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.
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)
The war is getting worse and worse. On Wednesday night the Germans bombed forty districts of London. Last night they bombed thirty-six districts. Our fifth warning for today is just sounding. Last night we had an awful fright, soon after eight o’clock. The alarm had been sounded at seven twenty-five. Soon after eight we heard a bomb whistling, descending. We thought surely it was going to hit this house. Ted ducked and got under the table! There were two close following thirds, the house rocked, but we were not hit. Then two more followed, a little further off. Altogether Romford received nine. I sat and cried. I cannot pray anymore. I seem just paralyzed.
The firing went on the rest of the night, but no more hits came in this neighborhood. Today we learnt that the evening’s bombs hit in Victoria Road (for the fourth time!), Albert Road, Lodge Avenue, and Westmoreland Avenue. Craters made and houses demolished, including two pubs, but no casualties.
Our first alarm sounded this morning at seven thirty-five whilst Ted was at church. Mrs. Thomson came in at once, and stayed for breakfast. Ted left early for the office, but before Mrs. Thomson left the second warning sounded, at eight fifty a.m. The raid lasted for one hour. The third was at ten forty-five a.m. until twelve fifty p.m., during which time Mr. Kessey was here; the fourth at two thirty p.m. until three twenty p.m.
It is impossible to get anything done, and the wear and tear on our nerves is exhausting. If only I had some money, I would board The Clipper and fly to New York. I was only saying to Ted last night, just before the bombs fell, how awful these nights were, and I didn’t know how I was going to stand a whole winter of them. A dozen nights like these last two nights and I’m afraid I shall go raving mad. The men are still talking war, war, and war. The politicians infuriate me. Anyhow, they don’t fight. They only specify and egg wars on.
October 13, 1940
The moon is now coming to the full, as there is plenty of light for the raiders. In the middle of the evening they were right overhead, and we heard bombs dropping very nearby. The explosions were terrific. One whistling bomb sounded as though it was going to drop at our very door. I felt we ought to duck under the table. We didn’t. We went right on playing bridge. The men didn’t budge, just winked at each other. This was just as well for us; they steadied us.
October 14, 1940
It is three fifty p.m., just back from the doctor’s in time to get under cover from the raiding. Raids have been going on all morning. An all clear did not sound until two twelve, so I’ve just had time to get my visit in.
Mrs. Jude was in to see me this morning. As usual, she gave me the town news. She only just got into the house before the warning sounded, at about half past eleven, and all the time she was here, a battle was going on above us. Ten bombs were dropped in Romford last night. The most serious damage was in North Street, where Haysom’s was struck and completely demolished. Haysom’s is Romford’s largest furniture store, and occupied nearly a block. This morning there is nothing there but rubble and cinders. No lives lost. Sunday, of course, and not a soul was on the premises. Presumably the Jerry’s were trying for the Romford food storage plant, which is just behind Haysom’s. North Street and the Arterial Road frequently get hit. The Arterial Road, of course, is a military road, so a legitimate target. It has trenches all along it, with soldiers cap-a-pie, and big gun emplacements, and tank traps, and so on. The funny thing is, the soldier’s, or the trenches, never get hit, only the neighboring shops and houses.
October 23, 1940
I have something marvelous to record. We had an almost quiet night last night. The alert sounded at six fifty-five p.m. and the all clear, after a noisy evening, sounded at eleven-thirty p.m. Then we only had one short period of danger in the night, from about twelve thirty a.m. to two a.m. All day we had no warnings until now, the first one sounding at six thirty-five p.m. This is probably for the night. The weather has been bad, that’s why we’ve had practically twenty-four hours peace. It’s too foggy for flying. There have been sporadic raiders today, but not in this neighborhood. Yesterday, Laval saw Hitler in Paris. The rumor now is that France is going to declare war on England. Well, maybe! Anything is possible in this crazy lunatic war.
October 25, 1940
It is ten thirty a.m. and a raid on. After several days of cold mist and rain, today is a beautiful day; therefore the raids have begun early. The first warning went at eight fifty this morning, and there is no clearance. Twice already I’ve had to go into my corner and grab a cushion for my head at the threatening whistles very near and overhead. This makes me furious. I am so angry at this war. The stupidity of it, even more than the cruelty and fearfulness, fills me with rage. Men, blasted fool men, creating war. When I listen to all the poppycock that’s spoken on the air, I’m simply derisive. For here are men again, exhorting, bragging, and begging, diddling with facts, and trickling out sob-stuff about glory and about self-sacrifice. Damn lot of plausible Pharisees, that’s what most of the talking men are. Who are they? The old men.
It’s the young ones, the ignorant, innocent, inexperienced boys, who are sent out to die. Some smarmy parson on the war this morning was talking about the acceptance of pain and suffering; the same old lines, the same glibness and triteness. I say suffering does not ennoble. There aging is a man’s word: “noble.” I ask, why must suffering be accepted as the will of God? I should say that 90% of the suffering in the world is not the will of God, but the infliction by men upon mankind and it need not be.
At one o’clock news we heard that Petain had seen Hitler, last night. Hitler also saw Franco yesterday. What are they cooking up for Europe now? Petain is eighty-four, and a pious Catholic. He was the man who surrendered France to Hitler. Now he talks about the salvation of France laying in her return to an agricultural economy, the cessation of the practice of birth control, the destruction of Masonry, and a return to the bosom of the Catholic Church. If only all men would return to the true faith, which, of course, is Roman Catholicism, then everything in the world would be lovely. Silly old fool! Old, that’s what’s the matter with him. What about the Pope? The Pope says nothing, and keeps on saying nothing. Mussolini makes the Italians behave disgracefully, but the Pope never utters even one little admonition. No. The Pope is an Italian, and a politician, and he plays for safety. The Italians marched into Albania on a Good Friday, and the Pope even said nothing to that.
There used to be a question when I was young: What would Jesus do? Anyhow, Jesus didn’t sit in a palace, with armed guards, and keep a shut mouth whilst his countrymen behaved like skunks. After all, when one stops to think about which are the Catholic countries, which the Catholic people, who would choose to be a Catholic? Ireland, the dirty Irish, the quarrelsome, murdering, lying Irish; Spain, with the Spaniards making murderous civil war; Belgium, with the Belgian coarseness and their Judas King; France, with Frenchmen so cynical or so soppy; Mexico with its illiterate and murderous Mexicans; and Italy, with its rape of Abyssinia, annexation of Albania, its stab in the back at falling France, the treacherous Italians. No, a white man has no sort of affiliation with any one of them. Oh, what moment of madness when I joined the church!
October 27, 1940
It is a rotten day. Ted very teasing, and air raids galore. Today is Grandma Side’s birthday.
October 28, 1940
The Italians have declared war on Greece. An ultimatum was handed to the Greeks at three a.m. this morning, to which a favorable answer was demanded by six a.m. The Greeks refused to accede to the Italian demands, so at six o’clock the Italians began their attack on Greece. At seven o’clock the first air raid warning was sounded over Athens. Last night Hitler and Mussolini met in Florence. I suppose this further aggression was what they then decided upon. The filthy little Italians! What is the Pope going to say to them now? Is he going to say the same old nothing?
November 4, 1940
Eleven a.m. for the first time in fifty-six nights we had no “alert” last night. It is presumed that the heavy rain made the enemy’s bases on the other side of the channel unsuitable for safe landing. Our first alarm for today sounded at ten a.m., and no all clear has come yet.
There is a possibility that Artie may come home on leave today. I sure hope he does. On Friday we got a letter through from Cuthie. It was written July Seventh, practically four months ago. He said he was well, and that he had talked with some other fellows from the R.A.F. and from what they told him he realized he was very lucky to have escaped unharmed as he did.