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.
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’?