Tag Archives: war

War; Broadcasts; Farming; Pregnancy

The letters on both sides became less frequent as the war came slowly to a close.

Jack wrote:

Jack Donaldson in World War II12/10/44    I don’t feel the same need to write as I used to, probably because we got back pretty well all we had during my stay in England, and I don’t feel far cut off. I probably am for another six months or so, but I don’t feel it, I’m after all only two hours away. I think we all feel a bit impatient with the war and unable to give full seriousness to the next six months, which will, I think, be perfectly beastly. A six months trek to Berlin and a very unpleasant one at that. However I don’t look like being in it. I’m now designated for the job of AQMG Rail at Antwerp, which will be a considerable and most interesting job…..

You’re very lucky, you know, to be married to a husband who only yields to the greatest temptation. Brussels is so mad about the English that, as one of our club friends said, they deceive their husbands, they even deceive their lovers, to go with an English soldier.

The last bit of the race is always the worst.

Frankie wrote:

Frances Donaldson in World War Two30/10/44   It rains every night and is the most serious time I have known since I began farming.  Apart from our own personal problems hundreds of acres of potatoes are rotting in the ground and no one can get their wheat in.

I read an article in yesterday’s paper which said the most important thing for the future of the war was to get supplies going through Antwerp.  I think you must be being properly appreciated.  Let me know if you are pleased with yourself.

31/10/44   I’m having the most frightful day with every sort of thing going wrong, and culminating with the spindle of the drill breaking in half the first day it has been possible to drill for weeks.  There’s no hope of getting a spare here under a week, so I’ve had to borrow Pat’s drill and send 4 men and a lorry to load it.  Poor Highman!  He’s always the messenger of bad news and I always behave as though he had taken a hammer and done it on purpose.  I begin “O, my God, Highman”.  Immediately his poor old face falls .  It’s really because it ought to have fallen before instead of arriving so perky that I get furious.

Thomas goes to Summerfields in January and not all the coupons of the family will provide him with half the clothes on a list I have just received from Evans.  It seems to me that there’s something wrong with the assumption that it’s a good thing for a little boy to have 4 suits, 8 prs of shoes and 12 shirts.

By the way, I’m going to lecture for one hour to the Northamptonshire Workers Education Association on the future of British farming on Dec 2nd.  What do you know about that?  Result of the Countryman article and through Mr. Stewart.

Russian Medal World War II
Russian medal awarded to Jack

03/11/44   The Insignia has arrived from the Soviet Union.  The thing itself is a star in gold with a red star on top of it and a circle of white in the middle of that with some lettering on it and a circle in red with the Hammer and Sycle.  Very pretty and frightfully saucy, much nicer than any English one would be likely to be.  The ribbon is very small and probably this one is for dress occasions.  It is dark red with a paler red stripe in the middle, but far better than all this is –

  1. A booklet containing five tickets covering the period 1944 to 1948. You may use one ticket a year to travel by rail or ship from any part of the Soviet Union to another.  First class accommodation is provided and the holder of these tickets has preference over all other passengers.
  2. Then you have a booklet of money vouchers containing sixty vouchers each for 20 roubles. One voucher only may be used per month and in both these cases the order book must be produced.

So it looks like the Soviet Union for us if only for the pleasure of getting preference over all other passengers, a thing we should never achieve in England.

03/11/44   I had a letter this morning from the Director of Talks, Midland Region saying he thought there was the basis of a broadcast talk in my Countryman article and would I like to discuss it with him.  So I wrote back and said yes.  I rather like broadcasting when you are abroad because I think it’s so nice for you to have a chance to hear my lovely little voice.  So if and when I do it you must get your end laid on.  It’s rather extraordinary about that Countryman article.  Up to date it has brought me:  1) Nearly as many silly farm letters as A to F did in the same period of time.  2) Request for article in Ministry’s Journal.  3) Lecture to W.E.A.  4) Invitation to broadcast.

(A short leave before this)

13/11/44    I’ve just given Mummy the proofs of the book so as to be able to write to you.  But I’ve been very good all afternoon and not only talked about Binkie  but even stood being told it’s not very nice for you coming home to someone so cross!

(Hugh “Binkie” Beaumont (27 March 1908 – 22 March 1973) was a British theatre manager and producer, sometimes referred to as the “éminence grise” of the West End theatre.)


Darling I do love you and I felt very deeply about our few days together and I hope you did.  And I mind less about the dreary things now they have the point of being partly for your sake so you shall have it when you get home.

Write me something nice.

15/11/44   You know I think I gave you rather a worse picture of my life for the next 6 months than is right.  The bad time is really over and unless something frightful happens now it ought to be comparatively easy for a bit now.  So privately don’t worry too much though publicly you can worry as much as you like.  I only just made it with Mummy – about ½ hr more and I should have undone the gift of the cockerel, the eggs and even the stockings.  I think she’s the most maniac bore I ever met.  However, she thinks you’re wonderful.

17/11/44   It’s frightful here, drizzle and damp and the ground underfoot gets worse and worse.  We got our potatoes out just in time but we shall never drill the beans now, I’m afraid.  The only consolation is there are so many people who are worse.

Douglas Jerrold
Douglas Jerrold, a Conservative who had been sympathetic to fascism

I’ve just been listening to a discussion on the profit motive between Jerrold and Laski.  It was shattering.  Jerrold beat Laski all round the ring and over the ropes.  I’ve never heard a Tory beat a Socialist before.  Laski was frightful – appalling voice and belligerent manner and using old arguments about Jarrow which Jerrold must have practised answering for the last ten years.  He let Jerrold get away with 2 main points I could have answered myself.




Harold Laski spokesman for Socialism
Harold Laski, Britain’s most influential intellectual spokesman for Socialism

RADIO TO-NIGHT 17 Nov 1944

7.30 —The Profit Motive.—On the Socialist side, Harold Laski; On the Conservative side, Douglas Jerrold
Jerrold was, if not himself a fascist, undeniably sympathetic to fascism.






19/11/44   Yesterday I got a letter from the B.B.C. man Mr. Alston beginning “I have discovered that we must at present beware of the question of nationalisation of the land, so I think that any prospective talk should avoid the subject.  However, I would very much like you to do a talk on a non-controversial theme…”

So much for free speech in this country of freedom.  I rather like having it in black and white and shall carry it about with me to confound all Tories in arguments.  Actually when you think about it seriously, don’t you think it’s rather more monstrous behaviour than, in one’s innocent way, one ever seriously believes in.  These sort of policies are undoubtedly dictated from on high.

Darling I still miss you so dreadfully.  Life can be so full and such fun when you are here and so dreary without you.

Write to me a bit.  I look forward so much to your letters.

26/11/44  I personally think you can now regard yourself as the future father of 3.  My feelings are mixed.  I feel affectionate towards you and rather pleased in many ways.  And when I went to take Thomas out yesterday and he was exceptionally endearing I was glad there’d be another one in another 8 years.  But I regard the next 6 yrs with such horror that it rather spoils the fun.

Anyway you’ve now got to get out of the army.  You’ll have to be here for next harvest which is about when I’ll be doing it.  And so you’d better plan the campaign immediately and we’d better both get to work.

04/12/44    About this baby – it’s now a fact.  In the day time I can take it and although I’m displeased in some ways I’m pleased in others which balance.  But I wake up in the night stiff with fear and horror.  I’m frightened of the months of disability and discomfort with no one here at all.  I’m frightened of the birth and I’m frightened of the years of being tied by the leg to a young baby and all the years of extra expenses we can’t afford if I’m not to be tied completely and absolutely.  And I can’t in that mood see any point in it.  We’ve got 2 and they are enough nuisance without having any more and so on and so on.  I wish you’d write to me about it.

You see if I thought it would mean quite a lot to you or you’d be awfully pleased, I might see some point in it and then I don’t think I’d mind.  As it is I see nothing but pain, discomfort and difficulty gratuitously brought on for no reason.  I expect it’s because you’re not here and I’m alone.  If you were here being rather pleased and smug, I shouldn’t feel like that and anyway I don’t suppose I’d be frightened of the pregnancy if I wasn’t alone.  So if you are pleased it would be a help to know it or if you have any views that help.

I’ll try and find time to take real trouble with Thomas next holidays and I do hope the new environment at Summerfields will be better for him and he will outgrow this phase.

Mechanising harvest; Italian campaign; Milking

26/7/43   Yesterday Mussolini resigned so I think that deserves a letter. (July 25/26 – Mussolini arrested and the Italian Fascist government falls; Marshal Pietro Badoglio takes over and negotiates with Allies.) It’s really the beginning of retribution. I wonder if Hitler feels awfully good and I wonder what he and Mussolini met for. I suppose now one… Continue Reading

Walter Gropius designed the Wood House

Frankie and Jack had commissioned a house from Walter Gropius when they married. It was finished in 1937 and in 1939 the war broke out. It was their dream home, but when Frankie decided to farm she had to move elsewhere. It was requisitioned by the army, being near the south coast, but fortunately never… Continue Reading

A Woman's War