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Vicki Washuk World War ll Blitz  Buy On Smashwords    Also   Buy Diary's Here:
I am the great-granddaughter of Ruby Side Thompson. 
Recently I started re-reading the World War ll journals and felt that they were such an important part of a history that will soon be forgotten if not published and shared with the world. These diary excerpts are not the entirety of what is published in print and kindle.
Ruby grew up during a time when education was just beginning to be encouraged for both upper and middle class women. During the late 1890's Ruby explored many radical political ideas of London, England. She met many famous people including the writers George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats. 
5.0 out of 5 stars A choice pick, not to be overlooked, November 6, 2011 By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

World War ll London Blitz Diary: 5-13-41 A most extraordinary and astonishing event has occurred. Rudolf Hess has deserted to England.



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May 13, 1941
A most extraordinary and astonishing event has occurred. Rudolf Hess has deserted to England. In last night’s late news we were told that Berlin had broadcast the news that Hess, Hitler’s deputy, who had been forbidden for some time past to fly, because of a progressive disease from which he was suffering, had obtained an airplane at Augsburg on Saturday evening, and nothing had been seen of him since; and because of a “distracted” letter which he had left behind him, it must now be assumed by the National Socialist Party that Party member Hess had either jumped out of his plane, or “met with an accident.”
Well, the world knows what is meant by Nazi “accidents” and we went to sleep, wondering what has been the split in the Party, and why Hess, who was supposed to be the only man Hitler trusted, had been put out of the way. Then lo, this morning at seven a.m. we were told that Hess landed in Scotland on Saturday night, whilst Gerry was bombing London. The sentiment, issued from Downing Street, at eleven twenty last night reads:
“Rudolf Hess, the deputy Fuhrer of Germany and Party leader of the National-Socialist Party, has landed in Scotland in the following circumstances. On the night of Saturday, the tenth, a Messerschmitt One Hundred and Ten was reported by our patrols to have crossed the coast of Scotland and to be flying in the direction of Glasgow. Since an ME One Hundred Ten would not have the fuel to return to Germany, this report was at first disbelieved. However, later on an ME One Hundred and Ten crashed near Glasgow, with its guns unloaded. Shortly afterwards, a German officer who had bailed out was found with his parachute in the neighborhood, suffering from a broken ankle.
“He was taken to the hospital in Glasgow, where he at first gave his name as Horn, but later on declared that he was Rudolf Hess. He brought with him various photographs of himself at different ages, apparently in order to establish his identity.
“These photographs are deemed to be photographs of Hess by several people who knew him personally. Accordingly an officer of the Foreign office, who was closely acquainted with Hess before the war, has been sent up by airplane to see him in the hospital. At two o’clock this morning the Ministry of Information stated that the identity of the man who landed from a Messerschmitt in Scotland as Rudolf Hess has now been established beyond all possible doubt.”
Only on May fourth, Hess sat beside Hitler at the session of the Reichstag in Berlin, and on May first he had addressed workers at the Messerschmitt factory in Augsburg. Is the party cracking? Is he just plain crazy?
May 14, 1941
Surprised by the arrival of Artie midday today. He has seven days leave. He looks splendidly well.
May 28, 1941
I have been so busy I have had no time to write here. The air force boys have gone, and so has Artie. Artie left last Wednesday; he is now at camp at New Romney.
Joan has had news from the war office that George died in the hospital, May 20, 1940. Gladys has been bombed out of her house in Plymouth. She writes the estimate for repairing it is four hundred pounds. Plymouth is practically annihilated. We have been quiet in this part of the country for nearly two weeks, but trouble is stirring up again now. Since teatime tonight more than one hundred and fifty of our fighters have gone over; there is probably a battle in the Channel.
I expect we’ll have a bad night tonight. It was a new moon Monday; it will be first quarter June second. Last night, about midnight, the alert went; planes went over, but no gunfire in this neighborhood. What I noticed was that my nerves were much worse when this alert came after a spell of quiet nights. I trembled horribly and even after the all clear went, I could not fall asleep.
The war is getting worse and worse. Terrible fighting is going on in Crete. A naval battle has been fought off Greenland. On Sunday the Germans sank the Hood, our biggest battleship; but yesterday we sank their ship, the Bismarck, in quick vengeance. The loss of life is appalling. Where will it end? Last night President Roosevelt broadcast, declaring the United States to be in a state of great national emergency, and declaring America would fight to defend the Americas, even if the new Bunker Hill should be a thousand miles from Boston, Massachusetts. He declared that they will deliver the goods to Britain, and that America stands now, as always, for the freedom of the seas.
I have been busy writing letters. I wrote a long letter to Eddie last Sunday. I have also been writing to Artie about Edna Renacre. I sent him a fourth letter today, the fourth since last Friday. Edna came calling on Sunday morning, to borrow his camera. She told me she had gone to town with him on Wednesday and she took two days off from work whilst he was home. This made me very angry. This girl intends to marry Artie, by hook or by crook, and Artie will get dragged into marriage by his own good nature, I am afraid. He is not in love with the girl, and tells her so, but still she pursues him. A letter from him today, in reply to one I sent him on Sunday, in which I told him I thought he had acted deceitfully in not telling me Edna was accompanying him to town. He told me that he had not asked her to go to town with him, she insisted on going, and bought her own ticket! Nor had he asked her to take a leave of absence, but that he thought her pretending to have a cold and so staying away from her work was “a mean action.” He added, that he promised me that he would break with her completely. I’m glad, for the girl is most unsuited to him. She is a persistent chaser, and intends to net him if she possibly can. It won’t be her fault if she doesn’t land him. So I had to write to Artie again today, to tell him how glad I was to have his word that he hadn’t the slightest intention of marrying the girl, now, or in the future.
This morning, at last, I cut out a dress! It is a flowered silk crepe, on a black background. Originally I bought only three yards of this, intending to use it for a coat lining; but when I examined it, I thought I would make it into a dress instead, so I ordered another two and a half yards of it, which was delivered yesterday. So, there I go, extravagant and silly! I want new clothes, I’m in the mood for sewing, and I’ve enough stuff on hand now to keep me busy for months. I must have spent nearly twenty pounds this spring in buying goods, and all the fixings. I don’t care, I simply don’t care. I want new clothes, I need new clothes, and I intend to buy them whilst I can, and wear them, whilst I know I am still alive to wear them. Now I am going to do some preliminary basting, so Au-Revoir.
May 31, 1941
Ted has just gone out to church, to the Dabber’s, and to call on Bertie. Edna Renacre was here this afternoon, returning the camera she borrowed last Sunday. Last night Mary Bernadette was here, until eleven p.m.! All afternoon Mrs. Thomson was here. This slows up my sewing. Tomorrow I expect Mother, who may or may not stay over for Whit Monday. I have a nice Australian novel to read: Southern Saga by Roy Connolly. Australia still fascinates my imagination. I have wished to see Australia ever since I first heard of it, when I was a very young schoolgirl; and I still think I may make a trip there someday. All of the books about Australia please me. This one that Ted brought in today looks particularly pleasing.
I have sat down now to note a fact, which pleases me, in a very bad way, pleasing my spitefulness. It is this: Last night the Germans bombed Dublin; they dropped about six bombs, have destroyed many shops and houses, and casualties, not yet definitely known, are thought to be about three hundred. Two tenement houses were hit, and wardens are still digging out the bodies.
Well, I can’t be sorry. It is impossible to be sorry for the Irish. Only last weekend our government made De Valera a concession, by not instituting conscription in Nester, which has nothing to do with De Valera. From the very beginning of the war the Irish have refused in any way to cooperate with England. They refused us the use of their Southern ports, thus making difficulties for us in combating the German submarines, and by so much assisting the Germans. It has been reported that the Irish allowed the Germans to use the Irish ports! It is thought that the Germans will invade Ireland, and then use Ireland as their base to attack England. Quite likely!
If they do, who will ever be sorry for Ireland? Nobody. The damned cantankerous obstructionist Irish! So, when I heard that Dublin was bombed last night, I smiled! “Serve ‘em right!” was my most un-Christian reaction to that news. By the way, I notice that Ted more and more sticks up for the Irish and the Italians. The longer the war continues, the more special pleading he voices for the Irish and the Italians. They are Catholic, so they must be good at bottom; poor leaders only lead them astray. Oh yeah? Oh my! What a fanatic Ted is! He grows more and more fanatical.
June 1, 1941
Waiting for Mother. Whit Sunday. It is Dad’s birthday. Dad was born June 1, 1859.
Ted is out at his drilling. Here is something telepathic. It is a coincidence and rather remarkable. All night I seemed to be dreaming about Jersey City. I was there as I used to be there thirty-five years ago; shopping at Faust’s, and other stores on Washington Avenue and Central Avenue. I was at the ferry slip, at Pennsylvania Ferry, and on the trolley in the ferry shed, waiting for the car to Bayonne. It was summer time, and the open trolleys were running. Everything was exactly as it used to be when I first knew Jersey City, in 1905 to 1910 or 1912.
Then, when I awakened to this morning’s seven o’clock news the startling item was given out that a great act of sabotage had occurred in Jersey City. Great fires were burning, two-grain elevators had been destroyed, abattoirs, and food stores; the Erie stockyards and four entire blocks on the waterfront were burning. Strange I should have been dreaming so clearly of Jersey City! At breakfast, of course, we spoke of the Black Tour outrage, an enemy act of sabotage during the last war. That explosion shook our house on Avenue E and blew our windows out. It was a terrible act of devilish destruction. Now, for America, the game begins again. Men making war.
Another item this morning was an announcement of the rationing of clothes and boots and shoes, as from today. We are to be issued with sixty-six coupons, which must provide us all wearing apparel for twelve months. Well, it was lucky I bought myself all the materials I did. Three to five coupons will be required for one yard of dress-goods, so I shall require from twenty to thirty coupons to get myself one dress or coat. Seven coupons will be required for one pair of shoes. So sixty-six coupons won’t go far. Everything grows scarcer and scarcer. For over a week now it has been impossible to buy any oatmeal, or any cereal of any kind. Lord Woolton announces that he hopes he won’t have to ration bread. Eggs are as rare as diamonds. Cheese is rationed to one ounce per week, per head. So Ted and I can get a whole half-pound of cheese for one month. Jam is more liberal; we can have two ounces per week, or one pound for two people for one month.
Yesterday I got one and a half stewing steak and a quarter beef kidney, which is our entire meat ration for a week. I am making it into a pudding for today’s dinner. Three of us will dine on it, and what is left must supply Ted’s meat for the rest of the week. Milk is reduced by one seventh of our usual supply. So, with all our protein foods out of sight, no meat, eggs, milk or cheese, to speak of, our potatoes and oatmeal practically finished, no fruit at all, what are we going to live on? Ersatz I suppose, like the Germans. That’s war. That’s how men run the world.
June 5, 1941
This is one of my bad days. From about midnight we had the raiders over, and there was steady gunfire until about three-thirty this morning; dawn, when the all clear came. After a period of quiet nights, the noisy nights are much harder to endure. I lay uncontrollably trembling all the while, though long before the all clear Ted was able to fall asleep. Apparently no bombs fell in this district. For once we overslept! When Ted switched on the early light we found it was already eight forty a.m.; of course, really only six forty, by sun-time.
Ted had been sick ever since Sunday evening. He thinks eating a piece of Sainsbury’s veal and ham pie poisoned him. I think he got a cold in his bowels, by working all afternoon in the garden barefooted. The ground was wet, the air cold. Anyway, he has been decidedly out of sorts ever since Sunday evening. I am miserable. The weather is bad, the food is bad, the war news is bad, and Ted is most trying. I am sick of England, sick of Ted, sick of the war, and sick of myself. Fine, just fine!
June 6, 1941
It is very dull, almost a Novemberish day, and a drizzling rain falling. Though we had a quiet night, we have already had one alarm and all clear this morning. This war gets messier and messier. One thing that is the matter with me is that I’m downright hungry! I’m longing for a big juicy beefsteak with a cover of fried onions and a long drink of brandy and soda. I want something with substance and taste to it. I’m just about nauseated with our war diet, and want some real honest to goodness food. I need meat, not pap and make believe.
Lord Woolton was on the air this morning, talking to the country housewives about jam. He said he could issue no sugar for jam making this summer, but asked the people with fruit to give all their surplus to the government, who would make it into jam to be added to the public supply next winter to increase the jam ration. Our present jam ration is two ounces per week!
Seven hundred people have been appointed to go the rounds of the women’s institutes, to teach the country women how to make jam! They will get paid a salary per teacher per week. This is an outrage. The bureaucrats are strangling England. The various ministers install fresh ministries, all carrying big pay rolls, so up go the taxes, up go prices, and every “controlled” article promptly disappears from the markets.
Men, damnable men. Why do we have Lord Woolton as Food Controller? Not only is he a man, he is a millionaire. Why not put a woman in control of the country’s food? Then we have to listen to men talking! Woolton has one of those unctuous oily voices, uttering arguments, which are much too plausible. Does anyone suppose he eats only shillings worth of meat per week? Or the King or Queen? Last week the Queen had the nerve to tell a group of workingwomen that, like them, she and the King used their meat ration for one good piece of meat for Sunday, and eked out the remains during the week! What rubbish! Who does she suppose believes her? The blah, blah on the radio makes me sick.
About an hour ago Artie telephoned from town. He had been at Euston all day, taking various exams for getting transferred to the R.A.F. We knew this was to happen today, and he had written that he might have time to make a dash home before returning to camp. However, this proved impossible. He says he passed every test easily, except the last one. This was a sight test. He was found to have defective vision, that is, for flying requirements, so he was rejected. The boy is disappointed, but Ted and I are not sorry. We are sorry he suffers a disappointment, but glad he doesn’t have to fly. After all, one lost boy is enough. Now, we hope, he will concentrate on his effort to get a commission. Anyhow, the question of whether to apply for the R.A.F. or not is definitely settled; he is permanently unacceptable. So he won’t have to bother his mind about that any more.
Ted is out to his Home Guarding, and I have a special book to read, and one which I must finish tonight. It is the very recently published Introduction to Proust, his life, his circle, and his work by Derrick Leon. Miss Coppen brought it in to me, as she was sure I should like it, but it belongs to Dagenham Library, so I must read it at a gallop. So Au-Revoir, I’m just going to read and read.
June 7, 1941
Exasperated, irritated, and bored to the nth degree. Ted is too silly for words. I think him both childish and rude. He is kind of having a spell of running downhill this week. All his polish is off and he is as rude as Herbert. He looks like Herbert, too. The physical likeness between them is becoming very much more apparent; the Cockney boys, the East Enders, and don’t I know it!
Perhaps Ted is worried about something but if so he gives me no clue. Indeed, he is acting more absurdly secretive than ever. When he took out his wallet last night to give me some money, he most carefully arranged the loaf of bread before him and opened his wallet behind that. Ridiculous.
I am in constant disgrace anyhow. I have been able to say nothing to please him all this week. However I phrase my replies to his remarks I have phrased them wrongly; either the ordering of my words is wrong, or I should have said something else entirely, or I haven’t said what I meant—so he says! If I don’t answer at all then that is wrong. To the most trivial statement I must make an audible acknowledgement. No remark is allowed to fall into the void, as something finished. He cross-questions everything I say. It is as though he tries continually to make me look a fool or a liar. He is rude beyond all limits. He is scathing, and he thinks he is sarcastic, but it is a very cheap sarcasm. It is merely on a par with the playground spitefulness of the ten-year olds. It is so silly. So wearing. I think him a fool, and a boor into the bargain. I think him conceited, intolerably conceited. For who the hell is he to indulge in all this criticizing and belittling? To belittle another; that is Ted’s chief delight. My Saint! How to endure him and yet keep sweet myself, that is the problem. Not to lose patience, not to lose serenity.
Here is a typical instance of Ted’s rudeness: He came home from the office this afternoon to find Miss Owlett from next door on the premises. She had called in to borrow a book for her father, who is an old man of eighty-two. I was trying to think of what I might offer to such an old man, and an untraveled Englishman at that, and whose tastes (or brains) I didn’t know, and explaining mine were mostly American books, very few of them novels, when Ted barged in with his usual spiel about how I only read books by women about women, and what they had for breakfast, etc. and how we had too many books, etc. Then enlarging on the fact that he couldn’t read what I read, because what I read was rubbish, when he threw in this remark, to me: “Why don’t you give her something sexy?”
There was a dead pause. I looked at him straight in the eye, and he repeated the question. I simply kept on looking at him until he thought of something else to say, asking Miss Owlet what sort of book her father preferred. Now, Miss Owlett is an ugly old maid. Her hair is grey, her face lined, her mouth full of cavities, her figure scrawny, her clothes appalling; worse, she gets giggly when a man speaks to her. She is the typical Victorian genteel spinster. She probably thought Ted’s remark was directed at her, as much an old maid might, and in which case the best excuse that could be made for it was that it was a faux pas. It wasn’t directed at her, it was directed at me; it was simply Ted’s lifelong habit of disparaging my tastes, and giving me a knock. It was also his usual show-off of his own superiority.
“Sexy” with him is a word of condemnation, and he applies it indiscriminately to any work where sex is ever mentioned. For him sex must never be mentioned, nor even alluded to, no matter how indirectly. His favorite author is Dickens, who wrote of “the pure” and the Sunday schools, and who never created a human being. Dickens indulged his own sex to the extent of begetting a dozen or so of children on his wife, and then leaving his wife for a younger and more attractive woman.
Like with Ted, sex must never be mentioned, but he will indulge his own sexual needs whenever they cry out for satisfaction: his satisfaction. As for his criticism of my literary tastes, that has long ceased to make the slightest impression upon me; for I know him to be an only superficially educated person, with no knowledge of real literature or real art, and therefore with no true judgments. That was an outrageously rude remark to make, and not even clever, for it did not hurt the person it was intended to hurt, but the unsuspecting stranger in our house.
Ted’s tongue again. Ted, who can’t refrain from saying nasty things. Ted, who thinks he’s clever, whilst all the time he is only showing how ill-bred he is. Ted, who delights to hurt me. Oh God, I am tired of him!

World War ll London Blitz Diary: 4-26-41 The raiding last night was on a town in the North East, probably Hull or Tyne-Side again.


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April 26, 1941
It is still cold, but sunny. There is a boisterous wind blowing. It is a quiet night. The raiding last night was on a town in the North East, probably Hull or Tyne-Side again.
I have had a very busy morning, full of callers; all of them want to talk about the blitz. The first one was Sainsbury’s van man, who stayed here at least half an hour. He knows Cuthie. He used to be the delivery boy, when both of them were in short pants, so he always wants to talk about Cuthie. Then Mary Bernadette arrived, to tell me about Mrs. Jude, and the blitz in Belfast. Mrs. Jude has gone to a little village in Marne. Then Mr. Skilton came to see about the ball-in-the-tank, which doesn’t act right; and the roofer to tighten the tiles, which were all stripped last Saturday in our blitz. Then Danny Hartnet to bring me a letter, which had been wrongly addressed to Eastern Road; then Mrs. Thomson from next door to tell me her troubles, besides the usual Saturday morning deliveries, and bills to pay, and an early dinner to cook.
No fresh news from Greece is given us yet, except that we are retreating. The Germans claim the capture of the Pass of Thermopylae, and occupation of the Island of Lemnos. Mr. Skiliton is particularly disturbed about Lemnos. He says he was stationed at Lemnos in the last war, and if the Germans have taken that, “someone has been asleep.”
In Washington, Roosevelt has publicly censured Colonel Lindbergh, and the other “appeasers.” He declared they “were just dumb” and of what they said, “I don’t call that good Americanism.” Here in London, Churchill is to speak to the nation at nine o’clock tomorrow night.
Another letter arrived from Mother this noon. She says that on Wednesday night she thought Joan was going mad. In the morning Joan said she refused to stay in London any longer. She has gone to Cecily Affleck, in Whitby. Quite sensible of her, I think; I can’t understand why Mother stays in London. She doesn’t have to live there.
Edith Pilcher came into my dreams again last night, and now I’ve found the clue, or clues for her appearing. They are: Greece and dressmaking. Edith had two sisters, a younger one who was a home girl, and an elder one who was married to the English Consul in Athens. This sister had twin boy babies and Edith used to tell us little anecdotes about this family. One that has stuck in my memory is how the twins fought each other, and on one occasion had a slinging match, throwing their porridge at each other. So Athens and twin boys are associated in my memory, and I suppose Athens now being so prominently in the news, memory has thrown up the background association of Edith Pilcher. Then, too, I have been thinking of new clothes, and getting the right clothes. At various times this week beginning last Sunday, I have been looking through my assortment of patterns, and laying a few out on my goods, to see whether or not they would cut to advantage. I haven’t cut anything, and finally I ordered a new Vogue pattern when I was in Stone’s the other day. I have been thinking about “style” and want to cut the right style. I want a fitted back, but a flowing skirt: I want a soft bodice, but no collar. I want two styles of sleeves; one a full bishop, the other a tight fitted one.
Well, Edith used to talk about the right kind of clothes. She wanted women to be dressed artistically. At that time clothes were very much trimmed, and Edith was for elimination of the trimmings. She wanted the right lines, and beautiful materials. She wanted elegance, not prettiness. She wanted plainness, instead of fussiness. Above all she wanted people to use their “proper” colors, and then not deviate from them. She wanted everything to be good, and “real.” She wanted “real” lace, “real” velvet, and “real” silk.
She refused to wear jewelry, which was very unusual at that time. We all wore rings and brooches and la-Valier’s and bangles! Occasionally she would wear a brooch, to pin a lace collar, but it was always a “real” brooch. She never wore a ring until she appeared with her engagement ring; and here again she was original for the engagement ring unfailingly used to be a half hoop of diamonds but Edith’s ring was one big sapphire, with a small diamond on either side of it; an unheard of departure from the canon.
When she was looking at my engagement ring, which was a flower cluster of diamonds instead of the usual half loop, she said, “I like to see only one ring on a hand, don’t you? And when I am married I shall wear my wedding ring only, never another with it. I think the plain wedding ring on the hand looks so beautiful, don’t you?” I hadn’t thought anything at all about it, but I could see she was right. She was the first person to enlighten me about colors. “Of course you must never wear pink,” she said once. “Never pink on a Titian blond.” I didn’t know. She herself was not a blonde neither was she a brunette. She had blue eyes, dark blue, I suppose, like the sapphire she chose for her finger.
Mostly she wore dove-gray, which she would alleviate with touches of turquoise. Sometimes she would wear a dark blue, one just a little lighter than the Oxford blue. Once she made a blouse in this dark blue, in taffeta, with which she wore a beautiful large lace collar. It must have suited the tones of her skin, for in it she looked beautiful. Of course, she was beautiful, though because she wasn’t classically so, or goldenly so, I didn’t think so. I know she was one of the most beautiful women who have decorated my time. Oh, what a pleasure it was just to look at her, and to watch her move! Gracious, beautiful lady; those are the words to describe Edith Pilcher.
Mary Bernadette was speaking about Selma. She says she thinks Selma is “certifiable.”
“I’m sure that woman is quite mad,” she said.
It seems Selma was at Mary’s house last Saturday, uninvited, of course. She stayed to tea. Doreen was there, for the weekend. As they wanted to get rid of Selma early in the evening, they suggested that they should take a walk, and they could walk home with Selma. So off they started; but just as they got to Selma’s lodgings the siren went, so all three of them went in. Of course, the blitz was awful, so Mary and Doreen had to stay at Selma’s all night. Doreen was sick, and had bowel trouble, so they could not leave to run between the shrapnel. Mary said Selma showed outright animosity towards Doreen, and she thought it unsafe to leave Doreen alone in a room with Selma, who fondled a large carving knife, and talked about it, and said how it could kill someone.
She asked Mary if she was strong. “Yes, very strong,” Mary replied. Selma made not the slightest attempt to make them comfortable, so Mary said they just took the cushions they saw about and made themselves as comfortable as they could. Selma kept shaking at Doreen, and kept hitting her foot, and ankle, when she crossed her knees. Mary’s theory is that because Doreen is so strikingly the “feminine” type—pretty, fair, fragile and dainty—she aroused Selma’s resentment.
Selma is growing a beard. I have heard about this for some time. Instead of taking prompt action to eliminate it, Selma seems to muse it, and she talks about it! She asked the girls did they notice it. They were evasive, trying to be polite, not to hurt her feelings. Selma proceeded, “When I had tea next door I asked Mrs. So and So did she see my beard. Her little boy said, yes, and he thought it was very ugly, he said. It isn’t ugly, is it?”
Mary said she had trouble with Selma and little David Heyward. David, who is only twelve, comes up to Mary’s on Saturdays to help her do some gardening. Selma wanted to talk to him about love! She asked him if he had a girlfriend and if not, could she be his girlfriend. The boy was embarrassed, replied he never made friends outside his family.
“Oh, but you should!” said Selma. “Now you could be my friend. You could come and see me; don’t you think that would be nice? It’s time you had a sweetheart.”
Mary said she shouted at Selma, “Selma! Shut Up!” Then she subsided. At teatime she insisted on talking about proposals, and she asked Doreen why a girl couldn’t propose to a man, and so on and so on. This is Selma’s constant strain. The other day in the office she asked Maurice Coppen if it would be all right if she should ask him to marry her. Yes, she’s a bat all right.
Mary was most concerned about the knife incident. “I’m sure she wanted to do Doreen an injury,” she said. She might do someone an injury. For years she has given way to spasms of rage, when she throws things about, goes berserk. I’ve known her to throw a flat iron, a typewriter, and the parrot in its cage.
Selma has always been subnormal, a mental deficient; now she is suffering from sexual repression into the bargain. I haven’t seen her since last autumn, but I suppose Mary’s judgment is correct, and Selma has got to the point where she is certifiable, and should be put away, for the safety of the community.
April 27, 1941
One o’clock news. The Germans have entered Athens.
Six o’clock news, the Germans claim to have captured Corinth, by means of parachute troops.
April 28, 1941
No further news from the Balkans yet, but it is reported that the Germans have crossed the Egyptian frontier at Sollum at several points.
Yesterday General Saints made a speech about the war, and last night the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, again spoke on the air. He spoke of the campaigns in Greece and Libya, and of American and the Battle of the Atlantic. He did say that nothing happening now was comparable in gravity with the dangers of last year. Nothing, which could happen in the East, was comparable with what was happening in the West. The Battle of the Atlantic would be long and hard, he said, but he had a strong conviction that it had entered upon a grim but at the same time a far more favorable phase.
He spoke of our lifeline across the Atlantic. He gave great thanks to America, but a knock to Ireland. Speaking of Hitler’s occupation of the European coastline, he said, “Thanks to Hitler’s occupation and use of French and Norwegian harbors, and thanks to the denial to us of the Irish bases, he could attack us with U-boats so far out in the Atlantic.” Of course this is a sore point. Had we had the use of the Irish ports we could have fought Hitler much more effectively even than we have done. Would the Irish cooperate with us? Of course not! Oh, the damned Irish! Have they ever been any good in the world? Have they ever cooperated with anyone? No, they are being “neutral.” Well, if the Germans invade Ireland, nobody will be sorry for the Irish.
Churchill came into my dreams last night. First of all I was having one of my harassing packing dreams. Gladys was helping me, and we were throwing away piles of overflowing junk, especially old photographs and old hats. Then the dream passed to Bayonne, and we were all in the Avenue A house, including Winston Churchill. We were in the long drawing room, and I was showing Winston Ted’s pictures. All those oil paintings. Winston wasn’t a bit impressed; he seemed to think they weren’t very good paintings. I kept trying to get his admiration for a better and better one, but no, it was no good. He simply thought they were a junky lot and he was only wasting his time being polite about them. Then the alarm went off; 6:30 a.m. and time to get up.
May 1, 1941
Ted just left for his evening’s work with the Home Guard. I met Mr. Pryor this morning, coming out of Ive’s Gardens. He said, “I see your old Guv’nor’s gone and joined the Army! My missus and me followed him down the road last Sunday morning. Gave us a jolly good laugh, he did. I didn’t half clank! Can’t even fire a gun, can he?”
I went to Stone’s this morning to buy an extra piece of red silk. I have been laying out patterns, and thinking about sewing nearly all week, though I’ve not started to cut out yet. I decided that if I bought an extra yard and a half of the red silk I could get a complete dress of it, which would be better than a contrived one with my red velvet. I’ll let the velvet and lace frock hang in the wardrobe awhile longer and maybe sometime I can cut it into a proper fit. Anyhow, I decided one perfect silk dress was my best make now.
The war news continues badly. Churchill announced that eighty percent of our troops have been safely evacuated from Greece. We had sixty thousand men there; at least forty-eight thousand have been brought safely away. This is another defeat.
News tonight says the enemy has penetrated the outer defenses of Tobruk. There is trouble brewing in Iran, and the Russians are stirring. There is talk that Germany will now “take” the Ukraine. What next? The Germans win everywhere. We thought perhaps the invasion of Britain would really begin today but it didn’t. Perhaps tonight it will.
To listen to the political talk disgusts me. To excuse our defeat in Greece, and withdrawal from Greece, the politicians say, “Well, of course, we knew we couldn’t defeat the Germans in Greece.” Then why did they attempt it? Why did we start the war anyway? We knew we weren’t “prepared,” whereas Hitler has done nothing else but prepare, ever since 1933. His numbers and supplies are endless. Except for Turkey and Spain and Portugal, the Germans now occupy all of Europe. Except for Poland and Greece and Yugoslavia, not one country withstood them, and three have been conquered. If the little countries wouldn’t combine to resist, why should we go and fight for them? We’ll be licked too, I suspect. The talkers insist we shall win in the end, but I can’t see how. Hitler has literally hordes and hordes of men, and with all Europe in his pocket, practically unlimited supplies. We can’t fight all of Europe. Oh the damn fools politicians are! Talk about liberty and democracy and honor and a better new order won’t win the war. Talk, talk, talk. God, it makes me sick.
May 3, 1941
It is a day of excitement. My thirty-sixth wedding anniversary also. Have had two R.A.F. boys billeted on me for two weeks. They came in at teatime. Also Flora, one of the boy’s girlfriends, came to tea. Rita Pullan was also here. Then in the evening, Dorrie Stanford, and Mrs. Thomson came by.
May 10, 1941
It is a year today since Germany invaded Holland and Belgium and Luxembourg. Today, the Duchess of Luxembourg broadcast from America and M. Pierlot, for Belgium, and Queen Wilhelmina broadcast from London. The war is accelerating. America is debating using her Navy to convoy armaments and food to Britain, and is practically in the war already.
May 11, 1941
It was a most frightful night. The main attack was on London. Thirty-three bombers were brought down, by thirty-one fighters, two by anti-aircraft. This makes a total of one hundred and twenty-three since the first of the month. The raids are awful. I do not know yet what happened in Romford. One awful blast rocked the house and blew in our dining room window; it broke through bricks and plaster, and pushed out the frame, but not a pane of glass was cracked.
I am worried about Mother. She surprised me last Sunday by walking in during the morning; the first time I have seen her since last July, just before the Blitz began to be heavy. She won’t leave Hammersmith, although her house has been very badly damaged. Perhaps last night it collapsed altogether. Joan has gone to Mrs. Affleck, near Whitby. Mother ought to leave London, but she won’t. God knows what happened in London last night! The planes were over incessantly for hours.
Of the two air force boys I have here, one came in at midnight and calmly went to bed; the other was on duty from midnight until eight this morning. He said all night the fires could be seen in London, predominantly in the East. I suppose the devils were after the riverside and the docks.
Now one boy is on duty, the other taking a bath. Ted is Home Guarding, doing drill. It is a lovely day, but very cold. We have had frosts every night this week. I am frightfully tired, and ready to weep. All night I shook and prayed. I felt I forgave everybody everything, but with daylight and the cessation of the guns, I became peevish. Ted got on my nerves. Of course, he was nervous too, though he had slept! His silly talk rasped me. I wept. Sheer fatigue, of course, but oh God! How hard it is to keep rational in these crazy times! Is there anything more insane, more hellishly insane than war? I think not. Well now I am cooking a dinner; yet one more Sunday dinner. Au-Revoir.
May 12, 1941
Percy Skilton is in the back garden, digging up the drains, which have become blocked these last two days. Both air force boys upstairs abed. Ted out on his Monday rounds. Weather is brighter, and a little warmer. No morning letters yet. Do not know what has happened to Mother, but presume she is all right, or I should have heard to the contrary.
We had three alerts last night, and a fairly noisy night, though nothing as bad as Saturday night. Saturday’s was another terrorization raid on London. In the nine o’clock news last night we were told of some of the damage. The heart of the attack was at Westminster. Serious damage was done to Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, and the Houses of Parliament. Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Hall were all seriously damaged by high explosives and incendiaries. The abbey is open to the sky, the Lantern Roof burned. The Little Cloisters were burnt out. Five more hospitals hit, a cinema, and a large hotel. In the hotel one hundred and forty guests and employees were sheltering in the basement, but a bomb crashed through, and it is feared all are dead. Frightful. It is the Devil’s work.
About four o’clock yesterday Mary Bernadette came in pale and shaking. She came to bring me news of Doreen Peel. Mary had been in her house alone all night. She had spent the evening at the Peel’s; they asked her to stay the night, but she declined. About noon a boy called in to tell her that the Peel house was destroyed, the family all safe, but Doreen was in the hospital. The Peel’s live or lived on Castellan Avenue, Gidea Park. A land mine came down just outside their house. Doreen heard it landing and went to warn the family. Before she could do so, the front door blew in on her, knocked her unconscious, and cut her face open. It is feared she will lose an eye. The house is collapsing. Mary had come from seeing it, and described the fantasticalness of the wreckage to us. The house is beyond all repairs. Further, Mary was shaken about hearing of the death of a man she had been talking to on Saturday evening. He was a musician who lived opposite to the Peel’s. Mary had arranged with him for him to give her violin lessons. She was to have had her first lesson as tonight but the blast had killed him.
So it goes. Several land mines fell in Gidea Park. A block of twelve flats near the station was completely destroyed, and the row of shops at the end of Carlton Road also. Squirrel’s Heath Church is gone, and All Saints, at Gidea. I shall have further details of our local damage when Ted comes in for dinner presently, and when Elizabeth Coppen comes this afternoon. Poor Elizabeth Coppen! They had all their windows blown out by a bomb in Pettit’s Lane, only about two weeks ago, and the Coppens are as nervous a family as I know anywhere. The Gidea Park section gets an awful proportion of the bombs and mines in our neighborhood. Why? Nobody knows. There is positively nothing of military value up there.
Evening, alone, and I am very tired. I have committed another extravagance. I have bought another silk dress length. One day last week Ted brought me in some pansies from the garden, such a beautiful deep violet shade, and I suddenly remembered I no longer have a violet dress in my wardrobe. I sent my good violet gown to Auntie Daisy last summer. So I thought, oh, I must have a violet dress! So Artie has sent me some money for my birthday, and as I shall receive some more for billeting the R.A.F. boys, I decided I could afford to buy myself one. So I went off to Stone’s last Thursday morning, intending to buy something in a lightweight purple. However, they had nothing in purple in any kind of material whatsoever.
In the silk department they showed me a beautiful new silk, just in, a paisley pattern. It is a brick-brown ruddy background, picked out in beiges and blues. “This would just suit you,” said the assistant, and I could see it surely would. I succumbed to its beauty and it practicability and bought five and a half yards of it, with three and a half yards of brownish-reddish silk to make a slip for it. Then when I got it home I decided I would have a piece of blue silk, in its violet blue, to work into the bodice somehow! So I telephoned on Saturday and ordered one and a half yards of a blue silk and six yards of a pure black silk, pre-war, which I had seen in the store, still at pre-war price, to make linings for the black wool and black silk lengths I bought last month! So I now have another bill at Stone’s between six and seven pounds. I don’t care. Perhaps it’s a way of escape from the anxieties and sorrows of the war, which I am making for myself.
When any shop, and all its contents, can disappear in a night, I think we all feel we should buy what we want whilst we can get it. Equally, when we all fear we ourselves may be killed any night, I think we feel, let us make sure of today, and let us take what we can whilst we can, whilst we know we are alive to enjoy it. Also, I think, for myself, in thinking and planning about clothes, I can distract my mind from the horrors of the nights, of dreadful news of the world; I can escape out of the ghastly present into daydreams of the future, when I shall be wearing the dresses I am now planning to make; and equally in the actual making I shall be able to get through my immediate days without dwelling on the immediate evils.
So perhaps this is why I have been on this buying jag, and all this material I have gotten for myself is a sort of a lifeline I am throwing out into the future, when ultimately we shall come again into peace. I don’t know. Anyhow I have bought the goods and they’ve got to be paid for, and if Gerry destroys them tonight, they have still got to be paid for. I shall manage it, somehow or other. Meanwhile, and for a little while to come now, if I remain alive, I shall have something to do and something to think about which isn’t the war. The damned war! Oh God, this damned war!