World War ll London Blitz: 2-6-43 to 2-18-43 The Russians have taken Stalingrad; we have taken Tripoli, and this morning came the news that Mussolini has dismissed his entire cabinet, including his son-in-law Ciano.

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February 6, 1943

I am cooking dinner. I have a half a shoulder of lamb for a change. Mostly our war-joint is a piece of brisket, which we are sick to death of, but there is nothing else. Today’s half shoulder weighs two pounds, and is our entire meat ration for the week.
War news is speeding up this week. The Russians have taken Stalingrad; we have taken Tripoli, and this morning came the news that Mussolini has dismissed his entire cabinet, including his son-in-law Ciano. We bombed Turin very heavily last Tuesday so perhaps that has something to do with it; maybe the Italians are panicking. The meeting of Churchill and Roosevelt in Casablanca must have alarmed the Axis pretty considerably. Report of a letter from Stalin to Roosevelt, made public today, says that Stalin states the speedy end of the war is in view. Well, don’t we hope so!

February 7, 1943
In the week I received a letter from Eddie in which he wrote: I saw the Berry’s yesterday and Mrs. Berry said Grandma had died, a shock after your letter saying she was in good shape. Well, maybe it’s the best way to go, no hanging around through a long lingering malady. She certainly left her mark on the world, in a goodly streak of stubbornness in her descendants. I think we need toughness and stubbornness nowadays more than anything else. If we had more of it before we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now.
Then he writes pages about Puritanism, saying it is the great distinguishing factor of the English speaking peoples. It’s our greatest strength in one form or another… you can’t find it an any other people anywhere. It may be cruel sometimes, but it does make for strong character. Puritanism, like the old Spartan, assumes that people are strong, and thought it may be hard on the sensitive souls it keeps the majority strong. 
Just as Eddy is active in mind and body, he can’t help it, so also is he extremely ardent in his likes and dislikes, because he’s not a German, or a Frenchman, or a Hindu, or anything else. He’s got a good bit of Grandma in him.
I must have been pondering this for days, for last night I woke up to the fact that I’ve got a “good bit of Grandma” in me too. In short, I am my mother’s daughter. Mother was a positive and an ardent and passionate woman, and she lived her life with zest right up to the very end. I am like mother, though my zest has been overlaid all these married years. Mother wanted to be happy, and she went out after happiness, wherever and however she could find it. I want to be happy, but I have had to spend my adult life with a man who only wants to be safe and to be good. I’m sick of goodness, sick of piety. I am sick of asceticism and sick of discipline. I want to enjoy. I want to be free. Free. Ted oppresses me, and I allow him to do so. What a fool I am, and have been. How many years have I got left to me? Perhaps twenty, if I live to be as old as mother, perhaps twenty-five or more if I live to be as old as Grandma Side and the Aunties. Of course perhaps I have many fewer years. I am resolved that I will put zest back into my living, Ted or no Ted. I will enjoy myself, and if I can’t enjoy myself with Ted, I will enjoy myself alone.
Yesterday the English feminists celebrated their Silver Jubilee with a grand luncheon. In spirit I belonged to that group it was only due to the fact of being in America that kept me from joining them. Yesterday, Lady Astor said, it took the First World War to give women the vote, and it has taken the Second World War to give them full citizenship; it will take a tornado to get them on the bench of Bishop and the end of the world to get them in the House of Lords. This is funny, but it is also true. This is still a man’s world, with men regarding women as very secondary creatures to themselves. As to the Bench of Bishops well I feel as the war goes on and on, that the Churches are done for, all of them. Men’s religion doesn’t work any better than men’s politics. As for myself, I still feel and think Mrs. Eddy to be more real and more helpful, to me, and perhaps to women generally, than the Pope.
Yes, the Pope. What has the Pope done in this war, except play safe? He is just another Italian. Whatever prestige Catholicism had managed to achieve for itself in the non-catholic world has vanished now completely.
Yes and I feel I am no Catholic. Catholicism is simply not in me, no more than it was in Mother. I have soaked and soaked my self in it, in fervent efforts to please Ted, but it has been no good. Yes, and blow Ted and be damned to him, for one great silly fool. What an ass he is, what an ass!

February 8, 1943
The weather has turned sharply cold today, and there was an extraordinarily heavy frost this morning. There is a wind blowing now, and the stars out. This morning Ted did hand me his clothes coupon book. I have used twenty-four of his coupons, and will pay him back with mine directly they become available. I went to Stone’s and bought the wool I need. So now I shall have enough supplies on hand to work out my accumulated designs.
February 9, 1943
At eight thirty this morning we had an alert, and then guns firing for about twenty minutes. Very nasty. Ted has been under the weather and it is the food or diet we have to eat. Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting. We shan’t get any real food until the war is over. When will it be over? God knows.
I have one thing to note. Mussolini has appointed Ciano Ambassador to the Holy See. This is absolutely farcical. How much religion has Ciano got? As things are, one is tempted to ask, how much religion has the Pope got? This present Pope, Pacelli, is a Roman Aristocrat, an intriguer of the first order. 
February 11, 1943
I have just finished writing my weekly letters to the twins. I did go to Hammersmith yesterday. The morning was fine, but rain began again in the afternoon, and I got very wet walking home form the station. No taxis to be had of course. An alert sounded whilst I was on the Underground, about a quarter to five, and the all clear came after I was in the Romford train. It is all very alarming. As usual in my journeying I found myself viewing the human race with disgust. When I see people en-masse I dislike them all, and I ask myself, how can God be interested in these ants? The insignificance of human beings. No wonder tyrants wage war; the value of single personal lives is nothing. So I resolve yet again to wringing all the pleasure and joy out of my life that I can, whilst I know I have got it. If men must fight, they must fight but I’m not going to bother myself about their causes. Men! Fool men!
As I sat in the railway carriage yesterday morning going to town, and looked at the company of women filling it, I thought we were just like a pen of cows, waiting for the bull. I thought the stupidity of women, who wish to please men. Women should remember, and should never forget, that the basic fact of a man’s life is his sex, and his basic need is the satisfaction of his sexual appetite. Let men talk their silly talk, let them prate of politics and ethics, religion and war, science and superstition, right and wrong, morals, their eternal morals, let them, it is for women to laugh, for in the end the body gets them, women’s bodies and their own. Women can live full and happy lives without men, but men cannot live without women.
February 16, 1943
Mother’s anniversary, had she lived until today she would have been eighty. I miss her tremendously. If anyone had told me I would miss her so much I wouldn’t have believed him or her. My love for her must have been much deeper than I knew. I let her annoying ways irritate me too much. That is because I am a nasty irritable person. Yet underneath, unrecognized all the time there was the inescapable bond of human affection, the human tie. My mother.
 February 18, 1943
I received a letter from Joan today. Joan, I think is the family problem child. Joan has a quarrelsome disposition. We used to watch her with George, behaving arbitrarily and domineeringly with him, like Mother used to behave with Dad. George left her, and that’s the fact. He didn’t have to go to France. He volunteered to go because he could no longer live with Joan, and he told her so. When she lived with mother she quarreled with mother, then in Yorkshire with Cecily. Then she quarreled again in Penzance with Gladys. Now she is ready to quarrel with Gladys again. Joan takes umbrage at every trifle. It appears Gladys has written to say she will come to town in April, assuming, of course, that she will come to Angel Road as usual. At this Joan takes offence. Gladys, she says, should wait for an invitation. The house is hers now, and not mother’s, so Gladys has no right to come to whenever it suits her. Quite right technically. What a point to make an issue about. After all, we’re sisters, aren’t we? Joan is peeved at Malvin too. Malvin has been to see her, and that doesn’t suit Joan either. She needn’t think she can go oncoming to the house now Mother has gone, says Joan. So I expect, Joan will quarrel with me too if I don’t watch out. Why quarrel so much? Joan is too touchy, always on her high horse, always criticizing other people’s behavior towards herself, always resenting other people’s real and fancied demands upon herself. So silly. I’ve noticed before Joan’s attitude towards living is “Why should I?” She makes no concessions and she gives nothing. Poor old Joan.

World War ll London Blitz: 1-1-43 to 1-23-43 am saying hell and damnation. Last night the bombing began again. The alert went at eight-thirty, the all clear at ten p.m. We were wakened at five forty-five this morning, and there was another raid, lasting until nearly six a.m. They were bad raids, and today I am sick from fright.

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January 1, 1943
I am thoroughly damped down. All day Ted has been touchy, but at teatime just now he has become unbearable. It was impossible to talk to him, for he willfully misunderstood everything I said. I grow weary of this. Whilst we listened to the six o’clock news he kept breaking in with criticisms of that too; it isn’t phrased right, the announcers ought to know better. As I looked across the room at him I saw a stranger. Ted never knows what I am feeling, affects never to know what I mean. I am never at east with him. It is impossible to rest in his love, to be comfortable with him. It is as though he can’t be friendly. I felt I could walk away with out a single regret, more, it would be heavenly release to quit of him. A friend, someone to be easy with, where, oh where, is there such a one for me?
These last few days I have been writing New Years letters, today they are all finished, but all day I have been haunted by an idea that I ought to write to Mother. I can’t believe she’s gone. It’s queer; I feel so much more attached to her than I ever felt whilst she was alive. I want her. Yes, I want her. Death seems to clarify everything, and I am aware that I never appreciated her. I’m sorry, most dreadfully sorry. A mother, it is an awful loss.

January 18, 1943
I am saying hell and damnation. Last night the bombing began again. The alert went at eight-thirty, the all clear at ten p.m. We were wakened at five forty-five this morning, and there was another raid, lasting until nearly six a.m. They were bad raids, and today I am sick from fright. When the guns begin I begin to tremble and to retch. I can’t help it. It is sheer animal reaction and I can’t do anything at all to stop it. Animal fright. Today my ribs feel sore. I wretched so much last night I feel today as though someone had been kicking me in the stomach.
There has been intermittent gunfire all morning too, though no alert has been sounded. Yesterday the news was full of accounts of how the R.A.F. bombed Berlin on Saturday night. This was the fifty-fourth raid on Berlin, though we haven’t been over for fourteen months. The boasting and complacency of the announcers was sickening. Well, back comes the Luftwaffe on London last night, what a game! What a damn fool game! Men and war, loathsome. I am full of anger, and its terrible impersonal anger. War. What can an old woman do about it? Nothing, simply nothing at all. What a filthy world! I loathe it.

January 20, 1943
I went to town. An alert sounded whilst I was on the bus, about noon, and there was a prolonged daylight raid on London. I managed to get into number six before the heavy firing began. Joan was extremely frightened. We stayed in the drawing room and watched the street. It gave me a horrible feeling to see people running through clear streets, in broad daylight. Mostly we are indoors, in the blackout, when the raids come, so we do not see how other people are affected. To watch them running for shelter was a queer sensation, making me feel sick.
The all clear came about one-thirty and we proceeded to eat lunch. After lunch I went in to see Jo Tibbs and find out how the dressmaking was getting on. She had completed for me a black alpaca skirt and a black gabardine frock. When I returned to Number Six I found Artie and Hilda home on leave having tea with Joan. I packed a couple of valises with some of Mother’s things, and the children will bring them with them tonight. Official reports tonight say that one hundred and thirty planes were over London and Kent, and eleven were brought down. The worst casualties were in the L.CC. School which was bombed.

January 21, 1941
Artie and Hilda are out at the pictures. I am most dreadfully tired. We had three raids last night, with those, and my traveling fatigue, today I am good for nothing. I have been cooking all morning. When the children went out I took off my bandages. My legs are very swollen, and I have various spots of blocking. I ought to lie up for a couple of days, but that is impossible. I shall keep the bandages off until after the children have left, because as my legs are today I can’t bear the constriction of bandages.
Mid-day news of the L.C.C. school, which was, bombed yesterday, gives figures as: forty-four children killed, fifty injured and in the hospital, five teachers killed, two more teachers and about another thirty children still unaccounted for. It was an infant’s school, mixed boys and girls, and they were assembled at the midday dinner. There are many other casualties and destruction's but the school is the most shocking. It was bombed from low level, by direct aim, so the German knew exactly what he was hitting. The swine’s also flew about machine-gunning children and people in the streets. This is not war, soldier against soldier this is murder. Oh when will this frightful war end?
It is a full moon tonight, so I expect we will be raided again. No alert so far today, but I have just tried the radio and can get nothing, so I suppose the devils are somewhere about and the B.B.C. is off the air.

January 22, 1943
Artie and Hilda left for Scotland at two-thirty today. Last night during a discussion on the radio about religious problems the question was asked: When we are told to forgive our enemies is the condition of repentance on the part of their past necessary? This led Ted and myself to talk about forgiveness. I said that I found that as I grew older fewer things offended me and therefore I had less to forgive; also that I found that in moments of great danger, as in a raid, where death may strike you any moment, I found out that I forgave everybody everything, I could hold no grievance against anyone, not even the bombing flyer. So I thought the great majority of the aged and of the dying did forgive their enemies, not only easily, but because they could not do otherwise.
Ted disagreed. He said that he could not overcome grudges. He went on to differentiate about the peculiar sins we commit according to our age, for instance, the young mans sin was lust, but the old man’s was avarice. Then he said there was some offenses men could never forgive. “For instance,” he said, “take Artie. If another man stole Hilda away he would never be able to forgive that man, because he would be interfering with his pleasure.”
I made no comment on that, but inwardly I gasped, for that innocent unconscious remark stated so plainly the immemorial attitude of man toward woman, that woman is no man’s equal, and a creature in her own right, but she is mans creature, much as his house or his cow or his dog, existing primarily for mans’ use and mans’ pleasure. That naive assumption that Hilda is there for Artie’s pleasure, and nothing could enrage Artie so much as the theft of her by another man. Well! It is unbelievable,  yet that is Ted’s thought and Ted’s statement. I feel I must push away from all men’s beliefs and all men’s philosophies. I think, give me Mrs. Eddy. I am sick of men’s convictions.
January 23, 1943
News was given at one o’clock that our Eighth Army in Africa has taken Tripoli. Now Italy has nothing left in Africa. Also the Germans have admitted a withdrawal of several miles in the Stalingrad area, an admission that our military authorities consider “the gravest they have yet made.” Leningrad was relieved this week too, after a siege of sixteen months. The indomitable Russians are slowly but surely pushing the Germans out of Russia. Defeat for the Germans has actively begun. How long will it take to complete it nobody knows, but it will be completed.

World War ll London Blitz:12-1-42 to 12-25-42 Everything extraordinarily quiet. Surprising news, Darlan has been assassinated in Algiers. So much the better.

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December 1, 1942
Artie married this morning, to Hilda Mary Kane, of Glasgow. Nuptial mass was at nine o’clock, Father Bishop officiating. Mr. and Mrs. Pullan were our only friends there though ,of course, many people at the mass. The Pullan's returned to the house with us for breakfast.
Later Ted took Artie and Hilda to London, for a real meal, and some sightseeing for Hilda. He engaged a room for them first at The Imperial Hotel, at Euston, handy for their train, and in the early evening said goodbye to them in Piccadilly Circus. Hilda is a nice girl. Both Ted and I like her very much. Ted gave Artie a parting gift of ten pounds. I thought it very nice of him.

December 2, 1942
I am going to Hammersmith after lunch and shall stay over. Mother is to be cremated tomorrow. The ceremony is at Barnes Crematorium at twelve thirty p.m.

December 16, 1942
I am going To Hammersmith again today. I am sorting through Mother’s jewelry with Joan. Her will left me her opal and diamond ring and her brooch, she left a god bracelet to Monica, a gold locket and chain to Karina, Dad’s watch and chain and rings and pins to the boys, Son and Eric, but all the remainder falls to Joan. I have offered to buy most of the earrings, and the keepers, also two gold brooches and a gold necklace. Joan may or may not part with them, we shall see, any how she has agreed to have them valued. It is certain she would never wear any of the pieces I have asked for, so perhaps she may part with them for cash. For cash! Mother’s will leaves in cash two hundred pounds to each of the six of us, plus an insurance policy worth about one hundred and sixteen pounds to Gladys, war savings certificates worth about two hundred to two hundred and fifty pounds to Aileen, and with the exception of a few pieces of specified furniture to Gladys and Aileen, all the rest of her home unreservedly to Joan. To Annie is left twenty pounds, free of tax. To me, her clothes! To her son, she left Grandpa’s portrait in oil’s. Finally after payment of above legacies, the cash residue of her estate is to be equally divided between her two granddaughters, Monica and Karina. Why? My boys got nothing. Aileen, Gladys, and Joan came out the best, myself and Eric the worst.

December 20, 1942
It is three weeks tonight since Mother died. Only three weeks, but it seems very much longer. Number six without her is ghastly awful. All her warmth and vividness has left it. Joan cannot diffuse the atmosphere of a home as mother created it. Mother was too often a difficult woman, but she was a wonderful woman, and now she has gone and she has left an awful blankness behind her. I am astonished at how much I am missing her. I did not know I cared for her so deeply, in spite of everything. She was indeed a unique person, one of the great vital ones and without her the place is dead indeed. I am sad, and I cannot pull out of this sadness. The death of my mother; now I know what that means.

December 25, 1942 - Christmas Day
Everything extraordinarily quiet. Surprising news, Darlan has been assassinated in Algiers. So much the better.

World War ll London Blitz: 11-5-42 to 11-30-42 Good news from the Egyptian front, where our Eighth Army is defeating Rommel. Stalingrad still stands. I am alone tonight. Ted has gone to London, something to do with the “Knights”. That’s why I was able to get to the movies this afternoon, no tea to bother about.

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November  5, 1942 — Guy Fawkes Day
Teeming rain but I have been out to the movies anyhow. I went to see Spencer Tracy playing in a version of Steinbeck’s, Tortilla Flat. It was an unusual picture, but interesting. I never read the book, but I remember the good reviews it got when it first came out, which was before we left America, if I remember right.
Good news from the Egyptian front, where our Eighth Army is defeating Rommel. Stalingrad still stands. I am alone tonight. Ted has gone to London, something to do with the “Knights”. That’s why I was able to get to the movies this afternoon, no tea to bother about.
November 8, 1942

On the first news this morning we were told of the landing of U.S. Army troops on the Atlantic and Mediterranean shores of French North Africa. Of the broadcasts made to the French about it, by President Roosevelt and General Eisenhower. “The war is now entering on its phase of liberation,” said the President.
Yes, now events are beginning to move in our favor. We have had a decisive victory in Egypt, and now the Yankees will attack Rommel on his flank. Already the German losses are very heavy in Africa, and we claim to have taken between thirty and forty thousand prisoners, up to date. Rommel is considered to be a very clever general, one of the very best the Axis has. Von Bock, who was attacking at Stalingrad was recalled about two weeks ago, and demoted. This has happened to many German Generals; if they don’t win they are either recalled, or killed, “accidently.” Sometime back Hitler declared that he was guiding his German Army against Russia “on his intuition.” The Russians ignore his intuitions and still defy him.
It is eight o’clock now, and Ted is out at a Knight’s meeting. After the nine o’clock news Mrs. Roosevelt is to give the Postscript. She has been in England about a fortnight. I wonder what she will have to say!

November 10, 1942
I received a letter from Joan this morning, saying Mother was very ill in bed, doctor calling daily, and a nurse in. Since Sunday, Mother has lived only on brandy. It is bronchitis. This weather is enough to kill her. We have a very thick fog. This is one of the real old-fashioned November’s, foggy and wet all the time. We haven’t had such a November for years, certainly not since we’ve been back in England. I could not possibly go to Hammersmith today, but have sent word I will go tomorrow.

November 11, 1942 — Armistice Day
I went to town and had to wait an hour on Romford Station for a train, fog worse than yesterday. I did not reach Hammersmith until one o’clock, and left again at three. Mother is certainly very ill. She hardly knew me when I went in, but she grew a little brighter later. I dared not stay later than three, because of the fog. Mother does not alarm me, if the weather improves, she will improve, if it doesn’t, she’ll get worse. Bronchial asthma, is very hard on the heart at seventy-nine.
I’m very tired after my trip, and shall go to bed early. It’s been an absolutely filthy day.
War news continues exciting. Today’s latest news from Africa is that Hitler has sent air borne troops into Tunis, and German troops into unoccupied France. We have chased the Germans and Italians out of Egypt. What next?
November 15, 1942
The church bells all over the country were rung this morning, for our first great victory of this war, the expulsion of the Axis from Egypt. At noon they stopped, and they will not ring again until permitted by another victory, or, if necessary as a warning of invasion. Services of Thanksgiving were offered in all the churches and chapels. I went to the Parish Church.
When I went to see Mother during the week Ted offered me a card to take to her. He took it from his wallet, and said it was one he kept ready to give the dying in the shelters, if he had any such during a blitz. It was a Catholic card, and it was a printed sort of a creed, I believe in God, etc. Not the Creed, but a set of statements about God, Heaven, Hell, and so on, and a prayer of repentance. Ted said Mother might find it useful. I refused to take it. Mother believes in God, and she knows how to pray, she doesn’t need a printed card of persuasions and instructions. I wouldn’t affront her by offering her any such thing. Nor can I see what use it would be to a bomb victim, dying in a public shelter. I simply can’t imagine the agonizing and the dying taking such a card and reading it in their last moments.
Then looking at Mother probably dying, or to die fairly soon, Mother making her peace, with her family, and everyone she knows, saying she is ready, my heart was pierced with love for her, and love for the faraway past. I remembered Mother teaching me to pray, and back with that memory came the very prayers, the prayers of the Anglican Church. These past days I have been thinking, Mother will die, and she will be buried with the English burial service. I remembered Dad dying and the terrific pull back to the Church of England his death gave me. So, when we are told on Friday that church bells would ring on Sunday, and special Thanksgiving services in all the churches of England, suddenly I knew I was an Englishwoman, and that I should go to the English Church when Sunday came.
Today my spirit rested. All these years in the wilderness, it was nineteen hundred and nine that I became a Catholic (of sorts! I never joined the Catholic Church because I believed it, but because I desired to keep with my husband, a poor reason, as I soon found out) but today I came out of it. Today I came home. Today I was sort of born, re-born, and reborn into the faith of my childhood. Happy day.
November 17, 1942
Tomorrow I shall go to town to see Mother. I heard from Joan this morning. She writes that Mother is still very ill. Some days she is able to take a little solid food but not every day so of course she is very weak, she sleeps all day, even over her food and drink she drops off to sleep. Eric saw her on Sunday, and then she was less well on Monday, the effects of excitement, the doctor said. I expect she is dying. I can’t grieve, but I feel I love her, better than I thought. She has had a good life, and enjoyed all of it, troubles and all. Mother always knew what she wanted, and went straight out for it. In that I am not her child. Too often I have not known what I wanted, and when I do make a decision, too often it is the wrong one. That is why I must go slowly about making any declaration of secession from Rome and re-adherence to Canterbury. Yet about all this I feel sure in myself. There is no matter for argument. I don’t’ want “reasons.” I don’t want to rebut reasons against. I feel myself an Anglican, and that’s enough, because of Ted I left my home, because of him I left my church, because of him I left my children. Yet what do I get in the end? Not even him.
Well, my home is lost, my children are grown, but my church remains, my church, The Church of England. It is my Mother-Church, the church of my own tongue and tradition, of my parents, of my childhood, of my life, ultimately.
I must write. Write and write. I don’t know when or how I can manage it. Artie is coming home again on the twenty-fourth. If Mother dies Joan will probably come and live with us, at least until the end of the war. Where, oh where shall I find quiet empty time for writing? Yet writing is the only thing I really want to do. Maybe I can’t write. Perhaps the idea that I can is only my delusion. I don’t know. If I could have a life of my own I should know.
November 18, 1942
Halt. Crash. Today I found myself in a totally different frame of mind. Anyone could have predicted it I could have predicted it. As always with me it is, unstable as water.
I went to town to see Mother today. I felt serene enough. The day was fine, so from Liverpool Street, and back from Hammersmith to Liverpool Street, I traveled on the bus. Waiting on Bridge Road, outside Palmer's, for the bus this afternoon, I fell into conversation with another lady, also waiting on the curb. We got into the same bus, and sat together on Front Street, as far as Queen’s Gate. She had an Irish accent, but an educated one. We spoke of the war, as of course all strangers falling into conversation do nowadays, and she spoke of a young lost airman’s family whom she was going to see. So then we spoke of Cuth, and of prayer. Then, I don’t know how or why, I was with her, at one with her; we were using the same terms, understanding the same mysteries. I was wrapped back into Catholicism, feeling like a Catholic.
I suppose it is true believers who convince me, not the arguments. Before she left the bus she had sponged my recent fever of Anglicanism completely off me. Naturally she had no idea what she was doing. She was just being herself, by expressing some simple sincerity of herself and her belief she caught me into her belief. So here I have come home again as a Catholic as it is ever possible for me to be. I am most certainly an unfortunate creature, one with two countries, and two religions, and loyal to nothing and nobody. What an idiot I am!
November 20, 1942
A special announcement from Moscow made late last night states that the Russians have inflicted a great defeat on the Germans in the Caucasus at a place named Ordzhonikidze. The Germans were thrown back after a battle that raged for many days. Five thousand were left dead on the field, and the Russians state that between another ten and fifteen thousand were wounded. They do not give the numbers of their own dead and wounded, but, my God, what carnage!
Also from New York comes a report of the sinking of more Japanese ships in the Solomon’s, eight more.  At six o’clock tonight we were told that the Germans are evacuating Benghazi. The great battle zone of North Africa will now be Tunisia. Surely the war is winding up to its climax now. Surely this winter must finish it. Pray God that may be so.
November 23, 1942
I received a letter by Joan from by the first post saying the doctor had ordered Mother into the hospital, and arrangements were being made to take her into Duncan Road Hospital on Tuesday. So I went off to Hammersmith at once. I had not intended to go this week, as we expect Artie home tomorrow, but I could not let her be taken off to the hospital with out seeing her first. I found her sort of reconciled to the idea. She hates the thought of Duncan Road, had it been St. Georges she would have felt much happier about going into the hospital, but she realizes she needs more nursing than she can be given in Angel Road, so she has consented to go to Duncan Road, She has developed complications of the lungs and needs oxygen when she gets her coughing spasms, and this of course she can’t get in Angel Road, no matter how good a nurse Joan might be, Poor mother, she is very ill indeed.
November 24, 1942
I expected Artie for breakfast, but he has not come today. Probably he cannot get away until tonight. This was lucky for me, for I am frightfully tired after yesterday’s trip to town. London is a nightmare and traveling very difficult, because of the delays and then the crowding due to the reduced numbers of trains and buses running.
As for Hammersmith, that depresses me beyond words, and Angel Road I find intolerable. It is Mother’s home. She is so used to it she doesn’t see it as it is. Probably she still sees it as the “nice” road she moved into way back in the Jubilee Year, eighteen hundred and eighty seven, whereas it is now actually a slum, a London slum, the houses which used to hold one family with one or two servants are now converted into flats, actually tenements. Mother’s the same of course. What else is it when she lives only on the top floors and lets the basement? She doesn’t see it that way. Good job. You can see how strange a thing contentment is. It is not dependant on actuality, but upon established habit and a frame of mind.
November 25, 1942
Artie has just telephoned from Glasgow. He is coming south tomorrow, he says, and bringing Hilda with him. Good. Now I wonder if they are already married. I did not like to ask over the phone, but I think perhaps they may be. I don’t mind anyhow. Artie is genuinely in love with this girl and I believe she is a good girl, so let them be happy in their love.
November 27, 1942
Just as I was ready to go to town this morning Artie came in with Hilda. They had been traveling all night. I could not stop to talk to them as I had a train to catch, so left them to their own devices, with Mrs. Fox, the new char, as chaperon. I went straight to Angel Road, where I found Joan and Gladys just sitting down to dinner. After eating, the three of us went off to see Mother. Gladys remarked, “Look at us! Who would ever suspect that to look at us that we were sisters?” True, we are very dissimilar.
We found Mother extremely ill indeed. I did not stay long, or the others, because Mother was too ill for visitors. Outside the hospital we got on a number seven bus, and I rode straight through to Liverpool Street, Joan and Gladys leaving the bus at Wood Lane.
I got home at five and found tea already laid. Almost right away Artie plunged into his news.
“Guess”, he said, “Maybe I’m going to give you a shock.”
"What is it?”
“I’m going to get married on this leave.”
“Here in Romford? Or up in Scotland?”
“Here. I’ve been to the registrar, and Father Bishop about it, and we have to see Father Bishop again this evening. “
Then he went into details. He said they would have been married in Scotland, only Artie did not have his baptismal certificate and the priest up there refused to marry him without it. Civilly, of course, they could marry anywhere but Hilda is a Catholic, so naturally they want a Catholic ceremony. Coming south for the wedding is disappointing to Hilda’s parents, but since they both have “special” leave, for marrying, they must marry on this leave, or not at all. Hilda is in Signals;  in the W.A.A.F. Artie thinks this is his last leave before embarkation. So they wanted to get married and they are getting married. Hilda was twenty-one at the beginning of this month. She is a nice girl, very gentle and quiet. Pretty too, with a very clear skin and very beautiful blue eyes. She is nicer than any of Artie's previous girls, the kind of girl I think a man could spend his life with, nothing aggressive or smarty about her. She is a restful sort of creature, and very good to look at.
Artie was rather nervous about telling his father. “What will Dad say?”
“Invite him to your wedding,” I said. “What can he say?” So he did put it that way. How Ted received Hilda of course I don’t know. He would have met her when he came in at dinnertime, and of course I wasn’t here. Ted took it nicely, and I notice he is behaving in his charming manner to the girl. After seeing Father Bishop tonight when they came back they said the wedding is fixed for Tuesday next, nuptial mass at nine o’clock. So, that’s that. I’m glad about it, but Ted isn’t. Ted thinks no young soldier should marry, but he forgets what it is like to be a young man in love. We are all in the war; the youngsters must make their own decisions. They know the risks. The girl wants to marry him. It is obvious both of them are genuinely in love, and as both of them are of age, I say, let them chance it; they are old enough to know what they are doing. Good luck to them. God bless them.
Of course I like the girl. She impresses me very favorably. I feel she is good, and good for Artie. Artie will be good to her. All the Thompson’s make good husbands. If he’s off to Africa and wants to think of a wife at home, why not? War is hell anyhow. If Artie is the sort who is comforted, not worried, by the memory of a wife at home, why shouldn’t he take that comfort? The girl wants him. She knows the risks, but she’ll take them. They are in love, genuinely in love.
It is now eleven p.m. and very exciting news. This morning German forces entered Toulon, whereupon their crews immediately scuttled the French warships in the port. The Vichy news agency announce that by ten a.m. not one vessel remained afloat. Two submarines got away, the rest went down, sixty-one of them. My God!
November 29, 1942
Malvin phoned me at about four this afternoon to say Mother is dying. She was unconscious, might last an hour, or even twelve hours, but definitely it is the end. Malvin promised to phone again before ten this evening, but so far no further call has come. It is eleven p.m. now. I have said I would go to Hammersmith first thing tomorrow morning. When Malvin phoned it was too late for me to start out, blackout would have been upon me, and I could not possibly have found the Hospital in the dark. Anyhow Mother was unconscious, so would not have known me even if I could have gotten there. So now I am going to bed, everything seems unreal.
 November 30, 1942 
Nine thirty a.m. Joan has just phoned to say that Mother died at eleven-twenty p.m. last night, very peacefully. Joan was the only one with her. She says not to go to town today, as there is nothing I could do. Sonny is attending to all the necessary arrangements. She has telegraphed Gladys, who went back to Penzance by the Sunday day train. Mother appeared somewhat better on Saturday, so Gladys considered it all right for her to return to school. Eric came from Bath in time to see Mother on Sunday, but he was knocked down in the blackout on Saturday night, in getting off a bus, and is himself a casualty. He has to go into the hospital today to get his own arm set. His head is cut and his face, and the bones in his hand are broken. In Singapore he escaped alive unhurt from a shelter which received a direct hit, yet comes back to London to be a blackout casualty
Joan will let me know later what arrangements have bee made for the funeral. Everything is a rush and confusion and I feel numb.