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’?
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  1. For once in my life I am speechless!!! I took delivery of your book today, of course I had to have a quick peek through it before beginning to read and digest. Being born in 1942 a lot is before my time, but many “Aunties and Uncles” are appearing , most unofficial, but non the less important, but a lump as big as a mountain came in my throat when I saw a photograph of my beloved grandfather Bert Parish, one of the coast guards.
    Christmas will be very quiet this year (I am sure my husband won’t complain) as I will have my nose in the book. I would like to order two more of them in the New Year, but will wait for the post to get over the Christmas rush. Many thanks.

    Ann Freeman, Alford, Lincolnshire

  2. Ann: It’s always good to hear from people for whom the blog and/or the book bring back memories of family or friends. You can expect mentions of the Parish family in the blog from early in the New Year so please register for e-mail alerts and ‘stay tuned’.


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