All posts for the month March | 1941 |

Mar 24 Monday 9 pm [1941]

More than a fortnight since I wrote up my diary. Still no money from Vine tho’ one or two letters have passed. We are writing no more, shall leave it in other hands now. He evidently does not mean to pay. Two nights a German plane has machine gunned near the Point again. Sat 22nd at dusk was the last time, am thankful we had “blacked out”. Father was on duty, as soon as the plane passed I ran out to see if the lookout was safe. A bullet went through Andrews’, Miss Gardiner’s house was hit too, the one the troops have. Colleen Pimperton age 11 came in with Jean after Sunday School yesterday. We asked if their house was hit (just near the Point) and she said “No but the next house let to soldiers was, a bullet went through the window and on to a chair or bed.” Then she added in a cool and blasé voice “no casualties, soldiers just going on guard” as if it was all in the day’s work and she was rather bored with it. We think the same plane was brought down a little later north of us.

Miss Norah Gardiner and her sister Fanny, daughters of Professor Gardiner, lived opposite Andrews’ coastguard house in Landseer Avenue. Norah ran a private school there and two other sisters, Kate and Victoria, taught elsewhere.
Colleen Pimperton was the daughter of Wilf (see 12th Jan 1941).


Ron has been home on 7 days leave, he is at Binbrook now. He passed his test and was highly delighted. He gets 28/6 a week now and attends to the instruments of two Wellington bombers now. We got his letter Wed 12th to say he was coming on Thursday. Just 4 months after going away. What a long 4 months and a short 7 days. Emmie came on Friday. Ron is very fit and well and has changed very little except that he is livelier and more self confident I think. He has lost much of his shyness. Lovely weather all the week. It was a fortunate week for him as Ralph, Malcolm and John Kirk were all on leave. John Smith too but he was staying with Peggy at Croft and came over on the day Ron went to Trusthorpe. He had tea and stayed a while hoping to see him but they missed the 5.30 bus back and J had to be back before lighting up time. John Smith and Malcolm are still shy. John is at present blowing up orchards at Wisbech. He tells various yarns but vowed this was true. Near his camp is a “dummy ‘drome”. This is quite feasible but he declares that a Ger. bomber flew over it and dropped wooden bombs then flew off and bombed the real ‘drome with live ones! And they say Gers. have no sense of humour. He is hoping to get in the R.A.F. He is a great hefty chap 5ft 11” now.

Malcolm Robinson as well as Ralph Faulkner (see 16th Dec 1940) and John Kirk (see 11th Dec 1940) were friends of Ron, about his age.
John Smith was a village friend of Ron. Peggy was John’s sister in Croft, a nearby village. They were the elder siblings of the twin girls who lived with their mother (see 26th Jan 1941).
Ron would have been visiting ‘Crossing Farm’ at Trusthorpe to see his mother’s cousin, whom he knew as ‘Aunt Amy’, and family (see 9th Dec 1940).

Ron is still stiff and not very tall but very smart, his buttons were as smooth as glass. Emmie went home 12.20 Thurs and Father, Jean and I went in the car to take Ron to Binbrook. We went early not knowing the way, took the wrong turn twice as no signposts and houses miles apart. Still we did it in 1½ hours in spite of big hills. The ‘drome is on top of a hill about a mile out of Binbrook. On entering the village the furthest end from the camp we had to drive through a brook. It was much swollen by the rain and ran rather deeply over the road which was in a dreadful state, all granite stones and big holes. Jean said it hadn’t Bin-a-brook it was one. We left him at the entrance to ‘drome. When we set off back I felt as if I still stood beside him and watched myself and car go down the hill. But I was in the car and he was standing there alone. However he was quite cheerful and we had a letter to-day to say his room mates had made up his bed for him which he thought was very nice of them. He gave one or two of them some cakes, he took some back with him of course. He seemed to have settled down alright and is now looking forward to another leave. He hopes he will get on guard this week and get a day off after it. It was good to have him home and to find he was still the same boy as ever, not at all grown up but well able to hold his own in his new life.


Have been to Skegness today. Father took us in the car. Rene is having her teeth out. Mr M[oulton] says they must all come out. Poor Rene, I wonder if she will feel like I did when I had all mine out. I was older than her too but I nearly wept at my empty mouth and felt “the glory had departed”. Well I hope they will be as satisfactory as mine have been. I went because I had broken a front tooth off my top plate and had to leave it until Weds to get a satisfactory job made of it. 7/6 which I paid so he has teeth and money too. Let’s hope they don’t get bombed. Rene is getting hers through insurance so has to wait for papers before he starts on them. It was bitterly cold in Sk. and there were hundreds of RAF’s about.

On the 14th I stepped on to the bridge which parts the right side of 50 from the wrong side. For a year I can stay on it then the way will be down hill however gradual the slope. Had a nice letter from Edie and the usual P.O. [postal order]. They are in fresh rooms but still in Harrowgate. Got the silk for Jean’s blouse from Rene and bought enough for Rene one for her birthday.

It is 10 o’clock and as all seems quiet, think Jean and I will soon retire. Father said if we hear “wuffers” we had better stay up as it is safer downstairs. Jean’s bedroom especially seems very open to machine gun bullets. The window is so near the bed and Ron’s room is worse so it is no use putting her there. It came on to cold rain this afternoon, hope it’s fine tomorrow as I have a big wash this week. I have an anemone bud.

Mr Moulton, with practice in Skegness, the family dentist, was also a school dentist.
‘Harrowgate’ refers to Harrogate, Yorkshire, where May’s stepmother Edie was living.

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

March 8th 1941

A new book starts on March 8th 1941.

So here begins another book
A record of our hopes and fears
Perhaps in later days we’ll look
And read with laughter or with tears.

Mar 8 Saturday 9 am [1941]

A pouring wet morning, it has rained for 24 hours and more. Pete Taylor making polite conversation at the butcher’s cart remarked that it would make the fields damp. As we stood there a cheeky Jerry plane sailed impudently past as if it was lord of the air. There were a lot about yesterday. Poor Jean, they were in the shelters from ¼ to 12 until 4.10 with no dinner but a quarter round of bread and some water. A chum’s father brought some coffee, biscuits and cakes which several of them shared, Jean amongst them, which warmed them up a bit but it was damp and cold.

No bombs were dropped at Skegness but were all around, they were not very near here but the windows rattled sometimes. Father was on watch so it was rather an anxious time. He has gone to Grimsby today as he is off altogether today and as we had to pay 15/0 last week for two watches we wanted a full week this if possible. The Gby trade does not pay enough for a substitute yet.

Mrs Coote brought 6 dozen eggs yesterday, she had a bad cold otherwise looks well. Frank looks a wreck. Jean has just got up and I think the weather is brightening so must start work. We are hoping for a letter today. We want to know the result of Ron’s test and where he is posted to. Expect he will think it is a long time between my letters this time but it was no use writing until we knew if he is moved. Jean is having porridge and potatoes. She has taken a liking to porridge now Winter is about over.


On Tuesday I sent a bill to Commander Vine as he had not sent the money for car to Gby and it was about 8 weeks since he hired it. Yesterday we were astounded to receive a reply to the effect that he paid for it before leaving Father at Gby and asking if it had slipped his memory. Now if he had paid would he also have given him an IOU for the amount £3.0.0? Also I am sure that if he had paid he would not have written so suavely. I certainly did not write a suave reply but very short and to the point tho’ perfectly civil. It is a good thing we have the IOU tho’ it is only written on the back of one of Father’s cards. If the cash does not turn up in a day or two Father says he will put it in other hands if it costs him it all to get it. I can not describe the annoyed feeling it gives one to do work and then be accused of asking twice for the money. Somehow I never trusted him after he told Will not to worry if he was a few days before he sent it. Rotten blighter!

Peter Taylor was the son of Jack Taylor, the Hogsthorpe butcher (see 12th Jan 1941).

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

Mar 6 Thur 8.30 PM [1941]

Must write up my Diary. I have neglected it lately, now that it is light when Jean goes I do not often write. Father has just gone on Watch until 2 am. Jean is reading a library book but it is time she was asleep. She painted her drawing of “Crossing the Ford” this week and received 9/10 marks tho’ Auntie Jess said the horses looked like wooden ones on a round-a-bout. It looks and feels like spring now tho’ the weather is not very balmy yet. Ron sent more photos last week, very good, an enlarged one for me and a P.C. [postcard] one for the others, one for Father very pleased with his, took it with him Sunday (out with preachers). been very poorly, also Eff but both mending.

Mrs Coote came last Mon. week. She is looking very well but not too strong yet. She has crocheted me a pair of new gloves, grey decor. with yellow all round. (croc. together) and green and red decor. on back. I have not decided whether I like them or not yet but they are very fashionable just now. Mrs Stow sen. came for the grocery order yesterday, she had a little black pair done up with white. She said “Oh dear, I mustn’t leave those, they were dear little Grandma Kay’s, she had them on when she was drowned and I thought so much of her.” At first I was horrified, but afterwards I thought it was very sweet of her to overlook the fact of death and the manner of her dying that cold rough night swept down the drain to the basin, her little frail body recovered before being swept thro’ the tunnel to the sea. She only thought of the love she had for her alive and wore the gloves for remembrance.

There seems to be a tightening of food regulations all round. The W.V.S Canteen is closed from 11.30 until 6 p.m. so that the men shall eat the Army’s dinners and leave no waste. Ron says they have had strict orders about waste too. He had to go before the board for test yesterday, we are longing to know the result and where he will be going, also if he is coming on leave at last. Sent a bill to Commander Vine Tuesday, we have not had his money yet. Light went out, I had forgotten to put 1/0 in. It makes me puff too it is so high. We had pancakes last week on Shrove Tuesday but no lemons, I had one orange Mrs Coote sent me but it was a little black in the middle. Rene had Blk-berry vinegar and Father had butter and sugar with his as he had currants in. He took it up to the box as he had been to Alford and had not had time to get his dinner before 2 o’clock. After Rene went home I took his tea. Jean went to Mavis for afternoon. It was a lovely day and I went up the 69 steps to the box. Had a lovely view over the sea tho’ visibility not quite so good over the land, but could see for miles round. Was rather out of breath before I reached the bottom again but collected a few stray bits of kindling and some fresh green for the rabbits. Eva brought Michael and John Stow for a rabbit Mon. I said I couldn’t be bothered feeding them all until they grew up so she is very kindly giving them away for me. Mic said his (Mr Ailsby) had made a cage with a wire front for the rabbit. Mic told him he must put a black-out on.

I started this book Nov 27. 40. It is only a small one.

Winter’s dark days are past and spring is here.
Our hopes spring with the flowers that come to cheer.
May strength be given to wage the bitter fight,
That soon must come, a war of right
To save the little nations, from the power
Of conquering foes who try to make them cower
Beneath the heel of ruthless greed.
Help us O God to help them in their need.

Mar. 6 1941

Mrs Stow (senior) was the wife of George Stow (senior), owner of the Post Office Stores in the village centre near ‘The Pullover’ (so named because it was a ramp over which boats were pulled to access the sea beyond the main beach – see Village map).
Elderly Mrs Kaye had fallen into the open drain near her home near Cradle Bridge in darkness. This was believed to have happened in late 1939, in the early days of ‘blackout’.
The two main drains passing through Chapel St Leonards were the Orby Drain, which ran under Tylers Bridge and Cradle Bridge, near the school, and Willoughby High Drain which ran under Chapel Bridge near ‘Hill View’ and the Methodist chapel. That drain had a lock, and the two drains then merged, close to ‘Keal Cottage’ (a former home of May and Will). The merged drain ran alongside St Leonards Drive towards the ‘basin’ (a gated drainage reservoir) linked via a ‘tunnel’ to the ‘outfall’ to the sea. (See Village map.)
Commander Vine, a taxi customer, was probably based at ‘HMS Royal Arthur’.
Michael Stow was a grandson of Stores owner George Stow. Michael lived with his adopted mother or ‘Auntie’, Mrs Dandison, a boarding-house owner, who employed Eva Harness (see 26th Dec 1940) as a housekeeper at ‘Waysmeet’, near the church. (See Village map.)
John Stow, Michael’s brother, lived with grandparents Mr and Mrs Harold Ailsby.

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

Sunday Mar 2 / 41

To the Rt Hon Lord Woolton
Minister of Food

Dear Sir

You are I believe the right man in the right place, but if it were not tragic it would be funny the way you are trying to teach us how to feed our pigs and poultry on one grain a day. Surely you know what happened to the old woman’s cow when she had just got it to live on one bean a day? It died. I knew that when I was seven. Now you have the power and you have the quislings, commandeer in the name of common sense all the barley, never mind the beer and at once we can produce a tremendous amount of bacon, poultry and eggs. Now pigs don’t need the brewing sugar so let the manufacturers and the people have that. It would sweeten those bitter oranges you expect us to make into marmalade without sugar. Only a man would think of such illogical things.

Don’t wait to think of the uproar, did you trouble about the children’s sweets and the women’s chocolate? Did they make a song about it? Surely our men would not be behind us in sacrificing a little luxury. They still get their tobacco and the soldiers get an allowance to pay for it.

Strike now and save our food, release our shipping and if you are thinking of revenue, I am convinced that the saving on shipping and the lessening by at least two-thirds of road and other accidents which would be avoided both civil and military will balance this.

I am a simple country woman but this is how things appear to me. I have no patience with all this running round the question when the remedy is in our hands and you have the power. Leave the consequences to God.

Yours Faithfully
(Mrs.) May Hill

The reference to ‘quislings’ (traitors) probably refers to the internment of certain people who had been outspoken in their criticism of the declaration of war on Germany, in some cases expressing anti-Jewish sentiments.
Minister of Food, Lord Woolton, himself a Unitarian Church member, was ex-managing director of the Jewish owned firm of Lewis’s, a group of department stores in northern England and Scotland, not to be confused with the more widely known John Lewis Partnership group of stores. (See website,9171,803488-2,00.html.)
It is not known whether a copy of the letter was actually posted. No reply has been found.
May had earlier expressed her strong objection to restrictions on food for pigs, in her diary entry on 17th Feb 1941.

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