Miners’ wages, including those of “Bevin’s boys” are raised. Coal and coke is up 3/0 from 1 Feb. In Italy part of 5th Army has landed between German divisions and Rome, West coast Italy. It was a successful operation and we have advanced several miles inland. Russians doing so well in North that Finns are wondering whether Gers are going to be able to hold them. More and more Forces reported all over as returned from B.N.A.F. Alex, May L’s husband came to Newark on leave last week. He went out round about time Ron did. Wonder if Frank Adams will come too. He was in Sicily, but has been in B.N.A.F. some time now.
Rene has her new bicycle a Rudge. Very pleased with it. I tried it on lawn and as it is a modern type with little room between seat and handles I got my foot fast and sat down flat on lawn to the no small amusement of Rene and Jean and Elsie G[rantham]. Neither cycle or I was hurt except a wee bit of skin of my thumb knuckle which was bruised too (I bathed it in boracic). I am very stiff to-day tho’ about neck and shoulders so expect I wrenched them a bit.
Jean went to C[entral] Hall Fri. night to see a film Rev. Hodgson had brought. It was “Mr Deed goes to town” and very good. Ron saw it in London when he went with B.B. [Boys’ Brigade] and I believe he saw it some years later in Sk[egness]. The “Panto” Aladdin is at Sk. Only one matinee (on Sat) which was booked weeks before so had no chance to see it as last bus is at 7.15. Mrs Hall and [Mrs] Cooper went and Father fetched them back at 5 from mat[inee] as they knew bus’ would be packed. Rene came before tea, had a cup and piece of cake but not a full tea. Tom had gone on patrol. The flower I made for her coat looks very nice.
I have started to read Don Quixote, have read extracts before of course, but have never read all of it. It belongs to Mavis. I am expecting to enjoy it. Jean is enchanted with it. Have written to Ron and Mrs Fletcher and Bessie Brown. It is nice to get letters thro’ to Ron so quickly. Had a letter from Mrs Russell Fri. She says Emmie had just had 10 letters from him, very cheerful ones. She says they hope to come in June. Was not at work yet but hoping to start in a day or two.
Bread is very dry and chaffy but we must not complain as we have bacon and dripping in addition to butter and marg. ration. It was a very wet night but turned fair about 10 o’c. A.M. and was a bright sunny day tho’ windy, a west wind which went after a sudden squall about 5.45. Have turned out all my cut flowers and still snowdrops will not be out yet and my one anemone bud grows so slowly. I have a wee chrysanthemum plant in a can which is just coming into flower only one bloom tho’. I think it will be white tho’ at first I thought it was yellow. Eff came Sat afternoon, brought me some fat bacon, 1/0 lb which will be useful.
‘Bevin’s Boys’ were industrial/ mine-work conscripts. Although some were conscientious objectors many had elected to join the forces but were not given the choice, as May noted. (This policy also caused problems after the war, when ex-servicemen received more favourable support.) Ernest Bevin (Labour Party) was Minister of Labour and National Service in the coalition government.
‘Operation Shingle’ began with the Anzio landings on the west coast of Italy on 22 January 1944.
Alec Hunter (written as Alex) was the husband of sister Emily’s daughter May, née Lewis (see 18 May 1941).
Mrs Cooper, wife of Walter Cooper, cobbler, whose home and shoe-shop was near Belton’s garage at that time, is probably meant here. Walter was in the local group of the Royal Observer Corps and their son, Eric, in the Boys’ Brigade.
Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?