This first wartime letter from Cynthia comes at the end of the war with no address, undated, but I deduce that it was written in April 1945 when she had moved to teach in Cambridge. Since Cyn gets chatty when writing to her mother, I will only be publishing a photo of the first page of long letters, and letting my readers get the entire letter from my transcript.
Note on people and events mentioned: Doodlebugs were long range missiles that were launched from Europe to terrorize the British from June 1944 on. Miss Lefroy, Cynthia’s mother’s former headmistress and family friend, lived near Regent’s Park in London- the zoo there was bombed and obviously Miss Lefroy was too. Auntie Trix was Cynthia’s aunt, Beatrice Otway, who I assume wrote from the West Indies, and the ‘Bill’ mentioned later, as in Bill and Jane’s leave being muddled up, is her son Bill Otway and his (future?) wife Jane who are in England. Bren might be her cousin Brenda (no idea whether she is in South Africa or South America); Denis is her childhood friend and neighbour who was in a reserved occupation throughout the war (like Cyn, a teacher) and whose younger brother Bobby had been missing since Singapore fell. Jessie Muir is her longtime friend from school, married to an officer with a daughter Zinnia, see post ‘Friendly Faces’; and Irene a friend who will be mentioned again. Hugh is an American major who had been stationed in Newcastle earlier in the war, and I assume when she says “it seems most likely that they won’t any of them come back to England” that she is expecting American soldiers to be sent home to the US when the war ends- which everyone is at this point anticipating- not that they will be killed.
This is a little note to answer all your letters, as I know Papa does not like ramblings! To begin with, thank you for all of them, honey, and also for forwarding all the others- they comforted me a lot when I arrived yesterday afternoon. Miss Lefroy’s was very sweet & enclosed a hankie and a little account book for all my expenses- I was so sorry to hear about her bombing again- I didn’t ring her up when I was in town, as it was rather a rush towards the end. Auntie Trix’s letter was sweet too- crazy you know as usual- I am to write and tell her all sorts of gory details! Dot Allan sent me a puff for my birthday & hadn’t even heard I was leaving Newcastle. She is very thrilled because Colin is coming home on 4 weeks leave, & he & Aurea & the baby responding part of it with her. Bren’s letter from S.A. was most affectionate & sounded more cheerful although still homesick. She says Aunt Kate Simpson has been an angel to her which sounds nice. Ralph’s as usual, quite absurd- full of answers to questions I can’t remember! which is rather confusing! There was also a letter from Denis which was very brotherly & sweet & full of fellow feeling- it was nice of him to write & his telegram was funny too. Jessie is again full of woe- she is in bed with a chill & lumbago & sent me a cheque for 10/- for my birthday. Zinnia is at One Oak, & Pauline (our old school friend in the same road) is looking after her, & she sounded very low. Allan has gone back to France, much to my sorrow, as now I may not see him, but she has given me Joan’s (Pauline’s sister) address in Newmarket, so I shall get in touch with her. I really felt sorry for Jessie- but she’s probably sorry for herself too! Frank Hayes’ letter was a funny effort, wasn’t it? I certainly forgive you for opening it- any others which prick your curiosity unbearably you may look at! I hardly think that if he is like his letters we will have terribly much in common, but I feel sorry for him too, poor lad!
It was a shame about Bill & Jane having their leave so muddled up, but I expect that they would have a wonderful time anyway. It is a good idea of Bill’s for you to come down here & all of us to get together- I shall be most interested to hear what is happening to him- I kept thinking I might see them in London, but of course I didn’t. I am longing to see the pictures- Jane must look lovely from what you say.
I wonder if you have seen Irene since she came back, & what more news there is of her romances- she certainly is funny in her remarks over the male sex. I am reading through your letters now & and shall make any remark necessary to answer them, so don’t be surprised if they are very disjointed! First of all the slacks & jumper were for Mona, I had forgotten all about them. I appreciated the birthday card & all your good wishes, my sweet, but I was glad you’d cut the gold band off! You’ll know we didn’t go to Church last Sunday at 8, but at 10 a.m.- not my fault truly, but the boys wanted to come too, but couldn’t wake that early hour, so we didn’t want to discourage them. We waited and had our breakfast afterwards.
I wrote to you on Wed. so I’ll go on telling you of what we did. First of all, saw the Changing of the Guard & Westminster Abbey- then lunch at the Monseigneur and most of the afternoon I spent sewing ensignia on Hugh’s beautiful new jacket. Then we dressed up in all our glory- me with an orchid in my hair & went to Quaglino’s to dine & dance. We had a lovely time & joined a party of crazy people up from Cornwall, retired Colonel & a diplomat + women folk & all very gay & slightly tipsy! They fell for Hugh, & kept us so late that we missed the last bus & tube & couldn’t get a taxi, & so had to walk back! Hugh said it was 4 miles, but I should say 1 at the most! Thursday we ambled around London- had a very late lunch at the Senior Officer’s Club in Park Lane, then dashed back to the hotel, dressed, had tea & picked up Mary at 6 o’clock at the M. of Food then went to meet Michael at the Café Royal. After that we went on to the Dorchester where Hugh had booked a table & we had a wonderful evening eating & dancing. Michael & Mary both liked Hugh so much & we thought they were sweet- we all enjoyed ourselves.
Friday we had our last lunch at the Monseigneur & Hugh packed in the afternoon then we went to dinner at the S. Officer’s Club again & for once came back quite early. Hugh left next morning at 8 o’clock- a car called to take him to the airport so we had breakfast at 7:30. Then I packed – took my cases to the station & met Mary & Bernie for lunch at the Cumberland.
It was the very loveliest holiday Mummy- I’ve never had such a wonderful time, or gone so many wonderful places, & Hugh enjoyed it just as much too. Now of course, it’s all over, but I’m not being too sad, because it was such a very happy time for both of us. I with you could have been with us and seen Hugh- he is the same as ever- and talked about you & sent so many messages. He’s had a most terrible time- he told me a bit about it, and I hope so much that this leave will make up to him a little bit for some of the bad times, the news is so good now, that maybe it will finish soon. I hope so for his sake & for the sakes of all the other boys- but it seems most likely that they won’t any of them come back to England. You know what I’m like honey, – I just refuse to think about it- Scarlett O’Hara’s descendent “I’ll worry about that tomorrow”. Even if they don’t come back- we had a lovely time.
Bye, bye, my sweet. I’ll write & tell you what work looks like- take care of yourself.
Lots of love from your