All posts tagged Skegness

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’?

Sat. Sep 9 10 o’c P.M [1944]
# AUTUMNAL WEATHER APPEARS EARLY
# JEAN AND OTHERS AT BOYS’ BRIGADE SOCIAL
# MORE SOFT TOYS MADE

It is cold but fair and calm after rain and wind. The sea rattles like a frost and it sounds very much as if autumn had arrived very early this year. Next Sunday, clocks will be put back one hour so it will seem autumn more than ever. Jean has gone to B.B. [Boys’ Brigade] Social. Sk[egness] B.B. are camping for week-end at Chapel and our B.B. are joining them but may sleep in the Hut. Jean and Mav[is] are leaving at 10 so Jean should be home shortly as she cycled and, strange to say, her lamps lit alright tho’ my torch had corroded and I had to have a new battery. Ciss and her visitors have gone to Social. I find that tho’ I am not really nervous, I am not quite easy and comfortable alone. Have just looked out, there are a lot of stars and it smells like a rime frost already. It looked more settled tonight, but it has done that before and then been a wet morning. Jean went by bus’ to-day as it was wet and windy. I cooked beef for dinner and beans and potatoes and remains of yesterday’s pudding. Rene came last night after tea, she did me some baking. I had forgotten to get flour and Jean was getting it. Rene brought some too so made my pastry, I let her take one apple tart home as she had visitor. She seems to be quite homely and nice. Rene came again tonight. I finished my pink dog ready to send to Emmie with Penguin which I finished Thurs. I have also cut out a horse and rabbit. My toe still discharges and foot is swollen again. Jean is home so will soon go to bed.

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’?

Tue 6.a.m. Aug 8. 44.
# SEA MIST ROLLS IN AFTER FINE DAY
# REPORTS OF [V-1] ‘FLY-BOMBS’
# PLUCKY VISITORS FROM LONDON DESCRIBE BOMB DAMAGE
# TENDING WILL’S GRAVE
# NIECE CISS’S BROTHER-IN-LAW KILLED IN ACTION

Bank Holiday fine, not too hot, but breeze not so cold as it has been lately, also the sun shone most of the day. About 5.20 pm the mist or aar which had hung over the sea all day rolled in and made it damp and chilly. It spoiled the evening but when we went to bed at 10 o’c it had rolled inland and left us clear. It had blotted out the wolds. We could see a big bank of it inland. Some of it, nearer was only a few feet high with tops of trees showing above. It has come back now and is a white fog, can only see just over the road. I think it will only be on the coast. It will be terrible if it is in the fly-bomb area. We cannot seem to stop them, whatever they may say about the numbers shot down and the “lairs” they bomb daily and I fear there are not nearly enough deep shelters in London. Thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands have left, and the summer visitors say it is terrible, the uncanny pilotless planes coming so swiftly and bursting all over the place. Ciss’s visitors have just lost an only son in Normandy and a relative from London came Sun. She brought news that during the week they have been here, their house had all the windows blown out and a newly covered suite cut to ribbons and one wall curved like a bay window. Some of them say that scores of houses that are not actually hit are made unstable on their foundations and are not safe. They are remarkably plucky. One woman staying in vill[age] when told all her windows were blown out amused us by saying, “If I’d have known I would not have cleaned all those windows before I came.”

I think the M.Ps [Members of Parliament] have made a mistake adjourning for 7 weeks. People are sure to think they are scared and have run away from their duty. Roly Grantham says they, F.Bs, not only come straight but turn in their tracks so that you cannot judge where they will end. Whether the one he saw was an isolated case and a freak I don’t know but he is reliable and witnessed a case of one coming over and turning and bursting 2 miles from him. Elsie spent yesterday afternoon with Rene and Tom, they went over to Cumberworth but did not stay to stuffed-chine tea as there was such a crowd. Joyce [Coulston] and Harry Suter came after dinner and Jean and they went to sea for afternoon. They went home about 8 o’c. Jean and I washed a few things in morning most of which got dry tho’ it dried slowly. I took flowers to grave after dinner as Eva came Sun. aft. with Eileen [Faulkner] and Jean and I went to Chapel in eve. and I was too tired after to go. The piece of veronica I planted at the foot is growing. I wonder if Len [Short] will notice when he banks up the grave. My roses are growing, one may even flower and best of all Father’s favourite “Mrs Sara Macready” is showing a definite shoot well up on a twig so it is not a briar. The one that looked quite dead is the one that may flower. The one I am training to a standard is the latest. The ground is covered with apples under the trees but there is a good crop still, but I saw on a branch or two of bramleys the cotton wool of American blight. I painted all I could see with paraffin. The other tree appears to have a blight and has a great quantity of “crumpets”. Most of the other apples on this tree are specked on skin and even the pear-main apples have specks on them and several lots of “crumpets”. These, the crumps, ripen early and Harry, who is tall, reached up for two nice red ones and alas! the wasps had been first or else the blackbirds, there is one who seems to call “fruit fruit” very often.

Jean’s lettuces which she planted out are fine. She has another holiday this afternoon. Gwen went, or rather Per[cy] took her to or near Spilsby Sun for her holiday. We miss her tho’ she is so quiet. Ciss washed and ironed as her vis[itors] went to Sk[egness]. Grace is getting better fast. H[arriet] going to see her today. Rene said she would be here sometime to-day, but I must get on and sew as she won’t be here much this week with Tom on holiday. I cut out a pair of slippers last night, hope to get them done for Mrs Russell. Ration Cards back yest., they have sent emergency cards for two weeks instead of one. Nearly 7 o’c so shall have to soon get up and get Jean off. My gladiolas all growing but only one dahlia. It is nearly in bloom. Turkey has leisurely got down off the fence on our side at last as she sees we are winning. Not at war so far and Bulg[aria] has told Ger they won’t all[ow] them (the Gers) thro’ their territ[ory] if she does declare war. Very brave all at once now Ger is getting whacked.

10.15 pm Same day.
Warmer than yesterday after mist disappeared, thunder and a good shower in evening after which Frank came and cleaned out down spout on house which was blocked with dirt and leaves etc. Philip Ranson has been killed in Italy. Percy very upset I think, he looks so old and ill tonight. Ralph F[aulkner] is home from Normandy wounded in knee. Mav[is] came this afternoon, still looks seedy. Paper today says Scot[land] and N.Eng[land] may be able to dispense with blk.out in about 1 month from now and to have a modified type of street lighting. There are a lot of planes about with that looming drone I hate to hear. Expect it is really the heavy clouds about, but they sound so like evil business threatening us or our enemies, most likely enemies. I think the worst menace for us is over unless he gets those other long-range pilotless planes going.

Roland Grantham was one of Elsie’s brothers.

Harry Suter was the boyfriend (who became the husband) of Jean’s schoolfriend Joyce Coulston.

‘Too tired to go’ (after Chapel) refers to an intended visit to Will’s grave on the Sunday.

Len Short, elder brother of John, was a gardener and the church-yard verger. Len was a Home Guard member(see photo – Diary: 6 June 1944) and an assistant in the Boys’ Brigade. Their sister Freda was a Girl’s’ Life Brigade member (see photo – Diary: 19 June 1944).

Bramley cooking apples and Worcester Pearmain dessert apples were the varieties on the garden trees.

Philip Ranson was the brother of Ciss’s husband Percy.

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’?

Tues 10.15. PM July 11 44
# JEAN SITTING SCHOOL CERTIFICATE EXAMS
# GAS MASKS DEBATED
# WILL’S LAST DAYS RECALLED
# MORE NEWS FROM RON

We are not so late to bed this week. Jean is sitting for the School Cert. and needs longer rest. Her school-days are fast running out. She started at the S.G.S. [Skegness Grammar School] the month war began and has carried a gas mask many months in the earlier part (shall we ever need them? and if so how many there would be who could not find them in the spur of the moment?) Ours are safe, mine on top shelf in kitchen and Jean’s hung on peg at bottom of stairs. She has run to the school shelter too several times and was in 4 or 5 hours once, but happily school was never bombed, tho’ Sk. has been several times.

It has been more rain the last 3 days. Sun started fine and Jean and I went to Chapel in the A.M. and after dinner it started with a fine rain and wind rose, but it stopped raining and we went to Rene’s for tea. After tea I sat in the chair Father sat in, that wet Mon before he went to bed. He had a sleep and kept teasing me because I said if we had gone home I could have done this and that. I was feeling I ought to be at work after my skin poisoning. He seemed so near as I sat there. I think Rene will always be pleased he spent that afternoon there by the fire. It rained fast on Sun. whilst we had tea, cleared a little after, but rained fast before we got home. I tried to hurry but had done a lot too much and could not. Rene persuaded me to ride her cycle so I got home that way. Jean went on first and found Elsie. She had come on from Chapel, she stayed supper but Rene went back to get Tom his. We had Strawbs, Rasps and Cream for tea.

I weeded between cement slabs on path this morning but not quite to gate. It seems a constant job this showery weather. Jean took Annie’s Teddy B[ear] Sun[day] after Chapel, they are very pleased with it. I have made a golliwog this week, but it is not as nice as Ciss’s. I hate making the clothes for dolls and gollies. I have no pattern either, so more difficult. I made the duck up too yesterday which has been cut out some time. Letter from Ron to-day, written June 22, not so long for sea mail. Says he has a big tent this summer and a big mosquito net and has a comfortable bed now that they have got spring mattresses! In Rene’s letter he says they heard of some for sale and went and bought them. It’s nice to know they sleep comfortably and that he is fit and well. At one billet he says he had to climb 96 steps to his room. I think I would never get to the top, the 69 steps of the old C.G. [Coast Guard] box were enough for me. Tom goes back to work on Thursday. It came several showers again to-day, but he has managed to get suntanned and is peeling now Rene says. He lent me a book of John Oxenham “Bees in Amber” (poetry) which I have enjoyed very much.

School Certificate examinations, in a range of subjects, were taken by those pupils (normally at Grammar School) who continued in education beyond the leaving age of 14.

John Oxenham was the pseudonym of William Arthur Dunkerley (1852 – 1941), an Englishman. His book ‘Bees in Amber, a little book of thoughtful verse’, first published in 1913, was a best seller which has been re-published in recent years.

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’?

Fri June 16. 8.35 a.m. [1944]
# ACTION AND POLITICS IN FRANCE
# GRANDMA GIVES SUPPORT
# BUREAUCRACY REGARDING TOY TRADE
# GRAMMAR SCHOOL SPORTS DAY

A week since I wrote my diary last. I think I must try to write every day as the old ones are quite interesting to the immediate family and perhaps I may enjoy reading them all sometime. The war is well started, all our landing parties joined up. But it will be a hard struggle. Every day they bring the wounded home. It is a pity there are these strained relations between De Gaulle and some of the French and our own country and U.S.A. It is a pity I think that we do not come out straight and open either all for him and give him his due share in the Conferences or openly turn him down. U.S.A. don’t seem to like him and it must make his way doubly hard for him, having to fight for every step of his way against criticism from Allies and the open antagonism of part of his own country!

It was rough and cold last Sun but Jean and I walked down to Grandma’s intending to go to Chapel but I stayed with G.ma. She seemed fairly well and cheerful. Gave me 10/0 as she wondered how we would manage. Told her I was applying for Sup[plementary] Pen[sion]. My P. book came back yesterday with new address. 15/0 to 25 July then 10/0.

I must get on with Toy trade. Have made a dog out of red checked gingham, very nice for pram toy. Yesterday I finished Teddy Bear. Very good. On Mon I went to C. S. Bureau to ask about selling them. I have had to write to B[oard] of Trade. The tabbies in C.S.B are very kind and amusing, Mrs B[arratt] especially. They chatter and shuffle their papers and try to recollect what they know of the subject, but as they could not find anything definite gave me the address of B o.T. They would have written for me but I thought I would save them the bother. Afterwards Tom said they might have answered the C.S.B quicker, but we hadn’t thought of that. I thought writing direct and being answered might be quicker. We must wait a few days and see. Dr M syringed both of Jean’s ears, but her deafness had been better all day. Still a lot of wax came out so I’m pleased she went. He also mixed more ointment for psoriasis which up to now she has forgotten to call for. I made her put a knot in handkerchief to-day to remember.

Yesterday I went to G S [Grammar School] Sports as Jean begged me to go and see the school. It would be last opport[unity] while she was there. It was the best day of the week but I did find it very tiring especially as I had been to Rene’s the day before. Ciss wants me to crochet a pair of string soles for her slippers (they are lovely) and Eff says will I turn a sock heel for her one night. I have plenty of work to keep me occupied at present. Hope I shall hear from Emmie to-day. Expect it is too soon to hear from B. of T yet.

General Charles de Gaulle, although formally recognised by Churchill as leader of the ‘Free French’ since 1940, had faced various challenges which raised doubts about his authority. However, about a week after the D-Day landings, de Gaulle arrived in Normandy where his popular support was immediately apparent and he was able to gain a major influence on the strategy for the liberation of France. His entry into Paris, on 25th August 1944, and the liberation parade next day where he was accompanied by Resistance leaders, met with great acclaim and secured his own position of leadership. Early in the War he was known to have visited a unit of French sailors stationed at Ingoldmells, near May’s village – as seemingly referred to in the poem ‘Ye Cannot See’.

‘C. S. Bureau’ probably meant ‘Civic or Council Services Bureau’.

‘Tabbies’ meant tabby-cats – a term of endearment for the women in the Bureau.

Mrs Elsa Barratt was one of the C. S. Bureau ladies, probably in charge. She was also the local representative of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) in which capacity she had tried, vigorously but unsuccessfully, to arrange for Ron to be granted home leave after Will’s death. During the War she was also Billeting Officer for evacuees from Grimsby. She later became Chair of Skegness Town Council and several times Town Mayor.

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