All posts tagged Sprogg

Thur. Mar.2. 44. 8.15. a.m.
# DESPERATE FOR COAL
# STRUGGLE CONTINUES ON MANY FRONTS
# ASTHMA DELAYS SPRING CLEANING

Sharp and cold this morning but we have no more snow. Most of it seems to have gone from wolds tho’ no doubt there is some left in shady hollows in the vales. There was either rain or sleet when we went to bed last night. Think “the Sprogg” must have been fighting as Jean says “he won’t speak” and he sits glumly by the fire. Think he is moulting too and his long hair is a nuisance. I have given him a Tibs. Percy did not come with coal yesterday, if he does not come to-day we shall be quite out. Rene brought me a basket-full or we should have run out yesterday and wood and coke aren’t much good without a little coal at the bottom.

Finns are trying to come to Peace terms with Russia. Russ is in the position to dictate them and I do not think she will err on the side of leniency. It is hard to have to accept terms from a superior power in order to save one’s country from destruction. We ourselves may yet have to accept terms for our neighbours, and be fortunate if we don’t have to give concession to Russia ourselves, that we do not like. But better that humiliation than that either the Gers. or Russ. should conquer England. Our planes were out again last night and Gers over S.E. and London again. Damage and casualties radio says and enemy planes down. There is still a tough struggle going on at Anzio beachhead but Gers. have slackened again and we have more reinforcements. American war against Japs going so well that it has even been prophesied that Tokyo will fall before Berlin but that is not a general belief. We have started third month of this year and do not really seem to have advanced much, but suppose we must have done.

Father will be home soon to take Mrs B with baby to Dr M[enzies], Skeg[ness]. Joe K[irk] is doing an hour or two [Watch-box duty] for him. If I can only overset this bout of asthma I shall start S[pring] Cleaning next week. We don’t look like getting another house at present. The strong spring sunshine begins to make things look dusty now and the house is so dry we can start anytime. Lately the cleaning has seemed to drag on so long with me having asthma. I used to be able to work in spite of it or between bouts but it seems to take my strength now for so long. Rene’s rheum. troubling her, this stormy weather.

Mrs B, here, is probably Mrs Vera Balding, wife of Billy (see 15 Oct 1942).

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

Sun Jan. 16 8.35. a.m. [1944]
# BLACKOUT DIFFICULTIES
# CHILDHOOD MEMORIES OF ‘MAGIC GARDEN’
# RON CONFIDENT IN ALLIED VICTORY

It is a rime frost this morning, everything white and icy. I thought it was as, tho’ not cold in bed, every time I moved I seemed to feel an icy breath. I discovered too after getting up that I had left the window open, which is not always possible now we have to “black-out”. It is difficult with casements to get a light-proof curtain if there is the least bit of wind. We leave door open to landing when we shut the window. Both were open last night so perhaps that is why I slept so well. We were never used to sleeping with closed windows. Father went on watch at 6. a.m. so, tempted by the fire, I rose at 7.30 and have had my breakfast of tea and toast by it after taking Jean cup of tea and bread and butter. The cat, Snip, sat at my feet looking for a piece of crust now and then. She loves toast and Sprogg is learning to like it too, but his cough still persists and he had to go out again after his milk.

I have been reading a rather sentimental chapter on rooks, in Bac[helor] in Arcady (it is a totally different book to any other I have read by Halliwell Sutcliffe, tho’ his style of writing comes out here and there the same as in his books of feud and clannish war on the dark moors). The rook chapter brought back very vividly to me autumn days at “Woodvilla”. The misty autumn mornings melting into the brief golden hours of late Sept or October, with the sound of the rooks, caw, caw, caw, from the elms and oaks at the old Trusthorpe Hall. A few late plums still on the boughs, juicy apples, and sweet little pears on the high pear tree, mostly at the top, from which we brought them down with wildly aimed sticks, and ate them sitting on the chain [chair?] swing which was made with a pole from forks in lower branches of the two main trunks that sprang from the roots. There was a sparsely planted hedge or thicket about 3 yds deep planted at the far end of the orchard and I remember the first time I ventured (the small bushes then well above my small height) thro’ the little opening in it where Grandmother used to go to wave a duster when it was time for Grandfather to come to dinner, if he were working at the next yard. It was a great adventure, I fearfully parted the branches and won thro’ to the ploughed field beyond and viewed my familiar world from an unfamiliar angle. I could see the backs of the houses I only knew from the front, and all the way to the sea, at least a mile away but quite hidden from view, when in the orchard. The railway too running between us and the sea and beyond it I knew between rail and sea was my own home. I saw the little house only on Thursday very little changed, except a glass room built over door and pump to the little gate.

May’s grandparents outside Wood Villa, their home near Trusthorpe Hall, around 1895

May’s grandparents outside Wood Villa, their home near Trusthorpe Hall, around 1895

On Thursday we had two letters from Ron and 6 on Friday and Rene had one too. So quite up to date again. He is well and sounds in capital spirits and very confident of victory. He had received denture washer and was very pleased as his was completely worn out.

Halliwell Sutcliffe, author, was mentioned in the notes added to the previous Diary entry (see 14 Jan 1944).

May’s grandmother, her father’s mother, was Charlotte, née Selby, Simpson.

May’s grandfather, her father’s father, was John Simpson.

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

Friday January 14. 1944
8.15. a.m
# ANOTHER DIARY BOOK BEGINS
# BATTLE OF BRITAIN RECALLED
# BACON AND HAMS INSPECTED
# MORNING STAR OVER CHAPEL POINT

This little book so small and slim,
An emblem of the shortage caused by war,
May yet contain a tale of deeds more grim
Than written in the books that went before.

I wonder what will have happened in this grim struggle before these few pages are filled. I did not intend it to be a record of war, when I started my diary, just our ordinary doings during the days of war. In spite of good intentions the war creeps in, as it has crept in and around all our daily life. So tho’ no record of battles and campaigns is kept, a little of the trend of war is threaded thro’. The second front looms ever nearer, then we shall feel the effects in this country, more than we have done since the “Battle of Britain” and how very little we knew of that down here just sheltered behind the sand-hills, while the tide of war went over only a few stray bombs that only damaged property, not people, fell round us.

Wed. night the newly-hung bacon which was just beginning to sparkle with dry salt crystals, turned wet again, I think it was the rain and humid atmosphere. Hams wept salt tears all day yesterday and even the flitches, hung in the white-tiled corner near the fire were weeping by evening. Weather has changed again, I looked out when Jean went to school and it was clear and cold, the morning star shining brightly over the Point. I hope it does not freeze with the sunrise as I put my chrysants out in the rain yesterday and forgot to bring them in, and they have been in so long it would nip the new shoots I expect. The two cats have eaten their bread and milk and are sleeping on the mat. Snip nodding upright but “The Sprogg” curled in a ball. He still coughs but I am sure he does his best to suppress it, as I put him outside if he coughs more than once. I do not think it healthy to have sick cats in the house, and they are hardy and have plenty of cover to go to.

Rene said Mrs Shales had fallen and hurt herself. She stood on a chair to reach something and it was not level and she over-balanced. Rene did not know until yesterday, she was getting over it then but had been pretty bad. Rene was going in again at night. She herself does not look too well. Think she had a chill early in the week, probably got it on wash-day, it was so cold. I am reading the book, “Bachelor in Arcady” which Aunt Jet gave Jean (she sent “The Rosary” to Mavis). It is very readable and amusing. She also gave her 5/0. Amy gave her two for music.

Flitch – side of bacon – salted and cured abdominal wall of a side of pork.

‘Bachelor in Arcady’, was written by Halliwell Sutcliffe who died in 1932. He wrote many popular novels, most of them historical romances set in the Yorkshire Dales.

‘The Rosary’ by Florence Louisa Barclay was first published in 1909. It has been described as one of the most beautiful books ever written, and the author compared to Jane Austen. It is available in the publc domain as a free e-book.

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

Sun. Jan. 9. 8.30. P.M [1944]
# WELSH SOLDIERS ATTEND CHAPEL SERVICE
# CHANGES TO FOOD RATIONING
# CONCERNS ABOUT JAPAN PROLONGING WAR

Dull morning, turning to drizzle at dinner-time then to steady rain. Still raining at 8.30. It has been damp and chilly, but not bitterly cold. Saw a bus load of H.Gs [Home Guards] come by this morning. Jean went to Chapel, said about 15 soldiers were there, they are a lot of them Welsh. Some have already gone on leave. Jean said Tom said a few words of welcome to them, he was preaching next Sunday and would have some Welsh tunes for them to sing. Father took Spence to Louth Hos[pital] to-day so Jean (who has a cold and did not go in rain to S.S. [Sunday School]) and I went in car to Rene’s and had tea with her and came home with Father after he had brought Mrs Spence to her house. He had a cup of tea, but came home for his meal as it was so wet and soon dark. We had canned Vic[toria] Plums with egg custard for tea. Very nice. “Bill” was distinctly annoyed because we took up all the hearthrug. The kitten is grown very big and is very playful. Rene let me have ¼ tea as I am quite out. New period starts tomorrow. Tinned Herrings, Pilchards and Mack[erel] need less points. We are not very fond of tinned fish, except salmon and do not care for that very often. It needs too many points to get much of it now. Sprogg still has a cough and Jean is doctoring him with Tibs. Doesn’t seem to ail much but doesn’t wash himself much and looks very grubby. Jean and Father both seem to have a slight return of their colds. I do hope Jean will be able to start school.

Charles came yesterday to see if Father could fetch Ke[ith] and Ma[rion] from Sk[egness] Stn. at 8 p.m. but he has not enough light and was on watch too. C[laude] Evison could not either so don’t know what they would do, take a taxi I expect. They had just sent a telegram in the morning. It is early for another. I do hope he [Keith] is not on Draft Leave so soon after losing Raymond. I am afraid there will be a lot have to go soon now. Russians are 10 miles over Polish border now and pushing on. Tonight Stuart Hibbert [Hibberd] reminded us that the end of the German War did not mean the end of the war as a whole and that we should still have a tough job to conquer the Japs. Somehow we seem to push this distant war out of our minds as much as we can, forgetting that covering it up does not alter the fact of its serious existence. I hope Ron does not have to go out there, but then I don’t want him to come home just now either. We do not know what to wish for them. It is best to leave it, and live from day to day, thankful that so far he is spared. Oh, if it were only all over, and no more “wars or rumours of war”.

‘Spence’ was believed to be Mr Spence whose wife was previously mentioned (see 2 Feb 1943).

Stuart Hibberd was a well known BBC radio announcer.

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

Wed. Jan. 5 7.30. am. [1944]
# CATS DOSED FOR COUGHS
# ROLES OF MONTGOMERY AND EISENHOWER
# ‘SECOND FRONT’ APPREHENSION
# ALARMING NOISES – ‘BUMPS AND PLANES’
# RAID ON HITLER’S BUNKER REPORTED
# RON LETTERS FROM WINTERY ITALY

Father on watch at 6 a.m. brought me tea and bread and butter. He has tea and porage before he goes and takes tea and sandwiches (mutton to-day) and mince-pie and cheese with him for lunch. Jean bought the “Tibs” and dosed both cats. About 15 minutes later said “The Sprogg” already looked better! Am sorry to say I can hear him coughing now. I was cold after Father got up so rose at ¼ to 7. It is nice to get up and dress by a good fire these cold mornings tho’ I do not as a rule like coming down before getting dressed. I am sorry to find I get a touch of my old enemy again, it was nice to be free from it while convalescing from “influe”. I wonder what kept it off then. Perhaps one “peg” drives another out. Anyway it was only “scotched” not exterminated apparently.

Montgomery is in England to take charge of British Invasion Army under Gen. Eisenhower U.S.A. Gen. People are wishing sec[ond] front would be started, but when I think of it, I think of the hundreds of boys for whom these days are the last they will see, and every day is one more for them before they pay the price for our peace and safety. Some of them go with heavy hearts, the first excitement of war is over and the grim bare bones of all its wickedness show thro’.

7.50. Queer bumps I can hear and planes. Moon is not set I think but it is cloudy. Hope it is not Ger. dropping bombs or one of our planes crashing. Wonder if we bombed Berlin again. It must be terrible to live in Ger industrial towns now. Hitler’s huge …….…. [? word missing] was bombed a few nights since. His shelters underneath were in three tiers with 7ft concrete on top, but our bombs crashed thro’. I hope if I have to die in a raid it will be in the open, not buried under piles of debris. May God send help to all in distress. The weather in Italy is cold, snowy, and wet, but I think Ron has good warm clothes. In Emmie’s letter he said he had got trousers made to fit him. At first they were a lot too long, rather tight under the arms and seating room for two! Planes still coming in, should think one was dumping his bombs in the sea, where they all ought to be dumped.

Don’t think Tom is very thrilled with C.G. [Coastguard] job now he has got it, tho’ as he is now put on for aft. patrol he may like that better than watch box duties. Sprogg came in when I opened the door, think Jean’s Tibs must have taken effect, he is so loving (most unusual) and is singing all the time.

The missing word, which May probably intended to insert in the gap later after checking the newspaper, was probably ‘Führerbunker’.

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

Wed. Nov. 17. 8.30. a.m. [1943]
# BEAUTIFUL PHEASANT SIGHTED
# MORE DRESSMAKING
# RON VISITING CHURCHES IN ITALY

Very squally again this morning but I hope not quite so cold. It was “perishing” yesterday. It came a very snowy sleet shower about 4.30. to 5 and on the sea-bank in shade of a bramble-bush sat or rather stood, a beautiful pheasant. I was putting up black-out curtain and saw “the Sprogg” run across the lawn and creep up the fence so wondered what he saw and it was that. Its feathers blended so well with the grass and leaves that it was only when it shook its head or turned it that it could be detected. I stood and watched it some time, with “my mouth watering”, but alas, even if anyone had been here with a gun, it was no use, for the bird was in the middle of the mine-field! Sprogg crept quietly along the road and the last I saw of him was when he was starting up the sand-hills. I don’t think he had much chance of catching the bird, especially as he went up the wind side of it. I looked out a bit later and it was gone. I hopefully scattered some bread on the lawn as I have seen signs there sometimes of its presence.

Rene washed at “Bev.” ['Beverley'] yesterday. I may have a few things washed to-day if it is reasonably fine. Must wash hankies in any case. Father was on watch at 12 noon yesterday so we had early dinner. Then before Rene came for hers I changed sleeves of my A F [air force] Blue cardigan so that the elbow wear would come in a different place. They look so well that I am wondering if they were put in wrong the first time, as they were made for left and right! Usually they are both alike. I saw the idea in a book or paper and thought it very good as my cardigan was very thin at elbows in fact. I had to darn underneath one tho’ not in actual holes. Did two patterns on my new one and think found where I make mistake in patterns. It is a teaser or I am a bit stupid I think, and it is very difficult to alter mistakes in it. Think Jean’s green skirt will turn out alright but I was rather foolish to cut it out when I was so seedy as I have got it about 6 inches too long. I can cut it off but the piece left might have been more use in one piece.

Had a nice letter from Ron yesterday dated 10 Oct so not so bad. Says he likes to go in the churches they are so quiet and peaceful. It seems strange to think of him being able to go a two hours ride to a town in a country at war. It is good to think he is well away from the fighting line. He does not seem so hard-worked at the time of writing, and says it was a lovely day, everything drying up after the rain (I am afraid they’ve had a lot more since then) and he was sitting outside writing his letter. His letter was quite cheerful, but somehow I feel he was very homesick when writing. It is really nothing in his letter, but the tears came to my eyes as I read of his liking to visit the quiet churches, as they seemed so peaceful and he could think of home. I should think the lack of privacy, and leisure to think and be quite alone is as trying sometimes as too much solitude.

After being based for two months in Sicily with his RAF Spitfire squadron, Ron and his unit had moved on to mainland in Italy in late September 1943. He had been in Battiplagia, Salerno, about 65km from Naples, for about two weeks when he wrote the letter on 10th October.

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