Another book of scraps
From our doings of everyday
Odds and ends of trouble and strife
And happenings grave and gay.
Just over three years ago, I started to keep a little diary. I thought I might get tired of it but I still write fairly frequently and sometimes it comes in useful to refer to. Early in the first book I recorded that Tony [Hill] was missing. He has never returned and now his mother has gone too. Peggy his wife is a Land Girl. Now Ken [Hill] is missing and another mother (both widows) is bearing the same trial and anxious waiting for news.
I hope we have a letter from Ron today. We had so many letters from him before he went abroad. It is 2 weeks now since we had one, but of course that is not unusual. We have really got Libya at last and now for Tunisia, then I suppose the great strife will really start. I wonder if we shall see more of it here, certainly some of the country will, at least I fear so. We may not survive it, no one can say they are safe now, whether they are in the forces or factories or quiet homes. Quiet! The terrible raid last week when the school at Lewisham was bombed and machine-gunned shocked us all. 42 children and teachers killed and many more badly hurt. Balloons were down for work on them, they say it was necessary and nobody’s fault, but when the planes came in they thought they were not heading for London. Some of them did go, but sirens were not sounded, otherwise children would have been in shelters. Why do we not always be ready? Of course they say we lose so much work when sirens are sounded that they don’t want to do so unless necessary but children must not pay for misjudgement. Churchill and Roosevelt have met in Africa. I had been wondering where Winston was these days. Wrote to Amy last night. Made Dennis a pair of pyjama trousers.
The first (undiscovered) Diary was believed to have been started in January 1940.
Tony Hill, May’s nephew, went missing and was presumed to have died, aged 24, in active service in the RAF, on 21st February 1940, as a flight sergeant pilot of a Wellington bomber (38 Squadron). His aircraft failed to return to RAF Marham, Norfolk, from a mission searching for enemy shipping in the North Sea. He was honoured in the village war memorial and one at Runnymede. He was the youngest son of Will’s brother, George (who died in 1931) and Rose (whose death on 2nd November 1941 had been mentioned in May’s diary entry of 11 Nov. 1942). Tony, his mother Rose and wife Peggy (née Truman) are shown together in the photograph which was probably taken around 1939. (Some information is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Casualty Register and from ‘Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War, Volume I: 1939-1940’ W.R. Chorley, first published 1992, Midland Publications; later (2nd Edition) Classic Publications, 2013.)
Ken Hill, Tony’s cousin, was also serving in the RAF when reported missing (see 1 Jan. 1943).
The school at Sandhurst Road, Catford, in the London Borough of Lewisham, was bombed on January 20th 1943. May expressed her feelings about the tragedy in her poem ‘Bombing at Noon of School at Lewisham’.
Churchill, Roosevelt and de Gaulle were meeting at the Casablanca Conference which proclaimed the aim of achieving ‘unconditional surrender’ of the Axis forces.
Dennis Raynor was the nephew for whom May had made pyjamas.
Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?