Last Thursday and Friday 6th and 7th May saw the Allies entry into Tunis and Bizerte within a few hours of each other. All the armies being in contact now and the remains of the enemy (over 100,000 prisoners) in two separate parties one in the mountains and others dropped in Cap. Bon Peninsula deserted by Luftwaffe and by the highest officials too it is supposed. These remnants have been fighting fiercely but are gradually cracking. The whole of the army round Bizerte, 6 generals included, surrendered unconditionally, and the remnant in the mountains have today asked for terms, which are of course unconditional surrender of themselves and equipment. All this has not been done without a big loss of life on both sides tho’ they keep on saying our side have lost remarkably few. It matters little how few to those to whom those few are all. I hope Frank Adams has come thro’ safely. Sybil said he was fighting and she heard from him in letters dated 12 and 16 Ap. It is a wearisome anxious time and now will begin the big and bitter struggle for the final overthrow of Germany. Franco is crying for Peace but Allies say no Peace until we force Ger. to an unconditional Surrender. It will be a bitter struggle with many more young lives thrown into the greedy maw of war.
Did not hear from Ron last week, last letter dated Ap 17. He was well and very cheerful, says wild flowers are lovely and much larger than ours. I wonder if he will be moving now. I dare not wonder if he will be coming back to England yet, so many went a long time before him. I wonder if Jeff and John Meldrum are alright and Jock, poor old Jock. John Kirk and John Smith and Arthur Beardsley, all out there somewhere. Laurie Wilson too I believe. There has never been any more news of Ken [Hill]. Cyril Belton is home on 48 hours embarkation leave. His mother’s face looked old and grey instead of brown and twinkling when she told me yesterday. He was in the last war too, joining up at 16 and Harold her other son lost a hand. They keep singing a song on the Radio now (Jean bought a copy lately) “When the lights go on again, all over the world. When the boys come home again all over the world”. It has a haunting tune that seems full of, as yet, unshed tears that must presently fall for those boys who will never come home again.
Emmie came for Easter weekend, from Thurs. to Tues. It was a late Easter, Good Friday being on 23rd April. Em did not enjoy it as much as usual as she had come without leave from the Mill. She had an urgent letter from her mother to say be sure not to stay beyond Tues as the foreman was very annoyed. However when she got back so many more had taken Sat. morning off as well as the official Fri and Mon that she hoped to get off lightly. Her spirits quickly recovered and she wrote that perhaps she would come at Whit. We are hoping her Mother and Daddy will come too. Elsie came for tea the Sunday she was here. They took rather a liking to each other last year. Elsie has been very ill and is making a slow convalescence, tho’ she is at work again she still looks very poorly. She brought me two dozen lovely eggs today for me to preserve, they are 3/1 doz which is the price farmers get for large and small all the year round, but they are worth it (the retail price is 2/0). The size and flavour of farm fed eggs are 100 per cent better than those fed on ration scraps and potatoes. Rene says some of the eggs taste like potatoes. She had a bilious attack last evening just before going to her Red + exam on Home Nursing. Not because she was nervous but she got her feet wet on Sat and thinks it was a chill on her liver. However she managed to get there rather late but did the test and is fairly certain she passed as she was asked about things she knew. They all laughed at Phoebe as she got mixed and said a bottle was to be filled through a tunnel instead of a funnel.
Rene and I did a good big wash today as it poured with rain most of yesterday. I had got a good start and several things on the line when she got here, which was a good thing as she was still seedy. We did not go to the W.I. Dennis went away yesterday to start his career in R.A.F. He is very enthusiastic so hope he likes it. He will be at school about 18 months Eff says before flying so hope the war is over before then. Father has been most of the day at Evison’s garage while exhaust pipe of car was repaired, part of it replaced. On Sunday afternoon just as he wanted to start out with L.P.s [local preachers] he found it had parted. I went with him to fix it and he held it whilst I tapped it with hammer, both lying down. I hammered away (futilely it seems as a bit was gone) industriously until I missed the pipe and hit Father’s head. He had his hat on fortunately, and as I was in an awkward position I could not get very heavy blows in, so altho’ it raised a slight bump it did not hurt very long. I nervously tapped a bit longer then he fastened it up with wire. It kept in position for that journey and to Boston yesterday, then he had it repaired today £1 and 2s for oil as Jimmy forgot to replace cap when filling it up a week or two since and it had been thrown out, the oil I mean. I think they had a neck to charge for that. Father was pretty cold as the wind had been icy all day and it did not do his rheumatism any good. He got Mr Lamb to bring him some of Heelys Wht. F Emb [White Flower Embrocation] from Alford today. He brought it along tonight. It was the old price 1/3. It used to do him good so hope it does again. He went on watch at 8 pm until 2.am.
Annie [Faulkner]’s baby girl (Eileen) was born April 29th. Mrs Maurice [Faulkner]’s little boy (Martin) Apr 30. Con was married 29th so we acquired a great niece and a new nephew the same day. As if we weren’t “shied up” with enough relations. My polyanthus nearly over now but tulips are out and my anemones still blooming gaily. I used to think their name of “wind-flower” meant they were delicate and spoiled by the wind, why I don’t know, but I find they revel in the breeze and are very sturdy flowers. I am finishing writing up my diary in bed to save blacking-out the room.
Cap Bon Peninsula, Tunisia, is a fertile area known as the ‘Garden of Tunisia’. The military action referred to was known as ‘Operation Vulcan’.
Spain, under Franco, the dictator, was ‘neutral’ but there had been concerns regarding its connections with the German side.
Jeff here probably refers to Jeff Pearson (see 4 Dec. 1941).
Arthur Beardsley had been one of Ron’s school classmates. The family had lived at ‘Pilgrim Cottage’, along a short track from near Ship Bridge (see Village Map).
Laurie Wilson was the son (believed to be the same person elsewhere called ‘Arthur’) of Mrs Wilson, absent owner of next-door house ‘The Rest’ (see 8 Jan. 1942).
Kenneth Hill (nephew) was the airman who lost between 14th and 15th December 1942. See poem ‘Easter Sunday Apr. 25. 43. K.H.’
Harold Belton, father of Joyce and brother of garage-owner Cyril (see 19 Jan. 1942), had been a farmer but at this time was a rate-collector and a sub-postmaster in nearby Hogsthorpe (see East Lincolnshire Map).
Eggs were preserved in isinglass, kept in a bucket. The eggs needed to be very fresh.
Jim Evison was the son of the garage owner, Claude (see 27 Jan. 1942).
Heely was a chemist in Alford.
Eileen Faulkner was Herbert and Annie’s baby daughter (see 30 Sep. 1942).
Martin Faulkner, brother of Dennis, was the baby son of Maurice (see 2 Apr. 1941) and wife Kathleen.
Connie Hill, Will’s niece (see 2 Feb. 1941), married Joe Clegg who was then counted by May as a ‘nephew’.
Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?