Soldiers emerging from the trenches of the First World War returned to a changed world. Since 1914, full employment for women had become the norm. Not only had they replaced one in three men in the workforce but the work they did as nurses, ambulance drivers or munition workers was hard and dangerous. Female factory workers became heralds of modernity by adopting trousers and loose fitting clothes, cutting their hair short, smoking, and frequenting pubs and cinemas unescorted. They joined trade unions and, when the Qualification of Women Act came into force on 21 November 1918, gained the right to vote – provided that they were aged 30 and married, owners of property or university graduates. Although the return of men from the trenches back into the workforce temporarily halted their progress, the war had helped women to break through social, political and economic barriers, and there was no turning back the clock.
Monday 18 November
Tom just a wee bit better today but still being a wee bit sick. Sir T. came early, & he got her up, & she sat in a chair for ½ an hour, for the first time. Ione came about lunch time, & went early, as she was having people for tea. Muz & I went out for a walk, & did some shopping, but didn’t stay out long. I read to Tom for a bit. Muz went to bed about six, & had a sleep before dinner, then she had dinner in bed, & I fed her, then creepied her, & went to bed about 11-30. She was awfully tired, & stayed in bed all night, & H sat up. No letter from Mrs Roxburgh yet, I am so longing to hear.
‘Mus and I went out for a walk’
Tuesday 19 November
Tom seems better today, & talking more. Muz felt sick, so I took her out for a walk, & she had some coffee, & felt better. Tom got up & sat in a chair for a bit, about an hour. Ione came about lunch time, & went back early. Tom got up for a bit again, in the afternoon. I read to her, & Muz read for a bit too. I got things ready for the night etc. H went to bed, & Muz sat up, & went to bed for a little while at about seven in the morning, I went down & wrote to Nitter, & went to bed about 11-30. Letter from Mrs Roxburgh she says she couldn’t bury Dus: where I wanted her to as she was buried in their garden as they couldn’t wait for my letter. I do wish I could have gone there on Sat: then I could have had her where I wanted.
Wednesday 20 November
Tom a bit better. She got up for a couple of hours in the morning, & walked over to her chair, Ione came for a bit in the morning, then went to lunch with the Normans, & came back for a bit in the afternoon, & then Muz & I went out for a bit. I read to Tom for a bit, she got up again for a bit in the afternoon. I settled up the things for the night etc: Muz went to bed, & H. sat up. I came down & wrote letters, & went to bed at about eleven.
Thursday 21 November
Tom a bit better today, & got up for a couple of hours this morning, & walked to her chair. Ione came in the morning, she, Muz & I went out for lunch, & then came in again, & got Tom up, & then Ione went back – she is having tea with Phyllis – & Muz & I went for a run on a bus, to Barkers, & shopped there, & then back. Tom stayed up till about seven – 5 hours! – She & I walked about the room, & I hardly had to hold her! & she is looking better too, & was only sick this morning, not since. H. lay down about six & up at 9. I settled things for the night etc: & then came down & wrote letters, & went to bed at about twelve. I got a letter from Mrs Roxburgh this morning, saying that my Dus: was buried on Saturday, at about five, & in their garden, at the back of the house. I wanted her in the other wee place so badly. She died in the night on Thursday. She ate her breakfast, but not her supper, on Thursday, & was lying in the sun all day. I know she just broke her heart thinking I was never coming back to her again. It is desperately lonely without her.
Votes for Women
Friday 22 November
Tom seems better again, this morning & got up after breakfast when we had tidied up etc: & sat in her chair. Sir T. came at about 11-30, & says she can go to Folkestone on Wed: he thinks. Ione came round about lunch time, but didn’t stay long as she is trying to get some clothes, as she may be going for Paris leave. I read to Tom for a bit, & Muz wrote letters. H went to lie down about 11-30 & we had to get her up at 3-30 as Muz & I had to go out & do some shopping. We went on a bus, & got vests etc for Tom & got back about 6-30. Tom got back to bed about 8, & was a bit tired. She walked about the room again today! I did some darning, & then tidied up for the night etc then came down & wrote letters & bed at about 12. We heard from Tim this morning, he says the railings round Pat’s grave have been taken away, & Muz is awfully upset. She is writing to all kinds of people, to find out about it. We are afraid they are trying to make them all alike, as Pat’s was quite different to the others. Tim was taking roses there.
Saturday 23 November
Tom being sick, & a bad headache again. Ione & I are going to Welland this afternoon, so she didn’t come round in the morning. I tidied up etc, & H slept, & then I went out to do the shopping. I met Ione at Paddington for 1-30 train. Tom got up after we left & got her clothes on for the first time. We had a long journey, & it was dark when we arrived. Mrs Wadley met us, & we went to Mrs Russell on the way, & Ione left some blouses. Then we went to Danemoor, & Ione found out where Dus was, & then we went out. Her nice grave is at the back of the house, in an open piece of ground. We went to bed at about nine. It was so desperately lonely not finding Fattie to meet us, & I have been so looking forward to it all these weeks. Mrs Roxburgh didn’t send her collar after all, but had it there for me.
Sunday 24 November
We were down fairly early, & started getting the things down at once, & Ione & I packed everything, & worked at it all morning, & got it all done. After lunch Ione went to Mrs Russell on the bike, & I went to get things for Fattie’s grave. I got something from all her favourite wee places. I got some cowslip, violet & primrose plants, from the Thrush Field, & a primrose plant form exactly the place I wanted her to be. I got two ferns from the cowslip field, & carried them back, & planted them on her grave, then I collected some stones & put them all round, to stop the grass growing up, & it was dark & drizzling, before I was finished. Ione came back & came out to me. I took some photos of the wee grave this morning & of her house, but it was dark after I had put the plants on. After dinner we labled [sic] the boxes etc, & went to bed at about eight. It is lovely having her wee grave looking nice.