World War ll London Blitz: 5-8-43 to 5-24 43 A raid came first before seven this morning. Junkers’ 88’s. Six of them. One was brought down at Benfleet, one at Stapleford Abbots. Gunfire in this locality is very heavy. We hear there was a bad raid yesterday over Yarmouth, many casualties. Oh, this damned damned war!
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May 4, 1943
Catastrophe. Ted returned to the house by taxi about noon, in frightful pain. He had been knocked off his bicycle in Harold Wood by a lorry. I got Ted into another taxi and off to Old Church Hospital. He was returned by ambulance at seven- thirty p.m. and has to go to back again tomorrow at noon, for another x-ray. He has a Pott’s fracture.
May 5, 1943
The ambulance took Ted to the Hospital and brought him home again. Today showed a second crack, in the fibula. It was too bad they couldn’t have kept him in the hospital last night, but wartime regulations. Nor can he stay in the hospital while his bones are mending. Beds must be left free for possible blitz victims. He is in great pain, and very ill with shock into the bargain. No wonder. I gather he was nearly killed.
Saturday, May 8, 1943
A raid came first before seven this morning. Junkers’ 88’s. Six of them. One was brought down at Benfleet, one at Stapleford Abbots. Gunfire in this locality is very heavy. We hear there was a bad raid yesterday over Yarmouth, many casualties. Oh, this damned damned war!
However, there is good news for us this morning. The Allies have beaten the Germans in Tunisia at last. There are reports this morning that our troops are in possession of Tunis and Bizerte. This will practically be the finish of the campaign in Africa. This news comes six months to the day of the news of the landings of our troops in North Africa. No further news of Artie.
May 13, 1943
The war in North Africa is ended. The following announcement was made last night from Allied Force Headquarters in North Africa:
Organized resistance in Tunisia, except by isolated pockets of the enemy, has ceased. General Von Armin, commander of the Axis Forces in Tunisia, has been captured. It is estimated that the total number of prisoners taken since May 5, is about one hundred and fifty thousand. Vast quantities of guns and war materials of all kinds have been captured, including guns and aircraft in serviceable condition.
Well, that’s the end of the Battle of Africa. Next will come the Battle of Europe. Shall we finish this war this year? God knows, but not very likely. Reports from Tunisia say the Germans had lost their morale, and were surrendering by entire companies, glad to get out of the fight. What about the Germans in Europe? Will their morale last? And how long?
Churchill is in Washington. This news was given to us yesterday. He has taken many important men with him and conferences are going on with Roosevelt and his chiefs of staff. Presumably plans are being arranged for the immediate invasion of the continent, then after Europe, will come Japan. Then what? The chaos of peace.
Evening and I have just received a letter from Artie:
Wednesday 28, April 1943
Dear Mother and Dad,
I am writing this from the hospital. I did send news via Hilda and I hope you got it. I may as well go over the whole story again. On the twelfth of April at seven forty-five a.m. I was blown up by a Gerry land mine. My driver was killed. I escaped with some damage. I didn’t lose consciousness at all that’s I why I looked at the time and thought of you at home knowing you were thinking of me.
Wounds in my left leg are all very slight. The right leg was broken in two places and later on ex-ray showed that it would take over a year to heal and then be perfectly useless. So I had it amputated just above the knee.
I am perfectly fit and well and recovering quickly. I am not unhappy in the loss and pray that it won’t upset you or make you unhappy. I shall be sent back to Britain when I am fit to travel so I’ll surely see you this summer. I guess the war is over as far as I am concerned. I’ve not had a single letter from home since I’ve arrived in Africa yet. Perhaps some will catch up before I leave Africa.
Cheerio now. God bless you both and keep you both. My constant prayers for your safety and good health. Almost forgot, I had communion on Easter Sunday in the hospital. Regards to all. Fred.
Also received this letter:
Thursday May 6, 1943
Dear Mother and Dad,
Here is another letter but I am afraid no real news except that I am feeling very well and quite happy. About all I can do to pass the time is read and eat the splendid meals provided. I am getting really tired of lying on my back all day and look forward to the day I shall be able to leave it. I can at least struggle into a sitting position every now and again to write letters and eat and that is some increase in comfort. I hope you can manage to read my scribble. I’ve a different pen and besides that my elbow is bandaged up.
I’ve been thinking about my return to Blighty and I feel sure I’ll be confined to a military hospital for some time before I can get home. I will almost certainly be discharged from the Army after I have been provided with an artificial leg. I feel quite proud I’ve done the little I could do in this war and now my job is over. I always had a feeling I should live through this war but I didn’t expect to come out before the end. I can’t write to Sket from here so you must give him my news and my love.
I hope everything is well at home. Give my love to all who ask after me. I cannot foretell how soon I shall be on my way home but you can take it as certain that I shall come. God bless you and keep you safe. My undying love. Fred.
What is there to say! I haven’t been able to help crying but at least I can thank God he’s alive. Thank God he isn’t blinded. Thank God he’s now out of the war. Poor poor Artie!
There was a raid in the night tonight at two a.m. until three a.m. Also, at the same time a bad thunderstorm, all very frightening.
May 14, 1943
The following cards came in from Cuthie. Number one, addressed to me:
April 13, 1943
Just to say I am o.k. I am sorry to read that Grandma is dead. Somehow I always thought I would see her again. It made me realize that in a way you people at home are, to me, all dead. I get letters from you but if anyone died it would just mean a cessation of letters. I must be in a similar position to folks at home if I did not come back or ceased to write it would be as though I went in with my aircraft nearly three years ago. My love to you. Sket.
Number two addressed to Ted:
April 13, 1943
Easter is here in a few days and it has occurred to me that I have never told you that since I was shot down I have heard mass said by a French priest, by a German Army Chaplain, by a German parish priest and by a French Canadian missionary. We can hear mass each Sunday. I once told you that I heard a midnight mass at Christmas in 1941, but I had no reply. I hope that by 1945 I shall hear mass in Romford. I send you and Ma my love. Sket.
May 13, 1943
Noon. We are lucky. By first post this morning we received the following letter from Cuth:
Stalag Luft 3. 7, April 1943
I do not know what to write to you about this month as I think this letter might be more disjointed than usual. I am pleased to read your reply to my letter saying that I hope to work in Romford. I have made up my mind what things I do not want. I am waiting for my letter from Bertie to send my letter to him. I have not had any letter from you about my account, so I conclude that financial information is banned. I was surprised to learn that Art is married. I have nothing to say about the event. I cannot imagine myself getting married for a long time after my return. Sometimes I think about my headstrong behavior when I left the University. Had I taken your advice I would not be a “Kriege” but I would be in an officers mess; but at the same time I would still be an innocent schoolboy. I often think that doctors know much less than they are thought to know. We had a few new prisoners in lately. Some of them have not yet been caught for a month. I remember when I was only a month ole “kriege”. When I heard that France had capitulated I laughed at the Polish doctor who told me and told him to stop joking. It was a bitter pill to swallow when I found out that it was true. Well I come to the end of the paper. I send you my love and respect. Please do not send me anything at all unless I ask for it. I hope to see you next year. Tell Art that I shall write to him when I can find time to do so. Sket.
May 20, 1943
Ted is at the office. He had a taxi and went off about ten o’clock and will come back at two-thirty p.m. Last night he got himself upstairs and slept properly in bed. We had two raids, and I came downstairs each time, but he stayed up there. We have been having raids every night for over a week, usually two a night, small ones, but frightening just the same. The R.A.F. has done big damage in Germany this week, blasting great dams, and letting out water, which is flooding the Ruhr Valley, and doing tremendous damage. I can’t care. I’m so so sick of the war.
Churchill addressed Congress yesterday. His speech was broadcast; we received it here at six-thirty p.m. I can’t care about his speech either. Nor any man’s speech. I’m weary to death of men’s plans and men’s speeches. I’m weary to death of the war. I’m sick of the world.
May 22, 1943
It is three years today that Cuth was brought down over Amiens. Very surprising news was given at one o’clock, the official dissolution of the Communist Third International. This comes from Moscow. Query: What becomes of the Anti-Comintern Pact? What will Goebbels do now for a bogey?
May 24, 1943
There was news that the R.A.F. made a tremendous raid on Dortmund last night, dropping over two thousand tons of bombs on the city. This is the heaviest raid yet on Germany. Thirty-Eight of our bombers missing. This makes me feel sick. Also it makes me say, thank God Cuthie is safely out of it all. What Hell!