All posts in category Diary

Wed 8.45 am Oct. 25. [1944]
# MANY SMALL TASKS TAKING TIME
# JEAN’S BREAKFAST AND PACKED LUNCH
# HANGING OUT CLOTHES
# TAKING SHOES TO COBBLER
# MORE APPLES PICKED WITH RENE’S HELP
# MORE SOFT TOY MAKING

I cannot seem to find time for my diary these days. There always seems a job in spite of Rene coming every day. Perhaps I am slow too. I cannot hurry or seem to put any weight behind anything and the multitude of little jobs seems to fill the day and I can’t get down to a really long job of sewing or gardening. Also after dinner I often seem so tired and have to rest so long. Yesterday I got up at 7.15. put kettle on stove, made the fire, took Jean’s water and put it on the stairs for her, (It is nice having warm soft water in the boiler) cleaned her shoes, I do not usually do this but, cleaned them and rubbed Dubbin well into them and incidentally, found they needed new rubbers on heels, her blue ones were at the cobblers, so as she got them home last night she has taken brown ones to-day. I got breakfast for her but had to get some for myself before packing her dinner as I felt sick and rather faint and dizzy. After she had gone I fed rabbits, cleared away, washed up, and put out clothes line and clothes, folded the few that dried Monday. Cleared up kitchen and partly dusted. Washed myself and Jean’s stockings (She changes them every day as her feet sweat.) caught 10.30 bus’ to Stow’s and managed to catch it on its return from Point or should have had to wait for 11 o’c. Sat next to Mrs. Lindley, she was full of talk and I nearly forgot to get off bus at C[ouncil] Houses. Went to see how clothes were drying and to unwind one or two off line. Made and had a cup of Allenburys, pulled a basket of apples from lower branches of tree, picked up the fallen ones (a basketful) threw all the little potatoes together and picked some up. Then Rene came. I made a steamed marmalade pudding and cooked bacon and eggs for dinner. Rene dusted and pulled a few more baskets of apples. We had dinner then Rene made beds etc. The clothes were all dry then so while I rested she folded and mangled them and then I washed up and changed my blouse. I did a little knitting in between times.

After Rene went at 4.15. I fed rabbits, shut them up, had tea, not much as I have a meal when Jean comes at 6.40. knitted a little more, blacked-out all over and peeled pot[atoes] for Jean’s meal and steamed her marm[alade] pud. Tom came for tea for Rene. Then I mixed pot. cheese, marg and egg and fried it in hot fat for Jean. After tea had been cleared I stuffed the green vel. dog I had made Mon. I had to put feet squares in first. Finished it except for eyes, tongue etc, and a little more knitting of Jean’s cap. It is almost done. Then I washed tea-things and we had a drink, I of Allenb. F[ood?] and Jean tea, read a little and went to bed. I seem to have had a full day yet nothing much to show for it. It is a nice bright morning but as Father would have said everywhere is sodden. I think it has been a dry night, possibly a frost.

‘Dubbin’ is a branded protective shoe/boot cleaner.

Mrs Emily Lindley was a sister of Edith, Alice, Ada and Clara (also May) Crow. She had previously been housekeeper for Mr Lindley, originally from Nottingham, whose first wife had died. Their home was ‘Rosedene’, on the corner of St Leonards Drive and South Crescent (see Village Map).

‘Allenburys’ was a ‘food-drink’ manufactured by the Allen and Hanbury company.

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

Oct 15 Sunday 8.30 p.m [1944]
# ASTHMA FOR MOST OF WEEK
# HUGE COOKING APPLE CROP
# RENE’S TOM PREACHING AT CHAPEL
# BUSY IN GARDEN AGAIN

Another Sunday, I must try to write up my diary oftener. I have been glancing thro’ old ones to-day and they are very interesting to me. It has been a lovely autumn day fine and cold but not so windy as of late. I felt as if I ought to have gone for a walk but do not feel very great yet after asthma most of the week and diarrhoea on Thursday. Yesterday Jean and I picked several stones of Bramleys, a clothes basket, the big brown basket and the small bath full, and the jam-pan full of fallen ones. They are good apples and there must be still as many more left on the tree. If fine Rene and I will pick them tomorrow.

Have written to Ron, Emmie and Aunt Fanny. Have not had a reply from Sybil yet. Hope all is well. Jean bought herself a pair of new blue suede shoes yesterday at Cooper’s 23/6 quite nice, the first she ever bought with own money.

Eva came down Wed afternoon for tea and paid for rabbit 5/0. She is looking better. Jean took three lovely white gladiolas to Churchyard also asters. Then she went to Chapel and to S.S. [Sunday School] after dinner. G.ma gave her 2/0. Tom and Rene walked down this morning. He is preaching to-night. Ron’s allowance for me 7/0 per week came thro’ this week, £4.4 back money in draft. So that is settled for the time anyway. It is for rent etc. Made a T. Bear and stuffed it with flocks. Looks very nice but is not so light as kapok. Perhaps more substantial for older child. Jean called at Mrs. B[rown]’s for piece of green velveteen. Hope it will make dog. It is lovely. Am to return Eardley’s chair when I like after Monday, they have lent it. I asked her if I could send it home.

Lawn growing well, think it will cover alright. Heaps of work wants doing in garden but Rene finished digging potatoes on Thurs. Must pick up the rest of seed and ……. [? thrash?] tomorrow if dry and get garden ready for blk.currants and rasps. Shall have a lot of chrys[anthemums] if pest and wind does not spoil them. Must do away with a lot after flowering, far too many. My anemones are beginning to peep thro’ I am relieved to find. Some of my seedling polyanthus are in bloom also wannias, wallflowers Mary gave me are growing well and all three roses are alive. I ought to move two of them as they seem to catch all the cutting winds at the corner of the house. Don’t suppose it would hurt to move them about Dec. or Jan. What a lot there is to do in a garden. When I am not well it all seems to get on top of me. I have never really got master of it yet. News time and Jean is tired so think we will have supp. and go to bed early. I can read in bed if not sleepy. Can hear a plane.

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

Sun. Oct 8 7.50 P.M. [1944]
# HEARTY BREAKFAST BEFORE CHAPEL
# GARDEN FLOWERS CONTINUE TO THRIVE
# SERVING NEPHEWS ON LOCAL LEAVE
# TRADITIONAL SUNDAY DINNER
# MORE SOFT TOY MAKING

Got out of bed at 7.40 to draw curtains, it was calm and looked like being a fine day so decided to get up. Put D[ressing] Gown on and collected clothes, went down and lit stove and put kettle on. Made fire and took cinders out then had a cup of tea and took Jean one. Water warm in boiler so had a good wash and changed clothes. Cooked bacon and the two eggs Mrs. B[rown] brought and Jean some bread. Mrs. B has one hen, it has laid so many eggs this summer she had to buy waterglass and put them down! Some hen! Before Jean got down to breakfast at 8.30 it was raining and has kept drizzling all day. Jean went to Chapel and to S.S. [Sunday School] then to Mary’s with apples for Annie, Colin came here from S.S. to fetch them! Jean went to Miss Wilcoxon’s to get Pitman’s she promised to lend her as Tom’s is out of date. Not at home but Mrs. W. promised to get it for tomorrow.

My gladioli are lovely, took one to churchyard last week, have another in house (white ones) but too wet to go to-day. Hope I have pink and mauve ones too, tho’ only white so far. Dahlia still in flower and asters too tho’ flowers are smaller now. Have written to [sister] Emily L[ewis] Emmie and Ron and a card to Amy.

Roy has been on leave, was flown with cycle to St[rubby] aero[drome] as he had to see a damaged boat there. Dennis is at E. Kirkby drome and has been home twice. Keith is expected in a week or two. Rene brought me some nice roses last night. Frank called this morning, he had been to Percy’s. Says my front door key doesn’t belong but will try to fit one for me. Per’s mother and fa. here today. Gwen at Willeys at Anderby. Em L. coming to Island House Croft to live this week. I think sometimes the people who put no roots deep down but sort of run on the surface, are perhaps the happiest. They seem to enjoy each new adventure of a fresh home. I am by no means “at home” here yet, tho’ perhaps can hardly expect it under the circumstances. Sometimes I wonder if anywhere will ever feel like “home” again. I suppose if you keep on moving you don’t get enough attached to any place to bother when you leave. I am afraid I send my roots down too far. It is a wrench to pull them up and I hate to leave my flowers and get my furniture bumped about tho’ it’s old but not valuable!

Frank is thinking of getting removed from Ob. Post as he has so much work. Is not very keen on new …… [? illegible], thinks it will be very exp. for him. Black kitten is sitting on oven rest, tried top of oven with his paws but decided it was too hot. We had a piece of sirloin for dinner, cut from top of ribs to trim it up I think. They cut the carcases up so queerly now. It was very good, all meat too. We had mashed and brown potatoes and Yor[kshire] pud. with it but no beans as I forgot them yesterday and it was too wet to-day. There will be brussels as soon as a frost has been on them. Rene’s have already had some. Have got my crock nearly full of salted beans, there were so many young fresh ones it seemed a pity not to use them. Wish I could sell rabbits, they take a lot of feeding. Made a toy rabbit yesterday stuffed with flocks and clippings. Quite successful tho’ large toys would be much heavier than kapok and it takes a long time to clip up the oddments of material.

Miss Veda Wilcox (written as Wilcoxon), lived near Parishes’ ‘Rose Cottage’ on Roman Bank which was close to the beach, near ‘The Point’ (see Village Map). She was a WRN at ‘Royal Arthur’, possibly on secretarial duties.

RAF Strubby (see East Lincolnshire Map), not far from RAF Manby, was where nephew Roy Simpson had been involved in Air Sea Rescue boat repairs, having been flown from his base at RAF Langham, Norfolk

Nephew Dennis Raynor was at RAF East Kirkby (later Lincolnshire’s Aviation Heritage Centre), a bomber airfield near Revesby.

Silas and Winifred (‘Winnie’) Willey had been Ransons’ neighbours and had moved to a farm in Anderby. Gwen and her parents would cycle to visit them and their daughters Mary and Joan. Silas Willey was a member of the Home Guard (see 6th June 1944 for photo).

‘Island House’ was a farm cottage at Croft.

Frank Simpson (brother) or possibly Frank Raynor, was probably meant regarding the Observer Post. Both had been local members of the Royal Observer Corps and the duties could have been an unwanted diversion from their usual work activities.

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

Thur. Oct. 5. 44 10.20 P.M.
# JEAN LEARNING SHORTHAND
# DEATH OF LONG-SERVING VICAR
# PLANES AND HEAVY EXPLOSIONS

Jean curling her hair, she washed it rather late and it is only just dry. Was very busy first with S.H. [shorthand] lesson, seems very interested at present. Had first lesson at Miss Cus[ack] on Wed. Says T[om]’s Pitman’s is about 40 years out of date! But it will do for Alphabet. Mrs Brown (Eardley) came for tea this afternoon. Rev. Watson was buried in vault to-day. He would have been 90 next Feb. Mrs … [Almond?] there. I did not know about it, but in any case had asthma too bad to go. Toe swollen again to-night and painful, wish it would decide to get better. Mrs. Seal’s baby to be Edith Anne. Geo[rge] home tonight, collected photo’s Jean had called for. Odd planes about, there have been heavy explosions in distance from 9 o’c at intervals, sound like gunfire.
[Note added later] Nov 4: We heard afterwards that it was a fly. bomb and gunfire but do not know if this is authentic.

Reverend Edwin Watson had served as curate or vicar of St Leonard’s Church for much of his life, from 1888 until retirement. He was remembered for Christmas parties held at the Vicarage for Sunday School children. Annie Harness had been employed as domestic help there bfore her marriage to Herbert Faulkner (see 9th February 1942).

Dr and Mrs Almond (probably meant, though writing unclear), the parents of May’s niece Mavis Simpson’s future husband, Thomas, had lived in the village. However it is not certain that Mrs Almond was living there at that time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RAMC – Royal Army Medical Corps.

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

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

Invasion of Holland by Paratroops. Sep. 17 /44

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial - WWI

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial – WWI

War Memorial Inscription - In Memory of Mark Hill

War Memorial Inscription -
In Memory of Mark Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finished week ending:

Dec 31

Dog
Elephant
Quilt
Re’s slippers
Fa’s slippers

Feb 19

Blouse & Dog

Re’s Gloves

Feb 26

Shopping bag

2/4 Buttonholes

/5 1 Buttonhole

Mar 4

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

July 29

Lining in black coat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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