World War ll London Blitz: 5-2-42 to 5-31-42 If I had a daughter of twenty who was compelled to leave home and work in a factory, I should be frantic. This conscription of women is one of the worst features of this war.

Purchase Diary's:

May 2, 1942

Here is an instance of what I can only call Ted’s blatant secrecy. When he came into lunch just now, he asked, could I take in a foreign flyer, to give him a weeks holiday. After thinking it over I said no. Then Ted fetched his cheque book, and wrote out a cheque but, he wrote it so strangely, almost entirely covering it with his left hand, and moving his hand down as the pen went. Then he carefully turned it upside down on the table to dry. Then he folded it and put it in his pocket book at once. All this play most ostensibly so that I shouldn’t see how much it was for, or who it was made out to. He’s really ridiculous. Of course I made no inquiries.
Ted did not tell me who the flyer was nor who was asking hospitality for him. I consider the project impractical anyhow. This house is literally a cottage, and there is no accommodation here for taking care of strangers. For instance, there is no way of getting to the bathroom except through my bedroom. Then there is no maid to wait at the table, and I am my own cook. There are no young people in this home, and we simply know no young men at all. Ted and I are two old people. I have all the work to do, and what with church and Home Guard Ted has practically no time. We have no car. We have no wine. Besides being inconvenient for me, the house and company would be extremely dull for the airman. So I said no, I couldn’t’ take care of a foreign flyer for a week. I really feel kind of mean to refuse, but equally I really feel I shouldn’t have been asked. Now I will do a little writing. I have been going through my assorted oddments of notes, and find I have quite a lot, more than I thought I had. So I’ve heaps of material already on paper. Good!

May 5, 1942

I was surprised last night by a visit from Maureen Garvin, who stayed talking until after ten-thirty p.m. She began by saying she was feeling “so awfully fed up” and she must come and talk to me, did I mind?
It turned out she had her calling up papers and had been assigned to work in a factory in Wembley, commencing next Monday morning. Her hours will be from seven a.m. until six p.m. so she will have to find lodgings in Wembley. Her mother is crying and her father is angry. Naturally.  If I had a daughter of twenty who was compelled to leave home and work in a factory, I should be frantic. This conscription of women is one of the worst features of this war. Is it an act of Parliament? Yes and no. These rulings are made, proposed and passed practically immediately. There is no debate. Everything is blanketed as “for the war effort.” The British people are just as much asleep as the German people; they do as they are told. Liberty? Think again.

May 8, 1942
The war news this week is shocking. On Monday we landed troops in Madagascar, “to forestall the Japanese.” The French resisted, so we fought them, strictly for their own good, of course, but giving promises to return Madagascar to the French at the end of the war. It was an act of unprovoked aggression, entailing bloodshed, just the same. It is true the English are hypocrites.
In the Philippines Corregidor has surrendered to the Japanese, eleven thousand four hundred and seventy-four prisoners taken. On the other hand the Japanese have suffered a naval defeat off the Solomon Islands, losing in all sixteen ships. How many the American Navy has lost has not yet been told.
In Burma everything is going badly for the allies, and today there is a report the Japanese have crossed the Burma border into China. Hell, hell, hell! The stupidity of men! The damnable stupidity of war!
I am sick with the lunacy of men. I am angry. This week Parliament has been debating a proposed rationing of coal, to come into effect by June First. Actually Parliament got excited about this. Why? Because it is something that will touch the members themselves! When food is rationed the rich don’t care; they can buy the luxury foods. When clothes are rationed they don’t care, they have full wardrobes. When girls of twenty are conscripted they don’t care; they have few girls of twenty, the ruling is meant for the poor, the “working classes.” If coal and light is to be rationed, they will feel the cold, they won’t like darkness; therefore they protest this rationing. Men! Damnable men!
Some ask; Why not send the conscripted miners back to the mines? Yes, why not? Others ask; why not increase working hours in the mines? To which Greenwood replies the miners will never stand for increased hours. The ever recurring mining troubles. The opportunist Socialists and Laborers say, nationalize the mines, etc. it seems to me they are making an opportunity to wangle through this deal, which they have agitated for years. Then there is a nasty scandal over a by-election in Putney. Polling there today, with much mud slinging. When I listen to the reports of the speeches in Parliament I get disgusted. The idiotic trivialities the men talk about! Yesterday a ruling about boy’s trousers! As for the government, well, the least said the better. I consider the whole lot of them a company of duds. As for Sir Stafford Cripps he is a very promising coming dictator. Certainly ever since he came back from Russia the screws have been put on women. Blast him. As for the Labor men, Bevin, Morrison, Greenwood, oh, it is to groan. They are self-seekers, everyone. Party politics, men squabbling amongst themselves, consideration is not for the best man for the job, but the itching prestige of the peacocks. Meanwhile our young men die. Germany and Japan continue to win the war, and we to lose it. It seems to me this present government should be thrown out. More able men might be found, stupider couldn’t be. Oh, blast the politicians, blast politics, and blast war! God what fools men are!

May 11, 1942

Workmen are busy in this road, digging and making a tank trap. They are at work directly in front of Number Sixty-Four. Are the Germans expected to by-pass down this street?

May 22, 1942

It has been two years today since Cuthie was taken prisoner. Mary Bernadette was here all day long. Artie took her home about eight p.m. and then she returned here about nine-thirty in full uniform and with a kit bag and surprised us. She said she had found a note from the commandant at home telling her to report at once in camp. She has been posted in training somewhere in Sussex (promoted to sergeant) and must “clear” herself in camp, and leave for Sussex tomorrow. Artie had told her to return to this house, and he would meet her at nine forty-five and take her back to camp. Now they have gone out together, making their farewells. Artie has not proposed to her, nor do I think he is ever going to do so. My guess is that a girl in Scotland, a Miss Hilda Kane, has ultimately charmed him, but we shall see.

May 23, 1942

Artie left on the eight forty-six train this morning. He has to report to Dumfries before midnight tonight. This has been an embarkation leave, though there is a slight possibility we may see him again before he leaves for “abroad”. He says if he has to get a tropical outfit he will probably be given further leave in which to acquire it; in which case he would come home and get his outfit in London. I do not know whether I want this or not. These recurring farewells are too harrowing.
I am very tired. Ted is being particularly tiresome; some of his silly talk exasperates me to the verge of screaming. I consider him an utter fool. I keep quiet. To talk back to him is only to give him further openings for his boring platitudes, his endless criticisms and instructions. Oh, he is an ass!

May 24, 1942 — Whit Sunday

I went to the eleven o’clock mass. Ted was at the organ. It is a showery blustery day, but pleasant between showers. When I wakened I was dreaming of Tenafly. I have been dreaming much of America this spring. Last nights dream was of trying to find our Tenafly house. I was wandering up and down Knickerbocker Road, looking for it, but could not find it. At last I spotted it. It was in ruins, roofless, and with water flooding in from the porch, which was submerged. Some alterations had been made to it, and I was trying to figure out the original lay out. “Yes, this was the drawing room, and here was the library” I was overcome by a sense of desolation, knowing nothing could be done, it was past restoring.
So I awoke. In dreams we find the truth. That home is beyond restoring. All my Tenafly life is in ruins. The past, to which we can never return. I have no home. This house isn’t home to me; or Romford, or England, but five twenty-three is destroyed. Tenafly is a dream. I have nowhere to go. I am lonesome, my God, how lonesome! Sitting through the mass this morning I thought, no, I don’t believe a word of this. I don’t belong. Nothing can make me belong. I try to come in but I cant. I can not. Not belonging. Lonesomeness. Oh, I’m terribly weary.
It is seven o’clock now and Ted is out playing Benediction. He is on my nerves most frightfully. My fault of course, but oh, I’m weary, weary, weary.

May 27, 1942

Cold and blowy and Ted is detestable. I could write that on every line of this book to the last page and the statement would not be overemphasized. Marriage lasts too long. I could keep on saying that too and not overstate it.
I do not hate Ted but I detest him. I do not hate him because I do not feel any desire to destroy him; what I desire is to escape him. He is so repugnant to me I do not even want to see him anymore. With the ugly gray beard he has grown this winter he resembles an old Jew Rabbi more than a decent Englishman. For years he has theorized about how my family must be of Jewish origin, but in today’s actuality he himself looks like a specimen of Whitechapels Jewry more than anything else. However, I don’t care about that. Anyhow, if he were one hundred percent Jew he would most likely be one hundred percent kind to his own. As it is, he is one of the meanest, most cantankerous, most spiteful, most sarcastic, most petty, and most vindictive men, anywhere. Yet he acts religious, and the world considers him religious, which is a joke. I live with him. I know exactly the gauge of his religion. I say there is no real love in Ted Thompson, neither for God nor man. He is a religious fanatic; religion is his hobby, but of real religion, as I conceive it, he hasn’t a particle. He is a hard self-willed and cutting man, and in intimate life he is intolerable. I long to get away from him, to be free. He hurts me too much. It seems to be his pleasure to hurt me. The more he can deride me, prevent me, and belittle me, the happier he is. It’s a queer disposition to be cursed with. Secretly he must feel terribly unsure of himself, else why this everlasting urge to prove himself better and wiser then everybody he comes in contact with? I can’t feel sorry for him if that’s his trouble, and enormous inferiority complex. He has hurt me so much in the course of the years, by every mean he could happen on oppressing my personality, wounding me in my deepest sensibilities, deriding me in my tastes, insulting me in my opinions, I can no longer care what happens to him. If he suffers, all right, let him suffer.
Usually I can keep quiet. Silence is my best protection. Occasionally I speak out, as yesterday; only that’s a fatal mistake. However, I said to myself today, “I will not be doomed, I will not be made miserable, let this nagger, nag, if that is what he must do, but I’ll be happy in myself in spite of him. I can’t get away from his presence, but I can shut my mind to him, and by God I will!”
So I’ve been out and bought some loose leaf notebooks and some sermon paper, and I am going to work at my writing no matter what, and be damned to him. I am all a simmer again with this heroine, and I’m going to work at it come what may. Ted be damned. Mother once told Ted he was a sarcastic devil, and that riled him. I suppose he thought she misjudged him. Anyhow he resented the description. It was a true one, and it is still true he is a sarcastic devil. He is thoroughly disagreeable and insulting person and I’m weary to death of him.

May 29, 1942

It was as I anticipated. Fortunately I was allowed to fall asleep when we first went to bed, so when Ted touched me and wakened me for loving, my flesh and my nerves responded to him without my anger and coldness having first to be dispersed. This morning, of course, we are both in better mood. Man’s “love” pure - sexuality.  What a woman craves is desexualized love, tenderness, sympathy, friendliness, and loving kindness. This ineradicable craving for pure true love!
Mrs. Prior was here today. Mrs. Cannon calling this afternoon and Rita Pullan came to tea. Last night Dorrie Stanforth was here. I thought I was finished with visitors for a while now that Artie has returned to camp. So no free time today.

May 31, 1942, Trinity Sunday

I did not go to mass. I did start, but had only gone a few yards down the street when rain began to fall, so I turned back. I was not sorry to do so. Mass bores me. I can’t help it. I just don’t believe. I can’t. The one o’clock news gave me startling information of a huge R.A.F. attack last night on the Rhineland and the Ruhr, but mainly on Cologne. Over a thousand bombers took part. Later this evening the B.B.C. said twelve hundred and fifty bombers attacked. The attack lasted only ninety minutes and over one thousand bombers were concentrated in the Cologne area. The air ministry described the raid “an outstanding success” and bomber command has received the immediate congratulations of the Prime Minister, who speaks of it as the herald of what Germany will receive “city by city” from now on. God help us all!


  1. Your great grandmother was so astute! Calling it as she saw it. Isn't she right about politics and decisions that affect only others, i.e., the poor - not them. Super insightful. What's so amazing is that such an intelligent woman, aware of what fools men can be, stayed stuck in a marriage she hated. Was it that at the time she couldn't have found a job? She may have been too old to start a career -- and afraid of losing home and all. Do you have insight into her reluctance to leave such an unhappy marriage?

    1. She would never have been able to support herself and didn't want to be dependent on her sons.