MSWP (& FEP) diaries

Diary, 1940

by Mary S.W. Pollard

 

Key

NB If a name is not listed in the key the person concerned has not yet been identified.

1888–92

1893–95

1896–98

1897 (FEP)

1896–99

1899–1900

1901

1903

1904 (with FEP)

1904–07

1907–10

1911

1910–15

1915–20

1920–22

1922–26

1926–29

1930–36

1936–37

1938

1939

1940

1941–42

1942–46

1946–52

1950–58

1958–61

Mary S.W. Pollard diaries | 1940

January

One day F. C. and I went to see "The Lion has wings". A rather remarkable film of aerial warfare. Teachers Guild at L.P. began on Jan. 3rd. and we had Beatrice to stay here for it. It was a great success, but I only went there twice, to the Presidential Address by Ernest Ludlam which was excellent, and the last evening where there was singing, spelling bee etc. Gt. fun. Everyone most friendly, but building v. cold. Reg. staying there. Mrs. Ingram couldn’t come anymore after the 1st so I was very busy; also hunted for new charwoman.

6th.

Beatrice went home.

7th. Sun.

Reg. brought Marg. and the children here, in morning, then he went back to Charteris.

8th.

Mrs. Leach came to help in morning—8d an hour. She is good and nice but slow. Used to be with Mrs. Reg. Robson.

10th.

I am very busy, cooking, helping C. etc. I went one day to London with her, for her examination by the L.M.S. Doctor. Sometime afterwards we heard she had been passed by the Committee but she is only a little over 7 st. and must grow heavier. He was shocked by her throat. She went back to Bath on Wed. 10th and I miss her greatly. Her friend Muriel Crouch came on

11th.

to help with the children and is very nice and efficient.

13th.

Archaeological—young Seaby "Rural Timber Industries of England". V. good.

14th. Sun.

F. went to speak at Hammersmith.

15th.

Took M. to see film "Stanley and Livingstone". V. good.

17th. Wed.

Frank went to London in morning to join Karlin there, get final visas etc. and stay night and then start on his momentous journey to America. I hated seeing him off and I shall hear so little. They are going to fly to Paris (it is terribly cold) then go to Geneva, and finally about the 24th get a ship (Comte de Savoie) from Naples to America. They want to meet American Friends and talk about Peace, and what can be done etc. I long for his safe return.

One day Marg. and I took ‘Jerry’ (the cat) aged nearly 17 years to the Vet and he was put to sleep. We do miss him, but it’s a relief.

19th.

Marg. Ruth and I to concert—2 Bach programmes. M. and I shopped first and had lunch in town. Bought new black-out curtains. Baby should have arrived on 15th!!

22nd.

Muriel and I to see Phyllis Neilson Terry in "The Corn is Green". V. good and amusing.

Yesterday and Sat. were awful, as our hot water pipe was frozen so we had no hot water and dare not have kitchen fire on.

Plumber got it alright by 23rd.

23rd.

Barbara R. and I took the sewing class alone. We are not having ‘Play Hour’ at present.

25th.

Thurs. Marg. came into my bedroom at 7.0 a.m. (Rosemary had had bad night and was sleeping in the bed with me) and said she had had pain all night and I had better get the taxi. I dressed at once and telephoned for it. She was brave and calm and carried down her own things. We got to Grove House, Surley Row, Emmer Green by ¼ to 8 and saw the night nurse. She examined M: said it would be a long time, so I went and got a bus and was home before 9.0. Telephoned at 4.0—M. came to the telephone and said she was reading by a fire and was not in bad pain. Feel anxious.

26th. Friday.

Rang up at 7.0 a.m. and heard a baby boy had been born at 2.15 a.m. Children fearfully excited tho’ Rosemary mystified and looks all round for the baby! Sent telegram to Reg. and wrote letters. Reg. arrived here lateish in the evening.

27th.

Reg. saw Marg. twice.

28th. Sun.

It poured yesterday (1st thaw we’ve had for ages) and then froze and the trees are covered with icicles. Reg. went in the car yesterday, but to-day all the covers are frozen stiff to it. He got a bus, but in evening roads like glass and no buses running and he could not go to say goodbye to her. We have hardly a scrap of coal, had to borrow some from Ella. It was ordered a week ago. I have an awful cold.

Mrs. Leach stopped yesterday. Said she had so enjoyed being here and was very sorry to leave.

29th. Monday.

Reg. had early breakfast alone and went away. Florence came at 7.30. Her husband is going to join the army, so she is coming back here—7.30–5.30, 15/7d a week. Deep snow. We had breakfast and dinner as usual in kitchen, Florence with us. Can’t use dining room as it’s so cold. It’s the severest winter since 1894—awful. I haven’t skated, but there is skating everywhere. We’ve had over a month of intense cold and I’m sick of it.

Robert’s book is going into a 2nd edition. Splendid.

30th.

1st visit to Margaret. Lovely.

31st.

Lovely music recital (Brahms) by M. Bowman-Smith at Townswomen’s Guild. Liberal meeting in evening. V. small.

 

February 1940

1st.

Let Florence off for day to see Smith off to Abingdon.

4th. Sun.

Smith arrived while we were having dinner in kitchen with Florence, so he had it too. I went to see M. Alas, she has phlebitis in leg and has a good deal of pain.

5th.

Florence gave notice "as her house is getting dusty"!! I’m much annoyed for she is getting on well. I’ve been too kind!!

6th.

Ruth and I to see Yvonne Arnaud in "What say they". Rather disappointed.

7th.

My birthday. Got lots of lovely presents and letters—missed F’s! but he left an umbrella for me.

8th.

Marg. should have come back but could not.

10th.

Muriel, children and I to cottage at last to get things for M. Took sandwiches. Cold.

13th.

I went to Foot Hospital being treated with radiant heat and massage for arthritis on right foot. I forgot to say that Florence left on the 11th. On 12th. I got a Mrs. Rabbits—she came for 3 days and did very well and on the 15th sent a message that one of her children was ill—bronchitis and whooping cough. The next few days were awful. The children had been poorly with temperatures, so M. had to be put off from coming home yesterday. I went to get her and the baby (Jonathan) this morning. Muriel who has been invaluable, had to leave in aft.

16th.

I had to go to Foot Hospital. It hurts. Felt poorly. Temp. over 100 in evening, but stayed up till after supper as Reg. came. He was helpful with coal etc.

17th.

Fortunately I felt nearly alright. R. to see Stallards. Deep snow.

18th.

Reg. left in morning—much snow.

19th.

Thank Heaven a thaw is beginning. Jan. and Feb. have been nearly continued frost and snow and miserable months in heaps of ways. I have heard once or twice from F. from the boat (they went from Naples) and heard on 5th that they had arrived safely in America and that was a very great relief, but I do miss him so.

Mrs. Leach came again to help—v. nice.

20th.

I had bad headache a good part of day, and R. not v. well either.

22nd.

Miss Hilda Jewson came in aft. to help—so stopped Mrs. Leach.

23rd.

W.I.L. meeting to form branch in Reading. Barbara Duncan-Harris spoke. Evening R. and I to Rep to see "Cornellius" by Priestley. Excellent. Amusing and sad too. Office life.

24th.

Miss Jewson getting on pretty well. M’s leg improving, but she still keeps it up a lot. R. Rowland, Rosemary and I to cottage in morning—actually hood down. What a change from a week ago. Rosemary went to sleep coming back.

25th.

I think we went back to Summer time round about then.

Rob. and Beatrice to dinner. R. spoke on ‘Civil Liberties’ to some of the students in aft. at Institute. V. good. Tea there and R. and B. came back to supper. They are both v. tired.

26th.

Book Club at Wallis’s on Letter Writers.

28th.

Townswomen’s Guild. I took Miss Jewson. Lecture on hay box by Mrs. Sergent. I bought it for 5/-!!

 

March 1940

1st. Friday.

I went to M. for Suff. and caught the 1.15 to Bath. Caro met me at 3.45 and we went to see wonderful Roman baths, etc. and had a high tea in the town. It was lovely and sunny, but very cold. Caro has not been well, but has managed to keep going, tho’ many of the children and staff are ill.

2nd.

C. found me a very comfortable boarding house almost opposite the school. I had breakfast in bed and about 11.0 went to the school. Miss Huntley let Caro off for the day, so we got a very good vegetarian lunch in town, then Mr. Higgs (the minister with whom and his wife C. lodges) took us a beautiful drive as he is allowed extra petrol, nearly to Bradford on Avon. Tremendous hills, and glorious views. Bath is a very beautiful city. C. and I went to the town afterwards, had a meal, then to theatre to see ‘Hay Fever’ by Noel Coward. V. poor.

3rd. Sun.

C. and I to meeting. Old Agnes Yates (used to be in N/C) there. Then to Alice Allen’s lovely house to lunch. A Colonel there. Called on Dolly Valpy. Walked back to tea at the school with the children in kitchen. Then C. took some of them for hymns and we went to the B. House for supper and had it with 2 men who are working at the Admiralty which has been evacuated to Bath.

4th. Mon.

I went to say goodbye to C. but stayed for morning seeing children at their lessons. C. is a wonderful teacher and they are so fond of her. Left about 11.30, got home 2.30. Have had a lovely week-end. Play Hour.

5th. Tues.

Miss Jewson left in aft. She has been most helpful and kind. I took Marg. and Jonathan to cottage (laden with luggage) in car. Fortunately fine and while she unpacked I aired blankets etc. Scare of rat in bedroom. Worked hard with short rest for hasty meal until children arrived about 5.0 (for tea) with Ruth. They came by bus. Ruth and I left soon afterwards to get home before dark. I do hope poor Marg. will get on alright.

Next 2 days were very busy clearing up, but Ruth and I had a happy time together. I got Mrs. Leach again for mornings, 8d an hour.

On Friday 8th she went for weekend to Rugby to stay with Jack and Isabel, and I went to York—had to go by London. Arrived 4.30 and Bertha and Betty met me with car. Lovely to see them. Delightful evening. Bowes arrived about 8.0. B. has 2 excellent German refugee maids and a young English girl.

9th.

Lovely breakfast in bed. I went to see Edna. Aft. Dolmetsch concert and Bowes took me to see the marvellous museum. B. and I awful bicycle ride!! Cold and drizzly. She is plucky to do it with her bad hip and she suffers so much and is never irritable. Aft. we all motored (having managed to borrow petrol) to Welburn to tea with Dia, Patrick and Hedley. I did like the house. Patrick sweet.

11th.

Shopped with B. and Dia who came in to breakfast and for the day. After B. had a sewing party of old Mount scholars. Bowes went away.

12th.

Returned home, B. and Betty taking me to station. I have had a glorious time, all so kind and spoiling and it is so luxurious and "Marta" cooks so beautifully. Sent suitcase, as had heavy jar of honey and enormous cake to carry. Betty is so unselfish and such fun. Got to an empty house at 4.0—had tea, went to see Ella, and at 6.30 got telephone message that F. was on his way home. Could hardly believe it, tho’ knew he would be at Genoa yesterday. Fearfully excited. He arrived about 8.0 in a taxi and as I met him said "I’ve been living for this moment ever since I went away". He had heaps to tell me and it was perfect to be together again. He had had a good journey, "Comte de Savoie" to Genoa, well looked after, then train to Paris and flew thence to London. Karlin is still in America. F. seems to think the mission to America has been well worth while—they met 2 Senators Capper (Burle)—chief permanent Sec. of State Department, and Thomas and all the leading Friends, Clarence Pickett and Edward Evans, also Hugh Wilson, State Dept.

13th.

Ruth came home in aft. En route went to interview at Brentford. Felt poorly and went to bed. Has had a v. nice time, but gland was gathering up and hurt (later Dr. said it would probably keep on doing this for some time).

14th.

M’s birthday. Ruth and I spent a happy day at cottage with her and bairns.

16th. Sat.

Caro came home about 7.30—I met her. Broken up early as so much illness at the school. Lovely to have her. She has really left, but expects to go back to help for a fortnight. Her engagement to Joe is now public. Ruthie went to London to go with Norman to O.S. dance. She had on a lovely new "Love in the Mist" dress and looked so pretty.

17th. Sun.

Pouring. F. has not been feeling v. well so none to meeting.

18th.

Mrs. Leach and I started spring cleaning our bedroom—finished 3 days later—as she is only here 2 or 3 hrs.

19th.

F. to cottage by bus. Had not yet seen baby J.

21st.

R. to Cookery class. F. C. and I to "Gaslight". Most exciting "thriller".

22nd. Good Friday.

All of us by car to cottage. Fine but dull. Children lovely, waited on gate about 2 hrs. for us. I took the dinner and we had it picnic fashion. For tea we began the huge Simnel cake B. had given me. F. and I gardened a bit.

25th. Easter Mon.

C. to stay night at Ursula’s.

27th.

D. Groom and Erica his wife spoke of their mission to India in Institute.

28th.

Cottage with C. She is terrible unhappy—does not know if she can face China. She weeps and weeps and clings to me and I am in despair.

29th.

Miss Brameld, on the Committee of the British F. University Women came for 2 nights.

 

April 1940

1st.

C. went to see Miss Rutherford in London—at L.M.S.

6th.

Rob. and Beatrice for week-end. V. delightful.

7th.

Meeting. B. has joined Friends. R. sang a lot.

8th.

Last foot treatment at Foot Hospital. Thank goodness. I think it’s rather better.

9th.

C. Ruth and I to Tribunal for C.O.’s. They are (so far) treated better than in last war.

15th.

To Madam Prender. My feet really are better now, for time being.

16th.

Thick ice on bird bath—also some snow. What a winter we have had—cold since before Xmas.

17th.

Book Club here—first for over a year here. Last for Robsons who are going to Penn Club alas. Coffee so good some had 3 cups!! C. and R. helped well. "Humorists" (modern).

18th.

Cottage. Wet and cold. R. to interview at Aylesbury. Didn’t get post. Stayed night.

22nd.

C. and I in aft. (better weather at last and things getting green slowly) by car after dinner to see "Nora Waln" (Mrs. Osland-Hill) at Fulmer, nr. Gerrards X. Went by Slough and Stoke Poges. She was interesting, but it wasn’t a great success. She wrote "House of Exile". We only get 5 gals of petrol a month.

23rd.

F. and Caro to London to L.M.S. people. They won’t decide about her till June.

24th.

F. C. R. and I to see "100 years old". V. good. It is a charming play, translated from Spanish—v. amusing but full of good stuff.

25th. Thurs.

C. went back to Bath. My heart aches for her—she is so terribly unhappy and one cannot help. Whether she goes to China or stays, both alternatives are awful and conditions in Shanghai not like they were before the Sino-Jap. War. She sobs and looks at me in a terror-stricken way. She hardly eats and sleeps badly and sometimes I’ve been almost afraid for her reason.

27th.

R. spent day with Mr. Thomas at Oxford. I don’t approve! ‘Mrs. Leach’ left at end of last week, as baby expected in a fortnight. No help at present.

29th.

Reading Rep "Festival Times".

 

May 1940

2nd.

Excellent concert Griller String Quartette. Mozart.

3rd.

Meeting for Sufferings. I to see "Gone with the Wind" at cinema—3½ hrs. V. good indeed.

4th.

Ruth and I to cottage. She to refugee party in evening. F. has been to London every day. The pyrus Japonica at the Cottage is a marvellous show of colour.

5th. Sunday.

F. and I by 9.0 train to London to conference at Friends’ House on Liberty. It began yesterday and this morning Robert spoke excellently on Liberty from the Legal side. He was amusing too. I felt v. proud of him. There was a large audience and a lot of questions and discussion. We had lunch with him and Beatrice and then listened to Harrison Barrow who didn’t keep to his subject! I left after tea—F. later. Ruth had had Roland Jones to tea and he stayed to supper. V. Welsh. A Dijon friend. I forgot to mention that a few weeks ago Reg. got a post at Saffron Walden to begin in Sept. We are so pleased about it.

6th.

At last I have got a maid—Mrs. Allen—£1 weekly plus insurance, 7.15–6.0. She was at the Robsons. It is a relief to have one.

7th.

F. introduced deputation to Council to try to get them to rescind their resolution penalizing C.O.’s. He was, as E. B. Castle said, "superb"—strong and clear, but courteous. Exciting debate (Ruth and I in gallery) but lost 19–24.

9th.

R. and I and Mrs. Jackson to Cottage in aft. Glorious day. Tea out. M. is so sweet and so pretty.

10th.

I have not been referring to politics, but this awful war grows worse and worse. Germany invaded Finland which resisted nobly but had to give in (first Poland) then Norway where Allies helped, but had to retire and to-day we heard she has invaded Holland and Belgium and Luxembourg and bombed some of Switzerland. It’s too horrible. Glorious warm weather and country so lovely that it’s hard to believe such dreadful things are happening.

A few days ago postage up from 1½ (2 oz) to 2½ and 2d instead of 1d for a post-card. It is awful, and before the Great War the former used to be 1d. And income tax is now 7/6 in the £ and it was 1/3 at the beginning of the last war. Caro came home for week-end. R. and I met her with car. She seems better and more cheerful and happier.

13th.

Whit Monday, but Govt. suddenly decided it should not be a holiday. Winston Churchill has just been made Prime Minister instead of Neville Chamberlain. I let Mrs. Allen off in aft. (she has a baby and the step-mother looks after him) and F. C. Ruthie and I went to Mapledurham in car, top way. Where a road goes off to left, and another downhill to Mapled. We found a stile a little way down the hill (was a farm), crossed the field and got thro’ barbed wire to the wood. The bluebells were at their best and looked heavenly in the sunshine. We returned to tea and C. had to go back to Bath about 7.0 It was lovely having her.

14th.

Ruthie to London for night to see some of her friends. F. and I went to the cottage.

16th.

John Dix to tea—first time for ages.

18th.

I went to cottage, as M. may have to leave soon. She was surprized to see me.

20th.

Saw Ruth off after lunch to Weymouth where she is going to help in a café and guest house—post got thro’ advt. V. plucky of her. Felt very depressed, so F. and I went to see "Black Coffee" an exciting play by Agatha Christie, but I was so sleepy I went to sleep in the middle.

21st.

F. to Y.M. Mrs. Allen and I spring-cleaned drawing room. I paid calls.

22nd.

I went after tea (unexpectedly) to cottage for night. Mrs. A. and Mrs. Painton spring-cleaned dining room.

23rd.

Rowland’s birthday. He got lovely presents and was sweet over them. I did enjoy being there on his birthday and had made a choc. cake for tea with 6 candles on it. I got back in time to hear the Griller Sting Quartette—played Mozart beautifully. F. is at Y.M. every day. King of Belgians has surrendered, and a little bit ago Queen Wilhelmina and rest of Dutch Royal Family fled to England. The war is growing worse and worse and our soldiers are having a terrible time trying to retreat from Flanders.

24th.

C.’s birthday. I sent her a large choc. cake and a hair brush.

25th. Sat.

F. and I to Y.M. Peace Session. V. good. Serious Y.M. Wilfrid Littleboy (Clerk) excellent. H.G. Wood rather appalling, but best to speak out. Old Jos. Southall always good and amusing. Robert Mennell splendid. Reg., Rob. B. and I had lunch and tea tog. Chrissie M. lunch also. I came home by 7.55, F. later still.

26th. Sun.

V. wet, but cleared in evening and F. and I went to cottage and brought back huge trunk; and pram inside the car.

27th. Mon.

I went early to cottage, (having brought most of the luggage last week) and very reluctantly on my part we locked the place up as M. and children are leaving. I shall miss them terribly; it has been lovely seeing them every week. Rowland always said first thing "Come and see the garden, Granny". Both he and Rosemary love flowers and know a lot about them. After dinner a hired car came very late and Mar. and Jonathan went off to London in a packed car. Started about 4 and got there 6.30. M. pleased to see her friends again. We have Rowland and Rosemary here.

30th.

Last lunch hour Griller String Quartette concert.

31st.

Took children (with F.) by 4.25 steamer to Pangbourne. Great excitement. Took their tea, and F. and bought ours on board. Got back at 1/4 to 7. Children tired, but straight to bed.

 

June 1940

2nd. Sun.

Took children to children’s Meeting. Rosemary had not been before (she is not 4 yet) but was good, only stood whole time. I came out early and took them home.

5th.

F. and I took children to cottage. Gardener there. Wild excitement at first, but afterwards we were busy and the poor bairns got tired. Rosemary dropped to sleep in car coming home.

6th. Thurs.

F. to London. Children and I also by 2.20, Mrs. Allen seeing us to bus. Boiling hot, train full and v. late, and we had a heavy case and push chair etc. Thankful to be met by Marg. at Pad. (looking v. pretty) and after 3 buses got to Blake Rd. Garden nice, but house ready for moving. Jonathan sweet and can roll.

7th.

Meeting for Sufferings. Home to tea. Rob. and Beatrice in evening.

8th. Sat.

R. B. and F. busy over R’s book about conscience. Aft. at 2.30 we motored to Lake in Aldermaston Woods, and R. B. and I had a delicious warm bathe. Then to cottage and a late tea with lettuce and strawberries from garden. Got home about 9.0 and had milk and biscuits. Lovely day.

9th. Sun.

F. to Meeting—I to P.P.U. and F.o.R. Conference at L.P. James Joyce (friend of Rob’s) an economist, spoke most interestingly, but rather depressing. All nations so selfish. Evening played Badminton.

10th.

R. and B. went after early breakfast. I have cold and lumbago. Italy has joined the war on Germany’s side.

Mary and Caro Pollard at the cottage, June 1940. 'Mother caught unawares'.

Mary and Caro Pollard at the cottage, June 1940. 'Mother caught unawares'.

11th.

Mrs. Allen and I for day to cottage which we spring-cleaned.

12th.

Bad cold, but took F. in car to M.M. at Henley. Went by Sonning, back by Wargrave.

13th.

Am missing the grandchildren fearfully—little Rosemary’s "I want you"! F. in London, so aft. I went to see Ralph R. in "The Night of the Fire", a gruesome film. He is a barber, steals money and murders a man. Scene in Newcastle.

14th.

Still hot and fine. Germans have entered Paris. F. and I to Tweedies to tea.

15th.

Woodleys went to cottage for week. Caro came home in evening having been at Molly Ingles and Peter’s wedding.

16th. Sun.

I stayed with C. She played a pipe she had made. In evening she sang beautifully. She has been so sweet, and loving and interesting. Gave me box of choc’s!

17th.

I had breakfast at 7.0—F. went to see me on to bus, but we missed it (I was ready in plenty of time) so I had to go to station and wait for 8.20. Crowded—had to sit on suitcase. Got to Blake Rd. hot and tired at 10.0 and found Marg. and children at Mrs. Hassalls. She gave us coffee. M. children and I left furniture removers to finish alone, and started ¼ to 11.0 for Liverpool St. 11.50 to Saffron Walden. Reg. met us and we walked to "The Sunflowers", Victoria Gardens. Charming little house and large attractive garden. Jonathan like an angel all day. V. hot. Furniture arrived about 3 p.m. I shopped for M. and we all worked till 10 p.m. even Rowland helping with pantry. I slept downstairs.

18th. Tues.

Reg. left about 7.0. M. and I v. busy all day. Leila came to see us. Alas in evening there was a raid. Terrific noise—German aeroplane shot down 5 miles away. I woke M. but she went to sleep again. I was terrified. There is an aerodrome 2 miles away and we had hoped the country would be safe.

19th.

Yesterday Hitler began his attack on England. Letter from F. and lovely but sad ones from R. and B. Leila came. I went to tea with her and saw over the splendid school. Rowland started at nice elementary school.

20th.

We are at last getting the rooms a bit tidy. I had to leave at 1.0 so early dinner. Gave M. breakfast in bed, she looks so white and tired. I hate leaving her and the precious children—Rosemary is so sweet—all alone, but Reg. is going for week-end. After months of seeing them once a week I shall miss them terribly. They used to wait on the gate for an hour or more when we were expected at cottage. Tiring journey. Trains packed with evacuees. Home about 5.30. Joyful to see Frank again.

21st.

Went to see Mrs. Leach and baby. Also town and evening F.o.R. and P.P.U. meeting. F. as usual excellent chairman. Castle, Nicholson and Fawcett spoke interestingly.

22nd.

Rain at last and it is needed. Aft. F. and I to cottage. Picked over 7 lbs. red currants and a lot of peas etc. Soaked.

23rd. Sun.

Still pouring. We’ve had marvellous weather for weeks. F. spoke beautifully in Meeting.

24th and 25th.

Air raid warnings.

26th.

Cottage alone, missed the children and M. desperately—Rowland’s "Granny come and see the garden" and Rosemary following me about and digging little holes, and the baby’s smiles, and M’s fire and lovely dinner. Worked hard. Gardener there. Chilly day.

27th.

Lovely day. F. and I to Guildford. Warm welcome and garden exquisite.

28th.

"The Oak and the Poplar" at L.P. written by Duncan Wood. Clever and almost beautiful in parts. About L.P. from 1890. It is the Jubilee this year.

29th.

F. and I breakfast at 7.0. Caught 8.5 bus at Station (only 4/6 return). Were deposited outside Friends’ House at 10.10. National Peace Council conference. Extremely interesting. Joad admirable chairman and speakers Carl Heath, Rev. Carter, Vera Brittain, Sir Rich. Acland and Middleton Murry. Latter v. depressing. Had police looking over his papers etc. Good discussion, but the future looks rather hopeless. Marian Ellis spoke of shattered houses at Scalby. R. and B. came part of time—had tea with them.

30th. Sun.

Refugees from Channel Islands at Meeting—father, mother and 2 children. Only allowed 28 lbs. of luggage each and had to leave the furniture etc. which they will never see again.

Cablegram from Woods at Philadelphia asking M. (and me) and children to go there for the "duration". Very kind.

 

July 1940

1st.

V. hot. Letter from Caro. She says they had 4 raids last week—not just warnings. It’s awful.

2nd.

To Mrs. Saxton’s to tea at Emmer Green.

3rd.

Poor Mrs Kirk has had her house raided.

4th.

F. in London (most days this week). Depressed letter from C. Rang her up.

6th.

Kate Morrell for the night. Some rain.

9th. Tues.

F. gave a lunch hour address at F. House in London, came home for hasty tea, and we departed at 6.0 for Weymouth. Ate supper in train. Ruthie met us at 10.30 p.m. Lovely to see her. We drove in taxi about 1½ miles to the "Nineteenth", Overcombe, and went to bed.

10th.

I believe we had an air raid warning last night. Anyway they were quite constant during our stay! The guest house is lovely, right on cliff, with very nice garden, but bedrooms tiny. Mrs. Symes is taking us at rate of 3 guineas a week. Excellent food. 2 dinners a day and R’s lovely cakes and scones at tea. V. wet, but 2 short walks, one along wall nearly to Weymouth and other to Sutton Poyntz, pretty village. R. came too.

11th.

Raid warnings 8.0 a.m., also 12.0 a.m.

R. had day off, so by 10.30 train to Dorchester. Lovely and fine but v. windy. Walked to Maiden Castle. Wonderful and huge prehistoric fort. On way had warning. Soldiers said about 12 German planes over Weymouth. Heard later that 3 or 4 were brought down. Grand view. Lunch. Back to Dorchester. Saw church and F. museum. Back to Weymouth and tea there at 5.0. In night wakened with great crash of bombs and firing and saw search lights from our window, but stayed in bed.

12th.

Unfortunately poured. F. and I to Weymouth. Evening R. and I lovely walk to downs.

13th. Sat.

Breakfast at 8.0—left R. with much regret, but went to Bath to see Caro. Train late owing to warning (we didn’t hear it!). Got to school where we are staying at 12.30—C. looks v. tired, but they are having such bad nights with warnings. We took her to good lunch at vegetarian shop. Warning in the middle of it, but we went on with it! Then to Botanical Gardens, and then to another garden to listen to band and then tea. Up to school (children all came—about 12 of them) to say goodnight to us in our bedroom and hugged F! Took C. to theatre to see amusing, rather vulgar, play called "It’s a boy".

14th. Sun.

Showery, but mostly fine, but cold. Meeting. F. and I to Roman Baths. Dinner at school. Dr. Chas. Marsh came for us in car at 4.15 and took us all three to tea at his beautiful home. Only his wife and a painter there. 3 warnings in the night!! Heard the children sing hymns beautifully with a descant before going to bed. 35 Oldfield Rd. has lovely garden.

15th.

I forgot to say that we spent Sunday aft. writing letter to L.M.S. who had just written to C. to say they sanctioned her engagement and were taking a passage to China for August. It’s ridiculous and the situation between China and Japan is very bad. I got an awful shock and could hardly sleep with weeping on Sat. night. We left Caro, like R., with great regret and got home to a nice lunch. It seems peaceful in Reading. Poor C. I am sorry for her. She is so sweet and teaches so well. It seems a pity for her to have to give it up.

It is cold and wet now, such a change after dry warm weather.

17th.

To cottage by bus. Lambden took down the corrugated iron and put up trellis and wood. Cottage has been all done up inside (3 rooms) by Cottrell and looks lovely. Pale cream and beams exposed. It was in an awful state. I brought back potatoes, lettuce, beets, celeriac, turnips etc.

18th.

Book Club at Muriel Stevens today. Adieu to V.W. Alexander.

19th.

Free Church Council. Cookery hints.

20th.

Mrs. Timms, 2 of her cousins, Mrs. Jackson and I in aft. to Goring Heath. Took tea.

23rd. Tues.

Victor Alexander to stay with us, as Beth is in the Lakes and their furniture was moved there today.

(15th)

M. wrote of terrific crash and flash—500 lb. bomb dropped in wood a mile away.

24th.

W.I.L. at Rawlings’s. Mrs Kirk gave graphic description of the searching of her house and of a visit to a National Civil Liberties Conference.

25th. Thursday.

A most harassing day. F. in London. During dinner with Victor Alexander Bowes telephoned to ask if he could come and see us. Of course I said ‘yes’, delighted. He hasn’t been for some years. Later during dinner Caro telephoned (and was crying so that I could hardly hear) that Joe had answered her cablegram by saying "Come August" or something of the sort, so Miss Huntley was letting her off a week early. I was, naturally, terribly upset. In the afternoon Mrs. Allen was out, so I had to prepared Caroline’s room for Bowes. Mrs. Archibald and a nice sister of hers who has lived in China came to tea and didn’t leave till nearly 6.0. I had to put off visitors for to-morrow, get a meal ready, F. arrived after 6.0 and soon afterwards Bowes. We played "bonus" in evening and he enjoyed it!

26th.

I took Bowes walk thro’ town—it is fascinating going with him. Left him at Museum and met Caro at 12 o’clock. Aft. Bowes rested, and F. and I had a tearful time with C. Bowes left after tea, as I couldn’t keep him now C. is needing help etc.

27th.

Ruthie came home in time for lunch. Poured in morning. I met her. Lovely to have her and Caro back.

29th.

Beatrice turned up unexpectedly to lunch. She went after tea, and Victor left us too. He gave me a magnificent bunch of carnations. Has been so nice.

30th. Tues.

Caro and I went by 10.5 to London. Straight to L.M.S. She saw Miss Rutherford (a Rev. and Sec.) then Mr. Chirgavin, and I had helpful talk with Miss R. She has given C. (my suggestion) a time limit to make up her mind about going to China (till the 3rd). Anyway she can’t go in August as there isn’t time for inoculations etc. and next boat will be Oct. going round by Cape.

Met Rob. for lunch, then as C. was happier went to Liberty’s Sale and got wonderful bargains and chose an engagement ring there—also bought shoes. etc. Most successful time. Home to supper.

 

August 1940

1st.

Mrs. Robbins and Jill to lunch. Ruth and I to Mansfield House Hotel to dinner with Olive and James Macartney.

2nd. Fri.

C. in tears in bed, but letter from Joe (a sweet one) cheered her and she finally decided to go to China in Oct.—wrote to L.M.S. and sent cable to Joe "coming darling October" after which she was much happier. R. and B. arrived in evening.

3rd.

Our wedding day. F. gave me choc’s and put on "Mary with the love and gratitude of thirty-six years, Frank", so sweet of him. Unhappily he had to go to London, but as the weather is glorious again R. B. C. Ruth and I spent aft. on river, then had nice bathe at Freebody’s and got back to delicious high tea with Frank. Ruth had made a choc. Austrian cake! C. began to get unhappy again.

5th.

R. and B. went.

6th. Tues.

C. and I to cottage to stay. R. had to sleep 2 nights alone at C. Av. as she was going for interview in London (Middleham).

8th.

Ruth came early to cottage.

9th.

F. spent day in Reading (court etc). Lovely walk on moors. We have found 2 beautiful new walks.

10th.

Walked to Charter Abbey. Have picked heaps of plums. Glorious weather.

11th. Sun.

Home to dinner—R. by bus. Leila Sparkes, John and Janet R. to tea.

13th.

C. and I to London, to Vardon Shipping Agent etc. Also L.M.S. where C. saw Rev. Spaull (psychology).

14th.

C. and I cottage. Picked 60 lbs. Plums, took them to Univ. and sold them.

16th.

R. and B. for night. R. spoke to P.P.U. and F.o.R. on Liberty. Train v. late owing to air raid somewhere.

17th. Sat.

R. and B. F. and I to cottage early. Perfect hot day, and R. and B. so tired that we ‘lazed’ all afternoon. They are delighted with the place and R. began to feel better at once. Last night German planes flew over it (or near) and did a good deal of damage at Basingstoke, but it seemed very peaceful while we were there. We left C. Norman Kirby and R. at home. He arrived about 10.30 a.m.

18th. Sun.

Walk to Charter Abbey after early tea. Saw ruined house—perhaps by bombs. Got about 1lb. blackberries.

19th.

F. and I returned in morning by bus.

20th.

Book Club at Dilks. General Knowledge test!

21st.

R. and B. arrived in morning from cottage and went on to London.

22nd.

C. and I to cottage in aft. Ruth and Norman cycled there in morning and had dinner there. Many plums, etc. Went out and got 2 lbs. blackberries.

24th.

Norman went away in aft. he is very nice. Yesterday C. and I made jam etc. at University and learnt how to ‘can’ fruit.

27th.

I had not gone to sleep nor had C. but Ruth and F. had, when suddenly we heard an awful explosion. All got up and went to the Hall for a bit, but no more occurred. It was alarming.

28th.

C. R. and I started for cottage at 9.0 and had a perfect day there. Picked remainder of plums (have had about 200 lbs—all v. good flavour), some veg’s etc. Gardener (Lambden) there in morning. Dinner and tea in garden. Long rest. V. hot. Then car to Waring Wood and lovely short bathe. Lake exquisite with reflections. Blue dragon-fly on my toe! Huge blackberries. Got home ¼ to 8.

30th. Friday.

C. R. and I by 10.8 to London to shop. Train ½ hr. late. Took Tube to near St. Paul’s and before getting out air raid warning. As all shops and tubes close, we had to go to a shelter. When ‘all clear’ nearly lunch time. After that we went to Ryland’s wholesale clothing place and bought linen etc. and while getting towels saw the church and part of old Roman Wall which had been bombed. The towels were all damp, as to prevent the fire spreading the hose had been turned on to the room where they were. While here there was our 2nd warning and we had to go down to the shelter for 20 mins. Then to another shop—C. tried on night-gowns—3rd raid began, so had to abandon them. Buses still running—took one to Oxford St. Did not go to shelter, but sat on plank (in spite of danger) outside Waring and Gillow’s, till 5.45 when ‘All clear’ went. Rushed to B. and Hollingsworth’s, but closed just after 6.0. Then good cheap tea at Woolworths, and met F. at 7.0 outside Queen’s Hall. C. had never been to a Prom. Got excellent 3/- unreserved seats front row of 2nd balcony, only had to wait for ½ hr. before doors opened. Prom. began at 8.0. mostly Beethoven. Myra Hess played in concerto, and May Harrison violin. Beautiful. After last item 4th raid warning—asked to keep seats. We meant to catch 11.10 p.m. train, so came out at 10.30, but tho’ some buses still running (raid still on ) we could not get one or a taxi to Paddington, so went to a shelter in a gramophone shop. They put on records and one or 2 people danced—C. and R. danced tog. Went out to see if bus available, but German plane above drove us back. At last in desperation decided to walk to Pad. Rather horrid in dark, with search lights on. When nearly there, got taxi, then into train about 1.0 a.m. Soldiers in carriage too. At about 1.30 heard bombs, sounding too close, and man with megaphone called "Planes are just above: everyone take cover immediately". I anyway felt terrified, for roof of station all glass, but soldiers said "Sit where you are, you’ll be alright" and presently train steamed slowly out. Got back to Reading about 3.0 a.m. and got our car out of Vincent’s garage and C. drove us home.

 

September 1940

2nd.

F. R. and I went in a punt at Kennet’s mouth for an hour.

3rd.

Ruth not v. well, but she and F. and I started for cottage at 2.30, the Castles with their 2 children following our car. R. got tea ready, while we went short walk in wood, then tea in garden and they left at 4.30. I think they enjoyed it. It was a perfect day. We left soon afterwards, first getting veg’s and blackberries. Aldermaston has had a lot of damage done.

4th.

Caro went to see Rev. Spaull at Highgate and then on to stay with Marg. at S. Walden. She is so miserable, poor child.

5th.

F. has bad cold, but went to London. R. and I in evening to see "Wings of the Morning". Enjoyable. Story of gypsies and lovely Irish scenery, Killarney etc.

6th.

F. and I were going to M. for S. but just as we were approaching station siren went and gates were closed and we were sent to a shelter. ‘All clear’ in about ½ hr. but too late for me to go up. F. went as he had Committees too. He introduced a letter he had written and it was accepted at once and immediately typed and sent out to all the meetings. It seemed to me quite inspired. He had a Committee almost at once after getting back to Reading, and no supper till 10.30 and what with raid warnings and meals at odd times he got knocked up and on

7th.

was in bed all day, temp 100.

8th. Sun.

F. much better and down to tea. Warning in night and over 8 hrs. raid in London. Heaps of damage done and between 4 and 500 people killed and over 1000 injured. It is dreadful. Beautiful meeting. Eliz. Fox Howard. Ellen Cumber was taking children to Canada and was on torpedoed ship. All saved but purser.

9th./10th.

Robert telephoned that life in London was absolutely awful, far worse than the papers say. He and B. are in a shelter most of the night and hardly get any sleep, and she has just started a new job and has very hard work—9 till 7. or 7.30 and has a cold. It really is terrible for them.

F. is much better. Caro returned in late afternoon, much better and happier. We had invited some people to music at 8.0, but several fell thro’ partly owing to raids, of which we are having several warnings. However the Knox Taylors and Scott Blairs came and we had a v. nice evening, tho’ feeling v. unhappy about R. and B. for Caro gave a dreadful account of London, buildings destroyed, Madame Tussaud’s demolished, stations hit, and so on, a train wrecked, lines twisted.

But we enjoyed C’s pipe (which she made herself), Mrs. Blair’s recorders, and Mr. Blair’s singing and I played my small pipes. We had sandwiches and coffee and sausage rolls at 8.30.

10th.

Not feeling over well. Soon after going to bed bombs (near Kidmore End) but I had a cold and didn’t get up.

11th.

C. went to London for short shopping and got on quite well, returning with lovely things.

12th.

F’s birthday. Owing to postal delay, he only got the things we gave him and some sweets M. had sent by Caro. I let Mrs. Allen off for the day, and we all went to the cottage, and had a very nice time, tho’ it was not an ideal day. Got about 6 lbs.. blackberries.

13th.

Ella and Mrs. Newth (her cousin) to tea. F. C. and R. to Book Club at Frensham. I stayed in with bad cold. Raid warning at 9.0, so C. and R. kindly came back.

14th.

R. and B. came at ¼ to 8.0. They have had a ghastly time in London, perpetual raids—every night go to a shelter and hardly get any sleep, and B. is working hard at a new job. R’s office hit last night at the back (at least the blast hit it from 2 houses away I think) but not much damage to his storey. It’s appalling to hear of it all. Many hospitals hit, fearful damage to East End, St. Paul’s has huge time bomb close to it, Buckingham Palace damaged, docks fearfully damaged—part of Regent St. closed and so on. Lots of evacuees from London.

Aft. all 4 of us to see Shirley Temple in the "Blue Bird". Delightful. Lovely to have R. and B. safely with us for 2 nights. They, esp. B., look quite done up. Were just getting them off to bed early, when warning, but ‘All Clear’ soon came, so they had a bath and then a really good night.

15th.

Sun. took R. and B. breakfast about 9.30. and they stayed in bed till dinner time, so had a good rest.

16th.

R. and B. went early. I hate to think of them in London. Wet. We’ve had marvellous weather, but rain is very badly needed. Heard bombs in distance, and time bombs dropped at Woodley Aerodrome, only 50 yds. from where Collyer (man who looks after my car) was standing.

18th. Wed.

R. had expected to go to S. Walden, but had written to M. last Friday and asked her to telegraph, but telegrams are sometimes fearfully delayed and no answer had arrived in time. Caro, Mrs. Allen and I went to cottage (fine day) and went to order coal at Silchester at Butter’s. he told us that the 3 bombs we heard on Monday about 11.30 a.m. were at Pamber Heath—a girl and a woman killed and a bungalow completely smashed—we saw a lot of the partly ruined houses as we drove along. It is terrible. There was no warning. The planes just came out of the clouds and dropped the bombs. The cottage is unhurt. Mrs. Allen prepared dinner, swept and dusted and C. and I got over 47 lbs of huge apples, and got vegetables, etc. Dinner and tea out. Aft. picked blackberries and got home about 6.0 to hear that the Dr. doesn’t think C. well enough to go to China at present. V. depressing for her. Listened to ‘news’—terribly bad raid last night in London and during day. More big shops destroyed, many casualties etc.

19th.

Breakfast 7.45 as R. going to S. Walden in spite of a v. bad cold and fear of not being able to get across London. But afraid of M. worrying, as telegrams quite uncertain. V. sad news from Mrs. Dix of John’s sudden death on the 17th after getting his lung filled on way home from work—collapsed and died. Terrible for them and we all wept (except F.) for we were so fond of him. I really loved him ever since he stayed with us in Cornwall and he was so clever and amusing and sketched so well and so kind. It is sad. I saw R. off and ordered a wreath and went to see Mrs. Dix.

Robert has moved his office (for cheapness) to near Victoria.

21st.

F. C. and I went to John’s funeral at 10.30. Few there (Vice Chancellor was one) and nearly all men. C. and ‘Valda’ the only girls. Nice service and some lovely wreaths, but C. and I couldn’t help crying, it was so sad. R. got safely to S. Walden. Aft. F. and I cycled to the Loddon common for blackberries—got v. few for they were so small, but lovely day and we had our tea in the sunshine. Home before 6.0. R. and B. turned up unexpectedly about 8.45—v. nice. They had a bath and 9 hrs sleep, much needed.

22nd. Sun.

I had headache and only a cup of tea in bed. R. and B. breakfast in bed. Mrs. Timms to dinner. If only C. would talk to me and be happy again.

23rd.

Joan Francis, an old Mount School friend of Ruth’s came to stay as p.g. (30/- weekly) as she is expecting a baby in Feb. and living near Croydon is too dangerous. Ruth arrived back from S. Walden in aft. F. had Elders Committee in evening and Mrs. H.R. Smith sat with us, as nervous of being alone, and suddenly gt. bomb crash—I think it was near Pangbourne—and air raid warning (too late as usual!!).

25th.

W.I.L. meeting at Mrs. Kemp’s. She is wife of Head Master of Reading Grammar School. Ruth came with me. Tea (1d each cup and cake!) Bowes arrived in evening. Lovely to have him. F. went to Jordans for Committee (Friends House has had to be partly evacuated, as London is getting terribly bombed. Maples, Peter Robinsons, Lewis’s etc. completely destroyed) and was about 8 hrs. travelling and 2 hrs. there!!

26th. Thurs.

Bowes went early. R. to evening class at Univ. (economics). Letter about C. from L.M.S. F. Joan and I to hear Cyril Smith (piano). Excellent and delightful programme.

27th.

C. Joan and I went to cottage. R. had interview at H. and Palmer’s and cycled out in time for dinner which we had in garden—sausages, carrots and turnips, apple tart, etc. C. and J. did dinner while I talked to Lambden and gardened. Had a lovely day. Bought honey, got blackberries, and heaps of ‘bullaces’ and so on. Home about 6.30.

28th.

Joan went out with her husband, who came for week-end to bed and breakfast place. F. went to Wellington to stay with Lloyd Fox and see ‘Spiceland’. R. and B. arrived about 8.15, v. sweet.

29th. Sun.

R. and B. slept in our room, and I in Ruthie’s—she with Joan. Gt. crash after going to bed and air r. warning, and windows shook, so I came down and slept on drawing room sofa. Ruthie and I to meeting. Joan out for day with Mr. Phillips. At 2.15 R. B. and I to cottage. Had a lovely time, tho’ weather only middling. Went by Silchester and saw the fascinating old church. The Vicar who had come for a service took us round—lovely pane of glass, the green from Rheims, and it had in it amethyst and cornelians—dry piscine near altar and a piscina where bread had been baked in an oven—the chair near pulpit made from oak 200 A.D.—Jacobean table under altar and so on. The poor Vicar had been up nearly all night (warden), 100 incendiary bombs had been dropped near to, some in Pitfield Lane where amphitheatre is. Fortunately no one damaged. Directly we got to cottage made fire, picked apples, tea 4.15 and alas had to leave the car as I am not licencing it again at present, and came home by 5.0 bus. Air raid warning, but we didn’t hear it!!

30th.

R. and B. went. Letter from M. She scolded Rosemary (aged 4) the other day and Rosemary went sadly upstairs and returned in ½ hr. with a bundle of socks and handkerchiefs etc. and said she was going to Granny. The darling! F. came home.

 

October 1940

3rd.

Yesterday F. went to London and Leicester—Friends committees moved there and Jordans as London getting so bombed. Meeting for Sufferings never held out of London since it began in Charles II’s reign—rather a pity it has to be; and I can’t go now. F. stayed 1 night at Letchworth with Karlin, next little way out of Leicester with a Mr. Vicars. I went to meeting of Mayor about community Centre in Oxford Rd., then to excellent concert, Griller String Quartette—Beethoven. They were all in air force uniform. This aft. while sitting in drawing room talking and sewing a gt. crash of bombs (no warning). House and windows shook. It gave us a fright. There have been bombs suddenly at night also. Some in Berkeley Av. badly damaged St. Saviour’s Hall—some at Woodley.

4th.

To cottage alone by bus. Gardener there. Pouring, but got veg’s, lit fire and had lovely peaceful time. Home by 2.15 and went to B.W.T.A. meeting. Interesting. Rev. Gowland spoke. I got warm welcome from Miss Swain (aged 85), Mrs. Pierson etc.

5th.

Fred Phillips (Joan’s husband) for week-end. C. not well. Joan and Caro have started a nursery class for evacuated children (2 to 5 yrs. old) at Community Centre at Whitley. Mornings 10–12.30.

8th.

I went to the Com. Centre from 12-2 to help with the dinners. We had 2 full lots and 1 small one, about 120 in all—mostly Jews from East End I think—fathers, mothers, children and babies—6d adult, 3d child. 2 good courses, meat, pot. veg. and baked bread pudding.

11th.

I had a lovely day alone at the cottage—went by ¼ to 9.0 bus, home by 5.0 bus. I think to-day we got Tortoisette Stove from Hawkers for dining room.

12th.

Ruth, F. and I meant to do the Pangbourne walk, and went to catch the train about 2.30—told it might be an hour late, so got bus about 3.0 but didn’t start the walk till about ¼ to 4. Trees lovely, but not as good a colour as sometimes. Had to hurry a bit, but lovely fresh day for walking. Got to Pangbourne after 5.30 and went to very nice house for tea, delicious home made cakes, 1/3 tea. (House on left as one goes into Pangbourne from Reading—close to centre). Closes at 6.0, so we were just in time. Had a long wait for bus—travelling is frightful and so crowded. (It took R. and B. 3½ hrs. to get to London from Reading one morning, instead of 40 mins! I suppose raid warning.) Found R. and B. had arrived, but gone straight to cinema for a treat!

13th.

Had Fraulein Loewenthal to tea. She gave us a splendid concert and was so nice. I went to Refugee evening with her at Institute.

18th.

Book Club at R. Moore’s—C. and Joan came too. (C. is spending 3 nights with Mrs. Reynolds as she is alone.) Reading of Robert’s wife—F. the Bishop and I Mrs. Armitage.

19th.

F. told me of Charles, Pauline and Robert’s death—it happened on the 16th I think. It really is too awful. We heard later that Stella is injured and in hospital. Just a fortnight ago I wrote to Charles for his birthday and he replied saying they were all well and very busy "but it is rather noisy". This wicked war. "Hetty and Jackson" 2 devoted servants were killed too. Poor Stella and poor Teresa. They were such a happy, united family and so good and kind and clever. Charles was one of my favourite cousins and has always been so jolly and kind.

Joan went home for week-end intending to stay if possible. Robert came soon after breakfast. Beatrice came last night. I went to cottage for afternoon.

20th. Sun.

I helped with refugees in evening. Joan came back in aft. as Coulsdon so noisy—gun near their house, etc.

21st.

Ruth started with the Brodrick Co.—furniture firm—evacuated to Christchurch Rd.

22nd.

Helped with dinners 12–2.30 at Community Centre. Over 200 evacuees, poor things, but such a business.

23rd.

W.I.L. here. About 12 came. F. read book by Wells aloud. Beatrice to London.

24th.

I to concert 1–2, Lionel Tertes (viola) accompanied by Muriel B. Smith. V. fine. F. to Sibford for night. Beatrice came back. She is working at Windsor.

25th.

Cottage. C. came in time for dinner. She and R. went to Badminton Club in evening. Robert came.

26th.

Air raid warnings at night. Mrs. Allen off all day as ‘John’s’ birthday.

27th. Sun.

I had to stay in from meeting as last night warned that ‘black out’ not good. Joan’s husband to supper (staying with Kyte in Warwick Rd) so 8 of us. V. tiring and I have lumbago. Joan announced at ¼ past 7.0 p.m. that she had decided to leave tomorrow and go to Haxby. Shabby. Air raid warning and bombs in distance. I slept badly.

25th.

I got breakfast ready by 7.0 for Joan and B. and R. had it too and shared taxi, B. going to Windsor, R. London. She has been v. nice but shd. not have left suddenly—v. hard on C. tho’ I’m glad she has gone. So I had to help C. with nursery school.

29th.

I had breakfast in bed. B. left. My back still bad, but went off suddenly a few days afterwards.

 

November 1940

5th.

R. and Beatrice sent me a new breakfast service.

6th.

To cottage. Back early, and C. and I went to W.I.L. to hear Miss Agatha Harrison on India. V. good indeed. Nehru has just been imprisoned. How stupid the English are, and we are supposed to be fighting for liberty. Evening R.C. and I went to Rep. (amateur) to see "Time and the Conways". V. good, by Priestley.

7th.

My gold crowned tooth and a root by it had to be taken out as the gold crown had come off. Had cocaine. Not as bad as I expected.

9th.

F. and I to Saffron Walden. Got thro’ London quite easily and arrived there about 2.0. Lovely to see the Dales again—all so sweet and bonny, and Jonathan so canny and standing alone already. Tea with them, and about 8.30 M. went to the school with us and we had supper there. Talked to kind Leila. Slept in ‘San.’ as safer than the Tower. V. comfortable, but raid warning, and bombs about 2 miles off during night rattled windows badly.

10th. Sun.

Rather wet. School breakfast at 8.0. To meeting—M. too. F. spoke. Dinner at school—rest—then to M’s for tea. She and Reg. went to hear F. speak to the school which he did very well and I stayed to be with children—they were not well to-day.

11th.

Left school and F. went home—I went to stay at ‘Sunflowers’. Rosemary feverish and Rowland has bad cough.

12th.

Children still poorly, but I went to tea at Mrs. Radley’s and she played to me.

13th.

Children a bit better—M. and I called on Mrs. Goadly. V. bad weather.

14th.

I left by 9.55 and got home at 5.0. Warning in London, but quite easy journey, tho’ line near Liverpool St. damaged, and lots of houses destroyed. Warm welcome from F. and Caro—the latter has just started a little class of 6 children—3½–4 years old at Mrs. Fawcett’s. Also welcome from Ruthie when she got home. It’s lovely to be at home again. C. F. and I went to Griller String Quartette concert.

15th.

Lecture on Friends’ way of doing business by H.R. Smith.

17th. Sun.

Call from Maisons who are going to Cambridge. One hen is laying nearly every day, which is good as eggs are 5d each. C. looks after them beautifully and loves them. I had to read Bible at refugee evening. 40 or 50 there.

18th.

Book club—Keats—at Rosamund Wallis’. F. good on his poetry. I read ‘Ode to Autumn’.

19th.

R’s birthday. She is 26. I tried to make it a nice day, but the war is so depressing and we had a warning in the evening and 2 or 3 nights ago there was a terrible bombing at Coventry—heaps of casualties—Cathedral destroyed etc. R. heard from Robert that on Monday, 10th, there was a bomb 20 yds. from his office—it destroyed all the windows and was very alarming. Also hit shelter. R. and B’s shelter has water in it and they have to sleep in the house. I am terrified for them.

20th.

Last night dreadful raid on B’ham. Miss Lowenthal came to stay as v. unhappy in her new situation.

21st.

Went to dentists twice to get new tooth and again in evening to fetch plate. In spite of no bottom plate, to Ella’s to tea with C. She showed us interesting old things.

23rd.

F. C. and I to Dix’s to tea. V. nice. Am sorry for them. Miss Loewenthal left. Gt. relief. R. and B. arrived.

25th.

R. and B. left.

27th.

Cottage alone. Lambden not there. Came back early and went to Townswomen’s Guild. Amusing play "Spinsters of Lush".

28th.

F. to London to conference called by Gerald Bailey about peace aims. Bishop of Winchester, Vera Brittain, etc. v. interesting. Evening he and I to hear Isolde Menges (violin). Beautiful. Sonata F. major Beethoven, Sonata G. minor Mozart and D. minor Brahms. I like the Beethoven best. Howard Ferguson played the pianoforte. Air raid warning, so C. and R. missed their classes. We’ve had a lot lately. B’ham has had a terrible raid. W. Sturge broken ankle. She and Evelyn dug out from debris. (One of our own bombs!)

29th.

I had tea with C.S. Stansfield in his bedroom. Mary out.

30th.

R. and B. in evening.

 

December 1940

1st. Sun.

While sitting in drawing room about 8.30 p.m. R. and B. on sofa, suddenly heard 2 bombs, no warning. Got fright. They were at or near Elm Rd.

6th.

Mr. and Mrs. Woodley and Roger aged 4, for week-end, arrived about 8.0. F. was at York, for M. for S. etc.—he went on Wednesday, and stayed at B. Croft.

7th.

Woodleys shopped. Aft. I went to Archaeological—Mr. Roberts on "Memorials of Old London". Extremely interesting and beautiful slides. I fear few of those old places will be left after this awful war. Leonard to tea, and Frank arrived while we were having it. C. and Mr. W. went to cinema.

8th. Sun.

Woodleys went off home by 6.20 p.m and arrived (we heard afterwards) in one of London’s worst raids. Happily they got home safely. We have much enjoyed having them here. Roger is sweet and was very good, but nervy and won’t leave his mother for a second. They are easy, very appreciative visitors.

11th.

F. went with me to cottage. Lambden probably going to give up and take on a whole time job. It is most depressing for garden at last getting into good order. We took home potatoes, turnips, artichokes, parsley, japonica, curly kale cabbage, lettuces and celeriac. Went back after nice dinner by 1.25 and Caro and I went to Whist Drive at Mc’Ilroys got up by Townswomen’s Guild. V. cold. I joined F. at M.M. which was most interesting.

14th.

L. Park speech day.

17th.

F. C. and I to tea at Dix’s. In evening Sidney Beck took Ruth for ½ hour’s walk after supper. I had never seen him till last night when they went to a dance. It seemed to be a memorable walk!!

18th.

Bowes for the night.

19th.

Marg. and the children arrived about 4.0. (Reg. has gone to his home). She got the 8.26 train from S. Walden and managed children and luggage all alone with 4 changes. Unfortunately pram got lost at Oxford, and didn’t turn up for 2 days, and most of her presents and the baby’s napkins were in it!

22nd. Sunday.

Sidney Beck to tea. I forgot to say that yesterday Ruth went to Andover to meet Norman and broke off what was almost an engagement with him. She arrived home between 11.00 and 12 p.m. (Sidney met her at station with hot tea) and was very tearful as N. had been very nice and rather distressed, but I do not think he has ever been really in love with her.

24th. Xmas Eve.

Busy, but no creams this year! Shops terribly crowded. Children sent letters up chimney and we sang Father’s carol. I went to Whitley in evening to buy a dress for Rosemary and ? for Jonathan. Ruthie came with me and was so sweet. She put her arm round me and told me that she is engaged to Sidney. He is a lucky man, and how I shall miss my ‘babbles’.

Beatrice and Rob arrived in evening. With great difficulty I secured them a bedroom next Mrs. Amesbury’s.

25th. Xmas Day.

We are very lucky to be all here (except Reg.) Rosemary is sleeping with us. V. pleased with her sock—I went in with her to see Marg. and Rowland and Jonathan. Gt. excitement. The 3 girls sang carols outside our bedroom, and for some of them Caro played her pipe. It was so lovely, and quite touching. Mrs. Allen came all day—breakfast at 8.30 and most of the presents. Yule Doos good! F. gave me a log basket for cottage, C. a pair of bed socks knitted by herself in secret, R. a lovely teapot, R. and B. bird book, M. and Reg. seeds and soap and Rowland a little mat and card he had made—Rosemary a card. Bertha £5, Evie 10/- to F. and me and Jeanie a green scarf.

Excellent dinner, turkey, veg’s, eggs in aspic for R. and B., mince pies, pudding and strawberry trifle with a little bottled cream on top. It was a much easier day for me than last Xmas, as I have a good maid. At tea we had what was to have been C’s wedding cake, made several months ago. Then crackers, tree and carols—children all lovely. In morning R. and B. went for a drink and Sidney and Ruth joined them. They liked him.

26th. Boxing Day.

R. and B. went directly after breakfast. C. not well, feverish. Children all have colds and coughs. Mrs. Allen had day off, only came to breakfast and to prepared veg’s etc. F. and I looked after children and Marg. and Ruth went off for day, first day M. had been away from children for many months. They walked from Riseley to the cottage and got there about 1.30—lit fire and read. Got home about 6.0.

28th. Sat.

Ruthie in great excitement. Got officially engaged in aft. and chose lovely ring, large sapphire with a diamond each side—they then ‘celebrated’ by tea, pantomime, supper at Sally’s and she came in about 11.30 I think to our bedroom to tell me about it.

29th. Sun.

Sidney came to meeting and spent day here. F. and I had a talk with him and liked him v. much. He is nearly a year younger than R. and is in the Army Pay Corps. Home is Gillingham in Kent. He is evidently good and clever and thoughtful and seems much in love, tho’ he and R. have only known each other a few weeks—they met at a Badminton club. Want to be married in June. Only getting about £250 a year at present. It’s not ideal from our point of view, but R. is so very happy, and sure we shall like him and I think we shall.

Rowland began with measles—temp. over 103. I got Dr. Macfarlane yesterday.

30th.

Dr. came—Rowland slightly better. F. and I have Jonathan and Rosemary at night now to separate the children.

31st.

I went by bus (8.5) in darkness to London, to Pontings where I chose linen for Ruth—also to Liberty’s sale, but didn’t get much there. Lunch and back by 2.0 bus. There has been another fearful raid on London—sad to see destroyed buildings. In evening read poems—Sidney came in and he and R. sat old year out. F. M. and I read poems.

 

[Transcript by Lucy R. Beck, with her permission.]

 


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