All posts tagged Emmie

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’?

Wed June 7. 10.15 p.m. [1944]
# NEWS OF ADVANCES IN FRANCE
# FORMER NEIGHBOUR CLOSE TO DEATH
# FAMILY VISITORS BRING CAKES
# PLANS FOR MORE SOFT TOY MAKING

News tonight says tanks are proceeding towards town of Caen where our troops are fighting. I wonder if [nephew] Norman [Lammiman] is there and if Peter Kirk took part in the great naval crossing. Mrs Hall will be thinking of husband and two sons. I went to see Mrs Coote this morning. She was only semi-conscious and seemed in great pain then. D[istrict] nurse came, she thinks she will not live much longer. Em L and Doris came on 12 bus’ from S[kegness]. Doris is looking well now, Em too. They brought a lot of cakes etc. I fancy I am the poor relation now. After the last two or three easier years it is going to take a little time to adjust things. I don’t see how the pension can possibly be enough to live on, I don’t even know how little it is yet. Jean’s ear still blocked, have syringed it tonight so hope it will unstop it or must go to the Drs. tomorrow as he does not take surgery Fri. and she is to go to [Margaret] Pickers on Sat to see about cycle.

I have cut out a rabbit ready to make for Emmie but have not sewn it as Ciss came in. I was not sorry as I was tired with Em and D coming. Must buckle to tomorrow as I want to make some money somehow. Sprogg has not returned. Snip brought another young rabbit to-day, not big enough to be taken from her. “Lady Jane” has a nest but don’t know how many are in it. Rene, Ciss etc were collecting for Flag Day, Red+ and St John’s this morning. It rained most of the morning. Rene did not get for dinner until 2 o’c. She had to go home to change.

Mrs Emily Hall’s family lived in semi-detached Council House No. 1, next door but one from May’s No. 3, on Skegness Road (see Village Map). Her sons, Ted and Albert (see 13 Jul 1943), had both joined their father Albert’s ship, following Navy training.

Mrs Coote, here, probably referred to Frank Coote’s elderly aunt (see 4 Dec 1942). She and her husband, Tom, were living in Council House No. 2 at that time.

Doris, here, was May’s sister Emily’s eldest daughter (see 19 Feb 1942).

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

Sat June 3 8.50 P.M. [1944]
# DIARY RESUMES AFTER FOUR WEEKS
# SETTLING INTO COUNCIL HOUSE
# WHITSUN VISIT FROM EMMIE AND PARENTS
# YEARNING FOR PEACE
# GRIEVING FOR WILL

We have been in Council House over 3 weeks now. We came on May 10th and Mrs Fl[etcher] came to Lenton Lodge on 15th. Elsie came this evening, she says Mrs Fl. called on Sat. on her way from Sk[egness]. We should be at Rene’s. Emmie and her Mo and Dad came on the Thurs. 25th for Whit. and we all went to sea and then on to Rene’s. Emmie went home on Tue and the others Friday. The weather was mostly fine and they enjoyed the visit and we did too but all felt very deeply the absence of the other one who had so looked forward to giving them a pleasant holiday. We seem to be settling fairly well. I am not as nervous as I was, but nights have been quieter except for a very bad storm on Wed. night. I have never seen such lightning. We got up as there was a raid in distance too. Mrs Rus[sell] came to my room. I did not see the lightning so much in the little room.

I have had £6 from Ron and put it in P.O. Pension not thro’ yet. Mr and Mrs Ted B[rown] and Eric came on 6 bus’ and back on 7.30 to-night. It was very nice to see them. They brought me a lot of flowers. Rene brought some too and has taken part of them to grave.

Jean has gone to play tennis with Mav[is]. She is still not at all well after her poisoned face, her nose and eyes peeling and spots coming on her arms and legs and she is very irritable at times, she is taking a tonic. I have planted several potatoes to-day, also white turnip seed, brussels, dahlias and gladiolas. Very late for all but turnips. Peas, early potat. and lettuce are up. Radishes not so good.

We are fairly straight now. Mrs Brock came to-night to see if I would take a land girl. I think I had better not, I should want to know something about her first and then I don’t think I could get up at 6.30 or earlier every day because of my asthma. It is troubling me a bit again now. Think I had better send word I won’t take it on even for a short time, there is Jean to consider too. Shall be pleased when I know how much Pension is, if it is the bare 10/0 for me and about 8 for Jean it won’t be much even without rent, must set about toy and rug-making next week. The house isn’t as easy as L[enton] L[odge] either, and the garden is extra tho’ Percy and the others are very good. It all seems so futile. I wish we could have got a small bungalow with a smaller garden, but rents are too high, even if one was at liberty.

We are going ahead in Italy, wish it was over and Ron home. We are all war-weary and sick at least for Peace and quiet and rest from all this bombing. 100,000 tons of bombs on Europe in one little month of May. “Oh, liberty, what crimes are done in thy name.” Who said that? I went with the Rus’s to Sk on Wed, Rean and Jean too and to the pictures, it was all a great weariness to me, and the dreary home-coming with no Will to greet us with fire made and tea ready as he always used to do if we were out with-out him. I miss him terribly, and I am afraid Jean frets a great deal. Rene says little but has grieved very much and still does, I know and feel. G’ma said good-bye to Emmie which rather upset her as it is so unusual for her to say G.bye. I wonder if we’ll see Emmie’s Dad again, he seems very frail at times. Mrs R. takes great care of him, indeed they all take care of each other.

‘Went to sea’ here refers to looking at the sea.

Mrs Brock was the wife of farmer Fred Brock (see 7 March 1942).

The exclamation “Oh, Liberty, what crimes are done in thy name!” has been attributed to a Madame Roland uttering it just prior to her own beheading at the guillotine, the month after the beheading of Queen Marie Antoinette of France in October 1793. It alluded to the cry of the French Revolution: “Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!”

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

Sun May 7 7.45 P.M. [1944]
# DIARY RESUMES AFTER THREE WEEKS
# PREPARATIONS FOR HOUSE MOVE
# RECOLLECTION OF PRE-WAR SUBMARINE TRAGEDY

We got No. 3 Council House and this is the last Sunday at Lenton Lodge. It is fine but cold. My anemones have been so beautiful this year. I sent G’ma all the blooms to-day, as I want to transplant them to the new home. I wonder, will it feel like home but think so, with all the old things round us. After all, it is the old familiar furniture, books and pictures that make the home, not the house which after all is somebody else’s. At first I thought it would not ever be home as Father had never lived there but it was Rene who reminded me that we would have all the same old things. Oh! What a lot of things too, to sort and pack. I had so dreaded to move again even with Will to help and now we have to move without his help. Frank and Charles and Charles H… [en? arn?] moved and re-erected shed yesterday and carted a lot of things beside. Rene has just been. She has been to Church as it is R[ed] + [Cross] and St J[ohn's] Sunday. There is a service on the wireless to which Jean and I are listening. Pole is taken down but Hallgarth hung wire on clothes props.

Rene has seen Aunt Mary who says she is coming to help us sort new house out tomorrow as far as we can. I shall be glad when we are in and settling down. I am getting very tired and Rene looks tired too but is coming back to sleep. I ought to make her stay at home but I am so nervous. When I get moved next to Cis I expect I shall be better. It is rather lonely here with only Miss Sykes at the end. We are almost packed, at least I hope so, we seem in a mess. Hardly know whether to feel flattered or flabbergasted at Mrs Fletcher’s request to us, to leave some old curtains up to keep soldiers from getting in before she comes. How does she think we run to extra curtains in these days? However there are still a few of the old things she left and a pair of lace ones at kit. window that are falling to bits so must see what can be done, but the effect will be far from artistic I am sure. As there are no soldiers here now I don’t think her house will be wanted and in any case they don’t commandeer them without a notice except in an emergency. I hate leaving young poplars and gooseberries and roses but we can’t take everything. It has been a lovely day but cold.

I have looked round Mrs Wilson’s house and packed up her keys. It is too far to feed her mice from Coun. House and I don’t feel like coming back here yet. Ted Brown has “Sara”. We are keeping “Jane” as Emmie named “Lady’s” daughter. Roy is home for week-end. It is Jo[an]‘s birthday. Being sta[tioned] at Strubby [RAF] he can cycle over. Eva is home ill. Grace has had a week’s holiday. Daisy’s dau-in-law here for weekend. Norman has an A.P.O address. Talk, talk, talk of Sec front goes on and on. There is a lull in Italian fighting. Terrible bombing goes on in Germany.

Emmie wrote this week. She has knocked her hand at work and been busy cleaning. Hopes to come at Whit[sun] with her mother and daddy. Do hope it’s nice for them. Shall be nicely settled then if all is well. She sent a photo of Ron, a snap and £1 from her and Ron she said. Jean has a cold and I am afraid I have a bit too. Asthma not bad so far. Jean went to Chapel this morning, Tom preached. She went to S.S. [Sunday School] too. I have not been, I am tired and the wind is cold.

Mr Gutteridge preaching. What a long time it seems and what a lot has happened since he fetched L[ord] and L[ady] Addison from here in June 1939. She asked me if I had got my store cupboard well stocked! They knew then no doubt of this war. We only vaguely guessed and hoped for the best. Well the store cupboard has been nearly emptied now, after nearly 5 years of war, not of necessity but because we feared the goods would deteriorate! They were here when the Thetis went down and her crew except one perished thro’ negligence in the first place then muddle and dilettantism. Every news time they came to hear the news of it. It was agonising to us. What it was to the relatives I cannot guess. The memorial service was broadcast, a sacrilege I think, and I can never forget the agonised cry of one distraught soul “Oh dear, oh dear”, as it rang thro’ the church and echoed all over the world. God comfort all such, and their name is Legion since then. Deep as our sorrow is and desolate as we are, we have much to be thankful for, even in our grief.

The three helpers were probably Frank Simpson, Charles Hill and Charles Harness. It is believed that the shed at Lenton Lodge was taken to Amy’s at Trusthorpe for use as a hen-house.

‘St. J.’ refers to the St. John’s Ambulance Association.

The wire was for the radio aerial which had been strung between the house and the pole.

Ciss and Percy Ranson, and children, lived in Council House No. 4 (semi-) attached to No.3 earmarked for May (see Village Map).

“Sara”, “Jane” and “Lady” were rabbits.

Will’s sister Daisy’s daughter-in-law was Freda, wife of Norman Lammiman.

Theo Gutteridge was a ‘local preacher’ and friend of Rene’s husband Tom (Mr. A). He farmed at Middlemarsh, between Skegness and Burgh-le-Marsh. ‘He’ in the related sentence may refer to Will or to Mr Gutteridge who may have taken the guests to his home, or to visit their relatives in Hogsthorpe, or to a station for their journey home (see East Lincolnshire Map).

Lord and Lady Addison were earlier mentioned in the Diaries on 21st January 1942 as ‘paying guests’.

In June 1939 a junior officer had opened the inner door of a flooded torpedo tube and inadvertently sank the submarine HMS Thetis. Ninety nine men were lost.

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

Sun April 16. 44 2.o’c. p.m.
# EERIE STILLNESS WITH WILL NO LONGER AROUND
# ANSWERING LETTERS OF CONDOLENCE
# ANTICIPATING MOVING HOUSE

After dinner, I have just washed and changed (into my black dress). Jean has gone to a Youth Parade to Hogsthorpe Chapel. I detest these parades and uniforms. It seems so still, no Father coming in and sitting reading and smoking, or asleep in his chair. I have no interest in the radio yet. It seems to trouble me, tho’ I like Jean to play her piano. There are still a lot of letters to answer. I wrote to Laurence [Hill] and John Gibson this morning. I am trying not to worry over the car selling and the other things. His bicycle has gone. It was of no use to keep it, but it seems like taking bits of me with it parting from the things he used. In time they say we get used to it, and indeed during the last war we got used to his being away, but there was a letter every day, and looking forward to his return. Always now there is the queer little feeling of fear in my mind, like I used to feel in air-raids when he was out, or if he was driving in a fog. Yet he never seems so far away, but I cannot see him or touch him.

We shall soon know whether we can have a Council House. It will be like tearing up roots to leave here. We have grown to love it and have had less worry the last 3 years from business than we ever had.

John Gibson was the husband of Ron’s wife Emmie’s cousin Annie.

During WWI, Will had worked on the land and would probably have been assigned to different locations. At the end of the War, in 1918, he had been on a farm in Sibsey, near Boston, as recalled in May’s Diary (see 11th November 1942).

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

Mon Feb 21. 8.30 a.m. [1944]
# MASS BOMBING RAIDS ON GERMANY
# NEWS FROM RON IN ITALY
# GIFTS OF CLOTHING RECEIVED

It has continued bitterly cold, too cold to snow some people say. It usually turns a little milder before snow. So far all we have is icy cold sleet showers.

Largest weight of bombs 2,300 tons dropped in Ger. early Sun morning, 79 of our planes were missing. No, the enemy is not conquered yet. 2000 U.S.A. bombers went out in daylight yesterday. Russians have cleared up pocket of trapped Gers, a terrible waste of life there. We are having a stiff fight in Italy, if we can push in where we have made bridge-head at Anzio beach it will have a great effect on German morale, proving their West defences may not be impregnable. Our Gen[eral]s are determined to do it.

Had 2 letters from Ron Thur or Fri. Rene 2 and Jean 2. 6. Mine were the most recent Jan 19 being newest. We think he has moved on as he says he missed writing one week. He is very pleased with African Star and Clasp. Said they had a great sewing-time when they received ribbons. The actual star they will get after the war. He says they have had big frosts but it gets quite hot in the day-time. He had been washing his hair and says it is a treat not to have it full of dust and sand as in summer. Says Italian women aren’t very good laundry women.

Emmie sent Jean’s grey wool all ready knitted into a very nice jumper. She had intended kn[itting] it herself but owing to other work she could not knit at mill so got a woman to do it. Jean was very pleased as it came just right for the B.B. [Boys’ Brigade] social. I am pleased too as I have plenty of work without it. Made a little dog last week from pieces Jean’s blouse. Will do for a pram toy for a baby as it is cream colour. Blouse fits well. Mrs Wilson sent Father 5/0 and a pair of very nice slippers for me. Felt soles and inner soles and very finely knitted uppers in wools of all colours. I took blk-out down before Jean went to school to-day. Eff ‘s hens are laying again, have had 1 doz eggs and can have ½ doz again to-day. Amy coming tomorrow and Ken if all well. We have killed large rabbit (Lady) as they like rabbit and the Sunday joint looks very sick by Tues.

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

Mon. Feb. 14. 10. 0’c PM [1944]
# VALENTINE’S DAY MEMORIES
# SHOPPING AND LIBRARY VISIT IN SKEGNESS
# FRIENDS VISIT – DAUGHTER ENGAGED
# WELSH SOLDIERS AT CHAPEL SERVICE

St. Valentine’s Day. I remember some of my young aunts having valentines set out on their dressing-tables when I was small. Went to Sk[egness] this morning altho’ it rained. Only a little drizzle while we were there. Got stockings for Jean. Says they are too dark so may change, she having those I got from Pontings. I have a bad pain under my left shoulder, don’t know whether it is asthma coming on or just indigestion as it comes and goes. I took Ron’s light hat to be dyed and reblocked for myself. Dark maroon, don’t know if it will be a success as woman in shop said it would not make a very big one. Of course I don’t want a very big one but don’t want one with no brim. Changed library book. Mr Middleton’s “Our Village” was not in, so got one by Georgette Hayer not one that Emmie recommended as they had not got them or they were out. Had an A.M.L. [air mail letter] from Ron Sat written Feb. 2. He had got mine written Jan 19th. He is fit and well.

Ted B[rown] and Bessie came Sun afternoon. B. engaged but says not going to be married until after the war. Well I’ve heard those tales before, she may or may not. We all went to Chapel on Sun. night. A lot of Welsh soldiers were there so the singing was very good. Afterwards they went to Cen. Hall for tea and cakes and a sing-song. Father and I did not go, but Jean did and came home with Elsie. Called at G’ma’s, Chris [Lammiman] was there, he is growing a nice little fair moustache. The boys are growing up.

Better news from Italy yesterday and to-day but the struggle is very fierce. Gers over Eng. last night about 50. Some damage and cas[ualties]. About 15 got to London but no bombs dropped. B. Brown is going to Wales when she goes back from leave, near to Bangor, for a course, she is a L[ance] corporal now.

Mr Middleton, named as author of Our Village, was probably NOT one of the local Middletons (see 11 Oct 1942), but may have been the broadcaster CH Middleton: The ‘World’s first television gardening programme’, In Your Garden, With Mr Middleton, had been broadcast by the BBC in 1936. On radio he launched the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign in September 1939.

Georgette Heyer (1902 -1974) was a popular British author who specialised in historical romance – especially the Regency period- and detective fiction.

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

Fri Jan. 28. 8.30 a.m. [1944]
# MEN’S UTILITY SUITS UNPOPULAR
# AIRCRAFT ACTIVITY AND EXPLOSION
# GERMAN RADIO SILENCED BY BOMBING
# CHURCHILL REASSURES AUSTRALIA ON JAPANESE
# SHORT DIARY BOOK COMPLETED

Probably most of the utility suits will have to be kept and exported after the war. It seems utility suits can be made by government orders, but they can’t make the men buy them. Indeed they can’t buy many suits at all as by the time socks and underclothes and boots are provided it would be difficult to find 26 cou[pon]s for a suit. It must be a problem where there are growing boys of from 14 to 17 wanting suits as big as their father’s and growing out of them and wearing them out much quicker.

We heard our planes going out again around 6 o’c last night. They began to return before ten o’c and seemed to be droning around for hours. Once there was an explosion which rattled doors and windows. On the 9 o’c news we were informed that several Ger. Stations were off the air, and that before going off they had warned the listeners that the enemy planes reported earlier, were travelling in a S.E. direction. How quickly news travels now. Father has started patrol to-day. It was so dark he did not start until 8.15. It still blows the soft warm wind like yesterday, but not so strong yet tho’ it keeps freshening. It still sounds like rain. We thought it would have rained yesterday.

I went to meet Jean at Cooper’s last night when she left school. Got her pair of navy shoes with suede inset 17/9. The heels are rather high as she has only had flat heels before, except her white ones for weddings. I hope she will be able to wear them. I also bought myself a pair like Rene bought this week but black. Had only 3D left out of 25/0 Xmas money which I had saved for them. Still 24/9 is not very much for these days and I would have paid that for Jean’s. Hers had been in stock some time and were much better than some higher-priced ones we saw. Have finished one of Rene’s gloves and my quilt is progressing steadily. Had a letter from Emmie yesterday, she has got Jean’s wool, so I must get my cardigan finished ready to start Jean’s jumper when it comes. We have a nice pattern.

Fierce fighting is going on now in Italy and Gers are turning attention to the allied landing party between them and Rome. Should think the next two months will do a lot at them. Churchill has given the Australians an assurance that we shall fight until Japs are beaten. We are apt to forget the war with Japs when we talk of the war being over soon or rather, I think we hide from the thought of it, but it is there none the less and will have to be gone thro’. If Ron is sent out there instead of coming home it will be a bitter disappointment for all of us. But it may well happen I am afraid. He has got African Star and Clasp, Emmie says. We are so pleased. Well here’s the end of this attenuated book. Am pleased the next is larger. This has lasted just two weeks, so no great amount of history made.

A little scrap in the warring years
To be read some day with smiles or tears
When we add up the sums of loss and gain
That emerge from this time of toil and pain.

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

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’?