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Ist January 1944 2nd January 1944 8th January 1944 12th January 1944
16th January1944 20th January 1944 25th January 1944 31st January 1944
13th February 1944 16th February 1944 21st February1944 27th February 1944
6th March 1944 14th March 1944 20th March 1944 27th March 1944
31st March 1944 * * *
1st January 1944

Dear Eric,

I'll try and write this letter but I haven't much hope as Michael keeping popping up against me. It has been very cold these last few days and we didn't go out yesterday or today as we all have runny noses, nothing to bother about though. The other day someone on the radio sand 'picardy' so Sheila said 'Oh that's my daddy singing. We  listened to the forces talking on Sunday morning to their families and this morning some chap said 'hello Sheila darling' so of course it was her daddy again. Keith keeps asking for the ink as he wants to write to you as well and Sheila is prowling round looking for some mischief. Michael is amusing himself with my mending mushroom letting it spin on my sewing box. He has his new suit on and looks really grown up. He seems firm on his legs now so I shouldn't be surprised to see him stepping out.
I have been setting the shallots this afternoon, hard work as the ground was very hard. Still I have to do these jobs when I have time. I wonder sometimes if I shall be able to pull the garden in.

Well love, the life over there seems to suit you according to the weight you are putting on . I had an envelope last week with a letter each for Sheila and Keith. They were very pleased with them. Keith took his to show his teacher, she asked him if he was having some more lemons.

I haven't had you airmail dated 22nd January yet I hope it hasn't gone astray.

I've just had to leave off as Michael filled his pants, that didn't please me very much but he's talking to me and grinning now although I smacked his legs. We have had our oranges this week and I'm going to cut a couple up for tea and pour custard over them. You might send some custard powder if you can sometime and we have bit of cake left and some Frears biscuits. We had an egg each this week, the first time for a month. I get three each week for Michael. I give them one each for their dinner.

Peggy has had her operation and is getting on nicely, she will be home on Tuesday.

Well love it's now Monday night and I've just washed up and cleaned the floor and cleaned up generally. I was pleased to get your airmail Jan 20th today, you don't give me any idea of where you are. Aren't you allowed to say Sicily or Italy. I did hear that some had moved from Africa to around Messina and do you think you are there for the duration or are you expecting to keep moving with the fighting forces ? Oliver seems to be taking it pretty hard about Gladys. He doesn't say much but he keeps having bad heads. Young Oliver is not in the airborne anymore as he said he wasn't fit. He came home last night with a sergeant. They came to take a man back. 

Kath is keeping alright. Ethel came this afternoon just as I was going to fetch your wages. It will be grand when I can hold my hand out on a Friday again. Sheila still gives me kisses for you on my left cheek and they get quite clinging and will give the lads the run around when she is grown up.

Beryl's baby is a beauty but Ethel says she is a lazy madam. Keith is very good with his reading but he was rather worried about his sums last week. We had a little bit of snow the other night then it froze over so Keith was able to see it the next morning and also have a slide.

Has Cpl. Dickenson gone with you or have you lost your pal. I haven't sent any papers lately as I need them for the fire. I haven't had any wood yet from Faires but they said they would send some up as soon as they could.

Well that's about if for tonight and don't I wish I was going to make you some fritters tonight and then snuggle up against you in bed instead of just going up those stairs alone again. All my love.

Jan 2nd 1994
A very happy new year love, I'm writing this afternoon as it's been wet this morning and I haven't done any washing. Michael is standing against me and burying his head into my knees hence the wobbly writing. I went to fetch my money this morning. I left Keith with Sheila and Michael and bought them a yo yo and they are having great fun. Keith has already mastered his and Sheila is not doing too bad. Of course mammy and Bernice are good at it. Michael is still bubbling Dada and grinning up at me. Keith has just been seeing if Michael can yo yo.We had Xmas pudding today and we are taking the tree and the trimmings down this afternoon. I forgot to mention that we had trimmed your photo round with that green trimming.

Well love, I had to give up this afternoon as a bad job and now they are all tucked up in bed I'll try and finish it. We are all keeping well at present except Keith. His glands in his neck are swollen a little. It started last night but he hasn't complained about it tonight. Sheila was like it on Sunday but is quite alright now. I feel as well now as I have done for several weeks. I think that now Christmas is over and the blackout shortens a minute a day and I'm hoping the war will be over this year life seems a little brighter. We are going to the panto  tomorrow all being well. Wouldn't you like to see what Sheila thinks about it ? If anyone knocks Keith lately she says 'Don't hurt my little Keefy' in such a plaintiff tone. Michael was smiling at her yesterday the way she turns her nose up and then tells you something nice. We went for a walk down Anstey lane and Blackbird Road and came up Abbey lane with Mabel and Bernice. Your mum didn't go out as she had a touch of lumbago again. It was a grand day and the sun was shining.

I hope love you are still in the same place and keeping well. I thought I might get and airgraph today, your Glad had one on Sat and your mum had one on Friday and one on sat and the airmail you sent during the week. Keith had his airgraph on Friday but he says he will write a bit later as you sent a letter by sea mail on Friday. Lillian and Dick came up on Thursday. I was busy washing but that didn't worry them. Dick took your address so I expect you will be hearing from them. Shirley gets a big girl and she is as tall as Sheila. You should have seen them loving one another. She seemed so happy with the kiddies and she thought Mike was grand. Dick says that's what she needs, company and I think that they were more sorry than ever that they left. By the way Mrs Woodcock wasn't successful so she's joining the gang.

We are still living in the big room. I usually light the Kitchen fire and when I've finished breakfast about ten I take a piece off it and make the fire in there and keep a bit burning in the kitchen. If I need the water again, I stoke up. Some days I just have the electric fire on when I need it. Have you any idea when I will receive the six pounds you sent. Someone had it stolen in the post and I don't want to leave it too long. I think I shall save it until Whitsun and buy a new dress and the kiddies something new for Peggy's wedding. It's definitely Whit Saturday and Bernice and Kath are bridesmaids. Bernice says it's all weddings at their house but she is thrilled herself for all that. I met Mrs Silver this morning and she said that Albert was still there on the 16th Dec but were packed ready for a move anytime. I wonder if you will ever meet him out there. Well love paper is coming to an end and the news will be on in a minute so I'll say goodnight love and all my love to you. God keep you safe wherever you have to go.

 By the end of the war we were sick to death of cremola pudding

I was going to make this a happy letter for you but I'm afraid I have sad news for you. Mabel has just been up to say that Gladys passed away this afternoon. It appears she had a stroke this dinner time and hasn't spoken to anyone since then. That's all I know for now love. To think that just when release from her troubles came she had to pass like that.  If anyone deserved a better life, Gladys did. I feel love that it's hard to continue this letter as it's knocked all my thoughts away. Mabel is coming up later after she has been and told your mother. I only hope your mother can stand the shock. She knows that Gladys had the stroke so it may have broken the suddenness a little.

I have been at home today and took Sheila and Michael and walked all the way. Aggie was there and Ernie and Cath came . They both have 48 hours. Cath is having a transfer to Leicester and Ernie looks like being here for the duration as his wound isn't responding to treatment. 

Keith has at last decided to sleep with Sheila but in my bed but Michael is a terror. He wakes up every night and won't be satisfied until he comes into bed with me. He is crying now and there is nothing wrong with him. I bet he thinks I'm in bed. He only has about an hours sleep during the day, different to Sheila but boys are always awkward. I had two green envelope letters this week dated 12th and 28th Dec. They came on Wed and Thurs I had an airmail dated 31st Dec and Bernice has received the one dated 26th Dec. I haven't had any more fruit yet. How did Nurse Meadows get your address ?

Dr. Mann said that if he had been treating Gladys for a while, he couldn't have prevented this happening. Your mother seems to have got over the shock but of course she was very upset. I have just been up to Gills and saw Kath, Ron and Oliver Senior. I feel very sorry for Kath. She says she cannot believe it is true but I think she will feel a little better when Jack comes home. They had a hurried note from Oliver today to say he had been moved rather suddenly and they don't know his address but they have sent a telegram to his old one.

Well love, Michael is asleep in the chair and it's 10.30. Don't worry too much my love, let's hope this war will soon end so that we can begin to look for brighter things.

I hope you have received my letter in which I told you the sad news of Gladys. She was buried today in the grave next to Mrs Gill. The boys got home alright, Oliver is now in the airborne troops. Kath has kept up splendidly. I feel very sorry for her and she will have a lot on her hands. Jack called in to Mabels before going up home so she had the job of telling him as well. Oliver did not know she had gone until he got up home. Gladys didn't feel too well that morning and she wash washing up at Gills when she came over queer so she sat outside and Kath found her there with someone from across the road. Gladys told Kath not to cry or worry as she would be alright and I don't think she spoke much after then. That was just after 12 o'clock and Mabel was with her when she died just about five.

Your mother has been in bed since Sat. I saw her today and thought that she looked more herself. She said she would write to you today but as I said I was writing she said she would write at the weekend. I saw Aunt Sally, Ida and Frank and Winnie and they all wished to be remembered to you.

Well your son is yelling again and I want to get this off tomorrow morning so I hope you forgive it being short. I went to the infirmary today so I wasn't able to go the church or the cemetery. Dr. Airie seemed bothered about my arm and it's got me a little worried too as we can't do much about it. I had the draft for £6 yesterday. I shall give your Mam and my man  ten shillings each and save the rest until Whit for a new dress etc. I'll have to write again about Friday. Perhaps I shall have broken Michael of this crying at nights by then. 

I hear a lot are coming home from North Africa. Shall you be amongst them ?

Goodnight, all my love to you. 

I haven't had a letter this week love but I hope to get one this morning. Bernice and Nora received their airgramme dated 3rd Jan. I have just bathed Keith and Sheila with the help of Bernice and made them nice and warm complete with a cup of warm milk which I give them every night. Keith a Sheila sleep together now in my bed. They have outed me so I sleep with Michael in Keith's room. We are all well at present and hope you are too. I have had a feel the last few days that you were coming home to us and have been thinking of the times you did pop in when you were at Weedon. It has made me a little discontented at times. 

Harry Quinn came in as usual this morning to fetch me a few brussels. The greens are not too well up there but I haven't had to buy any yet and am still using my own potatoes. I shall have to plan the back garden out soon. Do you think two stones of potatoes would do. I shan't bother with many onions this year.

I went to Nora's as usual on Friday and your mam was up and seemed her usual self except that she is rather worried about Kath. I went up to see Kath yesterday as Mabel was going in to town. She was busy cleaning and keeping her chin up wonderfully well but doesn't like the thought of Sheldon about. She locks herself in when her dad is not around. She is going to work in the afternoons.

I don't think I told you about the Panto which was Aladdin. There was quite a gang of us and we were all close together. Mam, Gladys and her boys, Nora and her boys and our family with Bernice.I should like to see Sheila do her stuff since she went. She gets up on her toes and her hands up and shakes her shoulders and says ' put your arms around me honey'. Both of them are always dressing up when they get  a chance and Sheila is pleased to be a fairy. Keith delights if he makes her look nice. The other day she put a hankie down Michaels neck so it hung over his shoulder and said 'Michaels a pretty fairy now' I often wish you could see their antics. Bernice gave Sheila a link of beads I gave to her some time ago. She likes them and can put them on and off by herself. Bernice broke them last night and so today Sheila told her she was a very naughty girl and she had got to thread them. Michael does not seem nearer to walking. I shall be glad when he does as he is a wriggle. Peggy had to see Mr Lillie about her rise last week and he gave it to her from last November. He said he couldn't have Eric Mason's niece thinking that Faires was a badly paid shop. I don't think back pay has ever been heard of before at Faires. When he heard that Kath had lost her mother, he made a note of it and was going to see her when she goes back to work.

Mr Brown is home but I don't know yet how long. Mrs Woodcock is still going strong and is feeling better about it now. Mabel has just arrived and has been to church this afternoon. Winnie and Iris have not come tonight and Winnies husband is on leave. Michael is just beginning to sing once more. That lad he's a blighter and looks like being a spoilt baby as he is all smiles and coy when you fetch him down and you just cannot spank his bottom then.

Well love I want Mabel to post this for me so I'll say goodnight love, god bless you 

Once more the family are all in bed. Keith has just gone, he has been to play with John tonight. We are all well except that Sheila has a runny nose but seems alright otherwise. Hope you are still feeling OK. I can see when you come home we shall have to have all our meals out of tins until you gradually get used to real food as your stomach doesn't stand it very well.

I don't know whether I mentioned it before but Keith has a comic now each week and he is just like you when he is reading it. I might just as well go talk to the wall. Last week I bought him a pair of boots. He thinks they are grand but wishes they had plates on the heels so he could slide better. He thinks it is time for another letter from you and I was going to tell you that on one letter I had, you had forgotten the kiddies kisses.

I had an airmail on Monday dated the 7th and another today dated 10th Jan and an airgraph dated 5th January.

I see in todays you say you haven't had a drink for about two months yet you mentioned that you had a drink at Christmas in an earlier letter. Your memory doesn't get any better. I think I told you that Bill Parker's wife had a daughter and you've congratulated them on a son. I haven't written to Mrs Dickenson yet but I will try to do so during the week. I also owe Jack Richardson a letter.

We can see the nights are holding out now as the blackout is gone. Bernice still comes almost every night and stays until nearly seven. She gets quite brave at going home in the dark. I shall be going to the pictures with her on Saturday and Mabel has offered to get the kiddies to bed for me, all being well. 

I have been busy cleaning the big room. I have given it a good polish all over and it's a pleasure to sit in it tonight. I wish you were here to see it. I expect you will come when I'm upside down on one of those days when things have gone wrong.

I sneezed the other day and Sheila said, "be quite, my baby is asleep and looked that stern at me. She always says if we are talking about Michael that Sheila did that when she was a baby and she came out with Sheila's not got a tiddler, she had one when she was a baby like Michael, so of course Keith laughed and said what did they do with it, cut it off. I get a lot of smiles off them which I know you miss. I try to remember them but when I write I can't just think of them.
Michael is pulling himself up better and more often so I shouldn't think he will be much longer before he walks. He is a loveable child..

The weather here is mixed as we get it cold and much colder with sharp frosts for a day or two and then everywhere gets damp and then it rains and blows and makes everything you touch sticky and then it becomes warm and the next day it starts again cold. Today has been drier but the wind seems to be blowing up again now, but no snow. Still summer is ahead of us.

I shall be glad when I get another parcel from you as my mouth is watering for a taste of those glazed fruits. I felt rather tired on Tuesday night so I had the kiddies in bed by seven thirty, pulled the settee up to the fire and just lay and read until ten thirty. I could have done with those sweets then. If you had been there I should have fallen asleep but  I don't like to do so when I am alone.

Well love, it's getting on for nine o'clock and I want to hear if the war has finished yet. I should hate to miss that moment.

I haven't been to see your Mam this week. I shall go tomorrow all being well. She went down to Mabels on Sunday. Kath is trying to get part time work and is going for interview next Tuesday about it.

All my love to you

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25th January 1944 

I was hoping to hear from you today but as you said that you wouldn't be likely to send me any more dates from there I wondered if you were moving. I have just put Keith to bed after reading Panda at the fair. He still likes to hear the old stories again and again. He can read quite well himself but he likes a bedtime story. Sheila came into the kitchen about six o'clock and said she was tired and wanted to go to bed. She doesn't have a sleep during the day so is always ready early, sometimes as tonight she is in bed before Michael.

It is blowing hard outside tonight and has been rough for a day or two. I did my washing today and got most of it dry before it rained and then I took Michael and Sheila out after it cleared a bit. I met Bernice at Tudor Road Co-op as she had her mothers and Grandmas grocery to fetch and I thought it would save two journeys for her. I left the key for Keith and he knew where it was. He met us in Balfour street with a pleased look on his face and said I've got the tea ready for you so it helped us as we were later than usual but  know that the blackout is gone it doesn't seem such a rush at tea time.

We are all well except I seem to have a sniffy cold but I asked for it as I had a bath and went out too soon afterwards. Bernice did the same and she is about like I am. We went to the Fosse and took Keith with us on Saturday night. We enjoyed it but I think I would enjoy even the three stooges nowadays. Gladys, John and Allen came up on Sunday afternoon. Tom is at Leigh on sea and is classified as a driver. It is a holding place. Do you think it is for overseas. She has had her teeth out at the bottom and is going to have a full set. She is getting half at least from a place that helps servicemen's wives and some boots for the boys.

Well love I thought we should feel nearer to the end of this war when the second front starts. I don't know about it getting on Jerry's nerves, it keeps us all on edge as well. I wish you were coming home on leave. It seems such a while since I had a good natter with you and I should love to show my small son off to you as well as my big one and my saucy little daughter. I think Sheila gets worse at talking. Times I have had  to ask he today what she means and then let it pass as I've been no better off. Keith and her are always dressing up and acting pantomimes.

I haven't had any more fruit yet but I look for it every day now. Did you know that Keith wore shirts now. I did tell you but I think it was in an APO letter. I got him two grey ones. I might take Michael to be weighed this Thursday. Oh, I forgot to tell you that Keith was immunised at school last week. They do it after five years so he is about right.

I had to leave this last night so now Michael is lying down, I will finish it. I haven't had a letter this morning but as Sheila says, you will get one this afternoon mummy. I may. I bought a tin dustbin this week for 12/6 as the bottom was dropping out of the other one. I think I am beginning to slim again as I have lost eight pounds since you went away. Just when I thought I was getting nice and plump.  It's a very cold morning but dry so far. The fire has just got going as I only had four sticks and a few bacon rinds and I hardly dare take any more of Keith's lines. The bulbs are beginning to show but I don't think they are in the right place. We are having some frozen cod today. I think it is Canadian. The kids had egg and chips yesterday. I have sent a letter to the Co-op coal as they haven't delivered any since last November but I seem to have plenty of slack. Well love, papers getting short. All my love. 

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31st January 1944

I thought I would begin writing this letter while I'm waiting for Keith. He has gone to play with John and I have just put Sheila and Michael to bed but Michael is singing a pitiful song I've had to leave off to soothe him back to sleep and now Keith is in bed. I haven't had a letter from you since the one date 10th Jan but it seems that all letters from Italy and Africa have been delayed from that date. What have they done love, sent you on the new invasion near Rome. I do hope that all this sacrifice of life and mental torture will soon come to an end. It must end this summer as I and hundreds more can't see how our health can stand another winter.

The kiddies and I went to the cemetery yesterday to Gladys and your dad's graves. Your mum, Mabel, Nora, Alf, Bernice, Bill and Ron all went as well. I shall not send this letter off until I hear from you and I expect your address will be different.

Mabel, Bernice, I and the Kiddies went into town on Sat. I called at the bank and our bankbook now says £90. I have put in 10/- that you had from the wardens post a Christmas and also five pounds of the six which you sent me as I shall buy a dress etc at Whit with it. I gave my Mam and your Mam ten shillings each.

I haven't had another parcel yet. We are expecting a parcel of oranges each this week. Michael is getting on well, he can now turn the knobs on the wireless and reach the top of the table and he is getting his balance better as he stands a few seconds without holding on.
I met Madge Burton this afternoon and Michael smiled and seemed to be taking it out of her. She said he looked just like his dad when he was younger, that's how he looked. Sheila said when she writes to her daddy she is going to tell him that I make Bernice do all the work. Keith said tonight that he beat John playing fighting.

I was please to get you airmail dated 25th January this afternoon but still don't know where they have landed you but expect I will have your earlier letters in a day or two. I have felt real fed up today. Keith was screaming at about two o'clock this morning and woke the family. We had to finish with me Keith and Michael in the small bed and Sheila in the cot . I've done my washing as well and haven't been really warm all day until now as I made a good fire as I was expecting Peggy and Les tonight but Mabel has just been to say that Peggy has to go to the Infirmary tomorrow to have her toenails cut. She told Mr Lilley about them last Friday and said she would have to wait at least twelve months so he rang Mr. Plowman up and said he didn't like to think his little girl was suffering all that time and this is the result. 

I met Mrs Keating the other day and told her what Dr. Airey had said and she said she would willingly have the children and Mrs Quin has agreed to come across one afternoon while I go so it looks as if I might get it right again. If only I had a maid. Mrs S has bought Michael a nice suit, I've asked her to try to get another one for me as my knitted one has shrunk. I bought some shallots on Saturday and shall set them during the week. They will be ready for you when you come home. My bulbs are coming up all over the place whether they flower or not I don't know but at least I have some crocus in flower and we shall have to set about weeding one day.

I'm afraid I've been neglecting you this week as it's Sunday afternoon again. We are all keeping well but somehow or another I haven't been able to pull a letter in. I haven't felt very hopeful about the war ending this year it seems to me that it will go on until you all have to resign to get your old age pensions. I see that you told Harry Quinn you were in Italy why didn't you mention it in my letter. If you though I should worry, I'll tell you I worry more not knowing where you are. I seem to be nattering quite a bit don't I love but it's this feeling that the end is so far away that puts years on me. 

I have had the fences creosoted this week for 33/- but they look better for it. I think I shall go and see about having the house painted, it might cheer me up a bit. I went up to Faires yesterday and saw Mr. Coates. He said he has time to spare now you are not there to make him work. He sends his best wishes and said I looked well or was it my padded shoulders. I told him I had to have something to keep my back up. I also saw Gladys Wells and Agnes. 

I went to see Dr. Airey on Wednesday and have got to go on Monday and Thursdays for general and local treatment and have two pints of milk a day and take Halibut capsules. Mrs Keeling is having the children one day and Mrs. Quinn is coming across on Thursday so that's that. Here's Michael poking up and saying hello. He doesn't walk yet but we are still hoping. I said something to Sheila the other day about always sitting on the potty. I said I'd have to tell her daddy so she said Daddy would love to see my bottom !. She does come out with some bits. 

Mabel has lent Keith Grimms Fairy Stories. He likes reading them. He is busy now making a stage out of Sheila's cot and some bricks and soldiers. Michael is busy putting bricks in the box and tipping them out again. He seems to be growing a lot. I shall not be able to get to the Welfare now. Mr. Rawson called the other night to inspect the gas masks. He is coming again to see the baby's. He said he wouldn't mind being out there with you. What do you say 'He's welcome love !'

 Eric Smiths wife had a daughter yesterday. How do you feel in your new surroundings. I hope you do not move too far up Italy or you will be on the wrong side. I haven't had any more fruit or sweets yet, they seem a long while but I hope they do come. Did you have very long on the water ? I have hammered my thumb this afternoon while I was getting the coal in. I said a few sweet word I tell you, it did bleed and it's still very sore. 

We had some snow on Thursday for about half an hour and it still looks like more and is very cold. I took the kiddies down to Mabel's yesterday as usual. Your Mam was there . She has an Airmail dated 30th on Friday, that's the latest we have heard. I haven't had the green envelope yet. I have just given the kiddies a bath, it's a real bath night now and while I was finishing Keith's hair, drying it in bed, Sheila was worrying for her shawl so I said that I hadn't got wings. She said, no but airplanes have wings, don't they. Smart kid eh ?

 This letter sounds a bit jerky to me Eric but I can't say that I really like writing. Perhaps I shall have a whole bunch of mail and parcels this week and that might buck me up a bit but I'd sooner have you here. It's you I'm missing and everything seems so useless. I clean and who's there to see, I cook and the kids don't eat except for Michael. I get the coal and hammer my thumb, it is a .... life still love I suppose there are hundreds worse off but there are so many better off against that. Forgive me love for grousing so but I've got to let off steam to someone. I wish this war would finish so that I could grumble in peace to you for spending too much time on the garden. I'm never satisfied. So goodnight my love is yours anyway. All our love

I was pleased to get you mail airmail dated 7th Feb today. You still haven't told me that you are in Italy although you did mention in Bernices airgraph which she had today (5th Feb Good going) that you couldn't speak Italian. I wish you would give me all the news about your whereabouts. I have felt fed up to the teeth today. The blessed fire didn't get going until nearly twelve. I haven't been able to get any wood yet. They said they would bring some down as soon as possible. I suppose it was that that put me out to start with. Keith and Sheila have been alright but your son Michael refuses to do his bis on the jimmy. I caught him doing it and although he sat for the best part of half an hour he wouldn't do it and shortly afterwards I had dirty pants again to wash so I gave him a dam good hiding. He cried but it didn't worry him much afterwards.

Everyone seems to think that this war will last for ever. I haven't had any fruit from South Africa. I wish they would hurry up or they will be no good when they do arrive.

I had my yearly paper to fill in for the grant. I mentioned on it that I had to have two pints of milk and capsules but if the come round asking a lot of questions I shall tell them to keep it. I wouldn't mind helping you out with a few nuts. At present I'm knocking down Bassetts liquorice allsorts. Keith received the airgraph you sent dated Feb 2nd yesterday and was very pleased. He said you still owe him one as he sent a letter last week with a book of Bradgate park. Now that it is getting light Keith and Sheila are able to play out after tea but so far we haven't had a real fall of snow. Keith looks for it every morning. He is a bit worried at school today at the pad they use to write on and hold the reading book on has come in two. Of course he doesn't know how it happened but he is afraid of what his teacher will say when she knows.

Do you hear anything of the fighting where you are and are you expecting to be put on a settled job shortly. Albert Silver went to Italy about the same time as you so I expect you will be coming across him. It was strange that you should meet that fellow. I guess Arthur will be the next. 
Winnie's little girl Anne has been in the infirmary. I think it was mastoids. She is a lot better now and she said that she will be writing to you soon. 

Michael doesn't walk yet. He tried a step today. Sheila and him should have some fun when he starts. I met Norah Doores on Monday. Their baby gets a beauty, full of smiles and looks roughish. I had my first dose of treatment on Monday and they have blistered me well. I seem able to get through my work a bit better now that it's lighter and Keith goes to school at the right time.

Berlin have had a nasty night again. I'm thankful it isn't us. I think Bob is hoping to come home soon. Percy has been moved. Ernie and Cath are on leave and Tom is around Lowestoft. Everyone here is keeping well just now. Kath called in with the mag last night. Agnes thinks I am looking older, she didn't know me at first. Well that's all for now love. I'll just hear the news and see if the war is over then I'll have my Guinness bread and cheese and then off to be.

 All my love. 

21st February 1944

Dear Eric

I have just bathed Keith and put him to bed complete with Malt, cod liver oil and milk. I didn't bath Sheila as she was so tired. They were up a bit longer than usual as Bernice has been up with the box containing chocolates and puddings from South Africa. It was alright but it did  taste like peacetime chocolate which had been in stock a bit too long. I expect it was because it had been a long time coming. Still for all that we were very pleased to have it and thank you very much.

Chocolate was very scarce in the war and when it was easier to get in peacetime I started a life long love with chocolate bars. It was bad for my weight and only in the past few years have I managed to avoid buying at least one bar a day.

I would not send any more parcels until the others have arrived. I haven't much hope of them arriving in good condition but I would like to get the beads and bracelets. We all had our green envelopes last week and I see you are now in Italy but why you didn't mention it in the airmail I don't know.

I went to the Infirmary again today and Mrs Quinn came across. Michael walked across the room and she said to Sheila 'does he walk now ?' So of course Sheila answered very haughtily 'of course', even though it was his first time. Now he is trotting round all over the place.

Keith went to the pictures with Mabel on Saturday and has been to see 'Coney Island' today with Bernice as they had a holiday Friday and Monday. I forgot to mention that Michael has two double teeth through and the other two are almost ready. Won't you see a difference in him. I wish I could get a film for the summer as they all seem to be putting on weight and growing. It must all be down to the goodness in Gills milk. I have four pints every day and it has all gone when Oliver calls again.

So far I haven't found it a drag getting to the Infirmary as we have dinner at 12.15 and I get washed up in plenty of time without rushing.

Michael has taken to waking up in the middle of the night and standing up in his cot. He will not go sleep unless I take him into my bed. he snuggles up at peace with the world and goes off to sleep and when he wakes in the morning he gives me a grand kiss. I know it looks as though i spoil him but he knows when he fiddles with the knobs on the radio and I say 'no' I mean it.  I'm glad you got your watch mended. It was a good job I sent it to you afer all. What a good wife you have got. She deserves a medal.

We haven't had an air raid alert yet but they seem to be catching it very badly in London. I expect as soon as the invasion starts we shall all be getting the sirens. What a terrible thing that second front will be.

Mabel tried to blow herself up on Saturday. She had the gas alight on the top and somehow the oven tap got turned on. She smelled gas so went to see, opened the oven door and luckily walked away before it burst into a sheet of flame and exploded like a bomb. We laughed afterwards but it did give us all a turn and Mabel was as white as a sheet. Sheila could not forget it and chattered about it all tea time.

This incident is one I do remember and it gave me a fear of gas. Only in the past twenty years have I had a gas cooker and I am almost obsessional about checking it is turned off !

It is now Wednesday night and I though I should have had a letter by now. I had a box of lemons with a note dated 30/12 and wonder if these were the last ones you sent. They were very nice with only one bad one. Sheila has a cold so they are just what I needed. All the kiddies love lemon water.

Keith is making a woollen ball for Michael. He said that scissors could cut wood and when I said they couldn't he said paper is made of wood and scissors cut that so they cut wood. He is getting too clever so you better brush up on your knowledge before you come home.

We had a siren last night but there wasn't anything about and the all clear went before I could get everyone up.
All my love, Olive

27th February 1944

Keith is very happy at the moment as it has been snowing all day and looks like keeping at it. He is busy making a snowman for Sheila and Michael to see out of the window. Sheila's cold isn't any better yet so I wouldn't let her go out to play. It's the first time everything has been covered with snow this winter and I hope the last, of course to make things complete three spokes broke in the back wheel of the pram on Friday an Robothams wouldn't sell me the spokes but will mend it for me that means extra cash and a week without the pram. So it looks as if I shall have to give the infirmary a miss for tomorrow at least.

I've been busy this week taking parcels in, first the one from Bernice, then I had a box of lemons on Wednesday and a box of dates on Thursday. The barley sugar and jellies came on Friday. I left the chocolate uncovered for a day and it tasted grand then, there was one lemon bad and most of the bottom layer of dates were bad. The sweets and the jellies were OK. We all thank you very much and think of you when we mug ourselves. We are having jelly for tea today and I expect Nora is. Bernice is coming here as I gave Mabel two for Peggy's wedding.

The two parcels cost about 13/- so it costs a bit for postage. I have made lemon water for the kiddies but I think the other parcels that you sent early in December must have gone west, I don't think we shall get them now.

I also had a green envelope letter dated 1-2-44 on Thursday but I haven't had an airmail for nearly a fortnight. I hope you haven't fell for an Italian miss and forgotten to write.

Sheila is building and Michael is busy with a tin and a little hammer they keep having a look at Keith, he snowman wasn't that successful so he's bumping it down now. Michael has just given a shout of joy as he balanced the hammer on top of his tin.

Keith is going up at school at Easter all the top section for reading are so John will go as well.

Your mother has bought a new dress, a wine coloured one and it's very nice, that's for the wedding. Everybody's saying 'oh I'll save so a and so for the wedding', I wish you were going to be there with us, we are going to stay at Mabel's all being well. Do you remember the last time Keith and I stayed there how his daddy had to hush him off.

Mabel is here and is reading Keyhole Kate out of the Dandy, Keith went up Kaths with Bernice this morning and she gave him half a dozen comics.

It's Monday love and still no letter. It's about that the mail was bombed, it may be so but I feel so miserable today and I haven't any patience at all. The kiddies have been catching it especially Keith, as he won't trouble to think about anything. I don't feel too great so I've got an excuse.

It snowed well in the night and Keith has enjoyed himself, I hope it rains and clears tomorrow as he has no Wellingtons and his feet were wet through when he took his boots off tonight, it worries me as he has a bit of a cold now, I  don't want him to be poorly.

You haven't said whether you were in tents now, by the way Jack Turvey is in Egypt now

I do wish you were here love, sometimes it seems too much for me and such a useless job and so endless. When you were in England I could see you sometimes. I know love that you placed the same and that I shouldn't grumble, oh I think I'll leave this till morning,  you know I'm tired and moody.

I noticed the front was all cleared of snow this morning, I think Wal Chapman must have done it, good for him.

No letter today love, I'm not feeling like writing so I'll close this letter as John H. is here and he will post it for me.  I do wish I had had a letter today. All my love dear and keep safe for us.

Michael is hammering me and caused all the mess on this page.

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6th March 1944

I had the missing letter on Saturday it was dated 15th February, it looked a bit worn. I have also had an airmail today dated 24th February and the sensor has blacked out where you are., but it was in your last airmail so I'm not troubled by it. Don't worry if some of my letters are a bit glum as I have to let off steam somewhere now and then and by the time you have the letter I have most likely got over a fit of the blues.

 This war gets you down and all the talk of married men going off, and married women too, but you know love I don't get a chance to go chasing even if I wanted too and I'd trust you to tell me if you did fall for anyone else. It's time it was over so we could all get back to normal, as you say love it's done a bit of good and made plenty realize what home life means to them. I still can't imagine you making a fuss of me during the day. I expect when you've been back a week you'll go back to 'oh I'm not made that way' again, still love I think we will understand above all that we really do love one another and our children should make us happy.

I would have loved you to see Keith and Sheila tonight they both looked a picture sitting up in bed drinking their milk after having a bath. Keith with his hair parted and Sheila with rosy cheeks and her hair curling round her chubby face, I felt so proud I can tell you. 

I have just finished machining Keith's pyjamas, only the buttons and button holes to do now and then I shall have to start on some for young Michael, then I have a dress to make for Miss Sheila, they keep me fairly busy but I feel better now that Michael can walk and when I get him to use the 'jimmie' at a certain time we shall all be OK.  He has managed it the last two days, he likes trotting outside and he loves walking from one room to the other, he tries to run at times and you should hear him yell when his plate is empty. He likes the dried egg, he has more colour now he's on food all together and has a nice pair of sturdy legs.

Well love it's almost 11'oclock and there's plenty of planes going over again so I'll say goodnight my love, god bless you.

Its now Wednesday and I have just got the children off to bed once more. Keith had his new pyjamas on and you should have heard him moan. First he didn't want them done up at the front and then he wanted some covers off as he was too warm in bed, then before many minutes he was saying how lovely and warm it was with the hot water bottle and how he bet his daddy would love a nice warm bed and did his daddy just sleep in his skin. He's yelling now about bees in his room, I'll B him before he's done, poor Keith. Michael has been crying and has a bit of wind, Keith has calmed down now and I hope for a bit of peace.

Percy came to see me today he looks well and is at Peterborough at present, he blesses the A.T.S. in the cookhouse.

Michael is always trying to make my mouth pop but I can't do it, he wants you here. I have had four airmails in the last six days so I feel rather lucky, one today dated 29th February. I was glad to hear you had bumped into one of Faire Brothers lads but I don't think I know him.

I mixed and cooked the Christmas puddings on Sunday and we sampled one on Monday, everyone agrees it was grand, lovely etc.Iif I thought you woudn't be too long coming home I'd save the other for you but I feel that's a long way away yet so I'll have it when your mother can get down to have a taste.

May came down with Joan and Valerie on Sunday she has invited us up when we like so I shall go sometime, she wishes to be remembered to you so does Percy, I almost forgot. I've been wondering about Lilian her baby is expected this week, I hope it's a boy for them and everything goes alright.

It's almost nine o'clock and time for the news love one day they will say it's all finished, I can hardly realize what that day will mean to us and how we shall feel, cry a little, laugh a little, I guess we shall not believe it, but until then goodnight love, all my love to you. God bless you darling .

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14th March l944

I haven't had any more parcels from you yet and I'm expecting to get a letter some time tomorrow,

I almost forgot, I had the wallet you sent from Mrs. Dickinson and I've written thanking her for it. It's a decent one and it will come in handy as my notes are all over everywhere and make my handbag so untidy. I've broken my pen and it's agony writing with this thing.

I had to go to Dr. Mann's for a bottle of medicine for Keith, his nerves are a bit upset. I think school has been worrying him a bit lately, his teacher has been away and Miss Bamford has been taking his classes and she's been getting on to him a bit. I have to give him a dose of medicine before tea and one before he goes to bed. There's bromide in it and he had it first on Saturday and he slept until 9.30 and on Sunday night it was 8.30. I'll let you know how he goes on otherwise we are all keeping well.

Well, love, it's now Thursday and I'm pleased to say Keith is a lot better. It has been worrying me love and that is why I've been so long with this letter. I told him I was going to write last night so he said, tell daddy that school has been worrying me as my teacher has been away but it's alright now as we have another nice teacher and her name is Miss Allan. Tell him as well that I'm going to Clive Offley's birthday party on Saturday. I shall get another bottle of medicine for him this weekend.

I put Michael to bed early as he hadn't had a sleep today and then we went into the garden to do a bit of weeding. Sheila was busy carrying the weeds away. I'm pleased to say that one half of the flower beds looks better for it but I hate the thought of doing the other half as I think I must have put the grass seed there by mistake. We have about fifty crocus out around the edge now and the sun shines on them and makes them look a treat. There seems a touch of spring in the air and the sun has been shining well the last few days.

The planes were going over well last night between seven and eight. There's plenty gone over so far tonight. By the way, Iris has been jilted by her air gunner. We had the siren for half an hour on Tuesday at 11 o/clock. I had gone to bed early and didn't get the kiddies up and all was quiet. 
I had you airmail dated 6th March this morning and you sounded browned off. Winnie is coming for the weekend. She misses Iris now. Mr Brown is home on indefinite leave, he says six months would suit him fine. Mrs. Woodcock is keeping well and I haven't heard of Lillian yet, I keep looking in the paper every night.

Keith and Sheila are not eating their dinners well again. I sat Michael up to the table today as I have bought two second-hand chairs and he wanted what they had left. He did help Sheila finish her pudding. You will laugh at him, he knows where the biscuits and sweets are kept and I started to put them in front of the kitchen fire so next time I went to the pantry he was tapping the tiles for more. I think you will be proud of our baby love. Mr.Quinn says how much like you Sheila is getting. She is like Mabel I think but she knows how to worm her way out of trouble, 'Pistol packing Mama' is her latest song and I sing 'When Daddy comes marching home again'  and she's got that off. 

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20th March l944

I was pleased to get the letter from you dated  11th March and an airrgraph on Saturday dated the 5th March, not bad eh ! Well love it's the first day of spring tomorrow and I hope soon that we shall be able to see the end of this blinking war.

Keith has been off again tonight. He couldn't get to sleep because of 'fires' It seems they had a story at school about a cottage that burnt to the ground and he said that he keeps thinking of houses burning. It's almost a week since his last attack, I only hope I can manage him the right way. Dr. Mann said be sympathetic but don't spoil him, but Keith is such a one for having vivid imaginations. He is asleep now so I think he will be alright. I think it is when he gets overtired.
Winnie has been here this week and has helped quite a lot.I even had a cup of tea in bed and my breakfast cooked for me. We took the kiddies on the park, it was cold and gave us all an appetite.

Michael tried climbing the stairs at tea time today and fell. He didn't hurt himself. I think it was only one stair, he does get about well. I should love you to see the tricks he gets up to, he throws his head back and squints his eyes and grins such a saucy grin. I shall have to get Mrs.S to take him to be weighed one day for me.

Keith has started to take his football out and play in the street with the lads. I think he will like it as he gets older but I am hoping for a free Saturday afternoons when you get home.

I've been to the Royal today and think that it is looking better but you should see my nose it looks as if I've been on the booze. I'm not covering my nose as I hope it will turn to a nice healthy tan.

I'm please to hear you have better billets now, you did sound cold and forlorn in one letter. Well love I feel rather tired and I've got to wash tomorrow so I'll say goodnight. and sweet dreams.

The first of spring has been wet and tonight is like a misty November night so of course I haven't washed today, I hope I shall get it done tomorrow, I had a parcel today containing my watch which won't go. I shall have to let Mabel look at it again. Sheila claimed the broach with elephants on and is delighted. I have put the cherry broach on my coat. It looks well but I'm afraid they won't stand much knocking about. I thought you had sent a lump of coal slack, what is the ashtray made of ?

I have cleaned you case out and washed the soap containers ready for when you need them again.
Bernice's music teacher, Mrs Stirland of Oban Street has had her husband come home from Italy today.  We have Butlins fair here. I think it's from April to August and it's opposite the Blackbird pub, quite handy. They are putting up a lot of big things. I hope there is something for children. Keith and Sheila are thrilled about it. Lillian hasn't had her baby yet as far as I know.

I didn't get home yesterday until almost five and Keith went to Mrs. Saunders. She told me he was in a terrible way crying and saying mammy will perhaps be away until seven so probably that is why he was so upset last night, his nerves must have got overstrung but where he got the seven idea from I don't know as I've never left him like that. He has gone off to sleep alright tonight

We had an egg again this week at last so we will have egg on toast tomorrow dinner and as it's a washday quick dinner we will have pancakes as Well. No lemons though as I made lemon water yesterday as Sheila has a cold but we shall have orange juice. We had four pounds of oranges at 8½d a pound a fortnight ago and they say we may get another lot next week and lemons as well.

The daffodils are coming out in the garden but we haven't many. I asked the price on Saturday 3/6 and 6/6 a bunch. It's too much so I'll wait until Mrs. Hill has some of her own.

I went for the sweep on Saturday and the earliest he can get is April 20th. We didn't know how well off we were in peacetime did we ? I think that this war will at least help us to be thankful. 

Well love I'm at the end again so goodnight once more on paper. God bless you my love and keep you safe, Your loving wife and family.

I was pleased to get another airmail last week dated 16th. I also had two green envelopes dated the 4th and 9th of Feb. By the way we gave Bernice one of those ladies dressing sets. We still have one for our little Sheila when she needs it We have been very lucky this weekend as we got a dozen lemons and fourteen oranges. They are in a bowl in front of me as I am writing but I had a nice juicy one before I started writing.

Keith seems better but he likes to hear me moving about when he has gone to bed. Tonight after a while he called and asked if I was writing to daddy. I said I was going to so he said tell him I send all my love to him . I think love he is missing you now as it must seem a long time since he saw you, still that can't be helped. I'm hoping his boat won't be long. It will let him see that you are thinking of him.

We have had a glorious weekend for sunshine and today has been like a summer's day. The daffodils are out now, there's four on either side at the back and three on the side and about seven on the front. The yellow and purple primroses are out as well and the lilac is shooting. I've got Keith and John rolling and mowing the lawn and it looks better for it. We have some tulips coming up in the grass which you set, they must have been deep down. I tried to get them out but couldn't manage it without making a mess so I left it for now.

Well love, it's been a busy weekend as Gladys, John and Allan came on Saturday before I had finished my dinner as we were rather late.  Then we went to see the fair, it opens next Sat. I also called in at Fishers on Blackbird Road to see about having the house painted but they can't do it under three months so I left it to them as long as it gets done.

Gladys stayed until after eight and then Mabel and Bernice came. On Sunday morning Ernie came. He goes to Yorkshire for further treatment tomorrow, his leg has started healing and he is getting on fine. He showed me some snaps he took in Tunis and they were very good ones.

We went to the cemetery on Sunday afternoon with Bernice, Mabel and your mother and when we got home Winnie and Ann were there. I had left some peaches and apricots on cooking and when I got home they were spoilt so we had a tin of plums that Mam had got for me last week. Winnie came up after tea so you see love I hadn't any time to write to you as I felt too tired when they had all gone home. I couldn't even finish my ironing and it is still waiting.

I'm going to take a few roots of purple primrose for your dad's grave. Your mother hasn't been too great this week but Mabel says she thinks the little outing did her good. Did you hear Mr. Churchill last night. I was thinking of you. I see in your mother's letter that the ashtray was made of lava and comes from Pompeii. I hope you haven't been in any danger round there. Have you seen anything of the Vesuvius eruption ?

Percy is now at Dover. I expect it's a bit of a shock to see him after three years at his old place still he's been very lucky so far.

You asked me how I managed to get so low on coal. We are only allowed five hundred a month so the stock I had has gone. Still we manage.

Keith's teacher has told him today he was very good at poetry. He learns it quickly and can say it very nicely. I read him different books every night as he finds them soothing. Sheila gets a saucy little puss. She tells me Keith is a nuisance and she will give him a good hiding. Michael's hair isn't sandy after all, it's more like Sheila's. He's a loveable little rascal. I gave him a go on the horse after tea. He wasn't sure for a start but wanted to go back on it. He's got a face almost as big as Sheila's but has fair skin like Keith and a paddy like his mother's but your mother says he is just like you were as a baby so he seems well mixed. I shall get another photo of them for you. I was thinking about it myself. 

We had a siren on Thursday. Keith and Sheila woke up so I put them in the shelter. It was only half an hour.

Well love it is the end once more. All my love to you. Your loving wife and family.

31st March 1945

Well love, I hope you still have your bed and better feeding but don't get too comfy as I want you home sometime. I have just been reading Faire Brothers Magazine and hope to see something from you in next month's issue. I think that it is a very good effort and makes you feel that you haven't lost touch with the old firm. I understand they are sending all the employees now in the forces one so you will be getting it shortly.

 Keith was thrilled with the boat that came at dinnertime. I sent Sheila to him to see what his daddy had sent. I was outside and he came in with eyes shining 'what's daddy sent ?'.So I just sent him in and he came running out shouting 'Good old daddy' and went dashing out into the street with it shouting at the top of his voice 'Look what my daddy sent me' so I hope that repays you love. Sheila wanted to dash off straight the way to show Mrs. Saunders. She took them to show her granny and granny said they was grand and where was her present and Michaels. The tie was nice too but I haven't seen Les or Peggy so I shall have to let you know later what they think about it. I bet Les will like it. Sheila says 'from my daddy in Italy' quite pretty.

 I took them to the fair last night after tea as some of the things were free for kiddies. They open tomorrow. They had a ride in a fire engine then Keith and John went on the Tunisian Rough Riders. Then Bernice, Keith and John went on the Switchback. I didn't think Keith would like it but he would go on. He was scared and crying so the man stopped it for him but I bet the other kids cursed as it meant a shorter ride for them. I thought it might upset him for the night but he went off to sleep alright. 

I read him a short story every night now just to give him something pleasant to think about. It's a bit of an effort some nights when I don't feel like reading but as long as it steadies him I don't mind. I am going out into town tomorrow to get a grey flannel suit for him and a shirt and new shoes.

 We had a few snowflakes at dinner time. It has turned bitterly cold again. Arthur Hull had a narrow escape at going abroad still he always was jammy. We lost a lot of planes last night and in your country we don't seem to be doing very well. It's a good job the Russians know how to move.

 John blew Keith's football up for him this afternoon for him so it will be alright to play with once more. Michael loves it. He goes to the Coal house and points to it and jabbers away. Nora's dog won't leave him when we go down and Michael can do what he likes with her. He follows me upstairs now so I have to watch all the doors are closed before I dare go up.

 I have parted Sheila's hair in the middle and put a bow each side. She does look sweet.I told her I was going to get another photograph and she must smile on this one for you.

 Well love I'll get my supper as it's ten o/clock. We put the clocks on one hour tomorrow Goodnight love.

 Well love, it's now Sunday night and I haven't sat down for more than ten minutes at a go as Michael has been crying. He's yelling now and it looks as if I would do better to have him down while I'm writing and then clear off to bed. Mabel and Bernice have just gone.

 I got a suit for Keith a new shirt and tie in green and a pair of shoes. I think he will look smart but not for long. Mabel and Bernice went to the fair with us after tea yesterday and Harry gave us five bob to go with. We took Keith and Sheila on the dragons and Keith yelled like mad so I shan't let him go down again. He does seem a baby lately.

 It has been a wet miserable sort of day today. I've fetched Mike down, I could kill the little devil. When you come home, I'll go away somewhere for a months rest from these kids.

 I had a nice letter yesterday from Faire Brothers asking if I had any items of interest concerning the children or photos I would let them have for their house magazine as they were sure my husband would be pleased to see them.

 Well love that's all for now. Michael is grinning at me in his saucy way. I guess this means he sleeps with me tonight, what do you say 'lucky lad'? Never mind love it perhaps won't be so long after all. All my love to you. Your loving wife and family.

copyright Keith