On the radio at seven fifty-five a.m. this week the Reverend Bloomer, Vicar of Barking, is talking. I always hear these “Lift up your Heart’s” talks, because I am getting the breakfast, and have the radio turned on so as not to miss the eight a.m. news. This man’s theme this week, is forgiveness, which he extends to the world at large and all people’s “becoming one.” Well! Not only am I aware that I can’t forgive my enemies, I am even more deeply aware that I don’t want to. As for the world being one, I am aware that I don’t want to be “one,” not even with our allies.
When I hear the “wonderful Chinese,” I am revolted. I don’t care a damn about the Chinese. I certainly don’t want us to go and fight the Japanese so as to help China. Our boys will have done enough when they have licked Hitler. Why should we throw them away against the Japs? Let the yellow people settle their own affairs betwixt themselves. For all the talking about the heroic Chinese, and the establishment of our future with the Chinese, it makes me sick. I don’t want anything at all to do with yellow people, let alone make friends with them. I remember the talk that went on in my childhood
As a matter of fact I don’t believe in the goodness of the Chinese. I can remember the Boxer Rebellion, when the Chinese acted with the same cruelty of barbarism, which is charged against the Japanese today. I can’t see much to choose between yellow dog and yellow dog. I’m positive I don’t want my country, whether it be England or America, to have continuing alliance with China once this world conflagration has died out. Why should we fight China’s battles for her? I don’t like the Chinese and no talker, no matter how clever or persuasive, will ever be able to make me do so. No, I don’t want to be one with the world, no, I certainly don’t.
March 2, 1944
There was a raid last night between two forty-five and three-thirty a.m. It was very terrifying. One bomb sounded as though it was surely going to land in our alley. When I went back upstairs to bed at the all clear, I saw three distinct fires on the horizon in the direction of London. The B.B.C. announced at eight a.m. that we had brought down five of the raiders.
March 5, 1944
Yesterday the Americans bombed Berlin for their first time. We will probably get a reprisal raid tonight.
I awakened about six this morning suffused with a delicious languor feeling of desire. I was warm, the bed was comfortable, I had a good sleep because Gerry didn’t come, I had pleasant dreams, and if Ted had only turned to me I could have loved him with passion, and it would have been good. Early morning like this is when I feel naturally most inclined to love, but nothing happened. Why didn’t I take the initiative? I know better. He would have repulsed me. I must never make the first move. I learned this lesson with heartbreaks years ago. Love is for when Ted desires, not when I do. Of course he had to go to church! Damned idiot!
March 7, 1944
This morning Daisy White came in. She was after some more of the Mrs. Henry Wood’s, which she enjoys keenly. She took away two volumes. She happened to have her business attaché case with her, and offered me some soap, coupon free. She also had some real linen tea towels, four of them, one coupon each. Those were all she had and she let me buy them all. She says it is the coupons that bother her business; with only twenty coupons to spend to cover the entire clothes ration, people can’t and won’t spend coupons for towels, handkerchiefs, etc. Of course not. You must give up eighteen coupons for a suit or a dress, seven for a pair of shoes, six for a vest, so it goes, people simply can’t buy oddments like towels.
I have sent off an order today to Harrods for ten pounds of coffee. Dorrie Stanford told us there is a rumor going around the hospital that coffee is about to be rationed, so Ted said we’d better lay in a few pounds for a stand-by. We use on the average about a pound a week. A food news item on the radio today, stated that beginning in the new four-week food ration period, cheese would be reduced to two ounces per person per week, but milk would be increased half a pint per week, and there would be no change in the tea ration. Coffee was not mentioned, so I hope our order goes through before a ban gets clamped on it.
Oh, What shall I do? What shall I do? This is what I keep asking myself. I am so weary I don’t know what to do. I feel that I shall have a nervous breakdown, along with all the rest of the neurotics. I feel that I am on the verge of madness, dangerously near. If circumstances don’t change soon I am afraid my mind will crack. Anger at trifles keeps rushing through me, and I want to start screaming, but I don’t, because I am afraid that if I let myself go I might not be able to take up controls again. Everything bothers me: the war, the weather, the house, my health, my family, and my husband.
We had a raid again last night. This morning is bleak and grey and cold and miserable. I am in a state of antagonism to Ted, which is hateful. I don’t want to be that way but he exasperated me to such a pitch I feel I can’t bear him another minute. I have to bear him. It is a loath- some marriage, how I hate it. In the night he loved me, against all my will and inclination, only by great effort of will did I make myself stay in the bed, my impulse was to get up and rush away. I don’t consider this is love, it is only animalistic, it is neither passion nor affection, only mere beastliness, and I loathe it. It is doubly repulsive to me because I know when six o’clock comes Ted will get up and go off to mass, to another of his gratifications. To love me without delight is horrible. Oh God, I am tired.
Yesterday at teatime Ted brought in two American soldiers for coffee. One was from Albany, N.Y. and the other from Olympia, Washington. They were ground staff boys of the air force. Talk turned on what the Americans are doing in Berlin now, and one of them, the Irish boy from Albany, said he guessed they would have to do the same to Rome, and that though he would like to see the grand old monuments he guessed there would be none left by the time they got there.
After all, he said, When you think of it what is life but length of days? So if a man dies in war it only means he has less length of days. What are days in comparison with great works of art? I wouldn’t want to see Rome destroyed. Some of those art treasures are irreplaceable. I think we should make every effort to preserve them.
Yes, I said, and so are young lives irreplaceable, and we should make every effort to preserve them. There is no work of art that is worth more than a man’s life.
Ah! said Ted, I’d hate to see Rome damaged and as I say, “life is only length of days, so if men give up some of their length of days so that the glories of Rome may be saved, I should think it would be worth it.
I let the conversation drop. I cannot talk with this inhuman madman. Both our sons are now out of the fighting, but suppose they weren’t, would he be satisfied to have them throw away their lives to preserve stones? If not our sons, whose sons? If the Germans insist on fighting for Rome, Rome will be fought for, for I don’t think the Allies will be so insane as to make the Germans a present of it. What’s Rome? The Eternal City? There are other eternal cities, Athens, London bombed and shattered. The city is not its stones, its bricks and mortar. A city is the idea and the work of men. The material city can be knocked down, and it can be built up again, and
March 10, 1944
The two American boys here this week upset me. I like to show friendliness to American soldiers, but they remind me too much of my lost American sons, and inside I am disturbed. Then, too, I have been staggered by Artie’s desertion. I try to forget it, but do not succeed very well. Life is not the way I would have it and I do get fretful. Yes, I know I ought not to, but knowing what is right and being able to pursue it are two different things. I think I am depressed by poor food, as well as by the duration of the war. Some really good fresh food and a little whiskey occasionally would cheer up my spirits considerably, I’m quite certain.
March 11, 1944
I am cooking the dinner. A miserable piece of middle neck and scrap is our “roast” today, it is mostly waste, but tomorrow the roasted bones will flavor some soup. Our diet gets poorer and poorer. It keeps us alive, but it is impossible to extract stamina from it. Everybody complains of tiredness. Lack of sugar, lack of protein, too much starch, poor bread, it’s something amiss. We all keep going, but we all feel unduly exhausted.
Yesterday we were told that United States government had requested the government of Eire to close down the German and Japanese Legations in Dublin, in view of the very near approach of the Allies invasion of Europe, and because it is known that the German’s draw constant information of our affairs through the German and Japanese Legations in Dublin. This morning we are told that the Irish have refused the request. Naturally. The Irish were all for Germany in the last war, and they are the same in this. What an urgent need there must be for this request for the Americans to make it! They too must have known it would have been refused; surely, yet they have asked it. De Valera has answered with the explanations about the neutrality of Eire, etc. Well, we know all about the neutrality of Eire. Eire has been a positive and active friend to the Axis constantly from the very beginning of the war. Because of Eire’s neutrality thousands of our boys needlessly lie on the ocean floor. God curse Ireland. He has done, and he will do.
Women are much more humble minded. Women know what they know, but they never pretend to know every- thing. Women don’t have the expounding fervor of men. I think most women know, or sooner or later come to know that talk is useless, or that it only leads to trouble. Women may chatter together over superficiality like a
Possibly if I had married “a big silent man,” “a practical man,” I might now have a better opinion of men and of mankind generally, but I had the misfortune to marry a weakling Adonis and a voluble doctrinaire. I fell in love with a stranger, made a romantic marriage, only to find myself caught in a trap from which I can never get free. After I had fallen for the bait of the handsome lover I found myself behind the façade of romance and what I was inextricably entangled with was not the man of my dreams, nor certainly not. What I had drawn in the lottery of marriage was merely a perpetually interfering and domineering second rate schoolmaster who fancied himself in the role of Petruchio. What luck, oh my God, what luck!
Yes, I am unfair to Ted. I know it. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa. He is a good man, faithful and true, a good provider. Certainly I cannot ever have been the sort of wife he must have dreamed about. The trouble is I am the one who has been compelled to live against the grain all these years and I am so tired. These last seventeen years especially have warped me. Now these awful war years. It’s all too much. However, I do stay sane. These books are my safety valves, herein I say what I think, literally spill over. These books hold the worst of me. Outwardly I toe the mark, speaking and acting in all the required and expected ways; and so I shall go on doing I expect, go on being, Oh so politely! Mrs. Edward Thompson.
Joan arrived at eight a.m. and stayed for the day. This is the first time I have seen her since December Twelfth. Now that the longer days are coming she says she will come to see me about once a month. She looks very well. She told us of the recent bad blitzing in Hammersmith, Kensington and Fulham. She said the King and Queen came to look at the damage, and their visit was resented. The unfortunates thought they were only showing common curiosity. Churchill also visited the neighbor- hood, and was resented. It was in the Broadway where a bomb had fallen. Joan said they had nine bombs in Hammersmith alone, that he waved his hand and called out “It’s quite like old times!” This remark was not well received, and one man who answered rudely, and swearing, was taken away by the police. It turned out that he was one of the unfortunates whose family had to be dug out of ruins. Joan said Churchill’s cigar is so deeply resented: “him and his two shilling cigar!” Well, it would seem more political not to puff those cigars in the faces of the poor and the blitz victims.
In the afternoon Mrs. Cannon came, her first visit this year; and Elizabeth Coppen also. There was much talk and laughter here this afternoon. Joan is an amusing talker.
March 14, 1944
I received a parcel from Bumpus. A twelve-volume edition of Shakespeare and a four-volume edition of Middlemarch. Nothing else. I am very pleased with these.
We had a raid last night between one a.m. and one-thirty a.m. I came downstairs but Ted remained up in bed. The figures for casualties in the air raids for February have been given today. Civilian casualties due to air raids in the United Kingdom during February were nine hundred and sixty-one killed (or missing, believed killed) and seventeen hundred and twelve injured and detained in he the hospital. This is the highest total since May 1941.
Among the reasons given by DeValera for his refusal was the “forced partition” of Ireland. DeValera’s policy in this war has clamped down partition. Ulster’s objections to the merger with Eire have been intensified. DeValera has “missed the bus.” If at the beginning of the war, he had offered collaboration with Britain and the Empire, and British use of Irish ports, on the condition of national unity, Ulster leaders would have found it difficult to justify continued partition, and the British people would have welcomed a settlement on that basis. The opportunity passed and will not return until there is a change of heart in Southern Ireland. That, I think, will be never. The Southern Irish simply will not be friendly to Britain. Nay, and more than that, not only will they not be friendly, they will insist on being positively unfriendly, and that perpetually would not end. The lovely Irish!
There was a very heavy raid last night between ten-fifteen and eleven forty-five p.m. The B.B.C. states this morning that we brought down nine bombers. It was most frightening. Even Ted showed nervousness. He became very pale, and finally took his rosary out of his pocket and began saying it. This is the first time I have ever seen him do this. I didn’t pray. I couldn’t. Instead I kept on with my reading, luckily a light book, Esther Maxwell’s, Life of the Young Lincoln.
As the war goes on my “Christian” religion evaporates more and more. I can’t see what Jesus Christ and the gospels have to do with this affair, and as for the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, even less. As for mass, nothing. My God is a spirit, and I worship him in spirit and in truth as the human Jesus once told a woman to do. This religion about Jesus I cannot swallow. I cannot believe in a God who was an historical person. That is why I like the Anglican Church so much, Jesus is in it, of course, but much more so is God there; the God one can find in the Old Testament, the God that declared that he was not a man that he should repent him. I have to try to have feelings about Jesus, and responses to him; it is all artificial, a pretense. I don’t have to try to have feelings about God, they are spontaneous, I can feel God in the Old Testament, I can feel him in the sunshine, the moon and stars, the grass, in my love for Ted in the night when that can be spontaneous and true, in an infant, in an eclipse, but I cannot feel God in the Christian religion.
The one o’clock news reported that we brought down a total of thirteen German bombers last night.
We had another raid this evening, from nine-fifteen p.m. until ten p.m. It is all quiet now, Ted has gone up to bed and I am about to follow. I hope to have a quiet night. Tonight’s raid was not as bad as last night’s but bad enough.
March 16, 1944
We had an alert at six-thirty this evening, before dark. The raid lasted only a little over half an hour. It was a small attack only. The weather is still very cold. Winter is lasting long this year.
March 21, 1944
It is the first official calendar day of spring but the weather is most un-spring like. It is very cold. The Government has published a ban today on all travel to the coast, from The Wash to Lands End, and certain portions of the Firth of Forth, to come into effect on April First. All schools in the country were asked a few weeks ago to close down by March Thirty-First, for the Easter holidays, as no travel will be permitted after that date. Is the Invasion about to begin at last?
March 22, 1944
It is colder than ever. We had another very heavy raid last night, over London and the S.E. coast. It began here about twelve forty-five a.m. and went on until two a.m. this morning. It was extremely bad. Several times I thought we should surely be hit, but no, here we are, still intact. We are in the dark of the moon now, so many expect several more raids during the next week or so. There is a new moon on Friday. I wrote to Marjorie today, and to Eddie last Sunday. I have received a card from Sket, dated December Tenth. He writes:
March 23, 1944
Something has happened to me. I had a letter from Marjorie last Saturday, and because it was appealing, I began to reply to it on Monday. I had to write it at intervals, but I finished it yesterday. It was a rather long letter and I had written her only about a fortnight ago. I have written a lot of letters lately to my children in America.
Well, after I had finished writing to Marjorie yesterday, I was overcome by the most dreadful feeling of depression and dereliction that I have ever known. Never before in my whole life have I ever felt so derelict and forsaken. It was terrible. I did not know what to do with myself. I could do nothing, nothing at all. It was evening and Ted and I were sitting here in this little dining room together. He was reading and happy as usual. I could not read, I could not think, I could hardly breathe. In my breast was an agony, not a physical pain, but a torture of despair. It was complete mental agony, utter dereliction of soul. I was sitting here by the table, my eyes closed, in a state of suffocating suspense, then lo, all at once my mind began to say the Hail Mary, and then it went on into the Salve, Regina and then the Memorale. Release, consolation, encouragement, and then, best of all, conviction.
March 25, 1944
There was a very heavy raid last night. It began about eleven p.m. and went on until after one o’clock this morning. On today’s one o’clock news we were told that whilst the Germans were bombing London, we were bombing Berlin. The R.A.F. dropped twenty five hundred tons of bombs on Berlin, during one half hour. Seventy- three of our aircraft are missing from the thousand who were sent to do the job. Over here we suffered damage and casualties, but, as usual, details are not given us. Most of it, of course, was in London. The only “fact” we are given is the information that we brought down eight of the enemy raiders.
The German’s have occupied Hungary. Vesuvius, which has been in violent eruption since last Saturday was yesterday reported to be subsiding. The streams of lava appear to have stopped and the other activity of the volcano is on a declining scale, telegraphs a “Times” correspondent. This has been a most violent eruption, the worst since eighty years ago, many villages buried, and thousands of people evacuated, their homes lost forever. One of the very strange things during these war years is the constant violence of nature. There have been many serious earthquakes in this time, and now Vesuvius has been pouring out relentless destruction. One reporter broadcast from Italy that the destruction caused by the eruption was more awesome then the fighting going on there. Of course. The eruption of the volcano is an act of God; it cannot be stopped until God stops it. War is the act of man, it need not be. War is a deliberate madness, gigantic folly, and folly is not awesome, it is enraging, it is heart breaking, but it is not awesome.
The weather is very cold and we had frost in the night. It was a bad night, a raid from three-thirty to four-thirty a.m., also much crossing over of our own aircraft, back and forth. There was bad news on the one o’clock bulletin, a report that the R.A.F. made a raid in great strength over Nuremberg last night; and ninety-six of our aircraft are missing. This is awful. This is the highest loss in one night we have had yet. One night in February we lost seventy-nine, but this is much worse. Poor boys. One prays that they go straight to heaven. Poor boys. When, oh when, will this damnable war end?