Must write up my Diary. I have neglected it lately, now that it is light when Jean goes I do not often write. Father has just gone on Watch until 2 am. Jean is reading a library book but it is time she was asleep. She painted her drawing of “Crossing the Ford” this week and received 9/10 marks tho’ Auntie Jess said the horses looked like wooden ones on a round-a-bout. It looks and feels like spring now tho’ the weather is not very balmy yet. Ron sent more photos last week, very good, an enlarged one for me and a P.C. [postcard] one for the others, one for G.ma. Father very pleased with his, took it with him Sunday (out with preachers). G.ma been very poorly, also Eff but both mending.
Mrs Coote came last Mon. week. She is looking very well but not too strong yet. She has crocheted me a pair of new gloves, grey decor. with yellow all round. (croc. together) and green and red decor. on back. I have not decided whether I like them or not yet but they are very fashionable just now. Mrs Stow sen. came for the grocery order yesterday, she had a little black pair done up with white. She said “Oh dear, I mustn’t leave those, they were dear little Grandma Kay’s, she had them on when she was drowned and I thought so much of her.” At first I was horrified, but afterwards I thought it was very sweet of her to overlook the fact of death and the manner of her dying that cold rough night swept down the drain to the basin, her little frail body recovered before being swept thro’ the tunnel to the sea. She only thought of the love she had for her alive and wore the gloves for remembrance.
There seems to be a tightening of food regulations all round. The W.V.S Canteen is closed from 11.30 until 6 p.m. so that the men shall eat the Army’s dinners and leave no waste. Ron says they have had strict orders about waste too. He had to go before the board for test yesterday, we are longing to know the result and where he will be going, also if he is coming on leave at last. Sent a bill to Commander Vine Tuesday, we have not had his money yet. Light went out, I had forgotten to put 1/0 in. It makes me puff too it is so high. We had pancakes last week on Shrove Tuesday but no lemons, I had one orange Mrs Coote sent me but it was a little black in the middle. Rene had Blk-berry vinegar and Father had butter and sugar with his as he had currants in. He took it up to the box as he had been to Alford and had not had time to get his dinner before 2 o’clock. After Rene went home I took his tea. Jean went to Mavis for afternoon. It was a lovely day and I went up the 69 steps to the box. Had a lovely view over the sea tho’ visibility not quite so good over the land, but could see for miles round. Was rather out of breath before I reached the bottom again but collected a few stray bits of kindling and some fresh green for the rabbits. Eva brought Michael and John Stow for a rabbit Mon. I said I couldn’t be bothered feeding them all until they grew up so she is very kindly giving them away for me. Mic said his G.dad (Mr Ailsby) had made a cage with a wire front for the rabbit. Mic told him he must put a black-out on.
I started this book Nov 27. 40. It is only a small one.
Winter’s dark days are past and spring is here.
Our hopes spring with the flowers that come to cheer.
May strength be given to wage the bitter fight,
That soon must come, a war of right
To save the little nations, from the power
Of conquering foes who try to make them cower
Beneath the heel of ruthless greed.
Help us O God to help them in their need.
Mar. 6 1941
Mrs Stow (senior) was the wife of George Stow (senior), owner of the Post Office Stores in the village centre near ‘The Pullover’ (so named because it was a ramp over which boats were pulled to access the sea beyond the main beach – see Village map).
Elderly Mrs Kaye had fallen into the open drain near her home near Cradle Bridge in darkness. This was believed to have happened in late 1939, in the early days of ‘blackout’.
The two main drains passing through Chapel St Leonards were the Orby Drain, which ran under Tylers Bridge and Cradle Bridge, near the school, and Willoughby High Drain which ran under Chapel Bridge near ‘Hill View’ and the Methodist chapel. That drain had a lock, and the two drains then merged, close to ‘Keal Cottage’ (a former home of May and Will). The merged drain ran alongside St Leonards Drive towards the ‘basin’ (a gated drainage reservoir) linked via a ‘tunnel’ to the ‘outfall’ to the sea. (See Village map.)
Commander Vine, a taxi customer, was probably based at ‘HMS Royal Arthur’.
Michael Stow was a grandson of Stores owner George Stow. Michael lived with his adopted mother or ‘Auntie’, Mrs Dandison, a boarding-house owner, who employed Eva Harness (see 26th Dec 1940) as a housekeeper at ‘Waysmeet’, near the church. (See Village map.)
John Stow, Michael’s brother, lived with grandparents Mr and Mrs Harold Ailsby.
Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?