All posts for the month November | 1942 |

Nov. 30. 9.30. p.m. Mon [1942]

Cpl. [corporal] returned last Mon. under arrest as he had been away over 3 weeks and classed as deserter. Father not got cycle yet. Cpl lost the ticket for it. It is at Sk[egness] station. Cpt [Captain] Liddwell keeps promising to get it. Father getting out of patience as he cannot get it. Police say they can’t as it was not stolen.

We had letters from Ron until Sat. Nov. 14th, the last one written on 12th and postmarked Leeds. Emmie had one same day and same postmark. It would be tantalising for him if he passed through Leeds so near to Yeadon. It is so terribly hard to be out of touch with him, but can’t expect a letter yet. I am trying not to listen for postman until Xmas and even then we may not hear. Father thought perhaps he had not gone right away at first, but I seemed to know he had slipped from our grasp as those elvers slipped thro’ my fingers years ago. Well we must keep our courage up and hope he will return some day.

We have driven Rommel out of Egypt thro’ Libya and shall soon be joining General Alexander’s Amer[ican] Army in Tunisia if all is well, in the attempt to drive Ger. out and so free the Med. The French Fleet scuttled itself sooner than fall into Ger. hands at Toulon. Ger. occupies all France now. Russians have trapped a lot of Gers round Stal[ingrad] and are doing well. We have been dropping 8000 lb. bombs on Italian towns. It is wicked which-ever side it is on. Oh Freedom what awful deeds are done in thy name! Roy has got his L.A.C. [Leading Aircraftman]. Bill Hallgarth is home on leave again from Ireland. Robinson’s had a letter from Malcolm this week and his address in Iraq.

On the 17th our pig had to go be slaughtered. It had purples. It is very disappointing. It weighed 20 st. and would have been so useful at Xmas. Don’t know what we shall get for it yet. Have got another for £9, a gilt that has had one litter. Supposed to make best bacon. We have also got a young one and Eff has too. She is having the big one killed in a few days. Harriet came today and brought Rene a very nice tablecloth and she brought me a 7 lb jar of home rendered lard. Said she was so sorry about the pig. Jean said “Didn’t I throw my arms round her and give her a kiss.” I felt like it but she would probably have collapsed! But I think it was exceedingly kind of her. Walter and Eva have been home, W. on embarkation leave. Poor Eva, they have not been married a year. Jean’s blouse which she made partly at school turned out very nicely, she proved very handy at it tho’ not fond of needlework, especially mending. She had a nasty bilious attack on Sat. but feeling better today and has been to school. Father was on patrol last week and got a codling. It was fresh and good, a great treat. Tom [Rene’s husband] got one on Friday, a bit larger. Rene brought us 2 steaks. It was excellent too. Fresh fish is a luxury.

Shall have to go to bed soon it is 9.45. Father is on watch until 2 a.m. Jean is putting her hair in rags after washing it. I am going to have a cup of Horlicks. Hope it sends me to sleep, my asthma is rather troublesome and I have slept badly. I have to put thoughts of Ron too, away very resolutely. I must not worry about him. Emmie wrote again last week, very cheerfully but she had not been very well. Expect she would be very upset by his going. She sent me some tablets which Mrs Pearson (Jeff’s mother) had told her cured asthma. I was a little disappointed but not surprised to find they were Anestans. They do ease me but have had them before and was not cured. Still as I said to Rene, if they, doctors, don’t cure Mr Churchill it is hardly likely they will me. He is able to afford the best advice and medicines. At the moment I am taking Dr M’s medicine which relieves me as well as any. He always said that he could not promise to cure me, tho’ I might get better of it. Nearly 12 years since it started. I think it’s chronic now but must try to overset it if I can. Rene and Tom brought down kapok down that Father found on beach. They have a lot too. I must make an effort to get a quilt made.


Captain Lidwell was probably an officer of locally billeted soldiers.

Note the reference to slippery elvers (young eels) – see May Hill’s ‘Reflection’ on her childhood experience.

The defeat, in November 1942, of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel’s forces by the British 8th Army, under General Montgomery, in the Second Battle of El Alamein, was decisive in turning the tide of the war in North Africa.

Sir Harold RLG Alexander was a British General whose command included an American Army.

The potentially fatal pig disease swine erysipelas was known as ‘purples’ owing to the characteristic diamond-shaped skin lesions.

Rags were used for hair-curling: Curlers were in short supply.

Mrs Pearson, mother of Ron’s RAF friend, Jeff (see 25 Jan. 1942), lived in Gainsborough.

‘Anestan’ – a brand-name drug containing ephedrine.

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

Wed. Nov. 11. 8.30. a.m. [1942]

Armistice Day. I remember the first one 24 years ago. A grey day like this is starting, but thick fog too most of the day. Father was on a farm at Sibsey and Rene and I at Sibsey N. at Grandma Thorpe’s. We had eggs for tea to celebrate. I remember they were small pullet eggs very dear but fresh. Can’t buy them in the shops lately. They are reserved for invalids and expectant mothers, and Eff’s hens are not laying just now. I have had a few potted ones tho’, and the dried eggs are very useful. Father had had a hard day thrashing at the farm he was on as the men were all wild to get to Boston to celebrate and the farmer would not stop thrashing. I remember we were not wildly elated, but dimly as thro’ the mist we saw the end approach.

May and Will with Rene as a young schoolgirl

May and Will with Rene as a young schoolgirl c.1920

Yesterday, Nov. 10 was a grey day. The weather was grey and we had a letter from Ron with just an address to write to at the A.P.O. [Army Post Office]. No name of place. He said we had better start to use it at once but I sent yesterday’s letter to Pet[erborough] with instructions to forward it if he had gone. He will like to have it if he hasn’t. We thought Emmie might have been able to tell us something after he had been there as he could not, but she has not written so perhaps only knows what we do. I wish I had gone, but I was afraid I might be ill there and be a nuisance. Ron writes cheerfully almost as if it was a relief to know definitely that he was going, so we must keep our chins up too. But at times I feel as if I must see him just once more before he goes. It is just 2 years since he first went in the R.A.F. Nov.12. We ought not to grumble, a lot of the boys have to go sooner than that. But it is so hard to think that he will never come smiling up saying “How are you Mother?” perhaps for years and it may be never. God comfort us all, boys and those left behind. Jean has not said much but know she is feeling it as much as any of us. I wonder how Emmie is, we must one of us write. I have written to him again. Shall post it when I see if we hear from him to-day, he will write when he can.

Rose died on Nov. 2nd Mon. She was buried last Friday. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were a lot of people there. Jack did not come and the others just went off and never invited anyone for tea. They, at least Percy, did ask Father as he was driving them, but he did not stay. I waited at Grandma’s until he came to take us home. Rene and I went to funeral and Jean stayed with Grandma. She was away from school with a cold and a gumboil. She is better this week. There were lovely chrysanths at the funeral. I have never seen so many colours and varieties and sizes. Ours were yellow and a kind of dusty pink, just a spray. Ciss was not present. She went to the Louth infirmary on the 4th. I wrote to her on the Friday night as I thought she would like to know who was there. I missed Miss Lister, knowing she would be certain to be there if able, but Tony had been taken to Alford Hospital with appendicitis turning to peritonitis. He is slightly improved but still has to have operation for appendix.

Well, it is very dull but must put off the light. We have to be careful. Dinah Kirk pulled a tea-pot of hot tea over on herself on Monday night and was scalded. She was a little easier last night. They think she either overbalanced or fainted as she was sitting on the edge of table while Phoebe and Miss Mudd were having supper. Her mother and father had to be fetched from the usual place. Father’s cycle still missing. He lent it to a young cpl. [corporal] last Sat week Oct 31st for him to go to Sk[egness] on a day pass. He said he was returning Sun. morning but neither he nor the cycle has returned.


Most of the first paragraph is a recollection of Armistice Day in 1918 when Rene was 5 years old and the family lived at ‘Rosedale’ near the Chapel (see Village Map). Rene is perhaps a little older in the photograph probably taken around 1920.

Sibsey, near Boston, is marked on the East Lincolnshire Map.

Grandma Thorpe is believed to have been May’s mother’s father’s second wife.

Percy Ranson, husband of Rose Hill’s daughter Ciss was meant here (see 22 Mar. 1942).

Tony Lister, from London, was staying with his aunt, Miss Lister (see 27 Jan. 1942).

It is thought that Dinah Kirk’s (see 19 Jan. 1942) scalding incident arose from, or triggered, the first of the epileptic fits from which she suffered.

Miss Mudd was a visiting family-friend who had previously stayed as a holidaymaker. The ‘usual place’ was the ‘Vine Hotel’ (see 5 Nov. 1941), regularly frequented by Dinah’s father, occasionally accompanied by her mother.

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

Nov. 1st. Sun. 10.15. p.m. [1942]

Have been to bed and just got up again. Wish I were not so nervous. Had just settled down to go to sleep when I heard heavy gun-fire in the distance and got up. Jean was asleep and was cross at being awakened, she is not nervous now I am pleased to say. She has not dressed, but curled up on couch and gone to sleep. I have dressed as otherwise I feel so cold. It pours with rain, fire was nearly out but is beginning to flicker again so hope it burns up. Perhaps I ought not to have mended it, but I feel so shivery and may want a cup of tea before going back to bed, tho’ tea like coal is not too plentiful, in fact if it were not Father’s week for tea and sug[ar] ration for W.Bx I should be on the rocks before next month’s rationing came in. In any case shall have to be careful. We are heavy tea drinkers. Must start to give Jean more cocoa this cold weather but she does not take sugar with tea and will want sweeteners in cocoa. I get sweetened milk for Father’s porridge, it lasts a week, perhaps Jean could use some in cocoa. Rene has cut up most of her cake and sent it out. A queer custom. Mrs Mid[dleton] has given them a pair of beautiful vases expensive too but am afraid Rene has bad taste to prefer a lovely modern jar tho’ less valuable given her by the Hillsdons.

Occasional gun-fire and continual bumping of the tide. Almost wish I had stopped in bed. Skegness had her most severe raid last Sat night Oct’. 24th about 9.45. One 2,000 lb. bomb and a lot of cases of incendiaries caused a lot of damage to property and some casualties. Only 1 civilian but Services lists are not published. There were at least 2 funerals of more than one RAF. Poor boys and poor other boys who are there for training, some young and nervous they will be afraid when the siren goes. It sounded on Sat (yesterday) morning but the “all clear” soon went. Have heard the raiders were at Canterbury again yesterday. We brought down 9 so judge there were a lot. Expect Ron has been to Yeadon Thur. to Sat. He was due back 8.a.m. today if he got off. (Fire has burned up beautifully, I ought to go to bed but will stay up a bit longer.) Don’t know if it was EMBK [embarkation] leave or not. I did not go. He does not seem able to tell us anything now in his letters and they don’t seem very cheerful to me. Perhaps he will be able to tell Emmie and she let us know. Miss West caught Jean coming out of Chapel this morning, she gave her 10/0 for Ron to buy a saucepan or something. Very nice and unexpected. I have put it in his letter.

We had half of Rene’s rabbit today. They killed one of those T[om] had from us and it was too big for them. When they want another rabbit dinner they can have one of our young ones. They are ready in about a month or 6 weeks from now. Have let Frank’s have a bag of potatoes as I think we still have as many as we shall want. 7/0 bag. Chrysanths coming on well, another week of calm unfrosty weather would see the best of them out. Those I brought in are coming out well. Have a few later ones in shed, and one that is just coming into bloom. I think it is one of my own, a pure white, but not quite sure yet. (Kettle singing and bright little fire, everything quiet, shall soon go to bed.)

Rose still lingers unless she has passed away to-day. Ciss expects to go to M. Ward this week. Percy Tyler died last week, only Flossie and her father left now. First Aid lectures started again now. Rene went Friday. Well it did not cure her last year but I am pleased she is keeping it up. They came down between showers this afternoon for the vases from Mrs M[id]. Father called for them on Fri as they were rather fragile to cycle with from Addlethorpe tho’ they [Rene and Tom] were cycling with them to-day. Hope they got home in fair weather, they intended going to chapel but don’t think they would venture as they got wet thro’ last Sun. night. Father fetched John Walker from Sk. station last night 10.15.and took him back to catch 6.44. Willoughby to-night. [Mr] Paul did 3 hours 8 to 11 for him last night. Cook (old misery) brought some liver in after dinner which I cooked for his supper. He goes without meals and gets all fussed up until he doesn’t know what he ails. Thinks he hasn’t time to get anything.


Reportedly, on October 24th 1942, a large bomb fell on Park Avenue and Scarborough Avenue and others were dropped, with 12 deaths, 61 injured, 10 houses demolished and 300 damaged. (See ‘Skegness at War’, Marjorie C Wilkinson, Cupit Press, Horncastle 2007, p 13.) However, no civilian deaths on that date were listed on the Skegness War Memorial Roll of Honour.

Miss Nellie West, a colourful local ‘character’ and accomplished singer, Mrs Hipkin’s sister, lived at ‘Little Hanby’ near the Vicarage. They were believed to have been related to Lord Addison (see 21 Jan. 1942) and may have been connected with the family previously at Wests’ farm, later Hallgarths’, opposite (see Village Map).

‘M. Ward’ refers to Louth Infirmary Maternity Ward where Ciss had a child which was stillborn.

Percy Tyler was Flossie’s elder brother. Their father was Will Tyler. The family lived in half of ‘Ashleigh Villa’ near Tylers Bridge. Flossie had attended the village school at the same time as Rene.

John Walker was probably the Royal Artillery captain (later, major) who had moved to the area earlier in the wartime.

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