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.
8-19-44 to 8-21-44 World War ll London Blitz Diaries
August 19, 1944
Bombs began coming over at three-fifteen this morning, and kept on sporadically until half past seven. I am most devastatingly tired; cooking the dinner I had all I could do not to cry, from sheer tiredness. I am past this work. I don’t want to keep house any longer. I shall have to; there is no retirement possible for me. About four o’clock this afternoon Artie telephoned to say he had a son: Frederick Harold Victor; weight nine pounds, Hilda is feeling fine. The baby was born between the alert we had at two-thirty p.m. and the all clear at three-fifty p.m. “Soon after the bomb crashed” said Artie.
Sunday August 20, 1944
It is a rainy day. We had a few bombs in the night and some again throughout the morning. One fell very near about half past eight. It made me wonder how the people in church were feeling. Ted is playing all the services again today. About five o’clock Artie telephoned and asked us to get a taxi and go and see the baby, but we declined. His father explained that since he was playing Benediction at six-thirty, we had planned to have our evening meal after church, instead of before, and that I had some cooking to do, and it would be too late to go out afterwards. Artie said anytime up until ten o’clock would not be too late, but Ted replied that I should be too tired, after cooking and dishes and so on. “Some other time,” he said: “Some other time.” When he came into me from the telephone he said: “It won’t hurt these young folk to be left alone a bit. Let them find out they cannot indefinitely ignore people, and then expect them to come at their calling. They’ve made it so obvious they want to be alone, well, let them be alone.” I said: “I expect Artie has been looking for you all day.” “Oh, do you think so?” said Ted. “Of course. Your first grandchild in England, he’d naturally think you would be in a deuce of a hurry to see it.” “Heavens! What an idea!” “Well a baby is no novelty to us.” We laughed together. “I should say not,” said Ted, and then remarked that this was the nineteenth grandchild, born on the nineteenth day of the month, an idea that occurred to me yesterday.
Monday August 21, 1944
It is Gladys’s birthday. She must be fifty-five today. Last night Ted coaxed me to bed at ten o’clock, and we were natural and happy together for an hour or so, and then fell asleep. (There goes a warning! Damn the bombs.) I was wakened after awhile by an alert, and came downstairs at once. The clock said two-thirty a.m. In a few minutes several bombs passed over and dropped in the distance, and then a big fellow crumped very near by. It sounded as close as Romford Station, but must have been further off then that. It shook the whole house though, and took my breath away. After that had fallen everything was quiet until about five o’clock, when they began to come again, until about eight then quietness until now. On Saturday we were told that the government had evacuated about ten thousand hospital patients from London, in special ambulance trains, taking them to the north for safety, even as far as Scotland. This seems rather ominous, for with the great battles now raging in France, and the Germans being steadily defeated there, we had hoped that the menace of these flying bombs would soon be eliminated. Once we can get the Pas de Calais area there will be an end of them. Ted says it is because the Government fears the worse and greater rocket bombs, which the Germans are threatening us with; they may never launch them, but then, they might, so the Government is playing for safety. (Explosions now, sound to be in Chadwell Heath.)