World War ll London Blitz: 7-5-43 to 7-17-43 General Sikorsky was killed last night in an accident, taking off from Gibraltar. Everyone else in the plane was also killed, except the pilot, who is severely injured. The plane was a Liberator bomber, in which he was returning to London from the Middle East. I suppose this is another of those very convenient “accidents”.
Purchase Diary's :
July 5, 1943
General Sikorsky was killed last night in an accident, taking off from Gibraltar. Everyone else in the plane was also killed, except the pilot, who is severely injured. The plane was a Liberator bomber, in which he was returning to London from the Middle East. I suppose this is another of those very convenient “accidents”.
July 7, 1943
I have a guess that our invasion of Europe began last night, though nothing has been mentioned on the radio this morning. The B.B.C. did not even report that our bombers were out over Germany last night! Ted says, “of course not!” They’ve got to cook up the reports first. Nevertheless the air activities over this neighborhood last night were tremendous. We were wakened about midnight by planes directly overhead, and the zooming intensified and went on and on until about three-thirty this morning. Literally thousands of planes must have passed over us. Our planes, for there was no alarm, and no gunfire. The sky as far as we could see, was ablaze with searchlights. They ranged in orderly placing like great shook's of wheat or corn all over the heavens and above them, clear skies, and the multitudes of the stars. It was a beautiful but fearsome sight. It affected me physically of course. I trembled, and my legs cramped, and my stomach turned over and I retched so much that this morning my ribs are sore. I am so tired from nerves and lack of sleep. I’m ready to weep.
Of course, all the flying might have been simply practice; air maneuvers yet I don’t really think so. The Germans opened their long promised, but long delayed, attack on Russia on Monday, so probably we have opened on them with the dreaded Second Front. We’ll know later of course but when there have been practices of night flying in big formation before, the B.B.C. has always informed us it was so the next morning. This morning the B.B.C. was absolutely mum. As Ted says, they’re cooking up what they will say to us. Oh, this damned war! I grow angrier and angrier about it. Not angry with the Germans but angry with all men, and the stupidity of war enrages me. It is a mad world all right. Yet it need not be. That is the awful tragedy of it. Oh God, when will sanity and peace return to us?
July 8, 1943
No information about Tuesday night, so we conclude our flyer's were simply practicing maneuvers against searchlights.
July 10, 1943
News first thing this morning that the Allies have made successful landings in Sicily; English, American and Canadian troops making the invasion; and General Eisenhower has broadcast from Algiers to the French of Metropolitan France to keep calm, assuring them that the first step in the invasion of Europe has taken place, and liberation is coming to them in due course, but meanwhile to do nothing rash, they will be duly informed what to do when there is anything they can do, but for the moment they must make no rash acts, but keep calm, keep calm! President Roosevelt has sent a letter to the Pope, giving assurance that the Allies will effect the liberation of Italy from the Fascists, and that the safety and neutrality of Vatican State will be strictly observed.
July 13, 1943
There was an alert in the night, so came downstairs just before three a.m. Before that we had heard an enormous flock of our planes going out. At one today we were told our home-based bombers had made a large raid on Turin last night. So I suppose it was some of them we heard passing over. The moon is now in her second quarter, so I expect we shall have raids every night now for the next two weeks. B.B.C. Says a town in the Southeast was bombed last night, causing damage and casualties but of course they do not say where. We had a bad day light raid last Friday. The alert came whilst we were at tea, about five-fifteen p.m. The worst of that one was on Croydon, where a cinema got a direct hit. It was full of children, who had gone in straight after school hours, and also many W.A.A.F. girls.
I have many letters to write. We had bad news from Charlie last week. Marjorie’s ex-rays show a bad patch on her left lung and the doctor has ordered her into a sanatorium for six months. This is serious, but I have a secret idea it isn’t so bad as it sounds, for Americans take their health very seriously indeed, and rush off to sanatoriums and hospitals for indisposition the ordinary English person would ignore or forget. The Americans always struck me, as verging on the hypochondriac, and that was why Christian Science had such success with them, for it is easy to cure what doesn’t really exist. Marjorie is a trained nurse, apt to always be on a hunt for symptoms. Anyhow Marjorie is going to go to a sanatorium for six months, so she’ll have a holiday, and Charlie will have a deuce of a time, running house and family, and paying the bills. I guess I am unsympathetic. Anyhow I’m sure, I’m no hypochondriac. I like Marjorie, very much, but I have an incontrovertible conviction that she isn’t so sick as she thinks she is.
July 14, 1943
I was awakened by gunfire about three-thirty this morning, and came downstairs, where I remained until five o’clock. Ted remained in bed, as always, but I cannot stay upstairs once the alert is given, or the guns begin.
I was very wakeful and did a lot of thinking. I found myself involuntarily reciting the memorare, and with belief. This is instinctive faith. Is it fear, which creates religion? Or is it necessary for people of today to experience fear, so as to be driven to God, to the experience of God? I don’t know, I only know that it is so. Fear and beauty, these are the two great incontrovertible compulsions which drive us directly to God. Then if to God, I thought why not to church? To the only Church, the Catholic, the Roman Catholic.
I had fallen asleep peevish against Ted, in fact, really angry. He had insisted upon opening the window in the little room, which I had closed on my way back from the bathroom, and I had resented his insistence. Yes, I thought, his way, what ever this man desires he must and will have. Even the opening and closing of a window must be according to his likening. I felt again my awful weariness of this old husband.
Of course when the gunfire awakened me my annoyance had passed away in my sleep, but some solution of lost love had evidently been thrown up, for I found myself thinking in the early morning of this everlasting problem of the conflict of the sexes and its strain. It is like this I thought: the most important thing in the world to man is the gratification of his sexuality, the most important thing in the world to a woman is marriage with its security and support, but in marriage a woman wishes to be loved for herself alone, for her personality, not her body, for her mind and soul, not her womb, and, after satiety, a man become tired of the economic responsibilities of a wife. Keeping a wife is a luxury men would like to dispose of; thence comes the strife and the natural disappointment and dissatisfaction. Legality holds, religion, law, and society hold man and wife together till death does them part, and this is a good thing, it is the wisdom of the ages, luckily for both of them. So they adjust themselves to the harness, ease them as best they can to the gall of it, they accommodate to each other, and that is the successful marriage.
No wonder we turn to God, men and women alike, for God our creator is the only being who knows us, loves us, and endures us. Back we come to agree with the statements of the saints.
I associate the Church with the Irish, and hate it because I dislike them so much. The Irish Catholics, the Irish, how I despise them! Why don’t I think of the French, and French Catholicism? Catholicism in Ireland is the religion of the ignorant and superstitious peasant, but Catholicism in France is the religion of the educated and the intellectual. Ireland has contributed nothing to the world except strife, no art, no literature, and no saints. France has contributed much beauty, reason, great art, music, architecture, poetry, sculpture, science, great people, and great saints. I thought of my very special two, Chantal and Francis.
The B.B.C. has reported speeches made today at Claridge's, made at a luncheon given to Sir Basil Brooke, the new Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Sir Basil said that the Border created no differences it merely recognized them. Eire was neutral and Ulster was at war. One of the many results of this was that the bases in the South, which might have saved lives and shortened the struggle in the long and terrible Battle of the Atlantic, has been denied to the Allied fighting forces … but it was Ulster’s proud privilege that her ports and her airfields should be used by the armed forces of the Allies. … Mr. Morrison said, in the light of the relationship between Ireland and this country in this war, it was bound to have a permanently modifying affect on many people’s opinions in this country … You cannot avoid the fact that in the North, there has been a positive loyalty and cooperation with Great Britain. It is not only that, the great thing is that in the North there has been a positive and courageous loyalty to the cause of human freedom and for the destruction of a menace to our freedom and liberties. Southern Ireland has preferred to stay neutral, the tragic thing is that Eire, a country which has fought many battles for what it conceived to be the cause of liberty in one way or another, should have stood aside neutral and indifferent to this, one of the most dramatic and fateful struggles in the history of all mankind. That does not stand us too well in the history of the nations.”
Exactly. The Catholic Irish again, doing all they can to harm the English. For a long time now our sailors have nicknamed Eire, Traitors Island.
July 15, 1943
It was a quiet night. I received this morning from Watson Sons and Room, a check for my share of the legacies under mother’s will. This afternoon I took it down to the post office and put it in the savings bank. This money I shall save to spend in America.
July 16, 1943
I am very tired. An alert sounded soon after midnight and the all clear at one forty-five a.m. There was a new alert at two a.m. and no all clear until after three o’clock. I spent practically the whole time downstairs. I did not go back to bed after the first all clear, but came down stairs again almost immediately afterwards. I was very wakeful, because all a simmer with anger against Ted, so I kept the light on all the time and tried to divert myself with reading.
Ted had been very ill mannered when I went up to bed at eleven. Rain had started, so of course I closed the slip-room window, but before I could get into the bathroom Ted came bounding out of bed and into the slip room, and opened the window again. He was violently angry. He pulled his hand along the ledge, and then made me feel it on my face, to prove that the rain was not coming in, and of course he passed sarcastic remarks. I was speechless, and when I got into the bathroom I found I could hardly breathe. His rudeness astounds me, but his pettiness I despise. So when I got to bed I could not sleep, I felt in a state of sort of suspension, and ready to be sick, like as in the raids. This man, I felt, was unendurable, and my longing to be free of him surged into my breast into a positive physical pain. Greater than my longing for God, greater than my longing for America, greater even than my longing for the end of the war, was, and is my longing to be free of Ted Thompson.
The other day, when serving him his dinner I gave him new potatoes, boiled in their skins, and explaining why, I began to say “You must peel your potatoes for yourself” but he was up in the air in a moment, I had dared to utter the word “must” to him. I ought to have said, Please peel your potatoes, or, do you mind peeling your potatoes? Really it is impossible to know how to speak to this man. Joan has told me on various occasions she has seen mother crying over me, after her return from a visit here, because of the way in which Ted spoke to me. Once, years ago, way back in the Bayonne days, once Blanche Sivell followed me into the kitchen, crying, for my sake, and she said, “Oh, Ruby, no man ought to speak to anybody the way Ted speaks to you” Ted’s scorpion tongue. Yes, I am tired of it, and I’ve been tired of it for nearly forty years. Oh God, I’m tired!
July 17, 1943
It is Ted’s birthday, and a lovely day. Ted is sixty-four today. He is at the office now and I am cooking the dinner, meat in the oven, all vegetables prepared, and now a breathing space until it is time to start the vegetables.
Yesterday Churchill and Roosevelt; to capitulate, to save them, and not to continue to die for Hitler, to throw over Mussolini and his Fascist Government, broadcast appeals to the Italian people. How can they? In Sicily over twenty thousand Italians have surrendered, but they are soldiers, what can the people of Italy do?