The counter-attack fought by the Allied forces against Germany during the Second Battle of the Marne between 18 and 22 July 1918 was to be the high-water mark of the First World War. Known as the Battle of Soissons, it was dominated by French and American divisions who recaptured most of the ground lost to the German Spring Offensive in May 1918. The counter-offensive marked the end of a string of German victories and forced the German army to begin a retreat which was never effectively reversed. Among the German soldiers fighting in the Second Battle of the Marne was one Adolf Hitler who on 4 August was awarded the Iron Cross First Class – an honour hardly ever bestowed upon a foot soldier – “for personal cold-blooded bravery and continuous readiness to sacrifice himself” during the conflict. The Iron Cross was recreated for the First World War, having first been instituted in 1813 for distinguished service in the Prussian War of Liberation. It was again revived by Hitler on 1 September 1939, on the day that German forces invaded Poland which signalled the beginning of the Second World War.
Monday 22 July
Muz & Ione drove in to Malvern, to catch the early train to Worcester, to go to the Recruiting Office! Tom & I stayed in bed till about eleven. They came back before lunch, & afterwards Muz & I lay down. Ione sewed & Tom lay down, then Ione went to the dressmaker. I measured stuff to make a hat for Ione. Muz wrote letters, & we went to bed at about 9-30.
Tuesday 23 July
It rained hard all morning. Tom wrote letters, Ione went to the dressmaker, & Muz & I walked to Mrs Bayliss & then went to another farm. After lunch the others all lay down, & I sat on my bed & wrote letters. Then washed Muz’s feet & went to bed at about nine. Muz heard from Heppie this morning, & her mother is no better. She travelled up to Scotland with Janet, as her mother has just died.
Wednesday 24 July
We went in to Malvern early to meet Mike, as he is going to spend some of the holidays with us. We shopped, & got back for lunch. Afterwards Muz wrote letters, Tom talked to Mike & Ione & I lay down, then Ione rode to the dressmaker, & we took our tea to the cowslip field & afterwards Muz & I walked to Mrs Bayliss. Mike & I are going to sleep there tonight, as there is no room for him here. Mike & I rode round on our bikes at about 9-30, & when I was in bed, he came in & sat on my bed, & we talked till about eleven.
Thursday 25 July
Mike & I had breakfast at about 9-30 & then Muz walked round to meet us, & Mike rode back on his bike, & Muz & I walked. After lunch we drove over to Upton & shopped, & took our tea & had it down by the river, & got back at about seven, & then took the dogs for a walk. After dinner Mike & Tom went for a bike ride. Mike came & sat on my bed & talked to me till nearly eleven.
Friday 26 July
It rained hard all morning, so Mike & I sat & talked after breakfast, & at about eleven Muz came round, & then she & I went to see Mrs Bridges – Mrs Reynold’s mother – We sat & talked to her for a long time, & there was a heavy thunder storm & pelting rain, so we didn’t get back till about three, as we sheltered in another house on the way back. Muz wrote letters & Ione & I worked at her things, & Tom wrote letters & Mike wound wool. When we went back, Mike came in & sat on my bed & talked, till after 10-30.
Saturday 27 July
Muz came over to us, & she & I walked back together, & Mike went on his bike, & I went to Mrs Bridges, & then caught Muz up. Did some sewing in the afternoon, & Muz wrote letters. Tom & Mike went out. After tea Tom lay down. Ione sewed, & Muz, Mike & I went for a walk across the common, & back late for dinner. Afterwards & went back early, & Mike stayed up late, talking to Muz.
Sunday 28 July
Muz, Ione & Tom went to church, but Mike & I stayed here, as it was so hot. It was awfully hot coming over on our bikes. In the afternoon I mended for a bit, & then Mike, Tom & I went off to catch butterflies, & I was out with Mike in the morning, & we went out again after dinner, & before too. Then Mike & I went over at about ten, & Mike sat on my bed & talked till after eleven.
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