All posts tagged Jean

Mon July 17 10.30. P.M. [1944]
# FRESH BREEZES WELCOMED
# RED CLOUD IN SUNSET
# PATCHING SHEETS
# BICYCLE PROBLEMS

It has been a lovely day, the heat tempered by a fresh sea breeze and a very light haze far overhead, below everything was fresh and clean, a big wash dried steadily without getting scorched up. When I came up to bed a shower of lights hung in the S.E. sky and the air was full of the drone of planes, indeed it still is tho’ getting fainter I think. Far in the west the sun was sinking behind a fiery red cloud. Saw Frank and Pattie Coote cycling homewards. Jean has stayed down for a bath, we put water in copper after washing and it is quite warm still. She is very tired and I am too. I turned Eff’s sheet sides to middle and put two big patches on after tea, made myself more work by seaming together the pieces, one wrong side out, and had to rip undone and turn. Colin came for it after tea but did not wait as he was going to Cen Hall to pictures. Jean would have taken it but when Percy mended puncture we found tyre quite worn out. Jean went on Dor[is] H[all]‘s cycle to Raynor’s but they had none right size so will have to try elsewhere. Per[cy] says he will put it on.

Herbert Raynor’s garage in Sea Road is meant here (see 5 July 1944 and Village Map).

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Wed July 12 9.45 P.M. [1944]
# JEAN’S EXAMS TIRING BUT SATISFYING
# MORE SOFT TOYS SOLD
# BAKING PIES, CAKES AND SCONES
# SEARCHLIGHTS LIGHT UP BEDROOMS

The sun is still some distance off the horizon but Jean and I have come to bed. She is tired with exams, very fussy because she completed a sum in Algebra that Geo[rge Ranson] had not. Does not seem so nervous now that she is well started. I am afraid I am starting a cold, do hope not. Cleaned coal-house today, i.e. swept cobwebs down and lime-washed it and incidentally the coals. Am pleased to say I have 4 or 5 bags in store as we do not burn much this weather and alas I have not much cooking to do. Have had a quiet day as Rene was only here a little while before dinner and Ciss was busy ironing this afternoon and went out to Cen[tral] Hall to pictures to-night. I was glad to rest after dinner but did a little knitting. Am making a penguin from odd bits of wool. After tea I cut out a rabbit and a Teddy Bear. Emmie wants more bears if possible. Had a letter from her today and 30/0 for month’s rent etc. The bears sell well and indeed are very nice. She was very pleased with pink velvet “Scottie”. Rene took “Gollie” to-day. She thinks it fine.

Had 2 letters from Ron too written early in June. He seems to have been quite fit and does not find it as hot as last summer but more like our English climate. I did a little baking with ¼ marg and 2 oz drip[ping] today, made a milk curd cheesecake, rhub[arb] pie, short cake and scones, not bad I think. Jean and I walked up the road to get rabbit-meat after tea. “Jane” has made a nest in one corner but nothing doing yet. Planes are droning round and round, there were a lot about last night and a lot of searchlights lit up my bed-room. Jean’s too. Mist is rising so it may be hot tomorrow. Expect Rene will come for dinner if Tom goes to work.

‘Getting rabbit-meat’ referred to collecting ‘herb Bennet’ etc. from the verges, as food and bedding for the rabbits.

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Tues 10.15. PM July 11 44
# JEAN SITTING SCHOOL CERTIFICATE EXAMS
# GAS MASKS DEBATED
# WILL’S LAST DAYS RECALLED
# MORE NEWS FROM RON

We are not so late to bed this week. Jean is sitting for the School Cert. and needs longer rest. Her school-days are fast running out. She started at the S.G.S. [Skegness Grammar School] the month war began and has carried a gas mask many months in the earlier part (shall we ever need them? and if so how many there would be who could not find them in the spur of the moment?) Ours are safe, mine on top shelf in kitchen and Jean’s hung on peg at bottom of stairs. She has run to the school shelter too several times and was in 4 or 5 hours once, but happily school was never bombed, tho’ Sk. has been several times.

It has been more rain the last 3 days. Sun started fine and Jean and I went to Chapel in the A.M. and after dinner it started with a fine rain and wind rose, but it stopped raining and we went to Rene’s for tea. After tea I sat in the chair Father sat in, that wet Mon before he went to bed. He had a sleep and kept teasing me because I said if we had gone home I could have done this and that. I was feeling I ought to be at work after my skin poisoning. He seemed so near as I sat there. I think Rene will always be pleased he spent that afternoon there by the fire. It rained fast on Sun. whilst we had tea, cleared a little after, but rained fast before we got home. I tried to hurry but had done a lot too much and could not. Rene persuaded me to ride her cycle so I got home that way. Jean went on first and found Elsie. She had come on from Chapel, she stayed supper but Rene went back to get Tom his. We had Strawbs, Rasps and Cream for tea.

I weeded between cement slabs on path this morning but not quite to gate. It seems a constant job this showery weather. Jean took Annie’s Teddy B[ear] Sun[day] after Chapel, they are very pleased with it. I have made a golliwog this week, but it is not as nice as Ciss’s. I hate making the clothes for dolls and gollies. I have no pattern either, so more difficult. I made the duck up too yesterday which has been cut out some time. Letter from Ron to-day, written June 22, not so long for sea mail. Says he has a big tent this summer and a big mosquito net and has a comfortable bed now that they have got spring mattresses! In Rene’s letter he says they heard of some for sale and went and bought them. It’s nice to know they sleep comfortably and that he is fit and well. At one billet he says he had to climb 96 steps to his room. I think I would never get to the top, the 69 steps of the old C.G. [Coast Guard] box were enough for me. Tom goes back to work on Thursday. It came several showers again to-day, but he has managed to get suntanned and is peeling now Rene says. He lent me a book of John Oxenham “Bees in Amber” (poetry) which I have enjoyed very much.

School Certificate examinations, in a range of subjects, were taken by those pupils (normally at Grammar School) who continued in education beyond the leaving age of 14.

John Oxenham was the pseudonym of William Arthur Dunkerley (1852 – 1941), an Englishman. His book ‘Bees in Amber, a little book of thoughtful verse’, first published in 1913, was a best seller which has been re-published in recent years.

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Sat 10.30. PM July 8 [1944]
# CLEANING AND DIY IN KITCHEN
# FLOWERS TAKEN TO WILL’S GRAVE
# MORE SOFT TOYS COMPLETED

Another lovely day. I blackleaded kit[chen] grate and cleaned fender and steels. BlkLead is not so bad to get as at one time tho’ it varies in quality. I have good metal polishes too now, both Day and Martins. I tacked a frame to-gether to make a lino background or splash to my stove. I thought as I did it, how much longer Father would have taken over it and how much stronger and better it would have been when finished. Rene brought some roses last night, I took most of them to his grave to-night. I cannot seem to realise that it was really me taking flowers to put on his grave, I seemed to be apart watching myself go with the flowers in my cycle basket. I am so thankful that I do not feel he is there, he seems so near me at times at home, but sometimes it seems as if he were speeding away from me faster and faster, then again he seems to be so near, that I feel his presence except that I cannot see and touch him.

Planes are droning round all the time, a lot of people are evacuating London. Gerry must have had thousands of these fly bombs made. I have made Annie’s Eileen a Teddy bear, finished it to-day. Daisy came this afternoon and paid for hers (5/0). Rene has taken the Rag bag doll for Red+ Salute the Soldier week. The Doodle-bug Jean calls it [the doll].

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7/7/44 10.30. PM Friday
# PLANES COMPETE WITH BIRDSONG
# OVERWORKING IN GARDEN
# MAKING RASPBERRY JAM
# DREAMS OF RON

It has been a fairly nice day and is a perfect evening. I am in bed and the sun has just gone down like a ball of fire. Birds are still singing, a blackbird’s or thrush’s liquid notes from somewhere in the garden. Alas, that over it all is the continuous droning of planes. We are greatly blessed so far by being out of the radius of fly-bombs (doodle-bugs). They still come over Lon[don] and the South by day and night tho’ many are shot down and yesterday 11 of their lairs were bombed.

I feel “fey”, as the Scotch say, to-night that weary feeling of false elation said to presage trouble or depression. I am tired but not sleepy. Did too much in the garden yesterday I expect, then went to see Eva and Grace, found it windier than I expected, did more garden in evening. There is such a lot to do, and I am not used to heavy garden work. The soil too is very heavy compared to the old garden which was mostly sand. Have done no garden today except hilling 3 rows of potatoes. Jean hilled 4 very well too. Mrs S[hort] brought back borrowed hay-fork yesterday and half bucket of new potatoes. Rene came to ask me to dinner but I had just got oven hot for baking and was tired too, so did not feel like cycling down there. She came again this afternoon but did not stay long as Tom is holidaying for a week. Am making rasp[berrie]s Mavis brought into jam by Mary’s recipe 1lb. ras. 1lb sugar and 1 teaspoon Boric acid pdr. Mix well and stir frequently for 24 hours, no cooking. Wonder if mine will keep. Mr Hall and Albert and Ted are on leave for a few days.

Last night I dreamed Ron stood at the foot of my bed putting on his pullover ready for going out, I opened my eyes suddenly and raised my head to see him better (actually) and he vanished. I saw his brown face so clearly, not sad, or smiling, just calmly pulling on his pullover.

Birds and planes still vying with each other. It will soon be too grey to see to write. It is not dark all night with this moon just past its full. The air seems full of planes but I can only count 6 in sight circling round probably going out or on manoeuvres. One had a tail light but it was a 4 eng[ined] bomber not the dreaded fly-bomb. Percy is on H.G. [Home Guard] duty all night so hope we have no air activity. I am more nervous again now since the fly bombs came tho’ not as nervous as before.

Mrs Hall, neighbour at Council House No. 1, would have been relieved that her husband and two sons were on leave from the Navy as she had been worried about them in possible D-Day action a month previously (see 7 June 1944).

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

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’?

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.

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’?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 1944
Council Houses.

I am the fly in the Amber,

The exception that proves the rule.

Tho’ I mayn’t knock nails in the Council’s walls,

I plug them with handy tool.

I am growing grass on the garden plot,

Where the others grow lettuce and peas.

The rest of them wash on Monday;

I wash when I please.

Oh! the neighbours are kind, and the house is good,

The rent is small and the garden large.

Apple trees stand in an ordered square,

The paths are smooth and the view is fair,

Surely there’s nothing to wish for there.

Well, I’d like a bath-room, however small,

But what I really want, most of all,

Is an evergreen hedge that is six feet tall,

Growing all round my garden plot,

That I can wander behind,

And dig, or laze in contented ease,

Sowing my seeds just when I please,

Breaking the rules at my own sweet will

With no one to give me advice.

M.H. June 1944

‘Council Houses’ was written in the month after May and daughter Jean had moved into ‘Council House No 3’ on Skegness Road on 10th May (see 3rd June 1944). The poem alludes to unwanted gardening advice from new neighbours (see 4th June 1944). The move from their home at ‘Lenton Lodge’ in Anderby Road was necessitated by the death of May’s husband Will on 29th March (see 15th April 1944).

The poem has been added to the poems collection on this site. It also appears in the book The Casualties Were Small which contains over twenty of May’s poems as well as selected diary extracts, including those which suggest the background to each poem, accompanied by many nostalgic photographs.

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