My father left behind three illustrated diaries. The first one, drawn as a teenager at Art School, charted his convoluted courtship. Concerns are the choice of girlfriend, a seemingly hostile father-in-law and lack of privacy. It contains coded hieroglyphs and is charming and stylised in a naive way.
His two war diaries are more sophisticated artistically and graphically. His drawings, although sketched out in feint pencil first, have an immediacy and spontaneity about them. He invariably used fountain pen ink and coloured pencils, and the paper stock is very poor, no doubt reflecting what was available in war time.
A Day at Thorn'ick Bay
This first wartime diary, from 1941, tells of a day trip from Hull to Thornwick Bay, near Bridlington, on the North Sea coast. Obviously my father was on leave from his training as an RAF instructor. As a document it gives a wonderful flavour of life in wartime, the vicissitudes of transport, the observation of local detail, the importance of "grub". Interestingly the wedding that they see en route seems to be very significant considering they were married themselves about a year later.
This dairy starts with Bon returning to the Isle of Man after some leave. As he is married, he is returning to his post at Andreas on the north of the Island, and my mother is returning to working on a farm nearby. They are living in 'digs' and are friends with a Scots couple, Johnny and Mabel Ness, who feature in a delightful fantasy on the train. Other delights include, the mess dance, a beach picnic, and actual aircraft exercises. The drawings of the planes are particularly accurate and apposite as dad’s specialism was aircraft recognition. Important for an air gunner not to shoot down the wrong plane.
I have collated the two diaries as PDF files which are available to download.