Wartime Broadcasts and the Atlantic Charter

Frankie was nearly always critical of the political leadership in Britain and the style of public information about the war. She felt they were out of touch with the public.

Feeding pigs in WWII
Frankie feeding pigs

25/7/41   I am writing under difficulties as I only sit down with difficulty having been tossed in the air by one of my pigs and landed on my bottom. The old bitch did it exactly like a bull and from behind when I wasn’t looking. Molly and I were moving some young pigs, always difficult because they are so nippy. We took out a bucket of food and let out one of the old pigs because we knew that she would follow the bucket and they would follow her. It worked all right. I had the bucket in one hand and a stick in the other and every time she tried to get at the bucket I hit her with the stick. Then I had to rush ahead to head off 2 little pigs and I forgot her. With that she lifted me neatly about 2 feet in the air and I came down with an appalling crash, bucket and all and she got the food. Her name is Gypsy and she is that pig I picked out at Moulton and I love her so I forgave her, but I have an enormous bruise and sitting is not at all pleasant.

On our way home we found 2 cows right bang in the middle of the oats eating their heads off (the oats and their own). That took hours too and by then I could have cut them in half with pleasure. Animals are so inconceivably stupid and while doing all the things you don’t want them to always look at you in a sort of luminously speculative way or else with a sort of eager but flat expectancy. They arouse all my most sadistic instincts. I think that is why I like farm animals. It is one’s duty to hit them and one can work off quite a lot of stream. “That for Thomas and that for Rose”, and so on.

Now I must go to bed. My bum is really very sore.

31/7/41   Another pouring wet day, and what was left of our crops is now flat. It is terribly disappointing and will mean a very difficult harvest and a good deal of loss of money. Still, that’s farming.

3/8/41   I went over to the Stapledons where Buck is staying. He said that Uncle Joe was in a complete and piddling funk of an appeaser of the highest order, who would have given in to the German demands only they were too stiff. I asked what they were, and he said “Every gun, every plane etc etc.” He said he didn’t think that Uncle Joe would have got away with appeasement because the Red Army commanders wouldn’t have stood for it. I asked for his evidence — he said it was generally held in London. Swiftly and with utmost relish I made the retort which this opening invited — too obvious to repeat.

Buck said he hoped it would not lead to too much optimism in England and every one thinking the war was over. This gave me another opportunity I have been waiting for  for some weeks. I said I thought it was a pity that all the leaders of opinion in England were so anxious to squash optimism of which in my opinion there is not nearly enough.

broadcasting in WW2. Criticism of political leadership
Wartime broadcasts listened to eagerly

I said “What is over looked is this. Because this is a people’s war and anyone may get bombed any day, it doesn’t alter the fact that no cabinet minister and no newspaper editor is living in one room, in the house of someone they hate and who hates them, because they have been bombed out of their own, or, having 2 children, do not wish to risk being  bombed out of their own. Nor are the wives of cabinet ministers or newspapers editors having any direct experience of living while their husbands are in the Middle East. So they think it is a good idea to keep on telling all these people, who, in this war as in every other, are the ones who are really taking the hell, that they’ve got to go on taking it for at least another 2 years. Whereas the best chance is to let them have a glimmer of hope that it might be for only another 6 months or so”.

This was very enjoyable because it really made a great impression and shook Buck up a bit. I hope he will repeat it to some of the other wiseacres who see that no day passes without the newspapers and the BBC re-iterating that there isn’t any hope at all for at least 2 years, which they repeat in a schoolmastery way to keep the children good and not because they profoundly believe it themselves. We were drinking burgundy which had been slightly mulled owing to being heated by an electric stove so I was in really good form by then and maybe not making quite the impression I thought I was. But still, I thought I was, which is really all that matters in this dull life.

6/8/41   Carling and I walked round part of the farm together which is always a good thing to do. We shall be harvesting next week and once that starts there will be no time to discuss anything until November when all the autumn drilling is finished. Our great excitement is that windfall apples have started. We have been entirely without fruit for 4 months and it is with the greatest pleasure that we go prowling round to pick them up. Life is cheap on a farm and also plentiful compared with other people’s lives. I don’t suppose there will be apples in the shops for 2 or 3 weeks and then they will be an enormous price and very rare. We shall try to store enough to see us through most of the winter.

When you were a child did you have 2 circular pieces of cardboard with a circular hole in the middle round which you wound wool and which after being cut made a woolly ball? This is the children’s latest craze. They wake at 7 in the morning and start winding at once.

7/8/41   I had an aircard to-day in which you said you understood about feeling incredulous (about the book) and you felt like that when you got your firsts. The feeling didn’t last long with me but it ought to have and your card gives me a slight return of the feeling. Of course having a book published is not really on a par with a double first. But I know what you mean about it being something you have done yourself and no-one can take away.

11/8/41   We had a very good afternoon cutting thistles. They were in the pig place which is up behind the cottage. We cut about an acre. Sometimes they were waist high and thick like a jungle and we went 4 in line swinging our billhooks like golf clubs. We finished it and came home pleased and tired.

I don’t think I told you that a few days ago Thomas helped me drive 2 full grown pigs from the buildings down to the cottage. And he really helped, beating them on the way they should go. For some reason they were terrified of him and leapt off in the right direction whenever he appeared. A year ago he would have been terrified of them. It is a pity that you have to miss it all. You would love it.

14/8/41   I have just finished reading rather a good book of memoirs by a woman called Stella Bowen who was once married to Ford Maddox Ford. At the end she says something about Munich — then “We are fighting for our lives, that is understood. But it might have been for so much more.” That was well put, I think and I am not sure it is answered by Winston’s and Roosevelt’s 8 points announced by Attlee this afternoon. Have they satisfied you and me and have they given us anything more to fight for than our lives? I don’t know yet, but I rather doubt it. One still thinks of “Free to all like the Ritz Hotel”. Roosevelt is all right — he has always done his best. And Winston is all right too because without him we probably wouldn’t even have our lives left to fight for. But is a peace created by him and the Beaver really going to be any good? I don’t know. I wish I did.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Charter

Atlantic Charter
Churchill and Roosevelt aboard the Prince of Wales

The Atlantic Charter made clear that America was supporting Britain in the war. The Atlantic Charter was a pivotal policy statement issued on 14 August 1941, that, early in World War II, defined the Allied goals for the post-war world. The leaders of the United Kingdom and the United States drafted the work and all the Allies of World War II later confirmed it. The Charter stated the ideal goals of the war: no territorial aggrandizement; no territorial changes made against the wishes of the people, self-determination; restoration of self-government to those deprived of it; reduction of trade restrictions; global cooperation to secure better economic and social conditions for all; freedom from fear and want; freedom of the seas; and abandonment of the use of force, as well as disarmament of aggressor nations.

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A Woman's War