The farm and the prospect of leave

23/1/44   I haven’t any news except that the cows reach fresh heights every day. This morning 27 cows produced 90 ½ gallons of milk which is 3 1/3 gallon. One cow has done 68 lbs another 57 and one heifer did 51 this morning. I wish these things meant more to you because it is one of the major triumphs of my life. To think that only about 3 or 4 months ago Pat seriously advised me and I actually considered selling the heifers. You know if it goes on it’s going to make our fortune.

This month’s milk cheque will be about £350 next month we have 8 or 10 more good cows to calve and this time next year about 20 heifers to enter. Goodness only knows what it might not mean. I am seriously thinking of trying to work out a scheme which gives Price a direct interest and benefit from the milk. I don’t think it would be wise to introduce it until he has been here about a year but he is really a gold mine to us and I think he should be a gold mine to himself – partly because I think he should be and partly because I am afraid when these yields get known some kind friends might make an effort to pinch him and I’d like him to be on such clover that they wouldn’t have a chance.

Aladdin oil lamps
Aladdin lamps, more elegant for the sitting room
Oil Lamps 1940s
Oil lamps to carry by hand








Darling I haven’t any other news and my eyes ache excruciatingly. It will be nice to have electric light. One can’t see at all by these lamps and has to have them so close they burn the skin off one’s face and make one feel perpetually as though one was starting a cold.


27/1/44   I am coming to the conclusion that there aren’t so many marriages like ours as we thought there were and we should thank God on our knees every night for each other (it’s odd not believing in God). I often think when I look around me that I can only see one thing as great as your faith and love for me and that is my faith and love for you. That of course isn’t true and I do know quite a lot of others but I know now that no one can be sure who hasn’t stood the test of four years separation. Of course it all comes of marrying someone who amuses and interests you more than anyone else, whose views you respect more than anyone else’s and who makes you breathe more easily when he’s around. Because then you could never accept anyone else in his place. And it’s still so like losing a leg “She does so remarkably well considering she’s only got one leg”.

29/1/44   Pat who’s been away in the north for ten days bought me 45 in-lamb ewes which I am excited about because I love having sheep. They make a reason for a walk and keep my old Meg in trim. I am longing for you to see Meg. She gets more real love from me than any dog I’ve ever had and more love than most people around here. She’s so absolutely pretty and so clever and so affectionate and knowing. She’s only got one vice. She regularly bites the postman. I pretended at first that he must be wrong in thinking so but you can’t go on with that forever when he’s obviously not. So now I have to keep her shut up till he’s been.

Sheep and sheep dog
Sheep herded by Meg. Frankie leaning on the gate

Nanny is here and we talk interminably about you. I make her repeat everything over and over again and I’m jealous of every second I missed. My darling do you know you get 300 miles free petrol when you first come home. We’ll take it on the Ford and use it on the Minx and you’ll be glad I’m so extravagant. And we’ll do thing like this. We’ll take the children to bathe in the bathing pool and leave the car in the park and every informer within five miles will rush and tell the police and when they appear on their motor bikes you’ll produce your leave ticket. And the children’s spines will curl with fear and they’ll think you’re too wonderful to escape the police. A little girl called Jeannette called to take T and R to a party today. Nanny told T to hurry or they wouldn’t wait for him. “It’s all right” he said “I don’t want to go with those two old hags.”

Jack wrote on the anniversary of their wedding:

Jack Donaldson in World War II20/2/44    How many years ago was it? I think 8, and I think it’s our ninth wedding-day, of which we’ve spent five together and four apart. No, it’s our tenth, so that makes five apart. Jolly, isn’t it?

Jack also met Denis Healey about this time. They became lifelong friends and Denis gave the address at Jack’s funeral in 1998.

27/2/44    Denis Healey, the most intelligent officer we’ve got (double first at Oxford, job as a don if he wants it after the war, very young and amusing) (Jack also got a double first, at Cambridge), has read H.M.Pulham and feels much as I did.

1/3/44    Denis Healey is great fun. He’s got the same sorts of interests as I have, and a much better brain and is much better read and is also ten years younger, and I find conversation with him stimulating.

Denis and Edna came to stay at Gypsy Hall after the war, and Denis, who was talented at nearly everything, drew a very good likeness of me:

Rose Donaldson in 1946, aged 8 by DWH (Denis Healey)
Rose Donaldson in 1946, aged 8, by DWH (Denis Healey)

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A Woman's War