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A diary entry in the role of a woman in World War 2

by YourFriendQuirks08


17th June 1941

Dear diary,

Today has been awful. I had to wake up at 4:30am even after a late night's sleep yesterday evening. I can’t even say I had 5 hours of sleep, that is hardly ever enough rest when you are walking many miles per day. Inside the wide open spaces of myself, I find a mixture of pride, loneliness, sadness and freedom, as I get up and ready to finally complete a job other than cooking and cleaning for my fiancé.

-

Us land girls have to trek acres for what seems like a lifetime, last Wednesday it made it to around 7 miles, I believe. The job is hard work and even though we are out in the soft breeze all day, the allergies catch up with you easily. I need some medication for this dreadful fever if I am hoeing the fields for hours daily. Some of the ladies are very rough, acting as if they were on the front line. These girls can’t get it into their heads, we are feminine so we shall act like it, as we should. I had the terrible duty of rat catching today, they are frail, filthy things they are. Even worse than the neighbour’s children if I do say so myself. I attempted to refuse but I was forced to do the dirty work.

-

I sent a letter to my old Charles the other week ; I have still not received a response and I am getting rather worried. He said he would be back by Christmas 1939 but it’s a lot longer than that, now we are in June 1941 and he is still not home. I have no idea if he is on the front line yet or simply just waiting to be let out on land when they are in need of more soldiers. I am fearing the knock at the door with the news that I have lost him. Like the waters flooding New Orleans, I feel as if my emotions have overwhelmed the banks of my heart and deep within the thoughts of my uneducated mind. We were going to be married just before the war started and expand our family, however I don’t know if that is really going to happen. I am fearful for our lives, fearful for our destined future together. There is no man with such beautiful, crystal eyes and a young smile like his, there is no-one more right for me and my needs. He must come home, he just must.

-

The food...oh I can’t explain my disgust towards the new rationing system. We need to eat a proper meal, I am helping produce it at the land site so why do I need to obey the ration.

The amount of food we are allowed is honestly a disgrace: I understand the serious circumstances we are in at the moment, but why can’t I get a decent amount for the month. The 2 pints I get weekly aren't going to serve much now, same as the 4 lonely ounces of meat for an entire shilling and 1 pence. They are trying to starve us ; that is hardly enough for a child, let alone a grown -woman like me.

-

Overall, I am feeling most desperate for my Charles to come back home, for it is unbearable with none of his company for so many years. The pain never leaves me, not one second of my days either. Each day fades into the next as if it were a never-ending time lapse, the same things are occurring every day as well as the same emotions overwhelming me at night. Work is tiring and such hard work, however I need to listen to myself and follow the path of patriotism and help my country fight their way through this. It is draining everyone equally, but I just want us to push to the other happier side.

-

I have to sleep now, as my day is expected to be thoroughly exhausting tomorrow...just like the day after that and so on.

Love Shirley 


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Mon May 24, 2021 1:31 am
manilla wrote a review...



Hi! Manilla here for a review. Let's get into it!

What a lovely portray of an important, forgotten perspective - that of a common citizen, and that of a woman. I found her emotions and frustrations at the world's events very human, and you wrote it just like someone would a diary entry. You expose as a writer the hard life of a woman in wartime, from her day to day life, her desperation, and her longing for her lover. To that, wonderful job! It felt genuine and authentic.

Inside the wide open spaces of myself, I find a mixture of pride, loneliness, sadness and freedom, as I get up and ready to finally complete a job other than cooking and cleaning for my fiancé.

A few comments: Not sure what "wide open spaces of myself" means, and secondly, I would love to see the mixture of emotions Shirley lists explored. In a diary entry, someone may focus more on feelings and hardship than actual specifics, and that is important to note. You also included the period-typical (internalized) sexism in this piece, with
These girls can’t get it into their heads, we are feminine so we shall act like it, as we should.

Lines like these are not to be ignored. You add a whole other dimension to the perspective!
Like the waters flooding New Orleans, I feel as if my emotions have overwhelmed the banks of my heart and deep within the thoughts of my uneducated mind.

So now we know that she lives in America (or so I think) - not a lot is given about Shirley, which makes sense as this is a diary entry. Why would she call herself uneducated, though? It is because women at the time weren't able to access higher education? The rest of the paragraph is *chef's kiss* because ah, wartime angst :,) How one's heart would ache.

The last three sections I find so human and whole. Lots of struggle, all in a little entry. She misses her husband, she tires of work, and she hopes she's serving her country well. It feels like a nice sum-up for everything else listed so far.

This was a pleasure to read, and if you've ever considered writing more historical fiction, please do! I would love to read more of your work.

-Manilla out!






Thank you so much for your review!



manilla says...


No problem!



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Fri May 07, 2021 6:28 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi YourFriendQuirks08,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

I'm a big fan of history and especially in wartime you unfortunately don't learn enough about the lives of those who don't die at the front. I love that you did it as a diary entry and it also gives the text a different perspective than if it was written from 1st person.

Inside the wide open spaces of myself, I find a mixture of pride, loneliness, sadness and freedom, as I get up and ready to finally complete a job other than cooking and cleaning for my fiancé.


The first half is a very successful sentence. I think the words you used (pride, loneliness, sadness and freedom) are well chosen. I also find the way you put them in this order exciting, because pride comes first, but freedom only at the end. This leads me to conclude that pride is stronger than freedom and, in my opinion, also shows a certain stubbornness to be proud of one's fatherland, even if this means having to live with limitations.

These girls can't get it into their heads, we are feminine so we shall act like it, as we should.


The reader learns a great insight about Shirley here. Women in the 40s didn't have it easy and the development of women in society came to a standstill. Shirley comes across to me as if she was still raised strictly. Since you describe her as a country girl, I can well understand how she despises women who are not feminine enough. Maybe even to the point of turning to God with it in her daily prayers?

I had the terrible duty of rat catching today, they are frail, filthy things they are.


I would separate the sentence here, because the second half seems a bit bumpy.

Even worse than the neighbour's children if I do say so myself.


Haha! :D

He said he would be back by Christmas 1939 but it's a lot longer than that, now we are in June 1941 and he is still not home.


Small note here: later on New Orleans is mentioned, which makes me assume that Shirley and Charles are Americans and live in Louisiana. What has Charles been doing from 1939 until now? The Americans did not enter the war until 1941, which means he did not fight. Was he in the military as a soldier in training? Or did he join the British army? I'd maybe put that in a bit more specifically, as it seems like a bit of a gap in the text to me. (Sorry if that comes across as a bit teacherly).

Like the waters flooding New Orleans, I feel as if my emotions have overwhelmed the banks of my heart and deep within the thoughts of my uneducated mind


This has become a great comparison and at the same time it is a bit crude how Shirley describes herself as uneducated here. You can read between the lines that she means what she writes and is probably even afraid to educate herself because she would lose the "womanhood" from her point of view.

Work is tiring and such hard work, however I need to listen to myself and follow the path of patriotism and help my country fight their way through this.


I would paraphrase the first half: Work is hard and tiring, however etc.... An extremely expressive sentence she writes and yet you can read the sadness in it after learning what she has to do and what she has to eat.

I have to sleep now, as my day is expected to be thoroughly exhausting tomorrow...just like the day after that and so on.


The ending is very well done as it comes across as Shirley only having her own diary to have a conversation. You portrayed Shirley well and portrayed her in a fascinating light. She seems to me to be that kind of woman who silently does whatever politics asks of her without asking much questions.

You have produced an interesting and intriguing text with this entry that brings a perspective on civilians. A side you don't get to read that often when you dig into history books. You've done a good job of creating an atmosphere and I can well imagine Shirley sitting in front of her rickety table with an oil lamp, keeping her diary in her scrawly handwriting.You've created some good drama. You've created a very fascinating character in Shirley, and I'd be interested to see how she reacts in dialogue? (Submissive? Not looking into the other person's eyes? Shy?).


Is there perhaps a sequel coming? :D

Mailice






Hi there. 1st of all, thanks so much for the review!

It was for a competition to celebrate Victory in Europe (V.E day) that is tomorrow, I thought I would give it a try as I have really enjoyed writing...also I wanna win something so like... :)

I am not planning on a sequel if I am being honest! This was just the task I needed to do (Diary entry from World War 2) however with your choice of character and story line.

I made Shirley from England, solely because I have new knowledge with dates and the way things went in Europe, so sorry if that came across as confusing at all!

Have a good day/evening
Love Rubes x




Every really new idea looks crazy at first.
— Alfred North Whitehead