Diary of Phyllis Bethel of Topsham Devon

An account of her travels with her husband and her daughter Marion from Wiesbaden in Germany and the Second World war in Topsham Devon as written in her diaries between 1929 and 1953.

15th May

A quiet night last night. Started typing Beryl's adventures today.

14th May 1941

No sirens last night. Papers full of Hess affair! Am on last chapter of Beryl book. It has taken me just six weeks to write. Now some corrections. Marion says I must not cut any of the scenes, they are all so funny. Hope she is a good critic! beryl was finished today, I got a writing fit and completed the last two chapters. Daddy insists on sending it to a publisher. So thumbs up I think I shall miss not having t to write, but there is still much revising to be doe. An alert at 5.45 - 6.10

13th May 1941

An alert lasting 1/2 an hour at 3.30 I kept as quiet as a mouse intending not to wake the others. This morning I find they both heard it and kept quiet on my account. Mrs Truman banged on fence early this morning to tell us astonishing news that Rudolph Hess's deputy had landed in Glasgow by parachute on Saturday! It was given out over the radio.

12th May 1941

Last night was the worst we have had yet. First alert was over at 10pm At 11.30 came another followed at 12 by bombs an AA gunfire which shook our kitchen door for almost an hour. We lay in shelter. We went back to bed at 1.30 3am another alert lasting an hour with heavy AA gunfire. Went to shelter again and back to bed at 4.30am At 4.45am sirens again and final all clear at 6am. During the last hour though we slept, being tired out.

11th May 1941

No sirens last night, almost unbelievable. Heard this morning that 33 planes had been shot down and there had been a raid over London last night. Beryl and her adventures nearing completion. Marion says she will be sorry when it is finished. 8.15 sirens just went.

10th May 1941

Punctually at 11 sirens. half an hour later a bomber roared full speed across the house. We all drew ourselves taut in bed, expecting to hear a crash. however some minutes elapsed then came about six heavy bangs. A farmhouse was hit near the airport. As the last lot of bombs fell, Marion sat up in bed and said "What a noise to make in the night' Then she went off to sleep again. Next morning she remembered nothing about the bombs.

9th May 1941

Sirens again at eleven thirty till dawn. At 1.30 bombs fell when the second lot crashed, Marion who had been asleep sat up and said "Whatever is the matter is it wild cats?" Recently a farmer saw a German bomber crash and parachutists leave the plane. He and some others set off to hunt them. They arrested a an who turned out to be a firewatcher who was himself searching for the Germans. Just as they had all sorted themselves out a man walked up to them and said "I come to bomb. I finish now" and he was one of the Germans!

8th May 1941

Sirens but no bombs to be heard only planes. managed to sleep rather well. An alert from 2.45 to 3.30. Anthea here two nights ago when bombs fell near here, their father had come up and pulled her out of bed as she was so fast asleep, pushed her into the hall and threw her dressing gown after.

7th May 1941

Sirens as usual last night but no bombs to be heard. Frost last nigh. Sweet peas coming up also Godetia and Marigolds. It is great incentive to a write to have a little daughter to be interested in her work. Marion does love hearing each new adventure Beryl has. On Monday 5th Haile Selassie Emperor of Abyssinia was reinstated, after exactly 5 years exile from his kingdom. At 9.30pm we listened to the Abyssinian National anthem being played on that occasion.

6th May 1941

night not so bad sirens at 10.30 and about nine bombs dropped on Honiton, but planes roared or whined as they limped home till almost dawn, I dozed for a little while and woke at the sound of all clear. Left Marion asleep but noise made her restless. One longs for the light of day and wonders if one will ever see it again. This morning Royal Drawing Society sent results of 1941 Children's Exhibition and Marion was again First class commended.

5th May 1941

A ghastly night. At 10.30 sirens wailed then followed a non stop roar of planes till 2 am There was just one continuous whirr, with some bombers flying quite low over the house. Twice about 8 bombs were dropped on airport then came machine gunning. 4 other times sticks of bombs fell at intervals at distances of from 2 - 4 miles Then the engine of a plane gave out, for a minute it started up again, silence once more, followed by a lot of shouting. Daddy who had gone to bed twice already got up and saw the flames of the crashed plane. Kept Marion in bed all through it and she slept intermittently, as we had been for two long walks that day. One lot of bombs fell at St Thomas's Station Exeter another at Exton and a thatched roof cottage was set on fire

4th May 1941

Sunday. hardly had we gone to bed last night than the sirens sounded again The all clear did not come til 4am. Sunshine today. At 1.30pm sirens once again, lasted about 1/2 an hour. 16 planes shot down last night

3rd may 1941

Put the clocks back an hour today Visited Mrs Mitchell. Marion thinks Beryl's adventures very exciting.

2nd May 1941

Sirens at 9.30pm all clear at 11pm 12.30 sirens wailed again just as Bertie had got into bed. All clear 1/2 an hour later

1st May 1941

A quiet night. Marion having much amusement out of Beryl's adventures, urging me to write more every minute of the day.

30th April 1941

Bombs and AA gunfire at airport, awakened Marion and myself at 12pm. As bombs continued falling and the place was lit up with red glow from incendiaries, I took all the bedclothes and hot water bottle into shelter and Marion and I lay down there. daddy was in the garden watching. At 2.00am all clear went so we slept the rest of the night in our own beds. We heard this morning they had been everywhere, Dawlish Torquay in fact just at our back door. Anthea came over to get her birthday present, a table and bench daddy had carpentered. USA consulate in Plymouth wrote all their records were destroyed on March 21st by fire, including Daddy's old passport with all his Belgian and French visas on it. Now they want number of new passport we got on March 3rd.

29th April 1941

Last night sirens went at 10.30pm and there was a non stop roar of planes heading for Plymouth. I thought Marion was asleep, she never said a word, but apparently lay awake listening to them going over our house until 11.30pm I lay awake until almost 2.00pm and still wave after wave were going over. We heard they attaked Plymouth again. At ten to five in the morning there was another alert, I awoke to hear the all clear at about 5.30am

27th April 1941

Churchill speaks tonight, sirens sounded at 10pm were over by 11pm.

26th April 1941 Planes roaring

Planes roaring woke me at 2am, shortly after came the sirens. I rang bell to daddy's room, Marion also woke up and crept into bed with me. Half and hour later all clear sounded and I returned to my bed and hot water bottle, as it is very cold again. What a climate. There has been a procession of people from Plymouth to neighbouring villages since the blitz, many are on foot and many have to sleep under hedges. Pray for the people of Plymouth the papers say.

25th April 1941 No alerts

No alerts last night, slept like a top. Our fire brigade got back safely. Plymouth had three nights in succession of savage blitzes, Exeter fire chief was killed there.
Marion said today: "Mummy do finish that chapter, I want to know the end, it is just like a story. So if that is not a compliment I should like to know, I only hope the publisher is as enthusiastic as my daughter!

24th April 1941

Sirens at 10 all clear 2 o'clock, but I did not hear it.

23rd April 1941 Flashes over Plymouth again

Sirens last night from 10-3am Flashes could be seen over Plymouth again and the night was so still, distant thuds could be heard. Ann's father Reg Pyne has gone down there with Topsham Fire Brigade and they have not yet heard how he fared in the two and a half hours blitz last night. Marion's cold getting better.

22nd April 1941 Plymouth badly blitzed

Sirens wailed at 10pm. Soon we counted dozen bangs, bombs and AA guns in Exeter district. Marion still in bed with a cold, refused to go to shelter and said " I am just as safe in bed instead of shivering in the hall but you come into my bed and we will defy the Jerrys together.
We both lay perfectly quite listening to them roar overhead. I stayed awake till all clear at 3.30 Marion slept from midnight till 10.am next morning. I woke at 9am Mr Truman showed us a piece of last night's bomb, they went to see the damage which was nearer to us than the airport this time. While they were up there a time bomb that had been sandbagged went off. Plymouth was badly blitzed too, daddy saw one flash after another over there between 10 and 12. Marion hugged the breath out of me this evening and said.. "sometimes my love for you overcomes me and it surges out you see because I do not let it out as a routine!" Here they had eight time bombs near airport three went off in course of today with big bangs.

21st April 1941 London attacked again

No raid for us but poor London was attacked again. We had war pudding yesterday, sago made with half milk (it is rationed), half water, Sucron (in place of sugar) Lemon O (in place of lemon) there is also Sugar O and Onion O.
Mr Truman saw a German bomber brought down in flames at midnight, just back of our house, way off on the horizon. later it was learnt two of the crew escaped by parachute, one was only a boy of 17 on the point of collapse. Marion has composed the following verse on her literary mother...
When my mother's genius burns,
And the electric button turns,
When the light is lit, cause of writing fit,
Then I cannot sleep,
The disturbance is too deep!
In fact Marion is suffering from Beryl-itis, a new kind disease, the germ of which develops in our house! She expects me to write a chapter of my book Beryl every day and read it to her. The leaves of the chestnut tree are beginning to unfold and the plums are in full blossom, but weather will not settle. Big Ann said today. "They say if you can stand the English climate you can stand anything" A little girl we know here aged 5 and called baby Marion has mastoiditis and has had to operated on in a Birmingham hospital they so often get blitzed in that city. A self evacuated lady from Bristol with a great Dane and two Dachshunds, just came past and said in Bristol they get so used to bombardment they just go to bed as one cannot do anything anyway. She said noise of AA guns was worse than noise of bombs.

20th April 1941

Hitler's birthday, another raid free night here.

19th April 1941

Another raid free night for us but not for London.

18th April 1941

Raid free night. One is always so astonished to get awake in the morning! Ann Camp our evacuee, just had a letter from her sister in London. She wrote blitz was terrible, lasted 9 hours non stop, but London is carrying on, she adds and I am just off to work as usual. Last night went to great trouble trying to get the dining room table in to Marion's room to put over her bed to protect her. Unfortunately it would not go and to Marion's great merriment, we got stuck with it in her doorway so had to take it back.

17th April 1941

Last night Bertie having been in Exeter went to bed at 10.00pm and fell asleep. I had been in bed since 9, at 10.00pm sirens, so I pulled string of bell which Bertie has now hung between our rooms. Up he got, 15 minutes later all clear back he went to bed to be awakened by an alert at 3 am I slept till 4.am when AA gunfire woke me, At 5.am all was quiet and we went to sleep once more. Heard London had a terrible raid last night, our papers have not come yet at 10.am Up til now always come at 8 am. From middle of February till middle of March London had 18 nights raid free, Bertie asked me if I would consent to Snooksie [Marion] going to USA if he arranged for a passage for her on a Clipper. I refused so of course if anything happens I will get the blame. I cannot imagine the poor child i USA and I over here, unable to take care of her. Just heard our fire engine went to a fire in Honiton and fell into a crater on the way. Nobody was hurt. Anthea came to enquire after Marion said she Mary and Gilly slept under dining room table, their mother and others went under the stairs. Ann came also and said they had spent part of time in toy cupboard under stairs, then went upstairs again and again came down. What a life for the children.

16th April 1941 6 Jerries down!

Sirens from 10pm. All clear at 5.30am Planes overhead all the time, by glow on side of Woodbury Common our neighbours who remained in garden till 12.30am saw a plane crash in flames [we got 6 Jerries down] and also an oil bomb drop. This they thought fell on our Countess Weir gold links but later turned out to some 4 miles other side of Exeter. Plum trees all in blossom, bulbs coming out, bought some rose trees, Godetia and Clarkia seeds sprouting.

15th April 1941

Marion had a good laugh over another chapter of my story, especially when Daddy understood "stately miaou" instead of "stately mien", also when I got mixed up in reading the word "ynominious" Sirens at 11.00pm 2.00 am and 4.00am I did not hear the last two as I was very tired. weather still cold and blustery. Marion has a 101 temperature.

14th April 1941 Easter Monday

Easter Monday. What a night! four alerts , after second one at 11.00pm the sky lit up over airport after a Jerry had flown there very low. The glare illuminated our house, like moonlight and fire engine went racing past. The last alert was at 4.30am when a number of bombs fell around airport, meanwhile a big fire was set burning near Woodbury common. During all this ARP wardens would walk past the gate and stop for a chat. The Woodbury Common was not caused by Jerry but he came along later and dropped bombs on it which did no damage. Marion had a sore throat.

13th April 1941

At 11.30pm last night 3 bangs immediately, almost at the same time the all clear sounded. was just getting my feet back into bed when 3 more bangs sounded and Daddy who had gone into garden saw 3 flashes in the sky. So far we have not heard explanation of the mystery. Our milkman is a special constable and usually can give one the previous night's news. hope to go to church this Sunday morning for Easter Sunday, if Hitler permits and the sirens do not go. Milkman just been, said it was airport and coast bombs fell on. When Daddy asked how it was all clear sounded at the precise moment he replied "Oh he was a smart bloke and was just waiting for it!" Could not have imagined that under the circumstances people could keep up their spirits like they do. There is no doubt about it, the English are a calm race.

12th April 1941

Ann Pyne told us the night the bombs fell on airport that her parents "bundled me down stairs into the shelter"... "which is a toy cupboard under the stairs" she added
2pm sirens. My book continues malgre moi,[despite me] it has a way of taking me by the hands and pulling me along with it. Just before I began it I had the feeling as if something was about to burst out of me, rather like an eggshell must feel when the chicken is ready to come out of it! I wonder if the publisher will think it a good or bad thing that my story came out of me? As each chapter gets finished I read it to marion and her father and I watch her reactions. During one scene she began to gett wriggly which we considered a good sign for the book. Am just going to bed and listening for the sirens, so as to warn the others who are playing the piano. Sirens just went at 9.pm. Last night I was awakened at2.pm by the sound of machine gunning. Heard today it was airport being machine gunned.

11th April 1941

Sirens from 10 - 2.30am Did not get to sleep until 3.00am planes roared non stop over Topsham. Read two first chapters of my story to the family. Marion rolled with laughter, about Miss Natt and the cat. I take her as a judge of what I write as it is to be a children's story. After we went to bed, she told me I had better not make the boy older than thirteen, for she did not think I could manage him otherwise. She thought I knew more about girls than I did about boy. Today Good Friday a flock of sheep went past our window, they stretched from our house all the way down the road to the cottages.

8th April 1941

9.15pm sirens. 10.00pm all clear and another alert from 2-2.30am but I let the family sleep through it. Ann came and offered us another kitten as a cat belonging to a woman who already has six cats, was going to have kittens and Ann said she would have too many if she kept kittens also!
Daddy has made several pretty chairs,one a rocking chair for Ann. She is always bringing us wild flowers. It is awfully difficult to remain quiet and not call to Bertie when I hear sirens at night, but I do not want to wake Marion unnecessarily.

7th April 1941

Daddy's birthday. Last night 3 alerts between 10.30 and 3.00am 6pm another one today and at 9.00pm until 5am.

6th April 1941

54.45 - 6.15pm an alert. From 10.30 to 12.30 there were no less than 4 alerts. Bertie had gone to bed when the last one sounded, but he got up again and dressed, then went back to bed and asleep. At 3.00am the all clear sounded. I pity the poor ARP wardens, chasing back and forth from their homes. A husband and wife belonging to our section have 1/4 mile to walk to their post in Denver House from behind Water Tower. The home Guard practise in the paddock behind us belonging to Pyne's.

5th April 1941

Sirens before dark at 8.15pm followed very shortly by about 10 bangs, bombs on or near airport. Marion was reading in bed and thought it was thunder, i had my head out of sitting room window and called to daddy 'What a noise those Jerry are making over the airport" when the first two bangs occurred. I soon pulled my head in and got Marion into shelter. Daddy saw the big black shapes come back over nurse's house, Sunnyside, quite slow and very low. I am writing this at 9.00pm hoping they will not return, but planes can still be heard flying. at airport they fired red flaming onions at the Jerry bombers. Our fire engine just rushed up there. 9.20pm. All clear just sounding. We call Xmas bells or Clara and the other Moina wailing. Anthea went primroseing to Bridport and their van was searched for two escaped convicts from Dartmoor. She showed us a hen's egg, not much bigger than a marble!

4th April 1941

I heard this morning that bombs fell on runway of airport. Our help has gas drill (putting on gas mask) with her 5 year old boy and he asked her what it was for. " well some day Jerry might come over and give us a bit o gas"Roy thought a bit then said "Mum, we don't want his gas, we've got that" pointing to gas jet in their bedroom. 9pm Bristol attacked again and Plymouth.

3rd April 1941

Alert for 10 minutes at 5.30. Another plane shot down o our coast this morning. Planted Marigolds and Shirley Poppies. 8.45 sirens wail again, planes roar overhead, hearing 2 bombs fall Marion and I go into hall shelter. A fire is started where bombs fell, they evidently tried for airport, our fire engine just dashed past our house to fire. They recovered one airman, drowned, from plane that crashed yesterday, he had an iron cross, thought to be the pilot, 4 others went down. Plane was salvaged.

2nd April 1941

Sirens at 7am already 8am sirens at 8.30pm Got some of the flowers planted and rockery plants. 12th night London has been without a raid. A Jerry was shot down at Budleigh Salterton today.

1st April 1941

Alert at 4.30 Denver House have made a gas proof room in their attic. Now the poor animals are suffering for want of food. Even the birds cannot get their seed and one is not supposed to give them breadcrumbs. perhaps it will turn out a mercy after all that little Wiggy pussy died. He will at least not have to go hungry like the other cats. Dicky said it was awfully hard to feed their cat. When I make soup and strain it I give the thickening ingredients to Mrs Truman's dog Scampie and my does he enjoy it. Otherwise he only gets potatoes and gravy, even dog biscuits are almost unobtainable. When Daddy and Mr Truman say good night to each other they always add "I hope I shall not see you again tonight. Because if they do it means an alert.

31st March 1941 Uprising in Yugoslavia

A short alert at 2.30 and another at 5.30 Ann had just come to play with Marion when the sirens blared forth, so she said "I'll just run and tell Mother I am perfectly safe here" and off she dashed to return in a few minutes time after making a long nose, sticking out her tongue saying "That's for Hitler"

29th March 1941

No alerts for 7 days now. great rejoicing over the uprising in Yugoslavia, if only some of the enslaved countries could follow suit, so that some end of the war in view. Women being conscripted now. Lots of evacuees in Topsham from London, Bristol and Plymouth. No-one allowed to go to Plymouth now.Took Anne Pyne for a walk and saw two cats one rather fat, which caused Marion to ask if she were going to have kittens. Ann promptly said "I will listen and see if I hear them squeak" and putting her head down on the cat. She loves bringing us wild flowers. Asked me the other day if I noticed that she stuttered, which is a very marked characteristic of hers. Took some daffodils to cemetery for father's birthday, memorial being erected. Now that the jam and syrup ration has been reduced 1/2 lb per person per month, we are reduced to using barley sugar sweets [when one can get them to sweeten fruit puddings. Milk is to be rationed now also which will be bad for this family as we use so much, Marion is so fond of it.
I was going out this morning, an alert sounded at 11.00am but only lasted 15 minutes. Marion went to Gilly's birthday today and gave her a book. I have at last started writing a consecutive story, often I have had the urge, but it has never burst forth with such force before. This story has been inspired by the memory of my father, during my childhood in Australia.

23rd March 1941

Another night alert, Plymouth, a worse blitz this time.

22nd March 1941

Alert last night from 9-12 p.m. It was Plymouth's worst blitz yet. Saw little Jo from London, their house was blown up a few days after they left it to come down to Topsham. All she saved from her toys was one doll and two books which they brought with them.

19th March 1941

Marion's birthday, sirens sounded from 3.30 till 4 o'clock, to announce the day. Presents much appreciated, especially my gold ring with diamond, which Auntie Nell gave me when I was 15 years old and a fretsaw her Daddy gave her. In afternoon they made a doll's chair. Later Mary and Anthea came and they played tennis. At twelve, Marion says her legs are getting so long, they get in her way, Anthea's are so much more suitable being short!

17th March 1941

Last night at 9pm alert sounded, all clear at 2 am Our merchant's wife is an ARP warden, she had just undressed and got into bed when a second alert sounded, so she had to get up again. 3 more alerts were given, the last one about dawn. I woke up at each one.

15th March 1941

For a week nightly alerts, sometimes two in one night, or from 8 p.m. till 4.20. Marion and I go to bed at 9.15, she sleeps through alerts and all clear. Thank goodness, but planes and other noises wake me. Daddy goes into the garden many times, till 12 o'clock hunting Jerrys and colds, during alerts.

3rd March 1941

We went to USA Consul for replacement passports at 8.30 this morning. Our train from St David's Station, was only 20 minutes late. The ride down was lovely, sunny, and the sea view and red rocks beautiful. In Plymouth we saw a few houses destroyed and several windows blown out near the station, and returned as quick as we could by 1 p.m. train, without any incident. The night before on trip we had an alert from 8-9. then again from 10-11 and at 6.30-7 in the early morning. We heard later Plymouth had been attacked and Teignmouth, where a whole family of 5 had been killed in one house. As Consulate said, there had been 200 raids on Plymouth, we were surprised not to see more damage around the station, while some houses lay in ruins a huge new building was being constructed just near Consulate. In Exeter Mr Thomas, solicitor, took us to a Notary Public to have my signature witnessed.

2nd March 1941

Sirens sounded 3 times this week and last night we heard bombs dropping at Exmouth (killing 3 people).

22nd February 1941

For the third night in succession planes flew overhead for about 3 hours and sirens sounded. Consul wrote that Marion must go to Plymouth.

10th February 1941

I dressed Marion up in my former long white ball dress which fitted her like a glove. She is 5 feet 4 in tall in her shoes, and looked quite a grown up young lady, with fan and gloves, all complete.

8th February 1941

Had notice from US Consul Plymouth, requesting Marion and her father go to Plymouth to get the new passports that are being issued to Americans to prevent forgery. You can imagine with what pleasure I look forward to such a trip!

18th January 1941

On 9th January I went to bed with a feverish chill, having over 102 for first week. During this week planes roared overhead every night and sirens sounded. Night before last at 11 p.m. I heard 3 bombs drop. It appears they fell near Exeter Hospital. Last night 3 more crashed down in Exmouth, these shook our bungalow at 1 p.m. About a dozen people were killed, including 2 sisters of our butcher and a family of 4, evacuees from London. Marion slept through it all, she had to go to bed on 16th January herself, with a chill. This forced me to get help and I was lucky to engage a London evacuee who has been here for 3 months with her little boy of 5. Before she came, the windows of her flat had been blown out and boarded up. Nevertheless, she intends returning there in February, to spend her husband's leave with him. She merely says, as to the danger, "Well, if it is our turn, then we must go!"

24th December 1940

Over Xmas the sirens were silent, there was an air truce on both sides. Such a relief. I slept quietly in my own bed for 5 nights, although poor London got it again day after Boxing Day. Marion wanted to celebrate Xmas Eve so we did so, starting early, as we did not know there would be a truce, we lit the tree at 5.30. As usual Marion was wildly excited, especially over completing her "Alcott" collection with the book "Jack and Jill." Ann came in on Xmas morning and in the afternoon we had the Trumans to tea, while on Boxing Day we went to them. Both times we had great fun playing a card game called "Castles." Not hearing sirens is almost uncanny. I heard Gladys Carter had left her flat, as all windows had been blown out.

22nd December 1940

We had Dicky and Peter to tea this afternoon. At 6.45 sirens wailed, they waited until 9 p.m. with us, in the hopes of an all clear coming. Finally they left during a lull and just as they reached home, the next wave of planes came over and continued intermittently all night. Marion calls our new big sirens "Mariah", says it means like a big cat. The all clear Daddy christened "Xmas Bells".

21st December 1940

At 8.30p.m. sirens, 9.00p.m. all clear. 1 o'clock sirens again, 7a.m. all clear, this time I went to bed with Marion and fell asleep after first wave droned over. Liverpool again.
Recently we had a week free of alerts. After the big attack on Liverpool, people went about asking each other if they had had a pleasant night! One ARP warden, just started a Xmas pudding at 6 p.m., then sirens went, off she went to her post. At 7 with the all clear she started pudding again, at 8 more sirens and off she had to go again.

20th December 1940

We had an alert from 6-7, then again from 8-9.30. Marion and I went to bed, at 12 p.m. the sirens wailed again. I woke Daddy, then curled up on Marion's bed and counted 17 waves of bombers that went over. At 5 the all clear went. Poor Liverpool was the sufferer.

29th November 1940

At 9 p.m. Jerrys started to buzz overhead, Daddy saw them flashing a red light, then came 2 terrific bangs. At second explosion, Marion who was in bed with a cold, fairly leapt into the hall shelter and poor Wiggles dived under the buffet and stayed there almost an hour, panic stricken. After brandy and biscuits, milk for cat and hot water bottles, we returned to bed, half dressed. At 2.15 sirens sounded, then at 3 a.m. came the all clear. Next morning we heard two rows. Marion was very brave, after second bang she merely went as white as a sheet. Her chief concern was for Wiggy. When it was all over, she said "Mummy, cuddle me a bit". The noise must have been appalling for those near the explosion, it was bad enough here and we are nearly 3 miles from the spot.

25th November 1940

Last night we heard pop-pop of machine gunfire. It was 6 miles away, but sounded like right here.

21st November 1940

We both had colds and I had to turn my face to the wall, while Marion arranged the bridge table as a birthday table for me, while we were both in bed. Wiggy is 6 months old and has gained his freedom, returns very frequently to the house to Marion's great relief. We still keep him on a lead a little every day, so that he will not forget that quaint trick. He looks so cute, with his red lead, collar and bell. Anthea and Marion are making preparations for Xmas, a play is being rehearsed and Marion is to sing "When Knights were Bold".

9th November 1940

Marion got her first grown up dress, as she calls it. Dark navy blue tight-fitting bodice, sleeves and flared skirt, with lace collar and bolero. One day when I was trying it on I said: "Is this your front (meaning middle of waist)"? Promptly came her reply: "Well, can't you tell by by my face!"

8th November 1940

Read in Daily Mail that ship from USA to repatriate Americans was not being sent over, as Germany had refused it a safe conduct. Thank goodness, as now Bertie cannot sail to USA.

19th October 1940

Marion had a Halloween party with Jack-o-Lantern made from 25 lb pumpkin Daddy grew. Peter and Ann came. Marion dressed up as a ghost and we hung apples in air-raid shelter and scared the children. Had fishing for gifts and balloon fight afterwards.

11th October 1940

We went into Exeter, and had lunch, with music at Dellers. Every time we go into Exeter I wonder if we shall return, and should we return, if we will find bungalow and cat blown up by a bomb. Awful times to be living in.

20th September 1940

Had a letter from Rita saying Swan Court was blown up 10 days ago and nearly everything in her flat destroyed. She and her maid had a lucky escape, they had just left it and were downstairs. She is running a Red Cross Department in London, so is remaining. Anthea and family left for Bow London on 17th. On 16th had 2 air warnings, heard bombs at 2 p.m. Poor Wiggy [cat] is scared of aeroplanes.

17th September 1940

Had tea with Mitchells and played tricks on Daddy.
10 p.m. Heard bombs dropping on Exeter where 4 people were killed. We are busy collecting seeds from our garden for next year, in spite of the fact we may not be in existence any day... funny feeling that. No news from friends in London.

12th September 1940

We were all awakened with a big bang, next morning we heard from our milkman, a field with 20 cows which give us our milk, had been bombed, but without injury to the cows. Only casualty a tree! On another farm, quite near here, a crater 28 ft wide and 9 ft deep was made, also no casualties. A time bomb fell also in a big property. During afternoon, 4 bombs exploded in the distance. So we had a lively day. As Daddy says, "Every morning, when we get awake, one wonders if one has been killed". We take our baths in the morning now and go in with a prayer that we may get out before Jerry comes.
For three nights we slept blissfully, while London was getting the brunt of it. The children are getting up a sale for hospitals and Marion has been given all the hemming of dusters to do, as she is the only one of them who can hem.

5th September 1940

The general opinion is that 'we are on top' now and my husband and our neighbour say "Britain and US can lick the world" since British and US agreement over destroyers and bases.
Our tomatoes ripened beautifully in our garage. As Daddy is American, he says he does not grow "tomatoes" but "tom-ate-oes"!
Conversations between Anthea and Marion about Wiggles [cat] "Let us tie up Mrs Wiggles, she is eating the food out for the dolls". "Miss Wiggles", corrects Marion. 'How do you know'? "Well, she is not married!" "How do you know"? "Why she has not met any Mr Cats." "How do you know"? from Anthea again. "Except her brother" adds Marion. "Well, that does not matter", from Anthea. This was too much for Marion and subject was dropped. Next day Mrs Truman shoo-ed Sotty, a cousin of Wiggles, from her fish ponds. We do not want any gentlemen around here, she said. No, replied Marion promptly, we don't want any muddles yet!
A time bomb was dropped in Exeter not far from here and several rows of houses were evacuated for safety. I heard the crash of masonry at 1 p.m

4th September 1940

It is remarkable how we try and continue our usual routine of living, in spite of nightly raids. lst of this month 1 church, 4 thatched cottages burnt to the ground at 11.30 p.m., within view of Topsham and our fire brigade was sent for. Last night we saw flashes from a bomb falling on Exmouth. I have a cap of an incendiary bomb as a souvenir, rather a grim one, but everybody is collecting them, in the field. Today we are having whole Mitchell family to tea, 3 children will picnic on lawn, with Wiggles, under our big sun umbrella. No bread and butter, and saccharine instead of sugar, cannot use up our rations. Sirens are being used again.
photo shows Peter Mitchell

1st September 1940

We seem to be on Jerry's bus-route. Every night we hear them zooming around us. It is a strange feeling going to bed each night and wondering if 'you will be here the next day'. I now sleep on a camp bed in Marion's room and sleep better, being near her, in case of danger. We have put sheet iron trays, filled with sand, in attic over Marion's bed, as a protection against incendiary bombs and iron and sand bag protection at the windows. So now our bungalow is a little fortress! So we can only hope for the best.

23rd August 1940

They have started giving signals again for the raids. Bertie has built a shelter in our hall, into which we go and lie down, like rabbits when we hear the signal or the whoo-whoo of Jerry himself. We have a mattress on the floor, but it is jolly hard, and a tight squeeze for all three. I have decided not to wake Marion at night. Our kitten Wiggles is air-raid conscious, flies like the wind for shelter, even if only under a marrow leaf, when he hears the roar of planes. He is the one bright spot during a raid. Marion insists on having him with us in the shelter and puts his little red leash and collar on him, so he cannot bolt. After cutting capers for a while, he settles down between our feet and purrs so loud, we think he is a Jerry. We have made some silly mistakes such as missing air-raid signal and getting Marion up at 3 a.m. for the all clear. She is very indignant and says she will lock her door so we cannot wake her.

17th August 1940

They have ceased giving air-raid warnings, so now it is a matter of chance when you hear the loud drone of German machines overhead.

15th August 1940

Sirens went off at 6 pm. and during night, at 3.30am bombs could be heard dropping. The noise woke Marion.

13th August 1940

Daddy went to Exeter to buy anti-blast for windows and at 4.30 air-raid sirens were heard. He went into air-raid shelter in Queen Street with several hundred people. Marion and I, with Wiggles, tied up with us, lay down in the hall. Half an hour later all clear sounded. We now have stirrup pump, against incendiary bombs. Marion says: 'I don't see what there is to worry about an air raid, either you get blown up, then you don't know anything more about it, or you don't and it is alright, so why make a fuss about it all.' She always goes and fixes pillows and eiderdowns and torch and the kitten, in the hall herself during a daylight raid. I have spent 3 nights sleeping on floor in Marion's room.

8th August 1940

A midnight air-raid. Bombs dropped in Exeter. After an hour and half the all clear signal was given. We lay down in the hall and Marion talked like a gramophone, but was not a bit scared.

20th June 1940

Grandma died after six weeks illness with prolapse of rectum.

10th May 1940

Hitler invaded Norway and on 10th May there was an invasion by Hitler of Holland and Belgium

22nd April 1940

We gave a children's Easter party, inviting Peter, Mary and Anthea Pyne and Ann.

19th march 1940

Marion's birthday, there were 3 perfect rainbows, one in West and two in East. She got four books, Little Men and Little Women, Uncle Tom's Cabin, her Daddy made Marie Louise a pink bed. Just like her Mummy before her, she loves 'Little Women' and reads it over again almost daily. Her 11 year old criticism of it is that those writers wrote so much more naturally about real life, so different from present-day authors with their thrillers. She says she likes good books, not trash and her Mummy is gladof it.

24th February 1940

A storybook came to life for Marion, who had always led an indoor, hot house life. Anthea asked her to come over the fence and play in their field. 'Ihere were five of them and to Marion it was like a fairy tale, playing 'wild Indians', goats, bulls, etc.

Tiddles the cat got a swollen eye and we did not hear his faint mew at kitchen door again until 28th. To our great sorrow we found he had lost the sight of one eye. We and the cat were all awfully glad to see each other again, although she could not tell us so in words.

22nd February 1940

Our plum tree was brought over from Pyne's orchard, together with currant bushes and Mummy's climbing roses, which are called "Say Lady", for training over the front door. The plum tree is "The Czar".

27th February 1940

Finally, we heard of gas pokers, bought two and things went smoothly, for we were almost going crazy over the fires. In mother's bedroom we had installed a Cosy stove which heated very nicely, but hall and two other bedrooms were linke refrigerators. In the twm bungalow to ours live Mr and Mrs Truman, a childless couple, but they have a dog, Scamp, a cocker Spaniel and a car. On the other side Mrs Leigh lives, whose father owns large nurseries and fields all over Topsham. She has 3 children, Mary 14, Anthea 12, and Gilly, 4 years old. Next door to them is Anne Pyne 9,their cousin.

In spite of severest winter for 50 years in Devon, thermometer at 16 below freezing point, some little white-headed, green petticoated snowdrops peeped out of the garden middle of January. Our first flowers which we planted and put into the rockery to have them for Marion's birthday in March.

16th January 1940

Today came a severe frost which lasted for a fortnight and we had terrible trouble getting the fires to burn, as we knew nothing about lighting rules and forgot to buy pokers, shovels, brush and tongs.

6th January 1940 Topsham Devon

We wheeled Mother down to the bungalow and moved in. She liked her room very much.

23rd December 1939

To our surprise, Mark and Rowe brought our furniture to bungalow this afternoon. Floors had been painted and were still wet, so they had to return with it on 27th December. Our letters and those from Pitt & Scott telling of its arrival had crossed each other. After 27th we were terribly busy getting unpacked, which was very hard as everything could not possibly be put into the four roomed bungalow. Two huge Persian carpets could not be used, large mahogany writing desk, belonging to mahogany suite had to be put in garage, together with big round oak table, top of buffet, several chandeliers and three large armchairs. All this stuff was later sent to auction after Excise granted us permission to sell it, for it had been brought into the country free of duty as household goods.

5th December 1939

In the morning we went by taxi to Lloyds Bank, stopping on the way at Selfridges, where Marion went through Toyland and was given a present of Ludo by Father xmas himself. At 2 o'clock we left for Exeter, on 6th, arriving at 5.30 again in the black-out.
Arrived in Exeter, we went to Westem Hotel for 3 days, then we moved nearer town to Hotel Osborne, which was very nice. We stayed here till 21st December, moving to Mrs Mitchell, in Topsham, as paying guests, so as to be near the bungalow we bought.
We spent a very jolly Xmas, with Dickie (Hazel) and Peter Mitchell. Long table, in garlanded dining room, stockings hanging from mantelpiece. On christmas morning, turkey and plum pudding.

4th December 1939

The English visas came for Daddy and Marion, so we changed our plans and left for England. Very few people on board the Cross Channel steamer, Prince Charles. We had a first class cabin for mother, just opposite was Ambassador and his wife. One of the sailors asked Daddy: "Are you the Ambassador, Sir?" when we were going through boat drill. In case we struck a mine, we were shown lifeboat No. 2 on upper deck that we must go to. Our lifebelts were strapped on and worn during the whole trip. We remained close to French Coast as far as Cap Gris Nez which was silhouetted against a golden and glowing red sunset, as we passed. At this point, French destroyers came into view and close by two little fishing vessels. After dark we started to cross the Channel in a choppy sea, as a storm was brewing. Planes began to fly overhead, about six in all and across on the English side, were several British destroyers, chasing through the waters, with as a background the White Cliffs of Dover. An unforgettable scene. At this point, however, all but my husband became violently sea-sick. Marion was very surprised, as such a thing had never happened to her before. She sat very sstill and astonished. "It is by overcoming that we learn to overcome." Up till then the trip had been a joyous adventure for her. When we had to line up for passport examination, it was a pretty weak little girl whom the steward escorted downstairs and put into a deck chair. It was black-out before all the formalities were over, and by the light of a torch, we picked our way through the customs, along the quay, following the stretcher which two sailors were carrying, with grandma. We left Daddy at the customs and went on to our hotel, suddenly out of the blackness a policeman appeared with his flashlight and challenged us to stop. Finally a few minutes which seemed ages in the blackness, we found our hotel just across from the landing pier. Here we stayed one night and enjoyed our first big log fire in a huge lounge. Next morning we went on to London. A lovely 8 cylinder Packard ambulance met us at Charing Cross. Grandma, Marion and I got into it.

Daddy, Cooks man and baggage followed in a taxi. We drove past Buckingham Palace for Marion's sake and saw the Royal Standard flying. the King had just returned from a visit to France. He crossed to France the same time as we crossed to England, on 4th December 1939.

At Paddington Royal Western Hotel, we had two beautiful double rooms, with private baths and telephones.

10th November 1939

So to French Consul for visas for France as there is a scare in Belgium of a German invasion. Furniture packed and left the house on November 21st to entrain for France, we ourselves were going to follow on November 23rd.

3rd September 1939

England and France declare War on Germany. We have great difficulties about getting money sent over from England.

19th March 1939

Gave our first Belgian birthday party, guests were Jose, a Dutch girl who could hardly speak French, Georgette, the daughter of our Belgian proprietor, and Sheila Brown. Marion thought it a wonderful day and loved her presents, especially a Built-Rite cottage with furniture, we ordered from America.
Marion saw one of my bank letters from Lloyds and read the headlines Cox and King's branch. So making a pun she quick as a flash said: "Oh, I did not know "Cocks sat on King's Branches"!

8th January 1939

Marion, little monkey, came up behind me and put a mechanical toy Micky Mouse that somersaults into my hair, which I had taken down for a bath. The beastly thing somersaulted all the way up my head, winding my long hair tight ground its arms and legs. It took the combined efforts of my husband and Marion, with a lot of tugging and p@g, to disentangle him. I thought I should have to cut the hair off to get him out.

Another day she outdid herself in silliness, by putting her father's gold ring (which she had taken off his finger and run away with) into an envelope and stuck it in our letter box in the entrance hall She felt rather small about it though when she saw what a stupid thing she had done.

24th December 1938

We had our traditional Xmas tree and Marion was as excited as ever. The chief present was a martin fur for her neck, besides Snow White cut-outs, record and a long dress which she at once put on. To surprise me she learnt a French poem of 16 verses, after having pretended she could not learn more than 4 verses of it when I was teaching it to her, during her lessons. On Xmas -Eve she recited it without a mistake.
We had a White Christmas, deep snow and 12 celsius below zero.

16th September 1938

Aunty Molly came to stay with us. She sleptin the little orange room. When she left on 28 September she gave Marion some money to buy gifts for us all, instructing her to keep it a secret till she had gone. Eight days later Marion came into our room, saying, "Oh, Mummy, I have the tickles all over, I have such a wonderm secret." Then she told us about the money which she had put away, in the secret drawer of her antique secretaire. She intended buying presents for us all at christmas and keeping the secret about where the money came from forever. However, she thought if she bought us so many gifts, Mummy, might wonder if she had stolen the money from me to do so. Thus she decided it was better to tell me now.

20th August 1938

Marion started to learn the piano, her father is teaching her from "Smallwood's Tutor" book. In one month I taught her to play a little song called 'Robin' with both hands and by heart. For this achievement, I gave her a turquoise ring.
She continues to write stories and has a book full. Cat stories, she makes up to read to her little English friend, Sheila. We sent one of her fairy-tales to her school in Baltimore, who replied that she had a very good command of English. Her descriptions, they said, showed excellent imaginative ability. She is also passionately fond of her drawing, of which her school remarked that she had a very good of form. She has never had any lessons at all in drawing.

15th August 1938

Grandma's birthday we celebrated by wheeling her out on Dgue, then listening to the band on the Place d'Arfnes. We gave her a pink dressing jacket, handkerchiefs, a bunch of roses and a pot plant.

24th April 1938

Marion informed me she would rather not investigate her money in mines, you lose it too easily. She added, "I am learning so many big words." Last night, as she had a cold, I put a hot water bottle in her bed. It was very hot, so she asked me to take it away, then she stretched out her feet and said: "Oh, it is lovely and warm, where it is not!"
Whenever she is ill she says "Isn't it lovely to have a Mummy to take care of me and again "Oh, Mummy, what would my colds do without you."

19th March 1938

Marion celebrated her ninth birthday in Ostend and had her little friend, Sheila Browne to tea. Her father brought her secretaire in mahogany from Wiesbaden. She was delighted with this gift as it is 100 years old, and has a secret drawer. She also received two very good books on costumes through the ages. Anything old-fashioned gives her great pleasure. At the same time we brought a small piano and told her that was another birthday present. So she was well pleased with her first Belgian birthday.

3rd March 1938

Her father joined us permanently in Ostend.

25th January 1938

We started third year Calvert. She has already done 2 1/4 years of spelling in one year and can consequently read very well, even such books as Queen Victoria by Sitwell, if I allowed her. Calvert School commanded her drawings very highly, also her handwriting in ink.

December 1937

Our first Belgian Christmas was very nice. We had a very pretty small tree with coloured lanterns and Marion's presents beneath it. The favourite one was a big doll, fair hair and blue eyes, called Marie Louise. Her father gave us some conjuring tricks during the evening. She was very proud of a brown and beige woollen scarf she knitted for her father. It took her 26 days.

August 1937

Marion is still very fond of drawing and painting, she is writing fairy stories in a book and drawing the pictures for them. She now says she thinks when she grows up she will become an authoress and illustrate her own books. She is also very keen on talking stories (chapters she calls them) and acting the part. She will go on for over an hour (if allowed to) amusing herself this way.

27th July 1937

Daddy came and stayed 3 weeks till August 26th when he and Katinka returned to Wiesbaden. We went for a trip to La Parme and had a donkey ride, then to Le Coq and climbed a sand dune. From the top we could see the lighthouse at Ostend.

3rd July 1937

We moved into flat, grand piano would not go upstairs as they were not wide enough, and was eventually sent back to Wiesbaden.

26th June 1937

At 1 p.m. we drove to the station in an ambulance and left for Ostend, in 4 sleepers, as we took our German maid with us for 2 months. Reached our destination at 10 a.m. next morning and went to hotel for 8 days till I arranged our flat.

5 thJanuary 1937

Today we had to interview a new maid. Marion left folding doors ajar and getting on all fours peeped through at the applicants. Her powers of observation are wonderful. She told me one girl stood, till I came in, while the other sat down, took off her gloves and began to read papers. She thought the first would do more work, all this from a 7 3/4 year old little girl. She explained it was because' she was a "drawer" that she noticed these things.

2nd January 1937

We went to Hartmuts, birthday party, their house was beautifully decorated. They took photos of the 3 children,and had a lottery. Marion won 4 presents. When she came home, she said to Mummy "I am a nice little girl, but I am spoilt, people give me so many things".

24th December 1936

On Christmas Eve Marion dressed up in the pink silk dress with white hide frills which I made her. She loves putting on long frocks. A little bell tinkled, and the folding doors were thrown wide open to reveal the large lighted tree, glistening with silver and gaily coloured balls, with the toys spread out beneath. A Hansel and Gretel house made of cake and a Punch and Judy show, a stamp album and a boy doll were the chief attraction. Marion looked a picture kneeling beside the tree and singing a Xmas carol, also the "Grisly Bear". Our visitors remarked how musical she was. She has been busy for weeks making Mummy a fancy work mat and her grandma a serviette bag she designed herself. I dressed up in red slippers, a red dressing gown and a mask to play Santa Caus. At first she said she was frightened and wanted to get under her chair, thinking it might be a real Father christmas, then she caught sight of a bit of my soft, white chin and pulled off the mask. Marion gave us a Punch and Judy show about the 'abdication of the King"! She was allowed to stay up till 9.30. Grandma and Auntie Toto were at the party too.

Marion can play a Xmas carol with one hand and all five fingers, her latest craze is playing patience, she is awfully keen on it. Aunt Toto showed it to her once and grasped it and showed it to me next day.

8th December 1936

Lucy's mama invited us in their box to 'Hansel & Gretel' and 'Puppenfee". Marion looked sweet, like Lord Fauntleroy, in her blue velvet dress, with net frilled collars and cuffs. She was very excited at being up till 10 o'clock at night and told the French governess she was "I am quite a big lady, I can stay up fill 10". Marion was a bit afraid of the witch and put her arm around Lucy's neck. When the witch took the children prisoner, Marion turned to Lucy's mama and said 'I stuck my tongue out at the old witch". Later, when in Puppenfee the English Lord and his family came in, Lucy's mama said "There comes the stiff English family", Marion promptly turned to her and said "English people are always stiff". When Lucy admired Marion's frock. she said to her 'You would hardly believe it, but Mummy makes all my frocks and my grandma smocks them. Perhaps you have not heard, my grandma has crippled fingers."
Today Marion's Daddy said "I suppose Lucy's Mama reads to her." 'Oh no," she replied, "her mama is rich, she would not do that, like my mummy. My mummy is a real mummy."

20th November 1936

At six this evening Marion's Daddy came back from America. Dressed in her blue velvet frock, with frilled net collars and cuffs, she waited in the hall to receive him with her drum and wooden horse. There was great excitement when all the presents were unpacked.

3rd November 1936

Today at the bank a clerk said to her "Still getting bigger". She promptly replied "Well, I never get smaller!"

9th October 1936

We went down to station at 8 to see Daddy off to America. Marion sent some of her drawings with him, to show relations in US and was very particular that he should not give any of them away over there, they all had to be brought back. If anyone wanted a picture she would make a copy and send it to them.

6th July 1936

We had a little English boy, aged to tea, called Robin. When he left his grandmother told him to kiss Marion he did. Afterwards her father said wasn't he a nice little boy, he gave you a kiss. "Yes, she replied, "but he was told to". Then she added, "Hartinut kissed me once (her boyfriend, of same age as herself) but he asked first if I had a cold."
One day Marion asked me if ladies ever became maids or only country girls, like our Katinka.
She announced one day that when the world was first made, there must have been just two babies, a boy and a girl whom the angels looked after, till they grew up and had other little boy and girl babies.

3rd June 1936

When we were visited today by the new chaplain and his wife, Marion afterwards said, "I didn't know if he was a MAN or a clergyman!" She also said they had very funny English talk (having heard so few real English people.

12th May 1936

One of Marion's front teeth has just come through.

12th April 1936

This morning Marion was awake at six, excitedly waiting till 8.30 for the Easter egg hunt. She still believes the bunnies bring chocolate eggs and hide them. When she opened two little parcels, wrapped in gold paper, she said "This is from Mummy, the bunnies do not have this kind of paper!" It was a handpainted inkpot and blotter, Black Forest painting. She is now starting to write with pen- and ink.

Marion is simply crazy about Queen Mary since she saw the pictures of Royal Family during Princess Marina's wedding. She has a framed picture of the Queen hanging beside her bed which came out of The Daily Telegraph, sent by Uncle Harry during King George's funeral ceremony. She talks to the queen as if she were really them and plays, she is Mary, a small friend of queen. She will tell herself a story out loud for hours on end, if permitted.

11th April 1936

Today she was very naughty, threw a handful of Lux soapfiakes over my hair, for which 1 gave her some smart strokes of the stick

7th April 1936

She was much excited over her father's birthday, for which she helped me bake a cake and she bought golf stockings and a tie herself, decorating breakfast table with forget-me-nots and cowslips. She loves writing compositions and illustrating them for Calvert School,in fact she enjoys learning. She even refuses to take the ordinary holidays, saying she wants to get above the other children who started schooling Easter 1935, whereas she commenced 5 November 1935.

19th March 1936

I arranged a pretty bridge table with presents all wrapped up in Aunty Molly's gold paper, beside her bed. She awoke at 6.45 on her birthday morning. A birthday party with Hartrnut and Ursula and a few grown ups, with a large chocolate cake and seven white candles. Table decorated with 4 tall vases around a cake, filled with her birthday flowers, snowdrops and forget-me-nots and silver ribbon draped over to each corner of table. She still loves drawing and painting with crayons better than anything. We have collected several hundred pictures of hers. She sings very prettily, and knows a lot of Christmas carols which she sings perfectly in tune..

December 1935

Marion lost 2 front teeth, upper jaw. Marion very interested in Eugene, baby boy born 7th November where her grandma lives.

5th November 1935

I started teaching Marion Calvert system.

July 1935

Marion and I went to Schwallbach to recover from influenza

12th August 1935

When shown moon through bedroom window, Marion, upon seeing the face in it, asked if that were God. Later she fetched a small magnifying glass to see it better.

16th April 1935

Two of Marion's lower teeth are loose.

2nd April 1935

Tonight Marion asked me where people went to when they were 100 years old. I told her the angels came and took them to heaven. Where is heaven Mummy? Up in the sky. Does one starve there Mummy? Can one take one's dolls too? Oh, what a lovely adventure, she then said.

19th March 1935

Mummy arranged Bridge table with flowers and presents, one a pretty stable for ha-ha and wheeled it into Marion's room beside her bed. In afternoon Hartmut came to tea, bringing a bunch of violets. We had chocolate birthday cake with 6 candles in red.

4th March 1935

Dr Bahre visited Marion on account of her ear. I asked him whether to continue camomile compress. He being very serious took a long time to think over his answer, and Marion said "It is difficult, is it not Dr Bahre"? Of course he burst out laughing then.

29th Janaury 1935

Marion learning to sew backstitch, a dress for Topsy. She told her father if he made ice this summer to make it hotter!

18th January 1935

Marion in bed with bad cough. While sick in bed she cut the curls off her doll Daisy. I Locked her new drum away, as punishment. However, she said, Mummy, instead of locking the drum away, lock the scissors away, because that is what I did it with it! She did not like Daisy because she had curls and Marion herself had not.

14th January 1935

Marion improving in drawing, becomes keener than ever about it. Draws large heads now. She loves playing Cinderella, etc. with me. Today Marion drew on her white stockings and combies with pencil and told her first fib about it. In evening when I found she had not told me all, I would have nothing to do with her, saying she made me unhappy. She at once burst into tears and begged me to be friends. At length, upon her saying she was sorry and promising never to tell a story again, I forgave her and she hugged and kissed me many times.

29th December 1934

Tea at Bsse v Schertil. I sent a painting in coloured pencils, done by Marion, to Dr Fleischer. They could hardly believe she had done it alone. At tea with Baroness, Marion stated they must not bring the puppy in to see her, because since she had the rupture nothing must come near her.

26th December 1934

We went to pantomime, Herzlieb taking Toto and Katinka. At first Marion asked not to be taken to theatre again and hid her face on my shoulder, but enjoyed it afterwards. However, when devils came in last act she got frightened again and said they made her head ache. All night she kept waking up, dreaming of those devils. They seem to have made a lasting impression on her, nobody dares call her little devil in German anymore. She says they are too ugly, she wants to be a Princess.

25th December 1934

Marion was singing carols in bed and told her ha-ha that she was getting ready for next Christmas, practising the songs. Played all day with Baby doll which she adores and calls Rosebud.

24th December 1934

At 6.30 we went in to see tree, brilliant with electric candles and Marion's toys spread out beneath its branches. The favourite thing was an American baby doll and bathroom and a new kitchen. Many presents arrived from friends. Marion was terribly excited and said afterwards she was so surprised at what Father Christmas brought and such a lot. A little bell tinkles to tell us when it is time to enter sitting room which has been locked all day, so as not to frighten Santa Claus and his helpers away. A very tired little girl at last was taken to bed at 8.45 p.m

5th December 1934

Overheard Marion saying to her Daddy "Mummy tries to be nice to you, but you will not let her." She got up today and we played school in afternoon. She is rather fractious since her illness, been too spoilt at hospital, enquired of me where I could spank her now!

21st November 1934

Mummy's birthday. Marion gives her a huge white cake covered with coconut and as many white candles around it as Mummy's age (Marion says 22!). Marion goes for her first outing since operation, in her little go-cart which is much too small. Finding children staring in surprise at such a big girl being wheeled, she said "Mummy, why did you not write a note, saying I am sick and pin it on me".

10th November 1934

Visit from Dr Furstchen and surgeon, Marion now wants to stay at hospital, saying
It is so nice, having things brought to me." 3.30 Father comes up in car, Marion already dressed. Stretcher is rolled up to room again and Sister Emilie lifts her on to it. Sister Minna accompanies us to car and lifts Marion on to my knee. Slowly we drive home, Daddy carried her upstairs and lays her on the couch, where all her ten dolls are sitting waiting for her. Each one gets a special greeting from their small mama. Mary Lamb, the baby doll, Daphne, Forget-me-not, Rosie, Topsy,, Daisy, Buttercup, Lily, Pansy and Bluebell the favourite.

8th November 1934

Katinka came to hospital and stayed with Baby while I went home to see Grandma. While I was away, Sister Emilie brought an 8 day old baby, tucked into a pillow to show Marion. They put it on her knee, but she was not allowed to touch it. I brought boxes of chocolates and handkerchiefs to give nurse when we leave on Saturday. In the morning stitches were taken out. Marion was very brave, never made a sound while ten were taken out. Later Sister Minna came in to give her lunch, asked if she was crying, she replied "No, I am not crying, only a few tears came." Hartmut came to see Marion with his mother, importantly carrying a box of chocolates with a red flower. A few days before he sent a bunch of red roses to his little friend and she said ever so tenderly "Oh, dear Hartmut."

2nd November 1934

Still fasting, Mummy wets lips with a hanky soaked in water. That evening she became disgusted with Paulinenstift and indignantly told Sister Minna "This is not a nice place, you get nothing to eat and have to go dirty", as she had not been given a big bath.
The following days she was thoroughly fed up with being in hospital until on fifth day she was allowed to draw and paint with crayons. Sisters make a great fuss of Marion, Sister Emilie hugs her and both are much amused at her quaint German. She told her father in Sister Minna's presence, "They did not make the food good here, because the nurses learnt from men (doctors gave orders) instead of ladies teaching them to cook."

1st November 1934

Nurse appears at 6.30 to get her patient ready. Mummy reads a book to Marion until the stretcher is rolled up to door. Baby is delighted at being taken for a ride, but screams and fights off anaesthetic. Mummy holds her until she is asleep. I wait in hall until operation is over and went upstairs quickly to get Bluebell whom she wanted to have before she went into operating room. Sister Minna and I take her back to her room in lift. Half an hour later she came to with paroxysms of crying and kicking her legs. Calmed down when Mummy, who knelt for hours at her bedside, spoke gently to her. Auntie Molly reached hospital at 10 o'clock, at same time as Daddy. Nothing was given to her to either eat or drink.

30th October 1934

Marion very excited about going to hospital, telling everyone, superintends packing of suitcase. Wants six books taken, so many other toys, that there is hardly room for our clothes. When suitcase is packed she sits on top and puts Bluebell in coat and hat to guard it. At 5 we take a taxi to Paulinenstift, operation is decided upon with Professor Wiedhoff. Upon reaching surgical department we find Ha-Ha nurse Sister Emilie is still there and she remembers her former patient of 5 years ago. A room is made ready and Baby is put to bed, then head doctor visits her. She is only given a cup of soup to drink , and in the bustle she is not washed, as is customary at home, where I give her a bath or a good wash all over.

29th October 1934

I became suspicious of slight swelling Marion had and called in Dr Furstchen, who diagnosed a "rupture" and recommended an operation. That same eve,n'mg arrangements are made for Baby and myself to go to Paulmenstift following day at 5 p.m. Marion looking forward to going to hospital where Ha-Ha was.

October 1934

We took Hartmut and Marion to see the Lilliputians.
Went by train to Chausseehaus, Hartmut and Marion enjoyed swing at restaurant in midst of woods, then walked the children back to Dotzheim, our child very tired at journey's end.

August 1934

A quarrel because Hartmut will not let Marion have any shapes to make mud pies in.

July 1934

Aunty Toto laughs at the way Hartmut rides his tricycle, softhearted Marion scolds Aunty Toto and kisses Hartmut. However, his equanimity has been shaken and later on he gets in a temper with Marion, throwing the seat of bike at her, then walks home in a huff, because I corrected him. Marion vainly called after him: "Hartmut do you love me?"

June 1934

Aunty Molly brought Stamy and left him in garden to play with Baby and Hartmut. The latter starts cheeking Stamy who comes over and gives him a spanking. Marion is horrified and tells Auntie Molly.

February 1934

Marion vaccinated twice in succession without success, by order of police.

1st January 1934

We call for Hartmut several times a week and take him for walks with us.

29th August 1933

We returned home and Grandma and Katinka had the house decorated with flowers. Marion at first stood before her Ha-Ha and looked to see if she had changed during our absence, then gave her a kiss

3rd August 1933

Off on a summer holiday to Black Forest, Schonrnuuzach. At hotel there are twenty children, Baby's great friend is Alice, a little German girl living in Rotterdam. There is a swimming pool in front of hotel and the guests tumble in and out of it all day long. We take Baby in red bathing suit, to paddle in river that runs in front of the hotel. One day we took an omnibus excursion, 6 hours to Mummelsee. Another day we went by train to Freudenstadt, then again took a long drive through the woods to a lake high up on one of the many surrounding hills. The children loved going to see a tiny rabbit which had escaped the scythe when the grass in fields was cut down and which one of the maids had brought to the hotel. We also often fed the 3 cows and one calf.

10th January 1933

Marion went with Mummy to see Dr Orb who did not care to talk before the child, so Marion sat for an hour, as good as gold, and drew pictures (people) without once disturbing us, in the waiting room.

24th December 1932

While Mummy went out to buy a turkey, Father Christmas came, all dressed up in red. This time he had boots on! Marion, clinging to Auntie Toto's hand, sang a Christmas song to him in a tiny very high pitched voice. He gave each one a small gift out of a basket.

27th July 1932

We three and our baggage motored down to Wispertal to spend a fortnight at a farm, Lankenmulle. the owners had a little girl one year, younger than Marion, and the two children were always together. We used to take Hitrude for walks with us and put the two of them into rowing boat in duck pond. They had trout fisheries there and Marion loved watching them catch the trout. Marion's great joy was feeding the chickens in barnyard with lhldtrud. One muddy day while doing this, they bumped into each other and fell into a big puddle of mud. 1Eldtrud we promptly passed in through kitchen window to her mother to get clean and Marion's white clothes were a sight. Lotte, the horse, was a great delight too.

1st January 1932

Aunty Molly came to see our tree, took Marion on her knee and brought a doll, with a brown handkerchief tied around him to keep him warm as he had no clothes.

24th December 1931

Father Christmas came for first time, to see if Marion was a good little girl. She was a bit scared of him. Afterwards she told us that "Father Christmas had on red shoes like Mummy"! Baby stuck a pillow under her dress in front and said it was like Uncle Hans' fat tummy!

22nd March 1931

Aunty Molly gave a tea with Stanny to celebrate Baby's birthday.

19th March 1931

Three aunties to a small birthday party, Daddy still in US. He sent Marion a birthday telegram.

30th January 1931

Two lower back teeth. Cannot say Grandma, so says Ha-Ha instead.
Father left for America to see after Grandad there, as Uncle Percy died on 21st January.

25th December 1930

Large Christmas tree with electric lights on Exmas Eve, presents lying beneath, Grandmother well enough to be wheeled in for a short time

12thJuly 1930

Baby took her first real walk alone, toddled from mother's room, through dining room all over sitting room.

19th March 1930

Baby’s first birthday, we gave a party, all grown-ups and she sat in her little playing pen in sitting room, enjoying it all. Mrs Haggie brought white teddy bear. Auntie Nellie sent Mary from a Bavarian toy factory. Auntie Mollie brought a rubber swan, with bunch of violets tied to its neck.

14th March 1930

Two more teeth arrived, one at the top, one below.

9th March 1930

Baby's first tooth made its appearance today, below right.

15th December 1929

She can sit up alone. 71 centimetres long. I bought a large doll, her first big one, that said "Mamma", her eyes were very big and round, as she eagerly reached for it.

17th November 1929

Grandmother returned from Paulmentoft hospital and was treated at home by Dr Mirkovski.

14th October 1929

Grandmother fell ill with ulceration of stomach.

4th September 1929

She tried to sit up and caught hold of her toes.

31st August 1929

We moved into our new flat in Wilhelmstrasse 11, with Grete, our maid, mother, myself and Baby, driving down in an open carriage.

2nd July 1929

Baby reached for grandfather's locket, around my neck, while I was feeding her.

19th June 1929

Baby could hold up her head.
Uncle Percy came to visit us for ten days from Philadelphia USA. He gave Baby her bottle one day, saying she was a bit of his own flesh and blood.

9th June 1929

She measured 53 centimetres

3rd May 1929

Baby smiled for the first time and has steadily gained weight.

5th April 1929

When she was 17 days old we took her to Pension Primavera, snugly lying on a large cushion, with a big white shawl wrapped all around her. Nurse went with us and remained there ten days. Then we returned to our flat with Nurse Gertrude who stayed six weeks with us.

19th March 1929

Marion Ross Bethel born on 19th March 1929 in Rotes Kreuz Wiesbaden Germany at 4 a.m. Tuesday, weighing 5 Ibs. She was so dainty and tiny, nurse Marie one day brought her to me in the basket, they kept wadding in. I insisted on having the little darling with me in my room, instead of leaving her in the nursery with other babies. She had two tiny curls on top of her head which disappeared completely later on.