jeanne Bullard

jeanne Bullard

Jeanne was born in 1920 in Kent. Her talent for art led her to Clapham Art School for eighteen months before the outbreak of war, when the art school was closed down. Jeanne moved to Bath with her parents; her father was a civil servant with the Admiralty and Jeanne worked in the hydrographic department, drawing and updating charts. Before the war Jeanne had met her future husband, Paul and she lived with the knowledge of the dangers he faced during active service in North Africa. In Bath she witnessed the Baedecker raids – during one raid Jeanne had a lucky escape when she discovered a large sash window had fallen across her bed while she had taken shelter, showering her bed with broken glass.

Jeanne has written of the experiences of rationing and endless queuing as well as trying to maintain some sense of normality during a period of uncertainty by taking trips to re-opened theatres and the National Gallery.

The uncertainty as to Paul’s whereabouts came to an end when Jeanne heard from his parents that Paul was a POW in Italy. She sent him many books, although he received only one of them, and also wrote frequently. Paul escaped after the invasion of Italy, staying with an Italian family on their farm for eight months and he returned home in July 1944. In November of that year Jeanne and Paul were married.

In the course of Jeanne’s tape-recorded interview she tells the listener that she feels the experience of war made her more understanding towards others and she feels fortunate that for her at least, the war had a happy outcome.

TRANSCRIPT of Letter –

July 18th

Letter to Paul

Letter to Paul

My Dearest Paul,
Having at last managed to procure one of these I’ll attempt to write you a decent letter; I think Airgraphs are inhuman although useful. First, I’ll tell you what I’m working at now. Hydrography is charts as far as I’m concerned – Admiralty and Fleet charts all over the world to be newly drawn or to have corrections made upon them. These are usually engraved but in special cases and in a lot of secret war time jobs they are litho’d direct. These are more fun to do but need more experience. I’ve done two. They take about six weeks all out. The work is terribly accurate and takes some getting used to but it’s much more interesting than my other job and so are the people. Art students predominate! When we get a rush job we work very late at night and get driven home by Wrens which makes us feel important, and when we work Sundays we get days off in lieu which I never got at C. E. in C..

This is a racket but very nice and enables one to have a weeks leave and only take 3 days actual leave if you’re cunning! My salary is £160 plus £40 war bonus and the overtime and income tax about balance out, so I’m better off than I used to be. Also I get paid monthly. In my office is John Heade – does that register? It did with Chimp – a look of horror!

I’ve had lots of nice letters from all sorts of people about your coming back including Chimp and Heather who are very excited. Unfortunately I’m afraid you will just miss Chimp who is off to France very shortly. Looking over my diary since last August I’ll give you the highlights. To London in September and saw a wonderful production of Congreves ‘Love for Love‘. Gielgud, and a scintillating making cast making a comparable play to ‘The Imp. Of Being Earnest‘ I’d love you to see it and I think there’s a chance as they’re going to put it into a repertory of plays in the winter. We must go over to the old Bristol Theatre Royal which is charming – bought for the nation and runs plays for C.E.H.A. which tour. Saw there an excellent production of ‘Shoemakers Holiday‘ and also Sheridan’s ‘Trip to Scarborough‘. It’s about the smallest theatre in England and often has ballet Rambert which just fits! Saw them in Bath last winter and met Stanley Newby who is with them now and also H Rambert. Saw a good production of ‘Swan Lake’ by the Wells at Bristol too. Saw the International Ballet (Hona Inglesby, Tarakanva, Harold Turner) but was not impressed.
Saw in London this June two worth while films – an American documentary called ‘Forgotten Village‘ about Mexico and ‘Le Jour se Leive‘ with Jean Gabin which makes most films seem a bit childish. Films still trickle out of France – made before the Germans arrived of course.
I went to a housewarming on Saturday which was fun. About a dozen of us and talked painting and played records. I would never tell my family but I’m getting quite fond of Bath! Glad I’m not in London, anyway. By the way, last February we heard from the other 3 who escaped with you who had turned up so knew you had escaped. (I suspected it all along).
Darling all this has not put me off my food but I can’t sleep. I shall be a wreck when you arrive. I woke up at 4.30 this morning and my brain was going round and round in rings. I shan’t really believe all this until I see you – oh, it makes my legs turn to jelly just to think of it. We shall be a mad couple. I can assure you I’ve not got any more sensible (I bought two new hats in London – one is daft) and I certainly shan’t turn you out. And now I must go to bed – it’s 11.30. I’ve been at ballet class this evening. How do you expect me to work with all this tumult inside me? It’s all right for you – you gentleman of leisure,
Kisses and hugs and all my love,

Jeanne describes a reunion with Paul after a very long separation.

Audio Clip Transcript

Well, I had a phone call from him and he said he was back in England and that he would come and see me the next morning, he would get the train to Bath, and I tried to describe to him actually where I worked, because I worked on a hutment right up on Lansdown on a hill on the edge of Bath, rather a lovely part and I described how he could walk up to me and there would be a little wicket gate and I would be waiting at the little wicket gate and of course I had a really nerve-racking morning in the office.

I could not do any work of course and I set off to meet him and I waited at the gate and I saw him coming up the hill and I said “Paul” and so I met him. We looked at one another and we said “hello” and I think we both of us felt very slightly embarrassed because we had been writing letters to one another getting more and more loving I suppose over the time and it was a very long time since we had seen one another, three years? Something like that, and I think we both wondered, I know I did, how much we had built up about one another that wasn’t quite true perhaps in the meantime. But anyway this only lasted for a moment, we were soon in one another’s arms and it was soon all over but for the moment it was just a little bit awkward.

Inventory of the Donation

  • Letter
  • Recipe book from the ‘Home Front’ series, ‘The Preservation of Fruit and Vegetables’
  • Photographs
  • Manuscript memoirs
  • Tape recorded
  • Vmail to Paul