All posts tagged London

Thur 7.a.m Aug. 10 [1944]
# PREPARING FOR TRAVEL TO YORKSHIRE
# RECALLING LAST GLIMPSE OF RON ON SKEGNESS STATION
# FEARS OF RON BEING POSTED TO FAR EAST
# PLIGHT OF LONDONERS AND EVACUEES

To-morrow morning we shall have to be up before this as we go to Yeadon if all’s well. It is fair and not misty this morning tho’ dull. However it is only 5 o’c by the sun so plenty of time to be a fine day. It will be better for travelling tomorrow if not so hot, and the adage “It is better to travel than to arrive” will I hope not fit the case for us. What a lot of last minute jobs there always seem to be, or do we decide to do a lot of things that don’t matter? Must have everything packed to-day and will take Mrs Russell’s slippers with me to finish if I can’t get them done here. I am not used to travelling and rather dread the journey. I have always depended so much on Will at these times. The other time when we went he was there too and the last time I was on Skeg[ness] Station Ron was going away, I see his face now framed in the carriage window as he waved his last good-bye to me for many a day. I try to put the dread fear that he may be going East out of my mind but it is there nevertheless and he does so hate the heat. Still the fact that they are in a way acclimatised to it and the intimation some time since that some of our forces would be available the year for the war against Japs seems to point that way. To us it seems that they might let the U.S. troops go there, they have not been at war 5 long weary years. Fly-bombs come over day and night.

Don Iddon in D.M. wrote a serious article yesterday, he thinks the governt. and press are not letting rest of country know how serious it is but news must be filtering thro’ now with all the evacuees and people who come for a few days rest all over the coast. One woman who came to Con’s has left her two little boys, torn by anxiety to have them safe and unable to stay away from her husband who is working hard and no doubt has an A.R.P [air raid precautions] job of some sort too, most men and lots of women do. She has had to leave them and return to London knowing she may not see them again. I suppose they cannot use tube shelters in daytime and the “things” as Radio so crudely calls them come any and often all the time. They are trying to reduce the chaos of different warnings to one distinct signal. It should have been planned ahead if they knew as long ago as they profess to do of this menace coming. It is of no use to pretend it is of no war value, it is striking at the inside of the fortress and however brave and fine the people are, loss of sleep and continual harass[ment] must wear them down in time, and thro’ the sufferers here spread to our men abroad. If a man’s wife and children are killed in Eng. it will take all heart out of him. He is fighting for them first of all. If they are gone and nothing to look forward to at home it must make the fight either a fierce fight for revenge or induce a “don’t care much” feeling in a lot of them. Patriotism is more than half love of our own close little circle of home, not all are able to fight on in the same spirit for love of country and friends. As time goes by life becomes more and more memories and looking forward less and less, a thing of the moment. We try to live one day at a time now, as regards the future on earth we dare not plan ahead. I am getting nervous again so hope the holiday will set me up. Must get up, it is 7.20 and Jean not up yet either.

May’s recollection was of her last sight of Ron, at Skegness station, before his posting abroad (see 30 September 1942).

Don Iddon was the Daily Mail’s New York diarist at that time.

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

Tue 6.a.m. Aug 8. 44.
# SEA MIST ROLLS IN AFTER FINE DAY
# REPORTS OF [V-1] ‘FLY-BOMBS’
# PLUCKY VISITORS FROM LONDON DESCRIBE BOMB DAMAGE
# TENDING WILL’S GRAVE
# NIECE CISS’S BROTHER-IN-LAW KILLED IN ACTION

Bank Holiday fine, not too hot, but breeze not so cold as it has been lately, also the sun shone most of the day. About 5.20 pm the mist or aar which had hung over the sea all day rolled in and made it damp and chilly. It spoiled the evening but when we went to bed at 10 o’c it had rolled inland and left us clear. It had blotted out the wolds. We could see a big bank of it inland. Some of it, nearer was only a few feet high with tops of trees showing above. It has come back now and is a white fog, can only see just over the road. I think it will only be on the coast. It will be terrible if it is in the fly-bomb area. We cannot seem to stop them, whatever they may say about the numbers shot down and the “lairs” they bomb daily and I fear there are not nearly enough deep shelters in London. Thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands have left, and the summer visitors say it is terrible, the uncanny pilotless planes coming so swiftly and bursting all over the place. Ciss’s visitors have just lost an only son in Normandy and a relative from London came Sun. She brought news that during the week they have been here, their house had all the windows blown out and a newly covered suite cut to ribbons and one wall curved like a bay window. Some of them say that scores of houses that are not actually hit are made unstable on their foundations and are not safe. They are remarkably plucky. One woman staying in vill[age] when told all her windows were blown out amused us by saying, “If I’d have known I would not have cleaned all those windows before I came.”

I think the M.Ps [Members of Parliament] have made a mistake adjourning for 7 weeks. People are sure to think they are scared and have run away from their duty. Roly Grantham says they, F.Bs, not only come straight but turn in their tracks so that you cannot judge where they will end. Whether the one he saw was an isolated case and a freak I don’t know but he is reliable and witnessed a case of one coming over and turning and bursting 2 miles from him. Elsie spent yesterday afternoon with Rene and Tom, they went over to Cumberworth but did not stay to stuffed-chine tea as there was such a crowd. Joyce [Coulston] and Harry Suter came after dinner and Jean and they went to sea for afternoon. They went home about 8 o’c. Jean and I washed a few things in morning most of which got dry tho’ it dried slowly. I took flowers to grave after dinner as Eva came Sun. aft. with Eileen [Faulkner] and Jean and I went to Chapel in eve. and I was too tired after to go. The piece of veronica I planted at the foot is growing. I wonder if Len [Short] will notice when he banks up the grave. My roses are growing, one may even flower and best of all Father’s favourite “Mrs Sara Macready” is showing a definite shoot well up on a twig so it is not a briar. The one that looked quite dead is the one that may flower. The one I am training to a standard is the latest. The ground is covered with apples under the trees but there is a good crop still, but I saw on a branch or two of bramleys the cotton wool of American blight. I painted all I could see with paraffin. The other tree appears to have a blight and has a great quantity of “crumpets”. Most of the other apples on this tree are specked on skin and even the pear-main apples have specks on them and several lots of “crumpets”. These, the crumps, ripen early and Harry, who is tall, reached up for two nice red ones and alas! the wasps had been first or else the blackbirds, there is one who seems to call “fruit fruit” very often.

Jean’s lettuces which she planted out are fine. She has another holiday this afternoon. Gwen went, or rather Per[cy] took her to or near Spilsby Sun for her holiday. We miss her tho’ she is so quiet. Ciss washed and ironed as her vis[itors] went to Sk[egness]. Grace is getting better fast. H[arriet] going to see her today. Rene said she would be here sometime to-day, but I must get on and sew as she won’t be here much this week with Tom on holiday. I cut out a pair of slippers last night, hope to get them done for Mrs Russell. Ration Cards back yest., they have sent emergency cards for two weeks instead of one. Nearly 7 o’c so shall have to soon get up and get Jean off. My gladiolas all growing but only one dahlia. It is nearly in bloom. Turkey has leisurely got down off the fence on our side at last as she sees we are winning. Not at war so far and Bulg[aria] has told Ger they won’t all[ow] them (the Gers) thro’ their territ[ory] if she does declare war. Very brave all at once now Ger is getting whacked.

10.15 pm Same day.
Warmer than yesterday after mist disappeared, thunder and a good shower in evening after which Frank came and cleaned out down spout on house which was blocked with dirt and leaves etc. Philip Ranson has been killed in Italy. Percy very upset I think, he looks so old and ill tonight. Ralph F[aulkner] is home from Normandy wounded in knee. Mav[is] came this afternoon, still looks seedy. Paper today says Scot[land] and N.Eng[land] may be able to dispense with blk.out in about 1 month from now and to have a modified type of street lighting. There are a lot of planes about with that looming drone I hate to hear. Expect it is really the heavy clouds about, but they sound so like evil business threatening us or our enemies, most likely enemies. I think the worst menace for us is over unless he gets those other long-range pilotless planes going.

Roland Grantham was one of Elsie’s brothers.

Harry Suter was the boyfriend (who became the husband) of Jean’s schoolfriend Joyce Coulston.

‘Too tired to go’ (after Chapel) refers to an intended visit to Will’s grave on the Sunday.

Len Short, elder brother of John, was a gardener and the church-yard verger. Len was a Home Guard member(see photo – Diary: 6 June 1944) and an assistant in the Boys’ Brigade. Their sister Freda was a Girl’s’ Life Brigade member (see photo – Diary: 19 June 1944).

Bramley cooking apples and Worcester Pearmain dessert apples were the varieties on the garden trees.

Philip Ranson was the brother of Ciss’s husband Percy.

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

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].

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

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’?

Thur. Mar.2. 44. 8.15. a.m.
# DESPERATE FOR COAL
# STRUGGLE CONTINUES ON MANY FRONTS
# ASTHMA DELAYS SPRING CLEANING

Sharp and cold this morning but we have no more snow. Most of it seems to have gone from wolds tho’ no doubt there is some left in shady hollows in the vales. There was either rain or sleet when we went to bed last night. Think “the Sprogg” must have been fighting as Jean says “he won’t speak” and he sits glumly by the fire. Think he is moulting too and his long hair is a nuisance. I have given him a Tibs. Percy did not come with coal yesterday, if he does not come to-day we shall be quite out. Rene brought me a basket-full or we should have run out yesterday and wood and coke aren’t much good without a little coal at the bottom.

Finns are trying to come to Peace terms with Russia. Russ is in the position to dictate them and I do not think she will err on the side of leniency. It is hard to have to accept terms from a superior power in order to save one’s country from destruction. We ourselves may yet have to accept terms for our neighbours, and be fortunate if we don’t have to give concession to Russia ourselves, that we do not like. But better that humiliation than that either the Gers. or Russ. should conquer England. Our planes were out again last night and Gers over S.E. and London again. Damage and casualties radio says and enemy planes down. There is still a tough struggle going on at Anzio beachhead but Gers. have slackened again and we have more reinforcements. American war against Japs going so well that it has even been prophesied that Tokyo will fall before Berlin but that is not a general belief. We have started third month of this year and do not really seem to have advanced much, but suppose we must have done.

Father will be home soon to take Mrs B with baby to Dr M[enzies], Skeg[ness]. Joe K[irk] is doing an hour or two [Watch-box duty] for him. If I can only overset this bout of asthma I shall start S[pring] Cleaning next week. We don’t look like getting another house at present. The strong spring sunshine begins to make things look dusty now and the house is so dry we can start anytime. Lately the cleaning has seemed to drag on so long with me having asthma. I used to be able to work in spite of it or between bouts but it seems to take my strength now for so long. Rene’s rheum. troubling her, this stormy weather.

Mrs B, here, is probably Mrs Vera Balding, wife of Billy (see 15 Oct 1942).

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

Mon 28 Feb. 8.50 am [1944]
# SNOW COVERS WOLDS
# MUCH LETTER WRITING
# RON AND CHUMS IMPROVISE STOVE
# COUSIN BRINGS FARM SAUSAGES ETC.

Ugh! The snow is coming down like sago as Jean says, and the wolds are thickly covered this morning. It has not “laid” here so far tho’ we had snow showers all day yesterday. Father said it was freezing when he came in just now. He has gone to M[um]by. Rd. Stn. to take a woman from Anderby to meet the train. Snow shower has whitened roofs and fence tops, it looks more like staying to-day, but tomorrow (being leap year) is the last of Feb. so we should not have it long. I hope we don’t, I am past the age of revelling in snow tho’ I like to see it.

Wrote to Ron, Dennis, Frank A and Vic last night, must write to Jock sometime. Roy is taking a course for N.C.O. [non-commissioned officer] now. Still I expect Ron wouldn’t exchange his African Star for stripes. He says “No, he hasn’t forgotten how to smile, one of the fellows calls him smiler.” I think I am more pleased to hear that than about his star, tho’ we are very pleased he has that. He and another fellow have made a stove for the billets, complete with pipe, out of an oil drum and biscuit tin. They heat up stew and beans and make Oxo and toast over it and get quite warm he says.

Amy and Ken came on Wed. Ken is growing now, he has shot thro’ sleeves and legs of his suit and looks long tho’ not by any means lanky. Amy brought us p[ork] pie, saus[ages], and mince pies, they were a very nice change. She is looking well in spite of having a nasty cold a week or two ago. Auntie [Jet] had finished knitting my tea-cosy, was very pleased to do it Amy said. She is getting on with her rug but it tries her. Wish I could think of something else for her to do, it is so difficult in these coupon days and she can do so little too. Gers. came over several nights last week some over London, chiefly over flats, several casualties. Jean is at home, it is half-term (Friday and Monday.) I think she must do the work and I will sew as I am having a bout of asthma after being free for nearly three months, at least nearly so. Well I can find plenty of sewing.

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