4th May 1941

A most glorious day. Sunshine and brilliant blue sky. Went down to Bourne Mill and met Maura Benham. We spent a profitable morning clearing up and burning rubbish, both thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Had rather a scrappy lunch of eggs and milk, and then cycled off to Dedham. Crowds of people about, walking in the sunshine, digging their gardens, etc. The country looked lovely. Army “scheme” on, with patrols and military police all along the Ipswich Road. Called at Ida Hughes-Stanton’s [Ida Graves] at Stratford then went on round by Stratford church, and saw old Canon Rendall sitting on the grassy bank, talking to his valet who goes out with him, while in the clear blue sky an aeroplane droned far above. The Stour Valley looked glorious, so remote from war. It seems absolutely incredible that Rendall was born in 1850, was a boy of 7 at the time of the Indian Mutiny, and that had England been involved in the war of 1870 he would probably have served in it.

Crossed the river, running full and clear between lush meadows, and went to Sisson's. From the upper windows we saw a christening party, all dressed in their “Sunday best”, going into the church opposite. I could not but help contrast the little babe being carried in, a mass of long white lace clothes, with the old canon sitting by the roadside. If the child lives as long as he, two lives will span from 1850 to 2030.

The weather was so hot we all had tea in the garden. Much talk about the chances of Penelope Belfield being called up for munitions work. It seems unbelievable that such a thing should be possible. Left about 7, before dark. No planes about on my way home, a great relief to me.

Went to Bourne Pond to make sure our bonfire of this morning was out, and then to the Castle at nine, to relieve Hull. Alarm at 10.35, few planes, and distant explosions until midnight, then quiet. To bed.

From the spring of 1941 all women had to register their occupation under the National Service regulations and single young women between the ages of 20 and 30 began to be directed into war work. By December 1941 the National Service Act (No 2) made the conscription of women legal for the first time and led to a huge increase in women workers of all ages being employed in the Women's Services or in essential war work.

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