All posts for the month December | 1940 |

Dec 29 [1940].
The Click of the Garden Gate.

I hear the click of the garden gate,
But it is not he.
He comes no more either early or late,
To his dinner or tea.
He is far away in an Air Force Camp,
Learning to fight.
(I wonder if his blankets are damp,
And if he sleeps well at night.)

Not twenty years when went away.
Just a boy.
He may never again come back to stay,
To delight and annoy.
Will what he has gained balance what he has lost?
He will change.
Will his growth to manhood improve him most?
Or make him change?

I open the casement into his room,
So tidy and neat.
And the sun shines in and chases the gloom,
And the wind blows sweet.
Ready for him when, early or late,
He comes back home to the sea.
I hear the click of the garden gate,
But it is not he.
(Perhaps it is Rene coming to tea!)

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

Sun Dec 29 9.15 am. [1940]

The last Sunday of 1940. Father has just gone to take the preachers. I shall be glad of the 50S/0 for the two last journeys. Mrs Lee has not sent her £3.0.0 yet and Mrs Denman only 30S/0D and there is a lot of expense just now with car licence due and rates and more rent. Hope the egg trade will improve now they are becoming more plentiful. It is a fine cold morning but the wind whistles like rain. Mrs Coote and Paddy came to tea yesterday, he is a bonny boy and so good, 16 months old now, he runs about and can say lots of words. She will have her hands full when number 2 arrives in March. She will be as old as I was when Jean was born or older. Frank and Mavis came after tea (Mavis had had tea with us and been home). Jessie came just as Coote’s went, to call for them on leaving the Canteen. Thought she looked tired. Frank looks thinner but better than when he was home before. He has better lodgings now and as he finds there is little or no work here I think he has made up his mind to carry on. We live in harassing times but hope to win thro’ yet. Jean coming down to be washed now so must put soft water on to heat.

Mrs Lee and Mrs Denman were the owners of properties, on the other side of the village, where the garden or lawn had been maintained by Will.
Paddy was Mrs Coote’s young son.
The Canteen was run by the WVS (Women’s Voluntary Service).

3.0 PM
Jean has gone to Chapel, it rained fast this morning so she did not go to hear Mr A. Think Rene must have gone this afternoon as she has not come home. Wind is west so room is warm to-day. The sun shone a little while at dinner-time. Hope Rene comes, there is a letter for her from Ron post-mark 26th so we are anxious to know what he says. Thought if Jean took it to Chapel Rene would come home. Father bought another pig yesterday, the little one killed and buried, for £1.5. Says it is a very good one. The Steward let him choose it as the other one did so badly. The soldiers next door are a quiet lot this time and have not been for anything so far. Jean and I had cold beef with hot potatoes as Father was out. Jean said it was what she called a Monday dinner. I had soup too and she had sago pudding. We had grapefruit squash instead of tea (I warmed mine). Begin to feel cup-o-teaish and sleepy now.

Mr A, Rene’s employer, was a Methodist ‘local preacher’.
‘The Steward’ may have referred to an official of the ‘Pig Club’.

May’s next poem had the same date as the above Diary entry, 29th December 1940. It was an expression of her disappointment that Ron had been unable to join the family at home for Christmas. The Click of the Garden Gate has been added to the poems collection on this site. It also appears in the book The Casualties Were Small and is featured on the website Poetry of the Second World War.

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

Xmas 1940 Dec 26 Thur.

Our Xmas Day started early. Father was on duty at the watch-box until 2. o’ clock am, so our Happy Xmas’s were said about 2.15 am. I went to sleep after in spite of a stye forming on my left eyelid. Jean woke up about 6.30. She had insisted on her presents being taken upstairs to look at in bed. It was the first time she had not hung up her “stocking” but she could not wait to see them at breakfast. Emmie’s and Harriet’s parcels were sealed up. Emmie’s were 6 linen (emb[roidered] Irish) handkerchiefs and Harriet’s two hank’s with coloured borders and chocs. After going thro’ them all. Stockings and a Collin’s diary from me, a Wards Pleasure Book for Girls from Rene, and a bag of sultanas and pea-nuts which I slipped in at the last minute (lucky I did as she said she knew I should put those in), she would go down for Father’s present from Rene and I, a cherry-wood tray with cig. bowl and ash tray, and her own which was a leather case with pipe-cleaner etc in for wa[ist]-coat pocket. Father admired them and went off to sleep again. I got up ¼ to 8 and Jean was indulged with light and read in her new book. Lit stove for kettle then kitchen fire and cleared up cinders in room and kitchen. Then made a cup of tea and fomented my bad eye with boracic lint for some time. It was very painful all day, not breaking until after dinner to-day (Box. Day). Got breakfast ready, we had a Pork Pie from Mrs French, and did some tidying round, then as the others were still in bed, I had mine. Very good too, Well’s make, almost like home made. After the others had breakfast (Jean and Father) I got chicken in oven, it was already stuffed, it cost 8/0 alive from J. Jacksons and was not extra fat, weighing only 3½ lbs when ready for oven. Still with brussel sprouts from the garden, pots. bread-sauce and bacon, sausage and gravy it was very good. Then we had Xmas pudding and cust. sauce (Birds). Mr A and Rene came to dinner, he brought a bottle of grapefruit squash it very refreshing amongst all the sweet things. We had a cup of tea after. Then at 2 Father had to go on watch. Jean went to Harriet with Rene’s little gifts for Ivy and Eva. Eva and Grace came in the morning with presents to Rene, also to get out of the way as they were busy at home. I was busy too. Rene and I washed up and Mr A rested then took Billy home and shut Susan the rabbit up. Rene made a trifle for supper, sponge cake with rasp jelly, egg custard poured over and orange jelly decorations, not elaborate but it was very nice. We asked Harriet’s girls in but they did not turn up. It is not very tempting visiting in the black-out. Ken came while we were having dinner and brought me a large tin of Pears and ¼ tea from Grandma. We did not want much tea as we were having supper at 8 when Father came back. Played games after tea and had quite a pleasant evening, I standing in no awe of Mr A. I wondered if we should have a few of those awful pauses when everyone dries up and doesn’t know how to get going again, (I might have known Jean wouldn’t dry up) but we all got along very nicely and it was much nicer for all of us to be together. We had a little music at intervals. Thro’ the day I missed Ron very badly and in spite of our fun and quiet happiness it was a hard day for me. I expect he was in all our thoughts most of the time. Jean decorated his photo frame with laurel. Mr A and Rene stayed the night, he in Ron’s bed and Rene with Jean, who says Rene still gets all the bed except the corner between her knees and chin and Jean curls up there. No carol-singers, no lights in the black-out no Xmas bells and, thank God no bombs. We have so much to be thankful for this Christmas. What of the next?

Warne’s (not Wards, as written) was the publisher of ‘The Pleasure Book for Girls’.
Mr Wells had a butcher’s shop in the village.
Ivy and Eva, sisters of Grace and Annie, were two more of Harriet’s daughters.
Susan was a pet rabbit but most domestic rabbits were eventually used for the table.
‘Grandma’, as previously noted, always meant Will’s mother. Her grandson Ken Raynor and his parents lived in the same household at that time.

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

Sat 10.30 PM Dec 21 [1940]

The shortest day I think, but not so dark as some. We have had a strong East Wind and a lot of sun, but very cold. Both the fires inclined to smoke into the rooms sooner than go up the chimneys. The room was the worst, it would be as I washed paints, pictures and furniture yesterday. It is time Jean and I went to bed but planes keep coming over and Father is at the C.G. Box so am staying up a bit longer. Jean is asleep on the couch. Had a letter and a Xmas card from Ron, there is one for Rene too. Jean has had hers. It is a lovely card. I wonder if he has got to Melksham. I so wish we could get a card and letter there for Xmas Day. He went to Yeadon on Sunday for a few hours and had eggs for tea! The first since he left home, the wholesale price is 3S/2½D doz. Have sent Lees 2 chickens £1. We are having one too as I think it will come no dearer than beef for us. Ours cost 8/0 alive. All from J. Jacksons. Eff is dressing it for me. Mrs French gave Father a Pork Pie yesterday. Made an apple pie for the R.A. next door yesterday, am making 2 bl[anc]manges to-morrow for tea. The boy who is cooking now says it is his first Xmas from home. They expect to go back to H.Q. at Trusthorpe on Monday. Invasion seems to be in the news again now. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitler walked in on Italy and took possession. Perhaps they will wake up. We seem to be doing well in Egypt and the Greeks in Albania. Lord Halifax going to America as Envoy. Liverpool badly raided last night.

‘The room’ here meant the living room/sitting room regarded as ‘best’, so not used every day.
RAF Melksham, Wiltshire, was a centre for technical training, to which Ron was posted after his induction training.
Yeadon, near Leeds, was where Ron’s girlfriend Emmie lived with her parents.
Mrs French was a well-heeled lady who lived in a bungalow near the village centre.
RA – Royal Artillery – (and other) soldiers were billeted in nearby requisitioned houses in Anderby Road.
Italy, under Benito Mussolini, had declared war on Britain and France on 10th June 1940 but soon appeared heavily reliant on Germany for support, which included basing Luftwaffe bomber units in Sicily and Southern Italy in December 1940.
Italy had invaded Egypt, across the border from the then-Italian colony of Libya, in September 1940, but the Allied Western Desert Force under General Wavell had driven the Italians back into North Africa by 20th December.
Albania, a neighbour of Greece, had been occupied by the Italians in 1939. In October 1940 an attempted Italian invasion of Greece was repelled by the Greek Army which went on to occupy about a quarter of Albania by mid-December.
Lord Halifax had been Foreign Secretary under Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and had continued when Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940. In December Halifax was appointed British Ambassador to the United States.

I did not go to the Fello. Social on Friday as it was rough and cold. Jean and Rene went. Rene hasn’t been home to-day. Mavis says Frank coming home Tue. Not at all well. Jessie doubts if he will be able to go back to Gainsboro’. Went to Alford Tue with Mr Ailsby as Father was on watch. Had my hand put right again. It is very weak. Jean took Harriet’s hat home to-day, which Rene borrowed for [Mrs A's] funeral and said they were not going to put up any decorations. Jean wants to put ours up so shall let her. Emmie has sent me such a nice bed-jacket which she has knitted, pale green. There is a flat parcel for Jean but all sealed up with labels saying not to be opened until Dec. 25. (Bother these planes I wish they would stop coming. I think they must, a lot of them, be coming in. I wonder where they are bound for?) Jean broke up Tue until Jan. 9th. Her report shows great improvement. I am pleased as she worked hard, is now 10th instead of 17th in class, Mavis had good report too. Have bought a pair of steps from Frank (7/6) in case of incen[diary] bombs in false roof, but they are worth the money for other things. Well I think we’ll go to bed, planes or no. It is 11 o’ clock and I am tired.

Mavis, niece, a little younger than Jean, was the daughter of May’s brother Frank and his wife Jessie.
Harold Ailsby, a builder and farm-owner, had a car available for private hire.

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

8.30 am Mon. 16 Dec [1940]

Planes keep going over, there were a lot over last night when we were in bed so perhaps they may be ours coming home. It is not so misty this morning. Yesterday was very foggy so I did not get to Chapel. Will was out with preachers but got home about 4.30. He has just gone to the box and Jean started off in the twilight for school. They break up Wed so when they go back again the mornings will soon be lighter. We shall get some long cold evenings too. I think Mrs Hipkin’s idea of going back to old time after Xmas until Spring a very good suggestion. Do hope there is a letter from Ron, it is a queer feeling not to know where he is, but we may have to get used to it. Don Raynor is on draft leave with white suits so they presume he is going to Egypt. Raymond is at home and I think Keith. Ralph [Faulkner] has got home on leave at last, he had a very bad time over his vaccination. Ena? having got engaged he was walking Aileen out.

Methodist ‘local preachers’ were lay preachers in the local ‘Circuit’. Will provided a regular Sunday ‘taxi’ service.
Mrs Hipkin was Jean’s piano teacher, who lived at ‘Sherwood House’ in the village.
Don Raynor was the son of a local garage owner.
Raymond and Keith were sons of Will’s brother Charles who lived at ‘Field House’ in the village.
Ralph Faulkner was a friend of Ron, of similar age, living in the village.
Ena and Aileen were two sisters whose family lived near the village centre.

Mr Virgin wants Ron’s address as the Brit. Legion are sending parcels. Think the W.V.S. send socks. I must make him a cake to-day as we want to send a little parcel from home. Heard from Mrs Lees, they want chickens for Xmas. Can get 2 from Mrs Jackson, don’t know price yet. Don’t know what we shall have yet. Put guiders wrong in my hand again, shall have to get to Alford tomorrow to get them put right. Father won’t be going this week. They are rather painful when I have been working, and knitting and sewing are difficult. Rene only home a few minutes Sat and Sunday. Mr A not well again. Rene is a bit fed up but will not realise that she is completely run down and that makes everything a trouble. She will not get home to-day as he is not going to business. Cooked a rice pudding for soldiers yesterday and instructed one of them how to make white sauce. The sergeant brought me a lot of porridge oats and cauliflowers (lovely ones) and turnips, said they had got them round their necks. He is a very austere looking man, a thorough Soldier. The drains have been attended to and are much better. They have dug the flower plots both back and front of the house and look very neat. Think they have dug up or in all the flowers. Billy Lees is in Canada so they are not so worried about him. Wrote to Edie and Aunt J[et] last night. Edie sent usual 2/6 and 5/0, they expect to be at Harrogate for duration. It is a reception area and she says there are thousands of extra people there. Had a card from Mason’s so they are alright, same address. The wind seems to be getting up a bit so hope it blows the fog away. Think I must wash a few clothes as I can’t tomorrow or Wed, I expect my hand will be painful. Re said she would wash some but can’t depend on that if Mr A is at home. Must get the black-out down and start work. Will’s club draw was 16/1. Sent Mrs F[letcher] £2 rent.

Frank Virgin was the regular postman, living in nearby Hogsthorpe at that time.
WVS, the Women’s Voluntary Service, had been founded in 1938, in anticipation of the possibility of a war. Temporary refreshment and basic shopping facilities were provided by them for servicemen and others in need.
Mr and Mrs Lees, former holiday visitors from West Bridgeford, Nottingham, had employed Rene as a nanny in her teens.
Mrs Jackson here, who kept chickens, was the wife of Joe Jackson, Ron’s former employer.
‘Guiders’ here apparently referred to ligaments in the hand.
Alford, a nearby inland town, smaller than Skegness, was convenient for shops and services, including the bone-setter. The family frequently visited on Tuesdays, Market Day.
Mr A worked for accountants, Mountain & Jessop, in Skegness.
Billy Lees was the son of Mr and Mrs Lees of West Bridgeford.
Edie was May’s stepmother, who had married May’s father after the death of his first wife.
May’s Aunt Jet (Jedidah) and Uncle Tom were living with May’s cousin Amy, in Trusthorpe.
Harrogate was an official reception area for evacuees from ‘at-risk’ areas, including a group of senior Post Office officials.
The Club probably here referred to the local ‘Pig Club’ whose membership subscriptions contributed to insurance to cover the loss of a pig. Will was the treasurer. Another local savings/insurance scheme, the ‘Sick and Dividing Club’, helped with necessities for those sick or off work. At the end of a year surplus funds in either club would be divided amongst members. (See ‘A Yellowbelly Childhood’, Frank Forster, Seacroft Press, 2007, p74.)
Mrs Fletcher owned ‘Lenton Lodge’ which Will and May rented.

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

Wed Dec 11 9.30 am [1940]

Have finished “Account Rendered”. Am rather disappointed in it. Why do so many books begin so well and then peter off into weak improbabilities at the end.
Yesterday was a little milder in the morning but very damp. A bit of breeze got up later so the clothes got nearly dry. Rene washed hers but did not put them out. She washed a few hankies for the next door soldiers. They are not snowy now but are at least clean and decent. I am going to iron them and give them back. The cook is either a ‘foreigner’ or very grimy, we haven’t decided yet. He is a sullen looking fellow. [Aside: Later: Only grimy after all.]


Ron’s (and the others too) washing did not get sent to the laundry last week so they were having to wash their own, I expect that was why Rene asked these if she could do any. We pictured poor old Ron washing shirt and pants and drying them. I hope he gets them aired well, I doubt they would not get ironed and he doesn’t like the way the laundry gets them up, so he won’t be very pleased with rough dry ones I know. Rene probably won’t be here to-day as she is having the ends of her hair permed. Jean says Auntie Jess[ie] had hers done yesterday. Frank has not gone back yet, he was not well enough. Several letters received from boys who had received their parcels were read at the Fellowship yesterday. Bill Smith’s was a very nice letter, also John Kirk’s, but they were all very grateful letters. Rene and I went, it was nice to go again but the long walk tries me a good deal. The Vicar gave a very nice talk. He has some queer ways but I believe he is a very good man. His daughter is a bonny girl, she had a pair of cycling stockings on and weird boots like men’s. Evidently her knees were cold, she kept pulling her brief skirt down to meet her socks. In the tea interval she and Annie who is still a kid were kicking a matchbox over from so many paces off to warm themselves. Annie succeeded with her size 3 foot and I heard her telling Edith Bell she shouldn’t have such great feet. So we stand on no ceremony with each other tho’ we do not usually play at the meetings. There is a social on Friday week. Father is at the box 8 am to 2 pm for a week now with Andrews. We shall get his extra pay either next week or the week after, don’t quite know which as they are always behind hand with it.

Jean’s Aunt Jessie was the wife of May’s brother, Frank.
Bill Smith was the husband of one of Will’s nieces.
John Kirk, who was in the Army, was a brother of Phoebe.
Reverend Vernon Bell was the vicar of St Leonard’s Church (Church of England) in the village.
Edith was the daughter of Vernon Bell.
Annie, sister of Grace, was one of Will’s nieces.
Mr Andrews was the senior coastguard at that time, living in a coastguard house.

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

Mon Dec. 9. 9 pm [1940]

Wrote to [cousin] Amy and [sister] Emily last night and Ron too. Emily wanted a recipe for suet mincemeat. I wish they had been having a pig, not for mincemeat alone. I am pleased we got one, it is not very big but if all goes well it will be a help. The last little one we bought will probably have to be killed, it has done no good up to now, very vexing.

Amy was May’s cousin, married to farmer Fred Smith, living in Trusthorpe.
Will and May would not have been allowed to keep a pig at their rented home, so kept theirs at Grandma’s.

Had 2 letters from Ron to-day, one with his photos posted 6th and one 7th so they came quickly. He had received “Fellowship” parcel, also the one Rene and I sent. We have sent him handkerchiefs to-day, he says he thinks he has had more letters and parcels than anyone in his hut. The photos, one for Jean and Rene and one for Father and I, are very good. He looks rather grave but they are very clear and just like him. He expects to be moved on Friday, he will be very pleased to start learning his trade. Says his cold is much better. Rene and Mr A came after tea last night for a while, Rene’s cold not better yet. She came for dinner to-day, I did most of my washing, but we did not start of hers it was so dull and damp, the rain held off until about 5 o’clock. I haven’t been out since so don’t know if it still rains. Father is at the He came off at 8 am and then had to go at 10.45 am as the D.O. [District Officer?] was coming to question them, he kept them until 1 o’clock. Father is on 8 am to 2 pm from Wed, don’t know when they put the extra 6 hours in that week. His cold getting better now. Jean has pulled up well in term work, from 21st to 6th in form. I hope she gets a good percentage of marks in exams but in one or two subjects (art for one) she is very poor and that pulls the perc. down. However she has worked well at home this term and I think tried very hard, so that is all that is expected. Her good conduct marks are invariably good I am pleased to say.

[Will’s sister] Eff called this afternoon, she had heard from Ron, at least Ken had, K. wrote a letter to put in the Fell. box. Think Ron will soon get writer’s cramp, he had written to Amy and the Burkitts too. Frank [brother] called this morning, he is much thinner and pretty fed up with being away from home, he has a poor lodge and the oil gets on his stomach. This rotten war upsets so many things. I am so pleased to hear from Mrs. Coote that the Craigs are safe. Their home is in Coventry, I wrote, their home, alas! all that is left of it is the staircase. However they are all 3 safe. I wonder if the Masons are. My heart gave a queer flutter then, it has done several times lately, perhaps it is an aftermath of my cold. It will soon be 10 o’clock, everything seems very quiet, think we shall soon go to bed. It has been a bit milder to-day but so damp and dull. We are glad of the extra daylight at night but it is dark indoors in the morning until 9 o’clock or after. However it is only 2 weeks to Xmas and after that the days soon seem to lengthen and things seem to dry up quicker then. My anemones are coming up so I am looking forward to some early blooms next year. I have a carnation plant indoors with 8 blooms and 3 buds a lovely pink.

Eff (Ethel), one of Will’s younger sisters, was married to builder Frank Raynor. Ken, here, was their younger son.
Mr and Mrs Burkitt were an elderly couple who lived on Sea Road in the village.
Frank Coote, a builder, and wife Pattie, lived in the larger part of their ‘South Road Farmhouse’ at one end of which was ‘Sunny Side’, the part which May and Will had earlier rented.
The Craig family, who lived in Coventry, had become friends of the Coote family when staying with them as holidaymakers.
‘The Masons’ here probably referred to a family of past holidaymakers (although a Mrs Mason and companion lived in the village).

I am reading E.F. Benson’s book “Account Rendered” (very good too) and was struck by these words
“She weighed the silver of speech against the gold of silence, and made an alloy of them. She said only a very few words.” Also
“We all think we can choose when a choice comes, but our choice is really made not at the moment, but by our life hitherto. You choose according to that which you have chosen a hundred times before. Your destiny is not that which you will do, but that which you have done. Your future lies behind you in the past.”
This is true I believe to some extent but I also believe it possible that we may “rise on our dead selves to nobler things” and from our past mistakes, if we are willing to face and acknowledge them, we may build a better future.

Edward Frederick Benson (1867-1940) was a prolific writer of serious and humorous fiction, biographies and other works. He became mayor of Rye, Sussex, a town on which one of his works of fiction was based, in 1934. (See website

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

Dec 6. 40.
Peace for Children – A Prayer.

The boys and girls of England,
They bear the yoke of war.
They hear the noise of guns and bombs,
And a throbbing from afar,
That tells of planes now coming near,
To drop destruction death, and pain,
Of wounds and deathly, racking, awful fear.
These little ones who should be safe
And warm within their sheltered homes,
Now cower in shelters cold and damp,
In peril of life and home and health,
And evil done to them by stealth.
Lord out of all Thy stores of wealth,
Grant us Thy aid to win this war,
That in a new and better age,
Thy little ones shall dwell in Peace.
Thou saidst “Whoe’er offended these,
T’were better that a millstone hung about his neck,
And he were cast into the sea.”
Lord cast him out into the depths, without Thy aid.
Thy older children are afraid.

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

Fri Dec. 6 9 P.M. [1940]

It is nearly news-time, I must put the wireless on in a few minutes. Father is at the box. His wages are raised from Tue. 3rd Dec. £3 per week and 5/0 bonus instead of £2.12.6. a good raise but they have to put 48 hours a week in to get the £3. He was on from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. then went to Grimsby. Arrived home about 6 p.m. and now is on the box from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. so will be pretty tired. He is just beginning to feel better from his cold. Mr A and Rene came for tea on Sunday, also [dog] Bill. Father was on box. Mr A likes to play the piano and have us all singing. He plays by ear and his singing is rather croaky. Jean and Rene had colds and my voice is seldom up to singing pitch, my throat does not sing the notes I intend it to, so if anyone had been listening it must have been a painful pleasure.

Will’s trips to Grimsby regularly took place on Friday (Market Day), taking the produce (eggs, butter, etc.) collected for ‘Grandma’s business’, usually on the previous day. (‘Grandma’ in May’s Diaries always meant Will’s mother.)
Bill was Mr A’s dog, which often accompanied Rene.


Wrote to Ron on Sunday morning and Jean posted it. [Aside: He received it Tue. he says in to-day’s letter.] She went to Chapel in the afternoon. I did not go as it was inclined to be foggy. I sent a cake to the “Fellowship”, I did not go as Jean was at home with cold and a bad foot, it started with blister at base of little toe. She pricked it as it looked like bursting and it went septic and tho’ we keep it covered with lint is not better yet, there is quite a little hole and it looks very fiery round it to-night. She has been at home again to-day. It blew a gale this morning, I would not let her venture on her cycle to catch the 8.20 bus’ and it was too far to walk in the dusk and squalls. The Station Officer was blown off his cycle in a squall, coming to the Watch box this afternoon and Father saw a waggon load of straw which had been blown completely over, when he was coming from Grimsby. I must tell him there is a slate just inside Corbie fence, don’t know which house it has come off.

Chapel here was the Methodist Chapel near Grandma’s house. Care is needed throughout the Diaries to distinguish this from Chapel (St Leonards), the village.
The bus here was the regular morning bus which Jean caught for Skegness, for school.
The Station Officer for the Coastguards was probably Skegness based, not one of the village-based men or he would have been named.
‘Corbie’, owned by Mrs Leivers of Nottingham, was the next-door billet house, between ‘Lenton Lodge’ and ‘Red Tiles’.


Mrs. Lamb was taken to Louth Hospital on Sunday and we were shocked to hear yesterday that she had passed away. She was only between 50 and 60 and had been married to Mr Lamb about 18 months. Think he is nearly 70 so it will be another upheaval for him, poor man, after settling down very comfortably on his retirement. Mrs Giles died the day after Mrs. A so with Mrs Plant that is 4 gone very quickly.

Mrs Lamb had earlier run her own shop, which had become Jim Hall’s shop.
The County Hospital at the market-town of Louth was the nearest fully-equipped hospital.
Mr and Mrs Giles, an elderly couple, lived in a small cottage in the village.
Mrs Plant, a widow and former local midwife, was the grandmother of Mary, one of Jean’s friends.


Bombs were dropped at Theddlethorpe on Wed. night chiefly in the sea and on the beach but they shook us a lot. Incendiaries were dropped at Louth last night causing a fire which was still burning when Father came home to-night. I think it was chiefly grain. Phoebe came tonight to see if Father could take some of them to Skegness to shop Sat. morning. It’s alright taking them, but don’t know if they will be in any hurry about paying. Canned fruit is not to be imported, nor fresh fruit except oranges. It has risen in price in consequence. Well, I expect we must go without them, they are not necessities. I have one or two tins so must save them for great occasions. [Aside: Peaches 1/4 from 9D pre-war.]

Theddlethorpe, near Louth was a practice bombing range for the RAF as well as apparently being an enemy target.
Phoebe was a daughter of Joe Kirk, a farmer and coastguard, whose ‘Point Farm’ was situated just beyond a field behind ‘Lenton Lodge’.


Jim Coupland has to go next Thurs. Came round to-day for the last time. F Blakey is going too. [Brother] Frank is coming home for week-end, is not very settled at Gainsboro’ and does not care much for new trade. 51 is too old to start learning new trades, I think, and then having to go in lodgings after 20 and more years of home, does not go down very well. Father thinks he will probably give it up. Rene brought rags for gunners at “Corbie” to-day. They are always wanting rags to clean the guns, she said they nearly fell on her neck. I must find some more. Not that I would want them to fall on my neck. Had a letter from [sister] Emily this week, they want to remove further from Manby as soon as they can. The planes are continually over them and the Gers too go that way a lot, no doubt after the aerodrome as well as Louth.

Jim Coupland was a delivery driver for Jack Taylor’s butchery.
‘Go’ here, and in many other instances in the Diaries, meant ‘join up for military service’.
Fred Blakey was a decorator who lived nearby.
Frank Simpson was May’s brother. His usual work was as a carpenter, joiner and cabinet maker, using his own home workshop. He was asked to undertake war work in the engineering works of Rose Brothers in Gainsborough, north-west of Lincoln.
‘Gunners’ probably referred to soldiers of the Royal Artillery.
Emily Lewis, May’s sister, was married to a farm worker. Their home, at that time, close to RAF Manby, near Louth, would have been in an obvious enemy target area.


Rene came home in the gale to-day. We hardly expected her. Think it has died down a lot now, but tho’ it was a W. Wind it did not go to bed with the sun. It came in squalls and gusts all day. I can hear it again now, hope it doesn’t start again as I want to go to bed and I feel almost more nervous in a gale than when I hear distant bombs. Jean is asleep on the couch, it seems a pity to have to wake her again but she is too nervous to go to bed before we do. She is undressed and rests well so I don’t think it will do her as much harm as forcing her to go upstairs alone. Poor town children, I feel so sorry for them, more than sorry, it is most distressing to think of them. For their sake I pray the war will come to a speedy end.

May’s earliest dated poem carried the date of 6th December 1940 and took up the theme of her concern for children and her prayer for an end to the war: Peace for Children – A Prayer This poem begins the collection which will be added to each time a poem appears in relation to a diary entry.

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