All posts tagged Father

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’?

Mon 17. Jan 8.50. a.m. [1944]
# NEWS OF CHURCHILL’S RECUPERATION
# SPANISH ORANGES CONCEAL BOMBS
# EISENHOWER IN ENGLAND TO COMMAND INVASION
# REPLYING TO MANY LETTERS HOME FROM RON

Still a thick fog and frost, but it is thawing rapidly and wind freshens now and then. It may blow fog away or it may turn to rain. It is not fit to think of washing unless it quickly alters. Father has gone to Sk[egness] with Mrs Evans and Jean to school. Persuaded her to put her Navy Pilot Coat on. Mr Churchill completely recovered. Has been recuperating in Morocco. Next news will be that he is home I expect.

Last week a time bomb exploded amongst oranges in transit from Spain destroying a lot but no one was hurt. Now all cases have to be searched before leaving Spain. Some others have been found. I believe they are disguised as oranges and are no larger, but capable of doing a good deal of damage. It is a mean spiteful trick and of no practical use to Gers. We shall not get our lb of oranges this month as expected as apart from delay, they may a lot of them be overripe now before they arrive. Hope it won’t cause strained relations between us and Spain. I think we are giving them to understand they must keep their Axis friends in better order. It is a ticklish job, because they have always been more or less on the Gers side, having a grudge against us since their own civil war. Eisenhower has arrived in England to take over Command of Invasion Army. I wonder how soon it will be “Now’s the day, and now’s the hour, Lay the proud usurper low.” We have discussed it so long, but I know when it comes it will shock us, and we shall (at least I shall) get that weak trembly feeling in my stomach and feel the icy chill of fear of the future, sweep over me.

Seagulls are screaming around and yesterday I heard the wild geese honking before I was up. So far there have been very few of them about. The winter has been so open and comparatively mild. What changes will there be, I wonder when they come screaming round the houses for food next winter. Oh dear! If all is well, even, we may not be in this house. Mrs F[letcher]‘s mother is dead and she says she is ready to come back anytime. I hope she’ll change her mind. We have got nicely settled and the house is the size we need. I loathe the thought of “flitting”. Still we’ll not meet trouble half way, unless we get something suitable, we are legally tenants until Ap. 1945. Answered Ron’s 7 letters last night and sent an Airgraph to Jock and an A.M. Letter to Frank A[dams]. It was far too foggy to go out, even Rene did not come, tho’ she was at Chapel in the morning. Jean went to C[hapel] and to S.S [Sunday School] in the afternoon.

Mrs Evans, here, was probably the married daughter of Will’s Coastguard colleague Albert Parish. However there was another Mrs Evans in the village.

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

Sun Jan. 16 8.35. a.m. [1944]
# BLACKOUT DIFFICULTIES
# CHILDHOOD MEMORIES OF ‘MAGIC GARDEN’
# RON CONFIDENT IN ALLIED VICTORY

It is a rime frost this morning, everything white and icy. I thought it was as, tho’ not cold in bed, every time I moved I seemed to feel an icy breath. I discovered too after getting up that I had left the window open, which is not always possible now we have to “black-out”. It is difficult with casements to get a light-proof curtain if there is the least bit of wind. We leave door open to landing when we shut the window. Both were open last night so perhaps that is why I slept so well. We were never used to sleeping with closed windows. Father went on watch at 6. a.m. so, tempted by the fire, I rose at 7.30 and have had my breakfast of tea and toast by it after taking Jean cup of tea and bread and butter. The cat, Snip, sat at my feet looking for a piece of crust now and then. She loves toast and Sprogg is learning to like it too, but his cough still persists and he had to go out again after his milk.

I have been reading a rather sentimental chapter on rooks, in Bac[helor] in Arcady (it is a totally different book to any other I have read by Halliwell Sutcliffe, tho’ his style of writing comes out here and there the same as in his books of feud and clannish war on the dark moors). The rook chapter brought back very vividly to me autumn days at “Woodvilla”. The misty autumn mornings melting into the brief golden hours of late Sept or October, with the sound of the rooks, caw, caw, caw, from the elms and oaks at the old Trusthorpe Hall. A few late plums still on the boughs, juicy apples, and sweet little pears on the high pear tree, mostly at the top, from which we brought them down with wildly aimed sticks, and ate them sitting on the chain [chair?] swing which was made with a pole from forks in lower branches of the two main trunks that sprang from the roots. There was a sparsely planted hedge or thicket about 3 yds deep planted at the far end of the orchard and I remember the first time I ventured (the small bushes then well above my small height) thro’ the little opening in it where Grandmother used to go to wave a duster when it was time for Grandfather to come to dinner, if he were working at the next yard. It was a great adventure, I fearfully parted the branches and won thro’ to the ploughed field beyond and viewed my familiar world from an unfamiliar angle. I could see the backs of the houses I only knew from the front, and all the way to the sea, at least a mile away but quite hidden from view, when in the orchard. The railway too running between us and the sea and beyond it I knew between rail and sea was my own home. I saw the little house only on Thursday very little changed, except a glass room built over door and pump to the little gate.

May’s grandparents outside Wood Villa, their home near Trusthorpe Hall, around 1895

May’s grandparents outside Wood Villa, their home near Trusthorpe Hall, around 1895

On Thursday we had two letters from Ron and 6 on Friday and Rene had one too. So quite up to date again. He is well and sounds in capital spirits and very confident of victory. He had received denture washer and was very pleased as his was completely worn out.

Halliwell Sutcliffe, author, was mentioned in the notes added to the previous Diary entry (see 14 Jan 1944).

May’s grandmother, her father’s mother, was Charlotte, née Selby, Simpson.

May’s grandfather, her father’s father, was John Simpson.

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

Thur Jan. 13 1944 9.15. PM. [1944]
# VISIT TO RELATIVES AT TRUSTHORPE FARM
# LETTERS FROM RON IN ITALY
# NEWSPAPERS RUMOUR SECOND FRONT

It has been raining nearly all day but not cold for Jan. It cleared once or twice but came on again, and is raining now I think, tubs are too full now to hear if it is running in and wind seems to be rising. It was fine and sunny on Mon and dried all the clothes, but very cold. Tues it was colder still and snowed in the afternoon but turned warmer afterwards.

On Wed Rene and I went on 9.30. bus’ to Trusthorpe. We had to sprint to catch it and but for the fact that the driver and cond[uctor] have a hot drink at Miss C[anning]‘s we should probably have been left, as it went to village while we were on the wrong side of G.ma’s. It was damp and misty but cleared before we came home. Found them all pretty well, having escaped colds and flu’ so far. Aunt J[et] looks very well again and is endeavouring to “peg” a snip rug. It helps to pass the time. She gets tired of knitting and the cotton is dear. I try to think of something she can do, but do not seem able to find anything and I am sure the hours seem very long, and she does not seem able to accustom herself to going about the yard alone with a stick except just across and back [see note]. Amy says she has been much better to live with since being here that week. So perhaps she found she would have some trials wherever she was.

Had 2 letters from Ron to-day. I was writing to him after Jean went to school and it is still dark until nearly 9 indoors, Father went to bed when he came off duty at 6 am after making tea and having his porage. While writing I thought I heard someone coming and as no one knocked went to door. No one there so went to front and to my surprise found letters at 8.45, usually it is 9.45 or later. Perhaps as it was so wet, the Anderby postman dropped them in. Ron’s letters were dated 21 Nov. and 12 Dec. so not very recent. They were the ones saying he had received greetings cable for Birthday (Nov 26) and Xmas parcel. We had heard all this before. His letters were very interesting this time. One very funny. When putting away his washing the vest unrolled and it was a ladies! His pals were much amused. He had seen the laundress and she had promised to retrieve his for him. He gave us a nice little word-picture of the room where he was sitting up in bed writing, some of his pals reading, some just smoking and one packing parcels, another one, like him, sitting up in bed writing. They are a decent lot together there I think. He sounds quite resigned if not exactly content. His parcel arrived with everything quite safe and undamaged. He is very pleased with Writing Case.

Papers are full of sec[ond] front and invasion lore. The many new air-bases in Britain are ready for use, and are to be the invasion bases. There are such a lot within a few miles of us that I fear we may see more of the war than we have so far done. I am not looking forward to the start of sec front. It might mean moving off the coast too. Ke[ith] and Ma[rion] were on bus’ when we returned last night. They had been to Legbourne. Said there was snow there. Hope we don’t get it. The winter has been mild so far. Amy had a lot of ‘Wannias’ out. I noticed a flower on one of mine. Fred was having to help a neighbour to thrash so he could get help in return. Labour is scarce. Was grousing (the farmer’s privilege) because he has to grow sugar beet. Would not mind if all had to but some get off. It is the same in everything. Ken belongs to Young Farmers League or Club. It will be good for him to get about and mix with people I think. He is a nice quiet boy.

Heard from [sister] Em L. Gl[adys] had a son on Jan 4. They are pleased as they have two girls. So E has 4 Grand-d[aughter]s and 2 G.sons now. Jean is wanting to go to bed so I had better make an end, indeed I’ll have to as my new book is in the other room. Jean and I are in kit[chen] tonight. Amy tells me Aunt Fanny says Mother used to write poetry. I have a stiff covered ex[ercise] book with poems in her writing. I wonder if she wrote them. I remember my father reciting one of them once.

This began on S. Swithin’s Day in a shower of rain.
It ends in January of another year and still it rains
But sunshine has heightened many days in between
And this year’s wheat grows fresh and green.

‘Across and back’ referred to visiting the outside toilet, across the yard from the farmhouse.

Legbourne village is near the town of Louth (see East Lincolnshire Map).

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

Sun. Jan. 9. 8.30. P.M [1944]
# WELSH SOLDIERS ATTEND CHAPEL SERVICE
# CHANGES TO FOOD RATIONING
# CONCERNS ABOUT JAPAN PROLONGING WAR

Dull morning, turning to drizzle at dinner-time then to steady rain. Still raining at 8.30. It has been damp and chilly, but not bitterly cold. Saw a bus load of H.Gs [Home Guards] come by this morning. Jean went to Chapel, said about 15 soldiers were there, they are a lot of them Welsh. Some have already gone on leave. Jean said Tom said a few words of welcome to them, he was preaching next Sunday and would have some Welsh tunes for them to sing. Father took Spence to Louth Hos[pital] to-day so Jean (who has a cold and did not go in rain to S.S. [Sunday School]) and I went in car to Rene’s and had tea with her and came home with Father after he had brought Mrs Spence to her house. He had a cup of tea, but came home for his meal as it was so wet and soon dark. We had canned Vic[toria] Plums with egg custard for tea. Very nice. “Bill” was distinctly annoyed because we took up all the hearthrug. The kitten is grown very big and is very playful. Rene let me have ¼ tea as I am quite out. New period starts tomorrow. Tinned Herrings, Pilchards and Mack[erel] need less points. We are not very fond of tinned fish, except salmon and do not care for that very often. It needs too many points to get much of it now. Sprogg still has a cough and Jean is doctoring him with Tibs. Doesn’t seem to ail much but doesn’t wash himself much and looks very grubby. Jean and Father both seem to have a slight return of their colds. I do hope Jean will be able to start school.

Charles came yesterday to see if Father could fetch Ke[ith] and Ma[rion] from Sk[egness] Stn. at 8 p.m. but he has not enough light and was on watch too. C[laude] Evison could not either so don’t know what they would do, take a taxi I expect. They had just sent a telegram in the morning. It is early for another. I do hope he [Keith] is not on Draft Leave so soon after losing Raymond. I am afraid there will be a lot have to go soon now. Russians are 10 miles over Polish border now and pushing on. Tonight Stuart Hibbert [Hibberd] reminded us that the end of the German War did not mean the end of the war as a whole and that we should still have a tough job to conquer the Japs. Somehow we seem to push this distant war out of our minds as much as we can, forgetting that covering it up does not alter the fact of its serious existence. I hope Ron does not have to go out there, but then I don’t want him to come home just now either. We do not know what to wish for them. It is best to leave it, and live from day to day, thankful that so far he is spared. Oh, if it were only all over, and no more “wars or rumours of war”.

‘Spence’ was believed to be Mr Spence whose wife was previously mentioned (see 2 Feb 1943).

Stuart Hibberd was a well known BBC radio announcer.

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

Jan 7 Sat 8.20 am. [1944]
# JET PROPELLED AIRCRAFT ANNOUNCED
# LOCAL WVS CENTRE SOUGHT BY FRENCH SOLDIERS
# SKEGNESS SHOPS BUSY AT SALE TIME

One week gone in this, we expect, historical year. Yesterday a new era in flying was announced and the success of the new jet propelled aeroplane made public. It is gratifying (to our pride I suppose) to know that it is the invention, and patient toil for 12 or 15 years at the expansion of the idea, of an Englishman Frank Whittle by name who has worked at it since he was an R.A.F. Cadet. He is only 36 or 37 now. It will do away with propellers. I have an idea, it is only conjecture, from some of the talks on it, that the Gloster planes are some of them driven by it now. We shall be running out now if we hear a whining plane. Let’s hope it ushers in an era of peace and prosperity. It is of course not exclusive to England. Italy and Germany as well as U.S.A. have been working on same idea, and it is thought it may be one of the “secret weapons” Ger. brags about.

Soldiers in Chapel reported to be staying 2 weeks now and ask for W.V.S. to be opened, and Jessie still away! Still I think she returns to-day. Mrs. Walker was quite excited. She does not look too well, but was very high-brow yesterday when collecting War Sav[ings].

Jean and Father and I went to Sk[egness] yesterday. Jean and I got our spec[tacle] frames adjusted. Father forgot to take his. Got Jean blouse mat. at Croft’s 1/10½ and 1½ cou. yd. 36” wd. Looks alright but lights in Crofts can only be described as dim and the day was dull. My eyes too are not good since the “flu”. Shops pretty well cleared of Xmas presents. Jean got a nice folding wallet for two photos 2/11. I got a little booklet of Rup[ert] Brooke’s poems 20 of them, it was 2/6. There looks nothing for money but still the poems are worth far more and I do not regret getting it. Father got his tunic collars altered, and got his name put down for a fountain pen at Sayers. I find the dyers and cleaners are taking hats again, the quota has been taken off and I can take one next week any day to be cleaned and remoulded and dyed if I wish. Before, they only took 4 a week and only at 9 a.m. Mon. morning. It was like the Pool at Bethesda and was not worth while starting off at 7.45 am to catch a bus as probably one would have been too late or another would have stepped in before me! Father says I can have his best felt [hat]. I think I will. I can give him some of my hat money towards a new one. He does not like this one. Got some more writing-paper and envelopes, the quality gets worse and worse. Still there is a decided change slowly growing up. Clothes I consider are better quality and not quite so limited a choice. We are getting 24 cou. for next 6 months as for last, instead of 20 as expected. Porage Oats come in Quaker or Scotts boxes again instead of loose. In various little ways like this we notice a difference. Tins are not to be saved now except in districts where they have a plant for dealing with them. What a lot of villages will loathe these dumps of tins. I wonder what they will do with them. I think they cannot be of a great deal of use when they are remade or they would be more keen of them. Of course transport is needed more for other things.

Frank Whittle and the announcement of jet propulsion planes: Early ‘Gloster-Whittle’trial flights had taken place in May 1941 when the first official British jet-powered flight was at Cranwell, Lincolnshire. Developments had continued and the firsr twin-engined Gloster Meteor flew in 1943. Several engine variations were involved bfore the first operational Meteor fighters entered squadron service in July 1944.

Rupert Brooke was already an acclaimed English poet before he volunteered as a soldier in World War I and died as a result of insect poisoning during a sea journey to join the military action in Gallipoli.

‘The Pool at Bethesda’ in the Holy Bible was a very busy place for disabled seeking healing: John 5:2.

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’?

Wed. Jan. 5 7.30. am. [1944]
# CATS DOSED FOR COUGHS
# ROLES OF MONTGOMERY AND EISENHOWER
# ‘SECOND FRONT’ APPREHENSION
# ALARMING NOISES – ‘BUMPS AND PLANES’
# RAID ON HITLER’S BUNKER REPORTED
# RON LETTERS FROM WINTERY ITALY

Father on watch at 6 a.m. brought me tea and bread and butter. He has tea and porage before he goes and takes tea and sandwiches (mutton to-day) and mince-pie and cheese with him for lunch. Jean bought the “Tibs” and dosed both cats. About 15 minutes later said “The Sprogg” already looked better! Am sorry to say I can hear him coughing now. I was cold after Father got up so rose at ¼ to 7. It is nice to get up and dress by a good fire these cold mornings tho’ I do not as a rule like coming down before getting dressed. I am sorry to find I get a touch of my old enemy again, it was nice to be free from it while convalescing from “influe”. I wonder what kept it off then. Perhaps one “peg” drives another out. Anyway it was only “scotched” not exterminated apparently.

Montgomery is in England to take charge of British Invasion Army under Gen. Eisenhower U.S.A. Gen. People are wishing sec[ond] front would be started, but when I think of it, I think of the hundreds of boys for whom these days are the last they will see, and every day is one more for them before they pay the price for our peace and safety. Some of them go with heavy hearts, the first excitement of war is over and the grim bare bones of all its wickedness show thro’.

7.50. Queer bumps I can hear and planes. Moon is not set I think but it is cloudy. Hope it is not Ger. dropping bombs or one of our planes crashing. Wonder if we bombed Berlin again. It must be terrible to live in Ger industrial towns now. Hitler’s huge …….…. [? word missing] was bombed a few nights since. His shelters underneath were in three tiers with 7ft concrete on top, but our bombs crashed thro’. I hope if I have to die in a raid it will be in the open, not buried under piles of debris. May God send help to all in distress. The weather in Italy is cold, snowy, and wet, but I think Ron has good warm clothes. In Emmie’s letter he said he had got trousers made to fit him. At first they were a lot too long, rather tight under the arms and seating room for two! Planes still coming in, should think one was dumping his bombs in the sea, where they all ought to be dumped.

Don’t think Tom is very thrilled with C.G. [Coastguard] job now he has got it, tho’ as he is now put on for aft. patrol he may like that better than watch box duties. Sprogg came in when I opened the door, think Jean’s Tibs must have taken effect, he is so loving (most unusual) and is singing all the time.

The missing word, which May probably intended to insert in the gap later after checking the newspaper, was probably ‘Führerbunker’.

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

Mon Jan. 3 10.15 PM [1944]
# GLOVES KNITTED FOR PRISONERS OF WAR
# MENDING, SEWING AND QUILTING
# MANY LETTERS TO AND FRO
# RENE RED CROSS COLLECTING
# EVENING AIRCRAFT ACTIVITY
# MONTGOMERY’S ‘FAREWELL’ SPEECH
# CHURCHILL AND ROOSEVELT UNWELL

It is time we were in bed. Father is on watch until 12 o’c and Jean is “doing” her hair ie to say putting curlers in. I seem to have had a busy evening. First I knitted the welt and started thumb of P.O.W. gloves (2nd glove) which I have neglected rather since having ‘flu’. I also started back of my blue Cardigan. Then I cut out paper pattern of elephant, don’t think it will be so difficult as “Scottie”, mended my vest, and sewed a seam-rent in a pillow-case. I washed Jean’s hair and combed it when dry and put ointment on. Also did a bit of quilting on Rene’s 2nd slipper, will really try to get them finished. Have read a little too, and skimmed the paper, and put a new loop on kettle holder. A varied evening!

Sirdar Helmet and Glove Knitting Pattern

Sirdar Helmet and Glove Knitting Pattern

Wrote to Ron and Dennis yesterday but not posted letters yet. Den. is at Stratford-on-Avon. He sent me a Xmas card. Jean wrote an A.M.Letter to Ron too. Had a letter from Sybil A[dams] this morning, says Pat. loves the dog. Syb. thinks the dog very nice and says if she had not known I had made it would have thought it was a shop one, or words to that effect. Rather like Ron when he said a cake I had made was as good as a bought one! Still I expect they both meant it as a compliment. It has been wet nearly all day. Rene collected part of Red + pennies and Nursing money, then gave up and came for dinner, she did not start out again as rain turned from blustering showers to steady rain. She had a cup of tea about 4 o’c and then went home. Father has been to Sk[egness] twice to-day. He got £1.7.6 as he brought T. Stone’s daughter and someone to Hogs[thorpe] on his last return journey so made it almost a double one.

Planes are droning around, wonder if they are just going out, they sound strangely like those we used to call “wuffers”. 4 were shot down London way last night. Some damage done and a few casualties. Heard a recording of Montgomery’s speech tonight, his farewell to the Eighth Army. He is in England now to be head of the British part of invasion Army under General Eisenhower. It was an inspiring speech. He is a fine good man. Russians within 15 miles of old Polish frontier in one place, but still a long way from Ger tho’ they are driving Gers before them in many sectors of the fighting. Moscow’s guns were fired in salute again tonight. Churchill is convalescent, and F.D.R. [Roosevelt] has influ[enza] now. It must be the second time as I remember when Den. was in Scotland he was in hospital with it and F.D.R. had it too. A lot of people have had it twice in England too. It is waning rapidly now but Drs say the dangerous days are not over yet. It has not been particularly cold today. Sprogg has a cough, Jean is going to buy “Tibs” for both cats.

Knitting for Prisoners of War was possibly for German prisoners in England – or for inclusion in parcels (mainly food) sent by the Red Cross to British servicemen held in Germany. The nearest POW camp was in Bilsby from where prisoners were allowed to make and sell small items such as wooden toys.

‘Seam-rent’ probably meant a torn seam in the pillow case.

‘Nursing money’ was presumably payment or ‘expenses’ for nursing work undertaken by Rene or Red Cross colleagues.

Field Marshal Montgomery’s farewell speech to men of the 8th Army was given in Italy.

Tom (‘Tally’) Stones was a retired blacksmith of Hogsthorpe (succeeded by his son, Arthur).

US President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was well known for his broadcast ‘Fireside Chats‘.

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

Sun Jan 2. 9.15 a.m [1944]
# ABSENCES OF RON AND EMMIE REGRETTED
# JEAN ENJOYS SUNDAY SCHOOL PARTY
# PIG ‘OUT OF THE WAY’ BEFORE CHRISTMAS
# FRESH COD FROM BEACH

Bright cold morning, after a gusty night, wind has fallen again just now. We seem strange now that Emmie has gone. As usual, I miss her when I wake in the night, as I miss Ron still or shall I say, as I think of Ron always if I wake? One does not really “miss” anyone after a time tho’ some we miss longer than others. After that we grow used to them being away, tho’ we think no less of them and long for their return. Ron looks much older and very grave in his photo and has grown strangely like Father in it. Mr. Baysley remarked on his likeness to his father on Thurs. ev. They were so disappointed, as their leave had been cancelled at the last minute. They had packed, sent on food and clothes to Plymouth (Mrs B’s home) and arranged for daughter to go there for weekend to finish leave. Now, she is on the way to Sk[egness] to travel alone all day and arrive at destination (Exeter) about 7 o’c p.m with probably a long walk before her as she lives some way out.

Jean went to S.S. [Sunday School] party and enjoyed it, said there were almost more children not belonging S.S there than those who did belong. Jean got 3/6 on savings card given in place of book. Arrived home about 9.30. Mrs Pimp. and Colleen came home with her, tho’ it was moonlight and she was not nervous. I made a bit of barm cake on Fri. not very fruity, only sult[ana]s to put in, but I had been longing for some. Years ago that was all the extra cake we had for Xmas. Made very rich and good, it got better with keeping, and people exchanged loaves. 7lbs of flour at least was the foundation, so that with sugar, lard or butter, and 3 or 4 lbs fruit and eggs it made about 1 st of cake. I had 4 small cakes, gave Rene one and Grandma one. She is looking better after a severe cold.

We killed our pig the week before Xmas. Daisy helped Rene get it out of the way. 24 st. cell. 18 lbs. We got another on 20th Dec. about 11 weeks old £2.6.3. and one for Eff. They are scarce and dear or we would have had two, and sold one in Spring.

Tom brought us some fish yesterday for dinner, he had picked up a fresh cod on beach Fri. aft. It was very good, have made remains into fish cakes, forgot them for our breakfast (Father is taking Miss Baysley to station) but am cooking them all now. Expect Jean will eat some. Emmie said that in one of her letters Ron said the boys told him he had lost his smile in his photo. I am pleased they think of him as always with a smile.

‘Getting the pig out of the way’ was described earlier (e.g. 31 Jan 1941). The word which appeared as ‘cell’ was presumably intended to be ‘kell’, the fat from the back of the pig’s stomach (weight 18lbs out of the total 24 stones weight of the pig in the case described here).

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