During the war my mum and her two sisters kept a joint diary, telling the stories of the young men they met during the war. These were soldiers stationed near their small Cambridgeshire village of Harston, and I guess grandma and the three girls thought often of their father and their brother who were away serving their country in the same conflict. At the outbreak of the war in 1939, my uncle was twenty-one, one aunty was nineteen, the other was fifteen, and my mum was fourteen. Some time ago I shared the diary, but for some reason I didn’t finish writing up all of the entries. I’m going to share it again, and this time I will include the last few pages!
For Monica Matthews and her family, living in the small village of Harston, just south of Cambridge, her life would change because of the conflict. Monica lived with her two sisters, Audrey and Beryl, brother Alan and their parents Reg and Ida Matthews at a large and attractive property on the edge of the village, Newton View.
Alan had joined the RAF before the war and now was serving abroad. Reg, who had served in the first World war, had volunteered again; he was a great patriot and if called upon, would have given his life for King and country.
In 1939, Alan was nearly 21, Audrey 19, Beryl 15 and Monica 14; Audrey too would join up but Beryl and Monica were school girls until they went to work when they were 18.
Between June 6th 1940, and November 16th 1942, the Matthews girls kept a diary of the servicemen they met and welcomed into their home to share their meagre rations.
Their mother Ida was a warm, kindly woman whose life had been difficult for many reasons and yet she opened the door to these young men who were far away from their homes with no idea of what lay ahead, only their duty.