These letters belong to my aunt Joan Punter ( nee Toller ). These contain interesting home front information and political views of the war. They were written by my Great Aunt Marie to her husband George Cruden. ( both now deceased. )
In several of these letter Marie refers to George as Peter Precious- as she was a Catholic from Ireland and didn't want to introduce him to her family as George ( the English kings name ) she called him Peter.
Boxing Day [ Oxford Road, Cambridge ]
My Own Dearest & Best x
Well, here we are — another Xmas passed & we have had a most happy day but one & all were sorry that you were not with us- & of course theres no need to add what I felt & for you to say what you felt- but the fact was that we all had our drinks at 1.30 sharp- in the middle of cutting up the turkey & we one & all drank to you first & we hope that you were able to get a quite minute to do the same with us. We had plenty of drink & the turkey was just lovely. 15lbs. & the plum pudding mum was delighted with the rum you sent. Thanks were so for your Xmas card darling, it was lovely. By the way we had a large size egg flip & guzzled the lot in 2 sittings you boy.
Con [ Georges sister, Connie Toller -nee Broom ] had her Xmas tree & it was larger that she has had other years, but the trouble was to get stuff to put on it anyway we didn’t do so bad. Your number was 6 & mine 10. I got a little old parcel tied up with a bootlace, no bigger than a finger nail- & caused some shrieks by its very size anyway, I opened it & what? A blinkin’ penny & two back studs!! Well I couldn’t resist seeing what you had & found three toffees & 2 cigs. Bill [ George’s brother] got a beautiful pink cushion cover, Ivy a brooch, Con some stocking mending silk, others got some bars of chocolate. Con had some candles on the tree & we outed the light & lit it up & Val [ Con’s daughter ] gave us the prizes she was terribly thrilled with that while we all sat round eyes & mouths wide open in anticipation we then played Newmarket & Brown Anchor & Con won 10/- after 2 hrs play. Then we had some music & my heavens what a row!! We just took it out of the piano me- but old Ivy & Russ had a few drinks & were a proper couple of coons- I laughed ( with the rest of course )- till I felt really sappy but you’d have laughed “fit to kill” if you’d have heard ‘em anyway, we turned in at 2o/c am. I got that song called “Yours” so we have had our bobsworth out of that already. Well, darling x have just had a Guiness & wished you everything of the best & only wishing with all my heart you were with us. X Have you been busy helping the other blokes to drinks? Did you have a party after all? Its bitterly cold today but we are warm & comfortable & my word thanks to mother, you wouldn’t think there was a war on. But theres simply no drink to be brought. Well sweetheart, its now dinnertime, good old roast beef of old England & horseradish! Lovely! Well cheerio sweetheart this is just to let you see I’m thinking of you in spite of all this pleasure & noise. Russell [George’s brother - Russ Broom] is not going back until Sunday, so if you get this in time you will know he is not about until then. I shall D.V. be going back on that 5.15…. Russell didn’t get in until 9.30 when he left you, so you see how late trains are. Well, cheerio sweetheart all love xxxx love & always xxx Marie xxx
As written by my aunt Val Burroughs ( nee Toller ) March 2005.
When I was 4 years old I started at Richmond Road school [Cambridge]. The building was partly a school- partly a church, St Augustines. Sliding doors concealed the church part and the stacks of chairs. Miss Chandler was the dearly loved and respected Headmistress; Miss North was the Infant teacher. They ran the school between them, helped by a monitress, young teen-age girls and the lady cleaner, care-taker and general assistant Mrs Mansfield. When we arrived in the morning, Mrs Mansfield would help you hang up your coat; she always seemed to be avalible to wash hands or knees, to deal with grazes, fasten shoes and cheer you on with her cheerful smile or grin. She wore a cross-over apron and I think had a few missing teeth that was obvious when she grinned at you.
I remember her holding up the school pet rabbit, by its ears, unfortunately, as climax of a poem we recited at the concert, " There once was a rabbit, developed the habit of twitching its nose".
At Christmas one year each child was asked to take a toy to contribute to a collection that was set out on the 'stage' a small platform at one end of the infant room. Then one, by one, Miss Chandler sent us to go and choose a different toy to keep for ourselves. I was too shy to search for one I really fancied, I grabbed the nearest item, a worn tennis ball and took it home. I remember my mother saying " You've got balls already, why didn't you choose something nice?"
On May Day, we would celebrate in Mrs Golding's garden which was at the corner of West Road on Huntingdon Road. A cripple girl in my class was the May Queen. We all wore pretty clothes and bonnets and danced around the Maypole, sang songs like " Oh dear little buttercup, sweet little buttercup, bloom round the throne of our queen." We carried flowers and decorated the throne.
Sometimes we would go to play in the hay in Miss Salters land at the corner bend in Storey's Way. Miss Chandler would lead us all in a crocodile down to Mrs Salters. I remember our parents taking us home after an event at Mrs Salters and, one boy messed his trousers on the walk back. a soldier dad in uniform helped him out by wiping his legs with long grass plucked from the road-side!
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