All posts tagged Ron

Aug. 28. 44
The Black Pony.

All is the same as when first I beheld it,

Nothing is changed since those glad summer days.

The cool air still flows off Chevin,

Over the vale, to the meadow’s gate.

The deep green leaves of the spreading trees,

Dry last night’s shower in the sunlit breeze.

I sit outside the grey house of stone;

Only I am changed as I sit alone.

All I see of the moors and trees,

And the vale between, in the sun and breeze,

Is the meadow-gate and your figure there,

And the little black pony that came to your call,

And you fondle his nose and smooth his hair,

As you did before in that summer fair.

You are gone away but seem so near,

Nearer than all the trees and moors,

But you are away on the mountain’s height,

While I am here in the vale.

And the little black pony is gone away.

The Black Pony

‘The Black Pony’ – photographed near The Chevin
by © Brian R Hill (son of Ron Hill)

‘The Black Pony’ was written in memory of husband, Will, when May and Jean had visited Emmie’s family in Yeadon for the first time without Will after his death. It was in Yeadon where Will had met the black pony at the meadow gate near Emmie’s home. May had been somewhat apprehensive about the visit (see 7 August 1944). Her writings concerning it, both before and afterwards, showed that her thoughts were dominated by memories of happier times with Will. Ron, of course, was also constantly on her mind at this time.

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

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

Thur 7.a.m Aug. 10 [1944]
# PREPARING FOR TRAVEL TO YORKSHIRE
# RECALLING LAST GLIMPSE OF RON ON SKEGNESS STATION
# FEARS OF RON BEING POSTED TO FAR EAST
# PLIGHT OF LONDONERS AND EVACUEES

To-morrow morning we shall have to be up before this as we go to Yeadon if all’s well. It is fair and not misty this morning tho’ dull. However it is only 5 o’c by the sun so plenty of time to be a fine day. It will be better for travelling tomorrow if not so hot, and the adage “It is better to travel than to arrive” will I hope not fit the case for us. What a lot of last minute jobs there always seem to be, or do we decide to do a lot of things that don’t matter? Must have everything packed to-day and will take Mrs Russell’s slippers with me to finish if I can’t get them done here. I am not used to travelling and rather dread the journey. I have always depended so much on Will at these times. The other time when we went he was there too and the last time I was on Skeg[ness] Station Ron was going away, I see his face now framed in the carriage window as he waved his last good-bye to me for many a day. I try to put the dread fear that he may be going East out of my mind but it is there nevertheless and he does so hate the heat. Still the fact that they are in a way acclimatised to it and the intimation some time since that some of our forces would be available the year for the war against Japs seems to point that way. To us it seems that they might let the U.S. troops go there, they have not been at war 5 long weary years. Fly-bombs come over day and night.

Don Iddon in D.M. wrote a serious article yesterday, he thinks the governt. and press are not letting rest of country know how serious it is but news must be filtering thro’ now with all the evacuees and people who come for a few days rest all over the coast. One woman who came to Con’s has left her two little boys, torn by anxiety to have them safe and unable to stay away from her husband who is working hard and no doubt has an A.R.P [air raid precautions] job of some sort too, most men and lots of women do. She has had to leave them and return to London knowing she may not see them again. I suppose they cannot use tube shelters in daytime and the “things” as Radio so crudely calls them come any and often all the time. They are trying to reduce the chaos of different warnings to one distinct signal. It should have been planned ahead if they knew as long ago as they profess to do of this menace coming. It is of no use to pretend it is of no war value, it is striking at the inside of the fortress and however brave and fine the people are, loss of sleep and continual harass[ment] must wear them down in time, and thro’ the sufferers here spread to our men abroad. If a man’s wife and children are killed in Eng. it will take all heart out of him. He is fighting for them first of all. If they are gone and nothing to look forward to at home it must make the fight either a fierce fight for revenge or induce a “don’t care much” feeling in a lot of them. Patriotism is more than half love of our own close little circle of home, not all are able to fight on in the same spirit for love of country and friends. As time goes by life becomes more and more memories and looking forward less and less, a thing of the moment. We try to live one day at a time now, as regards the future on earth we dare not plan ahead. I am getting nervous again so hope the holiday will set me up. Must get up, it is 7.20 and Jean not up yet either.

May’s recollection was of her last sight of Ron, at Skegness station, before his posting abroad (see 30 September 1942).

Don Iddon was the Daily Mail’s New York diarist at that time.

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

Wed Aug 9 10.30 p.m. [1944]
# MAKING SLIPPERS AND PYJAMAS FINISHED
# GIFT OF STOCKINGS FROM NIECE EVA
# MORE NEWS FROM RON
# WOUNDED VILLAGE LAD RETURNED TO ENGLAND

My slippers take a lot of making and as Cis was busy I have made a mistake or two. Will try to make next better. Don’t know if I shall finish these before we go. They are worth a little trouble in these days of coupons. Have finished Jean’s pyjamas. Very nice. Jean brought me the stockings Eva promised me, grey, pure silk and rayon, fully-fashioned! She would take neither money or coups. A.M.  [air mail] letter from Ron today written Aug 1st. Enjoying his rest, bathing from boat in water approx 60ft. deep (sea). Was probably going to swimming pool that day. Says they are pestered by little “kids” worrying them all day long to let them do their washing. Ron had let them do his that day as he said it was hot and he did not feel like washing clothes. He had made bathing shorts out of old pullover. Wonder how he keeps them up.

Rene says Mrs Faulkner pleased Ralph is in England altho’ he is wounded in knee and seat, seat not painful he says. Rene says Mansell Robinson is going to Persia. Ciss had a nice letter from Gwen to-day, she said she was expecting one from her mother on Wed. Expect she’d get one as Rene posted it yesterday. Went back to P.O. to-day and got £4.12.0 pension money. Won’t be so much next time but Jean will soon start her payments. I must buckle to and get more toys made when I come back. Had a long letter from Mrs P Smith to-day.

Ron’s airmail letter was probably written during the time that RAF 93 Squadron ground crew personnel were in port or at sea being transferred from a base at Piombino (Tuscany, Italy) to one being prepared at Ramatuelle (St Tropez Bay, France). For some of this time the squadron’s aircraft were based at Calvi (Corsica – see 6 August 1944) from where they patrolled southern France until the move was completed.

Mrs P Smith was not believed to have any connection with other Smith families mentioned previously.

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

Sun 7.15. a.m. Aug 6th [1944]
# DIARY RESUMED AFTER TEN DAYS
# JEAN STARTS WORK AFTER LEAVING SCHOOL
# VISIT PLANNED TO EMMIE’S FAMILY IN YORKSHIRE
# RON’S RAF ADDRESS CHANGED
# VISITING RELATIVES IN VILLAGE
# GARDEN PLANTS GROWING AND FLOWERING

I have neglected my diary lately. Seem to have been fully occupied. Jean started work last Monday July 31st at Town Hall Skeg[ness] as Junior Water Rental Clerk. Tom thinks it is a good start. 22/6 a week paid monthly but the other girl gets the same and has not been to sec[ondary] school. Girl who teaches Jean (Freda) very amiable, showed Jean how to type one day and Jean typed a little letter to Ron. Must remind her to write to him and send it. She has Mon. (Bank Hol.) off, also Tue. afternoon and has been granted leave of absence for the week we go to Yeadon. She seems to like her work. We go to Yeadon if all’s well on Fri and return Thur 17th so hope Emmie can come back that day.

Ron’s address B.N.A.F. again now, he has moved, I wonder if he is back in Africa. He is very fit and well, brown to his waist. Annie’s visitors came on Tuesday, they bought my knitted penguin, a golli and a Teddy Bear 7/6 each and ordered another golli and a rabbit but bought two rabbits and a golli. Rabbits 5/0 and 4/0 the smaller one. I forgot to allow turnings on pattern. My live bunnies are thriving, 7 beauties. We moved them into long hutch yesterday. Also moved hutches. Have got wood stacked on end to save rotting down. We are reducing the pile. It soon goes with no one to replenish it. Dear Father, he seldom came off patrol without something. I have hung the float up in the kitchen. He would like to think we have kept it. The old garden seat wants repairing, I don’t know whether I can do it or if I have wood that will do. These little things worry me.

Will, Bill, May (holding the float), Rene, Ron

Supp[lementary] Pen[sion] reduced to 16/6, and 5/0 orphan’s Pen. stopped, so tho’ we are no better off for Jean working we are 11/6 a week more independent. If I can only get kapok and get licence and sale for toys we may soon do without Supp. Pen. The widow’s pension I consider my right, earned and paid for by Father. I went to Labour Ex[change] on Mon. re toys and hope to obtain licence soon now. Then I can make a move about selling them. I bought a new black dress from Keightleys 38/6 just what I wanted so still have Jean’s £1 from Aunt Jet. Jean’s shoes were 25/0 from Cooper’s. Must remind her to take coup[on]s. Lily sold my brown ones for 12/6 and 3 coups. Commission 1/0.

Went to Harriet’s last evening to see how Grace was after appendicitis op. on Wed. She is as well as possible to be after it and hopes to come home at end of fortnight. It was acute and would soon have been necessary, perhaps suddenly. They are very taken with new doctor. Eileen is marvellous. Maisie and the other Eileen have gone back to Scotland. Ciss has visitors for a week. Gwen going for holiday today. I must get some Pen. money this week, also leave rent with Ciss. Ron’s allotment not thro’ yet but must not touch it. Called at G.ma’s as I came from Harriet’s. Ken and Den [Raynors] having a boxing match in kitchen. G.ma says Ber[nard] doing a big trade with baskets. Must have cycle basket for Jean when she gets cycle, so good and useful. Rene brought flowers to-day for grave. I want to take them to-day. I miss my flowers so. I hope another year to have plenty. We have got square of grass at back quite neat and have mown it twice with lawn mower. It is not very level but will roll it when it rains. I am filling hollows with tufts of grass from garden path which want removing. Markery growing well under apple tree. Antirrhinums Mrs Stewart gave me beginning to flower, all red I think. Mary brought me wallflower plants and marigolds, also eggs and dried peaches.

It is 8.30 so think I will soon get up. Rev Lowther is preaching so want to go to Chapel once. Have not got oil stove top back so must light fire. Had better get meths for Fri. as we shall not want to light fire but hope we will have stove back by then. Tom starts holiday Tues and is off Monday so Rene won’t be able to come much, but with Jean at home Mon and Tues aft we shall manage. Made trousers of Jean’s pyjamas last night. Peas in fields not filling Elsie says owing to lack of sun. We had more sun yesterday than for a long time but cold clammy mist night and morning almost like sea aar. Not quite so thick this morning but still very dull. Think I hear Brock’s, milk botts not put out!

Freda Whitmore was Jean’s senior colleague at work.

Ron’s RAF Squadron (93) had moved on from mainland Italy to Corsica in late July 1944. This location apparently came within the ‘umbrella’ of the British North Africa Force (BNAF) at this time.

The ‘float’ was a green-glass ball which had been attached to a sea-fishing net and had presumably been picked up from the beach by Will. May is pictured holding the float in the family group photograph taken by Jean in 1942.

Eileen, whose grandmother was Harriet, refers to Herbert and Annie Faulkner’s baby daughter (see 11 May 1943).

‘The other’ Eileen here refers to Ben and Maizie McGuigan’s baby daughter, who was born in Scotland at Ben’s parents’ home. Maizie was considering staying with Ben’s parents again but she returned to live in a rented house in Chapel St Leonards to await Ben’s return from Navy service (see 18 November 1943).

‘Ron’s allotment’ was probably an allowance towards ‘home rent’ from RAF pay, possibly in recognition of his father’s death.

Rev. Lowther was a visiting Methodist minister.

Aar – or haar – was a sea-mist.

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

Thur 7.30 A.M July 27 [1944]
# GOOD IMPRESSION OF NEW DOCTOR
# RATION BOOK RULES DISPUTED
# JEAN INVITED TO JOB INTERVIEW
# MORE SOFT TOY MAKING
# RON [RAF] VISITS ROME

My pension day yest. morning so could write no more. Dr M[enzies]‘s new partner Dr Blackburn on round came Tues aft. Very pleasant and nice-looking, expect all the impressionable girls and older girls too will transfer their affections to him especially as he is younger than Dr M who will probably be grateful for the respite. Think he may be married as there was a lady and child in car. He, too, is an asthmatic and comes from Yorks[hire]. Knows Yeadon he says as he lived near there. Says go for holiday by all means if I am well enough to travel. J[im] Hall cut pages from my Ration books, and when I objected told me it was compulsory, also says I may not have sugar in lieu of preserves this period. I am writing to Spilsby for information as I think he is wrong. I am also enquiring, if he has misinformed me, whether I can re-register elsewhere. Not because he cut out the pages, but because he told me it was comp[ulsory] and because of sugar. I believe he thinks I know nothing.

It looks like being a lovely day, it was hotter yest. than it has been for a long time. Rene washed at Bev. but we saved her some dinner, cold ham (the last of the one we cut when we moved) and a salad of pot[ato] lett[uce] and egg. Also rhubarb pudding. Pump repaired but loses water still, and has to be primed.

Jean had letter to say go for interview at Town Hall Friday. She must have new shoes next week, compulsory as Jim Hall says. She cut out and made a toy dog last night, very good for first attempt. She intended to sell it but wants to keep it now. “Jane” has still at least 7 little ones tho’ I drowned 4. They are more than a week old now. Think they were born about 16th. Ciss’s “Teddy” had kittens last night, a ginger one amongst them so Gwen will be able to keep it for Con I expect. A little black stray kitten has been about for some days, expect we shall adopt it as it is a good size now, so will be able to stand the winter. Neither of our old cats have come back. Rene’s roses are lovely, she took some to Churchyard Sun. night with Elsie. E. went home with her as I was very tired.

I cut out Teddy Bear and the rabbit Mary gave me the pattern for last night so must sew to-day, haven’t felt up to it this week so far, tho’ I sewed lining back in green coat I had dyed black. It will be useful tho’ I still don’t like it much. I always feel smothered in it but it may be better now as I have made collar lower and made reveres smaller. Mrs Willerton won’t get Jean’s grey frock made for holiday as she is ill. Jean is up so I will get up too when I have had a cup of tea. Ciss was not very well yesterday, but would not let us do anything. Letter from Ron Mon. He has been to Rome and climbed up St. Peter’s but not into dome, said their legs were shaking as it was. Corn is beginning to turn golden.

Dr Blackburn was Dr Menzies’ new practice-partner (see 9 Oct 1941).

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

7/7/44 10.30. PM Friday
# PLANES COMPETE WITH BIRDSONG
# OVERWORKING IN GARDEN
# MAKING RASPBERRY JAM
# DREAMS OF RON

It has been a fairly nice day and is a perfect evening. I am in bed and the sun has just gone down like a ball of fire. Birds are still singing, a blackbird’s or thrush’s liquid notes from somewhere in the garden. Alas, that over it all is the continuous droning of planes. We are greatly blessed so far by being out of the radius of fly-bombs (doodle-bugs). They still come over Lon[don] and the South by day and night tho’ many are shot down and yesterday 11 of their lairs were bombed.

I feel “fey”, as the Scotch say, to-night that weary feeling of false elation said to presage trouble or depression. I am tired but not sleepy. Did too much in the garden yesterday I expect, then went to see Eva and Grace, found it windier than I expected, did more garden in evening. There is such a lot to do, and I am not used to heavy garden work. The soil too is very heavy compared to the old garden which was mostly sand. Have done no garden today except hilling 3 rows of potatoes. Jean hilled 4 very well too. Mrs S[hort] brought back borrowed hay-fork yesterday and half bucket of new potatoes. Rene came to ask me to dinner but I had just got oven hot for baking and was tired too, so did not feel like cycling down there. She came again this afternoon but did not stay long as Tom is holidaying for a week. Am making rasp[berrie]s Mavis brought into jam by Mary’s recipe 1lb. ras. 1lb sugar and 1 teaspoon Boric acid pdr. Mix well and stir frequently for 24 hours, no cooking. Wonder if mine will keep. Mr Hall and Albert and Ted are on leave for a few days.

Last night I dreamed Ron stood at the foot of my bed putting on his pullover ready for going out, I opened my eyes suddenly and raised my head to see him better (actually) and he vanished. I saw his brown face so clearly, not sad, or smiling, just calmly pulling on his pullover.

Birds and planes still vying with each other. It will soon be too grey to see to write. It is not dark all night with this moon just past its full. The air seems full of planes but I can only count 6 in sight circling round probably going out or on manoeuvres. One had a tail light but it was a 4 eng[ined] bomber not the dreaded fly-bomb. Percy is on H.G. [Home Guard] duty all night so hope we have no air activity. I am more nervous again now since the fly bombs came tho’ not as nervous as before.

Mrs Hall, neighbour at Council House No. 1, would have been relieved that her husband and two sons were on leave from the Navy as she had been worried about them in possible D-Day action a month previously (see 7 June 1944).

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

Tue July 4 10.30 P.M [1944]
# BACK-DATED PENSION SURPRISE
# BUSY IN GARDEN – WEEDING
# SHOPPING IN SKEGNESS
# NEWS FROM RON

To my surprise I received a Sup[plementary] Pen[sion] book on Tue 27 June with 3 weeks back money. £1.4 a week, far more than I expected. With the other Pension of 15/0 and Rene and Ron paying rent I am able to live I hope even if I can’t make toys. If I can, I may make up to 10/6 profit a week and still get same Pen. I still don’t much like the idea of it but feel easier now I have it to fall back on. One has to live and as the Widow’s Pension won’t keep me I have to accept help from somewhere until Jean earns a good bit or I can make a lot with toys. It is doubtful if I make a living with them.

The garden is rather a burden in spite of help. I hate to feel dependent on other people. Perhaps when it is once in order it won’t be such a worry. I still have the triangle in front to dig and weed and there is so much of that twitchy weed with a leaf almost like a sycamore. A lot of it grew in Mrs Leivers garden. It comes up time after time and grows under path pavings. They are not set close together and weeds came up between them and between them and the wall. We have finished digging the plot for lawn and rolled most of it and I have run the Dutch hoe over it tonight to uproot little “weedlings” to coin a word.

Went to Trusthorpe Monday last week as it was Jean’s half-term. Aunt J[et] gave me £3. Fred gave Jean 2/6! Went to Sk[egness] Sat morning, hate going on crowded bus! Did not get to Chapel Sun as it was so damp and close. Miss West came at tea-time and stayed almost 2 hours, very depressing. It has rained nearly every day for ten days and is serious for the seeds which were out before it rained. Hallgarth’s were turning theirs tonight and clouds of dust were going up. Mould I should think. I made a weather-glass today with a sauce bottle and Horlicks jar. Should have been June water, hope it’s not too late, June water keeps indefinitely.

Flying-bomb menace gets no better I fear tho’ we bring a lot down. Rumours of evacuating London but think this is an exaggeration. It seems Govt. knew of them a year ago. They don’t seem to have made much prep. for them. War going well on all fronts in Allies favour. Letter from Ron last week, he had been very sick one day but said he was better. His letter seemed rather bleak. He said not to worry if we did not get money for a while. I fear he is moving.

On 5th June 1944 Ron’s RAF Squadron (93) had moved from Lago, their base in Italy for nearly 5 months, to Trecancelli, the first of a series of moves within Italy during June and July. See 93 Squadron History.

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

Mon June 19 8.20 a.m. [1944]
# SUNDAY DINNER WITH RELATIVES
# HAPPENINGS AT THE CHAPEL
# FEELING LOSS OF HUSBAND WILL
# ADVANCES IN FRANCE REPORTED

I have just heard the bus’ [for Skegness] stop for Jean and Geo[rge Ranson] and Dor[is Hall]. It is cold and very dull again, wind still N. I think not a bit like June. We went to Mary’s to dinner and G’ma’s to tea yesterday. Jean went to S.S. Sun. 3 times but I did not go in the morning. Wind was not so strong or I should not have gone. We had a huge dinner of boiled fowl, ham, new potatoes and gooseberry pie with cus[tard] and cream. Mary is used to piling up the plates for great boys. I could have done with less. The play by G. L. [Girls’ Life] Brigade was very good tho’ Ken [Raynor] insisted that it was not suitable as it was not a religious play. I rather agreed with him tho’ it was quite a good moral play. It was in fact Brigade Propaganda. Ken recited very well, tho’ once he mixed up the quantities of the loaves and fishes. Dor[othy] and Frank Raynor sang Rock of Ages in the afternoon and Eff and Frank sang it at night. Mr Scan preached morn. and ev. Comm. Storer presided in the aft. My opinion of him is rather like Ken’s of the play. At night the Toc. H. attended. I had never been to a “light ceremony” before. It is rather a draw-back to have a sense of the ridiculous at times, but to see those men, a lot of whom never go to church except for these occasions, seriously taking a candle out of a box and lighting it then repeating “They shall grow not old” rather savoured to me of ancestor worship. Still I suppose they do do a lot of good in some places, but I think the original meaning is getting distorted. Like my mirror which was a very good one 30 years ago but now gives a more and more distorted reflection as time passes. I must have been in a critical mood I think.

Girls' Life Brigade - Chapel St Leonards c.1944

Girls’ Life Brigade – Chapel St Leonards c.1944
Back row:
Beryl Ingoldmells, Mrs Ford, Daphne Ward,
Audrey Ingoldmells, June Miller, Olive Hall, Freda Short, Betty Johnson, Jean Hill (Flag Bearer), Edith North.
Middle row:
Joan Jackson, Eva Brown, Mabel Robinson,
Mrs Dandison (Captain), Grace Harness.
Front row (kneeling):
Flora Hall, Rita Clarke, Lilian Stapleton, Irene North.

Wrote to Ron later. I wonder if it will be easier next year. Everything now is strange. All I do I think, “last year we did this together” or “went there together”, and all the time I talk and smile and try to keep a calm front, while underneath is a fierce pain or dreary emptiness. How little we think, until we know by experience, of the sorrow there is around us, covered by smiling faces. We are across the Cherbourg Pen[insula] with approx. 25,000 Gers. cut off. They continue to send Robot planes, we are careful not to broadcast damage done. I fear it is considerable.

Doris Hall (whose ‘death’ was mistakenly reported on 16th March 1942), daughter of neighbours Albert and Emily, worked in Skegness. As well as brothers Ted and Albert, she had sisters Ethel, Emily and Olive (who, like Jean, was a Girls Life Brigade member and is in the photograph).

Dorothy Raynor was Frank Raynor’s niece, Ken’s cousin.

‘Mr Scan’, was probably a visiting preacher, whose name had been abbreviated.

The Girls’ Life Brigade photograph was believed taken by AE Wrate, Skegness. Permission for publication has been kindly agreed by Martin Wrate of Wrates Scholastic Photographs Ltd, Prince George St, Skegness.

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

Tues June 6 D-Day 9.30 pm [1944] SECOND FRONT
# D-DAY AT LAST – ‘AN ORDINARY DAY’
# FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT ON WIRELESS
# MONTGOMERY’S MESSAGE TO TROOPS
# CALL TO PRAYER BY KING GEORGE
# CHURCH SERVICE – ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
# THOUGHTS AT THE END OF DAY

So, at last the long-talked of Sec front has begun. I have not even given it a new page and that seems a fitting symbol of how it appears to me. What excitement there may be in towns or elsewhere, in the country, does not seem to have touched us here. It is just an ordinary day, after nearly 5 years of war it takes a lot to make us demonstrative. I went on with my ordinary work and made my first toy for sale, a white duck with green wings and yellow beak and feet. It is for Mrs Russell to give to a baby friend. I must make the rabbit for Emmie next and try to send an extra one too. Ciss cleaned her pantry and Rene washed. Jean went to school, indeed she had gone before the announcement:
4000 ships and a great many smaller craft crossed the channel. Great air-liners took air-borne troops behind the Ger. lines.

Montgomery is speaking now, a message to the troops of which he is the head.
Now a service. Almost 10 o’ clock. The A.B. Cant. [Archbishop of Canterbury] has spoken and now they are singing “Oh God, our help in ages past”.
At nine o’clock the King broadcast a call to prayer, not just one day but all the days of crisis. In the news afterwards we heard that all was still going well in France. I fear the “little people” like us would not just go on with this ordinary work. However pleased they may be at the thought of deliverance, at present it means danger and hardship and war. Many will have to leave their homes and many I fear will lose their lives.
The service is over, a beautiful service, ending with the hymn, “Soldiers of Christ Arise”.

We are in bed. A motor cycle has just gone by and a swiftly moving plane. Per[cy] was with H[ome] Guards last night. I am pleased he is at home next door tonight. God be with us all those whose sons or husbands or other dear ones have already fallen in this new front. Be with the wounded and comfort the dying and those who are afraid. We had 12 letters from Ron to-day – a record. I had 6, the others 3 each. In the most recent one, only a week since he wrote it, an A.M. Letter, he says his hopes of return are practically nil. I am almost pleased much as I long to see him but somehow he seems safer there at present. I must try to sleep now. The longed for D-Day has arrived. Deliverance Day Jean says it means.

Chapel St Leonards, Anderby and Hogsthorpe Members of the Home Guard © AE Wrate, Skegness

Chapel St Leonards, Anderby and Hogsthorpe
Members of the Home Guard © AE Wrate, Skegness
Back row:
Dave Short, Bob Taylor, Harry Epton, Ray Sharpe, Stan Grantham, Len Ingoldmells, Sam Scott, Billy Willson, Alf Johnson, Tom Hill, Mervyn Clark, George Dennis, Fred Dennis.
Middle row:
Tobias Harriman, Bob Thorn, Ben Clark, Silas Willey, Fred Boulton, Horace Grantham, Percy Ranson, Bill Sylvester, Tom Wright, Harold Brough, Geoff Hallgarth, John Hill, Frank Brough.
Front row (seated):
Charlie Knight, Jos Simpson, John Jinks, George A Young, Harry Atkin, Steve Lucas, Jack ‘Poppa’ Taylor (Lieutenant) and dog, Edgar Brown, Hedley Lucas, Norman Richardson, Billy Turner.
Sitting on ground:
George Lyle, Jim Lenton, Arthur Bradley, Sid Perry, Len Short, George Barker, Norman Willson, Harold Wright, Vic Chapman, Archie Hancock.

 

Ron’s letters were from Italy where he had been based at Lago airfield since his RAF Squadron (93) had moved from Capodichino in Naples in January 1944 on a day when they witnessed the first lava flow heralding an eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

‘Deliverance-Day’ was an apt interpretation, but officially D-Day simply means the day of the start of an operation, so every military operation has its D-Day. However the one on 6th June 1944 (the start of Operation Overlord) is unique in its popular recognition.

The Home Guard photograph, believed taken by AE Wrate, Skegness, was loaned by George and Dorothy Barker (who supplied all names in the caption). Permission for publication has been kindly agreed by Martin Wrate of Wrates Scholastic Photographs Ltd, Prince George St, Skegness.

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

Sat June 3 8.50 P.M. [1944]
# DIARY RESUMES AFTER FOUR WEEKS
# SETTLING INTO COUNCIL HOUSE
# WHITSUN VISIT FROM EMMIE AND PARENTS
# YEARNING FOR PEACE
# GRIEVING FOR WILL

We have been in Council House over 3 weeks now. We came on May 10th and Mrs Fl[etcher] came to Lenton Lodge on 15th. Elsie came this evening, she says Mrs Fl. called on Sat. on her way from Sk[egness]. We should be at Rene’s. Emmie and her Mo and Dad came on the Thurs. 25th for Whit. and we all went to sea and then on to Rene’s. Emmie went home on Tue and the others Friday. The weather was mostly fine and they enjoyed the visit and we did too but all felt very deeply the absence of the other one who had so looked forward to giving them a pleasant holiday. We seem to be settling fairly well. I am not as nervous as I was, but nights have been quieter except for a very bad storm on Wed. night. I have never seen such lightning. We got up as there was a raid in distance too. Mrs Rus[sell] came to my room. I did not see the lightning so much in the little room.

I have had £6 from Ron and put it in P.O. Pension not thro’ yet. Mr and Mrs Ted B[rown] and Eric came on 6 bus’ and back on 7.30 to-night. It was very nice to see them. They brought me a lot of flowers. Rene brought some too and has taken part of them to grave.

Jean has gone to play tennis with Mav[is]. She is still not at all well after her poisoned face, her nose and eyes peeling and spots coming on her arms and legs and she is very irritable at times, she is taking a tonic. I have planted several potatoes to-day, also white turnip seed, brussels, dahlias and gladiolas. Very late for all but turnips. Peas, early potat. and lettuce are up. Radishes not so good.

We are fairly straight now. Mrs Brock came to-night to see if I would take a land girl. I think I had better not, I should want to know something about her first and then I don’t think I could get up at 6.30 or earlier every day because of my asthma. It is troubling me a bit again now. Think I had better send word I won’t take it on even for a short time, there is Jean to consider too. Shall be pleased when I know how much Pension is, if it is the bare 10/0 for me and about 8 for Jean it won’t be much even without rent, must set about toy and rug-making next week. The house isn’t as easy as L[enton] L[odge] either, and the garden is extra tho’ Percy and the others are very good. It all seems so futile. I wish we could have got a small bungalow with a smaller garden, but rents are too high, even if one was at liberty.

We are going ahead in Italy, wish it was over and Ron home. We are all war-weary and sick at least for Peace and quiet and rest from all this bombing. 100,000 tons of bombs on Europe in one little month of May. “Oh, liberty, what crimes are done in thy name.” Who said that? I went with the Rus’s to Sk on Wed, Rean and Jean too and to the pictures, it was all a great weariness to me, and the dreary home-coming with no Will to greet us with fire made and tea ready as he always used to do if we were out with-out him. I miss him terribly, and I am afraid Jean frets a great deal. Rene says little but has grieved very much and still does, I know and feel. G’ma said good-bye to Emmie which rather upset her as it is so unusual for her to say G.bye. I wonder if we’ll see Emmie’s Dad again, he seems very frail at times. Mrs R. takes great care of him, indeed they all take care of each other.

‘Went to sea’ here refers to looking at the sea.

Mrs Brock was the wife of farmer Fred Brock (see 7 March 1942).

The exclamation “Oh, Liberty, what crimes are done in thy name!” has been attributed to a Madame Roland uttering it just prior to her own beheading at the guillotine, the month after the beheading of Queen Marie Antoinette of France in October 1793. It alluded to the cry of the French Revolution: “Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!”

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