All posts tagged Emmie

Wed Sep 13 10.15. P.M [1944]
# SCHOOL CERTIFICATE SUCCESS FOR JEAN
# LETTER FROM RON IN SOUTH OF FRANCE
# HEAVY EXPLOSIONS HEARD IN VILLAGE
# EVACUEES RETURN TO LONDON
# TOM’S SISTER KATE VISITS

Jean had news on Mon that she had been successful in gaining School Cert. also Matric. She had 5 credits. She has done well considering all the set-backs she had. She was very excited, which probably caused the bilious attack she had yesterday or it may have been too many plums. I went to see Mrs T[ed] Brown and when I arrived home (Rene arrived at the same time) Jean was sitting over the fire having left work at 4.15 and cycled home. Ciss had given her hot peppermint and she was feeling a little better and had lit fire and put kettle on stove. She had Bovril later and a little sleep on couch, then to bed and was better this morning. Had a letter from Ron yesterday, Jean and Rene had one too. No news except that his ear was much better but not quite well. Says he managed to take his spring mattress to S. France with him so is well off the ground, they are in tents. Sounds rather tired, think he is working hard. War news is still very good, we are 5 miles over Ger. frontier.

There were two heavy explosions this morning early 2.30 and 3.15 am but there was no enemy activity reported. Evacuees are streaming back to London in spite of contrary advice. Gerry may still have something up his sleeve and apart from that practically half the houses in London are down or damaged so accommodation will be a problem for some time tho’ I can quite understand the people wanting to be at home if it is reasonably safe.

Mrs Young, Tom’s sister, came Thurs. Very pleasant and little trouble. Rene brought her in chair on Mon. Jean and I went to Chapel Sun morning, Tom preached. A swallow flew in during the sermon and stayed. “A bird of the air shall carry the news, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.” Harriet, Gladys and Grace came Sun even. They brought Eileen. She is lovely but spoiled. They brought me some plums and Eff brought me some Vic[toria] plums from Grandma. I have made about 6 lbs jam and bottled several jars, keeping enough out for pie and pudding. Have packed a box of apples for Emmie. Percy is sending them off tomorrow from M[um]by Rd [Station] as he is coaling from there. Sowed lawn seed on Mon ev. Jean rolled it in so hope it grows. No doubt several critical pairs of eyes will watch it with amused interest. Hope I sleep tonight. I scarcely slept at all last night, but went back to sleep after Rene went home to-day. She came and cleaned bed-rooms. Had asthma rather badly when I woke and toe was so painful I had to bathe it (in Ep[som] salts).

‘Matric’ refers to London matriculation exemption, which Jean earned by achieving a sufficient number of ‘credit’ grades in School Certificate (SC) examinations. Matriculation would have been a step towards qualification for university entrance, normally preceded by Higher School Certificate examinations after a further time in school. However Jean left school immediately after the SC stage, to enter employment (see 15th August 1944).

The chair used to convey Mrs Young, was probably the invalid basketwork ‘bathchair’ which had been used by Tom’s first wife.

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

Sat. Sep 9 10 o’c P.M [1944]
# AUTUMNAL WEATHER APPEARS EARLY
# JEAN AND OTHERS AT BOYS’ BRIGADE SOCIAL
# MORE SOFT TOYS MADE

It is cold but fair and calm after rain and wind. The sea rattles like a frost and it sounds very much as if autumn had arrived very early this year. Next Sunday, clocks will be put back one hour so it will seem autumn more than ever. Jean has gone to B.B. [Boys’ Brigade] Social. Sk[egness] B.B. are camping for week-end at Chapel and our B.B. are joining them but may sleep in the Hut. Jean and Mav[is] are leaving at 10 so Jean should be home shortly as she cycled and, strange to say, her lamps lit alright tho’ my torch had corroded and I had to have a new battery. Ciss and her visitors have gone to Social. I find that tho’ I am not really nervous, I am not quite easy and comfortable alone. Have just looked out, there are a lot of stars and it smells like a rime frost already. It looked more settled tonight, but it has done that before and then been a wet morning. Jean went by bus’ to-day as it was wet and windy. I cooked beef for dinner and beans and potatoes and remains of yesterday’s pudding. Rene came last night after tea, she did me some baking. I had forgotten to get flour and Jean was getting it. Rene brought some too so made my pastry, I let her take one apple tart home as she had visitor. She seems to be quite homely and nice. Rene came again tonight. I finished my pink dog ready to send to Emmie with Penguin which I finished Thurs. I have also cut out a horse and rabbit. My toe still discharges and foot is swollen again. Jean is home so will soon go to bed.

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

Sep 3. 44 Sunday 1.45 PM
# DIARY RESUMED AFTER ONE MONTH
# FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF WAR DECLARATION
# RAPID ADVANCE THROUGH FRANCE
# YORKSHIRE VISIT MARRED BY PAINFUL FOOT
# RECALLING WILL’S FONDNESS FOR THE BLACK PONY
# JEAN’S FIRST WAGES PROMPT BUDGET PLAN

Five years ago to-day (it too was a Sunday) we declared war against Ger. It was hot and sunny and I remember just how dry and brown the grass looked on the lawn at Lenton Lodge, when Ron came home from Chapel, Father and I were looking out for him to hear if there was news. He brought the tidings that war was declared at 11 o’c. In the evening we saw 12 bombers go out and later we heard all returned. To-day is an autumn day everywhere sodden with last week’s rain, the gardens torn with last night’s gale, and an icy nip in the air. We have crossed the Frontier into Belgium in more than one place and Gers. report we are fighting on their side of the Maginot Line but we have not confirmed this yet. We have driven so fast thro’ France we can’t keep up with the news.

Have not heard from Ron since the week we returned from Yea[don]. Wonder if he is in France after his rest in B.N.A.F. It was a tiring journey to Yea. I had my foot trodden on and the toe I had extracted my corn from went septic so that I only went out twice. On the Sat to cricket match and pictures. (21 planes have just roared over from sea.) I rested Sun and Mon except to Park and walk after tea Monday. Then as my foot seemed better went to Ilkley Tue, but toe gathered again and foot was very swollen, had to see Dr. Wed night and as I could not get shoe on on Thur stayed until Fri and Emmie came back with us. Good journey to Lincoln tho’ asthma was squatting on Retford platform and returned with me. At Lincoln no train until 5.45 which meant no bus’ at Sk[egness] so deciding it was easier and cheaper to bus’ remainder of journey and catch bus’ for home at Sk did so. Had to stand in queue nearly two hours. Emmie returned the following Sat catching 6.30 am train and arrived home 1.30 pm.

My foot is still septic and swollen again, had to poultice it last night and have lint on to-day. Shall not go out to-day but rest it. Altogether I do not feel much better for the holiday, it was I think too soon to go where we had that so happy few days. Everything reminded me of those days, and sitting outside the door so long, as I could not walk, it seemed as if all I could see or think of was the picture of him talking to the black pony at the meadow gate. They were all so good and kind but I felt my sorrow and loss more even than at home. I think this wearisome toe and this last week’s bout of asthma has run me down. I am so depressed and nervous, must get into the garden if I am able next week. I feel more free now that Emmie has gone and Wilsons have been and gone. I have told them I can’t “feed the mice” any longer. It worried me when I could not get. They were not much trouble but very tedious. Mr W tries to be a funny man but isn’t, and Mrs W’s cheerfulness is exceedingly tiring to me, tho’ I admire her very much as she has a trying time with his nerves and illnesses and her only son away in Italy with the troops. She is looking years older lately.

Jean was paid on Wed and proceeded to make out her budget to the uttermost farthing. W.I. Concert last night for British Merchantmen. Also tea and Bring and Buy stall. Result £17, £10 being the target. Rene bought my tea and gave Jean ticket for concert. Very good according to reports. Ciss’s visitors from London arrived Sat. First night in bed in house for 13 weeks. We profess to have almost settled F.B.s [flying bombs] by overrunning platforms etc. Hope we hear from Ron soon now. I have got my toy licence at last. It is rather obscure but shall carry on. Have order for 2 large dogs and a penguin from Emmie and still have that Golly to make for Mrs Hutton. Must buckle to this week. I have not been well enough to sew last week. Walter Banks is on leave, he and Eva were at Chapel Jean said.

The memory of husband Will (‘Father’) with the black pony at the meadow gate in Yeadon was poignantly recalled in May’s poem ‘The Black Pony’ written on 28th August 1944.

‘Platforms’ here refers to ‘launch platforms’ for V-1 flying bombs (nearly 10,000 of which had been targeted on Britain). Unfortunately, the first V-2 rocket, which was impossible to shoot down, struck Britain in September 1944. Over 1000 were launched up to the end of March 1945 (see ‘V-weapons in WWII’).

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

Aug. 28. 44
The Black Pony.

All is the same as when first I beheld it,

Nothing is changed since those glad summer days.

The cool air still flows off Chevin,

Over the vale, to the meadow’s gate.

The deep green leaves of the spreading trees,

Dry last night’s shower in the sunlit breeze.

I sit outside the grey house of stone;

Only I am changed as I sit alone.

All I see of the moors and trees,

And the vale between, in the sun and breeze,

Is the meadow-gate and your figure there,

And the little black pony that came to your call,

And you fondle his nose and smooth his hair,

As you did before in that summer fair.

You are gone away but seem so near,

Nearer than all the trees and moors,

But you are away on the mountain’s height,

While I am here in the vale.

And the little black pony is gone away.

The Black Pony

‘The Black Pony’ – photographed near The Chevin
by © Brian R Hill (son of Ron Hill)

‘The Black Pony’ was written in memory of husband, Will, when May and Jean had visited Emmie’s family in Yeadon for the first time without Will after his death. It was in Yeadon where Will had met the black pony at the meadow gate near Emmie’s home. May had been somewhat apprehensive about the visit (see 7 August 1944). Her writings concerning it, both before and afterwards, showed that her thoughts were dominated by memories of happier times with Will. Ron, of course, was also constantly on her mind at this time.

The poem has been added to the poems collection on this site. It also appears in the book The Casualties Were Small which contains over twenty of May’s poems as well as selected diary extracts, including those which suggest the background to each poem, accompanied by many nostalgic photographs.

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

Sun 7.15. a.m. Aug 6th [1944]
# DIARY RESUMED AFTER TEN DAYS
# JEAN STARTS WORK AFTER LEAVING SCHOOL
# VISIT PLANNED TO EMMIE’S FAMILY IN YORKSHIRE
# RON’S RAF ADDRESS CHANGED
# VISITING RELATIVES IN VILLAGE
# GARDEN PLANTS GROWING AND FLOWERING

I have neglected my diary lately. Seem to have been fully occupied. Jean started work last Monday July 31st at Town Hall Skeg[ness] as Junior Water Rental Clerk. Tom thinks it is a good start. 22/6 a week paid monthly but the other girl gets the same and has not been to sec[ondary] school. Girl who teaches Jean (Freda) very amiable, showed Jean how to type one day and Jean typed a little letter to Ron. Must remind her to write to him and send it. She has Mon. (Bank Hol.) off, also Tue. afternoon and has been granted leave of absence for the week we go to Yeadon. She seems to like her work. We go to Yeadon if all’s well on Fri and return Thur 17th so hope Emmie can come back that day.

Ron’s address B.N.A.F. again now, he has moved, I wonder if he is back in Africa. He is very fit and well, brown to his waist. Annie’s visitors came on Tuesday, they bought my knitted penguin, a golli and a Teddy Bear 7/6 each and ordered another golli and a rabbit but bought two rabbits and a golli. Rabbits 5/0 and 4/0 the smaller one. I forgot to allow turnings on pattern. My live bunnies are thriving, 7 beauties. We moved them into long hutch yesterday. Also moved hutches. Have got wood stacked on end to save rotting down. We are reducing the pile. It soon goes with no one to replenish it. Dear Father, he seldom came off patrol without something. I have hung the float up in the kitchen. He would like to think we have kept it. The old garden seat wants repairing, I don’t know whether I can do it or if I have wood that will do. These little things worry me.

Will, Bill, May (holding the float), Rene, Ron

Supp[lementary] Pen[sion] reduced to 16/6, and 5/0 orphan’s Pen. stopped, so tho’ we are no better off for Jean working we are 11/6 a week more independent. If I can only get kapok and get licence and sale for toys we may soon do without Supp. Pen. The widow’s pension I consider my right, earned and paid for by Father. I went to Labour Ex[change] on Mon. re toys and hope to obtain licence soon now. Then I can make a move about selling them. I bought a new black dress from Keightleys 38/6 just what I wanted so still have Jean’s £1 from Aunt Jet. Jean’s shoes were 25/0 from Cooper’s. Must remind her to take coup[on]s. Lily sold my brown ones for 12/6 and 3 coups. Commission 1/0.

Went to Harriet’s last evening to see how Grace was after appendicitis op. on Wed. She is as well as possible to be after it and hopes to come home at end of fortnight. It was acute and would soon have been necessary, perhaps suddenly. They are very taken with new doctor. Eileen is marvellous. Maisie and the other Eileen have gone back to Scotland. Ciss has visitors for a week. Gwen going for holiday today. I must get some Pen. money this week, also leave rent with Ciss. Ron’s allotment not thro’ yet but must not touch it. Called at G.ma’s as I came from Harriet’s. Ken and Den [Raynors] having a boxing match in kitchen. G.ma says Ber[nard] doing a big trade with baskets. Must have cycle basket for Jean when she gets cycle, so good and useful. Rene brought flowers to-day for grave. I want to take them to-day. I miss my flowers so. I hope another year to have plenty. We have got square of grass at back quite neat and have mown it twice with lawn mower. It is not very level but will roll it when it rains. I am filling hollows with tufts of grass from garden path which want removing. Markery growing well under apple tree. Antirrhinums Mrs Stewart gave me beginning to flower, all red I think. Mary brought me wallflower plants and marigolds, also eggs and dried peaches.

It is 8.30 so think I will soon get up. Rev Lowther is preaching so want to go to Chapel once. Have not got oil stove top back so must light fire. Had better get meths for Fri. as we shall not want to light fire but hope we will have stove back by then. Tom starts holiday Tues and is off Monday so Rene won’t be able to come much, but with Jean at home Mon and Tues aft we shall manage. Made trousers of Jean’s pyjamas last night. Peas in fields not filling Elsie says owing to lack of sun. We had more sun yesterday than for a long time but cold clammy mist night and morning almost like sea aar. Not quite so thick this morning but still very dull. Think I hear Brock’s, milk botts not put out!

Freda Whitmore was Jean’s senior colleague at work.

Ron’s RAF Squadron (93) had moved on from mainland Italy to Corsica in late July 1944. This location apparently came within the ‘umbrella’ of the British North Africa Force (BNAF) at this time.

The ‘float’ was a green-glass ball which had been attached to a sea-fishing net and had presumably been picked up from the beach by Will. May is pictured holding the float in the family group photograph taken by Jean in 1942.

Eileen, whose grandmother was Harriet, refers to Herbert and Annie Faulkner’s baby daughter (see 11 May 1943).

‘The other’ Eileen here refers to Ben and Maizie McGuigan’s baby daughter, who was born in Scotland at Ben’s parents’ home. Maizie was considering staying with Ben’s parents again but she returned to live in a rented house in Chapel St Leonards to await Ben’s return from Navy service (see 18 November 1943).

‘Ron’s allotment’ was probably an allowance towards ‘home rent’ from RAF pay, possibly in recognition of his father’s death.

Rev. Lowther was a visiting Methodist minister.

Aar – or haar – was a sea-mist.

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

Wed July 12 9.45 P.M. [1944]
# JEAN’S EXAMS TIRING BUT SATISFYING
# MORE SOFT TOYS SOLD
# BAKING PIES, CAKES AND SCONES
# SEARCHLIGHTS LIGHT UP BEDROOMS

The sun is still some distance off the horizon but Jean and I have come to bed. She is tired with exams, very fussy because she completed a sum in Algebra that Geo[rge Ranson] had not. Does not seem so nervous now that she is well started. I am afraid I am starting a cold, do hope not. Cleaned coal-house today, i.e. swept cobwebs down and lime-washed it and incidentally the coals. Am pleased to say I have 4 or 5 bags in store as we do not burn much this weather and alas I have not much cooking to do. Have had a quiet day as Rene was only here a little while before dinner and Ciss was busy ironing this afternoon and went out to Cen[tral] Hall to pictures to-night. I was glad to rest after dinner but did a little knitting. Am making a penguin from odd bits of wool. After tea I cut out a rabbit and a Teddy Bear. Emmie wants more bears if possible. Had a letter from her today and 30/0 for month’s rent etc. The bears sell well and indeed are very nice. She was very pleased with pink velvet “Scottie”. Rene took “Gollie” to-day. She thinks it fine.

Had 2 letters from Ron too written early in June. He seems to have been quite fit and does not find it as hot as last summer but more like our English climate. I did a little baking with ¼ marg and 2 oz drip[ping] today, made a milk curd cheesecake, rhub[arb] pie, short cake and scones, not bad I think. Jean and I walked up the road to get rabbit-meat after tea. “Jane” has made a nest in one corner but nothing doing yet. Planes are droning round and round, there were a lot about last night and a lot of searchlights lit up my bed-room. Jean’s too. Mist is rising so it may be hot tomorrow. Expect Rene will come for dinner if Tom goes to work.

‘Getting rabbit-meat’ referred to collecting ‘herb Bennet’ etc. from the verges, as food and bedding for the rabbits.

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

Sun June 25 10.40 P.M. [1944]
# BLACKOUTS AND LIGHTING PROBLEMS
# FLYING BOMBS SHOT DOWN AND LOCAL VICTIM
# SOFT TOY SALES ADMIN
# PENSION FORMS AGAIN

I am in bed, have put up Bl[ack].O[u]t Curtain and tied string to E[ectric].L[ight] switch. Usually I can switch off with it but sometimes the string comes off. Light is jumpy to-night, decidedly AC [alternating current] I think. I don’t often B.O now either up or down[stairs] as it is light most of the night and will be for a time while this moon lasts. Tonight’s news opened with “Germans say we have taken Cherbourg.” Why on earth couldn’t they say whether we have or haven’t, instead of Gers say. An Ingoldmells boy, Smalley, was killed by a “Robot Plane” in S.E. and brought home to be buried this week. Lily Monks has two brothers wounded in France. Rob. Pl. continue to come over in fairly large numbers I think. We shoot a lot down. A Lincs. boy, it was Nurse Musgrave’s nephew, shot the first down. Mrs Hutton’s baby born Friday.

Emmie sent me £2 Thursday, 15/0 of it was for toys and 25/0 for 5 weeks rent. After this she is sending me 7/6 week from her and Ron. She wants more toys. I am still in the throes of red tape and Form so and so about them. Have sent to Dutton’s for latest form, must fill it in when it comes and await answer. Man from Sup[plementary] Pen[sion] Office Boston came Thurs. Very nice, but oh! what a lot they want to know and proof of everything even wanting to see my Birth Cert. It seems I am quite eligible as I am receiving Pen. for child, tho’ it will be done I reckon before they ravel this out. I hope I shall find I can do without it soon.

Smalley was a local (Ingoldmells) boy killed by a V-1, one of the early victims.

Lily Monk’s brothers, wounded in France were Reg (Green Howards) and George Boddice (Royal Engineers), both of whom recovered (see 22 March 1942).

Nurse Musgrave was the District Nurse based in Willoughby, whose working area, covered by bicycle, included the village.

Mrs Hutton, here, may have been Valerie’s mother (see 9 Feb 1943). She was NOT Mrs Hutton of the evacuee family (see 5 March 1944) but was probably the one meant with reference to toys, later.

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

Sat. 17 June. 9 o’c. a.m. [1944]
# VISIT FROM FORMER LANDLADY
# KING GEORGE MEETS TROOPS IN NORMANDY
# FIRST V-1 FLYING BOMBS REPORTED
# GARDENING HELP

Rough again this morning with a North wind. Not a bit like June. “Flaming June”. Last night Mrs Fletcher called. She looks very much older and is thinner. She is very grey (hair) and has the colourless face of the really elderly woman. She looks years older than Will did but is the same age. She has another tiresome young dog, a great black mongrel which if properly trained would be a fine companion, but being entirely untrained is a nuisance. She was very pleased to find house all ready to put her things in and is giving me her curb for the room here. If it is nice I must write to tell Emmie. Says she hoped it didn’t bother us getting out of the house as she never expected we should be able to move! “After all the worry we gave ourselves about it.” Well we had to move anyway. It’s wonderful how very nice everybody thinks these houses are! I must be hard to please as I am not particularly thrilled yet, but don’t think I should be very “thrilled” anywhere yet, tho’ I do think some of the little bungalows look cosy. There is certainly a lot of room for the money here and if only I could do it, I could make the rent with visitors. But I can’t so that’s that.

King went to Normandy yesterday. Fierce fighting. Yesterday we had news on wireless of a new secret weapon of Gers. It seems it is a Robot plane directed by wireless which explodes over its target. We gather considerable damage was done on its first trial here on Thurs. night. They were over S. Coast again last night. Don’t suppose they will waste them over country areas like this. Old Gerry’s wicked cleverness is not exhausted yet. What a waste of clever brains! If they were used for good the world might be heaven surely.

10. o’c. Evening same day.
Jean has washed her hair and is finishing drying it by the fire. She went with Mavis flag-selling after dinner (Aid to China) as Mav. is under 16 and could not go alone. (She is 15 tomorrow.) Rene came during the evening altho’ it was very windy. Cis and Gw[en] have been to Sk[egness] to the Circus. Said there were few there as “Salute the Soldier” week has drawn the crowds. I have done various mending jobs and cut out 3 more toys. Also crocheted a good part of a slipper sole in string for Cis. Rene brought us a bar of choc. Also a 3/6 bot. of Horlicks and the 4 p[ost]-cards of Will. Must take G.ma one. Have taken fur off green coat. Think I shall make collar reveres less and have it dyed black. It will be so useful and save my costume. Frank came and sized landing paper this morning and hilled the 3 rows of potatoes he had planted for me. I polished lino in kit. and boards in room, also piano. Jean polished spoons. I noticed one had a particularly brilliant shine, when I was putting the spoons away at dinner and found it was Dad’s old Army spoon with his number 283959, 25 years ago but I still know it by heart even as I know Ron’s 1128072 now. We have had no letter from him this week, nor from Emmie. Norman’s wife has heard from him.

The ‘curb’given by former landlady, Mrs Fletcher, meant fireplace fender or kerb.

The ‘Robot plane’ was the V-1 ‘flying-bomb’, later nicknamed ‘doodle-bug’ or ‘buzz-bomb’. The attacks began on 13th June 1944, soon reaching around fifty a day on London, and, although almost half were brought down, over 3000 struck.

Gwen Ranson was Percy and Ciss’s daughter, George’s younger sister (see 7 May 1944).

Probably Frank who was helping with papering and gardening was Frank Simpson (brother) but was possibly Frank Raynor (brother in law).

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

Fri June 16. 8.35 a.m. [1944]
# ACTION AND POLITICS IN FRANCE
# GRANDMA GIVES SUPPORT
# BUREAUCRACY REGARDING TOY TRADE
# GRAMMAR SCHOOL SPORTS DAY

A week since I wrote my diary last. I think I must try to write every day as the old ones are quite interesting to the immediate family and perhaps I may enjoy reading them all sometime. The war is well started, all our landing parties joined up. But it will be a hard struggle. Every day they bring the wounded home. It is a pity there are these strained relations between De Gaulle and some of the French and our own country and U.S.A. It is a pity I think that we do not come out straight and open either all for him and give him his due share in the Conferences or openly turn him down. U.S.A. don’t seem to like him and it must make his way doubly hard for him, having to fight for every step of his way against criticism from Allies and the open antagonism of part of his own country!

It was rough and cold last Sun but Jean and I walked down to Grandma’s intending to go to Chapel but I stayed with G.ma. She seemed fairly well and cheerful. Gave me 10/0 as she wondered how we would manage. Told her I was applying for Sup[plementary] Pen[sion]. My P. book came back yesterday with new address. 15/0 to 25 July then 10/0.

I must get on with Toy trade. Have made a dog out of red checked gingham, very nice for pram toy. Yesterday I finished Teddy Bear. Very good. On Mon I went to C. S. Bureau to ask about selling them. I have had to write to B[oard] of Trade. The tabbies in C.S.B are very kind and amusing, Mrs B[arratt] especially. They chatter and shuffle their papers and try to recollect what they know of the subject, but as they could not find anything definite gave me the address of B o.T. They would have written for me but I thought I would save them the bother. Afterwards Tom said they might have answered the C.S.B quicker, but we hadn’t thought of that. I thought writing direct and being answered might be quicker. We must wait a few days and see. Dr M syringed both of Jean’s ears, but her deafness had been better all day. Still a lot of wax came out so I’m pleased she went. He also mixed more ointment for psoriasis which up to now she has forgotten to call for. I made her put a knot in handkerchief to-day to remember.

Yesterday I went to G S [Grammar School] Sports as Jean begged me to go and see the school. It would be last opport[unity] while she was there. It was the best day of the week but I did find it very tiring especially as I had been to Rene’s the day before. Ciss wants me to crochet a pair of string soles for her slippers (they are lovely) and Eff says will I turn a sock heel for her one night. I have plenty of work to keep me occupied at present. Hope I shall hear from Emmie to-day. Expect it is too soon to hear from B. of T yet.

General Charles de Gaulle, although formally recognised by Churchill as leader of the ‘Free French’ since 1940, had faced various challenges which raised doubts about his authority. However, about a week after the D-Day landings, de Gaulle arrived in Normandy where his popular support was immediately apparent and he was able to gain a major influence on the strategy for the liberation of France. His entry into Paris, on 25th August 1944, and the liberation parade next day where he was accompanied by Resistance leaders, met with great acclaim and secured his own position of leadership. Early in the War he was known to have visited a unit of French sailors stationed at Ingoldmells, near May’s village – as seemingly referred to in the poem ‘Ye Cannot See’.

‘C. S. Bureau’ probably meant ‘Civic or Council Services Bureau’.

‘Tabbies’ meant tabby-cats – a term of endearment for the women in the Bureau.

Mrs Elsa Barratt was one of the C. S. Bureau ladies, probably in charge. She was also the local representative of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) in which capacity she had tried, vigorously but unsuccessfully, to arrange for Ron to be granted home leave after Will’s death. During the War she was also Billeting Officer for evacuees from Grimsby. She later became Chair of Skegness Town Council and several times Town Mayor.

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

Fri June 9. 6.o’c a.m. [1944]
# BIRDSONG LESS THAN AT HOME NEAR POINT
# PENSION FORMS FRUSTRATE
# SOFT TOY MAKING UNDERWAY
# CONCERN FOR LOCAL MEN ON ACTIVE SERVICE
# DIFFERING FORECASTS OF WHEN WAR WILL END

I slept until 5 o’c then woke with the old enemy asthma. I have taken down the black-out and opened the window as it is very close. It has been more rain and looks as if it may be drizzling now. It will do a lot of good. I can hear doves or pigeons cooing and every now and then a cuckoo. There seems to be a lot of cuckoos this year. In the back-ground is a chorus of smaller birds, but the black-birds and thrushes do not sing so much now. There does not seem so many birds here, I think the hills are a sanctuary for them at The Point. Yesterday I had notice that my Pension Book was at P.O. but they have put Lenton L[odge] for address tho’ I wrote some time since and informed them of the change. I went and got the necessary form W47 I think but found when I got home that I should have had an envelope with it and also Pension Bk. I must go again and draw Pension to the time we came here and post book with form. Oh, these forms!

I made the rabbit up yesterday that I cut out Wed. It is fine. Also I made up the grey horse I cut out some time since, so shall send all three to Emmie. I must really go to Sk[egness] and see about licence etc for selling them. If Jean is still deaf with one ear must go on Mon. We cleaned (Jean and I) the heap of rubbish left by Chriss [?] off the front garden last night. Rene dug a piece yesterday. It is nearly all done now and as I have got the roll[er] home I think I shall try to get seed in after the rain. If it doesn’t come properly I must do it again in autumn. Nurse says she doesn’t think Mrs C[oote] will last over to-day. It will be a relief if she goes, for herself and him. I heard him [Mr Coote] say yesterday, “I wish she could go, never mind what happens to me.” He does not believe in any life after this and will not have anyone to talk to Mrs C. but Ciss says she told her that she sung a bit sometimes and prayed too so I hope she has found the right way and that he may yet come to know different. How could I carry on at all but for the hope of a life to come, and meeting all those who have gone. One night Will seemed to come, and I wanted to go with him, but I thought of Jean and said, “I can’t leave Jean yet but wait for me.” I wonder where he is waiting, but he will be happy, not fretting as we do still.

Poor Mrs Hall has her two boys and her husband on the same ship. If it is lost she may lose all. I pray not. Almost every house has someone in the services they are anxious about. Poor Daisy, she expects Norman has gone. I felt so bad when I heard the tanks were going forward. He is in Tank Corps. Joan’s brother has gone too. Laurence [nephew] had orders to have all his kit ready, I wonder if he has gone. The wounded are already coming back, and alas, there are already many who will not come back. In Italy they are fighting hard too. Rome was taken without fighting. Gers said to save the city, but they went in such haste that they left a lot of equipment behind. Frank Adams has gone to Italy. Poor Sybil, I must write. I am pleased Ron is not back here now. If he had come home and then gone to France we should have been more worried than now. He seems safer there somehow.

Surely this year will see the end. Churchill has issued a warning against undue optimism at present. Ger has prepared for this and is not done yet. Perc[y] says it will be over in Sept. Let’s hope he is right. French have met our troops with cheers in Normandy, there was some doubt of their reception I think and no doubt all will not be so friendly. The Vichy Party have been told to fight against us. Even after the war I fear France will be torn between the two elements. “A country divided against itself cannot stand.” Turkey has disappointed us, but Spain and Portugal seem to be veering a little more to us under pressure tho’ I think Spain would defy us if she dared. Old scores are not forgotten. I think few planes were over last night as I did not wake.

10.20 p.m. To-day I drew the first 6 weeks of my widow’s pension. (I do not dare to let my thoughts dwell on it.) It is only 15/0 for Jean and I but what should I have done without it? Until 6 years or so ago when the Vol[untary] contributions came in we did not pay any Pension money. I drew the money up to 9th May, then as we came here on 10th address has to be altered, shall have about 4 more weeks to draw, back money, when it comes back, then there will just be 15/0 a week until July 25, then 10/0 until Jean is at work, unless I get Sup[plementary] Pension. I should get 10/0 for toys I sent to Emmie today, less 10D for postage. If I can get a sale for them and get a supply of kapok I shall be alright I think.

I drew £4.10. Pension and £3.16.1 from Will’s S[avings] Cert[ificate]. I gave Rene £1 to buy something. She is buying a cycle- basket. I think I had better have one too. I gave Jean 10/0 of it to put in Trustee [Savings Bank] for “Salute the Soldier” week at Sk. I made up my stamps to 30/0 to-day for a Cert. After this my savings will be less I expect.

I made a temporary “scraper” tonight as the soil here sticks, it is not like our old sandy garden. It is a very good job, except that the scraper part is not strong enough, must look out for a better piece somewhere. Percy set me some of his cabb[age] plants to-night. I think he’d like to plant the whole front garden, but I mean to have it grass.

The person named as ‘Chriss’, presumably connected with the previous occupant of Council House No. 3, has not been identified.

Joan, wife of Roy Simpson [nephew], had two brothers, Tony and John Collison. The reference here was probably to John, who was in the Tank Corps. Tony was in the Grenadier Guards.

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