what a change!) and they move in about a month. I wish “flitting” did not bother me more than it does them, tho’ I have made up my mind not to worry over it. I would not mind so much if I were well and strong.

Mrs Margaret Wintringham, WI guest speaker, had already been a leading figure in the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NWFI) within Lincolnshire before she became a heroine as a champion of women’s causes upon her election as Member of Parliament for Louth, Lincolnshire, in 1921. This was in a by-election following the death of her husband, Tom, and she was only the second woman MP after Nancy, Lady Astor, whose election was in 1919. Although failing to retain or regain her seat in subsequent general elections she had continued to be a high-profile campaigner for the rights of women and children.

The Marshall Islands, in the Pacific, were the first Japanese pre-war territories captured by U.S. forces.

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Tue. Feb. 8. 44. 8.40 a.m.
# COAL FROM BEACH
# WAR NEWS GOOD – CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

Much lighter this morning, clear and cold and windy. After raining a little yesterday morning it cleared and all the clothes dried. I finished Rene’s gloves at night, being too tired to finish quilt. Washed Jean’s hair, it dries quicker now it has been cut. Father got about 4 st. coal in big lumps yest. morn. and his handkerchief and pockets full at night as he forgot his bag. He wonders if the lighter which was blown up and sunk last year has started to break up. It was loaded with coal.

Russians have trapped several Div[isions] of Gers and all efforts to rescue them seem to have stopped. Pacific war pace increases and in Italy things appear to be going well. Altho’ we are warned not to be too optimistic, nothing can quite subdue the feeling that the end cannot be very far off. Not in a month or two perhaps but this year we hope.

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Mon. Feb. 7. 44. 8.30. a.m.
# JEAN’S BIRTHDAY VISITORS
# COASTGUARDS’ AIRCRAFT RECOGNITION TEST
# ORANGES FOR MARMALADE

It is very dull but not so bitterly cold this morning. We had sleet on Sat and yesterday was icily cold. I did not get to Chapel at night as the cold wind took my breath just to go outside. Rene came in afternoon. Tom was preaching at night so she was going. Jean had a lot of home-work to do as she got none done on Sat. It was her birthday. Joyce, Mavis, Ken [R] and David came for tea. Joy[ce] had to go home on 8.30 bus’ so they all went then. Joy. brought her a bottle of Yard[ley] Lav[ender] scent, very nice. Mav. “The Fluter’s Ball” and Ken two handkerchiefs. Had a letter from Vamplew. Military have his bungalow. Father has an aeroplane test today. He does not like that part of his duties. For one thing the test is not carried out fairly and another is he finds it difficult to remember names and numbers. Also it does not seem to be of any use to them, so long as they know enemy planes from our own it should be enough and leave the rest to the R.O.C. [Royal Observer Corps].

I have got wash-pot on for small wash. (I do not intend to take another house without a copper if I can help it.) We did a large one last week and I don’t intend doing many today as the weather doesn’t look too good. We got 5lb oranges on Sat. I hope to make some marmalade.

David Sparling was the son of a naval petty officer, based at ‘Royal Arthur’, whose family lodged with Herbert and Annie Faulkner (see 9 Feb 1942).

The present of ‘The Fluter’s Ball’ may have been sheet music (for piano) with lyrics from the original ‘Phil the Fluther’s Ball’ by Percy French.

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

Fri. Feb. 4 8.30 a.m [1944]
# LETTERS FROM RON IN ITALY
# MORE SHOPPING IN SKEGNESS
# LANDLADY WANTING TO MOVE BACK IN

Father set off on Patrol at 8.15 and I took down the black-out at once. It is a clear cold morning, more like winter weather than it has been for some time. It blew half a gale when Jean started for school at 8 o’c but the wind dropped suddenly and there is very little now. Think it took the darkness with it as it is the lightest morning we have had, that is, light the earliest. It is almost north tho’ so we may get it dry or we may get some snow. We had a letter from Ron on Wed and 2 more yesterday, one Jean’s. Rene also had one, but they were all written in Dec. He has got “Mr Chips” and read it, was very pleased with it. He had a very nice Xmas. Slippers for Father finished, they are not at all bad and will do until he gets more coupons. Much better than having to wear his boots at night by the fire. They are rather large but he says they are comfortable.

Went to Sk[egness] on Wed. Hat shop took Father’s to clean and reblock. They can only take them for an hour, first three days of week again now and as mine may have to be dyed and certainly re-shaped they dare not take it, we were too late on Wed. Father got round them however to reshape his. He got his fountain pen but it was only 9/2. They said they were reliable at that price. He bought two, one for my birthday. It is a very nice one and I am pleased to have it tho’ I should not have bothered about one so long as this would write. It is quite good since I had new nib and was only a cheap one to start with. Ron got it at Naffi [NAAFI] when he was at Binbrook. Rene got a very nice blouse and we paid 9/6 for year’s subs[cription] at Boots’ Library. Books can be changed at any time, and there is no restriction as to time of keeping them out. I got another writing-pad and envelopes at Dutt[on]‘s. I use a lot.

Had another letter from Mrs. Fletcher. She really wants to come back any time if we can get a suitable house, but quite realises we are not obliged to move. It makes us feel unsettled tho’. I have written to Mr Vamplew to see if he wants to let Bung[alow] next to Rodwell’s if suitable, but we shall not move yet unless we do find a suitable house. I would prefer to be nearer the Chapel if possible.

Mr Vamplew, a builder, of Friskney owned several adjacent bungalows, near ‘Point Farm’, including ‘Peacehaven’ and the one which had been occupied by Warners (see 2 Feb 1944).

Rodwell was a senior Navy officer, based at ‘Royal Arthur’. The bungalow was one of those owned by Mr Vamplew.

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Wed Feb 2. 44. 8.30 a.m.
# MORE WARNINGS AGAINST OPTIMISM
# CIVIL DEFENCE DISCUSSED
# SHOPPING IN SKEGNESS

The warning against the wave of optimism, that has been sweeping over the country lately, was repeated in the news again this morning. I think most people have been feeling more hopeful lately and it comes as rather a damper, to be told it is vain optimism. I think tho’ a lot of it has been “wishful thinking” and that always at the bottom of our hearts, or far back in our minds, tucked away with those far off Japs, has been a fear of bitter struggles yet to come before Gers are subdued. I still think they will do their worst on our little isle before they give up. It is only reasonable to think so, I feel that it is exactly what we should do so why not they. I don’t think we should use gas but we should do and are doing terrible things to get the better of them or at least to inflict punishment. I do not think the Civil Def[ence] are serious enough over their work. There ought to be an immediate inspection of gas masks and everyone should be prepared for an attack. If they should come they will not warn us. In this village the decontam[ination] stn. is closed! I think all civilians over twelve should be compelled to receive instruction on the subject or if it comes hundreds of lives will be lost thro’ ignorance.

Enough of war for now, I must get to work. We are going into Sk[egness] with Father to get petrol and I want to take my hat to be dyed and reblocked and Father’s too to be cleaned. Rene wants to do a little shopping. Had 2 letters from Ron yesterday written just after Xmas. They had a good Xmas dinner and enjoyed it. He has got “Mr Chips” and read it and it was then going round room he said. Must send him more books now he can read a bit.

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