Time to take decisions

9/5/42   I had a divine cable from you this morning. I really am glad that you are going to farm with me after the war. It makes so much to look forward to.

10/5/42   The government is losing by-electionsHave you heard or read that in thirty-three by-elections lately an Independent has been returned in spite of the fact that the Government candidate was backed by the Conservative, Labour and Communist parties? It is a symptom of the feeling which is affecting nearly everyone in England and me along with them. It’s not that people necessarily want to out the present government. Almost everyone is still behind Churchill and no-one thinks that there is a better lot of men waiting round the corner. It is more a feeling of “Down with vested interests”.

Mr Pattison who advised Frances Donaldson on agriculture
Pat with a sheep dog

18/5/42    You appear to have been much amused by the row with Carling. I like your attitude about it being best to get on and manage G.H. very much. But the chief disadvantage is there are no cottages and, as I have often explained, it is absolutely fundamental to be certain of the two key men. I believe the War Committee might be persuaded to give me a permit to build. There are one or two new factors which weigh on your side. One is, I have made rather friends with Pattison, the agric. organiser and I think he is rather a good man — much better than I originally assumed. He is the son of a farmer and appears to have a genuine knowledge of stock and also of the routine running of a farm, which springs more from a farmer’s mind than Mr Stewart’s, which is slightly collegy. For instance, he gave me the hell of a ticking off for wanting to pick some pigs with him and without Carling. He said no decent farmer would ever pick out his stock without the man who looked after them. I’m sure he’d help all he knew how, if I was on my own, even tho’ disapprovingly. There is only one crab to this, and that is, unless I’m dotty, he fancies me. But he is very shy and easily choked off and so far I’ve had no difficulty in managing him without the bucket of boiling oil I had to use with Mr Stewart.

Pat became an important part of our lives and a friend of my parents for life. I drove my 89 year old father to his funeral near Stratford, a year or two after my mother died. He was a constant feature of our life in the war, coming regularly to advise. We called him Mr Pattison until one day he told us to call him Pat. I could not do that and it was several years before I was able to address him by name. We often spent Christmas with him and his wife Eileen, whom he married after the war.

20/5/42   A man called Gascoigne who is a big retail seed merchant come this morning to look at my S.23 for seed. He said it was very pure, much purer than some they have got at Dodwell (once part of the ‘War AG’ and now a caravan site). You laughed at me when I first told you about the field but nowadays it is one of my major claims to fame because seed producing is all the rage and I am exactly one year ahead of the majority of people. Yesterday and to-day the men were threshing and Carling took the under cowman so I milked alone with Hall each afternoon. I am awfully pleased to take it as an enormous compliment that they think I’m good enough because there are 46 cows to be milked and I’ve only been at it a fortnight.

21/5/42   At last I have found someone who understands the beauty of my bookkeeping. Dave said Margetts wasn’t really good enough and I ought to have a proper chartered accountant. So I wrote to Clyde Higgs and asked him who did his books. He wrote back that his man had definitely refused to take on any more clients but he said he would speak to him. The man, who is in Leamington, said he would see me, but if the books were the usual farmer’s bloody muddle he wouldn’t touch it. So I went in fear and trembling and he said they were lovely and he only knew two farmers who kept double entry and one was Clyde Higgs and the other was me. He’s going to do them and he’s going to set a proportion of labour and feeding stuffs against the various accounts and draw up proper costings and a balance sheet for me as well as seeing the books thro’ the Income Tax. I am awfully pleased because the books are a lot of work and I always do them very carefully and as I’m so bad at addition it is a great sweat and I’ve never had anything but kicks for my pains before. I’m sure you will be pleased because you like all that side so you can carry on when you come home.

Some weeks ago when I was talking to Pattison he said how I ought to farm was to have foreman instead of a bailiff but pay some good farmer to come over regularly and advise me. I didn’t take much notice as I thought I wasn’t short of advice and the full details of the suggestion didn’t strike me at the time. But I got your letters about really preferring the original Clyde Higgs idea to anything else. Then yesterday I was talking to Clyde Higgs on the telephone. I asked him when he was coming over. He said it wasn’t any use saying that because I hadn’t got a telephone and so a busy man couldn’t be bothered getting hold of me. And I said “Well, I asked you to do something about getting me a telephone but you don’t do it.” And he said “No, I’m not going to — the telephone is there — all you’ve got to do is to move in beside it.”

Then he started to browbeat me in his usual way for about five minutes. All this started me on the track of how to do it and I lay awake for hours last night. And then, when I was thinking, I was suddenly struck by the full beauty of Pattison’s suggestions. You see, if I could find someone good enough who would come over once a week for a couple of years, it would be so much less frightening. They would tell me when the corn was ready to cut etc. and I could discuss the cultivations of each field in detail before doing them and then if there was something wrong, they would spot it.

1/6/42   It is Thomas’s birthday today — the third one without you. I wonder how many more. There isn’t any cable but I’m sure you sent one. I gave him a bow and some arrows and a swimming belt like a life-saving outfit from you. You may think that dull, but I scoured London and he is very pleased. After the end of this month there will be no petrol so I suppose no bathing. — unless I buy a trap. The birthday parties are always the same. Nora always manages to produce a jelly and chocolate biscuits and a chocolate cake with candles on and I always make the same remarks to the effect that no-one would think there was a war on etc. We have four village children to tea. They couldn’t be duller and no-one could say our children have a wonderful time on their birthdays, but since they don’t know anything better they think it is o.k. But since they look forward to them for months in advance I always think it is a bit odd they don’t notice how dull they are when the time comes.

2/6/42   One or two people seem to have been able to get permission out of the War Committee to build cottages. I am seriously thinking of trying to get permission to build two. If I had two cottages, a girl in the house, and at the same time an arrangements with some farmer as Pattison suggested, I don’t believe I could go far wrong. So I believe Clyde Higgs may win in the end.

I had an aircard and a cable saying you may be going further east. I’m so glad for you. I simply  hate your present job, but I can’t make out whether you mean Persia or still further. You have always talked of Persia as North before.

Jack was sent to Tehran for a job he loved – liaising with the Russians, our war allies whom most of the British establishment hated. He became a Lieutenant Colonel and received a medal from Russia.

Jack wrote:

Jack Donaldson in World War II26/5/42     Reggie (Fellowes) is definitely putting me forward as AQMG Persia, which would be just what of all things I should have chosen. It will be exciting to live in Tehran and meet Russians and feel one is mixed up in that part of the job.

18/6/42   It’ll take a little time to get going, but then it will be a really fascinating job. I shall be the main intermediary with Bill’s friends (the Russians), all of which will be most instructive. I believe they’re absolute bastards to deal with. But it’s going to be fun.

Also, before leaving: 8/6/42     We had a party for the death of Heydrich and I stood drinks all round.

www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Heydrich.html :
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich



In a time of barbarity, Reinhard Tristan Heydrich, “the Hangman,” stood out as one of the cruelest and most brutal mass murderers in Nazi Germany.

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A Woman's War