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 44 : 29th October – 4th November1967

Diary Shelf

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

  • 29th October 1967 – Expo 67 closed in Montreal, after having attracted more than 50,306,648 visitors in six months, a record attendance for any world’s fair. Despite the record number of visitors, the fair, which opened on April 28, ran a deficit of $250,000,000.
  • 31st October 1967 – Queen Elizabeth II conducted the State Opening of Parliament and informed the members of the House of Lords that their hereditary succession and many of their governmental powers would be eliminated. Harold Wilson’s Labour government would find strong opposition by the Conservative Party to the reform of the House of Lords, and would proceed no further with the legislation after 18 months. Major reforms would not come until 1999.
  • 1st November 1967 – Arvid Pardo, the United Nations ambassador from Malta, delivered a historic speech before the General Assembly, describing Earth’s oceans and seabed as “the common heritage of all mankind”. Pardo’s speech would be the beginning of the process of getting the world’s nations to agree upon what would become the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • 2nd  November 1967 – The Scottish National Party, an advocate for Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom, won a seat in the House of Commons for only the second time in its history, when Winifred Ewing defeated both the Labour Party and Conservative Party candidates in a by-election to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Labour Party MP Tom Fraser.
  • 4th  November 1967 – All 37 people on Iberia Airlines Flight 062 were killed when it crashed into a hillside while making its approach for a landing at London’s Heathrow Airport. The twin-engine Sud Aviation Caravelle jet had taken off from Málaga Airport in Spain, and impacted in a forest on Blackdown Hill, near Fernhurst, West Sussex and about 40 miles from its destination. The plane had been cleared to descend to 6,000 feet and, for no discernible reason, steadily continued its descent.

And here’s what’s going on back in Oxshott

Sunday 29th October 1967 
Cyril and the children went to London Airport to see Ron off to the States – I got on with the work – we’ve laid the carpet and Gill is back in her own room. Carpet looks good and the walls that are done. Joan rang.

Monday 30th October 1967
Back to school.
Work hasn’t gone down very well! Plenty to do. Joan and Fred were in London today with Eileen and Andrew. They came to us for the evening – arrived at 7pm and left at 10. Very nice seeing them. Just heard they arrived home 12:20am.

Tuesday 31st October 1967
Miserable day at the office and didn’t have a very big pay cheque so that hasn’t cheered me up at all. Wet cold and windy.

Wednesday 1st November 1967
Very busy at the office – I don’t seem to have a minute to call my own. Filthy day. Had to go to Leatherhead for petrol at lunchtime. Going to Peter Knight’s this evening to have a pre-Christmas look round.

Thursday 2nd November 1967
Another filthy wet and cold day. I’m beginning to get through some of the work that was awaiting me on Monday. Decided against going to the library after school – too cold and wet and miserable.

Friday 3rd November 1967
Very cold again today – nothing interesting in the mail. Cyril had a busy two hour stamp session with Gill this evening. I made some chocolate fudge.

Saturday 4th November 1967
Cyril busy on Gill’s room – I went to Esher early and took Phyl with me. Filthy wet day, but it has cleared up enough for the bonfire party at school. Children and I went along. Cyril still working.

Week 40 : 1st-7th October 1967

Diary Shelf

Here’s something of what’s going on around the world this week:-

  • 1st October 1967 – Representatives of the world’s communist nations were invited to a celebration in Beijing to mark the anniversary of the 1949 communist government in China however China’s second-in-command, Lin Biao, gave an address that included, “rude anti-Soviet attacks and outbursts against the international communist government.” With that, the Soviet guests walked out joined by those from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Mongolia and Poland.
  • 2nd October 1967 – England, Wales and Northern Ireland adopted a judicial procedure that was already in Scotland, allowing for jury verdicts by less than a unanimous decision. Thereafter, juries could decide a case by a 10-2 or an 11-1 margin.
  • 3rd October 1967 – Flying an X-15 experimental aircraft, U.S. Air Force Major William “Pete” Knight made the fastest flight of a powered aircraft, at a speed of Mach 6.72 (4,520 mph, 7,270 kmh). A speed record that remains unsurpassed.
  • 4th October 1967 – The cliché, “a bull in a china shop” was played out literally in the town of Chester, Pennsylvania when three steers escaped from a slaughterhouse and caused a considerable amount of damage to the china and other valuable items in a downtown jewelry store.
  • 7th October 1967 – Film actress Elizabeth Taylor escaped death by a matter of seconds while in Sardinia for the filming of the Universal Pictures release Boom!. Taylor had just stepped out of a trailer that served as her dressing room in the hills of the Porto Conte Natural Park, when the vehicle’s brakes and safety blocks failed, sending it plunging over a 150-foot high embankment into the Mediterranean.

And here’s what’s occupying our family:-

Sunday 1st October 1967
Children and I went to family service. Very large congregation. Have worked nearly all day – cleaning brass, washing, ironing etc. etc.

Monday 2nd October 1967
Went out to Leatherhead tonight to buy petrol and to try driving with lights – didn’t care overmuch for it but managed. Have also washed the car this evening but didn’t have time to polish it.

Tuesday 3rd October 1967
Wives’ Theatre trip 7:10pm
Quite enjoyed the Theatre. “Galsworthy, The Silver Box”. What a dirty night it was though – pouring, gale force winds – but I managed the drive home to everyone’s satisfaction.

Wednesday 4th October 1967
Very busy at the office. Mrs S and I haven’t had any time off this week and can’t see us being able to have any off!! Have been helping Gill with the stamps this evening.

Thursday 5th October 1967
Lovely morning – Cyril had to pick Ron up, so I took the children to school. Gave me a few minutes start at the office before the rush. Have been back this afternoon. Cyril has finished the plastering around the fireplace. Letter from Joan today – she says Tim is looking pale and tired. I do hope the boy is all right.

Friday 6th October 1967
Went to Esher at 8:20am and gave Ivy a lift. Then I went to the office. Was working until 4:15pm today and feel very tired tonight. The new bed and carpets arrived – we’ve struggled with the beds and Gill is now in her 4ft and Phil in Gill’s  3ft. We have decided to go to Andover on Saturday afternoon as we had a letter from Mur.

Saturday 7th October 1967
I was up early – ironing at 7am. Took children to dentist while Cyril went to Esher and ordered the paper etc. We then had our elevenses. I went to the village. Had a telephone call from Dave who had arrived home unexpectedly and we therefore cancelled our trip.

Week 38 : 17th-23rd September 1967

Diary Shelf

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

  • 17th September 1967 – Jim Morrison of The Doors defied CBS in a live telecast of The Ed Sullivan Show, after initially agreeing to a request to alter the lyrics of their hit, Light My Fire. Morrison had been asked to change the lyric “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher” to “Girl, we couldn’t get much better”. Given that the word “better” did not rhyme with “You know that I would be a liar”, Morrison sang “higher” anyway. The Doors were banned from future Ed Sullivan shows.
  • 18th September 1967 – U.S. Defense Secretary McNamara announced in a speech to journalists in San Francisco that the United States would deploy a “Chinese-oriented” anti-ballistic missile system to protect against any threat posed by attacks from the People’s Republic of China. The first 22 pages of McNamara’s 25 page speech had been a policy statement that suggested that the U.S. would not deploy any ABMs, with the last three giving notice of the deployment, which led many to believe that McNamara was forced to change his speech.
  • 20th September 1967 – The Cunard Line cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched onto Scotland’s Clyde River after being christened by the monarch for whom it was named. The name of the new 58,000 ton liner had been kept secret until the ceremony. For two minutes after shipyard workers knocked away the timbers that had been holding the ship in place, it failed to slide down the slipway as expected, but finally began its descent amid cheers from 30,000 spectators.
  • 22nd September 1967 – Dissident Soviet writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers after a tribunal was held by the Union’s secretariat, chaired by Konstantin Fedin. The expulsion brought an end to his ability to publish his work within the Soviet Union.
  • 22nd September 1967 – The cruise ship RMS Queen Mary departed from New York City for its 500th and last time, leaving the Cunard Line Pier with a ceremony marked by thousands of people cheering and waving, and a performance by the 55-man U.S. Merchant Marine Academy band. The noisy send off contrasted with the Mary’s routine departure from Southampton, England, on Sept. 16th, when only a couple of hundred sightseers lined the dockside and music was supplied through the ship’s loudspeaker system.
  • 23rd September 1967 – Voters in New Zealand overwhelmingly favored a measure to end the limits that had engendered the “Six o’clock swill”, where bar patrons drank heavily after leaving work because alcoholic beverages could not be legally sold after 6:00 in the evening. The limitation had been in place in New Zealand and Australia since the beginning of World War One as an emergency measure. A previous attempt at repeal in New Zealand had failed in 1949.

But here’s what’s going on in Oxshott:-

Sunday 17th September 1967
Feeling sore – throaty and full of cold today – have been on the bed all afternoon. Cyril seems to have a cold too. A bright pair! Philip seems better. Wrote to Mur.

Monday 18th September 1967
Cyril coughing well. My throat is much better. Philip back at school. He’s looking rather pale though. Had to go and buy petrol then went to Penny Nairne’s (too crowded) and then to the office for an hour. Straight to Cobham after school to get Philip’s hair cut.

Tuesday 19th September 1967
Cyril at Leeds.
Came home from work for ½ hour to take Cyril to the station. Blustery sort of day – have done some washing and ironing –  also 2 hours work on the month’s bills. May have a day off tomorrow.

Wednesday 20th September 1967
Hairdresser 9.30am
Have been quite a devil today! Had my hair done then did a few jobs in the office – then checked the car and went off to Frimley. Only had a couple of hours there so just saw Greenie, Celia and Ernest. Home by 3.25pm.

Thursday 21st September 1967
Worked till quarter past one – Cyril rang me at 1.40pm to pick him up at 2.20pm so I took Alma to badminton then picked Cyril up. I stayed till 3.45pm – picked children up, came home and did washing – but it rained.

Friday 22nd September 1967
Busy, busy day!
Worked all morning and was late leaving at lunch time. Just made it before Cyril came home with fish and chips for our lunch. I did the shopping in Leatherhead and we set off at 4pm – bad journey and we didn’t get to Longdon (Gloucestershire – near Tewkesbury) until 8.20pm. Children very tired.

Saturday 23rd September 1967
Have had a good day. Saw Ted – he came over to Longdon. Dad came for the day. Rob and I took the children to Tewkesbury – I drove back in his A40. Children out in the fields until after one. We enjoyed the fete – our roses won first prize! Joan came over and stayed until ten-ish. Cyril and I took Dad home, Maggie came too. Didn’t get back to Rob’s until nearly midnight.


Week 36 : 3rd September – 9th September 1967

Diary Shelf

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

  • 3rd September 1967 – At 5:00 in the morning local time, all road traffic in Sweden switched from driving on the left hand side of the road to driving on the right hand side. Beginning at 1:00 in the morning, all non-essential traffic was barred from the roads. At 4:50, all remaining vehicles were brought to a stop at checkpoints. Ten minutes later, police directed vehicles to move to the other side of the road.
  • 3rd September 1967 – Died: Mohammed bin Laden, 59, Saudi Arabian billionaire and father of future al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, was killed when the airplane he was in crashed during a landing.
  • 5th September 1967 – The British science fiction television series The Prisoner, created by and starring Patrick McGoohan, was broadcast for the first time, premiering in Canada. The show would not appear in the UK until late September.
  • 6th September 1967 – Walter E. Washington was appointed as the first African-American mayor of a major American city, as President Lyndon Johnson announced his nomination as Mayor-Commissioner of Washington, D.C.
  • 7th September 1967 – NASA launched Biosatellite 2 from Cape Kennedy, with a cargo of life forms to study the effects of weightlessness and gamma radiation on cellular development. NASA would successfully recover the craft two days later. The life forms on board included parasitic wasps, flour beetles, vinegar gnats, amoebae, frog eggs, wheat seedlings and bread mould.
  • 9th September 1967 – Greece’s Prime Minister Konstantinos Kollias and Turkey’s Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel began an unprecedented series of summit meetings, traveling to each other’s nations during the weekend to discuss their differences regarding the island republic of Cyprus. At the close of the summit, the two men issued a joint press release that declared that they, “expressed their belief that the long-term interests of both countries require the strengthening of the ties of friendship, good neighborliness, and cooperation between the two countries, within the spirit of cordiality created by the two great statesmen Atatürk and Venizelos, and by taking into consideration the fact that they belong to the same alliance.”

And here’s what Peggy and the family are up to in Oxshott:-

Sunday 3rd September 1967
Poured all morning so it was an ‘In’ morning. Gillian and Philip made hard work of writing letters to Doris and Eileen. Didn’t do much in the afternoon either!

Monday 4th September 1967
Children feeling a bit blue about school tomorrow. I worked till 12:15pm then we had lunch and went to Epsom swimming. Took Janet with us and she thoroughly enjoyed it. Am wondering if Joan will ring tonight as Eileen was supposed to come tomorrow.

Tuesday 5th September 1967
Autumn Term commences.
Back to school today – neither of them very thrilled!! I went to work this afternoon then after school we went to Leatherhead – spent a fiver buying shoes for the two and another 25/- on petrol. Gale force winds all day.

Wednesday 6th September 1967
Bit brighter today and thank goodness Mrs Styles is back so she was able to get cracking on some of the pile up of work! Did a bit of washing when I got in – but it poured.

Thursday 7th September 1967
Not a very nice day – in fact it has turned so cold that Cyril has started a fire. Having a little car trouble in that my brake lights won’t go off. Hope it won’t be too difficult to rectify the fault.

Friday 8th September 1967
Cyril out to lunch.
Had a blow this morning. Car wouldn’t start so I had to walk to the office. Gillian was disgusted that she had to walk home from school. Lovely sunny day. Joan rang.

Saturday 9th September 1967
Bill P is going to do my car this afternoon if he can. Cyril did the shopping. Ivy and I took the children blackberry picking this afternoon – got enough to flavour the pie tomorrow (had some nice apples given to me at the office). Played Canasta.