Our Hidden Lives

Extract

This extract is taken from the beginning of the book, as four diarists prepare to make the transition from war to peace in May 1945.

1: OUR TROUBLES ARE ONLY JUST BEGINNING

‘God bless you all. This is your victory! It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land. In all our long history we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best. Everyone has tried. Neither the long years, nor the dangers, nor the fierce attacks of the enemy, have in any way weakened the independent resolve of the British nation. God bless you all.’

Winston Churchill from the balcony

Tuesday, 1 May 1945

Maggie Joy Blunt, freelance writer and publicity officer in metal factory, living in Burnham Beeches near Slough

Important hours, important as those days at the end of August in 1939 preceding the declaration of war. This is tension of a different kind, expectancy, preparations being made for a change in our way of living. But the tempo is slower. We wait, without anxiety, for the official announcement by Mr Churchill that is to herald two full days’ holiday and the beginning of another period of peace in Europe. We wait wondering if Hitler is dying or dead or will commit suicide or be captured and tried and shot, and what his henchman are doing and feeling.

All the women of my acquaintance have strongly disapproved today of the treatment of the bodies of Mussolini and his mistress. I heard one man in the sales department when he was told that the bodies had been hung up by the feet say glibly ‘Good thing too!’, But RW and myself and Lys and Miss M are shocked and disgusted. Spitting on the bodies, shooting at them, seems childish and barbarous, and such actions cannot bring the dead to life or repair damage, and is a poor sort of vengeance. What a state the world is in and what a poor outlook for the future.

I have worn myself out spring-cleaning the sitting room. All Sunday and yesterday at it – it now looks so brilliant and beautiful I’ll never dare live in it.

We had ice cream in canteen for lunch today – the first for two or is it three years?

George Taylor, accountant in Sheffield

I noticed that the flags which were flying on the Town Hall yesterday, presumably in preparation for peace, have been taken down. Apparently the officials were premature in their preparations.

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