World War ll London Blitz : 7-2-42 to 7-28-42 Now in wartime, with “national” bread, spread with margarine, which is made largely from whale oil, is it any wonder many folk suffer from indigestion, dysentery, and so forth? It is summertime now, and no fruit, and if there were, there would be no sugar to cook it. The monotony and starchiness, and unbalance of wartime diet are wearisome to endure; no wonder a heat spell can upset our insides.

Purchase Diary's:

July 2, 1942

I was ill all night and have been ill all day. I am fasting. I have stopped the diarrhea and the vomiting but still have constant nausea. I feel I shall be sick any minute, though I am not.
I tried all the chemists and sweet shops in town for peppermints, or barley sugar, but neither to be had anywhere. It is extraordinary how whatever you happen to need nowadays is unobtainable. I am also craving fruit, but literally there is none. None. Gooseberries and strawberries, which should be plentiful now, are all taken by the government, to be made into jam for next winters rations. Tinned fruits, of course, disappeared long ago. Nor is there any Vichy or soda water to be had. Manufacturers of this sort of thing has been stopped by order. No arrowroot is to be had either. Whiskey is so expensive per bottle, so naturally as I am not near dying I shall not buy any whiskey to settle my tummy. I am determined to eat no more of the national bread. We hear of this disagreeing with many people. It is too harsh, and in normal times many people cannot digest whole meal bread. Now in wartime, with “national” bread, spread with margarine, which is made largely from whale oil, is it any wonder many folk suffer from indigestion, dysentery, and so forth? It is summertime now, and no fruit, and if there were, there would be no sugar to cook it. The monotony and starchiness, and unbalance of wartime diet are wearisome to endure; no wonder a heat spell can upset our insides.

July 3, 1942 

When I got into bed and finally fell off, drone of planes awakened me overhead. This kept up for a couple of hours, and though there was a criss-cross of searchlights there was no gunfire. Ted slept well. Ted is too moody this week, and acting more secretive then usual. He made quite a mystery of his mail this morning, putting his personal letters apart under a sofa cushion (!) and then taking them away to the office with him unopened. Obviously he is determined I shall not even glimpse his correspondents across the table. Funny man.

July 8, 1942

In the night Ted wanted to love, but I felt unable to respond. It was as though my body was resentful. Why must it wait for his mood? Too often it suffers, waiting, so that when the other is seeking satisfaction it does not want to respond. Nor can it. I feel despairing, hopeless. I give in, but I have no pleasure. Nevertheless when morning comes I arise with nerves assuaged, my body is renewed against my spirit. It is a fact that life is built upon the physical, and when that is right everything is right.
The trouble with me is I cannot get over romantic disillusion. I wish to be first with my husband, and I am not, not by a long chalk. What stands first with Ted is his religion: the church is his prime regard and has been so ever since he entered it. I never get over this, and consequently I hate the church. I want his devotion; he should give his love to me. He doesn’t. He only loves me occasionally, and shabbily, so I am resentful, I say, in mind and heart and soul, this is not good enough.

July 10, 1942

Rita came in last night, so stopped me writing. What I had sat down principally to note was, that suddenly seeing the necessity of having money in the bank, I had gone out after lunch and put in two pounds in the P.O. Savings Bank. When this war is over I will go to America. For that I must have money. So instead of frittering away any more on books, paper, and so forth, I will accumulate whatever monies I can. I am resolved to put some cash in the bank, every Thursday, even if it is only as little as a half a crown. Thursday afternoon is a good time to go to the Post Office for then there is nobody about, the shops are shut and South Street is empty.
This morning at breakfast Ted took up the subject of Olive Schreiner. The Reader’s Digest for July had come through the post, and he had to comment on that, so superficial, he said, and typical of people who think they are clever and say smart things. “Like Olive Schreiner,” he added. “I remember when I was a boy a certain statement of hers, which didn’t fool me, even then. It was something to this effect: “that a woman who married without love was no better than a prostitute, selling herself for money.” Looks clever at first sight, but is quite untrue. For a wife isn’t promiscuous, selling her body to any buyer, white, brown, or colored, any comer; bedsides, she might in her heart think she might come to love the old buffer in time; and anyhow, marriage is different, she isn’t selling her body, after all, she only pays what she owes.”
Now really! What idea is this but the obverse? Isn’t it a husband buying a wife? Of course marriage is different from prostitution. As a woman sees it, the prostitute is free, free even to rot, and a wife has undertaken a job of work. Note Ted’s Miltonic mind, “He for God only, she for God in him.” Literally true in our marriage, particularly “He for God only,” me for God in him. No. That’s how he’d like it, of course; possibly how he thinks it ought to be, but impossible for this woman. “Pay what they owest, woman.” Yes. Can’t she retort “Pay what thou owest, man”? The bond of love. Well, the wife is the bondswoman, all right, but I’ve yet to know of any husband who is a bondsman. The husband “takes” the wife, wherever and however, how often and how seldom, he likes; but the wife doesn’t, and mustn’t, “take “ the husband. He takes a body; she endures two, his, and her own. God! How I hate marriage!

July 13, 1942

I was surprised by a call from old Herbert soon after five o’clock and much more surprised by the reason for his call. He said he hadn’t waited for Ted to walk home, as he was still busy at the office, but what he wanted to know was, could I board him? I could, couldn’t I? He went into a few details, as for how Mrs. Webb was threatening to leave him, how he was negotiating to sell Arden Cottage to the Co-op, and so he had said, “Oh, I shall go and turn in with Ted and Ruby, that’s the place for me.” When I began to say, well of course I could board him, but what about his rations registration, he said, “Well that’s alright then. You needn’t bother about the rations. I’ll pick those up. I do all the shopping now anyhow, so you wouldn’t have to fetch them. Naturally I wouldn’t expect that. That’s alright, that's alright!” and off he went.
When Ted came in and I told him of Bert’s call he looked rather dubious. He said he knew Burt was trying to sell his house, but knew nothing about Mrs. Webb, because he won’t know. (Naturally, Ted shuts his eye to his family’s scandals.)
“Of course, Bert’s my brother,” he said, “and I get on alright with him at the office, but in the house, well, I don’t know. You’d better think a bit about this before you rush into it.”
When I asked him if Bert had said anything to him about it he said no.
Now he’s gone to the Home Guard, but I feel panicked. I don’t want old Herbert around. Why doesn’t he go to Bertie's?

July 14,1942

The more I think about old Bert, the worse I feel. Where am I going to put him? How am I ever to escape him? One Thompson is almost more than I can endure, what am I going to do with two of them always around? This home is too small, too crowded, as it is; how in the world will I fit old Bert into it? There will be absolutely no privacy left at all. Hell, hell, hell!
Bert quarreled with Selma, quarreled with Dorothy, and now is quarreling with Mrs. Webb. Apparently he doesn’t get on with Peggy. Everyone he doesn’t like he sweeps aside. He put Selma out of his house; he put Dorothy out, now he’s putting Mrs. Webb out. It doesn’t occur to him to go to Bertie’s; probably Peggy refuses to have him. Therefore he decides, HE decides to come and board with Ted and me. How am I going to get out of it? Selma receives an allowance and so does Dorothy and Mrs. Webb receives a wage. Am I to look after him for love? Naturally he will pay his board, though money wasn’t mentioned, but I think he should pay more than mere board. Why should he inflict himself on me, because it suits him to come and live with us? To me it will be an infliction. Surely the least he can do is offer me some personal recompense, some real pay. Money? Yes. To me Herbert is an obnoxious old man. Why should I have to put up with him? Actually no money will pay me for the hatefulness of his daily company, his intrusion. Oh, damn, damn, damn.

July 15, 1942

A letter from Mother came today. She writes: Just one word, don’t go off the deep end, positively do not wear that green hat with red costume it must be either exact match or black velvet for preference, but felt or velour would do in black.
Can you beat it? I’m fifty-eight years old and she has to write to me about what sort of hat I should wear! Mother of all women, also has no sense of style. Mother who has scarcely got out of the age of bustles, and has never got past the age of trimmings. On Sunday she was wearing a black silk dress, with a deep V opening, the V outlined with dollops of colored beads guipures, hideous. Then around her neck was a gold chain and locket, and strings of pearls. On one arm she wore a gold bracelet to which she had pinned a large white hankie, with a safety pin and which dragged about like a flag, and rings on every finger. Her guipures were thick with blue, green and brown beads; she wore a black silk coat, and a black hat but the front of the hat was decorated with a cluster of bright red cherries. Well that was Mother, an antique. Naturally I didn’t comment on her get up. She thinks she is dressy. Well, she is, too dressy, over dressy. That she should think she could criticize my appearance, that’s a joke. She won’t abandon any of her old fashions. When I suggested high necks to her when they came in some years ago, she scoffed at them. “Oh no,” she said: “I like low necks. I shall never wear high ones.” Yet she not only remonstrates with me to my face about a hat I happen to be wearing, she has the presumption to go home and write me a letter about it. Oh these old timers! Heaven preserve me from ever acting to my juniors with their over bearingness.

July 17, 1942
At a quarter past five just now the alert was sounded. The all clear was given at five -forty p.m. This is the first time in this neighborhood since March. It has scared me pretty considerably for I am here in the house alone. Ted went off on his vacation this afternoon. He was taking the four o’clock train for St. Edmond's; from there he intends to make a walking tour of Suffolk and Norfolk. If we were blitzed there would be no way of finding him. This is his sixty third birthday.

July 18, 1942

Last night passed without further alarms. The bomber was over Harold Wood, but luckily his bombs fell in a field. We were not told whether he was brought down or not. Mrs. Harvey James was here this afternoon, also Miss Canham. Mrs. James had brought her will, which she asked me to witness. She had intended to ask Ted also, but as he wasn’t here, she asked Miss Canham to witness, which she did. I heard a piece of news when Mrs. Dennis brought the groceries. She said, apropos of yesterdays alarm, that we were warned we would hear strange noises about four o’clock tomorrow morning, but that we should disregard them, as it would only be the Home Guard. The noises we will hear will only be the Home Guard staging a mock invasion. Mrs. Dennis was not only surprised that Mr. Thompson should go away and leave me alone in the house; she was very surprised I didn’t know about the mock invasion.
“Didn’t Mr. Thompson tell you?”
“That’s funny. He must have known.”
Yes it is funny and yet really not funny. Of course Ted must have known, equally that’s why he’s chosen this weekend to leave town. This is a fat example of Ted’s peculiar traits, his secrecy, his duplicity, and his adroitness at dodging the unpleasant. How very unkind not to warn me! If Mrs. Dennis had not given me the information I should have been terrified to sickness when I heard the racket in the night. I should have been bound to think the real invasion had started. Probably if I am wakened suddenly out of a deep sleep I shall be frightened anyhow. I’ll try to remember its all a fake. That’s a good word to describe Ted, too a fake, a hypocrite, a damned English hypocrite. I expect he is chuckling to himself, thinking how smart he is, wriggling out of an unpleasantness. Anyhow he might have told me. He ought. I don’t suppose he could see that, this action won’t fit technically into any of the categories of sin; therefore he’s got nothing on his conscience. Oh, I groan.

July 19, 1942

It was a fiendish night, but because of the elements rather than the Home Guard. It was blowing, cold, rainy, screaming windy. Cold still this morning, but the wind has dropped and the rain stopped. I have been up since six-fifteen. A real alert sounded soon after six a.m. so I got up, came downstairs and made tea, and then took a bath. The all clear came around six-thirty, but I was much too much awake then to go back to bed.
Now I have just returned from a trip to Lambert's, to pick up yesterdays papers. The streets are full of men in uniform: Home Guards, A.R.P. wardens, fire service men, ambulances and red cross, R.A.F. cadets, military police and ordinary police galore. The tank traps are set, camouflaged cars and Louie’s dot about, and cyclists are rushing about in all directions. In the alleys between the houses groups of guards stand at ease on sentry. What a performance! What a game! They seem just like children playing. They are fools of men, playing a man's game. They fill me with a disgusted sort of anger, an ever-deepening anger. I feel I hate all of the men of my generation, and the older ones who have made this world what it is; and my heart breaks for the young men whose lives they throw away, who are most literally sacrificed. For what? For the stock exchange! For the capitalists, the bankers, and the damn fool politicians. Why blame only Hitler? Hitler could never have arisen, never done what he has done, except that those who should have known better allowed the world to rot.
Pray? Why pray? I thought as I walked along South Street just now, and saw all the men playing their game, with here and there a young couple looking as though on a holiday bent, going into the station or waiting for a bus, I thought, who is going to church? Not these people. For these people I think the churches are not so much forgotten, as they never existed. Yes, the churches are dead, quite dead. Who does go to them anyhow? The old. People like Ted. The Irish, the ignorant Irish.
Why pray? Its obvious that church services isn’t going to win the war, so why bother with them? Well, sensible people don’t.
Most religion and all the churches are a stale fiction. They have nothing what ever to do with reality. Ordinary people know it. “You can’t fool all of the people all the time,” said Lincoln. You bet you can’t. Besides, there are other diversions nowadays.
Six-thirty p.m.: News states that bombs were dropped “on a town in East Anglia” this morning, some damage done, some casualties.”

July 20, 1942

Elizabeth Coppen says yesterdays “town” was Chelmsford. Stanley was there yesterday and saw the damage. Five people killed, eight seriously injured. Bombs fell near the railway station, it looked as though they had tried for the bridge, but missed it. There are large craters in the road.

July 24, 1942

Mrs. Prior actually showed up today. Whilst she was eating her lunch Ted walked in. He’d had enough of East Anglia. I should think so. Last night seven bombers out of forty were brought down over England, five of them over East Anglia. He looks well, but tired. The weather has been showery, and he has a sore foot. He got as far as Walsingham. He would do a pilgrimage, no doubt! Old Bert came calling this evening, and was very surprised to find Ted at home.

July 27, 1942

I was awakened by an alert soon after six this morning, and then we had a second one about seven. There is very heavy rain, and a completely clouded sky, which is fine for raiders.
I had a letter from Eric this morning. I’m also expecting one from Joan. I think she is in Hammersmith. Mother wrote this week that Joan was coming to town and if so she is sure to be coming over here soon. Bombs were dropped on Ford’s at Dagenham, also at Chelmsford. Seven bombers brought down.

July 28, 1942

Alarms in the night, gunfire heavy so came downstairs at three o’clock. The all clear did not go until nearly four thirty a.m. Bombs dropped at Woodford, Ipswich, Chelmsford, and again at Dagenham. The B.B.C. stated two hundred were over the country last night, but scattered, most damage done at Birmingham. We brought down eight, and one over the channel. I presume this is a reprisal raid for the R.A.F. attack on Hamburg on Saturday night. We raided there in mass, and lost twenty-nine of our bombers. Isn’t it all frightful? We have news today that Rostov has now fallen to the Germans. Hell on earth.

I try not to think of the war. That is the most sensible way I know to preserve myself. I will not let fear and loathing destroy me. When we get a bad raid, like these mornings, my body suffers in spite of my will. One is overcome by sheer primitive animal fear. I was horribly nauseated though not frightened in my mind.