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.

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