I wrote the New Year date first on Emmie’s luggage label, and am writing now at 9.20 by firelight. I have put out the E.L. [electric light] but it is still too dark to see to write properly. It is milder but raining after a fine, bright, cold week. My diary has been neglected of late as colds and influenza have made all but necessary writing impossible. Jean and I still feel achy at times. We had the “Spanish flu” but very favourably Dr M[enzies] says as hundreds got pneumonia with it and hundreds have died of it. W.Churchill had another touch of ‘pneu’ when he got abroad this last time. We are hoping and praying this is the last war Xmas. We had Xmas Cards, photo and parcel and Airgraph Greetings from Ron, also an AG. from Jock. I had a calendar and white and purple heather from his wife, must write to her as I got very few letters at Xmas and sent only two cards. Had a card from Dennis. Must write to him. He is at Stratford-on-Avon.
Sent Sybil’s baby a little dog I had made of brown velvet stuffed kapok, also sent Gladys’ little girls a doll each. Rene made one and me the other and I dressed them. Jean sent books. All received them for Xmas. I prefer making animals to dolls, they don’t want dressing and look more professional when done. I have made a Scotch Terrier this week in brown velvet. It is larger than Patsy’s and took a lot of kapok to stuff it but it is a great success and very light in spite of bulk. It is getting lighter so will finish unblacking upstairs and start work. I have only washed up breakfast pots so far. Father and Jean have taken Emmie to meet 8.43 train at W[illough]by and should soon be back, tho’ they had to call at Baysleys I think on way home. It was so wet I did not feel like going and then I hate coming back in daylight to a blacked-out house and a table full of pots to wash.
7 o’c P.M. Rain ceased towards dinner-time, sun came out and it dried but turned very windy so did not attempt to go to S.S [Sunday School] Party. Jean is to come home with Pimp[erton]s, it should not be dark as moon does not set until 11.59. pm. Hope she is not late as Father is on watch at 12 mid.nt. Emmie, Rene, Jean and Father went to Mary’s to tea yesterday. It was cold and I did not feel up to going esp[ecially] as Father and I were there on Sun. Emmie came Xmas Eve and returned to-day so had a nice long visit. She posted us a blanket on 20th and it hasn’t turned up yet, very disappointing, hope it is not lost. Of course 18th was last day for parcels being guaranteed delivery for Xmas so let’s hope it arrives Mon. or Tues. Elsie G[rantham] came for supper on Mon. ev[ening]. Rene and T[om] could not come as he had a bad cold. El. had too and had lost her voice but suddenly recovered it just as she was going home about 11 o’c. She brought Emmie 6 eggs last night and said she had not lost it any more. Emmie took a chicken home for Sun. dinner also some apples from Rene. We had chickens for Xmas Day (Tom and Rene came) and Emmie said “Could we have apple sauce, as she did not like bread sau.” I had not had it with chicken before, but we all liked it, it is as good with ch. as with duck. We had bread sauce too. Emmie brought Rene another Pyrex casserole and Jean a book by Grey Owl.
Planes are wandering round, sound very queer, as if there were faint bumps every now and then. Father has just gone out for second time to listen. This aft. when Jean and I were upstairs we heard a small sound as if something were dropped on roof or as if the ceiling cracked. Father thinks perhaps it is wind that makes planes sound queer as it has got up very strong. Ron’s friend, Roy Paget has lost his brother (killed), Ron had met him. Ron received cable before his birthday and got his little calendar and B.Day and Xmas parcel well before Christmas Day. Hope he gets socks from W.V.S., Mr. Chips from us and socks from B. Legion safely before long. He sent Rene and Jean blue silk scarves from Tunis, a wallet for Dad and Gloves for me, also box face powder which Rene and I have shared. Emmie has received 4 prs Stks and Gloves from him, and he writes there is another parcel on the way for her so hope she gets them safely. Rene gave Jean a book she wanted and me pinafore and hairbrush. Jean gave me hkchfs [handkerchiefs] and economy labels, Father gave me 10/0 which I have not spent yet. Jean gave Rene writing paper and Father and I gave her a pinafore. Jean gave Father a book and Rene and I are giving him a ft. [fountain] pen or most of it. He says he will make up balance if we get him a good one.
The mother of little girls was probably Gladys, née Lewis, a daughter of May’s sister Emily (see 19 Feb 1942).
Baysleys were a naval family, based at ‘Royal Arthur’, living in a bungalow close to Tyler’s Bridge, near Commander Storer (see 21 May 1942).
‘Grey Owl’ was an English-born writer and conservationist, Archibald Belaney, who had lived in Canada and at some time had masqueraded as a Red Indian.
‘Goodbye Mr Chips’ was the novel about a kindly Latin teacher, written by James Hilton and first published as a book in 1934 (Little, Brown USA ; Hodder & Stoughton UK).
Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?