All posts tagged Ron

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’?

Nov. 3 Fri 9.20 p.m. [1944]
# LIBERATION OF BELGIUM REPORTED
# FIRST SNOWFALL ON WESTERN FRONT
# SURPRISE VISIT FROM RON’S EMMIE
# FEARS OF V-2 ROCKET BOMBS

The whole of Belgium is liberated. These poor occupied countries seem to think their troubles are all over when “liberated”, but I am afraid quickly find they are still a long way from real peace and prosperity. The first snow has fallen on the Western Front and there has been a fore-cast by meteorolog. experts of a hard winter. I wonder if they and the “cat haws” are right or if old Traves idea of a mild winter if thunder occurred after the equinox is right. “Time will prove” I suppose. The war seems to be going satisfactorily but hopes of a finish in Europe this year do not seem quite so rosy. Indeed W.C. [Winston Churchill] thinks it possible it may not finish until spring or early summer 1945.

Keith and Marion came last Thurs. ev. I had finished dog and they admired it very much. Rene took it to post Friday. At tea-time Emmie dropped on us (Friday) off 4.15 bus’. Was delighted to take us by surprise. I was pleased I had a hot beef pie waiting for Jean’s tea and I quickly put pot. and veg. in oven to warm (It was hot after baking.) and got her a meal very quickly. Then she went down to see Rene on “Sara”, and back before Jean was home. She stayed until Mon. and Rene went with her to Sk[egness]. Elsie came Sun ev. She bought my four young rabbits, Eff is having the other Mon. Emmie and Jean went to Chapel Sun. morn. It rained when they left. Rene went too and got very wet and took a chill. She had not been too well for some days. She has not been since Tue. I went on Thurs. 10.20 bus’ and came back at 5 o’c. She was feeling better and more like food.

Emmie on Rene’s bicycle ‘Sara’ at ‘Lenton Lodge’

I have had a busy day at home to-day and when Jean had gone to G.L.B. [Girls’ Life Brigade] fell fast asleep in my chair. I don’t know when I have felt as tired. Had a letter from Emmie and 10/6 for Dog to-day, I also sent her a Teddy and rabbit. She did not return Father’s bag, I do hope she doesn’t lose it. Expect she will return it with Jean’s wool. Jean banged her hand at the office, it is swollen and painful tonight. She has had her legs bitten by gnats and they irritate too. One or two explosions have just rattled doors slightly. I am rather nervous in case Hitler sends any of the V2 rocket bombs. Because we have destroyed one nest doesn’t say he has no more. May we be spared from the next war. Sent Ron’s parcel to-day. Wonder how Rene is, must find out tomorrow. Wish I was able to get about better. Eva came when I was out yesterday, stayed at Ciss’s a while then walked home. I was sorry to be out when she came. It has been very wet again to-day tho’ it cleared this afternoon.

‘Cat haws’ are the fruit of the hawthorn. (See ‘A Glossary or Collection of Words, Phrases, Place Names, Superstitions Current in East Lincolnshire’, Jabez Good, Long Sutton, c1900.)

William Robert Traves, who had died in 1938, was probably the ‘Old Traves’ referred to. He was the father of John Hadwick Traves who owned Croft Farm on Bradshaws Lane in Hogsthorpe, not far from Milsons’ farm (see Village Map).

‘Sara’ was the name given to Rene’s bicycle. This was also the name of a rabbit that had been kept at ‘Lenton Lodge’.

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

Oct 15 Sunday 8.30 p.m [1944]
# ASTHMA FOR MOST OF WEEK
# HUGE COOKING APPLE CROP
# RENE’S TOM PREACHING AT CHAPEL
# BUSY IN GARDEN AGAIN

Another Sunday, I must try to write up my diary oftener. I have been glancing thro’ old ones to-day and they are very interesting to me. It has been a lovely autumn day fine and cold but not so windy as of late. I felt as if I ought to have gone for a walk but do not feel very great yet after asthma most of the week and diarrhoea on Thursday. Yesterday Jean and I picked several stones of Bramleys, a clothes basket, the big brown basket and the small bath full, and the jam-pan full of fallen ones. They are good apples and there must be still as many more left on the tree. If fine Rene and I will pick them tomorrow.

Have written to Ron, Emmie and Aunt Fanny. Have not had a reply from Sybil yet. Hope all is well. Jean bought herself a pair of new blue suede shoes yesterday at Cooper’s 23/6 quite nice, the first she ever bought with own money.

Eva came down Wed afternoon for tea and paid for rabbit 5/0. She is looking better. Jean took three lovely white gladiolas to Churchyard also asters. Then she went to Chapel and to S.S. [Sunday School] after dinner. G.ma gave her 2/0. Tom and Rene walked down this morning. He is preaching to-night. Ron’s allowance for me 7/0 per week came thro’ this week, £4.4 back money in draft. So that is settled for the time anyway. It is for rent etc. Made a T. Bear and stuffed it with flocks. Looks very nice but is not so light as kapok. Perhaps more substantial for older child. Jean called at Mrs. B[rown]’s for piece of green velveteen. Hope it will make dog. It is lovely. Am to return Eardley’s chair when I like after Monday, they have lent it. I asked her if I could send it home.

Lawn growing well, think it will cover alright. Heaps of work wants doing in garden but Rene finished digging potatoes on Thurs. Must pick up the rest of seed and ……. [? thrash?] tomorrow if dry and get garden ready for blk.currants and rasps. Shall have a lot of chrys[anthemums] if pest and wind does not spoil them. Must do away with a lot after flowering, far too many. My anemones are beginning to peep thro’ I am relieved to find. Some of my seedling polyanthus are in bloom also wannias, wallflowers Mary gave me are growing well and all three roses are alive. I ought to move two of them as they seem to catch all the cutting winds at the corner of the house. Don’t suppose it would hurt to move them about Dec. or Jan. What a lot there is to do in a garden. When I am not well it all seems to get on top of me. I have never really got master of it yet. News time and Jean is tired so think we will have supp. and go to bed early. I can read in bed if not sleepy. Can hear a plane.

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

Sun. Oct 8 7.50 P.M. [1944]
# HEARTY BREAKFAST BEFORE CHAPEL
# GARDEN FLOWERS CONTINUE TO THRIVE
# SERVING NEPHEWS ON LOCAL LEAVE
# TRADITIONAL SUNDAY DINNER
# MORE SOFT TOY MAKING

Got out of bed at 7.40 to draw curtains, it was calm and looked like being a fine day so decided to get up. Put D[ressing] Gown on and collected clothes, went down and lit stove and put kettle on. Made fire and took cinders out then had a cup of tea and took Jean one. Water warm in boiler so had a good wash and changed clothes. Cooked bacon and the two eggs Mrs. B[rown] brought and Jean some bread. Mrs. B has one hen, it has laid so many eggs this summer she had to buy waterglass and put them down! Some hen! Before Jean got down to breakfast at 8.30 it was raining and has kept drizzling all day. Jean went to Chapel and to S.S. [Sunday School] then to Mary’s with apples for Annie, Colin came here from S.S. to fetch them! Jean went to Miss Wilcoxon’s to get Pitman’s she promised to lend her as Tom’s is out of date. Not at home but Mrs. W. promised to get it for tomorrow.

My gladioli are lovely, took one to churchyard last week, have another in house (white ones) but too wet to go to-day. Hope I have pink and mauve ones too, tho’ only white so far. Dahlia still in flower and asters too tho’ flowers are smaller now. Have written to [sister] Emily L[ewis] Emmie and Ron and a card to Amy.

Roy has been on leave, was flown with cycle to St[rubby] aero[drome] as he had to see a damaged boat there. Dennis is at E. Kirkby drome and has been home twice. Keith is expected in a week or two. Rene brought me some nice roses last night. Frank called this morning, he had been to Percy’s. Says my front door key doesn’t belong but will try to fit one for me. Per’s mother and fa. here today. Gwen at Willeys at Anderby. Em L. coming to Island House Croft to live this week. I think sometimes the people who put no roots deep down but sort of run on the surface, are perhaps the happiest. They seem to enjoy each new adventure of a fresh home. I am by no means “at home” here yet, tho’ perhaps can hardly expect it under the circumstances. Sometimes I wonder if anywhere will ever feel like “home” again. I suppose if you keep on moving you don’t get enough attached to any place to bother when you leave. I am afraid I send my roots down too far. It is a wrench to pull them up and I hate to leave my flowers and get my furniture bumped about tho’ it’s old but not valuable!

Frank is thinking of getting removed from Ob. Post as he has so much work. Is not very keen on new …… [? illegible], thinks it will be very exp. for him. Black kitten is sitting on oven rest, tried top of oven with his paws but decided it was too hot. We had a piece of sirloin for dinner, cut from top of ribs to trim it up I think. They cut the carcases up so queerly now. It was very good, all meat too. We had mashed and brown potatoes and Yor[kshire] pud. with it but no beans as I forgot them yesterday and it was too wet to-day. There will be brussels as soon as a frost has been on them. Rene’s have already had some. Have got my crock nearly full of salted beans, there were so many young fresh ones it seemed a pity not to use them. Wish I could sell rabbits, they take a lot of feeding. Made a toy rabbit yesterday stuffed with flocks and clippings. Quite successful tho’ large toys would be much heavier than kapok and it takes a long time to clip up the oddments of material.

Miss Veda Wilcox (written as Wilcoxon), lived near Parishes’ ‘Rose Cottage’ on Roman Bank which was close to the beach, near ‘The Point’ (see Village Map). She was a WRN at ‘Royal Arthur’, possibly on secretarial duties.

RAF Strubby (see East Lincolnshire Map), not far from RAF Manby, was where nephew Roy Simpson had been involved in Air Sea Rescue boat repairs, having been flown from his base at RAF Langham, Norfolk

Nephew Dennis Raynor was at RAF East Kirkby (later Lincolnshire’s Aviation Heritage Centre), a bomber airfield near Revesby.

Silas and Winifred (‘Winnie’) Willey had been Ransons’ neighbours and had moved to a farm in Anderby. Gwen and her parents would cycle to visit them and their daughters Mary and Joan. Silas Willey was a member of the Home Guard (see 6th June 1944 for photo).

‘Island House’ was a farm cottage at Croft.

Frank Simpson (brother) or possibly Frank Raynor, was probably meant regarding the Observer Post. Both had been local members of the Royal Observer Corps and the duties could have been an unwanted diversion from their usual work activities.

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

Saturday Sep. 16 1944 10. o’c P.M.
# END OF ‘DOUBLE SUMMER TIME’
# LAST DAY OF TOTAL BLACKOUT
# JEAN INVESTIGATES TYPING LESSONS
# VISITING FAMILY GRAVES
# APPLE PICKING AND GARDENING
# NEW WAVE OF FLYING BOMBS

Tonight we put back our clocks one hour so that we are only one hour in advance of G.M.T. Pips were broadcast at 9 o’c as Big Ben was going to be put back. It is a memorable day in most of Eng. as it is the end of total black-out. Our area is not included tho’, as we are on the coast and our black-out must remain total at present. I wonder if it would not be better if it was kept up every-where for a time. The cartoon in D.M. [Daily Mail] depicts a warden knocking at a door and informing the inmates that they have “no light showing” the house being blacked-out and its neighbours windows glowing thro’ ordinary curtains. I have stopped my clock. When the hour is up, (9.45) we shall go to bed. It will be nice to have an extra hour of daylight, (and rest) in the morning. Just lately I have been very sleepy at 7. a.m. which is not usual. Tonight Jean and I went to see Mr Mc.Cullam re typing etc. He is not taking any more pupils, as he finds it too big a strain. He is getting on in life. He recommended a Miss Cusac? at Skegness. Jean then went to Toc. H dancing-class, I am not much in favour of it. Jean objects to P.Hs dancing.

I took flowers to the churchyard, I really had a nice bunch out of our garden to-day. Pink and mauve asters, larkspur, and purple spike for the brown jar and red antirrhin[ums] and dahlias for the other, I put a few on Mark’s mem[orial]. It was 27 years on Wed Sep. 13 since he was “killed in action”. It was lovely weather not like this wet cold summer. He was 21 so would have been 48 now. “They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.” “We that are left”. Grandma has seen 4 of her 5 sons go before her. Jean went to see her tonight as I thinking I should be home first took the key and she did not know where I was. She says G.ma has a very bad cold. Rene hasn’t been to-day as there has been a Red + garden fete.

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial - WWI

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial – WWI

War Memorial Inscription - In Memory of Mark Hill

War Memorial Inscription -
In Memory of Mark Hill

Jean and I pulled a lot of the sweet apples to-day as birds and wasps and flies are eating them on the trees. Some of them are very big and a lovely colour. I cleaned out rabbits and put a partition in young ones cage. I wonder if they will knock it down. Have collected grass off dyke-side for food and bedding, a good thing we got it yesterday as I saw Short collecting the rest of it. Coote mowed it. Have severely pruned? the veronica or more probably, box privet, shall most like likely saw it off by the ground as I think it will shoot out again. Must keep it under control then. Hope the grass seed will soon be up, it was sown last Mon. I also chopped a piece off the privet hedge by the gate so that we have a way on to the bank to mow dyke bank and trim the hedge and clear up. I can’t climb under bridge and don’t think it’s necessary. If the Council should object they can’t very well put it back and I intend seeing it doesn’t grow any more, it was only one root I destroyed, at least I have destroyed the top and hope the root will die with a little help. It is after 9.30 by B.S.T. so think we may soon start the clock and go to bed. Planes are going over, fly-bombs came over S. and Lon. again last night after 2 weeks rest. They were probably launched from pick-a-back planes. Evacuees who insist on pouring back would get an unpleasant reception. The govt. keeps warning them not to return as it is not safe yet and so many houses are down or unfit for habitation.

This Diary entry was the first of the final series of entries, found on loose sheets of paper. Earlier entries had been in ‘school’ exercise books which usually began and finished with a short rhyming verse. The loose sheets, as well as two ‘missing’ books and many of May’s poems, were discovered amongst the possessions of Ron’s wife Emmie after her death in 2007.

Alfred Henry McCullam, approached for typing tuition, lived near the chapel in Hogsthorpe. He was believed to have been a schoolteacher.

Miss Cusack was a typing and shorthand tutor in Skegness. May was unsure of the spelling when first written here.

Mark Hill, the youngest brother of May’s husband Will, was the only man of the village to be killed in action during the First World War. A private soldier in the 5th Royal Berkshire Regiment, he fell on 13th September 1917, aged 21, on the front line at Monchy, near Arras, France. The war memorial in the grounds of St Leonard’s Church was erected in his honour by the villagers and bears the inscription shown in the photograph. His name is also recorded on the Arras memorial, near to the battlefield.

Charles (Charlie) Hill (see 16 December 1940) was the only surviving son of Annie Hill (‘Grandma’) after the death of Will.

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

Fri Sep 15 10 p.m [1944]
# 100 DAYS INTO SECOND FRONT
# PENETRATION INTO GERMANY REPORTED
# LONGING FOR RON’S RETURN FROM WAR
# LAST PAGE IN CURRENT DIARY BOOK

The last page of this fateful year’s diary. The sec. front over 100 days old and we are over the border of Germany, a 6 mile breach in the Siegfried Line and we are hoping for peace by the end of the year. So much is altered for us all this year. We do not look for Peace, at least I do not, with any particular hope or fear, except that I long for Ron’s return. I have sometimes cherished a defective or cracked article for a long time, then one day it has fallen apart and I have realised that it can never be restored, with a queer empty feeling of regret and loss. In thinking of my sorrow one day I had that same feeling, but greatly intensified and it suddenly came to me that what I had been holding so carefully and trying to hide, was my heartbreak and that I had suddenly realised, it was really broken and nothing could ever really heal it. One does not die of a broken heart or at any rate not at once and it may be that I shall recover in some part and find a measure of happiness as it is my duty to do in my children, but at present I feel that nothing can heal it in this world. Only the hope of a world where there is no parting can help me now and the feeling that God is a very present help in time of need.

Unusually, there was no concluding verse for the Diary from January 29th 1944 to September 15th 1944. The inside back cover contained the following list:

Finished week ending:

Dec 31

Dog
Elephant
Quilt
Re’s slippers
Fa’s slippers

Feb 19

Blouse & Dog

Re’s Gloves

Feb 26

Shopping bag

2/4 Buttonholes

/5 1 Buttonhole

Mar 4

Aunt J’s Dress front
doll.
T cosy
Altered Red Dress

July 29

Lining in black coat

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

Wed Sep 13 10.15. P.M [1944]
# SCHOOL CERTIFICATE SUCCESS FOR JEAN
# LETTER FROM RON IN SOUTH OF FRANCE
# HEAVY EXPLOSIONS HEARD IN VILLAGE
# EVACUEES RETURN TO LONDON
# TOM’S SISTER KATE VISITS

Jean had news on Mon that she had been successful in gaining School Cert. also Matric. She had 5 credits. She has done well considering all the set-backs she had. She was very excited, which probably caused the bilious attack she had yesterday or it may have been too many plums. I went to see Mrs T[ed] Brown and when I arrived home (Rene arrived at the same time) Jean was sitting over the fire having left work at 4.15 and cycled home. Ciss had given her hot peppermint and she was feeling a little better and had lit fire and put kettle on stove. She had Bovril later and a little sleep on couch, then to bed and was better this morning. Had a letter from Ron yesterday, Jean and Rene had one too. No news except that his ear was much better but not quite well. Says he managed to take his spring mattress to S. France with him so is well off the ground, they are in tents. Sounds rather tired, think he is working hard. War news is still very good, we are 5 miles over Ger. frontier.

There were two heavy explosions this morning early 2.30 and 3.15 am but there was no enemy activity reported. Evacuees are streaming back to London in spite of contrary advice. Gerry may still have something up his sleeve and apart from that practically half the houses in London are down or damaged so accommodation will be a problem for some time tho’ I can quite understand the people wanting to be at home if it is reasonably safe.

Mrs Young, Tom’s sister, came Thurs. Very pleasant and little trouble. Rene brought her in chair on Mon. Jean and I went to Chapel Sun morning, Tom preached. A swallow flew in during the sermon and stayed. “A bird of the air shall carry the news, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.” Harriet, Gladys and Grace came Sun even. They brought Eileen. She is lovely but spoiled. They brought me some plums and Eff brought me some Vic[toria] plums from Grandma. I have made about 6 lbs jam and bottled several jars, keeping enough out for pie and pudding. Have packed a box of apples for Emmie. Percy is sending them off tomorrow from M[um]by Rd [Station] as he is coaling from there. Sowed lawn seed on Mon ev. Jean rolled it in so hope it grows. No doubt several critical pairs of eyes will watch it with amused interest. Hope I sleep tonight. I scarcely slept at all last night, but went back to sleep after Rene went home to-day. She came and cleaned bed-rooms. Had asthma rather badly when I woke and toe was so painful I had to bathe it (in Ep[som] salts).

‘Matric’ refers to London matriculation exemption, which Jean earned by achieving a sufficient number of ‘credit’ grades in School Certificate (SC) examinations. Matriculation would have been a step towards qualification for university entrance, normally preceded by Higher School Certificate examinations after a further time in school. However Jean left school immediately after the SC stage, to enter employment (see 6th August 1944).

The chair used to convey Mrs Young, was probably the invalid basketwork ‘bathchair’ which had been used by Tom’s first wife.

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

Sep 7 Thur 8.50 p.m [1944]
# PERSISTENT RAIN THREATENS CROPS
# BLACK-OUT REGULATIONS RELAXED
# HOME GUARD DUTIES BECOME VOLUNTARY
# RON WRITES FROM SOUTH OF FRANCE
# TOM’S SISTER ARRIVING FROM LONDON

Still it rains, it is getting very serious for the farmers and we should be thankful we are nearing the end of the war or we might be short of bread. Great news to-day that black-out is to be greatly moderated in near future except in a few coastal districts. Cycles may use lights with only reflectors painted white and side lamps of cars need only one thickness of tissue paper. How pleased Father would have been, he hated to drive at night with the bad lighting. Home Guard duties are to be only voluntary, there are to be no more comp[ulsory] drills and parades. Had two letters from Ron, he is still in S. France and says we need not worry over him, there are no bumps in the night or day. Fly-bomb menace seems practically over, only a pick-a-back plane or two over just lately. I wonder if we have seen the last of the war here. We have been greatly privileged.

Yesterday I went to Sk[egness] as Jean’s cycle was in, at Curry’s. It is a Raleigh and cost £8.15.9. Tom is contributing £1.1. which is very nice of him. His sister is arriving to-night I expect (Mrs [Kate] Young). She has been ill and is from the London district so no doubt needs a change. Rene came and cleaned bed-rooms and ironed for me. Can’t expect her much for the time Mrs Y is there. I have finished the penguin tonight. It looks very well, but Golly is still to finish and have not started on dog yet except I have cut one out. I have not been able to sew this week. My toe still not quite better, I think it will make me feel ill until it finishes discharging. Jean cycled to Sk. this morning and home tonight, it rained to-night but she arrived home about 6. Called for her shoes 4/8, after this she must pay for her own. Am very tired so better go to bed when we have had a cup of tea. We do not need much supper as we have a “high tea” when Jean gets home. I did baked potatoes, cheese and egg, and baked apples for Jean’s dinner or tea as she has sandwiches etc. for dinner.

Ron’s own listing of his locations shows that he was based at Ramatuelle (St Tropez Bay) from 15th> to 25th August 1944 and then at Sisteron (upper Provence) until 5th September.

Mrs Kate, née Ambridge, Young was Tom A’s sister – Rene’s sister-in-law.

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

Sep 3. 44 Sunday 1.45 PM
# DIARY RESUMED AFTER ONE MONTH
# FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF WAR DECLARATION
# RAPID ADVANCE THROUGH FRANCE
# YORKSHIRE VISIT MARRED BY PAINFUL FOOT
# RECALLING WILL’S FONDNESS FOR THE BLACK PONY
# JEAN’S FIRST WAGES PROMPT BUDGET PLAN

Five years ago to-day (it too was a Sunday) we declared war against Ger. It was hot and sunny and I remember just how dry and brown the grass looked on the lawn at Lenton Lodge, when Ron came home from Chapel, Father and I were looking out for him to hear if there was news. He brought the tidings that war was declared at 11 o’c. In the evening we saw 12 bombers go out and later we heard all returned. To-day is an autumn day everywhere sodden with last week’s rain, the gardens torn with last night’s gale, and an icy nip in the air. We have crossed the Frontier into Belgium in more than one place and Gers. report we are fighting on their side of the Maginot Line but we have not confirmed this yet. We have driven so fast thro’ France we can’t keep up with the news.

Have not heard from Ron since the week we returned from Yea[don]. Wonder if he is in France after his rest in B.N.A.F. It was a tiring journey to Yea. I had my foot trodden on and the toe I had extracted my corn from went septic so that I only went out twice. On the Sat to cricket match and pictures. (21 planes have just roared over from sea.) I rested Sun and Mon except to Park and walk after tea Monday. Then as my foot seemed better went to Ilkley Tue, but toe gathered again and foot was very swollen, had to see Dr. Wed night and as I could not get shoe on on Thur stayed until Fri and Emmie came back with us. Good journey to Lincoln tho’ asthma was squatting on Retford platform and returned with me. At Lincoln no train until 5.45 which meant no bus’ at Sk[egness] so deciding it was easier and cheaper to bus’ remainder of journey and catch bus’ for home at Sk did so. Had to stand in queue nearly two hours. Emmie returned the following Sat catching 6.30 am train and arrived home 1.30 pm.

My foot is still septic and swollen again, had to poultice it last night and have lint on to-day. Shall not go out to-day but rest it. Altogether I do not feel much better for the holiday, it was I think too soon to go where we had that so happy few days. Everything reminded me of those days, and sitting outside the door so long, as I could not walk, it seemed as if all I could see or think of was the picture of him talking to the black pony at the meadow gate. They were all so good and kind but I felt my sorrow and loss more even than at home. I think this wearisome toe and this last week’s bout of asthma has run me down. I am so depressed and nervous, must get into the garden if I am able next week. I feel more free now that Emmie has gone and Wilsons have been and gone. I have told them I can’t “feed the mice” any longer. It worried me when I could not get. They were not much trouble but very tedious. Mr W tries to be a funny man but isn’t, and Mrs W’s cheerfulness is exceedingly tiring to me, tho’ I admire her very much as she has a trying time with his nerves and illnesses and her only son away in Italy with the troops. She is looking years older lately.

Jean was paid on Wed and proceeded to make out her budget to the uttermost farthing. W.I. Concert last night for British Merchantmen. Also tea and Bring and Buy stall. Result £17, £10 being the target. Rene bought my tea and gave Jean ticket for concert. Very good according to reports. Ciss’s visitors from London arrived Sat. First night in bed in house for 13 weeks. We profess to have almost settled F.B.s [flying bombs] by overrunning platforms etc. Hope we hear from Ron soon now. I have got my toy licence at last. It is rather obscure but shall carry on. Have order for 2 large dogs and a penguin from Emmie and still have that Golly to make for Mrs Hutton. Must buckle to this week. I have not been well enough to sew last week. Walter Banks is on leave, he and Eva were at Chapel Jean said.

The memory of husband Will (‘Father’) with the black pony at the meadow gate in Yeadon was poignantly recalled in May’s poem ‘The Black Pony’ written on 28th August 1944.

‘Platforms’ here refers to ‘launch platforms’ for V-1 flying bombs (nearly 10,000 of which had been targeted on Britain). Unfortunately, the first V-2 rocket, which was impossible to shoot down, struck Britain in September 1944. Over 1000 were launched up to the end of March 1945 (see ‘V-weapons in WWII’).

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