All posts tagged Girls’ Life Brigade

Mon June 19 8.20 a.m. [1944]
# SUNDAY DINNER WITH RELATIVES
# HAPPENINGS AT THE CHAPEL
# FEELING LOSS OF HUSBAND WILL
# ADVANCES IN FRANCE REPORTED

I have just heard the bus’ [for Skegness] stop for Jean and Geo[rge Ranson] and Dor[is Hall]. It is cold and very dull again, wind still N. I think not a bit like June. We went to Mary’s to dinner and G’ma’s to tea yesterday. Jean went to S.S. Sun. 3 times but I did not go in the morning. Wind was not so strong or I should not have gone. We had a huge dinner of boiled fowl, ham, new potatoes and gooseberry pie with cus[tard] and cream. Mary is used to piling up the plates for great boys. I could have done with less. The play by G. L. [Girls’ Life] Brigade was very good tho’ Ken [Raynor] insisted that it was not suitable as it was not a religious play. I rather agreed with him tho’ it was quite a good moral play. It was in fact Brigade Propaganda. Ken recited very well, tho’ once he mixed up the quantities of the loaves and fishes. Dor[othy] and Frank Raynor sang Rock of Ages in the afternoon and Eff and Frank sang it at night. Mr Scan preached morn. and ev. Comm. Storer presided in the aft. My opinion of him is rather like Ken’s of the play. At night the Toc. H. attended. I had never been to a “light ceremony” before. It is rather a draw-back to have a sense of the ridiculous at times, but to see those men, a lot of whom never go to church except for these occasions, seriously taking a candle out of a box and lighting it then repeating “They shall grow not old” rather savoured to me of ancestor worship. Still I suppose they do do a lot of good in some places, but I think the original meaning is getting distorted. Like my mirror which was a very good one 30 years ago but now gives a more and more distorted reflection as time passes. I must have been in a critical mood I think.

Girls' Life Brigade - Chapel St Leonards c.1944

Girls’ Life Brigade – Chapel St Leonards c.1944
Back row:
Beryl Ingoldmells, Mrs Ford, Daphne Ward,
Audrey Ingoldmells, June Miller, Olive Hall, Freda Short, Betty Johnson, Jean Hill (Flag Bearer), Edith North.
Middle row:
Joan Jackson, Eva Brown, Mabel Robinson,
Mrs Dandison (Captain), Grace Harness.
Front row (kneeling):
Flora Hall, Rita Clarke, Lilian Stapleton, Irene North.

Wrote to Ron later. I wonder if it will be easier next year. Everything now is strange. All I do I think, “last year we did this together” or “went there together”, and all the time I talk and smile and try to keep a calm front, while underneath is a fierce pain or dreary emptiness. How little we think, until we know by experience, of the sorrow there is around us, covered by smiling faces. We are across the Cherbourg Pen[insula] with approx. 25,000 Gers. cut off. They continue to send Robot planes, we are careful not to broadcast damage done. I fear it is considerable.

Doris Hall (whose ‘death’ was mistakenly reported on 16th March 1942), daughter of neighbours Albert and Emily, worked in Skegness. As well as brothers Ted and Albert, she had sisters Ethel, Emily and Olive (who, like Jean, was a Girls Life Brigade member and is in the photograph).

Dorothy Raynor was Frank Raynor’s niece, Ken’s cousin.

‘Mr Scan’, was probably a visiting preacher, whose name had been abbreviated.

The Girls’ Life Brigade photograph was believed taken by AE Wrate, Skegness. Permission for publication has been kindly agreed by Martin Wrate of Wrates Scholastic Photographs Ltd, Prince George St, Skegness.

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Friday Mar. 24. 8.30. P.M. [1944]
# DIARY RESUMES AFTER 2½ WEEKS
# CONSCRIPTED NIECES OVERWORKING
# RECOVERING FROM INFECTION
# WILL UNWELL AFTER NIGHT OF DRAMA
# BOMBS FALL ON TRUSTHORPE

Alas, it is more than a fortnight later and I have done no more, violets are in full bloom now. Later on Tue. 7. after starting the wash I felt rather shaky and had to sit down. Then Harriet came for rabbit (gave me 10/6 for it). I walked a little way with her, wind very cold. She was full of news about Jack Milson’s sudden death and his mother’s stroke, she has died since, and news of Grace and Ivy who are both overworking owing to shortness of staff. Grace cooking at Revesby for Land Army Girls, and Ivy at Alford Hospital. I felt cold and had to leave washing and sit by fire again. Thought I had a nasty head cold but it turned out to be a boil in my nose or face which did not come to a head but infected my skin thro’ a tiny spot on my forehead. Dr. said it was a streptococcus germ from my nose which had infected and poisoned my skin and was a form of erysipelas, but not true erysip. I had to stay in bed from Sat. night until Thursday, but it yielded well to treatment, odious thick black lotion on my head, and as much water as I could drink, tea too. I did not feel very ill after my nose started to discharge except for the discomfort of my swollen face and dry mouth. Nose still discharges, and to-day my forehead just above left eyebrow is a little puffy.

Father been in bed all day with bilious attack and feverish cold. Think he is a little better tonight, he had a bit of cold and I think got a chill standing outside on Sun. night. It was very cold tho’ Jean and I were not so starved. It was an awful sight, the chandeliers and flares made it as light almost as day and we could see fires in several spots, some were Ger. planes I expect, as 7 were shot down (3 by one fighter). Kenwick Hall was partly burned by incend[iaries] and a plane came down at Legbourne but no casualties that night at all. Radio said a few planes. If that is a few, what must 800 or 1000 seem like. We did not realise they were so near as Trusthorpe but Amy wrote to say about 12 bombs were dropped between them and Hall chiefly in fields and that except for a few broken windows and a good! scare they were none the worse. One unexploded bomb was in centre of road between school and Hall so their road was closed. Ken had had three fingers in turnip cut[ting] box, fortunately only flesh wounds but very painful. I was still shaky from being in bed so perhaps that was why I was so nervous but the chief thing I felt was of utter helplessness as the planes roared high over head and all the doors and windows in the whole row of houses rattled before we heard each bump of bombs or planes. Wonder if they are about tonight again. There have been bumps, but it may be some of the unexp[loded] bombs going off. Still some of the planes sound sinister to me. Ours have gone out in great strength but not so many as Wed night. I have never seen as many as that before, they were like this all over the sky. Jean is at G.L.B. [Girls’ Life Brigade].We’ll soon go to bed when she comes. I am nervous especially with Father in bed ill.

Jack Milson, and brother, Len, had a farm in Bradshaws Lane, Hogsthorpe, near Sharpe’s market-garden (see 15 Jul 1941 and Village Map).

‘Starved’, here, meant ‘suffering from being cold’.

‘Chandeliers’ were large-area illumination flares used to expose bomber targets

Kenwick Hall and Legbourne were both near Louth (see East Lincolnshire Map).

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Sun. Mar.5. 7 P.M. [1944]
# WEATHER SUNNY BUT WIND ICY
# RADIO GARDENER’S BOOK OBTAINED
# WILL’S COASTGUARD WATCH TIMES CHANGE
# CLOTHES RECYCLED EARN COUPONS
# ANOTHER VILLAGE LAD ON EMBARKATION LEAVE

Very cold but snow almost gone, sun quite warm out of icy wind. Rene did not come yest. but Jean went to see her. She sent cakes and “Village Memories” of Mr Middleton of Radio gardening fame. Tom had changed my library book at Boots’ for me. Jean went to Chapel this morning, was late for dinner. I gather she and David and Ken exchanged a few compliments re B.B. [Boys’ Brigade] and G.L.B. [Girls’ Life Brigade]. She did not get to Sunday School as she had a lot of home-work to do. It is a bug-bear this homework. Rene came this afternoon and had a cup of tea. Father is on watch at 8.p.m so shall soon have to get his supper.

10.PM. Father had his supper and went on watch at 8 o’ c. This new time arrangement mixes one up. He came off at 8 am, went on at 8 p.m tonight, off at 2 a.m and on again at 12 to 6 p.m to-morrow. I have written to Ron and to Jock. Kettle is nearly boiling for bottles and it is time Jean was in bed. She has washed her hair and set waves with grips. I gave Mrs Hutton her [Jean’s] old house shoes on Fri. She seemed very grateful and said she would give me one or two coupons for them. One has to be very careful in giving things away as people’s pride is easily hurt, but in these days we can always make the shortage of coupons the excuse for passing things on and most people are glad of them. (Glad of them must be a Lincs expression. I’m sure it is not grammatical.) We have had no letter from Ron for a week, hope there is one tomorrow. Chas. Parrish is on leave, Mr P. thinks his Regt. is going abroad as he has 16 days. Expect they will feel it a lot, as he is only boy and not too strong, also both girls are away now. He can hardly be 20 yet I think. Finns have not come to a decision yet. Bulgars feeling for peace but immense difficulties in the way.

Mrs Hutton, here, was probably of the family which had been evacuated from Grimsby, at first to Hogsthorpe, and at that time believed to be living almost next door, in ‘Red Tiles’ no longer used by the Army (see 11 Apr 1941).

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Sun Jan 30. 8.30 am [1944]
# YOUTH PARADES AT CHAPEL AND CHURCH
# MORNING VIEWS OF SEA BEYOND CHAPEL POINT
# HIGH TIDES CAUSE FLOODING
# MORE ‘MAKE DO AND MEND’

It is almost sunrise but still not very light. I have just taken Jean a cup of tea. She was at G.L.B [Girls' Life Brigade] party last night, and has a head-ache this morning, also her ear seems to be troubling her again, as it did when she had flu. There are two youth parades to-day, Chapel this morning and Church this afternoon. I shall try to persuade her not to go to the second. It is one of Jim Hall’s whims. I took the curtains down from my bedroom window, the window was open as it was not windy, and looked over the Point to the sea as I usually do every morning. It is a lovely morning, the air soft and spring like, no wind but gulls flying west so probably a W. wind later. Birds are trying their notes of spring songs. The patch of sea I can see over the Point has caught the dawn and is white and luminous almost bright. There have been high tides again this week and it has partly flooded the Marsh again. Bomb and sea damage to bungalows will be inextricably mixed I should think.

Last night I put the soles on Rene’s quilted slippers. They are quite satisfactory so long as the stitches don’t pull thro’ the rubber soles, they are very warm and comfortable. I have had them about a long time and am glad to get them done. I think that is one of my New Year Resolutions, to finish off all of my odd jobs which I have started. I prefer not to publish it tho’, knowing my failings in that direction! Have heated soft water for Jean to wash in, she has just fetched it and shown me a huge bruise on her hip which she acquired last night in a fall at the Party. It went off well I think and Jean enjoyed it. I made some raspberry tarts and Jean took a dozen of them. They had plenty of food and sold surplus for G.L.B funds. Boys were requested not to smoke in Hall and dutifully went outside, tho’ B.B [Boys' Brigade] boys are not supposed to smoke.

Jim Hall (of Hall’s Stores) was captain of the local Boys’ Brigade (see 19 Dec 1942).

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Sat Jan 29. 44 8.15 a.m
# ANOTHER DIARY COMMENCED
# BLACKOUT CARELESSNESS NOTICED
# REPORTS OF ENEMY RAIDERS SHOT DOWN
# MILD WEATHER PROMPTS GARDENING

One month of this New Year has almost gone
We look for peace before the year is done
The talked of second front, will it begin?
And take a vicious toll of lives before we win?

Father has just started off to patrol the beach. He should really start about ¼ to 8 but even at 8.15 it is far from daylight. At 8.10 Mrs Lucas had taken her black-out down. (She is usually last to put it up and first to take it down.) It showed a bright square of light in what was still only twilight and our planes are pouring in, evidently from a raid. However at 8.15 when Father started, the light had gone or black-out had been put up again. Perhaps someone had complained. A few enemy planes were over last night. We heard, or rather felt one heavy explosion. Radio reports some casualties but don’t know where. When the 90 Gers came last week (21st) 16 planes were brought down. We do not know what casualties there were but I am afraid several as it has not been published.

Jean went to G.L.B [Girls’ Life Brigade] last night. It is their party to-night. I forgot, yesterday when baking, to make cake or pastry for it so shall have to do something to-day. It has been such a warm wind the last two days that I have done a little (very little) in the garden. Just trimmed one edge of little bed in front of kit. window and pulled a few weeds out of front border cut old chrys. stems down and pulled off dry leaves of montbretia, underneath the white points of snowdrops are bravely showing and one in the open is almost in bloom. There are not so many as when we came, flowers seem to get lost in this sandy soil especially bulbs. Anemones tho’ flourish as I do not disturb them except to weed on the surface. The three grown from seed are showing nice big leaves. I wish they would flower this year. I have a little row of new seedlings too now, their frilly leaves just to be discerned amongst the first plain leaves. If we have to move they will do to take with us. I dread the thought of “flitting”.

Eff came yesterday. She told us Norman’s wife has a daughter. So Daisy is a grandma! I expect she will be very proud of it too. It seems Freda is Gladys’s husband’s sister, we did not know until lately.

Mrs Hedley Lucas lived at ‘Delamere’ on St Leonards Drive, almost opposite the Parishes’ ‘Rose Cottage’, north of ‘the basin’ (see Village Map). Her light would have been just visible from ‘Lenton Lodge’.
Mrs Steve Lucas, her sister-in law, lived at ‘The Dell’, close to the shore, off Sea Bank Road, not very far from ‘The Point’ but her light is unlikely to have been visible. The Lucas brothers were Home Guard members.

Freda Lammiman, wife of nephew Norman, was the sister of Walter, husband of niece Gladys née Lewis (see 1 Jan 1944).

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

Nov 10 Wed. 9 P.M. [1943]
# JEAN IN ARMISTICE PARADE
# ILLNESS IN FAMILY
# PETROL USE IN LIGHTER FUEL BANNED
# CHURCHILL FORECASTS NEW GERMAN WEAPON

Sunday morning it came a snow-shower and was very cold all day. Jean had a bad cold and would go to Armistice Service at Church 2.30. as she is in L.G. [Life Girls] and they were parading.

Jean, Girls' Life Brigade uniform

Jean, Girls’ Life Brigade uniform

She got thoroughly chilled and has been fit for nothing since. Father brought her some medicine from Boots yesterday and me some from Dr. as I have had a touch of Bronchitis and Asthma this week-end. I am almost better but Jean is still very seedy. Rene did not go to W.I. [Women’s Institute] to-day. Elsie called, she had caught her new coat in cycle wheel. Rene cleaned oily place with “lighter spirit” but not all of the mark came out. Petrol being mixed or treated may not be used in pipe or cig lighters now. Father went on watch at 6pm so it won’t seem so long until he comes home at 12 altho’ we have come early to bed. There are planes droning about so shan’t be sorry when he is home as Gers seem to drop bombs somewhere nearly every night. Churchill in speech to-day at L[ord] Mayor’s lunch says that altho’ the Russians may drive Gerr. to a complete collapse there is always the possibility that he may devise some new way of warfare against us still. He can scarcely be called an optimist! Wrote to Ron yesterday and to Emily to-night. Jean wrote to Esther Meldrum to-day. We had neck of mutton broth to-day.

‘Life Girls’ was an alternative name for the Girls’ Life Brigade (see parade assembly photograph: 16 May 1943).


Esther Meldrum, John’s sister (see 25 Oct 1942), was Jean’s friend, affectionately known as ‘Tib’. She was probably back in Scotland where she had lived previously.

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Oct 15 Friday 10. 45. P.M. [1943]
# DIARY RESUMED AFTER THREE WEEKS
# GRANDMA’S TROUBLE-FREE VISIT
# CANTAKEROUS AUNT JET A CHALLENGE
# CHEERFUL LETTERS FROM RON

“We don’t miss anything in the world as much as we miss our burdens” from Palludia by Anna Robeson Burr.

We seem to have been very busy since I last wrote in my diary. G.ma came on 27th (Mon) in the afternoon. Rene and I had washed in the morning. She stayed until Friday aft. She is very quiet and eats so very little. I was pretty well while she was here but in bed until tea-time on the Sunday. Oct 4.

Went to Trusthorpe on Thur. (Jean and I) and Aunt J[et] came back with us vowing she was so ill-treated she would never return. Aunt Fanny Robinson was there but even that did not keep her at home. Aunt F is nearly 80 and getting frail but not blind like Aunt J. She has a nature too, very much different. I can see now that mother was much more like her in many ways, tho’ she was always thought to be most like Aunt J in looks. Aunt J is very trying, and after a week of her we took her back to Amy yesterday, indeed she refused to stay any longer tho’ I would have kept her over the week-end if she would have stayed. I could not cope with her long tho’. Poor Amy, no wonder she seems apathetic at times.

Aunt Jet with late husband Tom

Aunt Jet with late husband Tom

Aunt J is cantankerous and cross-opple-ed and even worse, but I think her mind is warped or gradually weakening. She eats far too much, Jean and I reckoned up one day and she had 9 meals and snacks in the 12 hours 8 a.m to 8.p.m. Still we got along as well or better than I expected, as I am a bit irritable and crotchety myself at times. We had a “fratch” or two when I got my foot in it, and when I did I put in a few words for her to think over at leisure, hoping they might react to Amy’s benefit. One tea-time, after getting it ready an hour before time, I had to re-sugar and re-milk her tea, still it wasn’t right, it needed more sugar (she had a whole lb in her tea and malted food in the week) more hot water and more milk still. Says me, “Your cup is full now” but it was “too hot to drink” so much exasperated I said, “Blow on it then, or wait until it cools”. She shut up, got her tea quite amiably and finally remarked to Rene, “what a good cup it was”, almost upsetting Rene’s equilibrium. Still, it was queer how I missed her last night and to-day, which is probably why the quotation at the beginning of to-day’s entry struck me when reading tonight.

Father is on watch, Jean and I are in bed, Jean has been to L.G.B. [Girls’ Life Brigade G.L.B.] and I am very tired. We are relieved to have had 7 letters from Ron this week, latest dated 21 Sep. Very cheerful too.

Anna Robeson Brown Burr was an American novelist/ essayist. ‘Palludia’ was published by Duffield & Company, New York, 1928.

Aunt Fanny, née Thorpe, Robinson, the widow of George Albert Robinson, was the eldest sister of May’s mother and Aunt Jet.

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Fri Sep 10 9.30. P.M [1943]
# ITALY’S CAPITULATION REPORTED
# ‘INVASION TEST’ IN ENGLISH CHANNEL
# OPTICIAN VISIT AND SHOPPING IN SKEGNESS
# WILL RESUMES COASTGUARD WORK
# WILL BUSY WITH ‘TAXI’ AGAIN

SEP. 7. ITALY CAPITUALATED TO BRITAIN. UNCOND

On Wed. on 6 P.M. news the welcome news of Italy’s unconditional surrender at 5.30 pm (tho’ cut and dried on Sep 3?) came thro’. One more phase of this weary war finished. If the Italians thought fighting would be over for them if they gave in, I expect they’ll have a rude awakening. They look like having to fight harder than ever now. We have landed in various places on mainland of It[aly] and things seem to be going on well. Gers started bombarding Rome etc. We carried out a huge invasion test in Channel yesterday. Don’t know what was at the bottom of it, but it seems well advertised and apparently a great success.

I went to Sk[egness] on 10.30. bus’. It poured with rain. Had made app[ointment] to have glasses changed at Gor[don] Kents so did not want to put it off as one side piece of present gl. is broken. Says nothing at all wrong with eyes, they are very good, just a matter of age. Am having flat topped frames £2.10. The extra 10/0 means that the lenses are convex. They are worth the extra he says. I could read very fine print with them so hope they are a success. Will be ready in about 2 weeks. He will send a P.C. [postcard] and I shall go to try them there if all is well. [Aside: Paid Dr's Bill £2. 5S 6 to date.]

Father is on watch again to-night after 6 days hol. Jean been to G.L.B. They have started to knit gloves for themselves. Flora [Hall] was tiresome coming home and her shoes came untied. Jean put knitting down, didn’t pick it up after sec[ond] shoe so we put batteries (fortunately we took them out and saved them earlier in summer) in her cycle lamps and she went back on cycle to look for it and found it by Mrs Hipkin’s. Think we will soon go to bed. Woolworth’s [in Skegness] had Xmas cards on sale, very dear. When stocks are sold there will be no more as no more may be made. There were a lot of very pretty calendars too. I got 6. I heard one of the “heads” tell the girls to put out plenty of cards. It will be a great relief to Xmas rush if all cards are sold.

We, Father and I, went to Osborne Café for dinner, fish, pot[atoes], peas, b[read] and but[ter] or rather mar[garine] and pot of tea, 3/8. Very clean and nice. Rene had arrived and was baking. It had stopped raining. 2 o’ clock. I came home with Cousin’s people. There were only 2. Father had to go back to meet 2.58 train. He had had a busy day 4 times to Sk., 1 to W[illough]by, 6 journeys as one was double.

An armistice signed of 3rd September 1943 represented the capitulation of Italy but a complex situation arose due to the continuing presence of German Axis forces.

Gordon Kents was the optician in Skegness.

Rene had arrived at ‘Lenton Lodge’ when May and Jean returned from Skegness.

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