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The Casualties Were Small edited by Tom Ambridge and Margaret Ambridge
May Hill began to keep a diary not long after the outbreak of the Second World War. The strategically important East Coast area of Lincolnshire around Skegness had been transformed from a bustling holiday centre to an armed encampment. Butlins became ‘HMS Royal Arthur’ a huge Royal Navy training centre, RAF air bases sprang up throughout ‘Bomber County’ and soldiers were billeted in the villages including May’s Chapel St Leonards.
May’s son Ron volunteered for the RAF and May started to express her thoughts and prayers in verse. The poem “The Casualties Were Small” reveals her worst fears as his exposure to danger increased even before being posted abroad.
As the War continued, May maintained her eloquent record of family and village life as well as the events of the War itself – including the sad loss of three nephews and an early hint of victory with the ‘D-Day’ landings.
The selection of Diary entries in this compilation has been chosen to include those which reveal the specific experiences and events which inspired over twenty poems. May’s own writing is supported by additional explanatory notes and illustrated by over thirty photographs from the collections of the family and others from the village.
For more information, including background and examples of diary extracts and poems, see www.ambridgebooks.co.uk
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