About Me

My Photo

World War ll London Blitz:  Buy On Smashwords
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: 8-7-40 The sound of bombs and guns all morning, and an air raid warning at eleven o’clock. No damage in Romford.

Purchase Here:
Audio


August 7, 1940
The sound of bombs and guns all morning, and an air raid warning at eleven o’clock. No damage in Romford.
Even in today’s paper correspondents are writing in to complain of the high price of fruit, and asking can’t something be done about it; and one woman actually stated it was cheaper to buy tinned fruit than fresh. At least the tinned fruit is sweet. The sugar ration is eight ounces per week per person. Therefore in this house one pound of sugar per week is all I can get. There is no fruit. There is no sugar to stew it with, even if we could get fruit. At this time, there are no imports, which accounts for the lack of bananas and citrus fruits, but the dealers are profiteering on all homegrown produce. In spite of government control, the cost of living has increased by at least fifty percent since the beginning of the war. Ted says I’m a bum housekeeper! Well maybe I am, but I do get damn tired of his comments. I didn’t answer him. What was the good?
August 15, 1940 – The Feast of the Assumption
I don’t care a damn about what feast it is. I am full of the most awful anger. All night I was awake with the airplanes passing and passing overhead. No alarm was sounded, but I expected one every minute. Ted lay peacefully sleeping. I lay cursing. I cursed Hitler, I cursed the war, I cursed all the old politicians, and all the blah-blahing jingoists; I cursed all men for what they have brought the world to; and I cursed my man for what he has brought me to, and brought to the twins also. God damn men, I say, and he is doing so; but in their damnation we women are damned too, and double damned; we are all not only cursed by nature, but we are cursed by the world the men impose upon us, and then bring about our ears. What do I care for the fairy tales of Theology? I care nothing, not a farthing. I hate men and all their romances.
August 16, 1940
Then at half past seven in the evening, the air raid warning was given. It’s very terrifying. Ted was painting the bathroom, but came down and said he supposed he ought to go down to his shelter. I exclaimed, “Oh don’t go, don’t leave me!” and then I got a harangue. He didn’t go, saying that since it was only open until eight o’clock, and since it was Thursday and so there wouldn’t be many people about on South Street, and it would be eight o’clock before he could get there—still, he began to scold me. He scolded until the all clear. He said I was a very selfish woman, and that there were other people to be saved besides me. He said I was a fool if I couldn’t be left alone, and he said to be frightened was silly. One ought to control one’s fear.
All this week the air raids have been intensifying. Yesterday’s raids were the heaviest yet. Over a thousand German planes attacked us, in nine different attacks. Report says we brought down one hundred and forty-four of them. Oh hell! Hell for all of us and for all the boys in the air too, British or German. All this is the work of men’s minds and men’s hands. I say curse such works of men, and all men’s crazy ideas. War! What sense is there in war?
Would women make war? No. Women are realists. Women know the cost of life. They preserve it, save it, and heal it. It is women who know what love is, and it is women who love; not men, they can only hate and destroy. Yet they see themselves as heroes. My God!
At twelve thirty p.m. the siren sounded. I closed and darkened the windows, lowered the gas in the oven, and sat in Auntie Daisy’s rocker in the corner of the dining room to wait for the all clear. This did not sound till one twenty p.m. Soon after half past, Ted came in smiling and very pleased with himself. He told me about the wonderful good conduct of all the people in his air-raid shelter. He said there were about one hundred and seventy-five men, women, and children, all “very good.” He added, “You see, you’re alright. Nothing has happened to you.” Yes, I’m all right, but something has happened to me.
I do not expect Ted to come home to me during daytime raids. I know he has pledged himself to take charge of a shelter between the hours of eight am and eight p.m. I do expect him to be here with me at night. Last night the warning startled me, and involuntarily I asked him not to leave me. This, in his eyes, was a crime. He did not stay with me because I asked him to, but because by the time he could have changed his clothes and got to the shelter, the time would have been after eight p.m. To be alone in danger at night is particularly frightening, and the fact that the mere bodily presence of another human being can give comfort and courage is something he cannot understand and doesn’t want to understand, he says. I say he is cold-blooded, and not human. He is proud of his insensibility; he thinks that shows his superior intelligence. “Use your mind, Lady! Use your mind!”
Does he suppose I want to be frightened? I do use my mind, otherwise I should lose it. What I suffer is pure animal fright. It is the old primitive woman in me who knows she has reason to be scared, and she acts without waiting for directions from my head. She acts scared, in the very pit of my stomach, and I can’t control her, either; she knows danger better than I do, and she pays no attention whatsoever to my educated reason. She didn’t panic quite so much today because it was mid-day perhaps, with bright sun shining. How queer it was afterwards to pull back the curtains and see the serene and shining day!
Nor did I pray so much today, not in the same way as in the dark nights. I called more simply on God. God be with me! God be with me! I tried to pray to Mary, Queen of Heaven, and on the instant knew that such an invocation had become empty for me. On the instant I saw that my Catholicism had dropped from me, like the dead skin, which curls and drops from my leg each day. I’m back where I was forty years ago, in a pure Theism. That is what happened to me. My God is an impersonal principle: the Light, Life, Love, and Goodness that Jesus used to talk about. God is a spirit, and my spirit was calling to spirit, and that is all it can call to. To me all the historical fact, true or fancied of religion, is only a great hindrance. Persons confuse me and weary me. I do not even think of God as Father. The fathers I have known have not been very effective men. I certainly do not think of Mary, Mother of God. For I am a mother myself, and I know the limitations of mothers. Such ideas of religion are not adult enough for me. To what person that I know, or know of, could I appeal? Not one. For there is not one person in this world that I could ever feel to be, let alone acknowledge being, my superior. I can only look to myself, the God within, my principle.
Sitting there in the dark, waiting for the chance of death, which might descend on me at any moment, I saw all this. Sitting there waiting, wondering if I should ever see my children again, it was a wait at the bar of death, and I saw myself, without any pretences, as the woman I am. It is the woman I have always been, a woman with a practical mind, a free spirit, and a rational soul; essentially individual, and asserting my own terms, my own woman’s terms against my world and my life, as I have to live it. Men’s terms, men’s reason, men’s rulings, men’s arguments, are not for me. I see what men’s works are, and know that I could do better. No man, ancient or modern, dead or living, is going to dictate to me; not to my free mind, my free soul. A husband, the man’s made world I cannot shake loose from, may constrain my person and my movements, but myself, inviolably myself, and men’s religions hold no validity for me.
I have just been attending to the dustman. He tells me they are all collecting “dust.” He was enthusiastic about our air force, and spoke of the raid over Croydon last night. He thought this mid-day’s raid must have been at Croydon as the guns sounded that far away. He also told me, “One of our chaps lost his wife last night because of the siren. When that sounded she just dropped down dead. Just dropped down dead.” That’s what fright can do to a woman.
Ted jeers, and asks, “What is there to be afraid of?” Pain and fire, anxiety for those who belong to us and are exposed directly to danger, mutilation, suffocation, and sudden death; that’s what is to be afraid of.
The King has made an announcement that he desires Sunday, September eighth, to be observed by all as a day of prayer. President Roosevelt, likewise, for the same Sunday. Why pray?
Nations go to war because they will war. God does not inflict war upon the world so why ask him to stop it? As war is waged by the collective will, it is the longest enduring will that will win it. Having once started a war, men must fight till they beat or are beaten. To petition Jehovah to bless the battle is to return to the mentality of the Bronze Age. When men no longer desire war they will cease to wage it. Why ask God to save us? We must cease being stupid and save ourselves.
At five fifteen p.m. we had another warning, and the all clear did not sound until an hour afterwards. There was more noise and more planes overhead than at mid-day. This time I did not pray at all. Instead I felt myself suffused with anger that men can be such fools. What good does a war do? Men destroying each other, and reporting it like a sport too! It makes me wild. It is the greatest senseless folly men ever commit. God, how I hate all fool men! War is the worst terror and destruction in the world. I hate it, beyond everything.
Yet there are some fools who declare it is the punishment of God for the sins of the nations. To me this is sheer blasphemy. God does not ordain war; man ordains it. Men will have it so, and when they will not have it so, then and only then, will it cease to occur.
The settlement of Europe after the Great War was hugely vindictive, and naturally unreasonable. That settlement should have been unsettled long ago. But no! Nothing sensible! They have kept tight hold on the loot. Everything Hitler had been asking for could have adjusted by good will, brains, and justice. I believe that when he said he wanted peace, he meant it. He was fobbed off and fobbed off. So he took what he wanted in the end, and he has taken it by force, cunning and violence. The old statesmen of Europe are to blame for this war primarily, damn them. My God, will men ever really live by reason and justice!

No comments:

Post a Comment