This is a short story from a desk diary my mother Kathleen Rabone wrote at the end of 1940 till the summer of 1941 when she got married. She lived at 341 Summer Lane; my Father lived 124 Bracebridge Street. My father lived with his dad and after he died he kept the house on with mom’s help until 1953.
The first item in the diary is for a phone number in Peterborough PET2390 Sapper Cobden. I can only imagine this where my father done is training before going to India to take his part in W.W.2.
The first dates in the diary are December28th, 29th, 30th and 31st 1940. Mom stopped in Peterborough with Dad. Mom said she ‘had a grand time I couldn’t be happier. I love him so much’.
January 1st 1941.- ‘First day of 1941 very dull everything gone wrong I have missed Vic a lot wrote to him this day’
2nd January.-‘quiet day had a very nice letter of Vic wrote back to him’.
3rd January. - ‘no letter Vic. Rang me up at Hercules it was great to hear him once again I have missed him been together 19 months today and very long engagement .Short week one pound wages. Very cold, wrote to Vic ‘
4 January. - ‘two letter of Vic otherwise very dull day still saving. Tommy my brother home for seven days leave ten shilling in bank total in bank seven pound 10 shilling’.
5th January. - ‘Plenty of work a very quiet day wrote to Vic I felt so lonely without Vic.’
6th January. ‘Letter from Vic, a quiet day wrote to Vic.’
7th January ‘Letter from Vic, he might be home on Friday. I am living in hopes I feel so happy I do love him’. (A name in the diary on this date I don’t know) ‘R Hadley on leave visited us at work, heard from my brother Joe today wrote to Vic.’
8th January.- ‘letter of Vic I do hope he will be able to come home I am dreading the thought that he might go aboard again please god don’t let him go I love him so much Hercules on fire not much damage wrote to Vic.’
9th January [7.15pm] the air raid warning gone, two letter of Vic I am so very disappointed to night Vic not being able to come home but roll on [Feb20] then with god help we will be together I need you and love so very much Vic more than words can say I feel so lonely without out you wrote to Vic again tonight.’
10th January.-‘No letter, a miserable day raining, how happy I should have been tonight if Vic had been here but still I am thankful he safe in England I can get to him if I need him I do love you Vic.Writing to Vic, short week on wages, [one pound ten shilling gave mom 17 shilling and 6 pennies)’
11th January. - ‘Letter of Vic plenty of work washing and ironing. I do miss Vic a quite day on the whole wrote to Vic’.
12th January. ‘Went to my brother Billy and Doris house. Bill met with accident [midland red bus] quite day on the whole.’
13th January. ‘3 Letters of Vic, late for work this morning everything been very much the same. Writing to Vic.’
I4th January.-‘Letter of Vic quiet day wrote to Vic. ‘
15th January. - ‘Letter of Vic answering tonight, its one year to day since Vic was called up. I miss him a lot. I love him just as much. He is the best in the world. I hope darling this time in a year time you will be home for good.’
16th January. - ‘Vic rang me up leaving Peterborough and going to Shefford’ near Bedford on the A600. ‘I have got an awful headache and a pain in my stomach I feel really run down I do wish Vic was here.’
17th January. - ‘[full week money two pound two shilling and nine pence]. Letter of Vic writing to Vic I feel no better in fact worse it makes me fed up with life my throat is sore I give the world to see Vic I must try to keep smiling for his sake I love you Vic’ .
18th January. - ‘No letter. Work till 5pm my pains have been easer in my stomach, it just my head now. A quiet day on the whole snowing badly. It’s at least [3and half feet deep].’
19th January.. - ‘A quite day wrote to Vic.’
20th January. - ‘Letter from Vic and wrote back. Very bad weather but feeling much better.’
21st January.-‘Letter of Vic wrote back, a quite day.’
22nd January. - ‘Letter of Vic and wrote back. Nothing much happened today only, E. Brookes trying to be funny. Best to take no notice of her’ [don’t know the name].’
23rd January. - ‘Letter from Vic and wrote back tonight. He doesn’t sound so good I hope he’s ok. I love him so much, O god please look after him I love him. No change at work, quiet.’
24th January. - ‘Letter of Vic wrote back, I will be glad when he can come home. I have missed him so very much. I love you Vic. A quiet day on the whole at work. [Picked up two pound 8 shilling and 11 pence].’
25th January. –‘ 2am this morning I had the most wonderful surprise Vic home on 48hour leave. I feel so very happy it has snowed and rained but I don’t care we have each other. Went to the pictures and went home for some soup. Then to our home, a lovely evening then 5minutes left of love [no work today].
26th January. - ‘Got up 9.30 had a lovely morning dinner in Florence’s- Vic sisters. Went up home saw mom and my brother Thomas. It been a grand 48hours but I hate parting with you darling. You have given me a lovely time I love you Vic.’
27th January. - ‘A miserable day, everything gone wrong. Wrote to Vic.’
28th January.-‘Letter of Vic wrote back a quiet day.’
29thJanuary. - ‘Heard news of new job, Miss Brookes leaving to take over full control of repair dept’ [I believe this woman must of been a dept head in Hercules factory where mom worked] wrote to Vic.’
30th January. - ‘Miss Brooke left for Bovey Tracey’. I believe this to be in Devon on the A38 ‘to get married then to take control of the repair dept wrote to Vic.’
31st January. - ‘ Heard today that Vics had his first stripe, lance corporal, a non-commissioned officer Cobden R.T .O. Quainton road Bucks.’
February 1st. - ‘Rise in my wages, 50 shillings now, 3pound per week. One pound in bank.
2nd February. - ‘Mr Churchill to give back all tax taken of soldiers wives.’
3rd February.-‘Very busy at work wrote to Vic.’
4th February. - ‘Warning sounded wrote to Vic’.
5th February. -‘Vic home for 24 hours leave. No work today, so glad he was here stayed at 341, Mom worried.’
6th February. - ‘6 Pound tax money back we have spent the lot, had a lovely time was able to let Vic have one pound in his pocket.’
7th February. - ‘Vic gone back, it’s so lonely no one to talk to. D Cook to get married’ I don’t know the name.
8th February. ‘Took day off to go to Quainton Road to surprise Vic. Given lift most of way by one of the drivers to save money.’
9th February. - ‘Bombs to night very clear and bright’
10th February.-‘Heard from my brother Joe, lost is stripes gone to Gibraltar with the regular he pleased.
11th February.-‘Bombs on many factories in Aston, hit many homes the war is near home. Wrote to Vic.’
12th February. ‘Vic thinks he will go overseas, hope he gets leave first. Aston area bombed people killed and hurt.’
Pictures taken 5th April 1941 when excitement was growing as Wedding now not far away!!!
9TH April, 200 Bombs dropped in and around Birmingham
NO MORE IN DIARY FOR SOME REASON UNTIL EARLY MAY 1941 PERHAPS NO TIME I DONT KNOW
5th May. - ‘Must go to the registers.’
10th May. Get wedding dress and bridesmaids dress.’
15th May.-‘Bombs hit Elkington Street Park, our home badly damaged. Wedding dress and bridesmaids dress rescued. A policeman killed. Only one room unsafe.’
16th May. -‘Trying to clean up after raid to make things better for our wedding day. My brothers Terry and John came to help.’
17th May.-‘Getting ready to leave 341, Mom Terry and John moving to 6 Kingston roads. Small heath. I wonder if we will be ready. Small reception at 124 Bracebridge Street.’
18th May. -‘Bands read out in church first reading.’
19th May.-‘Vic’s sister Florence staying with Auntie Ada till 124 made safe to live in. We get it ready for our wedding. Its hard work being at work as well, wish Vic was here still think he will go aboard.
20th May.-‘Another raid, 10 hours long did not sleep at all. Must go to work.’
21stMay.-‘341 Damaged by blast. Mom will be pleased to leave here. My brothers Terry and John evacuated to Worcester away from bombs.’
22nd May.-‘A nice lady John and Terry are with but would rather be home. Worcester flooded rivers overflowing.’
23rd May.-‘More raids, every night now. Heard from Vic. Will try to get home.
24th May.-‘Got home from work to find Vic here for a few hours, a lovely surprise so happy for a while.’
25th May.-‘ Vic going to ask Mrs Mackham the lady he is billeted with if I can go to stay for a while when we are married.’
31st May.-‘Mom leaving 341 after our wedding. Terry stopping to lock up and going to 124 to wait for us every think ready now.’
1st. - June. ‘Bands read 3rd Time. All well now, next Saturday our day.’
6th June..-‘Vic home on 7 days leave going to India after our wedding. Cake collected from Wimbush. 3 tier chocolate cake no icing short of rations.’
My father wrote in my mom diary on this day - 7th June ‘It will be on this day I swear before my god I will make you my wife. This is the one thing I want more than anything in the world. Today is the day I have been waiting for and it here it is and it will soon be all over, the most important day in my life. Our Wedding Day. Victor Cobden
8TH. June. - ‘Went to Blackpool for 3Days.
9th June. . Vic returned to Quainton Road’ (I now understand that Quainton Road barracks is located in Buckinghamshire off the M40 and A41) ‘bombers still making raids all round. Back at work, must start saving again. Vic recalled back do so miss him we are married now.
10th June.-‘Allowance from the army. 7 shillings and six pence each week collected from new town row post office.’
11th June..-‘Vic moving to Northampton’ 7 North Street better than going to India will be able to go to him whenever I can.’ (I now understand that North Street is located off the A45 of the M6 Northampton).
12th June.-‘Letter from Vic, heavy raids again.
13th June.-‘Coventry hit badly many people killed. Hercules damaged still able to go to work.’
14th June.-‘Mom loves Kingston Road. Terry and John are coming home to stay.
16th June.-‘Letter from Vic, came of his motor bike leg’s and hands and face hurt coming home on sick leave.
18th June.-‘Trying to get some repairs done in 124. Can’t use upstairs making the front room a bed room must not leave the house empty. Terry and John taking it in turns to stay with me.
MORE IN THE DIARY APART FROM WHEN DAD GAVE MOM THIS DIARY AT THE END OF 1940 A MESSAGE IN IT ‘TO KATH WISHING YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR IS THE LOVING WISH OF YOUR EVER LOVING SWEETHEART'. VIC
Not in diary but there are some items which I have discovered that were happening in the early part of 1941 from the Birmingham Mail archives department at Birmingham public library. More research to be done.
The cost of the mail news paper was one old penny. Europe freezing. 86 degree of frost in Sweden. No beer rationing at this time. From start of war 50’000 air raids up to the end of November 1940; 19261 people killed. Public notice of Midland red vacancies, urgent for woman prevention of Diphtheria is strongly advised to have children protected.
7TH January 1941 no air raids over England last night. Bad weather, special bargains in Lewis 5 Shillings seconds shoes. Plus Knickers, lots more about what to do about filling in ration books to leave in shops if you don’t want them at home in case your home gets bombed. So much work it’s untrue not like today, black out times 5.35 pm to 8.45 am. Moon rises 11.21 am set 10 .39 pm. Tomorrow the same radio programs BBC home service 3.00 PM after noon finish with Billy Cotton band show at 11.30 PM films showing at this time Royalty Harborne Spencer. Tracy plus Rita Johnson called Edison. The Man [u] the 35/- Tailor plus suits plus overcoats plus raincoats plus flannels or sport jackets .83 High Street Beehive shop in Albert Street on 3 RD January meat ration will reduce from 1/10pence to 1/6pence. service men on leave will have smaller rations sausages not ration at this time .Taxation licences etc Dog7/6pence firearms10/- game3pound horse drawn carriages 2 or 3 wheels15/- motor driver licence 5/- motor cycles 17/6 pence. The money used at this time ,4 farthing one penny, 12 pence, one shilling, 20 shillings, one pound, telegraph rates [inland] nine pence for first nine words.
FROM THE BIRNINGHAM MAIL ON THE 6TH AND 7TH JUNE 1941 IT READS.Cobden and Rabone forthcoming marriage on the 7THJune 1941 at Saint Chad’s cathedral bath street at 2.30 pm all friend’s welcome at the church. Film showing this day in Aston at the orient picture house was Arizona [u] trailer with Jean Arthur and William Holden.
Also other items of interest in the news that week
Eggs were going on Ration by 14th June
Shop Keeper hoarding Cigarette Tobacco
R.A.F. Bombs Berlin again, Germans in fear of raids on a clear night heavy damage.
A brave constable saved a trapped woman during raid.
Holding Suez Canal Britain has every confidence of holding it.
The other side of the world typhoon hits Japan 4,000 homes flooded.
Many jobs for young and old, one that stands out at Lewis Ltd. A gentleman hairdresser £4 a week.
A new house in Weoley Castle, 3 bedrooms £700.
For many more stories can be found at the Birmingham Library; all on the 6TH Floor in the film Library
Transcribed from original Diary by Trevor Cobden
Additional Pictures and comments inserted by Vic Cobden