It is nearly news-time, I must put the wireless on in a few minutes. Father is at the box. His wages are raised from Tue. 3rd Dec. £3 per week and 5/0 bonus instead of £2.12.6. a good raise but they have to put 48 hours a week in to get the £3. He was on from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. then went to Grimsby. Arrived home about 6 p.m. and now is on the box from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. so will be pretty tired. He is just beginning to feel better from his cold. Mr A and Rene came for tea on Sunday, also [dog] Bill. Father was on box. Mr A likes to play the piano and have us all singing. He plays by ear and his singing is rather croaky. Jean and Rene had colds and my voice is seldom up to singing pitch, my throat does not sing the notes I intend it to, so if anyone had been listening it must have been a painful pleasure.
Will’s trips to Grimsby regularly took place on Friday (Market Day), taking the produce (eggs, butter, etc.) collected for ‘Grandma’s business’, usually on the previous day. (‘Grandma’ in May’s Diaries always meant Will’s mother.)
Bill was Mr A’s dog, which often accompanied Rene.
# COASTGUARD OFFICER BLOWN OFF BIKE IN HIGH GALES
Wrote to Ron on Sunday morning and Jean posted it. [Aside: He received it Tue. he says in to-day’s letter.] She went to Chapel in the afternoon. I did not go as it was inclined to be foggy. I sent a cake to the “Fellowship”, I did not go as Jean was at home with cold and a bad foot, it started with blister at base of little toe. She pricked it as it looked like bursting and it went septic and tho’ we keep it covered with lint is not better yet, there is quite a little hole and it looks very fiery round it to-night. She has been at home again to-day. It blew a gale this morning, I would not let her venture on her cycle to catch the 8.20 bus’ and it was too far to walk in the dusk and squalls. The Station Officer was blown off his cycle in a squall, coming to the Watch box this afternoon and Father saw a waggon load of straw which had been blown completely over, when he was coming from Grimsby. I must tell him there is a slate just inside Corbie fence, don’t know which house it has come off.
Chapel here was the Methodist Chapel near Grandma’s house. Care is needed throughout the Diaries to distinguish this from Chapel (St Leonards), the village.
The bus here was the regular morning bus which Jean caught for Skegness, for school.
The Station Officer for the Coastguards was probably Skegness based, not one of the village-based men or he would have been named.
‘Corbie’, owned by Mrs Leivers of Nottingham, was the next-door billet house, between ‘Lenton Lodge’ and ‘Red Tiles’.
# FOUR ELDERLY VILLAGERS DIE WITHIN WEEKS
Mrs. Lamb was taken to Louth Hospital on Sunday and we were shocked to hear yesterday that she had passed away. She was only between 50 and 60 and had been married to Mr Lamb about 18 months. Think he is nearly 70 so it will be another upheaval for him, poor man, after settling down very comfortably on his retirement. Mrs Giles died the day after Mrs. A so with Mrs Plant that is 4 gone very quickly.
Mrs Lamb had earlier run her own shop, which had become Jim Hall’s shop.
The County Hospital at the market-town of Louth was the nearest fully-equipped hospital.
Mr and Mrs Giles, an elderly couple, lived in a small cottage in the village.
Mrs Plant, a widow and former local midwife, was the grandmother of Mary, one of Jean’s friends.
# BOMBS CAUSE RAGING GRAIN-STORE FIRE AT LOUTH
# RATIONING: MOST FRESH FRUIT IMPORTS STOPPED
Bombs were dropped at Theddlethorpe on Wed. night chiefly in the sea and on the beach but they shook us a lot. Incendiaries were dropped at Louth last night causing a fire which was still burning when Father came home to-night. I think it was chiefly grain. Phoebe came tonight to see if Father could take some of them to Skegness to shop Sat. morning. It’s alright taking them, but don’t know if they will be in any hurry about paying. Canned fruit is not to be imported, nor fresh fruit except oranges. It has risen in price in consequence. Well, I expect we must go without them, they are not necessities. I have one or two tins so must save them for great occasions. [Aside: Peaches 1/4 from 9D pre-war.]
Theddlethorpe, near Louth was a practice bombing range for the RAF as well as apparently being an enemy target.
Phoebe was a daughter of Joe Kirk, a farmer and coastguard, whose ‘Point Farm’ was situated just beyond a field behind ‘Lenton Lodge’.
# ROYAL ARTILLERY SOLDIERS BILLETED NEXT DOOR
# MAY’S BROTHER CONSCRIPTED FOR FACTORY WORK
Jim Coupland has to go next Thurs. Came round to-day for the last time. F Blakey is going too. [Brother] Frank is coming home for week-end, is not very settled at Gainsboro’ and does not care much for new trade. 51 is too old to start learning new trades, I think, and then having to go in lodgings after 20 and more years of home, does not go down very well. Father thinks he will probably give it up. Rene brought rags for gunners at “Corbie” to-day. They are always wanting rags to clean the guns, she said they nearly fell on her neck. I must find some more. Not that I would want them to fall on my neck. Had a letter from [sister] Emily this week, they want to remove further from Manby as soon as they can. The planes are continually over them and the Gers too go that way a lot, no doubt after the aerodrome as well as Louth.
Jim Coupland was a delivery driver for Jack Taylor’s butchery.
‘Go’ here, and in many other instances in the Diaries, meant ‘join up for military service’.
Fred Blakey was a decorator who lived nearby.
Frank Simpson was May’s brother. His usual work was as a carpenter, joiner and cabinet maker, using his own home workshop. He was asked to undertake war work in the engineering works of Rose Brothers in Gainsborough, north-west of Lincoln.
‘Gunners’ probably referred to soldiers of the Royal Artillery.
Emily Lewis, May’s sister, was married to a farm worker. Their home, at that time, close to RAF Manby, near Louth, would have been in an obvious enemy target area.
# PRAYER AND A POEM FOR PEACE FOR CHILDREN
Rene came home in the gale to-day. We hardly expected her. Think it has died down a lot now, but tho’ it was a W. Wind it did not go to bed with the sun. It came in squalls and gusts all day. I can hear it again now, hope it doesn’t start again as I want to go to bed and I feel almost more nervous in a gale than when I hear distant bombs. Jean is asleep on the couch, it seems a pity to have to wake her again but she is too nervous to go to bed before we do. She is undressed and rests well so I don’t think it will do her as much harm as forcing her to go upstairs alone. Poor town children, I feel so sorry for them, more than sorry, it is most distressing to think of them. For their sake I pray the war will come to a speedy end.
May’s earliest dated poem carried the date of 6th December 1940 and took up the theme of her concern for children and her prayer for an end to the war: Peace for Children – A Prayer This poem begins the collection which will be added to each time a poem appears in relation to a diary entry.
Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?