All posts tagged BNAF

Sun Jan. 23 7.45 PM [1944]
# MINERS’ WAGES AND COAL PRICES INCREASE
# ALLIED ADVANCES IN ITALY
# BNAF SOLDIERS RETURN TO BRITAIN
# NEW BICYCLE FOR RENE

Miners’ wages, including those of “Bevin’s boys” are raised. Coal and coke is up 3/0 from 1 Feb. In Italy part of 5th Army has landed between German divisions and Rome, West coast Italy. It was a successful operation and we have advanced several miles inland. Russians doing so well in North that Finns are wondering whether Gers are going to be able to hold them. More and more Forces reported all over as returned from B.N.A.F. Alex, May L’s husband came to Newark on leave last week. He went out round about time Ron did. Wonder if Frank Adams will come too. He was in Sicily, but has been in B.N.A.F. some time now.

Rene has her new bicycle a Rudge. Very pleased with it. I tried it on lawn and as it is a modern type with little room between seat and handles I got my foot fast and sat down flat on lawn to the no small amusement of Rene and Jean and Elsie G[rantham]. Neither cycle or I was hurt except a wee bit of skin of my thumb knuckle which was bruised too (I bathed it in boracic). I am very stiff to-day tho’ about neck and shoulders so expect I wrenched them a bit.

Jean went to C[entral] Hall Fri. night to see a film Rev. Hodgson had brought. It was “Mr Deed goes to town” and very good. Ron saw it in London when he went with B.B. [Boys’ Brigade] and I believe he saw it some years later in Sk[egness]. The “Panto” Aladdin is at Sk. Only one matinee (on Sat) which was booked weeks before so had no chance to see it as last bus is at 7.15. Mrs Hall and [Mrs] Cooper went and Father fetched them back at 5 from mat[inee] as they knew bus’ would be packed. Rene came before tea, had a cup and piece of cake but not a full tea. Tom had gone on patrol. The flower I made for her coat looks very nice.

I have started to read Don Quixote, have read extracts before of course, but have never read all of it. It belongs to Mavis. I am expecting to enjoy it. Jean is enchanted with it. Have written to Ron and Mrs Fletcher and Bessie Brown. It is nice to get letters thro’ to Ron so quickly. Had a letter from Mrs Russell Fri. She says Emmie had just had 10 letters from him, very cheerful ones. She says they hope to come in June. Was not at work yet but hoping to start in a day or two.

Bread is very dry and chaffy but we must not complain as we have bacon and dripping in addition to butter and marg. ration. It was a very wet night but turned fair about 10 o’c. A.M. and was a bright sunny day tho’ windy, a west wind which went after a sudden squall about 5.45. Have turned out all my cut flowers and still snowdrops will not be out yet and my one anemone bud grows so slowly. I have a wee chrysanthemum plant in a can which is just coming into flower only one bloom tho’. I think it will be white tho’ at first I thought it was yellow. Eff came Sat afternoon, brought me some fat bacon, 1/0 lb which will be useful.

Bevin’s Boys’ were industrial/ mine-work conscripts. Although some were conscientious objectors many had elected to join the forces but were not given the choice, as May noted. (This policy also caused problems after the war, when ex-servicemen received more favourable support.) Ernest Bevin (Labour Party) was Minister of Labour and National Service in the coalition government.

Operation Shingle’ began with the Anzio landings on the west coast of Italy on 22 January 1944.

Alec Hunter (written as Alex) was the husband of sister Emily’s daughter May, née Lewis (see 18 May 1941).

Mrs Cooper, wife of Walter Cooper, cobbler, whose home and shoe-shop was near Belton’s garage at that time, is probably meant here. Walter was in the local group of the Royal Observer Corps and their son, Eric, in the Boys’ Brigade.

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 INVOLVED IN OUTFALL MAINTENANCE
# RUSSIAN ADVANCES REPORTED
# MONTGOMERY APPLAUDED IN PUBLIC THEATRE
# FRENCH SOLDIERS APPEAR IN CHAPEL VILLAGE

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’?