1945 begins with a miscarriage

1945. Jack came home on leave briefly. Frankie had had a miscarriage.

11/01/45    I made all arrangements to go to London and got quite excited at the idea of being met by you at Paddington and then Amy rang up and said all off.  But it didn’t really matter because I was quite determined not to spoil the pleasure of seeing you by intense gloom when you left – and I didn’t.  I think when I was lying in bed knowing that you were on your way and when you arrived I was as happy as it is possible to be and I have found that it is possible afterwards to hang on to those moments of happiness and see them as what happened.  And I am quite good at holding on to the right bits.  When one has learned to do it that way a few days leave has a really beneficial and re-invigorating effect and is actually worth something even after it’s over.  Then there are moments in life which stick in one’s memory forever as a picture.  One of these is you standing in my room with Thomas and Thomas saying “It isn’t fair” (that you could swear and he couldn’t) and you saying “It isn’t meant to be fair.”  And so now that you’ve gone these pictures and the memory of my happiness remains with me to sustain me and are not spoilt by gloom over something I always knew was going to happen and is part of the price.


I am much better and if I wanted to could be really normal.  But I’m treating myself pretty gently because it’s a chance to and also because though I know it sounds pretentious I am really convinced that I have the sort of nature that needs mental and spiritual relaxation from time to time as well as physical and the rush will be on me any day and so I feel it’s the right thing to do to idle when I can.

book cover of Four years harvest by Frances Donaldson
Four Years harvest, published by Fabers



They sent the proof of the jacket of my book yesterday. But no publication date yet.

 (Thomas started as a boarder at Summerfields school)






Letter from Evans in answer to one enclosing yours.

“I can say quite definitely that the impressions so far made by Thomas are distinctly good. There have been signs of most of the characteristics which we discussed but none badly so. He seems always cheerful and the best and perhaps the most satisfactory impression is his sensible, interested and industrious attitude to his work in school. All is in fact going well and we can confidently hope will continue to do so.”

I’m sure you’ll be as pleased and relieved as I am to hear this so I’m bunging it straight on but my hands are so cold I can’t write.

29/01/45   The first fortnight in March is a good time for leave.  I don’t want you to come before that for several reasons.  One, I haven’t yet stopped the miscarriage and though it is hoped one will stop before this no doctor will do anything at all about curetting out anything else until it’s a hundred % certain it’s not going to stop by natural means.  It’s rather a bore for me anyway but I think only a bore.  I mean no one seems to be regarding it as at all especially unusual or worrying.  However, I don’t think I shall feel really fit until it has stopped.

Sheran cazalet
Sheran in 1936, daughter of Peter and Leonora Cazalet



I’m going away on Thursday until the following Tuesday week.  I think it’s rather a bad time to go.  It looked all right when I arranged it but now various complications about threshing, etc., have turned up.  But as against these, while I’m away I’m going to see Buddy and Sheshe (Edward and Sheran Cazalet), see Geoffrey, lunch Nitty (Anthony Mildmay) and stay with Buck and do a brains trust for his farmers.  I think these are all things that have got to be done and as no time seems a good time to leave this farm one must take some chances in some direction.  I’m a shade worried about the overdraft.


Anthony Mildmay and Peter cazalet on a gallop, post-war
Anthony Mildmay and Peter Cazalet on a gallop, post-war


Anthony Mildmay,
Anthony Mildmay, (Nitty)


Jack wrote:

Jack Donaldson in World War II1/2/45    Well, it’s February. Last night the Russians were 70 miles from Berlin, this morning 65. Val Duncan came back from London saying the talk in the clubs is that Uncle Joe said Berlin within a month. But that the buggers will go on fighting even after that.

Frankie continued:

Frances Donaldson in World War Two29/03/45   The good news and the only ray of light in my otherwise complete gloom is Thomas.  (Thomas had started at a new school, Summerfields in Oxford, in January) He is simply sweet at the moment.  He’s frightfully pleased to be home and to see Rose and he is most good humoured and eager like he used to be.  He is very full and very proud of Summerfields and is absolutely different in tone and attitude from what he was just before he went.  So I think he’s probably all right or at any rate one day will be.

16/04/45   I haven’t much news.  I spent the afternoon with Clyde Higgs.  I went to buy a bull calf but at the last moment he decided he couldn’t bear to part with it and wouldn’t sell it.  He was very pleasant though.  He talked about the book, which he gets far more fun out of than I do, as I never hear a word of it.  It practically wasn’t advertised at all.  There have been no reviews except the 3 that I told you of, no one writes any letters and it’s not in any shops.  However, I meant to tell you about Clyde Higgs.  He said everyone showed it to him in case he hadn’t seen it.  He said “I was in London the other day and there were about 15 of us at the B.B.C. and we all roared with laughter.  People kept reading out the bits about me.”  He said “They’ve only got one copy there but they’re passing it round and everybody’s reading it.  It’s a most readable book.  Anyone can read it.”  I thought that didn’t sound as though they were particularly annoyed about the part about them but I didn’t ask him anything because I think it’s better not to appear at all anxious or apologetic.

I’m going to Othello tonight with Peggy.  No other news.

17/04/45    I got your letter from Paris this morning – all about Plummy. I’m not at all surprised at any of it.  I always said I was convinced that apart from anything else Plum would infinitely prefer a prison camp to doing tours around Berlin with the Nazis.  I think Peter and Thelma are fundamentally wrong in their advice but that is also not surprising.  They are both so deeply dyed in the wool of certain conventions and hate so much anything out of the usual way of thought that they wouldn’t have any guts over a matter of this sort.  If Plum and Ethel were mine I should first attempt everything I could to get them to England, where people might cold-shoulder them, but would never cause them active misery and inconvenience and then I would use all the influence I had to get their case properly presented to the public.  But they won’t do any of that and poor old Plum will have to live a hole-in-corner life for the rest of his life and then after his death some literary critic with curiosity will make a hell of a lot of money by writing a book clearing the matter up.  And I’m sure it’s all unnecessary and a little offensive, guts instead of so much gentlemanly quiet would clean it up now.  Anyway I’m sure Plum is wonderful as you say.  I saw one of his articles from prison and it was immensely gallant and touching in that he made really good jokes out of very great suffering.  One reason I wish he could come to England is there are a few people who understand him here and I would like him to know it.

No other news.  I went to Othello which was good but not wonderful.  I don’t like it as much as Hamlet.  The last act is very moving but the first fairly boring I think and the whole plot is really based on Iago whom I find an extremely unlikely character.  I can take the ghost in Hamlet because I believe people of those days believed in that kind of thing but I find it hard to believe in pure villainy in any age so the whole thing seems more artificial.

20/04/45   I haven’t any news but I’m quite well and happy and everything is all right for the moment.  Darling you are a chump.  How do you imagine I can send food to Plum when every single bit of food except bread is rationed.  Where would I get it from?  You can’t buy tinned food of any sort except soup except on points – you can’t get ham or bacon or meat or sugar or anything except odd  things like perishables – veg., etc – except on rations.  You don’t seem to have heard about the war at all.  The only chance is for you to collect some of the surplus army rations.  I hope you didn’t airily say “Oh Frankie’ll send you food” because then they’ll just think I’m mean.

I must stop because we’re going over to see Farming Ladder Henderson.  I’ll let you know about him later.

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A Woman's War