Sat 10.30 PM Dec 21 [1940]
# MORE CHRISTMAS PREPARATIONS
# MIXED NEWS FROM WAR FRONTS

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.

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