Week 3 : 17th January – 23rd January 1943


Here’s what’s going on in the world this week in 1943

  • The Luftwaffe conducted the first night raid on London since May 1941.
  • The first Warsaw Uprising began on the day that Nazi German soldiers began their second deportation from Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto. At 7:00 am, SS troops and auxiliaries arrived at the ghetto and began a roundup of people to be taken to the Treblinka concentration camp. Members of the Jewish resistance organisation armed with pistols, worked their way into the crowd of about 1,000 deportees, and, at a pre-arranged signal, emerged and began fighting the Germans.
  • The Battle off Zuwarah was fought on the night of January 19–20 between British and Italian forces in Libyan waters. The result was a victory for the Royal Navy as an Italian flotilla of small minesweepers and auxiliary vessels was wiped out.
  • An air attack on Sandhurst Road School in Catford, London, killed 41 schoolchildren and six teachers. 
  • Documentary photographer Margaret Bourke-White became the first woman to ever fly on a United States Army Air Force bombing mission, when she flew on a B-17 bomber, the Little Bill, during an attack on a German held airfield in Tunis.
  • The British 8th Army, under the command of General Montgomery captured Tripoli from Italy.
  • Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, was released nationwide in the United States, after a successful opening in New York on Thanksgiving Day, 1942.
  • Duke Ellington played at New York City’s Carnegie Hall for the first time, and premiered his jazz symphony, “Black, Brown and Beige”.

And here’s what was keeping Peggy busy in the ATS:

Sunday 17th January 1943
Glorious morning – in bed. Got up 14.20hrs Out at 15.00hrs. Went to Pompey – had a good time. Got last bus back 20.16hrs. Met two Coastal Defence boys. Came home with ’em.

Monday 18th January 1943
Very bad cold – went to M.O. feeling very sorry for myself !! On duty – Sgt. Eden for No 1 – not too bad. Went to Naafi for a few minutes – Back to bed – early!

Tuesday 19th January 1943
Cold about the same. Did a bit of spud bashing in the morning. Wound some telephone wires. Watty came from hospital. Did a lot of washing etc. On duty.

Wednesday 20th January 1943
Stayed in bed until 14.45. Went to Fareham – by bus. Stayed in YW & YM. Got 2 bars milk choc! Back to Titchfield on 7.25. Had a drink. Played table tennis in canteen.

Thursday 21st January 1943
My Birthday – lots of cards. In charge of team field check. Very good indeed. Cold getting better – still dosing! Nothing happened. Paid cigs & choc at night in Naafi.

Friday 22nd January 1943
Had some more birthday cards. Got round Sgt. Creighton for a L. P. (late pass?) tomorrow! Had a lecture about Gd. defence also one on Poland. Came on duty. Had a fuse in middle of Hostile. Shook me!

Saturday 23rd January 1943
Hope to get out sometime! Rumour that we have to stay in till hockey team comes back. Rumour true! Got out at 18.30! Had a good time at dance. Came home with Bdr. Mathews.


Week 2 : 10th January – 16 January 1943


Here’s what’s going on in the world this week in 1943

  • The final Soviet assault on the German Sixth Army occupying Stalingrad began.
  • British intelligence decrypted a telegram report sent by SS Major Hermann Höfle to his superior, Lt. Col. Adolf Eichmann, regarding the the extermination of Polish Jews. The report concluded that, in 1942, 1,274,166 had been killed.
  • Operation Iskra began at 9:30 am, as the Soviet 67th Army began its final assault on the German occupation of Leningrad.
  • Pierre Laval, the Chief of Government in Nazi-occupied Vichy France, concluded a deal to cede the Departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais to Germany. 400,000 skilled French workers were also pledged for German use.
  • Winston Churchill visited Morocco to meet with with US President Roosevelt.
  • Adolf Hitler issued the “Führer decree on the full employment of men and women in the defense of the Reich”. The decree brought another 500,000 men into the armed forces as male factory workers were replaced by women. 
  • The Pentagon, now headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, was dedicated in Arlington, Virginia, only 16 months after construction had started.
  • Berlin was bombed for the first time in 14 months, as the Royal Air Force bombers began the heaviest raid ever on the German capital.

And here’s what was keeping Peggy busy in the ATS:

Sunday 10th January 1943
Church Parade. Q came. 90/- a new blanket! Collected a lot of wood for fire as there is no coal or coke! Went on duty Diesel Swinging (we’ve no idea what “Diesel Swinging” refers to. Anybody?).

Monday 11th January 1943
Went to bed in morning. Couldn’t get out until 17.30 as we had an exam. Not too hard – some tricky questions. Got a lift – to Fareham. Came back to Titchfield – met some nice men.

Tuesday 12th January 1943
Very tired, browned off – on duty. Had Gas lecture by Bom (Bombardier?). Wilson. Saw Sos. Thought there was a dance – but there were no men Commandos arrived – late & tight.

Wednesday 13th January 1943
Lovely day. Heard from Watty. Sos came down to M.O. so saw him for quite a while. No news from Reg or Jim. Heard that Sos came here last night. On duty night.

Thursday 14th January 1943
Had a lift to Titchfield with Peter (Commando). Caught the 15.15 bus. Went to Cosham. Saw Wattty. Met Sailor from West Malvern. Back to Titchfield. Had a drink. Home 22.30.

Friday 15th January 1943
Letter from Reg – in hospital with Measles!!! Bags of work. Colonel expected but didn’t come. Sir *op (?) v Bulls eye. Very tired. Had bath, straight to bed – so nice.

Saturday 16th January 1943
Got up 08.05!! Capt. A. Inspected. Results of exam. Was top with Bussy, Tommy and Jean Slater. Heard from Reg. also Marine I used to see at Stubb (Stubbington – previous posting). on duty at 20.30 S/P 23 – 03.00

Week 1 : 1st January – 9th January 1943


Peggy in 1943 – Introduction

Along with keeping diaries through the 1950s and 1960s, Peggy also wrote a diary in 1943 while, aged 22, she served at the height of the Second World War in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service). 2018 marks the 75th anniversary of Peggy’s 1943 diary and having blogged her 1960s diaries for three years we thought it would be interesting now to go back and see what she got up to a couple of decades or more earlier.

As is apparent from the images included in this post (click for larger versions), Peggy’s 1943 diary is not particularly easy to read. Her handwriting was compact and she wrote densely over the small pages, so there may be occasional blanks as we struggle to decipher things. We will highlight any words or phrases about which there is doubt, and we plan to scan each week’s diary page and include the hi-resolution image with each blog post. Peggy also used numerous acronyms throughout the diary that we will attempt to decipher as the weeks go by.

January 1943 saw Peggy serving at an anti-aircraft gun battery at Titchfield, near Portsmouth, on the South Coast of England. Portsmouth was an important naval and shipbuilding port and the city itself a significant centre of industry, so it attracted regular air raids. Peggy’s role in her ATS battery was the operation and maintenance of the radar equipment that was a vital component of air defence. There’s more information on ATS ‘Ack Ack Girls’ here.

So, welcome to the ATS and Peggy in 1943. Here’s what was keeping her busy:

Friday 1st January 1943
On duty 20.30hrs. Nothing much happened during the day. Very cold – utterly browned off. Some Batteries fired – at friendly plane!! We didn’t!! Gunner killed at Southsea.

Saturday 2nd January 1943
Capt. A. inspected. Went out late. Went to Fareham – then to dance at Tichfield. Had a grand time got back at ten past twelve with Sos – Commando Serg.

Sunday 3rd January 1943
On duty. Joan on 24hrs. Capt. A lectures again, everyone CB (confined to barracks)! Picked up plane – only site to do so – didn’t fire – something wrong. Very hard day. Saw Sos.

Monday 4th January 1943
On fatigues in morning. Plotting in afternoon with Capt. A. th. Yeo & Avery. Washed hair – make and mend in evening – on duty 20.30. Searching 23.03 co hrs. Snowing heavily still CB.

Tuesday 5th January 1943
In bed all day. Got up for F.F.I. Letters from Norman and Mum. Nothing else happened. No dance. Very cold. Still snow on the ground – not quite so cold. Still CB.

Wednesday 6th January 1943
On Duty. Very wet. Had good talk with Sgt. Eden. Mainly about lack of leave!! S/P. 13.00 – 19.00 hrs. Dance in Big Naafi in Sd. Franklin. No news from Reg. Dance no good! No men!!

Thursday 7th January 1943
Fatigues. Bad news from home – Jim seriously ill. Still no news from Reg. On duty at night. Very cold. Bds. (Barrack Duty Sargent?) Attmere got me up at 02.05 instead of 02.30. The sod!!

Friday 8th January 1943
In Bed – up for pay Parade. Jim has (ink blot – malaria?). Wrote to him. Still no news of Reg. Did a lot of washing & ironing. Spent evening in Naafi – quite funny!

Saturday 9th January 1943
Still no news from Reg. On duty – very ****dy (bloody?) . working all day GPO moaning about mud. Saw Sos. Wrote to Jim. Watty taken to hospital.

Week 52 : 24th-31st December 1967

Diary Shelf

Here’s what’s going on in the world at Christmastime 1967:

  • 24th December 1967 – The People’s Republic of China tested a missile with a thermonuclear warhead and had to destroy it prematurely after the rocket went off course.
  • 26th December 1967 – The Beatles’ film Magical Mystery Tour premièred as a made-for-television movie on BBC1 in the United Kingdom.
  • 27th December 1967 – Australia won the 1967 Davis Cup in tennis for the third year in a row, and for the 15th time in the past 18 years, when the doubles team of John Newcombe and Tony Roche defeated Spain’s team of Manuel Santana and Manuel Orantes in straight sets.
  • 29th December 1967 – The term black hole, to describe an area of gravitational collapse where the pull is so great that even visible light is unable to escape, was coined by Princeton University physicist John Archibald Wheeler at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • 30th December 1967 – The United Kingdom’s House of Lords made an interpretation of gaming laws that required the banning of the zero from roulette wheels, or any other feature in roulette where the bettor would be put at a disadvantage. The Lords concluded that since, in “zero roulette”, the gambling house had a 3 percent advantage over the bettor, the feature was a violation of British gaming law requirements. 
  • 31st December 1967 – Motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel attempted to jump 141 feet (43 m) over the Caesars Palace Fountains on the Las Vegas Strip. Knievel crashed on landing and the accident was caught on film.

Here’s what’s keeping Peggy and the family busy back in Oxshott:

Sunday 24th December 1967
Am on bitter lemon today – and have been to bed this afternoon – went into Phyl & Stan’s this morning. Great excitement of course but the children went to bed early. Didn’t get the stockings into their rooms until 4:15am!!

Christmas Day – Monday 25th December 1967
We were up and about quite early – children very pleased with their gifts. Gillian not too well – very late going to sleep last night because of a loose tooth. We all had nice presents. Cyril gave me nylons, slippers, Faberge perfume and chocs. We had a late Christmas Day lunch. Cyril not at all well and went to bed early. I played cards next door.

Boxing Day – Tuesday 26th December 1967
Joan rang, all hoarse voiced to say they couldn’t come today because of ‘flu. We had the neighbours in for drinks and played cards in the evening. I’m still coughing, so is Cyril, Gill still not quite fit.

Wednesday 27th December 1967
Back to work for me and what a pile of it! Cyril rang at noon to say Anne and Alan were here – so I came home until 2pm.

Thursday 28th December 1967
Philip now running a temperature. Rang Doctor Little and he has prescribed an anti-biotic. I went to work until one o’clock. Played cards with M & L.

Friday 29th December 1967
Philip not at all well. Running quite a high temperature and coughing a lot. Mr M gave me a £10 Christmas bonus – but forgot last month’s £4.4.6d. I’m feeling a bit browned off with the office management. Had my hair done this afternoon and did a load of washing which has dried.

Saturday 30th December 1967
Only had village shopping this morning which Gill and I did. Then we came back and played two games of ‘Sorry’ with Philip (he is still running a temperature). Gill and I went out again to Leatherhead and bought Phil a dressing gown.

Sunday 31st December 1967
Philip about the same. We had an early lunch then left for the Theatre at 2pm. Picked up Gillian Stephens and Sarah. Had a cuppa before going into the very smart Odeon on St Martin’s Lane. Saw ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ and enjoyed it (an expensive afternoon out though!). Home about 8pm. And so to the end of 1967, which has been a bad year for the country.



Week 51 : 17th-23rd December 1967

Diary Shelf

Here’s what’s happening around the world this week in 1967:

  • 17th December 1967 – The Prime Minister of Australia, Harold Holt, disappeared while swimming in the sea near Portsea, Victoria. A search by 200 people failed to find him.
  • 19th December 1967 – The United Nations General Assembly approved Resolution 2345, “The Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space”.
  • 19th December 1967 – The Royal Navy frigate HMS Minerva engaged a French oil tanker, the Artois, which was attempting to run the British blockade of the Mozambique port of Beira to stop shipments of oil from Rhodesia. The Captain of the Minerva issued a “Stop or I Fire” directive which the French vessel’s captain, Daniel Remaud ignored. Despite four warning shots, the Artois proceeded to dock at Beira anyway.
  • 21st December 1967 – Representatives of the kingdoms of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Libya announced that they would form the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries(OAPEC). Membership was open to oil exporting Arab nations with a goal of making economic decisions independent of the political goals of the other Arab League members.
  • 21st December 1967 – Died: Louis Washkansky, 55, the first human heart transplant, died 18 days after the landmark surgery by Dr. Christiaan Barnard. Washkansky’s anti-rejection therapy had been successful in preventing organ rejection but had depleted his immune system and in the frantic battle to fight rejection, Barnard had overlooked the simple diagnosis of pneumonia which ultimately killed his patient.
  • 23rd December 1967 – On his way back from the memorial service for Australian Prime Minister Holt, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson made an unannounced Christmas visit to American troops in South Vietnam. Following the visit, Johnson flew westward to Karachi to meet with the President of Pakistan and from there he traveled to Rome, where he was greeted by Italy’s President Giuseppe Saragat. A U.S. Army helicopter then flew him to the Vatican to meet with Pope Paul VI for an hour. It would be reported later that “Johnson irritated the pope by his hastily arranged helicopter landing in the Vatican gardens”, and that, according to the Time, the Pope “slammed his hand on to his desk and shouted at Johnson.”

And in the week before Christmas, Peggy’s kept busy in Oxshott:-

Sunday 17th December 1967
Put the tree up this afternoon, so great excitement. Have been trying to do my accounts but seem to be about £40 out!!!!

Monday 18th December 1967
Feeling sore-throaty today – hope I’m not cooking up a cold for Christmas! Snow to wake up to this morning – it has since turned to rain. Finished icing my cake tonight.

Tuesday 19th December 1967
Cyril and I went up to Liz Burgess’ tonight for coffee and punch evening! Mrs Boyce sat in for us. I still have a bit of a sore throat and cough. Taking brandy for it.

Wednesday 20th December 1967
Still coughing! I hope I don’t get an attack at the luncheon tomorrow. Worked all day and we went to the Carol Service in Church this evening. Cyril got the turkey this morning. 15lb 1oz @ 4/6 per lb. £3.7.9d

Thursday 21st December 1967
Luncheon at The Fairmile.
In spite of my misgivings I quite enjoyed the luncheon – but feeling rotten when I got home so went to bed. Chest very sore from coughing.

Friday 22nd December 1967
Went to see Dr. L. this morning – he put me on Penicillin. Did a bit of shopping and back home to bed. I can ill afford the time to stay in bed.

Saturday 23rd December 1967
In bed most of the day. Cyril has had to do all the shopping. I don’t even feel much like a Christmas drink. News that Tim is poorly again has distressed me a great deal. He has to go to see the specialist on 27th.

Week 50 : 10th-16th December 1967

Diary Shelf

Here’s what’s happening around the world this week:

  • 10th December 1967 – Project Gasbuggy, the first commercially sponsored nuclear test, took place in New Mexico as part of a government study of peaceful uses of the atomic bomb. The explosion was designed to improve natural gas extraction by fracturing rock formations and did provide greater gas flow but, as one author would comment later, “nobody would buy gas that they feared might be radioactive”.
  • 11th December 1967 – The the British/French Concorde, was rolled out of a hangar in Toulouse for its first public appearance. The plane was designed to carry 130 passengers at speeds of up to Mach 2.2 (2,300 km/h)) and was originally set to make its first flight in February, 1968. The plane would not be flown, however, until March 1969.
  • 12th December 1967 – Following an appeal, the nine-month jail sentence for Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones was set aside by Lord Parker, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. Jones had been convicted of possession of marijuana, but Lord Parker concluded that his history of depression and the potential for suicide merited a lesser punishment of a £1,000 fine and three years probation.
  • 13th December 1967 – King Constantine II of Greece attempted to lead a countercoup against the military that had controlled the government since April, but in seeking broad support from Greek political forces, he had virtually announced his plans before setting off for the military bases in Larissa and Kavala. He had also misjudged support from the US government, which had concluded that, “considering the monarchy’s record, a victory for the King would not signify the return to a legitimate and stable democratic system.”
  • 14th December 1967 – A team of biochemists at Stanford University, led by Nobel Prize winner Arthur Kornberg, announced that they had synthesised DNA and created the first artificial virus.
  • 15th December 1967 – The Silver Bridge between Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio collapsed without warning under the weight of rush hour traffic. At the time, 31 vehicles were on the center span of the 210m bridge, and either fell 24m into the Ohio River or into a pile of debris on the shoreline. Forty-six people were killed including two swept away in the current and never recovered.
  • 15th December 1967 – NASA’s Apollo Site Selection Board narrowed down its list of targets for the first manned landing on the Moon to three sites, one of which would be the prime location, and two backups spaced in lunar longitude to accommodate successive 2-day delays in launch. The prime site would be in the Mare Tranquillitatis.

And here’s what’s keeping Peggy busy:

Sunday 10th December 1967
Snow was still lying this morning so I took Phil on the heath with the sledge. I was very tired by the time we got home. Gillian is up and about again. Joan rang while I was in the bath. Did the Christmas cards tonight.

Monday 11th December 1967
Snow is beginning to thaw. I used my bumper-less car this afternoon for the first time.

Tuesday 12th December 1967
Not feeling very well today. Went to Claygate at lunch time to change Phil’s B.B.motor. Cyril wasn’t home to lunch. Wives Club tonight.

Wednesday 13th December 1967
Worked till the children came out of school at 3:15pm – Great secrecy as I think Gillian was buying me a present!! Cyril went to Hogg Robinson’s (Government shipping agents) party in town.

Thursday 14th December 1967
Phil’s party – helping at school.
Cyril went off with my car keys this morning! – he picked me up at lunchtime. Didn’t go back to work – as I helped at Phil’s party. We have done all the parcels for posting tonight – that’s going to cost a packet!

Friday 15th December 1967
I was right – they cost me 20/8d!  (someone else can work that out!)  Have done a lot of spending today. Went to Esher at lunch time – back to work – then to Cobham after school. Philip had his hair cut.

Saturday 16th December 1967
We shopped in Leatherhead – I bought Gill a dress and some silver party shoes. Very elegant. We had a foul journey to Welling – got there about 12:30. We went to see Eileen – she’s a bit better. Had a very nice lunch. Laurie came during the afternoon – he took Gill and Phil out in his bubble car (a Messerschmitt). We lost our way back to town so we didn’t see the lights!! Home about 9pm.



Week 49 : 3rd-9th December 1967

Diary Shelf

Here’s what’s happening in the world this week:

  • 3rd December 1967 – Greece and Turkey announced their agreement to UN Secretary General U Thant’s request to withdraw their troops from Cyprus and dismantle paramilitary forces on the island. Cyprus agreed the next day to the proposal bringing an end to the crisis that had started on November 15.
  • 4th December 1967 – The Poor People’s Campaign was announced by Martin Luther King, Jr. with the objective to call attention to, and bring an end to, poverty among White, Hispanic, Native American and African American people in the United States.
  • 5th December 1967 – Dr. Benjamin Spock, known to millions as the author of the bestselling guide to parenting, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, was among 263 anti-war protesters arrested for occupying the Whitehall induction center in New York City.
  • 6th December 1967 – Three days after the first human heart transplant, in South Africa, a team of surgeons at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, performed the second heart transplant. Jamie Scudero, less than three weeks old and dying of tricuspid atresia, was given the heart of an anencephalic baby. Scudero initially appeared to do well but died seven hours after surgery had been completed.
  • 7th December 1967 – Three days before his death (in a plane crash), Otis Redding recorded the song that would become the number one best selling song in the United States, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”.
  • 8th December 1967 – Magical Mystery Tour was released by The Beatles as a double EP album, with a total of six songs from the television movie soundtrack of the same name. On the same day, The Rolling Stones released their only psychedelic rock album, Their Satanic Majesties Request. The originally proposed title, “Her Satanic Majesty Requests”, a parody of the directions on British passports, had been rejected by Decca Records.
  • 9th December 1967 – The ability of some species of birds to fly under conditions of very low temperature and atmospheric pressure was confirmed when a military aircraft checked out a radar report of an object at high altitude passing at low speed over Northern Ireland. The pilot reported that the cause was a flock of 30 swans at an altitude of over 8,200 meters (26,900 feet or more than five miles). The air temperature was -48° C.

Here’s what’s going on back in Oxshott:

Sunday 3rd December 1967
Went over to see Eileen this afternoon – after a very early lunch. Found her looking not too bad. Afterwards saw Doris. She is very tired. Home at 5:30.

Monday 4th December 1967
Banged my eye on the corner of the car door – scratched all across the lid and drew blood!!! It’s very sore and painful and I’ve a headache! Wrote to Mur, Dad and Maggie.

Tuesday 5th December 1967
Bill & Ivy’s Silver Wedding
Had a nasty shock this afternoon – sitting in the car with the children up Oakshade Road, when I got hit on the side by a Rover  – door of the Rover flew open as it was passing. Poor Anglia is very knocked about. Had a drink with Bill and Ivy to celebrate their 25 years.

Wednesday 6th December 1967
Missed my four wheels today. However, I managed. Still haven’t done my Christmas cards or anymore shopping.

Thursday 7th December 1967
Cyril didn’t come home to lunch so I stayed at the office all day. Very cold and frosty again. Wrote to Eileen.

Friday 8th December 1967
My goodness, we woke up to a white world. Quite a snowfall – my error – we didn’t wake to it. It started at 7am. Traffic was chaotic. Cyril couldn’t get up the hill and had a half day! Put shelves up in the children’s rooms. (You don’t learn to drive in Oxshott without being able to do a hill start – steep hill up to main road in the village, whichever way you go! Used to hate turning right there!)

Saturday 9th December 1967
Bitterly cold and icy roads. However, Cyril dropped me off in Esher and I took the bus to Kingston. Was there soon after 9:30. Shopped and shopped and shopped – and almost finished it! Had a miserable lunch though. Gillian was very sick while I was out. Cyril came and picked me up at 3:15 – it was snowing heavily by then. Bill started on my car.