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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pam's Diaries: 1944

The Universal Diary for 1944
Pamela M. Allery
107 Hook Road, Surbiton
National registration No. CNHV 298 3
In case of emergency please phone:
Home: Elm 6355
Work: Oxshott 2436

(now at 4 North Road, Surbiton)
 "This is my first Diary I hope I shall keep it up!"

In 1944 Pamela (b. 9.03.1927 d. 27.01.2012) was just 17 years old with her future in front of her and the freedom to do mostly as she pleased. War time Britain had deprived her of a sheltered idyllic life in suburban London but she made the best of her lot as a young trainee Nurse in Surbiton, Surrey, England.

Pamela was working at the Oxshott Medical Practice in Holtwood Road, Oxshott, Leatherhead, Surrey and studying for her examinations for her Nursing Diploma, which she achieved in 1948 at the Kingston Royal Hospital. During 1944 she began her very first diary and kept track of her activities in that year. During this year Dad was away from home, serving in the RAF as Mechanical Engineers and John, aged 16, was training for the Navy.

She was living at the family home in Hook Road with Mum, Patricia aged 10 and the twins Michael and Brian aged 5. Later that year Pam went to live with Aunt Doris in North Road, Surbiton after having an altercation with Mum and showing the first signs of her rebellious nature and fierce independence.
  • Diary Note: Sat 29 Jan, Mum was a sow. I hate her.
  • Fri 5 Feb, Decided to leave home and try and get a flat or lodgings.
 Pam's social life was exciting and attractive to a young girl just tasting romance for the first time. She had many attentive young men who would take her to the pictures and her diary is sprinkled with notes about her boyfriends and the movies she saw. Pam begins to keep a detailed track of the films and the starring roles, along with who she went with in this 1944 diary. All is recorded in her neat and minute handwriting - sometimes in pen and sometimes in pencil. The pages are now quite fragile, showing their age, and in some places the pen's ink has not dried properly and stains obliterate some of descriptive words.

Throughout her writings we are reminded that this is war time and air raids and bombings are a frequent occurrence for residents of London. The March entries paint an interesting picture of the times and of Pam's emotional feelings, all jumbled together.
  • Diary Note: Fri 24 Mar, Going out with John. Lovely time with John, his kiss was the longer than usual
  • Fri 31 Mar, Dad came home 3 am. Air Raid at 3.40 am. Awful day. Pat leaving today. Feel rotten now Pat's gone.
  • Tues 4 Apr, Pat sent me four bars of chocolate and a sweet little note.
I begin to piece together the fragments to get an insight into how life evolved for Pamela in the year before I was born. I am intrigued with the delights she held for her frequent social nights at S. B. (not sure what the initials stand for, surmise its a dance hall) where she went dancing. After my exploration of the diary, I now realise that Pam was a real party girl and looked forward to these events as the highlights of her week.
  • Diary Note: Sat 6 May, Went to S.B. Party night - it was lovely. Embarkation dance. 4 kisses !!!!
By June it was clear that war torn London was not the place to be! Pamela writes in her diary about the events that bring us back to reality.
  • Diary Note:Tues 6 June, D Day
  • Thurs 8 June, First flying bomb over this country
  • Tues 13 June, All this week Buzz bombs have been falling. They are really frightening.
  • Fri 23 June, Mummy and Babies and Pat went to Wales.
Pam's life revolves around her work her studies and her many boyfriends. First we hear about John, then Alan, then Pat, then finally Doug. Doug was one of the three soldiers from the Welsh Guards who started up a conversation with Pam and her friend Frances, on the grass outside the dance hall. According to the diary note on Sat 5 July, Frances was trying to fight her for Doug's attention. "But I needn't have bothered. He loved me from the first day he met me"! July to September is a whirlwind romance between Pam and Doug. 
  • Diary Note: Mon 7 Aug, I love him so very, very much. Nothing can equal the feeling I have for him.
  • Sun 13 Aug, Doug held my hand.
  • Wed 16 Aug, Doug put his arm around me and we had our first kiss.
  • Aug 21-27, Doug showed me how to do a certain kiss (It was a bit horrible). But he said:'Why didn't you stop if you didn't like it?' I said, 'Because I love you so much. I do I do so very much.' And he said, 'I love you very much.' Oh joy, my happiness was complete. We caught the last train home and we kissed again and again.
  • 28 Aug, Dad came home!!!! He wanted me to pack some things and come back to Wales with him. Of course I can't. Still saw Doug (I love him). He gave me a really big kiss 'to last for two weeks', he said. He will ring me on Monday. We might get married after the war.
  • Sun 3 Sept,  Come back all I said about Doug. He doesn't love me any more. I think my heart is breaking... I still love him, but I shall never believe in another man again, never.
Such passion and hope is portrayed in the August writings, in love with Doug, but it was inevitable that this war time romance was doomed and by September it was over. No explanation of why Doug leaves her is given in the diary, but I imagine that he was sent elsewhere and had duties to attend to. (see the PS below).

Diary entries become sporadic from September through October; then nothing from November 14 to December 18. Her passion has dimmed and Pam begins to show depression about her life and love lost - such bitter sweet sorrow - at the tender age of 18. Pamela applies for a posting at the Kingston Hospital and started preparation for Christmas in Wales with the family. I don't think she ever knew that Mum was expecting me at that time, and given her focus on herself and the good times she wanted with the boys from the RAF, Navy or Army I don't think that such news would have had much impact.

This poignant 1944 diary ends with some short notes about her trip back to London from Wales and her farewell from Dad at Cardiff railway station. Pamela returned home to the Bungalow in Hook road by December 27 and got ready for her work. Life for Pam was returning to normal and the pictures featured again for her on Friday nights - everything settling down after Christmas. Her family remains in Eglys Brewis, Wales until the end of the War, and Pam is alone once more.


Douglas Humphreys, Welsh Guard (my heart is broken, I just can't bear it, Over Douglas)
John Denney,  Surbiton
Pat Barnett, Oxshott
John Drudge, Hampton
John Grant, Surbiton

Today's story was prompted by the discovery of this 1944 diary in the boxes of memorabilia I brought home from the unit where Pam, my sister, used to live. There are many, many more diaries and scrapbooks to explore another time.

Post Script

A search for details of the Welsh Guard in their website history and their part in the latter part of World War 11, provides the following information.

Meanwhile, the 1st and 2nd Battalion formed part of the Guards Armoured Division - the 1st Battalion as infantry and the 2nd Battalion as an Armoured Battalion. The two Battalions working together were the first troops to re-enter Brussels on 3 September 1944 after an advance of 100 miles in one day, in what was described as "an armoured dash unequalled for speed in this or any other war".

A search for details of Douglas Humphreys of the Welsh Guards at Ancestry provides this poignant post script for the brief love affair he had with Pamela:

1 comment:

  1. Post Script:

    Welsh Guards

    Meanwhile, the 1st and 2nd Battalion formed part of the Guards Armoured Division - the 1st Battalion as infantry and the 2nd Battalion as an Armoured Battalion. The two Battalions working together were the first troops to re-enter Brussels on 3 September 1944 after an advance of 100 miles in one day, in what was described as "an armoured dash unequalled for speed in this or any other war".