Dec 25 11.15 PM Thurs. [1941]

Xmas 1941. Our third war Xmas and no end in sight, indeed we seem deeper in the toils of war than ever now that Japan has declared against us and the U.S.A. and thrown so many men into the fight, alas, I am afraid we were not as ready for them as we ought to have been. How is it they have 100 troop-ships ready for landing forces in one place alone? Where are our watchers on sea and air? It is a great comfort that things are going so well in Libya, surely we shall manage to completely rout them there now. Also the Russians are winning along a big front now and expect to raise the siege of Leningrad any time and are driving the Gers. back from Moscow. We are not out of danger here yet, the government keeps warning us more than ever of the danger of an invasion. Think most of us are of the opinion even then that it won’t be so bad to be invaded by Gers as to be overrun by the little yellow men.

We have had a nice quiet Xmas, it has not seemed like Xmas Day at all to me. We have missed Ron, but know he would get a good dinner and be having a good time with Jeff and Vic, tho’ he would have liked to be at home. We have plenty of good food this Xmas, we had home-made sausage for breakfast broiled in the broiler I had made last year. Spare rib with apple-sauce onion potato and brussels sprouts, and Xmas pudding just a little less rich than pre-war, with custard (powder) sauce. For tea we did not eat a lot but had the Xmas cake, only made on Monday as we had not the ingredients until then but it is very good and we had a thin layer of almond (subs.) paste on top and Rene decorated it with coloured marzipan and choc. Of course we had some mince-pies left and biscuits. In the afternoon we had some choc. Caleys Plain Tray, very good, and a ¼ lb bar of Cadbury’s fruit and nut. We have a few apples too. Canadians at 9D lb. very good too. We had pork pie for supper (home-made), early because Father had to go on watch at 8. p.m. He has a new C.G. cap, the other was always rather small, this is far more comfortable. We played whist before and after tea and after supper we played games with coins, that Mr A showed us. Don’t know if it was shove-ha’penny, but it was amusing, tho’ I don’t think it improved our table-top. Jean lit her Xmas tree candles. She hung up her stocking on Xmas Eve and had raisins an apple, sweets stockings and a 6D Penguin Book of Tennyson’s Poems.

Airmen with Wellington Bomber at RAF Binbrook 1941

Airmen with Wellington Bomber at RAF Binbrook 1941

Father has bought another pig from Can 25S/0D to keep for bacon next year if all is well, it is a white one. Eff has one too. It has been very cold with sleet-shower but some sunshine, we could not see “Binbrook” at first but cleared later. Thank-ful to say we have plenty of coal at present and we had a few logs to-day. Jean went to Mrs Brown’s to wish them a Happy Xmas and take a small brawn. They are inviting us for dinner one day Jean says. Rene and Mr A went about 10.15 then I wrote to Ron and I had a cup of Horlicks malted milk and Jean had cocoa. It is nearly 12 o’clock so had better stop writing. I am writing in bed and have got a lot of ink on my finger. We have had about 30 Xmas cards, very nice ones. They are set out around the room.

The siege of Leningrad by the Germans had begun in September 1941. Although the siege was not lifted until much later in the war, a winter lifeline was established in the form of an ice road across a frozen lake, allowing some food to be brought in, but insufficient to prevent an appalling degree of starvation.

The Germans had advanced to within 20 miles of Moscow in early December 1941 but the harsh weather and the arrival of fresh Soviet troops from Siberia prevented capture of the city.

The broiler was a pan with deep sides and front handle designed to be placed on the bar of the ‘Yorkist’ range in the kitchen (see 17 Jul. 1941).

Caley’s of Norwich was a long-established quality chocolate manufacturer, less well known than Cadbury’s.

‘Can’ was probably an abbreviation or nickname for Mr Capron, a pig breeder, who lived at ‘The Rest’ in Anderby Road, near the edge of ‘The Marsh’. Mr Capron, a lay preacher, also cultivated and sold blackcurrants and other soft fruit. (Less likely, it could possibly have referred to Scottish Mr Kochan, from Harrington, a relief veterinarian for Captain Shaw who was the regular vet from Alford.)

“Binbrook” was probably the name of a house, usually visible from Lenton Lodge. (Binbrook village and airfield were too distant.)

Mrs Brown, here, was probably Rose, wife of Eardley (see 31 Jan. 1941).

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

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