World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                        Joan Wigley

Mrs Ball's 1942 Diary - a year in the life of a working housewife and mother in a North Derbyshire village.

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Mrs Florence May Ball
Location of story: Clowne, Derbyshire
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Norman Wigley of the BBC Radio Sheffield Action Desk on behalf of Mrs Joan Wigley.

Florence Ball (nee Thorpe) was my step-grandmother. She was born on 19 September 1892 at Hathersage in Derbyshire and as a girl lived at Ashopton. This was the village that was submerged when Ladybower Reservoir – famous for the Dambusters training flights – was built.

She married and moved to Clowne, where she kept a small corner grocery shop at the junction of Ringer Lane and Crown Street. Mr Ball worked as a miner at a local colliery throughout the war, and they had four children.

Mrs Ball died in 1974. I am pleased that I have one or two things to remember her by – one of these is a British Legion pocket diary for the year 1942. She had made entries in pencil and some are by now rather faded and difficult to read. Some of the entries relate to people, places and events known only to her, but this diary does form a year in the life of an everyday housewife and mother during the dark days of 1942, and shows what people were thinking about and worrying about at the time. I have therefore reproduced the diary entries, day by day, line by line, without alteration and without comment, except where I can add something from personal knowledge, I have added entries in square brackets, but only where it is essential in the interests of clarity. Any missing date simply means there was no written entry for that day.

THE DIARY – 1942


Sat. 3rd – Announcement of sinking Neptune. Bill B missing.

Sun. 4th – Gramma & Aunty M went to Darlington.

Mon. 5th – Alwyn Newton broken wrist.

Tues 6th – Collected Duke of Glouc: Red Cross Fund.

Wed 7th – Mr Garlick & C Dandford buried.

Mon 19th – Chesterfield with Gladys.

Fri 30th – F Home.


Sun 1st – F went Hull.

Tues 3rd – Red Cross.

Thurs 5th – Red Cross £1.11.5.

Thurs 12th – Sheff.[Sheffield] Goody Two Shoes.

Sat. 14th – Darlington Lady Scarface VI

Ripon 1 night in Lisbon

Sun. 15th – 157 Whist at Darlington.

Mon 16th – Concert at St Augustines Jim’s Joan playing.

Tues 17th – Back home.

Sat 21st - £1,053 Gregorys (War Weapons) Legion Takings Total £33.4.9.


Wed. 18th – Dot examined Passed Grade I.

Thurs. 19th – Gladys Birthday.

Tues 24th – Went to Sheff with Mrs Wright.

Thurs 26th – Sonny got his papers. Bedlam Drive won 1st prize. Raffle as well 1doz eggs.

Sat 28th – Fred home from Tetbury. 3 days special. Doris as well.

Mon 30th – Fred went back 11/30 Sheff with Albert A & me.


Thurs 2nd – Sony went to Sutton in Ashfield RASC. Dot got her papers.

Fri 3rd – Letter from Fred. Still at Northbeck [?]

Sun 5th – C & C came. Went to Lincoln. Sonny home 1st time 3 hrs.

Mon 6th – Lincoln Savoy pictures in afternoon.

Tues 7th – Came from Lincoln VI Worksop.

Thurs 9th – ARW [Air Raid Wardens] meeting not many turned up. Palace [Clowne cinema].

Fri 10th – Dot went to Northampton 12/33 Chesterfield also Joan.

Sat 11th – Sonny Home 4/30 to 8/30. Coat to make 2 yds. & 1/3 yd. 2 ½ yds. Lining.

Mon 13th – Fred leaving Tetbury for somewhere ? night.

Tues 14th – Letter from Dot. Went to Sheff with Mag. Mat [material?] for coat grey.

Wed 15th – Last letter from Fred. Set sail 11.30 Liverpool out of England. Bill airgraph.

Thurs 16th – Eric went to Sutton in Ashfield 11 o’clock.

Sat 18th – Gas Test School 2/30.

Sun 19th – Sonny home 2.30.

Tues 21st – Babs coat. Went to Worksop Mr Ellis Mrs Hague Good news.

Wed 22nd – Salvage Meeting.

Thurs 23rd – Dots Birthday Military Whist.

Fri 24th – Wrote to Fred.

Sun 26th – Babs poorly whooping cough.

Mon 27th – Wrote to Fred.

Wed 29th – Salvage Meeting.


Fri 1st – Dot home 1st time from Northampton.

Sat 2nd – Salvage. Wrote to Fred.

Sun 3rd – Dot went back to Northampton.

Tues 5th - Announcement of troops in Madagascar. Collected Red Cross 11/6.

Wed 6th – Pictures with Ethel.

Thurs 7th – Dot went to Devizes from Northampton. Went to Chesterfield.

Sat 9th – Wrote to Fred.

Sun 10th – Sony home. 2 friends with him.

Mon 11th – Lucy had her baby girl. ARW meeting.

Tues 12th – Lively, Jackall, Kipling reported sunk.

Wed 13th – Worksop with G & Babs.

Fri 15th – Wrote to Fred.

Sun 17th – C & C came. Last of petrol. Sonny home on bike.

Mon 18th – C pack his car up. Mr Poole died.

Wed 20th – Dot letter fed up.

Thurs 21st – Mr Poole buried. Sent Dot parcel. Wrote to Fred.

Sat 23rd – Letter from Bill. Sony home from Mansfield.

Sun 24th – Vi Monks married & Dill Newton.

Tues 26th – Hipp. Chesterfield with Mrs Wright. Sheffield.[?] Plane crash in field [*]

Thurs 28th – Mrs Buckingham had cable from Dick, Capetown.

Sat 30th – Doris had cable from Fred. Sonny home in afternoon. Fetched crashed plane away.

Sun 31st – Sony home from Mansfield. [*]

[Entries for Tues 26th are something of a mystery. Mrs Ball has written a word which looks like ‘Sheffield’ but I am not certain, and I cannot see that she would visit Chesterfield and Sheffield on the same day. I have not been able to find any information at all about the plane crash referred to on 26th and 30th .]


Mon 1st - Received cable from Fred safe (Capetown) A.R.W. 7 o’clock.

Tues 2nd – Papered back bedroom.

Wed 3rd – Papered landing. Red Cross.

Thurs 4th – Red Cross 12/6.

Fri 5th – 1st letter from Fred off boat. [?]Convoy arrived in India.

Mon 8th – Gas lecture in school 1st of 3.

Thurs 11th – Pictures with Mrs Wright.

Mon 15th – Sony home on 7 days leave 1st time.

Tues 16th – 2 letters from Dot.

Wed 17th – Legion Tea in Co-op ham & beef.

Thurs 18th – Pictures with Mrs Wright.

Fri 19th – Dot left Devizes for Anglesey, N.Wales.

Sat 20th – Gramm G & Babs went to Blackpool.

Sun 21st – Germany attack on Russia 1941.

Fall of Tobruk 25000 prisoners Mon 22nd – Photo from Dot. Letter from Anglesey. A fortnight’s practice.

Tues 23rd – Sonny went back to Mansfield after 7 days.

Wed 24th – Medical [?]form.

Thurs 25th – Sony went to Southwell Hospital for treatment.

Sat 27th – Albert went to Blackpool.

Sun 28th – coupons etc.

Mon 29th – Mrs P came to help washing.

Tues 30th – 2 letters from Dot out of Wales M Pace [?]


Fri 3rd – G & Gramma & Babs home from Blackpool 7 o’clock.

Sat 4th – Duchess Kent son (3) H Allcock & W B married.

Mon 6th – Dot home for 10 days from Anglesey - arrived home 3.30.

Tues 7th – Dot & I Mansfield 9 o’clock to Heath & Southwell to see Sonny. 4.0 to Mansfield.

Wed 8th – Group Meeting L Meeting. Letter from Fred wrote May 3.

Sat 11th – Cis & C came from Lincoln. From Worksop Sony home from Southwell till ¼ to 6.

Sun 12th – Barlboro’ Park C & Cis Tired.

Mon 13th – Chesterfield C & C Hipp.

Tues 14th – Sheffield C & C & A The Court Players Lyceum.

Thurs 16th – Went to Mansfield with C & C. Creswell at night pictures.

Fri 17th – 1st Airgraph from Fred landed in India. Dot went back.

Sat 18th – C&C went home. Sonny home from Southwell. Stayed all night.

Mon 20th – Sent 1st airgraph to Fred.

Chesterfield Mrs Wright. Smiling Through Concert.

Sat 25th – Sony home from Southwell.

Sun 26th – Sweet ration started 2 oz per head wk.

Mon 27th – Air warning[?] practice. P Galley married. Siren at 8 in morning.

Tues 28th – Airgraph from Fred (2nd) India. Sent June 26th.

Wed 29th – Collected Red Cross. M Adams married.

Thur 30th – Peggy called & David. Dot moved from Gourock.

Fri 31st – Airmail from Bill.


Sat 1st – Ben & Bernard came to Woodside.

Mon 3rd – Walts baby born. Siren at dinner.

Tues 4th – Queen 42 [birthday] Brenda came.

Sat 8th - Sony home from Southwell. Brenda went home. Trouble in India.

Sun 9th – B & Ben went home. Mrs Buckingham died. Ghandi arrested in India.

Tues 11th – G & Florrie went to Sheff. Had [???]

Wed 12th – Mrs Burgess baby born. Churchill went to Moscow.

Thur 13th – H.M.S. Manchester reported sunk.

Sat 15th – 1st airmail from Fred India. Sony home from Southwell.

Sun 16th – Friday night. Bombs in Barlboro Park.

Tues 18th – Sent Dot a parcel.

Wed 19th – Legion tea at Nag’s Head. Concert in Barn. Aunty Mary had airgraph from Fred. Troops landed in France DIEPPE.

Fri 21st – Kathleen Ellis joins up (Leicester)

Sun 23rd – Beginning 2nd month of Rationing.

Tues 25th – Duke of Kent (41) killed air crash in Scotland. Sent Dot money for Kilt.

Wed 26th – Sonny had airgraph from India Fred.

Thurs 27th – Aunty Mary and Gramma went to Mansfield.

Sat 29th – Duke of Kent buried. Sonny brought E Morris from Watford. Southwell.

Sun 30th – Parade Pit yard ¼ to 8 then to Palace.

Mon 31st – E Morris & Sonny went back.


Tues 1st – Sent Dot 2 airmails from Bill. Letter from Fred also photo.

Wed 2nd – Went to Chesterfield Masons.

Thurs 3rd – Went to Church morning service. 3 years of war. Day of prayer. Counted Red Cross mission room.

Fri 4th – Amm’s Birthday.

Sat 5th – Flag Day for Families. (their day). Got airgraph from Fred wrote 9th Aug.

Mon 7th – NOTTINGHAM Mrs Smith & Aunty M. Got Dot’s Book.

Tues 8th – WVS meeting in New School. Lady Hucklow[?] 6 o’clock.

Mon 14th – Chesterfield to [C????]

Tues 15th – Fred joined up 1939. Battle of Britain 1940. 185 Jerries down for 25 ours. Wed 16th – 2nd Legion Tea at Nags Head.

Thurs 17th – A.R.W. meeting. Practice stirrup pump.

Sat 19th – Birthday. Jumper Gramm. Hankies from Lincoln. Slippers Alf.

Sun 20th – Invasion Practice. Home Guard & Soldiers. Willis Marshall died.

Mon 21st – Dot finishes her exam at Kinross on Tues.

Tues 22nd – 2 letters from S Africa & 2 from India. Wrote to Fred.

Wed 23rd – Went to Willis M funeral. Meeting Legion. Dot goes to Dumbaton from Kinloss. Sent Fred cable for his birthday.

Thurs 24th – Sony home from Hospital 9 days leave.

Tues 29th – M & I went to Doncaster to Mrs Bishop’s. Sent Dot a wire to [???] if poss.

Wed 30th – Fred Birthday.


Sat 3rd – Sony went to Mansfield then to Sutton.

Sun 4th – Sony home from Sutton.

Mon 5th – Pictures.

Tues 6th – Pictures with G & A.

Wed 7th – Letter from Lucy. Neg[???] from Nurse.

Fri 9th – A Mary went to Lucy’s at Leicester.

Sat 10th – Sony back to Hospital at Southwell. A Clay buried.

Mon 12th – M back from Leicester.

Tues 20th – Sony at Lincoln.

Wed 21st – 12/- from BL. Sony / Dot / & Fred.

Sat 24th – 2 airgraphs from Fred. Wrote 26 & 29 Sept.

Tues 27th – Went to Chesterfield.


Tues 3rd – Collected Red Cross.

Wed 4th – Egypt Good News. Sony wrote to Mrs Gray.

Thurs 5th – Congratulations on North Africa from King. Good news of Vi[?] at [?].

Sat 7th – 20,000 Prisoners, 350 Tanks, 400 Guns near Musa [?} Matrok [?]. Poppy Day. Sent airmail P.C. to Fred.

Sun 8th – Church Service. War Memorial in afternoon. Parade.

Mon 9th – Tobruk. Bengasi.

Tues 10th – Grand speech by Mr Churchill.

Wed 11th – South Africans join in.

Thurs 12th – News of S Yeoman died in Iraq.

Sat 14th – Sony out of Lincoln Hospital – home.

Sun 15th – Church Bells rung for V in Middle East.

Mon 16th – Dot home for 10 days from Dumbarton arrived d[????]

Wed 18th – G Dot & I went to Warsop.

Thurs 19th – Sent airgraph to Fred. Cis’s present also.

Fri 20th – Cis Birthday.

Tues 24th – 8th Army. Bengazi routed.

Wed 25th – Dot went back to Dumbarton. Sony home 3 hrs. Going to Sutton.

Thurs 26th – 20 miles from Tunisia 1st Army.

Fri 27th – French Fleet scuttled at Toulon. Airgraph to Fred.

Sat 28th – 51 aircraft down and ours safe.

Sun 29th – Mr Churchill’s speech.

Mon 30th – Sent airmail 25/- to Fred from Liberal Club. Also airgraph.


Tues 1st – Grama went to Aunty Marys. Not well.

Wed 2nd – No Legion.

Sat 5th – Joe Hunt reported missing. Ship Heckler.

Sun 6th – Mrs Genby died.

Mon 7th – 15/- from Comforts Fund.

Tues 8th – Sent Airgraph to Fred. A wrote. Sent Dot 5/- it.

Wed 9th – Sony moved. Don’t know where. I had airgraph from Fred.

Thurs 10th – Airgraph from Fred. Mrs Genby buried.

Fri 11th – Grama not so well.

Sun 13th – Mr & Mrs Pynegar came down. Our troops in El Ageila.

Mon 14th – Myra came from Darlington. Sonny in Ireland.

Tues 15th – Nov 30. 30/- to Fred.

Wed 16th – Myra went home.

Sat 19th – Sat up all night with Grama.

Sun 20th – Grama died ¼ to 12.

Tues 22nd – Dot all night at Chesterfield.

Wed 23rd – Myra came for 10 am. Dot came 8.00 in morning.

Thurs 24th – Grama buried at Barlboro. Darlan shot.


Fri 1st – Dot went back.

This was the final entry.