Books

These Wonderful Rumours!: A Young Schoolteacher’s Wartime Diaries – May Smith

Being able to sneak a peek into someones diary is a rather thrilling thing. You have no idea what you are going to learn about or what secrets are going to be revealed.

Second to that is the mundane that is recorded because that itself is just as revealing. Especially when the diary in question forms part of what can be called the social history of the Second World War.

In this book, May Smith, 24 years old and a schoolteacher in Derbyshire shares her life with us as she negotiates evacuees, ARP, rationing, lack of sleep, romance, holidays, trips to the cinema, tennis matches, new hairstyles and making clothes.

Ordinary everyday activities set to a backdrop of an extraordinary time that if you’ve never lived through it then you would have no idea. It is these stories, this information that needs to be kept alive for future generations to understand. I have literally picked a few random entries to share with you.

October 1939

Oh dear! This dreadful war! Nothing is secure any longer. It’s like living on the edge of a precipice. Auntie Nell says that Hitler is going to drop thousands of men over England in parachutes. Oh how awful! For them, I mean.

December 1940

An orgy of Christmas activities at school. We spend the afternoon making calendars and cards.

May 1941

Cold again. My dress arrives from Bracegirdles and my father states that it is The Worst I’ve Ever Had and he doesn’t like The Colour.

June 1942

King’s Birthday. Go to the Electric to see Dumbo – Another Walt Disney (his latest).

April 1943

Discover the sad truth when I arrive in Derby that I have come without a powder-puff, and they are now unobtainable in velour.

June 1944

A day of dither. We have invaded Normandy, and landings have been going on successfully since early morning. Oh dear! Sit around listening for news and poring over the paper.

May 1945

VE Day. War in Europe over. Broadcasts by Prime Minister at  3p.m. and the King at 9.pm.

I think the key element to this book which is important to share and know is that life continued, in fact life has to continue despite the influences of something much greater.

This is a book to dip in and out of and read a few entries, it is not going anywhere we know the ending this is all simply part of the journey.

 

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