History is never quite as real as when it is told by those who lived it. Ruby Thompson, living during the World War ll London Blitz bombing blasts history out of the realm of dry, dusty names and dates and places the reader in the midst of the terrifying events as they unfold. This is very important documentation and will have tremendous appeal to those who have an avid interest in the effect of the war on ordinary citizens.
This is one of the dreariest days for weather that I ever remember. Darkness covers the face of the earth. Not fog, darkness. I went to the cleaners to collect my dresses. Outside the cleaners a wedding-taxi all tied up with white ribbons was held up for traffic. All of us in the shop exclaimed Poor Bride! What an omen! This makes me think of the day in nineteen forty when France fell. An extraordinary and unaccountable thick darkness covered the world here about that day. If only this were an omen of the fall of Germany! Oh, how thankful we should be! One woman in the cleaners said: “Maybe Hitler’s dead. The Express says he is likely to be killed any day now by his own Germans.” “Yes,” said another, “I expect there are crowds of folk in Germany who would kill him if they could.”
Wednesday November 15, 1944
We suffered a dreadful night. Very soon after midnight the alert sounded. I came downstairs at once and the all clear did not go until one-fifty a.m. I lost count of how many bombs flew over, seven or eight, perhaps more, some of them very close indeed. After I had fallen asleep we were awakened again abut two-thirty a.m. by the explosion of a rocket, two hours later came another, then at five twenty-five a.m. came a most terrific crash, shaking the bed and the house and crashing in the dining room window. Ten minutes later an alert was sounded, and before I could get out of bed a flying bomb passed before our window, sailing over the back gardens down this street. It was most terrifying. I grabbed my petticoat and gown and hurried downstairs. Four others passed, practically in the same track, but the all clear came fairly quickly, being given at five-fifty five a.m. I went back to bed, very shaken. A text flashed into my mind: “ His mind is stayed on peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.” God. Yes it is God to whom I instinctively turn, God and no one else.
Thursday November 16, 1944
I dream a dream. I live in a nightmare. Night was quiet until five-thirty this morning, when a crashing rocket fell. Then it was quiet again until seven-thirty, when an even more deafening one fell nearer. We shook in our bed, and more windows cracked. I got up to prepare breakfast. Ted came into the room and bumped the door; more glass fell out of the window. I began to cry. I felt I could not stand any more of this life. I suppose why my thoughts are dwelling so persistently on the Novembers of my childhood is a way my mind is protecting itself. Memory is retreating into the far past, even when Novembers could hold happiness for a child when life was safe, and when the whole personality floated serene in the irresponsibility of protected childhood. I thought I could write it all down but that thought was a dream; I can’t write, my mind can only wander. It is impossible to concentrate on anything.