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.
Ted has gone off to a committee meeting of his “knights.” It is still rainy weather, with very low cloud, so we are getting many flying bombs. They came continuously all day yesterday, and throughout most of last night. We have not had so many through this day as yesterday, but still too many. They are most wearing; they twist my insides with fear. The beastly noise they make is alone enough to frighten you. There is a “secrecy silence” being maintained on the war news. We are told the Americans have crossed the Seine both on the east and on the west of Paris, and that the roads on the east from Paris are blocked with German transport. We are told that the Parisians’ are rising, have risen, and there is street fighting going on in Paris, that the Boulevards are crowded, and the churches full. There is a rumor that we are at Versailles. Nothing is officially known. The guess is that we are surrounding and attacking Paris, and that we shall be given no authentic news until the allies can announce the fall of Paris. Yesterday General Montgomery made a broadcast to all officers and men, telling them the Battle of Normandy was won, the Battle of Germany was about to begin, and the end of the war was in sight; “so let us finish quickly” he said. Yes, let us.
Wednesday August 23, 1944
It is nine-thirty a.m. and an all clear has just sounded, the third since seven o’clock this morning. It was another nasty night. The weather today is still deeply overcast, so I expect we shall receive bombs all day long. What weariness! I am in a state of exasperation bordering on tears. Just as Ted was retiring last night he told me he had arranged for the sweep to come today and clean the parlor chimney; he did not know what time, and perhaps he wouldn’t come at all, but some other day, for he told Mrs. Frosdick it didn’t matter when Frosdick came, because I was always at home. Now this makes me cross. Having the sweep is a nasty dirty job, and one certainly needs time to prepare for him, and to clean up after him. Moreover I hate it when I don’t know exactly when to expect anyone, uncertainty ties one so. I look at the parlor and groan. It is chock-a-block with furniture, books, pictures, ornaments, a nasty ugly overcrowded Victorian room I can’t cope with it. It is a room I never use. I never sit in it, and only go into it when I need to telephone. It is Ted’s room. I haven’t time to empty it, even if there was anywhere to empty it to, and the job of cleaning it after the sweep departs appalls me. Ted wants the chimney swept, so there you are! Not even a time given to me! So here I must hang about, doing nothing, waiting for the sweep. Oh, by heavens I am sick of the house and of housekeeping! I am so sick of Romford. I hear old Ernest next door hacking and coughing and spitting in his garden, and I could scream. I hear Miss Owlett chatting, chatting, and I think, Oh what a twittering old maid! Oh God, deliver me from the neighbors! I hate neighbors. I hate living on a street. I hate a husband coming in for a mid day dinner. Gosh, now I hate the Sweep! I want to walk away from everything and everybody.
Thursday August 24, 1944
We had bombs again throughout the night and early this morning. The Germans are leaving France as soon as they can go, so we suppose Hitler is going to bomb us up until the last minute, until we have driven him out of the coastal regions. Late last night we received further good news; the French have captured Marseilles, and Romania is out of the war. The young King Michael has broadcast a proclamation from Bucharest, which in effect says that the Russian Peace terms will be accepted, a new “National Government will be formed, and Rumania will be an ally of the United Nations. It is another jackal looking to pick the bones of Europe.