All posts tagged Tom

Postscript – After May Hill – Died 18th November 1944
# RECALLING MAY’S LAST SIGHT OF RON
# RON’S DEMOB AND RETURN HOME IN 1945
# VILLAGE WAR MEMORIAL – FOUR HILL FAMILY LOSSES
# MAY’S FAMILY – CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN
# DIARY AND POETRY PUBLICATIONS

Sadly, May’s war ended without the longed-for reunion with Ron, but not in the way she had feared most when she wrote, on 25th October 1943:

‘It is over a year since we saw Ron. I can still see the train pulling out with Ron waving from a carriage window, and how I felt as if he was taking a part of me with him, feeling as if I must strain my eyes for as long as I could see him, knowing it might be that it was the last sight of him we should ever have.’

With his mother defeated by her own ‘old enemy’, and his father gone not long before her, Ron’s war continued. He served with the RAF abroad for almost a year after May’s death, with no compassionate leave granted to attend either of his parents’ funerals. The pain of losing both parents, as well as their brother’s enforced absence, was hard for Jean and Rene to bear. Their grief was softened when Jean moved to live with Rene and Tom in their bungalow in the village. They kept in close touch with Emmie, Ron’s wife. In the summer of 1945 Emmie and Jean shared a holiday in the Lake District. Shortly afterwards Ron was demobbed, safely returning to England where he was joyfully reunited with his wife and sisters.

Ron and Emmie reunited, 1945

Emmie and Ron, together again at last,
after his return to England in 1945

The rejoicing at the end of hostilities was mixed with grief; the war had taken its toll on the family and the village. Of the four young men who had been lost in action, as recorded in the Diaries, three were May’s nephews, Tony Hill (RAF), Kenneth Hill (RAF) and Raymond Hill (Army). Along with that of Hugh Green (Merchant Navy) their names were added to the plinth of the village war memorial, located in the grounds of St Leonard’s Church. The memorial had previously been erected in memory of Will’s brother, Mark Hill (Army), the only man of the village to be killed in action during the First World War (see 16 Sep 1944 when May laid flowers on Mark’s grave). Their sacrifices have not been forgotten and the village memorial was re-dedicated, following refurbishment, in a service held in 2005 on the anniversary of Mark Hill’s death in on 13th September 1917.

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial

Chapel St Leonards War Memorial
with added WWII Inscription

War Memorial - Original Inscription

Original Inscription WWI

War Memorial - WWII Inscription

WWII Inscription

As for May and Will’s immediate family, life began to move on. The first grandchild, Rene’s son, was born barely a year after May’s death. Jean lived with Rene and Tom for a few more years until they re-settled in Louth. Jean then moved to live in Skegness, where she continued in local government employment and met her future husband, Alan. Ron and Emmie made their home in Yeadon, near Leeds, where Ron pursued his career as a carpenter/joiner. Each couple had two children who have great pride in the Poetry and Diaries. Although they never met her, May Hill’s grandchildren will never forget the grandmother whom, through the wonderful legacy of her writing, they have come to know so well.

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This Postscript is adapted from that in the book “The Casualties Were Small” (available on Amazon) which contains May Hill’s poems, selected diary extracts and many nostalgic photographs, including those above.

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The contents of May Hill’s Diaries, and her Poems, with illustrations, as published in this Blog ‘Seventy Years on’, are available as annual Kindle e-reader volumes. These have the main title ‘An RAF Mother’s WWII Diary Blog’ and subtitles as follows (the links are for the UK Amazon Kindle Store – Search using ‘RAF Mother WWII’ in Kindle Store in other countries):

Volume One, November 1940 to December 1941, ‘Anticipation and Alarms’
Published as Kindle Edition in April 2012

Volume Two, January 1942 to December 1942, ‘Weddings and Farewells’
Published as Kindle Edition in April 2013

Volume Three, January 1943 to December 1943, ‘Losses and Gains’
Published as Kindle Edition in December 2013

Volume Four, January 1944 to December 1944, ‘Sorrows and Salvation’
To be published as Kindle Edition in December 2014

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

Sat 8.50 pm Nov. 4. [1944]
# GIRL GUIDE GWEN’S GOOD DEED
# JEAN MAKES BONFIRE NIGHT TOFFEE
# RENE ALMOST RECOVERED FROM ILLNESS
# DIFFICULTY IN CONCENTRATING – FEELING DIZZY

Guy Fawkes Day tomorrow (Sun). It has been very cold to-day but wind not my side of house so could get in and out alright. I am tired again to-night as I have had a busy day. Gwen took Rene an apple-pie for dinner. Jean took cakes and tarts for tea. I was going to give Gw. 3D but Cis said it was her good deed for the day, she was enrolled as a Girl Guide last night and must do at least one good deed a day. So I said “Very well Gwen that’s your good deed done”, but Gw. said rather dubiously Well Rene gave me 6D!

Jean is very tired tonight and has not gone to Toc. H. Her photos have come, they are very good indeed. She has made some toffee, her personal points are all spent with still a week of this period to run. She spent the last of mine to-day for 2oz sweets. Have written to Emmie and sent her one of Jean’s photo’s. News on, Switz. asked to renew relations with Russ. Russ. refuses. What’s on now?

Jean, October 1944 © AE Wrate, Skegness

Jean, October 1944
© AE Wrate, Skegness

Jean says Rene much better and wanted to come home but Tom said not. I had sent word too that she was not to come. The weather wasn’t fit, after being in a few days tho’ not in bed. I must go tomorrow if possible. Elsie fetched the 4 rabbits on Wed. To-day she came and paid for them 2/9 each. That is 10/6 from Emmie for green dog and 11/0 from Elsie, a nice little addition to our small income. Jean’s hand still has a bump but not so painful. She has not complained of gnat bites.

Greece cleared of enemy. I keep losing what I want to write, and have kept feeling slightly dizzy all day. I often seem to get this dizzy feeling. Think perhaps I have done a bit too much this week after being so poorly up to Wed. Have not heard from Sybil yet. I think it must be a month since I wrote to her, I hardly like to write again at least yet. Anything may have happened in these sad days.

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

Oct 1 Sun. 8.15 PM [1944]
# ECONOMISING ON ELECTRICITY USE
# CALAIS GUNS SILENCED AT LAST
# RECALLING INVASION FEARS
# GARDENING ADVICE UNWELCOME

I had just written the date when the light went out. I am afraid E.L. [electricity] is going to be an item in the winter tho’ the rebate will make it easier. Shall have to be very careful with wireless and do as little ironing as we can. I use a candle upstairs as I often need a light nights and early mornings. Cannot do with less than a 60 watt bulb in the kitchen for sewing and reading. It cost about 2/0 last week and it is a long time yet to the shortest day. It has been a lovely autumn day, cold and bright until tea time when the wind got worse and a storm blew up ending in rain and a lovely rainbow that seemed to be only at the bottom of the garden. Afterwards it thundered very heavily over the sea towards the North and came another heavy shower. We did not get to Chapel but Jean went this a.m. and to S.S. [Sunday School]. Rene came this afternoon. Ciss’s arrived home on 6.15 bus’ except George who is staying until Wed at Mary’s.

Mary sent us (not Mary Blythe) a nice little cockerel for dinner, it was very good, with beans and bread sauce. A little bit left for tomorrow. Mavis says Vic Hill died from the injuries received from flying bomb, the head injuries being worse than believed at first. My potatoes not turning out so well now, they don’t do well so near apple-trees. Ted and Albert Hall are on leave. They were digging potatoes on Fri and Saturday. Mrs. Ted Brown brought me some lovely roses on Thurs. They are lovely rich colour and named “Autumn”, sweet-scented too. Rene and I took some of them and a white gladiola and mauve, pink and white asters to the churchyard last night. We put a few asters in the memorial stone, vase.

Harriet fetched a young rabbit on Thursday. “Jimmy” is dead. Eva is at Mrs. D[andison]’s for a month. Calais has fallen to us at last, and the cross-channel guns are silenced at last too. Dover has been celebrating this week. What a relief it must be to them after 4 years. A few flying bombs, presumably launched from pick-a-back planes, continue to come over still. Planes go over us nearly all day sometimes and night too, but no enemy planes lately. My nerves seem fairly good tho’ I fear it would not take many “bumps” to unsettle them. How thankful we ought to be that we have lived in such a favoured area, tho I tremble to think of what would have happened had Ger. invaded Lincs. as he clearly intended by the plans found in Paris. How near the edge of a volcano we were unconsciously living at one time! We think and hope that time is past now.

John Short is able to cycle now tho’ he cannot walk without boots. Edith Bell (Mrs. Seal) had a daughter on Thurs. night or Fri morning. David is about 13 months old. Jean rolled new lawn on Sat. I took thistles and dandelions out first, I saw Coote looking over the hedge at it, with what I felt in my bones was a disapproving eye! Tom told Rene to tell me it wanted rolling when it was about three inches high, I am afraid I rather ungratefully told her I was tired of advice about the lawn. Jean and I are of the opinion that if we’d had as much help as advice about it, it would have been 6 feet high by now! I don’t profess to be a professional gardener, but as my father was so good in the garden and his father and grandfather were gardeners before him, I am not altogether dense, especially as we have always had a garden and have grown flowers and vegetables so long, even if I did not do the work on the veg. patch at least I was always there, and learnt most of the ropes. In one way at least I can beat them all. Dear Will had a tool for everything, so I do not have to borrow. One thing however I do lack and that is a light little barrow. It would be very useful. I sent George’s back to Con. before we came here and even if it had been ours it was too heavy.

George Ranson was probably staying with his aunt, Mary Blythe, in the Grimsby area (see 18th November 1943).

The other Mary (NOT Mary Blythe) here, was Charles Hill’s wife.

Vic Hill, killed by a flying bomb, has not been identified and may not have been a relative. The incident would have been in the south-east of England as flying bombs did not reach Lincolnshire.

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

Mon Sep. 18. 9 30 pm [1944]
# PARATROOP LANDINGS BEHIND GERMAN LINES
# SWARMS OF AIRCRAFT OVERHEAD
# ENCOUNTER WITH TOM’S SISTER
# SUNDAY AFTERNOON VISITORS

Invasion of Holland by Paratroops. Sep. 17 /44

Yesterday, Sunday, we made 3 Paratroop landings behind Ger. troops. Gliders and Parachutists landed with guns and probably small tanks. Considerable supplies for them have been flown there and landed to-day. To-night round about 7 o’c planes flew over here, going out over the sea and a little to the N.E. As far as the eye could see, between sea and wolds and N. and S. planes swarmed like flies for some time. We can hear a drone of planes now and wonder if they are returning.

I have been to Rene’s for dinner and tea to-day. Mrs. Young was tired so we stayed in the garden. She is not really easy to talk to, and is very puffed up with her family connections, ahem, some of them. She has travelled and read a lot and is very musical. She is looking better for her holiday. I called at Mary’s as I went. Gordon has joined the forces and is in Scotland. Annie Graves is in a very poor way with sciatica and both lungs affected by T.B. What a lot of trouble there is in the world even apart from war. I washed two blankets before I went. Ciss helped me wring them, also I washed two of Jean’s blouses. Rene came after tea to get wool Jean was getting for Mrs Y to knit Tom some socks. She was not able to get real wool but got some kind of grey yarn 6 ozs of it as they said it needed more than wool. 4 oz 1 coup. It has been a lovely day fresh and breezy and it was lovely yesterday. Farmers are getting on with harvest now. Red + Sale and garden party realised £80. Rene won a gilt necklace in a raffle. I went to Chapel Sun night. Mr Noble sang two solos. Jean was with G.L. [Girls’ Life Brigade] parade to Hogs[thorpe] Church. Ted B[rown] and Eric and Bessy came Sun. afternoon. Bessie looks older tho’ well. Mrs. B will probably come on Thursday week.

Operation Market Garden’, involving thousands of Allied paratroopers and other forces, was a daring attempt to secure key bridges across rivers in Holland, intended to enable a rapid advance into the German lowlands. However the outcome was disastrous as will be reported in the next Diary entry (27th September 1944).

Annie Graves was presumably related to Mary, née Graves, the wife of Will’s one surviving brother Charles Hill, but the connection has not been identified.

Mr Noble, the accomplished singer, lived in Newark but often visited his mother who lived in a permanently-sited ‘caravan’ at the furthest end of Landseer Avenue (see Village Map).

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’?

Wed July 12 9.45 P.M. [1944]
# JEAN’S EXAMS TIRING BUT SATISFYING
# MORE SOFT TOYS SOLD
# BAKING PIES, CAKES AND SCONES
# SEARCHLIGHTS LIGHT UP BEDROOMS

The sun is still some distance off the horizon but Jean and I have come to bed. She is tired with exams, very fussy because she completed a sum in Algebra that Geo[rge Ranson] had not. Does not seem so nervous now that she is well started. I am afraid I am starting a cold, do hope not. Cleaned coal-house today, i.e. swept cobwebs down and lime-washed it and incidentally the coals. Am pleased to say I have 4 or 5 bags in store as we do not burn much this weather and alas I have not much cooking to do. Have had a quiet day as Rene was only here a little while before dinner and Ciss was busy ironing this afternoon and went out to Cen[tral] Hall to pictures to-night. I was glad to rest after dinner but did a little knitting. Am making a penguin from odd bits of wool. After tea I cut out a rabbit and a Teddy Bear. Emmie wants more bears if possible. Had a letter from her today and 30/0 for month’s rent etc. The bears sell well and indeed are very nice. She was very pleased with pink velvet “Scottie”. Rene took “Gollie” to-day. She thinks it fine.

Had 2 letters from Ron too written early in June. He seems to have been quite fit and does not find it as hot as last summer but more like our English climate. I did a little baking with ¼ marg and 2 oz drip[ping] today, made a milk curd cheesecake, rhub[arb] pie, short cake and scones, not bad I think. Jean and I walked up the road to get rabbit-meat after tea. “Jane” has made a nest in one corner but nothing doing yet. Planes are droning round and round, there were a lot about last night and a lot of searchlights lit up my bed-room. Jean’s too. Mist is rising so it may be hot tomorrow. Expect Rene will come for dinner if Tom goes to work.

‘Getting rabbit-meat’ referred to collecting ‘herb Bennet’ etc. from the verges, as food and bedding for the rabbits.

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’?

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’?

Sun. June 4 10.20 PM [1944]
# STAYING IN DUE TO ASTHMA
# GARDEN ADVICE RECEIVED

Drizzly early but brighter later. Strong S.W. wind but warm and soft. Asthma early, very short of breath all day. Too rough for me to venture out. Ciss’s went out for day after it cleared. Geo[rge Ranson] went out early perhaps to Church. Jean went to S.S. [Sunday School] to practise for Anniversary. Mav[is] came home with her. Rene came, had tea, then she and Tom came after tea again. Everybody advises some fresh treatment of piece of ground for lawn. Tom says he will give me Hiawatha rose when I get trellis up. Fra[nk], Jess[ie] and Mav. came after Rene and Tom went. I was pleased to have their company. Sundays are hard days, days of rest for the body but not of mind. Must go to bed now as Jean is tired.

Probably overwhelmed by the amount of well-intended advice she was receiving from neighbours and relatives, May was inspired to write the poem ‘Council Houses’.

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