All posts tagged Malta

Mon Aug. 30. 8.40. a.m. [1943]

Jean and Father have departed. I am not working to-day. Rene will probably collect Red + pennies and we will wash tomorrow. Wrote a long letter to Ron yesterday and went to Chapel evening service. Tom preached. He is a good preacher and gives the impression that he has spent time and thought on his preparation. Mary and C[harles] were there. M. looks and sounds worn out with sorrow. We are not wearing black. M of course was in blk with white blouse. I hope she won’t think it heathen but I resolved long since that I would only go in blk for anyone very near and then only for a short time. There is scarcely a home without loss and if all wore black it would have a very depressing effect and that is the last thing that we need.

Tom gathered blk.berries and gave them to Jean to take to school for jam for winter puddings. Mr. Sp[endlove] says the jam allowance is totally inadequate for school dinner but that the Gov[ernme]nt would let them have sugar if children brought fruit. It is very windy this morning and is just coming a shower. I expect Ron would like to see it. He says he understands now why the poets write of England’s green and pleasant pasture lands. We had letter from him on Sat. date July 23, and airgraph Aug 11, so had been delayed. Think he would be in Malta then. He had collected bits of wood to make a frame to keep his bed off the ground, tho’ it would not be comfortable. Says he has almost forgotten what its like to sleep on a proper bed. Poor boys, they remind me of little motherless children, tho’ I know they are full of resources and by no means as helpless as we are apt to think them. Father is coming off box at 11 to go to station.

Russians are keeping up their advances well. Trouble seems to be boiling up in Denmark and Sweden now. Danes are getting tired of the German yoke which presses ever more heavily. Danish king is kept a prisoner in his palace. Swedes are being severely reprimanded by Ger. press for their own press’s way of discussing the war. I have seen the last few sheaves of a fodder stack thrown out sometimes and the mice, which hitherto the cat has been able to catch one by one and devour, run out in all directions. The cat is so bewildered that most of them get away. Well I think Hitler is getting nearly to that, but I think he will be fortunate if he gets away. I rather think the mice will continue and rend him. Summer seems to have slipped away with our hour of D[ouble] summer time. These last few days have felt very like Autumn, a damp close atmosphere that depresses one. Let’s hope we have a month or six weeks of golden Autumn days yet before winter. It is not Sep. yet so we could get two months fine weather yet. It was open weather until Xmas last year.

Mary and Charles Hill were in mourning for their son Raymond, recently reported lost in action (see 24 Aug. 1943).

Ron had in fact already been moved from Malta to Sicily on 20th July.

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

Thursday July 15 1943 4.50. P.M. [1943]

St. Swithin’s Day and it’s pouring down
In a thunder-shower from the clouds
For forty days says the old wives tale
It will rain either more or less.

It is almost 5 o’clock and pouring with rain. I think it is a thunder shower tho’ I’ve heard no thunder. It has cooled the air, I believe. I feel a little relief already. The soft south-west wind completely overpowers me. I heard a few hailstones patter on the porch then. Hope it won’t rain in my bedroom window but I can’t go up. I wonder if the shed door is open, if it is it will rain right in. Expect Jean will shelter at Jessie’s. The rain will do good in the gardens if it doesn’t beat everything down. Hope it won’t “lay” the corn tho’ I should think it’s early enough to get up again yet. Rene and Tom called this morning and brought me some peas. I had to hurry then to get dinner and over-tired myself and have been done up ever since. Kitchen has not been swept or dusted.

Had a letter and a letter-card (airmail) today from Ron. Letter written Jul. 1st and card 6th. Ron in Malta when he wrote this. It’s nice to get them so quickly. The flies seem a terrible pest and he says it’s far too hot to go out unless necessary. At the bottom of his A.M. letter there is a tiny P.S. to say his parcel has arrived. [Aside: Parcel arrived on July 6 in Malta.] I can’t remember what date it was sent. He is in billets now in a village and says not to worry if he misses writing occasionally, it is not always possible to write every few days. I hope he gets his mail tho’. Said he had been reading in [Skegness] Standard about our Apr. Gale so that had been a long time on the way. It seems to have stopped raining so hope Jean won’t be long. I want her to go to Hall’s for me for Sw[eet] Nitre.

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

Sat 3. July [1943]

Had 2 more recently written letters from Ron, one dated 18th and one 22nd June then yesterday 4 more! Jean’s written in June the rest in May. He is not in tents but billets now but regulations have been tightened up again. He can’t tell us where he is, nor send parcels. Says he is working hard at times, was fit and well, had been cooking until 9 p.m. one day. They get one day off in 3. It is very hot and the flies are very troublesome, said he was surrounded by the bodies of those he had killed and the others were tracing all around him. His clothes had just come back from the wash, spotless. He was so pleased, he likes nice clean clothes and hates to wash them. (We have washed Father’s khaki suit this week. Looks ok only I upset “Thawpit” bot. over it. Hope the white ring comes out.) He longs for home. I wish the war was over and he was home. There seems to be a lull just now like the calm that comes when we say the wind gathers strength for a harder blow. These sunny summer days are the last that many a lad will ever see, let us not be too hasty in wishing the sec[ond] front would start. I fear that before another June comes round many hundreds will have gone.

Had a long letter from Frank Adams. He went thro’ the last campaign in Africa from Alamein to Tunis but cannot tell us where he is now. We are so pleased he is safe. He sang “Baudelaire” to an old French couple and they said “chante tres bien” and then he sang “Tipperary” and the old man’s face lit up. He had been in the last war and recognised it at once. They rescued some rabbits and kept them some time, also 5 hens which laid every day.

Frank Adams

Frank Adams

Altho’ there are small raids in the country almost every night we do not black out now when Father is at home all night. He is on 6 days leave now. It is never really dark all night. Jean has gone to Margaret Pickers for the day.

Ron was in Malta when his letters were written, having sailed from Sfax in Tunisia to Valetta Harbour 8th – 9th June 1943, according to his own Diary (courtesy Brian R Hill).

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