I found this diary when I was clearing out a box of thing from my Dad’s. This appeared to be written by my uncle. It might be of interest
[Sept 10 1939] – I’ve got my wings! It was obvious a while back we were heading for a fight so I joined up to avoid being called up. The RAF seemed the best option. Father had been in the 14-18 shout in the RNAS until he got shot down and made prisoner. It sounded exciting flying a plane held together by string and glue.
[Sept 30] – posted to _. Not allowed to say where. We have had it drilled into us that “walls have ears”. I’ve been billeted with a couple of new chums to Lady P-s. Nice place, hope we are here for a while
[Oct 10] Not being very good about this diary lark. Seemed like a good idea to record the most exciting part of my life. Actually nothing much has happened and I have no idea what the future holds so I could be completely wrong. Spiffo (Flight Lieutenant Spliff-Whittington) says the Germans will bottle it now France and Britain have stood up to them. They will sign off. Meanwhile we wait around, visit the pub, eye the girls. A uniform definitely gets one attention.
Lady P took in some refugees before we arrived. There is a young Jewish family – well a girl and her two siblings (brother and sister). Parents had to stay in Germany of course. Rachel is 17, and has eyes that reflect a thousand years of persecution. I feel sorry for her and try and talk to her to cheer her up. Her younger brother and sister are treating the whole thing like a big adventure; best thing I imagine. Let’s see, then there is Chrysta (I think her name might be Christabel but she refuses to answer to anything but Chrysta), a land girl. Her family are all farmers it seems, up North somewhere. She has three older sisters so they have plenty of help on their own farm, so she volunteered and was sent here. Lady P’s estate is down to three old men now as the younger men have volunteered (or been persuaded to – Lady P is a stickler for duty) so a younger pair of hands is welcome. I have to say, from my point of view, the rest of her is welcome too. Chrysta is 25, bit old for me I suppose (I’m 20), but she’s nice to look at.
For the rest there are 8 other evacuees ranging from Angela (16) to David (4). They can be a handful but they look out for each other – some of the local kids weren’t welcoming. The mothers all stayed in London to help in the factories.
There’s also Missus Paxmore (Paxo – cos she’s an old bird and looks like she’s been well stuffed – God if she knew she was called that there would be trouble)
[Nov 9] Flying patrols now. We aren’t being posted to France (maybe I shouldn’t say that? I might tear out this page). We are being kept for coastal watch. Damn and blast! I bet that gives some information away too. If Jerry does come knocking I might have to burn this. No-one knows I keep a diary.
[Nov 11] Went to see Shanghai Express with Chrysta and Angela at the local village hall last night. Some people objected because Marlene Dietrich is German, but then she is one hell of a good looking girl. Slept badly, dreamt about her. Had to --- to get any peace.
[Nov 12] A couple of village louts were calling names after Rachel and Isaac. I clipped one round the head and he told his mum, who called his dad (who could double up as a tank if we needed more). I thought I was in for a pounding when luckily Rev. James came past and gave everybody a lecture on a) recognising who the real enemy was and b) being kind to those less fortunate than ourselves. Very CofE kind of sing-song talk, but I think his heart is right (and he got me off the hook).
[Dec 25] Allowed home leave, honestly I think I’d have preferred to stay at the aerodrome. Father was very downcast. On the way back from the pub two nights ago he said he thought everyone was underestimating Jerry. I respect him, I do, but he must be wrong. France’s army is huge, and the BEF is pretty strong too. We’ve been told we might be upgraded to Hurricanes in the New Year
[Jan 8] Still flying Daffys (Defiants), my gunner is Dick Quartino. Odd name, obviously Italian surname but he talks all apples and pears and cor luvver duck. As East End as they come. I’d miss him if I got a single seater but really, unless the Germans are flying bedsteads we would be outclassed I think. I’ve tried getting closer to Chrysta a couple of times, no chance. Shall I describe her? Well...
She’s not skinny, she’s a farmer’s daughter, well-fed, well-built. Brown hair kept shoulder length (to keep out the way). When she wears a skirt – only ever on a Sunday to church – you can see she has pretty good legs, again, not thin and spindly but shapely. But not fat! It is her chest, her bust I mean, that one notices though. I’ve seen her underwear (on wash day, Missus Paxmore saw me looking at the line once and shooed me away), she doesn’t wear anything to lift or enhance, that bosom is all natural and a man could get lost in those hills. She doesn’t walk in a sexy way, she strides, but somehow her ample hips still gyrate and her buttocks (in jodpurs when she’s taking out the plough horses) rise and fall and just give a tantalising slight wobble at each step. I try not to think of her at night – one thing always leads to another.
Last Sunday in the afternoon it was such a crisp, beautiful day I suggested we should all go for a walk. Even if the Jews couldn’t come to church with us, we could all appreciate Creation from the aspect of whichever God we worship. On the way back David (4 and a half) and Alice (5) got tired. I put Alice on my shoulders and Chrysta just swung David up too (onto hers). Then of course they were fine and wanted to play horses. We raced several times and I know for certain that Chrysta would have beaten me every time if she hadn’t let me win once – she was even kind enough to suggest I’d let her win the other times! She is so fit, she puts me to shame.
[Jan 15] Hurricanes! And ... Oh, well I shouldn’t mention this but again, might have to tear out the page. I went into the barn yesterday and Pimmers (Peter Pimms- Gieves) and Stokes (Sergeant-pilot Stokes) were, well they were embracing, passionately! They saw me and I saw them but I pretended I didn’t. They are both clearly prefer pink (as we used to say at school). If I told WingCo they’d be drummed out in shame – and Peter’s father is a minister of the Church of Scotland, he’d never live it down. I had to say something to show I wouldn’t tell. The best I could come up with was to tell them how the kids had made a den in amongst the hay bales and no-one could tell they were there. I said I’d had to warn them to be careful so it didn’t collapse on them. I hope they took the hint and made their own den.
Hurricanes! Only 5 so far, but it’s a start.
[Jan 18] I noticed Peter had a piece of hay in his hair, I take that as a good sign and don’t want to think anymore about it.
[Feb 9] I suggested to Lady P that I took Rachel to see the Will Hay film, she thought it an excellent idea and booked a whole row of seats and we all trooped down (since we were all going, Rachel had to come to look after her brother and sister). Chrysta sat at the far end, Angela and Missus Paxmore sat one third of the way in, then Lady P and finally Rachel and myself at the other end. I didn’t begrudge being so far from Chrysta, this was about trying to cheer up Rachel.
At first she just watched and barely cracked a smile, but no-one can resist that crazy Will Hay and I heard a giggle after 20 minutes. By the end she was laughing like the rest of us and Lady P and I exchanged a glance of satisfaction. It’s only a start but perhaps Rachel is starting to live a little again.
On the way home Chrysta walked with me for a while, Angela joined us. They both said they thought I was really nice to think of Rachel. As we went indoors after the children both of them leant over and kissed me, on the mouth!
[Feb 10] Don’t know why, after that good evening. I went to bed and found myself blubbing like a child. I think it was the thought of Rachel struggling up from despair after losing her family. And mine! I mean they are irritating, but I’d be lost without them. Young Dick put something in the last letter from Ma; he wants to be a pilot like his big brother.
[Feb 12] No sleep again tonight, but now I’m plagued with thoughts of Angela too, and even Rachel crops up in my dreams.
[Mar 9] No more kisses. Rachel seems happier which is good. Two days ago Lady P had to go upto London on ‘business’. I think there is more to her than we know. Yesterday Lucy (11) had her first menses. She was at school and started bleeding. The teacher (Mr Grumps – or Old Farty as the boys call him – or Mr Gumpling to give him his real name – 60+ and no more idea how to teach than I have how to pick up a girl!) just sent her home. Poor girl, she went to her room and wouldn’t come out, she was distraught. So today I suggested we had a party – a Lucy becomes a woman party. Mrs Paxmore was definitely not in favour, ‘girls troubles’ are meant to be kept secret; but to be fair to her she went along with it since the ‘committee’ (Chrysta, Angela and Rachel have become a triumvirate of planning, helping and organisation) thought it was a good idea.
Lucy was given a certificate to welcome her into womanhood and we all drank her health in apple juice. The younger ones just thought it was all a bit of fun. And everybody was happy again.
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