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.
At 95: [ Oxford Road Cambridge ]
My Dearest x
Thanks for your letter, & it was certainly a gruelling journey- pity they don’t put more corridors on- what a life at London Road- that’s some billet- guess the sooner they decide about some other places the better for all concerned- as the a.m. people must be getting fed up with it too. They say on the wireless that they’ve got so many airforce personnel they are drafting them into the other two forces- particularly the army- as that is where they are wanted, seems such a daft arrangement, although they add they are continuing to take recruits. Do you think bringing up the matter of remuster has brought about the recent change about for you & those other chaps? Went to the pictures by myself on Monday night- mother dosen’t care for pictures she says- Monday 6 p.m. I did the front garden by cutting the grass, clearing the beds of toffee papers, rags & other odds & ends, & mowed the back lawn- but I’m scratched to bits for overlooking the rose trees, & plonking into the taller ones. The weather keeps nice, that’s one thing in it all. Yesterday we went to the Botanical gardens. Con & the children. They enjoyed it…can’t seem to think of anywhere nice to go except to Frenches & Brittans..It would have been nice by the sea this weather, wouldn’t it? Uncle Harry turned up at teatime last night- he does look so thin & ill- but he says he couldn’t stand life in that Linton institution any longer & has come back to the lodging house here- I got that tea tin open & passed it on to mother- its best to do that think, don’t you- Well dear, did your washing yesterday ( what a pile ) & hung it out, if she doesn’t do it on me , I’ll iron it. Well cheerio, love. Hope you are feeling better & looking forward to seeing you x Your own loving Marie xxxx p.s. Had a warning Monday night.
As written by my aunt Val Burroughs, March 2005.
Living with the horrors of war
Very early on in the war my father [Ed Toller] nearly lost his life. He was running across the battlefield with German planes overhead. Apparantly he could see a pilot shaking his fist. He dropped his mouth-organ and his prayer book, but, prayed "Lord, let me get home to my wife and children." He did.
I remember my mother [Connie Toller] and auntie watching the distant sky to the south of my back bedroom window. My auntie was crying as she dreaded the bombs were hitting Linton ( her home village ) as the sky was lit up in that direction. During night-time air raids the wardens would tell my mother to get inside my granny's house as she would look out of the front door to look out for planes. During day time raids, I remember my gran and mum heaping furniture as a shelter over me e.g. the settee tipped back to reach the piano with me underneath. At night we sometimes slept under the " shelter table" a heavy duty metal table in the living room, with caged sides. Sometimes we would shelter in the cuboard under the stairs where my toys were kept, I don't recall being frightened.
One day my mother was taking us out for a walk, pushing the pram along Madingly Road, when a truck driver asked her the way to the American cemetery, he told us he had a "load of guys on board."
One of my friends, who lived at the back of our house, in Richmond Road, Eileen, lost her father when he became ill with beriberi through deficiencies in his diet out in a foreign country where he was in active service.
Uncle Bill was in the fire service, so was in the front line when it came to dealing withbombing raids. Once, when driving fast he was convicted of speeding! Even fire engines had restrictions put upon them.
Of course, it was damaging to family life to have husbands and fathers away for six years. We hardly knew our fathers when they came back. I remember my mother cleaning and polishing the house and making herself look pretty when my father was coming home on leave. Then when his leave came to an end, there was always the sadness of parting. I would stand at the door with my nanna, my fathers mother, and watch mum and dad walk up Oxford Road. We never knew if he would return, of course. The telegraph boy, on his motorbike, was an unwelcome visitor to our road. He might be delivering a telegram of congratulation or good wishes, on the other hand, he might be on a sinister errand with the news that a loved one had died in active service.
I remember the day men arrived to remove our house railings from the front garden. I watched them at their devastating work of taking every bit of iron to build tanks or amunition. Those railings were never replaced.
Val Burroughs ( nee Toller )
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