April-May. Boarding school. Church bells again. Ruhr dams.
Thursday, April 1st
Splendid news from Africa….. Rommel pulled out of the Mareth defences to save himself from being cut off. Rommel may make a last stand at Bizerta, but his chances of getting much out of there were less than those of the British at Dunkirk. Hope so!
The twenty fifth anniversary of the founding of the R.A.F. in 1918. Special wireless programmes and talks. Thought of the first aeroplane I saw at Southwold in 1912.
Sunday, May 2nd
Visited Cornwall and Exton in holidays [to see Molly at St Merryn, near Padstow, at the Naval Air Station where she was a Wren driver]. The Devon coast very warlike, armoured cars patrolling front, Bofors guns etc, frequent alerts because of tip and run air raiders. North Cornish coast very free by comparison, but bombing practice on rocks a few miles off inclined to shake stoppings out of your teeth! Fish in Cornwall, which never see in Henley, but hotel food rather stodgy.
In family great event departure of Hilary for boarding school yesterday. He was much looking forward to it but one wondered how he would react when it came to the point. However he took it all in his stride. His mother took him over and I said goodbye to him here. He carried a fishing net on the end of a long cane and was much pleased with a pencil case a friend gave him. I presented him with a trowel and 2/6! Con rang up later to say he went to bed quite contented and happy, so Nora much relieved. The house seems quiet, though tidier, without him.
Friday, May 7th
Hilary reported cheerful in the mornings but low at nights, however is eating well. Persistent rumours here that rations are to be further cut. Cheese has been cut already and one third of meat ration has to be corned beef. No fish to be obtained without long queuing and not generally then. Great shortage of dried fruit, not even prunes now. Little tinned fruit and that “on points”, i.e., rationed, and only rhubarb and gooseberries. Everyone counts and Hilary’s departure means a smaller bit of meat at the weekend. Sunday dinner the peak meat meal, the high spot of the week. Always awkward when the winter vegetables are off and the summer have not come on, but allowance of milk improved.
Church bells, which I dislike as mournful and reminding me of hymns, ringing again here since Easter.
Monday, May 10th
Great news over the weekend, surprising in its swiftness and far exceeding our hopes – a tremendous victory and to date 50,000 prisoners. Most of all, the whole N. African coast in our hands and the long sea route round the Cape will no longer drain away our shipping strength.
Tuesday, May 11th
The last actions are taking place in Africa…. Our prisoners now over 100,000 including a number of generals. Our casualties in the past weeks appear to be about 11,000.
Our disasters in the past have made us, me at any rate, pessimistic and cautious to a degree. For three years since May 10th, 1940, when Holland and Belgium were invaded and overrun in days and France struck down in weeks, we had so many shocks and disappointments that it is hard to realize that the tide has at long last really turned and the forces of evil are no longer invincible as they seemed to be – Stalingrad, and now N. Africa have destroyed that myth. The Germans are not monsters from some other plant, as they once seemed to be.
To-night in the House of Commons an announcement made in secret session, presumably on future programme for invading Europe.
Sunday, May 16th
Went to Long Dene to see Hilary and found him well and happy, if somewhat subdued in his new surroundings.
Friday, May 21st
A nice piece of destruction this week – the blowing up of the Ruhr dams, causing flooding, dislocation of electricity supply and scarcity of industrial water supply. How we rejoice now in smashing and destroying! The air offensive against Germany is kept up. Night by night from England the bombers cross our house in procession as darkness falls and one is waked by the noise of their engines as they return.
Monday, May 24th
Went over to see Hilary yesterday and spent part of the afternoon sailing a boat on the lake. We both nearly fell in. Hilary much less subdued. Was naughty this week, a good sign. Sleeps between two little girls and is no longer with the new boy. Did not cry when I came away.
Chief news yesterday the disbanding of the Third International by the Russian govt. Outward sign of abandonment of world revolution. General effect to make co-operation between U.S.S.R. and U.S.A. easier and make possible union of left wing parties in democratic states.
Sunday, May 30th
Great savings drive called Wings for Victory on here – last year Navy and year before Weapons Week. Speakers, bands, flags, exhibitions etc