History is never quite as real as when it is told by those who lived it. Ruby Thompson, living during the World War ll London Blitz bombing blasts history out of the realm of dry, dusty names and dates and places the reader in the midst of the terrifying events as they unfold. This is very important documentation and will have tremendous appeal to those who have an avid interest in the effect of the war on ordinary citizens.
I am the great-granddaughter of Ruby Side Thompson.
Recently I started re-reading the World War ll journals and felt that they were such an important part of a history that will soon be forgotten if not published and shared with the world. These diary excerpts are not the entirety of what is published in print and kindle.
Ruby grew up during a time when education was just beginning to be encouraged for both upper and middle class women. During the late 1890's Ruby explored many radical political ideas of London, England. She met many famous people including the writers George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats. 5.0 out of 5 stars A choice pick, not to be overlooked, November 6, 2011 By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)
6-11-42 Letter to Bill and Jean Berry (Friends in the U.S.) From Ruby Thompson
78 Western Road Romford, Essex Thursday, June 11, 1942 My
dear Bill and Jean,
I've had a letter from Eddie in which he tells me a parcel of ham
and butter which I received, wordless, direct from Macy's last Winter, and
which I attributed to his kindness, came instead from you. So please accept my
very belated thanks for the same. I saved these goodies for when Artie came
home on leave, and believe me every bit was enjoyed to the last atom. Good food
is extremely scarce these days. We are all getting quite enough to eat, but the
rationing, though absolutely fair, works out very meagerly for the small
households. Naturally the more you are in a family the better you can cater. If
you spend 10/- worth of meat coupons, why, you can get a steak, or perhaps a
sirloin, and then there is the makings of at least one good tasting meal for
everybody. But when I can spend only 2/-per week for two people-why-what can
you buy? My stand-by (this is especially for Jean's interest- supposing she's
interested) is a piece of fresh brisket, which is only 10d. per lb. But - do
you know brisket? I bet you don't! It's like thin streaky bacon, a strip of
lean, then an equal strip of fat. The meat is poor and flavorless, but it will
provide two dinners - and - what is really worth more - a jar of good dripping.
In ordinary times I should never dream of buying brisket- and you may be sure,
once the war is over, I shall never buy it again as long as I live- or until
there is another war-which God forbid! As for ham! -that's quite forgotten. Our
butter, 2 Oz's. per week per person-we save for Sundays. Butter deprivation is
serious. It seems that butter carries a special vitamin which keeps our eyes
healthy: so there are a lot of sore eyes about, because of this lack. The
margarine we get - 4 Oz's. per week per person - is excellent- but it is not
butter, and will not do the work of butter. However, it is palatable, and
certainly very much improved on the margarine of pre-war days. Thousands of the
English poor never have eaten any "butter" except margarine, because
real butter was always too expensive. A charwoman I once had once told me she
only bought butter for herself in her family, because neither her husband nor
her children would eat it; they preferred margarine as having more taste. We
mainly eat our margarine hot on toast, when it tastes really nice. As for
eggs, that's a joke. Our egg ration has been two per person per month. When we
get them we make a dinner of them. Well, one day this Spring a friend from the
country bought us three honest-to-goodness real new-laid eggs. We decided to
celebrate with a high tea. Ted enjoyed his egg fine; so did I mine; but it gave
me an attack of indigestion! I tasted sulphur all night, and until after lunch
the next day. My stomach had forgotten how to handle an egg. I have heard of
other people having the same trouble. Some folks claim it is something peculiar
in the eggs, due to the very eccentric food the hens get nowadays. Maybe but
there you are - we can no longer digest fresh eggs. Probably we'll have
forgotten how to handle other foods also - but we will try our luck just the
same, whenever we get any.
Now note: I sit down to write a letter and what do I write about?
Food. Isn't it awful! Whenever people get together nowadays invariably the talk
turns to food. Where you can get what, what ques you stood in, what wasn't
worth waiting for, and the cost- the awful mounting cost. The unrationed foods
soar until the government steps in and regulates prices, but then the item
disappears. This is a joke. We just laugh. If you could be here you would be
surprised how good-tempered the British are. The English still confine their
grumbles to the weather. The war disagreeableness is accepted
uncomplainingly-or they bring down the house handed out as vaudeville jokes.
Yes, we are queer people.
I haven't any particular news to write. We are well and hope to
keep so. Mr. Thompson is a Lance/Corporal in the Home Guard. He goes on duty
three nights a week, and Sunday mornings. Artie has his commission in the
Reconnaissance Corps. Cuth has been shifted to a new camp and should now be
addressed at Stulag Luft 3. He writes cheerfully enough, but this week he told
us that all the men of his crew have now perished. Poor lads! We were able to
sleep in our beds all this past winter, but now since the raid on Cologne
trouble is stirring again and I expect right now we shall have to abandon
the upper floor. My young brother was in Singapore. From there he got to
Colombo, and now my mother has received a cable from Capetown, saying he
is on his way home.
We have just been told tonight of the visit of Molotov to London
and Berlin. Bill, I have often thought of your visit to Russia, back in the
30's. This must help you to visualize the Russian front quite a lot, and I
think you must be more glad than ever now that you made that trip. Do you know
what strikes me most about the trend of events? It's this: The
Russian idea is going to win the world in the end, without directly campaigning
for it. When daily every state becomes more and more totalitarian, and when you
listen to the talk on what is to be done to Society after the war- why-
Bolshevism walks in as a matter of course- doesn't it? Funny I think.
Now,Au-revoir. Keep on praying for us and keep us in your
affectionate remembrances. Ted sends greetings, compliments, regards. I send my
thanks and love.