Wednesday September 10 9.20 pm [1941]

Wed. and Ron has been home again for the day, says his leave, if all is well, starts 6 weeks today. He will come home Wed. and go to Yeadon on the Sat, that is if Emmie is still at home. He is looking very well. Says the bomb that was dropped under plane where he was working had its propeller spinning, they do not know why it did not explode. It gave me a queer shock when he told me. We all seem to live betwixt this world and the next in these days.

On Sun. night (7th) two bombs were dropped in Chapel, one in the field behind Mrs Robbs and one over the dyke in Reads field. They made huge craters, one released an underground spring and water and sand gushed up. Only odd pane of glass was broken and no casualties whatever. We heard the plane and the whistle of the bombs but were not shaken very badly tho’ I called Jean into our room in case more fell and shattered her window. She is sleeping in Ron’s room and is very near the window. One bomb was dropped on Alford Station goods yard and a man was killed and the shed wrecked, several more fell within a few miles and people were killed at Louth. Some were dropped near Binbrook but Ron did not wake, he says he sleeps very soundly and hardly ever wakes. I saw a Wellington bomber pass just along the sandhills on Sunday. Ron said PH-C was one of theirs and the number would be 61.

Rene just got here today when Ron came in from viewing bomb craters and said bus’ was full so Mr. A had returned home. She went back and got dinner for him and came back about 3 o’c. Mr A did not go to work as it was so late and tho’ pretty well has not quite recovered from op. yet.


Yesterday Father, I and Rene and Mr. A went to the “Central” Sk. to see “Pygmalion” by Gilbert and Sullivan with Wendy Hiller, it was very good. We very seldom go to the “pictures”. Hope we have a quiet night. Father is on duty until 2 a.m. Have heard a few planes. The electricity keeps dipping but have decided that it often dips when there is the siren wailing. Was pleased it was Father’s night at home on Sunday. We did not get up tho’ we may have done had we known it was so near us.

Jean is undressed and asleep on couch. It is very close tonight. One of our little brown rabbits is dead. I thought it looked rather dopey yesterday and it hadn’t much chance amongst that crowd. Have sent Mrs. Adams the snap we took of them. Haven’t heard from Frank any more, nor has he been. The S. Lancs have changed over with the other part of regt. They have been busy clearing up but the smell from drains is worse than ever today.

Frank and Sybil Adams on the Sandhills

Potatoes look like being scarce and dear, they are already going bad and have some sort of blight, all the tops going brown and dying before pots. are ripe. A lot of harvest has been gathered this week with the drier weather. Father went to F. Simpsons again Mon. and helped with harvest etc. but his rheumatism is pretty bad again. No Kelloggs Corn Flakes today and no Heinz beans, no soft cheese and no bacon either from Stows or Taylors. Think they may have bacon Fri. It has started to rain, can hear it pouring into tubs. Poor old Ron will still be in Grimsby. His train is not until about 10.30. It is a good thing he had his overcoat.

Ron’s description of the circumstances of the live bomb incident, which could easily have been fatal for him (see also Diary post 6 Sep. 1941), was almost certainly what prompted May to write the poem ‘The Casualties Were Small, in which she expressed her worse fears for Ron’s safety. The poem inspired the title of the book The Casualties Were Small which contains over twenty of May’s poems as well as selected diary extracts, including those which suggest the background to each poem, accompanied by many nostalgic photographs.

Wendy Hiller acted the part of Eliza Doolittle in the 1938 film version of ‘Pygmalion’, based on the ‘modern’ play version written by George Bernard Shaw who cast her in the role. WS Gilbert’s much earlier comedy play Pygmalion and Galatea was based on characters of Greek mythology.

Mrs Robb lived on Skegness Road, near Cradle Bridge, on the same side as the Vicarage. The field was known as ‘Three Acre Meadow’.  See village map.

Reads’ field was behind Mrs Robb’s and ‘Three Acre Meadow’, closer to the village.

Frank Simpson, here (NOT May’s brother), refers to an unrelated farmer, on Stones Lane, beyond upper Wigg Lane in the direction of Hogsthorpe.

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

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