All posts tagged Italy

Tue July 4 10.30 P.M [1944]
# BACK-DATED PENSION SURPRISE
# BUSY IN GARDEN – WEEDING
# SHOPPING IN SKEGNESS
# NEWS FROM RON

To my surprise I received a Sup[plementary] Pen[sion] book on Tue 27 June with 3 weeks back money. £1.4 a week, far more than I expected. With the other Pension of 15/0 and Rene and Ron paying rent I am able to live I hope even if I can’t make toys. If I can, I may make up to 10/6 profit a week and still get same Pen. I still don’t much like the idea of it but feel easier now I have it to fall back on. One has to live and as the Widow’s Pension won’t keep me I have to accept help from somewhere until Jean earns a good bit or I can make a lot with toys. It is doubtful if I make a living with them.

The garden is rather a burden in spite of help. I hate to feel dependent on other people. Perhaps when it is once in order it won’t be such a worry. I still have the triangle in front to dig and weed and there is so much of that twitchy weed with a leaf almost like a sycamore. A lot of it grew in Mrs Leivers garden. It comes up time after time and grows under path pavings. They are not set close together and weeds came up between them and between them and the wall. We have finished digging the plot for lawn and rolled most of it and I have run the Dutch hoe over it tonight to uproot little “weedlings” to coin a word.

Went to Trusthorpe Monday last week as it was Jean’s half-term. Aunt J[et] gave me £3. Fred gave Jean 2/6! Went to Sk[egness] Sat morning, hate going on crowded bus! Did not get to Chapel Sun as it was so damp and close. Miss West came at tea-time and stayed almost 2 hours, very depressing. It has rained nearly every day for ten days and is serious for the seeds which were out before it rained. Hallgarth’s were turning theirs tonight and clouds of dust were going up. Mould I should think. I made a weather-glass today with a sauce bottle and Horlicks jar. Should have been June water, hope it’s not too late, June water keeps indefinitely.

Flying-bomb menace gets no better I fear tho’ we bring a lot down. Rumours of evacuating London but think this is an exaggeration. It seems Govt. knew of them a year ago. They don’t seem to have made much prep. for them. War going well on all fronts in Allies favour. Letter from Ron last week, he had been very sick one day but said he was better. His letter seemed rather bleak. He said not to worry if we did not get money for a while. I fear he is moving.

On 5th June 1944 Ron’s RAF Squadron (93) had moved from Lago, their base in Italy for nearly 5 months, to Trecancelli, the first of a series of moves within Italy during June and July. See 93 Squadron History.

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’?

Tues June 6 D-Day 9.30 pm [1944] SECOND FRONT
# D-DAY AT LAST – ‘AN ORDINARY DAY’
# FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT ON WIRELESS
# MONTGOMERY’S MESSAGE TO TROOPS
# CALL TO PRAYER BY KING GEORGE
# CHURCH SERVICE – ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
# THOUGHTS AT THE END OF DAY

So, at last the long-talked of Sec front has begun. I have not even given it a new page and that seems a fitting symbol of how it appears to me. What excitement there may be in towns or elsewhere, in the country, does not seem to have touched us here. It is just an ordinary day, after nearly 5 years of war it takes a lot to make us demonstrative. I went on with my ordinary work and made my first toy for sale, a white duck with green wings and yellow beak and feet. It is for Mrs Russell to give to a baby friend. I must make the rabbit for Emmie next and try to send an extra one too. Ciss cleaned her pantry and Rene washed. Jean went to school, indeed she had gone before the announcement:
4000 ships and a great many smaller craft crossed the channel. Great air-liners took air-borne troops behind the Ger. lines.

Montgomery is speaking now, a message to the troops of which he is the head.
Now a service. Almost 10 o’ clock. The A.B. Cant. [Archbishop of Canterbury] has spoken and now they are singing “Oh God, our help in ages past”.
At nine o’clock the King broadcast a call to prayer, not just one day but all the days of crisis. In the news afterwards we heard that all was still going well in France. I fear the “little people” like us would not just go on with this ordinary work. However pleased they may be at the thought of deliverance, at present it means danger and hardship and war. Many will have to leave their homes and many I fear will lose their lives.
The service is over, a beautiful service, ending with the hymn, “Soldiers of Christ Arise”.

We are in bed. A motor cycle has just gone by and a swiftly moving plane. Per[cy] was with H[ome] Guards last night. I am pleased he is at home next door tonight. God be with us all those whose sons or husbands or other dear ones have already fallen in this new front. Be with the wounded and comfort the dying and those who are afraid. We had 12 letters from Ron to-day – a record. I had 6, the others 3 each. In the most recent one, only a week since he wrote it, an A.M. Letter, he says his hopes of return are practically nil. I am almost pleased much as I long to see him but somehow he seems safer there at present. I must try to sleep now. The longed for D-Day has arrived. Deliverance Day Jean says it means.

Chapel St Leonards, Anderby and Hogsthorpe Members of the Home Guard © AE Wrate, Skegness

Chapel St Leonards, Anderby and Hogsthorpe
Members of the Home Guard © AE Wrate, Skegness
Back row:
Dave Short, Bob Taylor, Harry Epton, Ray Sharpe, Stan Grantham, Len Ingoldmells, Sam Scott, Billy Willson, Alf Johnson, Tom Hill, Mervyn Clark, George Dennis, Fred Dennis.
Middle row:
Tobias Harriman, Bob Thorn, Ben Clark, Silas Willey, Fred Boulton, Horace Grantham, Percy Ranson, Bill Sylvester, Tom Wright, Harold Brough, Geoff Hallgarth, John Hill, Frank Brough.
Front row (seated):
Charlie Knight, Jos Simpson, John Jinks, George A Young, Harry Atkin, Steve Lucas, Jack ‘Poppa’ Taylor (Lieutenant) and dog, Edgar Brown, Hedley Lucas, Norman Richardson, Billy Turner.
Sitting on ground:
George Lyle, Jim Lenton, Arthur Bradley, Sid Perry, Len Short, George Barker, Norman Willson, Harold Wright, Vic Chapman, Archie Hancock.

 

Ron’s letters were from Italy where he had been based at Lago airfield since his RAF Squadron (93) had moved from Capodichino in Naples in January 1944 on a day when they witnessed the first lava flow heralding an eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

‘Deliverance-Day’ was an apt interpretation, but officially D-Day simply means the day of the start of an operation, so every military operation has its D-Day. However the one on 6th June 1944 (the start of Operation Overlord) is unique in its popular recognition.

The Home Guard photograph, believed taken by AE Wrate, Skegness, was loaned by George and Dorothy Barker (who supplied all names in the caption). Permission for publication has been kindly agreed by Martin Wrate of Wrates Scholastic Photographs Ltd, Prince George St, Skegness.

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’?

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. Feb. 11. 8.40. a.m. [1944]
# BITTER WEATHER CONTINUES
# MAIL ORDER STOCKINGS DELIVERED
# FIGHTING AROUND CASSINO CONTINUES
# ETHICS OF BOMBING HISTORIC BUILDINGS

Still very cold yesterday. We had snow and hail showers all day and this morning it looks very squally tho’ not so much wind. Father finishes patrol to-day. The sleet had cut his face yesterday. No more coal as tide is in and he cannot get far on beach, but what he has got is very useful. Have washed all drawers in set I have from Rene’s and scraped paper from inside. Have just the case now to wash, then it will be ready for use. Wish I had room for them downstairs. Did a few inches of cardigan last night. Must get Jean’s blouse made this weekend if possible. Parcel from Ponting’s came yest. Stockings etc. very nice. Rene brought me a bunch of wallflowers, they are very sweet. We cut up oranges for marmalade. Shall soak them until tomorrow I think. Eff brought me 6 eggs on Wed. I had not had any from her since some time before Xmas. Have a very small quantity of potted ones left. Jean went to pictures at C[entral] Hall last night.

We have been fighting round Cassino for 8 days now and no sign of falling yet. Even if we drive them out can’t occupy it unless Gers are driven from the Benedictine mon[astery] which they have turned into a fort, as they can shell from there. So far we have spared it! How many lives are to be lost just because of an Historic building? Nowhere in the Bible do I read that the bricks of any building are counted, but that the very hairs of our head are numbered. How dare they throw away precious lives for the sake of an old monastery. It is time some of those old monasteries had the light let into them. We pander far too much to the R.C. religion and they are getting a firmer hold than ever on Britain. Not that I mean we should shell B.M. because of that, I would say shell St. Paul’s if it were full of Gers menacing us. We would too. I cannot somehow see Gen. Montgomery sparing a building at the expense of his men. And why quibble at one building? We have not spared Cologne cath[edral] or any other in our bombing raids, altho’ not deliberately wrecking them.

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

Tue. Feb. 8. 44. 8.40 a.m.
# COAL FROM BEACH
# WAR NEWS GOOD – CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

Much lighter this morning, clear and cold and windy. After raining a little yesterday morning it cleared and all the clothes dried. I finished Rene’s gloves at night, being too tired to finish quilt. Washed Jean’s hair, it dries quicker now it has been cut. Father got about 4 st. coal in big lumps yest. morn. and his handkerchief and pockets full at night as he forgot his bag. He wonders if the lighter which was blown up and sunk last year has started to break up. It was loaded with coal.

Russians have trapped several Div[isions] of Gers and all efforts to rescue them seem to have stopped. Pacific war pace increases and in Italy things appear to be going well. Altho’ we are warned not to be too optimistic, nothing can quite subdue the feeling that the end cannot be very far off. Not in a month or two perhaps but this year we hope.

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’?

Mon Jan. 24. 9.50. P.M. [1944]
# KNITTING AND RENOVATING GLOVES AND GAUNTLETS
# FIERCE FIGHTING IN ITALY REPORTED
# GEORGE FORMBY ON WIRELESS
# MAKING TREACLE TOFFEE

Father is on watch and Jean and I have been busy all the evening. Jean with school-work, hair washing tho’ I washed it, and then with a little glove knitting and is now putting curlers in her hair. I knitted a little after tea at Rene’s glove which I am renovating, re-knitting gauntlets, from wrist as the hand and fingers were worn out with cycling. I am using 3 different oddments of wool and they will look quite nice I think and be very useful. We did a fairly large wash, as we left sheets last week. It dried slowly and started to rain soon after dinner so they were only half dry. Still they are ready to put out tomorrow if fine and won’t take so long to dry in the house if it is a wet day. Wind keeps rising. I think it is probably rain-squalls. It rained fast when Rene went home and when Jean came from school. Father chopped his thumb when getting kindling and splitting little logs. The shed floor is springy, not good for chopping on.

New landing in Italy very successful, but Gers. fighting very fiercely on old front. George Formby gave the Postscript on Sunday night. He and “Beryl” his wife had been on tour of the Med. Forces. He was most interesting and absolutely unaffected. I detest his broadcasts as a comedian, but was pleasantly surprised with his P.S. and feel he is a better man even than comedian, popular as he is. His wife must be a fine woman too. I have done a bit more to my kapok quilt, in fact I did about 2 to 2½ hrs work on it and I think it is going to look very nice and be useful too. Now I have got a good start it doesn’t seem so formidable a job. During the evening I made some toffee with treacle, sugar and marg. No recipe. It is very good, but perhaps not boiled quite long enough. When we try to get a piece out of the tin, it reminds us of the way the elephant got its trunk. We prise a piece up, seize it and pull. It pulls out longer and longer and at last a piece comes off. It’s most eatable tho’. Sometimes we feel as tho’ we must have something sweet, over and above our sweet ration.

The Postcript’ was on the radio, following the evening BBC Nine O’Clock News. Audio clips of comedian George Formby and his wife Beryl, describing their activities as wartime entertainers, are available online.

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