1940 Remarkable Scrapbook Diary of British Woman Observing the Early Days of World War 2 (WWII) and Recounting the Blitz Bombing10316
On offer is a superb, first-hand account of ‘the Blitz’ - the bombing of southern England in the early days of World War Two, combined with a journal of a young entrepreneurial woman engaged in the family farming business.
This diary belonged to Marjorie Maud Lush (1917-2016), a 22 year old girl living on a farm in southern England, specifically in Hampshire. She was born in Ringwood, Hampshire to Louisa Maude Thorne and Albert Ernest Lush. She never married, passing away at 98 years of age.
In 1940, she was living with her parents on their family farm, Badmington Farm, near Fawley just outside of Southampton. She is recorded as working as an assistant to her father in a small herb business and many entries refer to that. She was certainly aware of what was going on in the war and her account provides a fabulous insight into the experience of the war from an English layperson:
“News of the bombing of the Altmark by the men of HMS Cossack and the rescue of between 3 and 400 English merchantmen who had been prisoners on board since the battle of the River Plate. They had been captured by the Graf Spee” [Feb 17].
“Raid on Portsmouth (dinner time) hit a brewery and one or two small boats in the docks. Very heavy gunfire. Terrible smoke over P. Saw one man come down by parachute - landed in water off Calshot” [Aug 12].
Amidst all of her day-to-day activities are her entries about the rising tide of bombings as Hitler’s Luftwaffe sought to pummel England to her knees.
“London had its first bad raid. Gunfire here nearly all night long” [Sept 8].
“Another raid on London. Gunfire here until the ‘wee wee hours’. Supposed to have been invaded yesterday. Church bells were rung and L.V.D.’s were ready but nothing happened although the C.O. told Mr. Soffe that we had been very hush hush on the subject” [Sept 9].
That ‘gunfire’ was the planes of the RAF engaging the waves of German bombers in what came to be known as the Battle of Britain. The Battle of Britain raged for several moths between July and October in 1940 and resulted in Germany’s first defeat in WWII.
Earlier, she had written:
“The day Hitler said he was going to be in London. A tea party was arranged with places saved for Hitler and Mussolini but message received from H - “Regret not being able to attend; set out as arranged but blown back by a hurricane!!. Raid over Southampton again…7 or 8 balloons were shot down…” [Aug 15].
The “hurricane’ reference being a nod to the RAF Hurricane fighter that made up the majority of RAF Fighter Command.
As well as her detailed accounts of the war, Marjorie wrote of her daily life, including her work on her family’s farm and her acquaintance, Madge Hooper, who owned and operated The Stoke Lacy Herb Farm in Hereford. In 1940, Hooper had just begun this venture, which was to grow into an internationally known business:
“... Madge engaged to Mr. Hooper, the male student at the Herb Farm” [Aug 2].
“G.M wanted 3 packets mixed herbs of course I only had 2 in stock. Sent off to The Herb Garden [Stoke Lacy Herb Farm] for 1 doz pkts Mixed Herbs 10 pts mixed and 2 pkts Lemon Thyme. Beagles caused great excitement among the cows” [Feb 24].
The diary covers the year of 1940 and Marjorie has tipped in two additional pages containing diary entries for January 7-21, 1941, in which she writes details of a “bad raid on Pompey…” likely referring to the German bombing that killed dozens near the Bank of England. Marjorie has also tipped and glued in an extensive number of newspaper clippings such as one with King George and his wife, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother surveying damage to Buckingham Palace after one air raid. There are 2 ration books and 2 sketched-out family trees. This is not just a diary, but a scrapbook too.
For a historian, this is a superb, first-hand account of those grim and harrowing days in the early years of WWII weaved in alongside the daily diary of a young, entrepreneurial British woman.
Measuring 12.25 x 7.75 inches, this hardbound book contains 107 numbered pages. It is approximately 75% complete. The cover and pages are in good condition, the binding is loosening. Legible. Overall G.
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