Wed Jan 8 9.50 pm [1941]

A week already gone in the new year. Bardia has fallen and we are battling at Tobruk. Amy Johnson feared lost, indeed almost certainly lost, with male passenger who baled out with her over Thames Est. also the gallant Lt. Com. Fletcher who dived in and swam to try to help them, he died soon after being taken from the water (Sunday). Baden-Powell’s death announced on wireless to-night. He was 83 a good and great man. It is a pity perhaps that England has not always lived up to his Scouts’ motto “Be Prepared”.

Bardia, in Cyrenaica (eastern Libya) was captured on January 5 1941 by the British and Australian troops, under British General Wavell, taking thousands of Italian prisoners and large quantities of military material (although later re-taken by forces under German command).
Tobruk was a strategically important port in Cyrenaica, close to the border with Egypt. Initially in Italian hands, it became the site of important battles between the Allied and Axis forces throughout most of 1941 and 1942.
Amy Johnson, who was born in Hull, had achieved fame in 1930 as the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia. She served as a transport pilot in the war and was drowned in the Thames Estuary on 5th January 1941 after baling out from an aircraft she was delivering to an RAF aerodrome near Oxford.
Lt Commander Walter Fletcher of HMS Hazlemere died as a result of his unsuccessful attempt to save Amy Johnson from drowning.
Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout Movement, died on 8th January 1941 in Nyeri, Kenya where he had been living for a few years in semi-retirement.


We all went to Alford yesterday. While waiting for Father at Mrs Mason’s we heard a plane and machine guns. Others heard gunfire at sea. To-night it was announced that an enemy plane was brought down off the East Coast Tue. morning. It was too foggy for us to see the plane but we all thought it was a German. I went to Alford to have my hand put right again, have had to poultice it this time with rock fullers earth made into paste with boiling water to reduce fluid. Rene had her foot attended to, Bromfield says her arches are very good, it was the guiders that were all wrong on top of her foot. We both have to go next week. It was very cold out and a huge fire in his room and when we got out Jean nearly fainted in the street, fortunately the cold air brought her round and she ate a good dinner. We went to the Black Cat Café. It is very nice, we had roast beef and two veg. a pot of tea (we all 3 had two cups) and a cake each for 1/9 each. Not so bad as we got well warmed up. I feel most extravagant, I bought a pair of gloves 9/11 but they are lovely and I had 10/0 given me at Xmas beside the 5/0 Father gave me for licence. Jean’s Gym Stockings were 3/11 but they look good. Rene bought wool suit and a tweed hat, both very nice. I bought a pair of photo frames for Ron’s and Emmie’s photos at Dunns, they were old stock, he brought several for us to choose from, they were reduced from 3/3 to 1/3 each and are rather nice. The shops will be able to clear out heaps of old stock now. Some they have given up hopes of selling. Dunn’s have a lot of very decent things quite reasonable. They are stationers. Jean bought Ron a pad of Basildon parchment and 2 pencils for his notes and drawings. She always thinks of him. We must send it next week. He has had a parcel from Emmie with handkerchiefs and cake and cigs as well as our parcel. He got 67% marks in a test the other day so did well.

Mrs Mason, in the village, was a regular ‘private hire’ customer. She was probably not related to ‘the Masons’ previously mentioned. (16th Dec. 1940)
No further details have been identified of an enemy plane brought down off the East Coast on January 7th 1941.
Mr Bromfield was the bone-setter in Alford.
Dunns were stationers in Alford.

10.25 pm
I reckon I can hear a plane, hope it’s not a “wuffer”. I will have a cup of tea and if all is quiet go to bed as I must not be late up. Jean going to school. I have read 3 books. “Limitations” by E.F Benson, very good, “The Face of Clay” Horace Vachell, about a death mask, not too bad, and “Potter and Clay” by Mrs Stanley Wrench a good country tale but some of it what one of my nieces would call “far stretched”.

‘Wuffer’ – a German military aircraft – after Luftwaffe (German Air Force).
Lord Horace Annesley Vachell was an English novelist who introduced polo to Southern California when he moved there in 1882. (See website
The novelist Mollie Stanley-Wrench and her daughter Margaret Stanley-Wrench were known to Marie Stopes, the birth-control pioneer, who exchanged correspondence with them about her work and their writings. (See Letters, 1916-1958, Stopes, Marie Carmichael (1880-1958), website

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

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