Fears of Invasion

Everyone at this point feared the invasion of England. Jack wrote sending plans for trying to find each other should England be completely overrun.

Jack wrote:
Jack Donaldson in World War II29/5/40   I feel immensely strongly about England at the moment, which is rather odd as I’ve never been noted for my patriotism. I’m afraid they’re certain to try to invade England.  If they do, you’ve just got to stay put.  Should just stay on the farm, either Mary’s or ours, and look as natural to the neighbourhood as possible.  It sounds absurd to think they’d ever get anywhere near you, but everybody felt perfectly safe in Amiens and they were wrong.

Invasion of England: map of german plan
German Invasion plan for September 1940, Operation SeaLion

The first thing is not to be on the roads, and the second is to have food.  In the event of complete chaos and our getting separated and unable to meet, I’d go to Lloyds Bank, St James’s St. to get your address.  Failing that I’d try all friends.  Failing that I would go to the entrance of Gypsy Hall on the first of every month, from 12 till 2pm.  Failing that to the pub at Shipbourne on the 10th of every month, same hours.  Failing that, St Martin’s in the Fields, steps Trafalgar Square 6-7am, 12-1pm and 9-10pm.  If Norfolk were a clear area, I’d go to Runton…. If only the north were clear, I’d aim for Witherslack…. I hope all this is the most idiotic fantasy but intellectually I think it is a very real possibility.  Remember that death will re-unite us.”


Frances Donaldson in World War TwoFrankie: 4/6/40   First of all I agree and acknowledge all your plans in the event of invasion and chaos.  But have you kept a note of them because they are quite long and you will not remember for long.

Secondly I agree with all you say about England.  I think I have already written it to you.  Thirdly I agree that for both of us, if it should happen that we were asked to take a risk, England and the war must come first.

I cracked a bit on the night of the 21st when we heard Amiens has gone but that was on your account and also because Mary insisted on getting me drunk which is the last thing one ought to be when things are really bad.  But except for that I have been OK though I had an awful week until I heard from you.   The morale here was not too hot for a day or two either but never really bad.    Then we have all been so tremendously revived by the behaviour of the B.E.F., R.A.F. and Navy.  It is the first time for 10 years the English have attempted the difficult (almost the impossible) and brought it off.  I now feel…. how wonderful it is to be English.

cattle in yard
Ayrshire heifers in the yard

Your letter was also sweet about us.  I think we shall get through and I am glad in the end I have kept the farm for us and all the difficulties and risks have made me love every blade of it.  And you have no idea what a warm little feeling one can have for cattle which one has paid for.

As for the rest, if things do go wrong I have loved you and you have loved me as much as people can love each other and that in itself makes everything worth it and to me is a reason for all human nature.  I have not your complete faith in an after life but I am prepared to accept your belief in it.

11/6/40   You say you have heard nothing from me. I didn’t write for about 3 days …it was such an awful time … I hope you will forgive. I hope by now you will have got some letters and will know all about the farm etc. You will have got a fright during the period I tried to sell it. But life is one long fright now.

12/6/40   Of course during that week or two one did get the impression here that was apparently worse than the actual happenings. There was for instance an article in the NS & S (New Statesman) which said that the whole of Northern France was in ashes, that whole villages were razed to the ground under which lay unnumbered and unknown dead and that the worst of H G Wells’ prophecies had understated  the present situation. I have since seen people who have returned and who say there never was any foundation for this sort of account. But you can imagine the sort of effect it had on me. And I had a vague and superstitious feeling that to write to you was to assume too much and to court disaster. I am so superstitious that I am terrified of putting even this much on paper now. Every person we know is now back in England – except you. All very happy and pleased with themselves. …. of course taking a serious view of what happened. You tell me in your letters to be certain to complete the farm whatever happens, so it has all turned out very well. It is ours now and I mean to hang on to it.’
Jack returned to England with the Royal Engineers in June. He was posted to Darlington in Yorkshire.

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A Woman's War