All posts tagged France

Saturday Sep. 16 1944 10. o’c P.M.
# END OF ‘DOUBLE SUMMER TIME’
# LAST DAY OF TOTAL BLACKOUT
# JEAN INVESTIGATES TYPING LESSONS
# VISITING FAMILY GRAVES
# APPLE PICKING AND GARDENING
# NEW WAVE OF FLYING BOMBS

Tonight we put back our clocks one hour so that we are only one hour in advance of G.M.T. Pips were broadcast at 9 o’c as Big Ben was going to be put back. It is a memorable day in most of Eng. as it is the end of total black-out. Our area is not included tho’, as we are on the coast and our black-out must remain total at present. I wonder if it would not be better if it was kept up every-where for a time. The cartoon in D.M. [Daily Mail] depicts a warden knocking at a door and informing the inmates that they have “no light showing” the house being blacked-out and its neighbours windows glowing thro’ ordinary curtains. I have stopped my clock. When the hour is up, (9.45) we shall go to bed. It will be nice to have an extra hour of daylight, (and rest) in the morning. Just lately I have been very sleepy at 7. a.m. which is not usual. Tonight Jean and I went to see Mr Mc.Cullam re typing etc. He is not taking any more pupils, as he finds it too big a strain. He is getting on in life. He recommended a Miss Cusac? at Skegness. Jean then went to Toc. H dancing-class, I am not much in favour of it. Jean objects to P.Hs dancing.

I took flowers to the churchyard, I really had a nice bunch out of our garden to-day. Pink and mauve asters, larkspur, and purple spike for the brown jar and red antirrhin[ums] and dahlias for the other, I put a few on Mark’s mem[orial]. It was 27 years on Wed Sep. 13 since he was “killed in action”. It was lovely weather not like this wet cold summer. He was 21 so would have been 48 now. “They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.” “We that are left”. Grandma has seen 4 of her 5 sons go before her. Jean went to see her tonight as I thinking I should be home first took the key and she did not know where I was. She says G.ma has a very bad cold. Rene hasn’t been to-day as there has been a Red + garden fete.

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial - WWI

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial – WWI

War Memorial Inscription - In Memory of Mark Hill

War Memorial Inscription -
In Memory of Mark Hill

Jean and I pulled a lot of the sweet apples to-day as birds and wasps and flies are eating them on the trees. Some of them are very big and a lovely colour. I cleaned out rabbits and put a partition in young ones cage. I wonder if they will knock it down. Have collected grass off dyke-side for food and bedding, a good thing we got it yesterday as I saw Short collecting the rest of it. Coote mowed it. Have severely pruned? the veronica or more probably, box privet, shall most like likely saw it off by the ground as I think it will shoot out again. Must keep it under control then. Hope the grass seed will soon be up, it was sown last Mon. I also chopped a piece off the privet hedge by the gate so that we have a way on to the bank to mow dyke bank and trim the hedge and clear up. I can’t climb under bridge and don’t think it’s necessary. If the Council should object they can’t very well put it back and I intend seeing it doesn’t grow any more, it was only one root I destroyed, at least I have destroyed the top and hope the root will die with a little help. It is after 9.30 by B.S.T. so think we may soon start the clock and go to bed. Planes are going over, fly-bombs came over S. and Lon. again last night after 2 weeks rest. They were probably launched from pick-a-back planes. Evacuees who insist on pouring back would get an unpleasant reception. The govt. keeps warning them not to return as it is not safe yet and so many houses are down or unfit for habitation.

This Diary entry was the first of the final series of entries, found on loose sheets of paper. Earlier entries had been in ‘school’ exercise books which usually began and finished with a short rhyming verse. The loose sheets, as well as two ‘missing’ books and many of May’s poems, were discovered amongst the possessions of Ron’s wife Emmie after her death in 2007.

Alfred Henry McCullam, approached for typing tuition, lived near the chapel in Hogsthorpe. He was believed to have been a schoolteacher.

Miss Cusack was a typing and shorthand tutor in Skegness. May was unsure of the spelling when first written here.

Mark Hill, the youngest brother of May’s husband Will, was the only man of the village to be killed in action during the First World War. A private soldier in the 5th Royal Berkshire Regiment, he fell on 13th September 1917, aged 21, on the front line at Monchy, near Arras, France. The war memorial in the grounds of St Leonard’s Church was erected in his honour by the villagers and bears the inscription shown in the photograph. His name is also recorded on the Arras memorial, near to the battlefield.

Charles (Charlie) Hill (see 16 December 1940) was the only surviving son of Annie Hill (‘Grandma’) after the death of Will.

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

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’?

Sep 7 Thur 8.50 p.m [1944]
# PERSISTENT RAIN THREATENS CROPS
# BLACK-OUT REGULATIONS RELAXED
# HOME GUARD DUTIES BECOME VOLUNTARY
# RON WRITES FROM SOUTH OF FRANCE
# TOM’S SISTER ARRIVING FROM LONDON

Still it rains, it is getting very serious for the farmers and we should be thankful we are nearing the end of the war or we might be short of bread. Great news to-day that black-out is to be greatly moderated in near future except in a few coastal districts. Cycles may use lights with only reflectors painted white and side lamps of cars need only one thickness of tissue paper. How pleased Father would have been, he hated to drive at night with the bad lighting. Home Guard duties are to be only voluntary, there are to be no more comp[ulsory] drills and parades. Had two letters from Ron, he is still in S. France and says we need not worry over him, there are no bumps in the night or day. Fly-bomb menace seems practically over, only a pick-a-back plane or two over just lately. I wonder if we have seen the last of the war here. We have been greatly privileged.

Yesterday I went to Sk[egness] as Jean’s cycle was in, at Curry’s. It is a Raleigh and cost £8.15.9. Tom is contributing £1.1. which is very nice of him. His sister is arriving to-night I expect (Mrs [Kate] Young). She has been ill and is from the London district so no doubt needs a change. Rene came and cleaned bed-rooms and ironed for me. Can’t expect her much for the time Mrs Y is there. I have finished the penguin tonight. It looks very well, but Golly is still to finish and have not started on dog yet except I have cut one out. I have not been able to sew this week. My toe still not quite better, I think it will make me feel ill until it finishes discharging. Jean cycled to Sk. this morning and home tonight, it rained to-night but she arrived home about 6. Called for her shoes 4/8, after this she must pay for her own. Am very tired so better go to bed when we have had a cup of tea. We do not need much supper as we have a “high tea” when Jean gets home. I did baked potatoes, cheese and egg, and baked apples for Jean’s dinner or tea as she has sandwiches etc. for dinner.

Ron’s own listing of his locations shows that he was based at Ramatuelle (St Tropez Bay) from 15th> to 25th August 1944 and then at Sisteron (upper Provence) until 5th September.

Mrs Kate, née Ambridge, Young was Tom A’s sister – Rene’s sister-in-law.

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’?

Wed Aug 9 10.30 p.m. [1944]
# MAKING SLIPPERS AND PYJAMAS FINISHED
# GIFT OF STOCKINGS FROM NIECE EVA
# MORE NEWS FROM RON
# WOUNDED VILLAGE LAD RETURNED TO ENGLAND

My slippers take a lot of making and as Cis was busy I have made a mistake or two. Will try to make next better. Don’t know if I shall finish these before we go. They are worth a little trouble in these days of coupons. Have finished Jean’s pyjamas. Very nice. Jean brought me the stockings Eva promised me, grey, pure silk and rayon, fully-fashioned! She would take neither money or coups. A.M.  [air mail] letter from Ron today written Aug 1st. Enjoying his rest, bathing from boat in water approx 60ft. deep (sea). Was probably going to swimming pool that day. Says they are pestered by little “kids” worrying them all day long to let them do their washing. Ron had let them do his that day as he said it was hot and he did not feel like washing clothes. He had made bathing shorts out of old pullover. Wonder how he keeps them up.

Rene says Mrs Faulkner pleased Ralph is in England altho’ he is wounded in knee and seat, seat not painful he says. Rene says Mansell Robinson is going to Persia. Ciss had a nice letter from Gwen to-day, she said she was expecting one from her mother on Wed. Expect she’d get one as Rene posted it yesterday. Went back to P.O. to-day and got £4.12.0 pension money. Won’t be so much next time but Jean will soon start her payments. I must buckle to and get more toys made when I come back. Had a long letter from Mrs P Smith to-day.

Ron’s airmail letter was probably written during the time that RAF 93 Squadron ground crew personnel were in port or at sea being transferred from a base at Piombino (Tuscany, Italy) to one being prepared at Ramatuelle (St Tropez Bay, France). For some of this time the squadron’s aircraft were based at Calvi (Corsica – see 6 August 1944) from where they patrolled southern France until the move was completed.

Mrs P Smith was not believed to have any connection with other Smith families mentioned previously.

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’?

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’?