All posts tagged Postscript

Postscript – After May Hill – Died 18th November 1944
# RECALLING MAY’S LAST SIGHT OF RON
# RON’S DEMOB AND RETURN HOME IN 1945
# VILLAGE WAR MEMORIAL – FOUR HILL FAMILY LOSSES
# MAY’S FAMILY – CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN
# DIARY AND POETRY PUBLICATIONS

Sadly, May’s war ended without the longed-for reunion with Ron, but not in the way she had feared most when she wrote, on 25th October 1943:

‘It is over a year since we saw Ron. I can still see the train pulling out with Ron waving from a carriage window, and how I felt as if he was taking a part of me with him, feeling as if I must strain my eyes for as long as I could see him, knowing it might be that it was the last sight of him we should ever have.’

With his mother defeated by her own ‘old enemy’, and his father gone not long before her, Ron’s war continued. He served with the RAF abroad for almost a year after May’s death, with no compassionate leave granted to attend either of his parents’ funerals. The pain of losing both parents, as well as their brother’s enforced absence, was hard for Jean and Rene to bear. Their grief was softened when Jean moved to live with Rene and Tom in their bungalow in the village. They kept in close touch with Emmie, Ron’s wife. In the summer of 1945 Emmie and Jean shared a holiday in the Lake District. Shortly afterwards Ron was demobbed, safely returning to England where he was joyfully reunited with his wife and sisters.

Ron and Emmie reunited, 1945

Emmie and Ron, together again at last,
after his return to England in 1945

The rejoicing at the end of hostilities was mixed with grief; the war had taken its toll on the family and the village. Of the four young men who had been lost in action, as recorded in the Diaries, three were May’s nephews, Tony Hill (RAF), Kenneth Hill (RAF) and Raymond Hill (Army). Along with that of Hugh Green (Merchant Navy) their names were added to the plinth of the village war memorial, located in the grounds of St Leonard’s Church. The memorial had previously been erected in memory of Will’s brother, Mark Hill (Army), the only man of the village to be killed in action during the First World War (see 16 Sep 1944 when May laid flowers on Mark’s grave). Their sacrifices have not been forgotten and the village memorial was re-dedicated, following refurbishment, in a service held in 2005 on the anniversary of Mark Hill’s death in on 13th September 1917.

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial
with added WWII Inscription

War Memorial - Original Inscription

Original Inscription WWI

War Memorial - WWII Inscription

WWII Inscription

As for May and Will’s immediate family, life began to move on. The first grandchild, Rene’s son, was born barely a year after May’s death. Jean lived with Rene and Tom for a few more years until they re-settled in Louth. Jean then moved to live in Skegness, where she continued in local government employment and met her future husband, Alan. Ron and Emmie made their home in Yeadon, near Leeds, where Ron pursued his career as a carpenter/joiner. Each couple had two children who have great pride in the Poetry and Diaries. Although they never met her, May Hill’s grandchildren will never forget the grandmother whom, through the wonderful legacy of her writing, they have come to know so well.

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This Postscript is adapted from that in the book “The Casualties Were Small” (available on Amazon) which contains May Hill’s poems, selected diary extracts and many nostalgic photographs, including those above.

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The contents of May Hill’s Diaries, and her Poems, with illustrations, as published in this Blog ‘Seventy Years on’, are available as annual Kindle e-reader volumes. These have the main title ‘An RAF Mother’s WWII Diary Blog’ and subtitles as follows (the links are for the UK Amazon Kindle Store – Search using ‘RAF Mother WWII’ in Kindle Store in other countries):

Volume One, November 1940 to December 1941, ‘Anticipation and Alarms’
Published as Kindle Edition in April 2012

Volume Two, January 1942 to December 1942, ‘Weddings and Farewells’
Published as Kindle Edition in April 2013

Volume Three, January 1943 to December 1943, ‘Losses and Gains’
Published as Kindle Edition in December 2013

Volume Four, January 1944 to December 1944, ‘Sorrows and Salvation’
To be published as Kindle Edition in December 2014

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

Undated – November 1944?
“Tune Your Hearts to Brave Music”.

Comrades! Mourn not my loss.

Now, free from earthly weight my soul rides high.

Far, far above your little globe I seek another star,

My plane untrammelled by the pull of earth,

Beats pinions strong and swift in widest space.

Wife, mother, brothers, sisters all, shed not your

…………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………..

And yet it leads at last thro’ clouds and weariness and doubt,

To growing faith and strength, and gleams of sunshine,

And in after years, when time has softened sorrow’s roughest edge,

To glowing days of summer sun, and then, at last

To that same goal to which I swiftly pass.

“Tune now your hearts to music, brave”,

And set your feet to climb the hill.

Until at last the “Golden Years” shall come,

When all shall dwell within the Light of God,

In Happiness and Peace and war shall be no more.

 

“Tune Your Hearts to Brave Music” was discovered, incomplete, on loose sheets with about half a page missing, possibly containing ten or twelve lines around the middle section. Whilst the date is not known, this could have been May’s final poem before her death on 18th November 1944 which was just a week after Remembrance Day, 11th November. The poignant words fittingly serve as a remembrance of May herself athough she may have written them with her beloved departed husband Will in mind.

The inspiration for the poem clearly came from a prayer, attributed to St Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430), which contained the lines: ‘Flood the path with light, we beseech you; turn our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music …’

St Augustine’s Prayer, is freely quoted in prayer books and individual church websites, although several variations in the wording and length occur. Some versions are truncated before the line ‘tune our hearts to brave music’.

Although It is believed that overall the main wording of the poem is original, written by May Hill, it is possible that she had deliberately quoted a poem that she had found elsewhere. However searches have not revealed lines other than those referred to above as part of St Augustine’s Prayer.

The poem has been added to the poems collection on this site. It also appears in the book The Casualties Were Small (available on Amazon) 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.

The final item in this Blog, to follow in about a week’s time, will be a short Postscript relating to son Ron and the rest of May’s family.

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’?