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Friday, 2 July 2010

1944 May

May. Councillor Hamilton on a point of grammar. German refugee with no wish to go home. American soldiery on edge. Frost destroys fruit crops.
Sunday, May 7th
              Another week – and the air is full of the sent of lilac and the laburnum tree is in bloom. There have been some high winds of gale force in the middle of the week, but they have dropped now and the channel is calming down.
              Councillor Hamilton who appears in this Diary in 1940, came panting up to-day to consult me about the meaning of “should” in a resolution he has put to the council; did it mean “ought to” – his opinion – or “must”. Agreed with him. Mayor had ruled it out of order on the grounds that it meant “must”!
              In order to have a Christmas dinner have negotiated for the purchase of four goslings at 25/- each. However, tell Nora that I shall have to recoup myself by going into the black market, though I don’t know what the controlled price was last Christmas. In any case there were not any geese or turkeys. As soon as they were controlled they vanished like snow in May! Rumour said they were all bought on the hoof by Americans at fantastic prices. Would feel easier if there were not an American camp up the road, but think they would be difficult to steal.

Thursday, May 11th
              A poor day at school. Two people came back, but two others away, so much where we started from. A thick white frost this morning and potatoes damaged.

Thursday, May 11th
              A lovely night yesterday, very warm and still, and I listened to the nightingales singing in the wood between here and Reading. Had never heard so many at once before and could hardly leave them in time to get back to Henley by midnight.
              Fall of Sebastopol. Rommel inspecting the “west wall” and making speeches to officers. He is a bold and aggressive commander, inclined to gamble on unexpected thrusts and offensives. … Announced on wireless to-night our plans for civil administration in re-conquered territory, including Germany. First catch your goose! Some voices raised in protest against assumption of victory. Announced that we have sent over 5,000 tanks and 6,700 aircraft to Russia since the autumn of 1941.

 Saturday, May 13th
              To-day a Miss Wagner-Ziegler, a German about 30, came here to lunch and tea. Her views on post-war Germany were pessimistic. She did not think you could re-educate young Germans in five years and like most refugees she had no wish to return to Germany and make her home there after the war. She thought once again the Germans would consider themselves ill treated and start planning another war. She had had a bad breakdown when she started here and contemplated suicide. She was friends with an English airman who had been in Spain from Gibraltar, where he was stationed, and said the Spaniards were so hungry that if you took them a white loaf you would get a senorita thrown in as well and anything else you wanted in exchange!
              The Russians took 24,000 prisoners at Sebastopol and sunk 191 ships.

Wednesday, May 17th
Trains are to be progressively taken off as summer goes on. Am glad I have a bicycle. Having told one of the temporary women staff to find another job, she came to ask me if I would write her a statement to say she was no good. Often asked for testimonials, but never for anything quite like this. She thought with this she might get out of teaching altogether and be allowed by the Labour Exchange to do something else. Nora suggested I should tell her that midwives are badly needed!
              A series of frosts has spoilt the soft fruit crop; 90% of the plums in the Vale of Evesham said to have been destroyed. A poor lookout for jam this summer.

Thursday, May 18th
              Casino captured after six days fighting and main road, Highway 6, cut behind it. The first German defence line, finished; the next, the Adolf Hitler Line, reached at some points. This victory the work of Americans, French, Poles and British. The French have done brilliantly and the great French Army is again in being in the line of battle against the Wehrmacht.
              The Americans are said to be much on edge and getting drunk and quarrelsome with waiting.
              Went to lecture on searchlights on Monday. Some on courses, some on 24 hours leave; four on site and of these one on duty and one the cook who never comes, leaving two! So came back.
              Had a note from Aunt to-day aged 83; says she always keeps the bed aired “in these uncertain times.”

Wednesday, May 23rd
              Breakthrough at Anzio beachhead with progress on left and main front. Complete command of air – hardly any opposition. Looks as if Germans will soon crack. 1,500 plane attack on Berlin by Americans to-day. Our raids on France have completely disorganized the railways. Food supplies are said to be getting short in Paris.
              Last Sunday went to see Hilary and found him very well and cheerful. This week more trains have been cancelled and at Paddington queues were forming for the evening trains. Empire Day but did not observe it as forgot about it.
P.M. in Commons to-day. “We must try to raise the glorious continent of Europe, the parent of so many powerful states, from its present miserable condition as a kind of volcano of strife and tumult to its old glory of a family of nations and a vital expression of Christendom. I hope and pray that we may be led to exert ourselves to secure these permanent and glorious achievements which alone can make amends to mankind for all the miseries and toil which have been their lot and for all the heroism and sacrifice which is their glory.”

Friday, May 26th
              Further advances from the beachhead towards Rome and armour pouring through the gap which Canadians have made in Hitler Line…. Instructions are being broadcast to the French on what to do when the invasion starts and how they can collect information of value to us in their localities. Our relations with the French Committee are in a difficult phase again. We were negotiating about the government of liberated France, but when the diplomatic privileges were taken away from Algiers they stopped negotiations. French naturally very touchy about anything which seems to relegate them to a third class ally.
              I wonder whether we shall ever lay hands on that slimy reptile Laval and where Reynaud and Blum are.

Monday, May 29th, Whit Monday
              A lovely Whitsun, very hot and sunny. Went on river Saturday and Sunday and to-day all our meals in the garden, except breakfast, which had in bed! Many aeroplanes over yesterday – both wonder if second front is beginning.
              Lilac over, laburnum almost finished. The firs smelling sweetly of resin in the hot sunshine. Nine great tits in a nesting box. No swarms so far. Getting your hair cut a problem as difficult to get to Reading and reluctant to spend hours sitting in a queue in a shop.

Tuesday, May 30th
              Germans say we have missed the boat this month and tides and moon will not be right again for some weeks! I wonder. Governors meet to-day. Next meeting fixed for October. I also wonder where we shall be then!

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