Ted just left for his evenings work with the Home Guard.
I met Mr. Pryor this morning, coming out of Ive’s Gardens. He said, I see your old Guv’nor’s gone and joined the Army! My missus and me followed him down the road last Sunday morning. Gave us a jolly good laugh, he did. I didn’t half clank! Can’t even fire a gun, can he?
I went to Stone’s this morning to buy an extra piece of red silk. I have been laying out patterns, and thinking about sewing nearly all week, though I’ve not started to cut out yet. I decided that if I bought an extra yard and a half of the red silk I could get a complete dress of it, which would be better than a contrived one with my red velvet. I’ll let the velvet and lace frock hang in the wardrobe awhile longer and maybe sometime I can cut it into a proper fit. Anyhow, I decided one perfect silk dress was my best make now.
The war news continues badly.
Churchill announced that eighty percent of our troops have been safely evacuated from Greece. We had sixty thousand men there; at least forty-eight thousand have been brought safely away. This is another defeat. News tonight says the enemy has penetrated the outer defenses of Tobruk. There is trouble brewing in Iran, and the Russians are stirring. There is talk that Germany will now “take” the Ukraine. What next? The Germans win everywhere. We thought perhaps the invasion of Britain would really begin today but it didn’t. Perhaps tonight it will. To listen to the political talk disgusts me. To excuse our defeat in Greece, and withdrawal from Greece, the politicians say, Well, of course, we knew we couldn’t defeat the Germans in Greece. Then why did they attempt it? Why did we start the war anyway? We knew we weren’t “prepared” whereas Hitler has done nothing else but prepare, ever since 1933. His numbers and supplies are endless. Except for Turkey and Spain and Portugal the Germans now occupy all of Europe. Except for Poland and Greece and Yugoslavia not one country withstood them, and three have been conquered. If the little countries wouldn’t combine to resist, why should we go and fight for them? We’ll be licked too, I suspect. The talkers insist we shall win in the end, but I can’t see how. Hitler has literally hordes and hordes of men, and with all Europe in his pocket, practically unlimited supplies. We can’t fight all of Europe. Oh the damn fools politicians are! Talk about liberty and democracy and honor and a better new order won’t win the war. Talk, talk, talk, God, it makes me sick.
May 3, 1941
May 10, 1941
It is a year today since Germany invaded Holland and Belgium and Luxembourg. Today, the Duchess of Luxembourg broadcast from America; and M. Pierlot, for Belgium, and Queen Wilhelmina broadcast from London. The war is accelerating. America is debating using her
It was a most frightful night. The main attack was on London. Thirty-three bombers were brought down, by thirty-one fighters, two by anti aircraft. This makes a total of one hundred and twenty three since the first of the month. The raids are awful. I do not know yet what happened in Romford. One awful blast rocked the house and blew in our dining room window; it broke through bricks and plaster, and pushed out the frame, but not a pane of glass was cracked.
I am worried about mother. She surprised me last Sunday by walking in during the morning; the first time I have seen her since last July, just before the Blitz began to be heavy. She won’t leave Hammersmith, although her house has been very badly damaged. Perhaps last night it collapsed altogether. Joan has gone to Mrs. Affleck, near Whitby. Mother ought to leave London, but she won’t. God knows what happened in London last night! The planes were over incessantly for hours. Of the two air force boys I have here, one came in at midnight and calmly went to bed; the other was on duty from midnight until eight this morning. He said all night the fires could be seen in London, predominantly in the East. I suppose the devils were after the riverside and the docks.
Now one boy is on duty, the other taking a bath. Ted is Home Guarding, doing drill. It is a lovely day, but very cold. We have had frosts every night this week. I am frightfully tired, and ready to weep. All night I shook, and prayed. I felt I forgave everybody everything, but with daylight and the cessation of the guns, I became peevish. Ted got on my nerves. Of course, he was nervous too, though he had slept! His silly talk rasped me. I wept. Sheer fatigue, of course but Oh God! How hard it is to keep rational in these crazy times! Is there anything more insane, more hellishly insane than war? I think not. Well now I am cooking a dinner, yet one more Sunday dinner. Au-Revoir.
Percy Skilton is in the back garden, digging up the drains, which have become blocked these last two days. Both air force boys upstairs abed. Ted out on his Monday rounds. Weather is brighter, and a little warmer. No morning letters yet. Do not know what has happened to Mother, but presume she is all right, or I should have heard to the contrary.
We had three alerts last night, and a fairly noisy night, though nothing as bad as Saturday night. Saturday’s was another terrorizing raid on London. In the nine o’clock news last night we were told of some of the damage. The heart of the attack was at Westminster. Serious damage was done to Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, and the Houses of Parliament. Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Hall were all seriously damage by high explosives and incendiaries. The abbey is open to the sky, the Lantern Roof burned. The Little Cloisters were burnt out. Five more hospitals hit, a cinema, a large hotel. In the hotel one hundred and forty guests and employees were sheltering in the basement, but a bomb crashed through, and it is feared all are dead. Frightful. It is the Devil’s work.
About four o’clock yesterday Mary Bernadette came in pale and shaking. She came to bring me news of Doreen Peel. Mary had been in her house alone all night. She had spent the evening at the Peel’s. They asked her to stay the night, but she declined. About noon a boy called in to tell her that the Peel house was destroyed, the family all safe, but Doreen was in the hospital. The Peel’s live or lived on Castellan Avenue, Gidea Park. A land mine came down just outside their house. Doreen heard it landing and went to warn the family. Before she could do so, the front door blew in on her, knocked her unconscious and cut her face open. It is feared she will lose an eye. The house is collapsing. Mary had come from seeing it, and described the fantasticalness of the wreckage to us. The house is beyond all repairs. Further, Mary was shaken about hearing of the death of a man she had been talking to on Saturday evening. He was a musician who lived opposite to the Peel’s. Mary had arranged with him for him to give her violin lessons. She was to have had her first lesson as tonight but the blast had killed him.
Evening, alone, and I am very tired. I have committed another extravagance. I have bought another silk dress length. One day last week Ted brought me in some pansies from the garden, such a beautiful deep violet shade, and I suddenly remembered I no longer have a violet dress in my wardrobe. I sent my good violet gown to Auntie Daisy last summer. So I thought, Oh, I must have a violet dress! So Artie has sent me some money for my birthday, and as I shall receive some more for billeting the R.A.F. boys, I decided I could afford to buy myself one. So I went off to Stone’s last Thursday morning, intending to buy something in a lightweight purple. However, they had nothing in purple in any kind of material whatsoever.
When any shop, and all its contents, can disappear in a night, I think we all feel we should buy what we want whilst we can get it. Equally, when we all fear we ourselves may be killed any night, I think we feel, let us make sure of today, and let us take what we can whilst we can, whilst we know we are alive to enjoy it. Also, I think, for myself, in thinking and planning about clothes, I can distract my mind form the horrors of the nights, of dreadful news of the world; I can escape out of the ghastly present into daydreams of the future, when I shall be wearing the dresses I am now planning to make; and equally in the actual making I shall be able to get through my immediate days with out dwelling on the immediate evils. So perhaps this is why I have been on this buying jag, and all this material I have gotten for myself is a sort of a lifeline I am throwing out into the future, when ultimately we shall come again into peace. I don’t know. Anyhow I have bought the goods and they’ve got to be paid for, and if Gerry destroys them tonight, they have still got to be paid for. I shall manage it, somehow or other. Meanwhile, and for a little while to come now, if I remain alive, I shall have something to do and something to think about which isn’t the war. The damned war, Oh God, this damned war!
A most extraordinary and astonishing event has occurred. Rudolf Hess has deserted to England. In last nights late news we were told that Berlin had broadcast the news that Hess, Hitler’s deputy, who had been forbidden for some time past to fly, because of a progressive disease from which he was suffering, had obtained an airplane at Augsburg on Saturday evening, and nothing had been seen of him since; and because of a “distracted” letter which he had left behind him it must now be assumed by the National Socialist Party that Party member Hess had either jumped out of his plane, or “met with an accident.” Well, the world knows what is meant by Nazi “accidents” and we went to sleep, wondering what has been the split in the Party, and why Hess, who was supposed to be the only man Hitler trusted, had been put out of the way. Then lo, this morning at seven a.m. we were told that Hess landed in Scotland on Saturday night whilst Gerry was bombing London. The sentiment, issued from Downing Street, at eleven-twenty last night reads: Rudolf Hess, the deputy Fuhrer of Germany and Party leader of the National-Socialist Party, has landed in Scotland in the following circumstances. On the night of Saturday, the tenth, a Messerschmidt One Hundred and Ten was reported by our patrols to have crossed the coast of Scotland and to be flying in the direction of Glasgow. Since an ME One Hundred Ten would not have the fuel to return to Germany this report was at first disbelieved. However, later on an ME One Hundred and Ten crashed near Glasgow, with its guns unloaded. Shortly afterwards a German officer who had bailed out was found with his parachute in the neighborhood, suffering from a broken ankle.
These photographs are deemed to be photographs of Hess by several people who knew him personally. Accordingly an officer of the Foreign office who was closely acquainted with Hess before the war has been sent up by airplane to see him in the hospital. At two o’clock this morning the Ministry of Information stated that the identity of the man who landed from a Messerschmidt in Scotland as Rudolf Hess has now been established beyond all possible doubt.
Only on May fourth, Hess sat beside Hitler at the session of the Reichstag's in Berlin, and on May first he had addressed workers at the Messerschmidt factory in Augsburg. Is the party cracking? Is he just plain crazy?
May 14, 1941
May 28, 1941
I have been so busy I have had no time to write here. The air force boys have gone, and so has Artie. Artie left last Wednesday. He is now at camp at New Romney.
Joan has had news from the war office that George died in the hospital, May Twentieth, 1940. Gladys has been bombed out of her house in Plymouth. She writes the estimate for repairing it is four hundred pounds. Plymouth is practically annihilated. We have been quiet in this part of the country for nearly two weeks, but trouble is stirring up again now. Since teatime tonight more than one hundred and fifty of our fighters have gone over, there is probably a battle in the Channel.
I expect we’ll have a bad night tonight. It was a new moon Monday; it will be first quarter June Second. Last night, about midnight the alert went, planes went over, but no gunfire in this neighborhood. What I noticed, was, that my nerves were much worse when this alert came after a spell of quiet nights. I trembled horribly and even after the all clear went, I could not fall asleep.
The war is getting worse and worse. Terrible fighting is going on in Crete. A naval battle has been fought off Greenland. On Sunday the Germans sank the Hood, our biggest battleship; but yesterday we sank their ship, the Bismarck, in quick vengeance. The loss of life is appalling. Where will it end? Last night President Roosevelt broad- cast, declaring the United States to be in a state of great national emergency, and declaring America would fight to defend the Americas, even if the new Bunker Hill should be a thousand miles from Boston, Massachusetts. He declared that they will deliver the goods to
A letter from him today, in reply to one I sent him on Sunday, in which I told him I thought he had acted deceitfully in not telling me Edna was accompanying him to town. He told me that he had not asked her to go to town with him, she insisted on going, and bought her own ticket! Nor had he asked her to take a leave of absence, but that he thought her pretending to have a cold and so staying away from her work was “a mean action.” He added, that he promised me that he would break with her completely. I’m glad, for the girl is most unsuited to him. She is a persistent chaser, and intends to net him if she possibly can. It won’t be her fault if she doesn’t land him. So I had to write to Artie again today, to tell him how glad I was to have his word that he hadn’t the slightest intention of marrying the girl, now, or in the future.
This morning, at last, I cut out a dress! It is a flowered silk crepe, on a black background. Originally I bought only three yards of this, intending to use it for a coat lining; but when I examined it, I thought I would make it into a dress instead, so I ordered another two and a half yards of it, which was delivered yesterday. So, there I go, extravagant and silly! I want new clothes, I’m in the mood for sewing and I’ve enough stuff on hand now to keep me busy for months. I must have spent nearly 20 pounds this spring in buying goods, and all the fixings. I don’t care, I simply don’t care. I want new clothes, I need new clothes, and I intend to buy them whilst I can, and wear them, whilst I know I am still alive to wear them. Now I am going to do some preliminary basting, so Au-Revoir.
Ted has just gone out to church, to the Dabber’s, and to call on Bertie. Edna Renacre was here this afternoon, returning the camera she borrowed last Sunday. Last night Mary Bernadette was here, until eleven p.m.! All afternoon Mrs. Thomson was here. This slows up my sewing. Tomorrow I expect Mother, who may or may not stay over for Whit Monday.
I have a nice Australian novel to read, Southern Saga, by Roy Connolly. Australia still fascinates my imagination. I have wished to see Australia ever since I first heard of it, when I was a very young schoolgirl; and I still think I may make a trip there someday. All of the books about Australia please me. This one that Ted brought in today looks particularly pleasing.
I have sat down now to note a fact, which pleases me, in a very bad way, pleasing my spitefulness. It is this: Last night the Germans bombed Dublin; they dropped about six bombs have destroyed many shops and houses, and casualties, not yet definitely known, are thought to be about three hundred. Two tenement houses were hit, and wardens are still digging out the bodies.
Well, I can’t be sorry. It is impossible to be sorry for the Irish. Only last weekend our government made De Valera a concession, by not instituting conscription in Nester, which has nothing to do with De Valera. From the very beginning of the war the Irish have refused in any way to cooperate with England. They refused us the use of their Southern ports, thus making difficulties for us in combating the German submarines, and by so much assisting the Germans. It has been reported that the Irish allowed the Germans to use the Irish ports!! It is thought that the Germans will invade Ireland, and then use Ireland as their base to attack England. Quite likely!