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.
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 Diary's 2-1-42 The main items of news tonight are: the appointment by the Germans of Quisling to be the Prime Minister of Norway: and the destruction by the American, under command of General MacArthur, of a large Japanese force in Manila Bay.
The main items of news tonight are: the appointment by the Germans of Quisling to be the Prime Minister of Norway: and the destruction by the American, under command of General MacArthur, of a large Japanese force in Manila Bay.
February 8, 1942
It is now three p.m. and some items in the news make me feel ill. At one o’clock we were given a detailed account of how one Gordon Highlander killed seventeen Japs single-handed in Malaysia, in one days fighting. I couldn’t eat my dinner. I thought I should faint. To know you have killed one man must make you feel different all the rest of your life; but to have killed seventeen-how must you feel about that? I suppose he will go home to his wife’s bed! Yesterday a record was put over of the actual battlefront in Russia; you heard the guns and bombs of both sides, and the Russian broadcaster commentating. I think this sort of thing is horrible. Men are killing and being killed, and the sound of the death struggle is sent over the air to satisfy morbid curiosity. Simply devilish, I think. I get weary of the news. Most of it now washes over me and I do not take it in at all. Such items as these I loathe. Men at war. I hate it.
February 9, 1942
The war news is bad. Last night the Jap’s landed on Singapore, the impregnable Singapore! Privately I think; why shouldn’t the Jap’s hold Singapore? What do the English want it for? It is not a white man’s land. We want it for money, for rich men’s investments. We took it once. The Jap’s want it for the same reason, because of its riches, so they’re trying to take it. Why don’t governments get together and arrange matters peaceably? Why must they make war? Why must the common man die to protect his so-called superiors? Why should we, or anybody else, hold an empire? This, of course, is rank political heresy. Well, I’m a heretic. I hate men, and the way they run the world. Men’s ideas and men’s works infuriate me. War! Hell let loose.
Propaganda nauseates me. Last night Sir Stafford Cripps broadcast the Sunday postscript. All praise for the Russians, of course, and a plea for “greater war production” here at home. He said he noticed on his return to this country our general feeling of a lack of urgency. Of course all decent people are sick of the war.
No normal person would ever go to war. Every sane person knows war to be lunacy. What are we fighting for now? Prestige. Neither side will pause and say; let’s talk over our difficulties, let’s come to terms. I am sure there isn’t anything that couldn’t be arranged. Will men arrange anything? No, but they’ll keep on killing, and keep on talking about how wicked the enemy is and how righteous our own side is. The other side is just the same. We are told that the Germans are not told the truth of the matter. But are we? War is a game played by the big shots, whilst the public on both sides is kept bamboozled. What about the Russians anyhow? Today it is the fashion to praise them. They are winning the war for us says Cripps. To which I say shucks! The Russians are not winning the war for us. They are fighting the Germans because the Germans attacked them and they are fighting for themselves. How much did they help us when the Germans attacked us? Not a man, not a gun, not a penny. Their perfidy is entirely overlooked. Just the same it is history that they attacked the Poles in the back and they were the aggressor in Finland. When the Russians attacked Finland they were the villains and Finland the hero. Now that the Finn’s have joined their lot to the Germans they have become the villains, and Russia is the hero. Funny, isn’t it?
It is true that since Hitler attacked Russia we have had no more big air raids over England. Evidently Hitler can’t do everything. But, Russia isn’t “saving” us, not a bit of it. She is saving herself, as she naturally would do, but she signed a friendship pact with Germany didn’t she? Not with us. Yes, propaganda talks make me sick.
February 13, 1942
War news is disastrous. Singapore is falling. Naval defeat in the Channel.
February 14, 1942
Yesterday we lost forty-two aircraft in the Channel. The German battleships left Brest and sailed home to Helgoland and we couldn’t stop them. We lose a little more of the war every day, but the talkers keep on talking. “Britain always muddles through.” Does she? Will she this time? What of all the lives she throws away for nothing? Rommel is advancing in Libya. The Jap’s are penetrating in Singapore, and filling up Malaysia. Each day there is a fresh setback somewhere or other, but we silly English still hold ourselves in our fathead complacency. Oh yes, we are quite sure we will win the war. I think the issue is doubtful. Hitler isn’t licked yet, not by a long chalk. We are all sick of the war. The old men talk, but the young men have had enough of it. February 15, 1942
Singapore has fallen. The Jap’s have taken it, and claim that sixty thousand of our troops have surrendered. Churchill spoke over the air at nine o’clock tonight. Yes, more talk! Churchill is a fine talker, but is he a fine statesman? Eric is in Singapore. Somehow I can’t get depressed about Singapore. I think why should we hold it anyhow? It seems to me that geographically all Malaya and the Pacific Islands naturally belong to the yellow races, therefore why should we appropriate those places? White men can’t live properly there. It is for greed, of course. We covet the riches of those places, so we annex them. The Jap’s do not covet Europe. I think, let the Europeans stay at home. This idea of an Empire is a curse. There is one great thing to be said, for America; America has never desired colonies and “possessions.” What is the world fighting for but loot? Oh yes, there is a lot of fine talk about “freedom.” Oh God I am sick of the war!
February 16, 1942
It is a bitterly cold day again. Miss Coppen was here this afternoon, full of depressing gossip. She tells me that Stanley, on the Council, says that the German’s won’t defeat us by invading us, but by starvation; and that our food situation is going to be acute by June; also our meat ration will shortly be reduced to six pence.
On the other hand her brother-in-law, who is head of the Home Defense Association in the rural districts near Colchester, says the Germans will most certainly invade us, that they will drop parachutes by the thousands. Also, officially, Essex, Suffolk and Kent, are listed as the most likely counties for the invasion to start in. Essex heads the list as the most dangerous, and Kent, contrary to general ideas, comes third. This is official. Last week the Colchester wardens were called to hear a special instruction, given by Air Army High Officer, given to them behind locked doors, and with soldiers and police on guard outside. They were told what to expect and what to do when the invasion starts. Simply lovely!
February 18, 1942
It is still very cold. The Prime Minister’s statements in Parliament yesterday depress everybody. The figures he gave of our bombing of the German ships at Brest are downright worrying. He said that whilst the ships were there, for ten months, no less then four-thousand tons of bombs were dropped on them; three thousand two hundred and ninety-nine bomber “sorties were made, with a loss of two hundred and forty-seven air force men and forty-three aircraft. “Sortie” is used by the R.A.F. to indicate an action carried out by a machine; so, if two hundred forty-seven men were lost during these attacks this gives the surprisingly high average of almost six men in a crew, and indicates that most of the aircraft lost were of the bigger four-engine type. Churchill said, “The ships were undoubtedly hit several times and repair work was made very difficult.”
Yet those ships came out and sailed home through the Channel! Where was the Navy? Why did we not send our ships against them whilst they were in Brest? We boast of Taranto but here were stationary targets and we simply wasted our R.A.F. boys and machines against them. It is dreadful. Churchill is full of excuses, but eventually announced that a tribunal is inquiring into this episode. It should be. Churchill is a fine talker, but we are not winning the war. Mistake after mistake is made. Our Dud’s are not weeded out; instead they are white washed. The loss of Singapore is another major disaster. The impregnable Singapore!
Artie writes he expects to be home March twentieth, his commission certain. A short leave, and then where will he be sent? Cuth is safe in prison, but what fate lies in wait for Artie? Oh this cursed war!
In turning the radio dial around you can often pick up a foreign station. At two-thirty this afternoon I heard a German giving the news in English. This speaker claimed our aircraft losses in the Channel on Friday as sixty-two. We were told forty-two. It is impossible to believe any accounts. They all sound plausible, and they all lie. Men talking again. Oh, the stupidity of the war, it infuriates me. Millions of young lives are thrown away simply because of politics, damned men talking damned nonsense. Men are just having heroics. I hate it. Men are gabbing about honor. Oh God, it is to laugh! War is hellish lunacy, nothing else. Yet why are the multitudes such sheep? Is this the end of the world? It is certainly what Bagger calls the end of our time.
February 19, 1942
Port Darwin in the north of Australia was bombed by the Jap’s this morning and last night San Francisco had an alert warning lasting twenty-five minutes because unidentified aircraft was overhead. San Francisco was not bombed, but Port Darwin was, suffering damages and casualties. So this hellish war goes on. Where next?
The nine o’clock news says that Port Darwin has had two attacks today; one two twin-engine bombers, accompanied by fighters, carried out this morning. Five ships in the harbor have been sunk, hospitals and military installations and air drones on shore, the number of casualties not yet known.
February 20, 1942
Changes in the cabinet were announced. Sir Stafford Cripps has been appointed Lord Privy Seal and leader of The House of Commons, so he came home from Russia for something. Mr. Eden, Secretary of State for Foreign affairs has been included in the Cabinet, and Sir Kingsley Wood has been dropped and also Lord Cranbourne. Lord Beaverbrook declined. He remains as Minister of Production, but intends to go to Washington, to speed up munitions there. So, it is another shuffle. That awful fool Sir Kingsley Wood has been dropped at last, and Mr. Eden promoted, but will this new set of men win the war for us? I’m afraid not.
February 21, 1942
Reports of a great naval battle off the Island of Bali were the Jap’s are attempting a landing. The U.S. navy and the Dutch are attacking them. The Jap’s have also landed on the Island of Timor, which is Portuguese, and neutral, but apparently neutrality means no more to the Jap’s than it does to the Germans.
February 22, 1942
It is a bright sunny morning but still very cold, with occasional flurries of snow, too cold for snowfall however. I have just been out to the gate to investigate a strange noise and I found two workmen cutting the railings. The Government is removing all Romford railings for scrap-iron for munitions factories.
February 25, 1942
It is Harold’s birthday. I wrote to him. I also made up a Red Cross Parcel for Cuthie. The weather is bitter. There is shocking news from the Russian front. It is good news for the Allies, but shocking nevertheless. The Russians have surprised the Germans south of Lake Ilmen, and gained an important victory in the region of Staraya Russia. They claim to have routed three German Divisions, and say that the Germans left on the battlefield twelve thousand men killed. This is what is called the Leningrad Front. The Russians are proving to be wonderful fighters, but oh, the horror of it all.
February 26, 1942
It is colder than ever. I feel very depressed, in fact I am in one of those moods so perilously near to dissolution, where I should like to close my eyes and die. I feel I cannot contend with anything any more. “These are the times that try men’s souls” all right, and women’s.
February 28, 1942
General opinion is that it is high time we begin to take the offensive and to harass Hitler on his western front. The Russians are still fighting strong on the East, but they have still not driven the Germans out of Russia, but they are not yet beaten.
A letter came from Artie today telling the good news (for him) that he has passed and will be an officer in the Reconnaissance Corps, and not be demoted to Infantry. He’s very happy about this. Poor Artie, God keep him!