Diana Cecilia May was born on 24th May 1919. She learned to walk and talk at a very early age but she suffered from croup until she was about 6. There are several stories of her precocity in Dorothy's account.
The 20 years' difference between Hettie, the eldest, and Diana, the youngest, meant that Diana went to school with Hettie's eldest child. She hated it when out of the blue she heard, 'Yahoo! Aunt Diana!', and she tried very hard not to know her nephew, Tony.
Diana knew David Dunphy from the days when they shared the same bus to school and is known to have hit him hard with her satchel several times! Despite this, they married in Blackpool on 26th June 1940. She was a children's nurse in Blackpool in 1937, perhaps training, and presumably stayed there during the early part of the war.
Jill was born in 1942, followed by Elizabeth in 1944 and Nicola in 1945; all three were born in Suffolk.
Soon after the war David was stationed in Germany at a place called Windorf and the family 'took over' a beautiful two storey house, the home of a German family of four. The German family lived in the back living quarters. Germans were strictly rationed for food so, although rationed herself, Diana always shared what she had with the German family. One of the German children, Anna, babysat the three youngsters and, much later, visited them when they were teenagers.
On return from Germany the family went to Pond Hall first and eventually moved to Knodishall, near Saxmundham, staying at a place called Peartree Farm. They next moved to RAF Wyton, where Diana used to cycle a hilly route to a nearby nursery school with Jill on the back of the bicycle, who didn't like looking at her back all that time!
In 1950 they were posted to Seletar in Singapore... "..happy times. We had a fantastic Asian chef who made the most spectacular sculptures of mashed potatoes, be it ship, plane, whatever he fancied. I also remember the gardener, and the way the scythes were rotated down and over heads when cutting grass. We went to school for only half days [and there was only] a piece of forest separating the school from the homes. I think we were 6, 7 and 8 at the time when we decided to go through the forest on our way home and met a really nice Malaysian, scraping rubber off the trees. We decided to stay and help him, which was very educational; the way the bark was cut and the rubber going into placed cups. When we got home there was panic everywhere as those forests were full of terrorists!" (Jill). They travelled back on the MV Empire Windrush arriving in Southampton in spring 1952 and they stayed at David's mother's home, a pre-fab in Aldham Road, Hadleigh, and the three children went to Hadleigh Hall school, where they were not happy at all.
During that time Diana was involved with a number of teenagers, helping them to put on a performance either at their school or somewhere in Hadleigh. Jill remembers the girls: "all very nice, coming to the pre-fab, and there was my mother directing the girls with, "The King asked the Queen and the Queen asked the Dairymaid, Could we have some butter for the royal slice of bread? The Dairymaid said, Certainly.......". It was so fascinating how the girls responded to this little performance, and watching how my mother communicated with no superiority....there was a warm, chemical connection between them all".
The family then moved to a beautiful rented house in Fleet, Hampshire, where David and Diana were involved with the church. They were involved with a nativity play; Diana with the production and direction and David, untypically, played the Archangel Gabriel. They were all very happy at Fleet, then it was on to Caversham on the other side of Reading. After that David and Diana bought a newly built house in Wokingham, where Diana stayed with the children while David was stationed in Cyprus. Diana encouraged the children to get used to civilian life, having previously only known the service way of life. When David came back they let out the house and moved to Dishforth, a very isolated area. Liz went to California to be with her aunt Dorothy and Nicky continued her education at Ripon High School. She did brilliantly there but shocked everyone when she wanted to train as a nurse rather than as a history teacher. Jill was given encouragment to visit Canada.
During the time at RAF Dishforth, some important guests of David’s were due for dinner and Diana had spent all afternoon preparing food, including one of her favourites; her own recipe for trifle (“absolutely delicious” Jill). David came home very late and Diana was furious with him. An argument started in the kitchen and “in exasperation, she picked up one of her delicious trifles and dumped it on his head. So, even though the satchel was the start of hitting, which was a hard item, the trifle was nice and soft. This happened about half an hour before guests arrived!” (Jill)
She was an excellent cook, who loved entertaining her friends and family, an avid gardener and she sang in the church choir. She had a beautiful singing voice. She and Dilys went to Oberammagau and loved the place and the performances.
When her three daughters moved across the Atlantic, Diana studied to become a teacher eventually becoming Headteacher at St Sebastian's just outside Wokingham. She crossed the Atlantic most years, sharing her time between Jill in Ontario and Elizabeth and Nicola, who were living in Chicago.
Diana died on December 1, 2001, from cancer.
“My mother was always there for me, and also for my sisters, but goodness gracious, the number of times I added one more white hair to her head, during my teen years!
She was a beautiful gardener, and her garden was always out of this world. She was a fabulous cook, and loved entertaining her friends (and family) with such wonderful food - my mouth is literally watering thinking of those days!
I still miss my mother, even though she has been gone a few years. She was a wonderful mother and woman.” (Jill) Nik and Jill are pictured in 2008