All posts tagged Rome

Fri June 9. 6.o’c a.m. [1944]
# BIRDSONG LESS THAN AT HOME NEAR POINT
# PENSION FORMS FRUSTRATE
# SOFT TOY MAKING UNDERWAY
# CONCERN FOR LOCAL MEN ON ACTIVE SERVICE
# DIFFERING FORECASTS OF WHEN WAR WILL END

I slept until 5 o’c then woke with the old enemy asthma. I have taken down the black-out and opened the window as it is very close. It has been more rain and looks as if it may be drizzling now. It will do a lot of good. I can hear doves or pigeons cooing and every now and then a cuckoo. There seems to be a lot of cuckoos this year. In the back-ground is a chorus of smaller birds, but the black-birds and thrushes do not sing so much now. There does not seem so many birds here, I think the hills are a sanctuary for them at The Point. Yesterday I had notice that my Pension Book was at P.O. but they have put Lenton L[odge] for address tho’ I wrote some time since and informed them of the change. I went and got the necessary form W47 I think but found when I got home that I should have had an envelope with it and also Pension Bk. I must go again and draw Pension to the time we came here and post book with form. Oh, these forms!

I made the rabbit up yesterday that I cut out Wed. It is fine. Also I made up the grey horse I cut out some time since, so shall send all three to Emmie. I must really go to Sk[egness] and see about licence etc for selling them. If Jean is still deaf with one ear must go on Mon. We cleaned (Jean and I) the heap of rubbish left by Chriss [?] off the front garden last night. Rene dug a piece yesterday. It is nearly all done now and as I have got the roll[er] home I think I shall try to get seed in after the rain. If it doesn’t come properly I must do it again in autumn. Nurse says she doesn’t think Mrs C[oote] will last over to-day. It will be a relief if she goes, for herself and him. I heard him [Mr Coote] say yesterday, “I wish she could go, never mind what happens to me.” He does not believe in any life after this and will not have anyone to talk to Mrs C. but Ciss says she told her that she sung a bit sometimes and prayed too so I hope she has found the right way and that he may yet come to know different. How could I carry on at all but for the hope of a life to come, and meeting all those who have gone. One night Will seemed to come, and I wanted to go with him, but I thought of Jean and said, “I can’t leave Jean yet but wait for me.” I wonder where he is waiting, but he will be happy, not fretting as we do still.

Poor Mrs Hall has her two boys and her husband on the same ship. If it is lost she may lose all. I pray not. Almost every house has someone in the services they are anxious about. Poor Daisy, she expects Norman has gone. I felt so bad when I heard the tanks were going forward. He is in Tank Corps. Joan’s brother has gone too. Laurence [nephew] had orders to have all his kit ready, I wonder if he has gone. The wounded are already coming back, and alas, there are already many who will not come back. In Italy they are fighting hard too. Rome was taken without fighting. Gers said to save the city, but they went in such haste that they left a lot of equipment behind. Frank Adams has gone to Italy. Poor Sybil, I must write. I am pleased Ron is not back here now. If he had come home and then gone to France we should have been more worried than now. He seems safer there somehow.

Surely this year will see the end. Churchill has issued a warning against undue optimism at present. Ger has prepared for this and is not done yet. Perc[y] says it will be over in Sept. Let’s hope he is right. French have met our troops with cheers in Normandy, there was some doubt of their reception I think and no doubt all will not be so friendly. The Vichy Party have been told to fight against us. Even after the war I fear France will be torn between the two elements. “A country divided against itself cannot stand.” Turkey has disappointed us, but Spain and Portugal seem to be veering a little more to us under pressure tho’ I think Spain would defy us if she dared. Old scores are not forgotten. I think few planes were over last night as I did not wake.

10.20 p.m. To-day I drew the first 6 weeks of my widow’s pension. (I do not dare to let my thoughts dwell on it.) It is only 15/0 for Jean and I but what should I have done without it? Until 6 years or so ago when the Vol[untary] contributions came in we did not pay any Pension money. I drew the money up to 9th May, then as we came here on 10th address has to be altered, shall have about 4 more weeks to draw, back money, when it comes back, then there will just be 15/0 a week until July 25, then 10/0 until Jean is at work, unless I get Sup[plementary] Pension. I should get 10/0 for toys I sent to Emmie today, less 10D for postage. If I can get a sale for them and get a supply of kapok I shall be alright I think.

I drew £4.10. Pension and £3.16.1 from Will’s S[avings] Cert[ificate]. I gave Rene £1 to buy something. She is buying a cycle- basket. I think I had better have one too. I gave Jean 10/0 of it to put in Trustee [Savings Bank] for “Salute the Soldier” week at Sk. I made up my stamps to 30/0 to-day for a Cert. After this my savings will be less I expect.

I made a temporary “scraper” tonight as the soil here sticks, it is not like our old sandy garden. It is a very good job, except that the scraper part is not strong enough, must look out for a better piece somewhere. Percy set me some of his cabb[age] plants to-night. I think he’d like to plant the whole front garden, but I mean to have it grass.

The person named as ‘Chriss’, presumably connected with the previous occupant of Council House No. 3, has not been identified.

Joan, wife of Roy Simpson [nephew], had two brothers, Tony and John Collison. The reference here was probably to John, who was in the Tank Corps. Tony was in the Grenadier Guards.

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

Fri Jan. 28. 8.30 a.m. [1944]
# MEN’S UTILITY SUITS UNPOPULAR
# AIRCRAFT ACTIVITY AND EXPLOSION
# GERMAN RADIO SILENCED BY BOMBING
# CHURCHILL REASSURES AUSTRALIA ON JAPANESE
# SHORT DIARY BOOK COMPLETED

Probably most of the utility suits will have to be kept and exported after the war. It seems utility suits can be made by government orders, but they can’t make the men buy them. Indeed they can’t buy many suits at all as by the time socks and underclothes and boots are provided it would be difficult to find 26 cou[pon]s for a suit. It must be a problem where there are growing boys of from 14 to 17 wanting suits as big as their father’s and growing out of them and wearing them out much quicker.

We heard our planes going out again around 6 o’c last night. They began to return before ten o’c and seemed to be droning around for hours. Once there was an explosion which rattled doors and windows. On the 9 o’c news we were informed that several Ger. Stations were off the air, and that before going off they had warned the listeners that the enemy planes reported earlier, were travelling in a S.E. direction. How quickly news travels now. Father has started patrol to-day. It was so dark he did not start until 8.15. It still blows the soft warm wind like yesterday, but not so strong yet tho’ it keeps freshening. It still sounds like rain. We thought it would have rained yesterday.

I went to meet Jean at Cooper’s last night when she left school. Got her pair of navy shoes with suede inset 17/9. The heels are rather high as she has only had flat heels before, except her white ones for weddings. I hope she will be able to wear them. I also bought myself a pair like Rene bought this week but black. Had only 3D left out of 25/0 Xmas money which I had saved for them. Still 24/9 is not very much for these days and I would have paid that for Jean’s. Hers had been in stock some time and were much better than some higher-priced ones we saw. Have finished one of Rene’s gloves and my quilt is progressing steadily. Had a letter from Emmie yesterday, she has got Jean’s wool, so I must get my cardigan finished ready to start Jean’s jumper when it comes. We have a nice pattern.

Fierce fighting is going on now in Italy and Gers are turning attention to the allied landing party between them and Rome. Should think the next two months will do a lot at them. Churchill has given the Australians an assurance that we shall fight until Japs are beaten. We are apt to forget the war with Japs when we talk of the war being over soon or rather, I think we hide from the thought of it, but it is there none the less and will have to be gone thro’. If Ron is sent out there instead of coming home it will be a bitter disappointment for all of us. But it may well happen I am afraid. He has got African Star and Clasp, Emmie says. We are so pleased. Well here’s the end of this attenuated book. Am pleased the next is larger. This has lasted just two weeks, so no great amount of history made.

A little scrap in the warring years
To be read some day with smiles or tears
When we add up the sums of loss and gain
That emerge from this time of toil and pain.

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

Sun Jan. 23 7.45 PM [1944]
# MINERS’ WAGES AND COAL PRICES INCREASE
# ALLIED ADVANCES IN ITALY
# BNAF SOLDIERS RETURN TO BRITAIN
# NEW BICYCLE FOR RENE

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’?