My mum and her two sisters kept a diary during the war; they were at home with Mother in the small village of Harston, just south of Cambridge. Their brother and father were away , one in the RAF, one in the Army; the oldest sister Audrey was working until she too joined up, my mum who was the youngest and her sister Beryl were both still at school. In 1940, Beryl was sixteen, my mum was nearly fifteen :
13th July – 1st August 1940
Jack Parker Aged 20 years Home: – Croydon
Stephen – Home: – Croydon
Fred – Home: – Croydon
182nd Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C.
Stationed: – The Drift Harston.
13th July. The first soldiers’ dance to be held in Harston Village Hall! What excitement when we went! There were crowds of soldiers and girls and the dance was a great success.
We went to another dance again the following week and it was here that we met Johnnie, Steve and little Freddie. Nice boys, all of them. We invited them home to supper after the dance and also went to a dance with them the following Saturday.
On Monday 29th July, Audrey went with Johnnie to a dance at Newton; he was the pianist and a very good one too.
In civil life, Johnnie was a clerk for a Radio firm and had been in the Army for about seven months (he was called up) but we don’t know Steve or Freddie’s professions although the former was a crooner.
We didn’t say Goodbye to them as we were busy all week with the Guides collecting vegetables for the troops on their last evening here, and didn’t see them as we went through the village.
Good luck to you, boys!
R.AM.C. was the Royal Army Medical Corps (which coincidentally my Dad Donald was in during the war) The dances would be very innocent affairs, starting and finishing early; music might be played on a gramophone or there might be a musician like Johnnie the pianist. Newton was the next village to Harston, hence Newton View where the Matthews lived. The Girl Guides and Boy Scouts played their part in the War Effort, as Audrey tells us here.