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Wartime Letters from Hospital

 

Lyn Baker

 

I am one of a family of five, the second child and having four brothers.

I found these letters written by me during a three-month period in hospital with rheumatic fever. During that time I used to draft letters out in a note book before copying them out. It gives some insight to life at that time, the importance of family and friends, and trivial, everyday happenings, while enduring heavy air raids, blitzes, shortages and illness.

With true British phlegm a letter will describe a heavy raid and go on to say, 'Life is rather monotonous in hospital.'

Lyn Baker

 

My aunt, Lyn Baker, gave me her manuscript for this booklet shortly before she died in 1993. I am happy to be able to publish it in her memory.

She rewrote these letters from her notes, at times altering names. I have added comments to help clarify some of the letters.

Frank Gent

 

My memories of 1940&endash;41 are very vague. I do remember the bunk beds in the cellar, after all, I made them. But we only 'slept' in them one night, it was so damp the bedding was quite wet and we abandoned the idea. (They were in the cubicle next to the coal cellar.)

I may be wrong, but I only recall one heavy blitz, which lasted two or three nights at Christmas. There certainly was a lot of indiscriminate bombing in the suburbs during that blitz with many killed and injured, and a large area between Princess Street and Picadilly was set on fire with incendiaries and completely wiped out. The buildings were mostly old textile warehouses with all floors, staircases etc. made of wood, so they burned well! My father worked as a packer in one after World War I and I worked in several when I was an apprentice at G. F. Holding's. They were dark, dingy, dirty Victorian structures and honestly it was good riddance.

The air raid sirens used to go quite frequently, but I think there were only isolated bombing incidents after that. Really Manchester got off lightly compared to cities like London, Coventry and Plymouth.

I think it likely that Lyn referred to 'Mother' Neild as 'Grandma', as she thought it might cause confusion if her letters were read by future generations if she didn't. We spent a lot of time at Sharston as children and Gladys, so close in years to me, was like a sister. Both she and our mother used the term 'Mother', and we simply followed suit. After all, our mother was 'Mammy', so there was no confusion. I do know that when we were grown up and 'Mother' was growing old she loved being called Mother and would have been upset if we'd changed it to Grandma.

The only name I recognise amongst Lyn's friends is Margaret. She was Margaret Watts; the family lived in Springbridge Road and her father owned a newsagents on Princess Road, just past the bus depot and on the same side. I seem to remember it being damaged by a bomb blast.

Who Pat (the next door neighbour) was, is a complete mystery. I don't know anyone who joined the navy.

Like myself Lyn also went to the School of Art, and like me her first job was with a firm designing textiles or something similar. The clue is the pathetic wage she was getting, and no pay for overtime. After her illness she obviously was glad of the opportunity to change her occupation, and started doing what she loved and was good at, working in the nursery at Chorlton Park School.

Dennis Gent


To Younger Brother who has gone on an agricultural training scheme: 'British Boys for British Farms'

 

Dear Phil

I am waiting to hear what your farm is like, what time you get up, and what you do and so on. The weather is terrible here, going to work and back in thunderstorms, it pours with rain all day long.

I went to an A.R.P. course last night, stood for an hour wearing my gas mask, we then went in a big, black van, ten of us and a policeman. After locking us in, the policeman said we were to identify various gas smells, he would give us a good dose to use it up, pity to waste it! Some joke! He turned on some tear gas and told us to test it by opening the side of our gas masks. We took a very tiny sniff and then breathed out quickly, it had a rotten, bad smell and it made our eyes smart.

Aunty Phyllis came on Saturday and asked how we liked her new stockings. Dad said they looked nice 'but must be very expensive' - but they weren't stockings at all, she had painted her legs and drawn a line down the back of each to look like seams.

I will write again soon, we all think of you and everyone sends their love.

 

To Cousins in London

 

Dear All

I was hoping you would write to me but seeing as you haven't I am sending you another letter. Philip has left now, to train for farming at a college. He got lots of new clothes and was packed for a week before he went. I got time off work to see him off at the station, he was sorry to leave us, but I expect he will enjoy himself there. He wears long trousers now and looks very decent in them.

I am going to A.R.P. anti-gas lectures three times a week for a fortnight, then I sit an exam to become a warden. I go from 7 PM to 9 PM and I find it a strain. My ankles and feet swell up and hurt terribly, I find it difficult to walk and had to take a week off work. I am back at work now, but standing makes the pain worse. I am going to the Royal Infirmary next week for tests.

Give my love to all the family.

 

To Brother, July

 

Dear Phil

I was sorry to hear you are feeling homesick, but you seem to be having a good time going to concerts and pictures.

I went to the Royal Infirmary last week. I first had a medical examination, then they sent me with a card for an X-ray, medical and cardiograph (don't know what that means). They put a kind of jelly on my wrists and ankles, strapped on wires connected to a machine which printed a record of heart beats. I had to lie still, so I couldn't see what was going on, but I noticed a red glow in a box to one side. I then had a blood test. Do you remember the film 'The Invisible Man'? A lot of blood was taken from his arm while he was still invisible - well, they seemed to take as much out of me! I was rather glad to get out of there after all that, but I went straight back to work. I suppose I will have to wait to find out what is wrong.

There is another barrage balloon in the park, it looks bright and silvery anyway. I am writing this in the garden and can see your guinea pig hopping about, he looks quite frisky tonight.

I worked until 10.30 PM one night, the boss brought me home to apologise, it is 8 PM finish most nights, no overtime! I haven't been to the pictures since seeing 'The Tower of London,' not that there's anything worth seeing.

It is very sad news of Grandad, he died peacefully, but I will miss him.Ý The funeral is from our house on Saturday. I am not going, finding it difficult to walk; I can look after the boys.

Looking forward to your next letter.

 

To Cousins in London

 

Dear All

I am including all of you, as I haven't time to write separate letters, I work until 8 PM, it was 10.30 PM one night.

Last Sunday I was lying in bed when I heard a terrific crash and bang, it nearly shook me out of bed. Dennis went running into Mam's room, but neither Mam or Dad had woken. Dennis showed them the searchlights from his bedroom window and heard a plane going over. It was my first experience of a bomb. Next day we heard it had dropped about a mile away at Trafford Park, it just missed Trafford bridge and fell on waste ground without doing any more damage than blowing one side of a tram shed out. No sirens went, several bombs were dropped, but it was a big one we heard. I never moved from bed, didn't feel like walking with my ankles being so bad.

I am waiting to hear results from the Royal. Yes, I would like some more shampoo, wish I could get it here. Do you and Olive work together? Olive gets a good wage to start off with, I get £1 a week.

We have lots of pears and apples, and we've had some good redcurrants and raspberries too. Geoffrey has a passion for pears - he hasn't noticed the apples yet! While the redcurrants were ripe Geoffrey used to feed baby with them in the garden until he was sick. We have to sit baby in his high pram so Geoffrey can't reach him.


  

 

The kitchen at 16, Manley Road, Whalley Range, Manchester, at the beginning of the war; a watercolour by Lyn. Geoffrey and Ralph are playing on the carpet. The fire is lit, and Tibby is asleep in front of the fire. To the left is the pantry. There is a radio on a shelf in the corner, not quite visible here. The large oval table had a grand, bulbous, Victorian base. It would sometimes tip up if leaned on. The fire was replaced after the war with a Yorkshire range; the mantlepiece was moved to the front room. The Windsor chair belonged to John Gent of Spen Green at the end of the eighteenth century. The mirror went to Mons Hall, where it found a new home reclining on the kitchen mantlepiece. The chaise longue later went upstairs to my grandparents' bedroom. The door led to the hall and, immediately opposite, the cellar door, and the temporary air raid shelter. The doors above the coats concealed the hot water cistern. The room was painted cream with a green dado, separated by a thin line of brown paint, drawn with a fitch, a special, short-bristled stiff brush. The light switch had a well-polished brass dome.


To Brother

 

Dear Phil

I have plenty of time to write now, I am having a week off work as I can hardly walk. I feel better for the rest already, but there is nothing to do. Geoffrey is always asleep, he sleeps three to four hours in the afternoons. I think the air raids break his sleep at night. There were two raids in succession, but being weekend we could rest on next morning. We heard an aeroplane go over, it sounded low, making a queer throbbing noise as though it was low and then climbing high. Bombs were dropped near us and leaflets.

We had a tremendous lot of runner and kidney beans sent from our cousins in London, Uncle Rex had grown on his allotment.

I have looked for your slug killer, but only found a sample tin; no dead slugs about yet. Grandad came and said your allotment is fine. Geoff was playing and threw a bat which caught Grandad on the head raising a lump.Ý Geoff was very sorry, he hadn't meant to do it.

During the last raid the sky was full of stars and there seemed to be a lot of shooting stars. Dad has seen several while on L.D.V. duty. My friend was saying a friend was standing outside his Anderson shelter during a raid when a plane dropped a flare. He nearly knocked his head off getting back into his shelter.

I went to the pictures to see Greta Garbo, it wasn't bad. Have you been to the pictures yet? We haven't heard that you have received our parcels, hope they are not lost.

 

To Brother

 

Dear Phil

You will be surprised to hear I am going to hospital next week. Last Saturday I went to the doctor's and got the report of my examination at the hospital. The hospital report said I have rheumatism, which is affecting my heart; it's just for a fortnight's rest.

I went to town and bought a lovely fluffy toy rabbit with long whiskers for baby; I had to get pyjamas for myself.

We have been hearing a lot about cabbage white butterflies on the wireless lately. The public are being asked to try and control them. They lay their eggs on the underside of cabbage leaves. I got some special stuff for slugs, it will have lost its strength now so I am going to try and get more from Lewis's.

We had some peas and potatoes off Mr Marshall, they were very nice but he gets quite carried away and excited when telling us about his allotment.

Dennis is going to try and go a month without greasing his hair with Brylcream. He feels queer without it, but his hair looks better now.

The weather has been fearful lately. Your cabbages have been flattened, I've tried to support them with sticks. The only good thing about the wind and rain has been that it has stopped air raids, they only seem to come on fine nights.

We all look forward to your letters. I will write while I am in hospital, I will be bored there, but so long as it puts me out of my misery it will be worth it.

 

To my Aunt

 

Dear Aunty

I have been in the Royal Infirmary a fortnight now. I wasn't keen on hospital life but am getting used to it. I hope the air raids are not worrying you too much, it looks as if we will have to put up with them every night. I am not allowed up, so am smothered in blankets, during a raid, in case of flying glass. Some are pushed under the beds on their mattresses and others go down the cellar.

I look forward to your next visit.

 

To my Brother

 

Dear Philip

I came into hospital last Saturday. I am in a long ward in the hospital, with a verandah at one end. The nurses are very kind. I got a letter from Joyce in London, they have had several air raid warnings so it looks as if London are to get their turn now. Fancy our pilots shooting down 144 German aircraft in one day. They are doing fine, aren't they!

There was some stuff in a white bag in the shed that is the slug killer, it caught a lot. Geoffrey used to help me collect the dead slugs, the worst job I have ever had. Dennis says he'll look after your garden while I'm in here.

You will be looking forward to visiting farms. It's hard luck having to help with dishes at the hostel, but expect you will have to put up with it. Can you have a holiday at home before going to live on a farm for good?

 

To my Family

 

Dear All

I am getting on OK. Saturday night planes were going over all night. We don't get much sleep as the lights are kept on, two night nurses are around and I have four pillows for protection against flying glass and my head covered in blankets. One nurse comes round and holds each patent's hand for a minute or two, it's a real comfort when bombs are whistling by. Nurses remained on duty and were going round the wards like robots next morning, one was crying from sheer exhaustion. One Sunday sirens went three times. Thank you for the eggs and fruit and books, I was very glad of them. You won't forget to bring some jam next time, will you? I will be glad to see baby on Tuesday.

 

To a Friend

 

Dear Margaret

I would have written sooner but have had absolutely nothing to write about. I will be very glad to see you if you can come. I was sorry to miss seeing you on Saturday and very disappointed, bit of a difference coming into hospital or going out for the afternoon with you.

We have each been given a card, a visiting permit. Only one person can visit; my mother will explain to you. This place is easy to find. I would be very pleased to see you if you can come. I long to see my friends.

The girl in the next bed has a mother in law whose friend is some relation to you, an aunt I think. Your aunt made a milk jelly for my 'next-bed' friend.

If you come, don't forget to bring your gas mask or they won't let you in.

 

To my Family

 

Dear All

I have bought a lucky mascot, a tiny black cat, for 6d, and have hung it on my mirror, as no one passes without looking in the mirror everybody will get lucky now. A little old lady comes round the wards on Thursdays, she gives us a little lavender bag and a coloured text card. The words on mine were: 'In the day of my trouble I will call upon Thee, for Thou wilt answer me.' She makes them herself.

Tell MotherÝ her dahlias are admired by everyone, they are lovely.

Can you send me a penknife, a packet of curlers, and the photograph of Geoffrey and baby that is in my handbag?*

 

To my Mother's Parents

 

Dear Mother and Grandad

How are you both keeping? Your dahlias have been admired by everyone, and the chocolates were delicious, thank you very much.

It was such a disappointment when they made you leave after such a short visit, some patients manage to wangle two visitors at a time.

It's funny, in spite of all the rest, I seem to be tired all the time, perhaps the medicines I have.

I love having the photograph of Geoffrey and baby on my locker. I may be able to go home soon and then I will come and visit you. We have had such good times at Sharston with you, making dens in the loft over the shippon. Do you remember how we all believed you every Easter, when there would be a chocolate egg wrapped in silver paper for each of us, in various hen's nesting boxes. We believed you implicitly when you told us the hens had laid them specially for us!

 

To next-door Neighbour

 

Dear Pat

It is very nice to receive your letters. I am getting on very well, even the constant raids don't bother me now. Fancy an incendiary bomb falling so near to you! The bombs dropped on town fell on Whitworth Street, the Albert Hall and a building next to the Palace, or so the nurses told me. That's too near here for comfort. The bombs sounded terribly loud, I fell asleep, tired of hearing them. Some of the nurses were frightened, and most were awake all night. Casualties were brought in all night long. One boy of eight years was brought in with nearly every bone in his body broken. His father was in the operating theatre all night, and his mother was buried under the ruins of their home. They haven't found her yet and say no chance of her being alive.

The weather is still beautiful, I wish I could go out, but I must stay in bed and make the best of it. I hope to see you before you move.

P.S. I have just heard that the little boy and his father have both died.

 

To my Brother

 

Dear Philip

Good for you! Getting down to the job, swilling cow sheds out. I was surprised you watched the farmer shooting rabbits, I always thought you couldn't stand it, if you have got over that you will soon make a farmer.

I should think you liked the reaping best; what are the baby calves like? It's rotten not giving you any pillows at night.

In hospital we get bread and butter for breakfast and tea, for dinner: one boiled potato, cooked without salt, cabbage and - wait for it - fish every day! Mam came with some jam to help the bread down. I was always hungry until she brought some food for me.

Mother came and brought me some lovely dahlias she had grown herself, those huge ones, like dinner plates, that won a prize last year.

Mam brought baby one day, he was as good as gold. I have now got Dennis's shaving mirror and every doctor, nurse, student and cleaner has had a look in, it's a wonder it's not cracked to blazes.

We are only allowed one visitor now, two hours on Wednesdays, one hour Fridays, and one hour Sunday afternoon. Now there are daylight air raids they want as few people in the building as possible. The two hour visit seems like five minutes, but time drags in between visits.

Careful how you mention food - you make my mouth water with your chicken, beans and plum pie, but seriously, I am glad you get good meals.

It was lovely to see baby last week, he's not so shy and smiles a lot, he can say an odd word or two now, like 'Daddy,' 'pussy' and 'gone' and he gives you things and says 'Ta.' It is lovely to hear him.

 

To Family at Home

 

Dear All

It was a relief to hear you have prepared the cellar to sleep in. Our poor nurses have been up four nights running, this morning they came on duty very cheerfully, but they can hardly keep their eyes open and they look worn out.

During the night a woman was brought in and put in the bed next to mine. She can't be casualty, as this is a medical ward, and she isn't injured, but seems to be suffering from exhaustion. The little boy I told Daddy about died an hour after he was brought in.

Thank you for all the things you sent me, I now want a bottle of nail varnish remover, please.

I hope you are all alright. I feel safe enough here.

 

To my Brother

 

Dear Philip

Thank you for your letter. We have air raids every night. Planes come over from 10 PM until 4 or 5 AM, bombs drop continually, the windows shake and rattle. One night bombs were dropped on All Saints, the cinema was hit.

You are doing well if you have started National Savings. I haven't got a farthing. What little I had managed to save went on pyjamas, a toy rabbit for baby, cigarettes for Pop and a cheap dress for Mam. She hasn't many dresses so I bought her a nice flowery one from Lewis's. I don't need money in hospital and hope it won't be too long before I go back to work.

I have not been allowed out of bed once and get a bit depressed, as you do too, I know, but we needn't tell them at home.

 

To the Family

 

Dear All

I am still in bed, some of the other patients can go out on the balcony. It's beautiful outside, the sun is brilliant. Raids continue, every night pillows, blankets and bandages are brought into the ward. When the sirens go, nurses now lug my mattress onto the floor and pull the bed over me. Some can get under themselves, and some go down the cellars.

The photograph of Geoffrey and baby on my locker keeps me going, but it looks so real I wish I could put my arms round them and love them again. I never realised how much I would miss them.

Please can I have a towel.

Thank you for the carnations, they are still fresh after a week, also for the jig-saws, they have kept me busy.

I shall soon be going to Barnes Convalescent Home.

 

 

 

To a Work Colleague

 

Dear Val

Thank you for the carnations, they are still beautiful after a week. The jig-saws keep me busy. I'm afraid I will have more than a month here. I came to this convalescent home a fortnight ago and doctors say I may be able to get up in a week. I have just had my hair washed, the first time in five weeks. nurse helped me wash and set it. we had some fun trying not to soak all the bed. It is set in a wave at the front and flat curls at the sides.

Hope I will be back at work soon.

 

To next-door Friend

 

Dear Pat

I am glad you are not moving yet, you are safer where you are, now I shall see you before you go.

Sirens go all the time now, it makes it hard for the nurses here, our beds are pushed into the corridors and we eat there, or walking patients go down the cellar until the All Clear sounds. One nurse I like very much knows you, she asked me if I knew a Pat Turner and I said I did seeing as I lived next door!

I thought your brother would be called up soon. At least he can be in the navy where he wanted to go. I know how much you will all miss him.

 

 

 

To a Friend

 

Dear Margaret

I was so pleased to see you last Sunday. How did you go on last Monday morning when the sirens went well before 9 AM? A lot of people would be late for work. There are a lot of new patients now, there are about ten beds lined up the corridor.

They say it's fun going down the cellar, someone has a wireless and the men sing and play mouth organs, they are well entertained! They do see the odd rat climbing about the pipes, though! One of the nurses found a tightly fitting red satin dress, years old, no one knew where it came from. The nurse wore it with black lace draped over one shoulder and had everyone in fits of laughter - when the sirens went! They all had to rush down to the cellar and she had to stay in the dress until morning.

 

 

 

To a Friend

 

I came to this convalescent home a fortnight ago; doctors say I might be able to get up in a week's time. I have just had my hair washed after six weeks, a nurse helped me wash and set it, and we had fun trying not to splash all the bed. It feels wonderful to have it clean again. It is set in a wave at the front, with flat curls round the sides.

I like this place very much and have made some friends.

To a Friend

 

Dear May

I am sorry not to have written for so long. I have been in the Royal Infirmary for over three weeks and am now in a convalescent home. I have rheumatism and couldn't walk, and had to go to hospital because my heart was affected. By the time I get up, I will have been in bed six weeks, my legs will be like jelly.

It will be wonderful to see trees and houses again. We can't even look out of the windows because they are pasted over with paper against the blasts.

My brother has been to the college and is on a farm now; he likes it and is going strong.

I used to be put under the bed during a raid, but now we are wheeled into the corridor. Have you got a shelter? I think the cinemas must be empty now, most people I know haven't been to see a film for ages.

It must be lovely to be able to work with your sister. Our family seems split up, Phil away, me in here, Dad and Dennis on L.D.V. night duty, and Dennis may be called up soon.

 

 

To a Friend

 

Dear Margaret

How are you? I expected to be home ages ago but perhaps I will see you soon. I can walk downstairs to the lounge now, once I can go upstairs as well I will be going out in the grounds and to the village to do some shopping.

Did you see the Gilbert and Sullivan show? The girl who comes to massage my feet has seen it, and says it's very good.

The bombing here last Thursday was horrific, one long noise all night with hardly a pause. Guns were banging, incendiaries and high explosives bombs were dropped. Two screaming bombs dropped close by, thuds shook us and flashes lit up the corridor.

Several bombs fell in a field behind us and the head gardener had to leave his house with his wife and small children in the middle of the night because a time bomb fell on his house. Shrapnel rattled on the roof. When I did drop off to sleep I dreamt of planes crashing and someone said I was crying in my sleep. I wasn't frightened, but we did all expect a bomb on us any minute.

After Saturday, there will only be two of us left in the ward. I am on my own now, writing this while sitting by a big log fire in the lounge.

I was glad to hear your mother is better. Philip has left the hostel and is on a farm in Yorkshire now. He can't have a holiday until Christmas after all. My cousins from London have arrived at our house. The three eldest came first, then my Aunty with the youngest one. My Uncle is staying in London. They brought their cat with them and it had three kittens at our house. They are safer here - I think. There have been bad raids near home. I hope your dog is alright, I expect he is scared of the noise.

 

To my Family

 

Dear All

I have made several friends here so I am quite enjoying it, but will be glad to come home. I've just had my hair washed - after all these weeks, and then I had to plead. It's bound to get dirty even if one is in bed.

I have had a letter from the girl who was in the next bed to me in the Royal.

I hope you are all keeping well, please can I have a teaspoon, vest and clean pair of pyjamas next time somebody visits?

 

To a Nurse who has left the Convalescent Home

 

Dear Nurse

I am sorry I didn't see you to say good-bye, we all miss you very much. How did you manage all your luggage? We don't know who is to take your place yet. The new patient here doesn't like butter, she is one who won't be troubled by rationing.

I sent my mother a box of chocolates for her birthday. I hope they arrived in time. Sister still goes around saying, 'I hope the sirens don't go,' staff nurse still rushes about - but no sign of Dr - , perhaps he is pining for you!

I persuaded 'staff' to let me have a bath at last. I had just got in prepared for a long, luxurious soak when sister came shouting for me, they had forgotten to take my temperature. I just heaved a sigh and resigned myself to forgoing a peaceful bath. I am now down the cellar waiting for the All Clear.

Elizabeth the cat is still living and I think everyone else is so I will say cheerio.

To a Nurse who has left the Convalescent Home

 

Dear Nurse

I hope you are bearing up with all this bombing. We have bombs exploding all round us every night, making the windows rattle.

What are your patients like? Different nurses come to our ward, with no particular nurse of our own we feel a bit neglected. The daisies we had when you were here still have pride of place on the centre table - very wilted now.

Two patients gone home, so I'm lonely and wish you were back. I have walked down the stairs but I haven't been out yet. After supper nurse gave Betty a ride on her back, she was crawling round the ward on her hands and knees, Betty urging her on and clinging tight to keep her seat, it was hilarious.

Don't forget to come and see me on Saturday and bring your dog with you.

Betty and I are the only ones brave enough to leave our windows open, there was a gorgeous wind blowing this morning that nearly blew us out of bed. A sparrow flew in and we kept opening windows as it neared one, but we had to leave them all open in the end before it flew out again; we were perished.

I'm sitting in the lounge now the sun is shining, but outside the leaves are blowing off the trees. Betty and I have escaped in here with our chocolates and books for the afternoon. Of the remaining three patients left here, besides us, one is deaf, one cries and the other grumbles. Wish you were back and we could have some more fun.

 

To a patient who has gone home

 

Dear Ann

I was very pleased to hear from you but so sorry to hear about Jane, she doesn't seem to get any better, does she?

I am in a convalescent home now, after three weeks in hospital. I asked the doctor when I could get up. He hesitated, then said, 'At least another two weeks. I bet you are sorry you asked now!' All the decent weather will have gone by the time I get out of here.

The nurses have had to give up their half-days off, to catch up on their sleep. For five nights running they have had to go to the shelter and they only get an hour or two's sleep. They have to come on duty for fourteen hours a day.

In one way, I'll be glad when winter comes, it might stop the raids.

Last night I went down the cellar for the first time. Have you ever tried to sleep in a deck chair? Every time I dozed off I kept slipping through the gap between the frame and the canvas.

I hope you are feeling better and enjoying a life of freedom. Wish I could go out, but must stay in bed and make the best of it.

I hope you are successful in finding a house.

 

 

To a Friend

 

Dear Margaret

It was a surprise to hear about the bomb on the newsagent's shop, bombs have been uncomfortably near here too. I usually sleep through the noise now, unless an extra loud explosion rudely awakes me. We get casualties from the air raids in the wards. One young woman in the bed next to mine comes from Hulme. She said they had so many sirens and raids that they had had no sleep or food for two days and she had collapsed.

Thank you very much for the jam. You needn't worry about my not liking apricot - it's delicious.

No other news; you can guess what a monotonous life it is in hospital.

 

 

To an ex-patient who had recovered and gone home

 

Dear Ann

I was delighted to receive your letter and to hear you are keeping alright. I have had a letter from Nurse Brown, she says her patients are very nice.

All the patients who were in here with us, including Betty, have gone home. Only Jean and I left.

The raids have been awful. Last week the sirens went early, at 10 PM a nurse decided I'd be safer down the cellar, so down I went and was plonked in a single bed with another patient. She moved over with a very bad grace, half the night her feet were on my stomach, the other half her arms were across my feet. I was fed up and lay on the edge my legs dangling in space. Nurse washed my hair and set it while sister was having supper. She brought some fresh flowers too, thank goodness, Betty's daisies were very woebegone.

I haven't seen my London cousins yet, but I believe they are settling down. One cousin went to work and needed her sleep. To get some sleep she used to queue up with her blankets to shelter in the Tube station. No noise could be heard down there and she could get some rest.

I bet your brother is excited to have you home again.

All my love and get well soon.

 

 

To my Brother

 

Dear Philip

I have just got home after being away ten weeks. It's just wonderful.

The cellar is fixed up very comfortably. The two tiny rooms off the main cellar contain bunk beds, we haven't got to sit up suddenly without thinking or we crack our heads on the ceiling. The fire is lit in the evenings, a carpet, chairs and wireless make it quite homely.

Daddy and Dennis are out on duty most nights, putting out incendiary bombs. It can be quite spooky down the cellar on our own, with just Mam and the boys, we keep the poker handy!

I expect you are counting the days before you come home now, not long to Christmas, then we will all be together again. Dennis expects to be called up soon, he's quite looking forward to it and expects to go in the army.

Geoff and Ralph have grown up a lot since I was home, they felt a bit strange with me at first.

Bombs have fallen in the next road but we are quite used to it now. When I think of that first bomb we heard at Trafford - when we were startled out of our wits! It sounded louder than any I've heard since, although it was so far away - it's surprising what you can get used to.

Looking forward to seeing you.

 

 

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