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.
Nov 12/1944 138 Harrow Road Wallaton Park
My Dearest & Best x
Oh, what an awful day! I hope you had a good journey yesterday & will have a better one than last on your way home tonight. Its bitterly cold today & raining hard. Well. I haven’t filed in any of the cards I have but will leave you to take your choice of cards for myself & Gidd & Bert, also for mother, & the family & I will send to my own ones. Don’t bother about dolls, you boy- I’ve got a couple — Haby Dept had a delivery of a dozen ( a prize delivery they call it ) so I was just lucky in getting one —10/= but its got a china face; not too badly dressed as things go today, so that’s that- but honestly they have had some lovely toys in their few years as children…. Kids little picture books are a price too. By the way, I went to the best bookshop here yesterday for ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Graham; they told me it is out of issue, no further publications are promised, so our luck is out there, as you say, she is so advanced in her reading that a small girls book wouldn’t seem to fit her. Still it is possible there may be an odd copy somewhere about, so you could perhaps enquire at one or two of the big bookshops your way. Here is list of my collection- 3 fancy boxes, stationary ( not super, but still paper & envelopes in a fancy box, 5 writing pens- 2 this size paper & three the small popular size. Hairnets & Grips & I’ll see about some combs- but are there those nice black ones about that you used to get? I know combs are awfully scarce, anyway- some face powder- & by the way that Lexicon game would be appreciated by Russ & Ivy I reckons. What about some Brilliantine? Brycream you could pass to one of them. They look as if they will have to be wartime parcel of bits & pieces- but the value wont exactly be cheap.
I’ll send the pencil box to Val for her birthday- with some nice color crayons to fill it up. What about you sending a 2/6 Postal Order- to buy something it will cost you more & she will do well from us all. Wish the Blinkin’ coupons system wasn’t so megre- theres quite a lot I’d like to do!!! By the way I shouldn’t tell your chaps how often you get home now, otherwise the luck of the draw will not come your way; when have your passes to go through? Went to see ‘Song of Bernadette’ again yesterday- & enjoyed it- Ger?y was quite impressed too. In a letter from Gerald? Last week she asked me to pass on all my old gloves, they would still do her for cleaning the grate & coal carrying. She little knows the fuss I’ve got to make of my gloves these days, let alone pass ‘em on for stoves!! Them days are over aren’t they? Gosh talk about gloves, I came across a list which you had made out quite seven or eight years ago- & the geol..ding always had gloves & chocolates- Oh! Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a 2lb box of Lafontes now!!! Well, theres one thought- we appreciated them when we got them- what about the box I kept one year- until my birthday they would last that long now. Never mind dear the good times together again are not far distant we hope, & I hope hard times will never come back- we neeent work at all, & I still get paid for doing that sounds alright on paper- but in practice I bet they’ll be some shocks. Well, cheerio love, hope you had a nice weekend. Don’t leave that bedroom untidy will you? Cheerio for now xxx All my love & thoughts your own loving wife x Marie x
As written by my grandmother Connie Toller ( nee Broom ), March - April 2005
Mrs C B Toller.
When war was declaired in 1939, my husband was in the Terratorials. He joined the R.A.M.C. by choice. I had one daughter, one year and ten months old [ Valerie Toller ]and was expecting my second child in April 1940. When the first siren went I grabbed my little girl and sat in a cuboard. We heard a plane overhead and didnt know what to expect. We wondered if we were safe at night. Later on we were given a table shelter for the dining room which was very strong.
When my second daughter [Joan Toller] was born in April my brother and his new wife came to live with me as they had just got married. If the sirens sounded I had 2 children to keep look after and it was frightening each time.
My mother lived across the road [Oxford Road, Cambridge] and she had a big dug out shelter in the garden and we used to go over there sometimes while Mr. Legge across the road yelled " Hurry up". We sat in this dug out watching the ear-wigs walking about until the "All Clear" sounded.
My husband didnt see his second daughter for at least three months, when he had a short leave. It was dreadful to wave to him when he went back. I felt devastated each time.
One night a plane came over our house making a loud noise and it crashed behind our house onto the recreation ground [Richmond Road] knocking down some small cottages. Some people were killed.
My four brothers were all away. My eldest brother [George Cruden] was in the Air Force, another in the Fire Service [Bill Broom] and 2 others [Russ Broom and Arthur Cruden] away working in special work, one in Peterbourgh and one in another town.
Food was scarce of course and we spent the coupons in our ration books, then we kept our eyes open on shops to see if anybody came out with some bananas or sweets, then we would try our luck.
My eldest brother who was in the Air Force working with some Americans was coming to mothers on leave so an American gave him a bottle of vintage port (or sherry) to give to his mother. My brother got a lift on a lorry to the station. When he sat down he relized he had left his precious bottle on the lorry. He rang the police station to see if the man decided to hand it in. He had kindly done so and the police put the bottle on a train to Cambridge and informed my brother of the time he could meet the train. All worked out well and my brother made for home with the gift for mum. She opened the door just in time to see the bottle fall from my brothers hands and smashed on the doorstep running away under his feet. I didnt ask him if he smelt it or dipped his finger in for a taste.
My husband was in France and worked in the General Hospital and was a Staff Sergeant. I went to Belfast when he was there for a time. My mother looked after my 2 daughters. I stayed with 2 lovely people and watched my husband on the route marches etc. taking charge and I was proud of him.
I had a lovely baby boy in 1945, my husband sent me a telegram to say "Nice work darling".
When my husband was on the boat [Dunkirk] crossing for home the bombs were dropping and sometimes very close. He said he kept praying "Please God let me get home to my wife and children". We were all very thankful.
He was an excellent soldier, devoted to duty and did well as he also did in everything at home and at work. Sadley he died in his sixties from Cancer. When he was dying he thought of us all and hoped I would be alright. I faced the future and am now 89 years old.
When he came home on leave one day he was carrying a big blue teddy bear for the children. He saved any chocolate and brought it home. He wrote to me nearly every day he was away during the war and we had made a sort of hidden code so I would always know where he was. I would start my letters in different words and ways, as he did, so I always knew where he was.
He told me about the time a few of the men were hidding as a plane was dropping bombs, it kept coming down low and they was on a corn field or similar. A man with real red ginger hair kept bobbing up to see where the plane was and on of the soldiers said " Get your so and so head down, they can see you."
One day someone bought a cat in the hospital as it had been hit on the road. My husband stitched its wounds after a whiff of something. It got on well and was the units pet.
When my husband came home it was wonderful. We decorated the house and put banners up etc. I had another daughter later. I've got a wonderful family and over 30 grandchildren and great grandchildren.
My husband lost a nephew and his best friend in the Air Force.
It was a welcome sight when Woolworths had sweets on the counter again. I remember buying a load of sweets which looked like different fruits and coloured. They were lovely.
After the war a dance was planned to take place in a hall nearby for all the local soldiers. They were presented with valuable fountain pens and anyone could go. So we made my dear mum look nice and I curled her hair and put a glittering chiffon on her. We hadn't been in the hall long when an elderly gentleman took my mother on the dance floor, I've never forgotton it.
P.S. My husband recived several medals.
P.S. My children went to the street party in Richmond Road, We have a photo somewhere in the family.
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