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Diary Extracts: Ramsholt posting for the Doylend sisters

Daphne and Jean enrol in the Women’s Land Army and move into their rented cottage with their mother, May.

Daphne May Doylend 22.06.1923 – 16.12.2007

Jean Adelaide Doylend 03.03.1926 – 06.11.1996

Mother: May Beatrice (nee Smith) 31.05.1883 – 19.01.1967

Extracts from the girls’ diaries make it easy for us to imagine their busy lives on the farm; from hoeing beet, kale and turnips and daily milking to harvesting oats, ploughing and cutting maize. Daphne and Jean also recount their trips to the pictures and the Ramsholt Arms and occasional shopping trips to Woodbridge and Ipswich with their clothing coupons. They spend time blackberrying and picking up windfalls to supplement their rations at the cottage. Cosy evenings are spent playing card games such as “Ramsholt Rummy” and Newmarket, knitting and writing letters.

Mention is made of the tin bath in the kitchen, the outside wooden seated loo and the tilley lamps. It sounds as though May and the girls made the cottage very cosy in spite of the lack of facilities.

It is fascinating to look at the comprehensive list of Goods Supplied to Doylend Cottage Hostel and to discover the requisites of cottage life in the 1940s. They seem to have been well-supplied with blankets and towels!

WHILE in residence in the Cottage belonging to the Bawdsey Estates, for which the equipment mentioned in the attached Inventory will be supplied by the Ministry of Works I HEREBY AGREE to pay the sum of 5/= per week for such equipment direct to the Estate Bailiff, who will remit it each month to the Women’s Land Army, 71 St Matthews Street, Ipswich. Signed (Mrs) M B Doylend DATED this 18th day of May one thousand nine hundred and forty three.

The weather is mentioned frequently in the diary extracts as are air raid warnings and the visitors who drop by.

Jean had boyfriends but neither girl married. They worked for the Inland Revenue and stayed with their mother until she died.

From Daphne’s diary: (1943)

Thurs 20: Cheerio Ipswich, “moved” to Ramsholt. Fairly straightened the cottage. Mr Mansby brought goods. Weather glorious.

Fri 21: Went to farm for milk. Saw Mrs Ransby. Put curtains up, more settled now. Gathered wood after tea. Weather glorious.

Sat 22: Met Mr Barnard. Went to Alderton with Mrs Lingley, saw Norah. Walk after tea with Mum. Gathered wood & cones. Weather sunny, dull later.

Sun 23: Went to farm for milk am and after dinner to see cows. Chatted with gamekeeper and wife. Mrs L came in. Weather warm, sunny. Mum wrote Roly, Jean - Angus.

Memo: warning Thursday 7 pm.

Extract from letter from Margaret Titlow nee Browne, dated 13th November 1996:

“I often think of happier days when we were at “the farm” and you and the Lees were prominent in our lives. I remember “Ramsholt” fondly and have much to thank your family for in those far off days. You were so kind to me. Remember teaching me Rummy? “

Extract from letter from Margaret Titlow to Chris Bishop, dated Tuesday, 15th November 2005:

“My Dad was Walter Browne and he ran a dairy business from the large house and outbuildings which were next-door-but-one to your Aunt’s house. My Mum was Joyce and my sister is another Christine! She is 8 years younger than I am so was not as close to Jean and Daphne as I was. Between the Doylends and the Brownes there was a family named Lee. Charles and Edith Lee had two daughters, Margaret and Gwen.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 my Dad had the large cellar beneath the farmhouse converted into an Air Raid Shelter. Dad was in the police force as a War Reserve because, although the Dairy business was regarded as a reserved occupation, he still needed to “do his bit” for the war effort. After your grandad was killed by an anti personnel bomb, my Dad sort of took the Doylends under his wing. He made sure they took cover in our cellar when there were big bombing raids. Later on Jean and Daphne joined the Land Army and were posted to Ramsholt. Your grandma, known to us as Marsie (I don’t know why) went with her girls and they rented a house in Ramsholt. As I told you, I went to stay with them and my memories are of the tin bath in the kitchen, the outside wooden seated loo, the tilley lamps and games of cards – “Ramsholt Rummy” and Newmarket. Marsie ran a pretty tight ship and the girls weren’t allowed to stray too far from home. Thinking back on that time, Marsie had already lost her husband and Angus so I guess she was very protective of her girls.

Once back in Ipswich there were more games of cards – a regular pastime in those days and I can remember Roly joining in occasionally but I don’t think he lived at the house then. I particularly remember the “front room” which was kept for Sundays and special events. China Stafford Bull terriers stood either end of the mantlepiece with a ticking clock in the centre.

As I told you I still have my Golden Treasury of Verse signed by your grandma on the occasion of my 21st birthday in July 1955. Her handwriting is almost copperplate and very firm.”

Photo: Jean, Mother, Daphne (not sure of location)

Daphne’s diary:

Mon 24: Started work 7 am. Not very good at it –hoeing kale too. Got 3 pints of milk from farm. Weather fine am, then rain.

Tues 25: Getting more used to work now. Milk Molly and Norah. Helped feed calf and met Joe the bull. Weather warm, cloudy.

Wed 26: Shoes from Coop Ipswich. Photos from Symonds and new film. Card from Tony. Mum at Ipswich and saw M Ames. Weather hot, sunny.

Thurs 27: M Ames came for tea – biked. Took her for walk round by quay. Then went to “Arms” - first time. Weather hot.

Fri 28: Lr from little Margaret. Wrote to her with photo. Wrote to May, sent 2 snaps. Jean wrote Tony & Joan W. Work as usual – turnips. Weather hot.

Sun 30: work 7 – 9 am; 3 – 5 pm. Had bath in morning. New potatoes for dinner from Mrs Lingley. Weather thundery.

Mon 31: Mum’s birthday. Telegr from Roly. Mrs Langley came pm. Work as usual. Weather cloudy, hot.

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