Mussolini, mining, and sinking ships

Gwennie Peacock.
Gwennie Peacock.

A woman’s dramatic diary account of her journey from New Zealand to her mother’s home town of Rawmarsh, in the turbulent years of 1939 to 1940, is to be published soon.

Described by local historian Tony Dodsworth as an “enthralling read” Gwennie Peacock’s adventure sees her riding a runaway camel in Egypt and fighting off frilly underwear salesmen in Aden.

She hears Mussolini speak in Rome, and encounters screen stars George Formby, Maurice Chevalier and Errol Flynn.

Once in Rawmarsh she is smuggled down to the coal face of the Aldwarke Main Colliery to follow in the footsteps of her ‘grandad Turner’.

Much of her story is based in the Dearne, and includes memories from the Titanic Club and Parkgate Feast. Mr Dodsworth said: “Gwennie’s diary is full of amusing stories and she grows to understand and love the people of the coal-mining community of Rawmarsh.”

To get here, Gwennie travelled by boat and train via Australia, Ceylon, Aden, Egypt and several European countries.

Her 375,000 word diary sent to an English relative 60 years after her trip has been edited down and should be out in print by December.

Mr Dodsworth, who found a publisher for it, is still seeking anyone who knew Gwennie or who may have photographs of her.