Father has just gone on watch and Jean is nearly asleep on couch. I had heard planes about for a long time and felt in my bones they were hostile. Then round about 1 o’clock DST [double summer time] I heard the guns. Very heavy so at last I woke Father. One big explosion shook the house, it may have been a plane. It is a very bright moonlight night. When Father got up at 1.20 Jean and I got up too. Fire not quite out so put a few sticks on and revived it. Will make some tea soon and if quiet go back to bed. I have been very seedy last few days, felt better to-night but weak and breathless. Father not well either. Everyone complaining of feeling over tired. I wonder how the people feel when we raid so often.
[Aside: Sicily invaded about 8 weeks after Tunis won.] We have invaded Sicily. Wonder if Frank Adams or any of the boys from here are there. Peter Kirk went on Mon to Wales, met an old school pal, Northern, on the journey going to same place. Charlie Parish has to go this week and Ted Hall goes for medical.
Planes still about but unidentified as they say in W.Bx. Guns not so frequent. Wonder if poor Grimsby is getting it again, over 100 killed last time. Had 2 letters from Ron Sat. by Air Mail. Jean’s contained photos of Ron, 1 each. They are quite good we think. He looks older but that is to be expected. He looks well, that is the main thing. It is nice to have a glimpse of him. Says he never got that corn harvested, he had to move after it got shoulder height.
Mrs Wilson came Tue. and stayed night to attend to the cottage. She stayed up talking until nearly 12 then was up before 5 a.m. as she had to catch the 10.30 bus to Sk[egness]. She is very jolly, much plumper than she was and has aged a lot since war started. Arthur is in M.E.F. still. She laughs and jokes about him, but can tell she is anxious, he is the only child.
Our roses have been especially good this year and the white lilies too are very fine. Cant[erbury] Bells I gave Fra[nk] last year have flowered this and are huge, he brought a stalk on Sat about 3 feet high with masses of blooms, cup and saucer variety. All are deep blue, I had 3 blue and a white last year but none survived winter, even the two that did not flower died. Carnations starting to bloom, very fine. Nearly 2.30 a.m., wind freshening, do hope it won’t be a warm soft gale again to-day it really gets me down. A wicked-sounding plane about but it may be one of ours returning. Now for some tea and so to bed again.
January to July a book of patchwork pieces
Our circle is unbroken still, altho’ the beads are far apart.
Another phase of strife Mars now releases.
The last I hope. Towards victory let us start.
[The following note appeared on the inside back cover of this Diary, and probably referred to Ron’s postings (or mailing addresses) in 1943:]
B.N.A.F M.E.F CMF
[British North Africa Force]
[Middle East Forces]
[Central Mediterranean Forces (Italy)]
Ken Northern had attended the Lumley Secondary School in Skegness with Peter Kirk. However the ‘pal’ might have beenr another member of that family. (Ken’s brother, Bernard, had also attended the school, as had Ron, May’s son.)
Charlie Parrish (aged about 18 at this time) had been mentioned as a Home Guard member less than two months earlier (see 29 May 1943).
Ted Hall was Doris’s brother. He was joining the Navy, like his chief petty officer father, Albert (see 16 Mar. 1942).
‘Arthur’ refers to Mrs Wilson’s son but (as previously noted) her only child was known locally as ‘Laurie’ (see 11 May 1943).
MEF – Middle East Force. The same abbreviation was used for the Middle East Land Force, but was also believed to apply to one of Ron’s RAF postings (at least for Army Post Office purposes).
Frank, here, almost certainly refers to May’s brother.
BNAF – British North Africa Force. Ron’s first RAF posting abroad came within this description.
Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?