All posts tagged ‘Beverley’

Tue Jan. 25. 10.o’c. P.M. [1944]

This morning our toffee was nicely set and very good. We have eaten all of it. The wind rose to a gale last night. I was pleased when Father got home just after 12 o’c. I got very little sleep until morning and felt too tired and unwell to get up at 7 o’c. so Jean rose and put the kettle on the stove and lit the fire which refused to burn. She brought me some tea and got her own breakfast. She walked to catch the bus’ as the wind was so strong tho’ gradually lessening. When I rose the fire had gone out again and when I relit it took a long time to get really going. Think it was a bad load of coal or there was too much draught for it as wind was in the door. However it was burning fairly well when Father got up. I felt better for staying in bed, but it made me late with work. Rene stayed at Bev[erley] to wash her own things and as it looked like rain waited to take them in before coming about 3.30. My clothes got half-dry yesterday and as it was bright and sunny and wind not too strong I put them out for an hour or two and they got dry. I folded them after dinner and have left them to be ironed tomorrow. Eff came after dinner. I paid for meal and the lb of marmalade she let me have. She stayed a good while and helped me fold sheets. I have done a bit more to my quilt tonight sewed and stuffed the doll I cut out, body ought to have been bigger, finished thumb on Rene’s glove and started second finger. My little ex[ercise] book won’t contain much history as it is almost full. Jean has bought me a larger one today for 9D, this was 5D I think and we used to get a big one for 1D or 2D. Men are to have all the pockets in their suits again and trouser turn-ups. Utility suits (men’s) are to be 20 cou[pons] instead of 26. Think no one buys them unless obliged and shopkeepers have a lot on their hands.

Meal, here, was probably barley-meal for pigs, or it could have meant ‘fish and chips’ which Eff may have previously collected and brought for the family as she sometimes did (see 5 Sep 1942).

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

Thurs. a.m 8.30 Jan 6. [1944]

Father has gone to dig sand at the sea. The channel from tunnel is wandering too far round and has to be dug straight thro’ sand-link so that it runs swiftly. It is hardly light enough to see yet but he was to be there at 8.a.m. He has gone in uniform, new trousers and old tunic. They are warmer than civ[ilian] clothes and it is rough and cold. He put on a mac. under coat thinking he might do with it to work in.

Think Russians are really over old 1939 border at last, after being falsely reported to be for several days. Still there’s a good many more miles to go yet before Ger is reached. Our planes seem to be coming home, heard a few go out in the night. Gen[eral] Montgomery in Royal Box at theatre with 14 years old son, was cheered. He is getting around so quickly people can’t keep pace with him except the son and he seems to stick closely to him. I don’t remember if Gen. Mont. has a wife. I know he has a mother and 5 brothers.

Had a letter from Emmie yesterday. Her mother had an accident at work on Wed last week. A bobbin flew out and hit her leg and ankle and she is very badly bruised. It will be very painful. Emmie had a busy time when she got home Sat. She was vexed they had not sent for her. The next door neighbour had been very kind and helpful, cleaning and getting coals and doing everything for them. Mr. R sent Father an envelope addressed “from Dad to Dad” containing razor blades. Rene saw env. and wanted to know what it meant. Father said “Well I’ve had a very sharp letter from Mr Russell.” Rene’s face was so droll, we had to laugh and tell her. Of course she accused him then of having eaten one, he was so sharp.

Jean has just called for a “cup of tea”. Took it up and find she has a rusty voice. I sincerely hope that doesn’t mean she has another cold. She went to village yest. aft. and was quickly back saying there were soldiers everywhere and she had fled. By their talk in P.O. she gathered they had just arrived in Eng[land] from B.N.A.F. [British North Africa Force]. They were sending telegrams to let their people know but could not send an address as they only expected to be here a night or two. Betty El[ston] was besieged, a lot of them trying out their French on her, until she refused to answer in French. Expect they were a bit surprised at first when she answered their enquiry as to the cost of tel. in French, by telling them (in Eng[lish]) but when they asked her “Francais parlez-vous” she said “Non”. Mrs Stow went to the rescue and registered Jean’s letter and helped B[etty] generally and Jean, as she said, “fled”.

Had two letters from Emily L, one written Sun to say Jess had been taken to Hos[pital] with poisoned arm (it must have been delayed) and one written Tue to say he was home again. He had a spot or two on his elbow and she thinks his jersey-sleeve may have chafed them as he rolls his shirt-sleeves up. The poison ran up his arm in a pink streak and formed a lump under his arm, and was up to his head and in his back. He just missed septic pneumonia she says. It would be a great shock as little Tom [Lewis] died of that. However she was pleased to have got him home and expected he was on the way to recovery. There are plenty of them to look after him and she says the enforced rest may do him good, as he was working very hard and probably run down. She said she would write again.

I am afraid our blanket is warming somebody else as it has not turned up and it was posted Dec. 20th. Very vexing for the Russells and disappointing for us. I hope if it was stolen it went where it was really needed and is not carefully laid by, by someone who steals for the sake of stealing. Went in “The Rest” yesterday found I had exaggerated damage by mice (during my first cold and bronc[hitis]) by about 3 times. One more in trap in cupboard but trap in bedroom as left until I put my foot in it. I reset it and cleared up some papers after giving Sprogg the dead mouse, when the trap sprung again, I turned to go look why and Sp. was sheepishly walking out of the other room, he had evidently tried to sample the cheese. Set it again and went home as it was very cold, big icy frost tho’ tubs were not so frozen. Got all clothes dry and ironed. Rene washed at Bev[erley] and was hoping to find them dry.

The channel through the ‘sand-link’ was associated with the ‘outfall’ from ‘the basin’ from land to sea close to ‘The Point’. The clearance operation, involving teams of local men, was necessary every year or so. See ‘Elvers‘- A Reflection by May Hill’ and associated notes.

After his wife died suddenly around 1934 Bernard Montgomery totally immersed himself in military studies which probably led to him becoming an exceptional general. Their son’s name was David.

Jess, here, was Jesse Lewis [May’s sister Emily’s husband].

Tom Lewis, son of Emily and Jesse, had died, aged 9, in 1939. He had been stung on the ear, by a wasp, while resting at home after returning from Louth hospital following treatment for an eye problem. His tragic death had left Emily with one surviving son, Frank, and six daughters.

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

Wed. Nov. 17. 8.30. a.m. [1943]

Very squally again this morning but I hope not quite so cold. It was “perishing” yesterday. It came a very snowy sleet shower about 4.30. to 5 and on the sea-bank in shade of a bramble-bush sat or rather stood, a beautiful pheasant. I was putting up black-out curtain and saw “the Sprogg” run across the lawn and creep up the fence so wondered what he saw and it was that. Its feathers blended so well with the grass and leaves that it was only when it shook its head or turned it that it could be detected. I stood and watched it some time, with “my mouth watering”, but alas, even if anyone had been here with a gun, it was no use, for the bird was in the middle of the mine-field! Sprogg crept quietly along the road and the last I saw of him was when he was starting up the sand-hills. I don’t think he had much chance of catching the bird, especially as he went up the wind side of it. I looked out a bit later and it was gone. I hopefully scattered some bread on the lawn as I have seen signs there sometimes of its presence.

Rene washed at “Bev.” ['Beverley'] yesterday. I may have a few things washed to-day if it is reasonably fine. Must wash hankies in any case. Father was on watch at 12 noon yesterday so we had early dinner. Then before Rene came for hers I changed sleeves of my A F [air force] Blue cardigan so that the elbow wear would come in a different place. They look so well that I am wondering if they were put in wrong the first time, as they were made for left and right! Usually they are both alike. I saw the idea in a book or paper and thought it very good as my cardigan was very thin at elbows in fact. I had to darn underneath one tho’ not in actual holes. Did two patterns on my new one and think found where I make mistake in patterns. It is a teaser or I am a bit stupid I think, and it is very difficult to alter mistakes in it. Think Jean’s green skirt will turn out alright but I was rather foolish to cut it out when I was so seedy as I have got it about 6 inches too long. I can cut it off but the piece left might have been more use in one piece.

Had a nice letter from Ron yesterday dated 10 Oct so not so bad. Says he likes to go in the churches they are so quiet and peaceful. It seems strange to think of him being able to go a two hours ride to a town in a country at war. It is good to think he is well away from the fighting line. He does not seem so hard-worked at the time of writing, and says it was a lovely day, everything drying up after the rain (I am afraid they’ve had a lot more since then) and he was sitting outside writing his letter. His letter was quite cheerful, but somehow I feel he was very homesick when writing. It is really nothing in his letter, but the tears came to my eyes as I read of his liking to visit the quiet churches, as they seemed so peaceful and he could think of home. I should think the lack of privacy, and leisure to think and be quite alone is as trying sometimes as too much solitude.

After being based for two months in Sicily with his RAF Spitfire squadron, Ron and his unit had moved on to mainland in Italy in late September 1943. He had been in Battiplagia, Salerno, about 65km from Naples, for about two weeks when he wrote the letter on 10th October.

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

Mon. 15 Nov. 10 o’c PM. [1943]

I did not write much in my diary last Wed. as I felt so tired and could not collect my thoughts. It turned out I had a bad head cold developing and I have gone thro’ the worst of it now and just feel seedy and tired to-day, hope I shall begin to feel like myself tomorrow. I have cut Jean’s new green skirt out and partly made it. She has been to school, but had such a lot of home-work and was so tired I did not get it tried on, however, I have taken measurements so hope to get a bit more done tomorrow. I have really finished the “sailor” doll. I made a few more stitches on his face and pulled it into quite a decent shape, made and sewed his hat on so hope baby Balding will like it. I don’t like making such tiny clothes, think I’ll stick to animals. Have cut paper pattern of Scottie dog and Rene cut the Terrier pat. so hope to try them this week. I finished sewing buttons on Jean’s cardigan tonight and mended her school bag strap so got no more of my cardigan done. I finished a diamont patn. this morning and cut out Jean’s skirt before dinner. As Rene did a big wash for me last Wed I am only doing just what is necessary this week. She has her big wash this week. It was so stormy she did not start to-day. Mr Shales is a little better to-day.

Father had to go on W.Bx. [watch box] for a while this morning, the D.O. [District Officer] was there. He had 45 out of 50 of his last quest[ions] right. It has been very stormy again to-day but not so many sleet-showers as yesterday. It has been one or two tho’ since dark. It turns very cold before showers and slightly warmer after. The whole house seems to turn cold before showers. I am writing in bed but it is so cold I shall soon lay down. It is 10.30. so it won’t seem long to 12 when Father comes off watch. There have been some very high tides again the last few days, sea came into Marsh again. The seamen’s work did not keep it out, altho’ one of Grantham’s boys said it kept the bulk of it out! Father took Mrs. Mason to Sutton [-on-Sea] last Wed. She is gone there to live with Mrs. Bryant, a relative. She gave Father a good enamel kettle and £1.

Mr and Mrs Shales were Rene’s elderly next-door neighbours in Sunningdale Drive (see Village Map), having moved into the bungalow ‘Chapel of Ease’ (built by the Ashley Hall family – see 1 Apr 1943) next to ‘Beverley’.

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

Tue Aug. 24 8.20 A.M. [1943]

Over a month since I wrote in my diary. The long light days don’t seem to allow time for writing except for letters and I seem to get more and more to answer these days. Also, Emmie has been 2 weeks Wed. Aug 4 to Thurs 19. She was under Dr. and thoroughly run down but improved wonderfully with rest and sea air. I got out with her as much as I could and enjoyed it. Had a letter from her yesterday. Says she gained 3½lbs. and had been taken off the panel. Hopes to go back to work after this week, which she is spending with Joan Smithurst at Windermere.

Emmie at  'Beverley' - August 1943

Emmie at ‘Beverley’ – August 1943

Sicily has been in our hands some little time and we seem to be preparing to land in Italy unless they capitulate. Mussolini has reached the bottom and resigned. A good while since I said he was at the top of the arc and would for the future be coming down (as a shell from a gun goes up so far then falls to its level) and it has proved so. Ron was in Sicily on Aug. 5 and presume he still is. He had gone from N.A. via Malta and had some days there when he got a few nice swims. He seems to enjoy swimming in Med. I sincerely hope he did not mean he had to swim, but he says so little.

We have lost Raymond. He was killed in action on July 11, 2 days after the first Sicily landing. We think he was there. News came Aug 11. It is a great blow to us all. He had been on Mary’s mind lately a great deal, and the shock is great to them. I think he would be 26. Emmie, Rene, Jean and I went to Mary’s to tea two days before the news and she showed us his last photos and we talked of all the boys. He was a fine, good boy, a good son and brother and now he has gone with many a hundred more.

“The little leaping lad of days that were
Somewhere alone amid the wrack of war.”

When I came from taking Emmie to Will[ough]by on Thurs. and saw the fields of corn all ready for leading, such bounteous crops and all the peaceful countryside, I thought of all the sacrifice that had been made to keep it for us and prayed that we might try to be worthy of it. Down here we know so little of the great sacrifices people even in England are making and we have had none of the terrible sufferings a lot of them have had. Just a few scares and “near misses” as they say in the papers, but so far no one even injured in our little village, tho’ two girls have been hurt at their work away from home. Certainly we are all living under a certain amount of strain and anxiety. I seem to feel a dull heaviness now when I think of Ron, a little fluttering fear creeps in. I do not seem to dare to look forward to the end of the war, there will be so many gaps in our numbers, Hugh Green, Tony, Ken and Raymond. If Ron should go we have no other son.

News of the recapture of Kharkov by Russians on the wireless this morning, Stalin keeps determinedly out of war talks. Winston and Roosevelt are in Quebec discussing situation. Finns trying to start negotiation for peace with Russia. Japs being pushed back. Woodhall Spa was smashed badly last week, 2 land mines dropped and caused a lot of damage, few casualties.

The photograph of Emmie was taken in the garden of Rene’ and Tom’s bungalow in Sunningdale Drive, Chapel St Leonards (see Village Map).

Raymond Hill was 26 when he died in action on 11th July 1943 as an army private serving in the Northamptonshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion. His official memorial is at Syracuse, Sicily and he is honoured on the Chapel St Leonards village memorial. (Some information from Commonwealth War Graves Commission Casualty Register.) May’s epitaph was probably inspired by AE Housman’s work A Shropshire Lad.

‘Leading’ refers to leading the horse-drawn wagons loaded with sheaves of corn, from fields to farmyard.

Kharkov in the Ukraine was first recaptured by the Russians in February 1943, re-taken by the Germans in March and again recaptured by the Russians in August.

Woodhall Spa had a bomber airfield. The ‘Petwood Hotel’ in the town had been requisitioned by the RAF and was used as an officers’ mess for 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron after it moved to nearby RAF Coningsby from Scampton in August 1943 (and later to Woodhall airfield).

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