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.
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)
Last night the
Germans bombed Dublin; they dropped about six bombs have destroyed many shops
and houses, and casualties, not yet definitely known, are thought to be about
three hundred. Two tenement
houses were hit, and wardens are still digging out the bodies. From the very
beginning of the war the Irish have refused in any way to cooperate with
us the use of their Southern ports, thus making difficulties for us in
combating the German submarines, and by so much assisting the Germans. It has
been reported that the Irish allowed the Germans to use the Irish ports!! It is
thought that the Germans will invade Ireland, and then use Ireland as their
base to attack England. Quite likely!
this morning was an announcement of the rationing of clothes and boots and
shoes, as from today. We are to be issued with sixty-six coupons, which must
provide us all wearing apparel for twelve months. Seven coupons
will be required for one pair of shoes. So sixty-six coupons won’t go far.
Everything grows scarcer and scarcer. For over a
week now it has been impossible to buy any oatmeal, or any cereal of any kind.
Lord Woolton announces that he hopes he won’t have to ration bread. Eggs are as
rare as diamonds. Cheese is rationed to one ounce per week, per head.
Jam is more
liberal; we can have two ounces per week, or one pound for two people for one
month. Yesterday I
got one and a half stewing steak and a quarter beef kidney, which is our entire
meat ration for a week. Milk is
reduced by one seventh of our usual supply. So, with all our protein foods out
of sight, no meat, eggs, milk or cheese, to speak of, our potatoes and oatmeal
practically finished, no fruit at all, what are we going to live on? Ersatz I
suppose, like the Germans. That’s war. That’s how men run the world.
This is one of
my bad days. From about midnight we had the raiders over, and there was steady
gunfire until about three-thirty this morning, dawn, when the all clear came. After a period
of quiet nights the noisy nights are much harder to endure. I lay
uncontrollably trembling all the while, though long before the all clear Ted
was able to fall asleep.Apparently no
bombs fell in this district. For once we over slept!
extraordinary and astonishing event has occurred. Rudolf Hess has deserted to
England. In last nights
late news we were told that Berlin had broadcast the news that Hess, Hitler’s
deputy, who had been forbidden for some time past to fly, because of a
progressive disease from which he was suffering, had obtained an airplane at
Augsburg on Saturday evening, and nothing had been seen of him since; and
because of a “distracted” letter which he had left behind him it must now be
assumed by the National Socialist Party that Party member Hess had either
jumped out of his plane, or “met with an accident.”
world knows what is meant by Nazi “accidents” and we went to sleep, wondering
what has been the split in the Party, and why Hess, who was supposed to be the
only man Hitler trusted, had been put out of the way. Then lo, this morning at
seven a.m. we were told that Hess landed in Scotland on Saturday night - whilst
Gerry was bombing London
At two o’clock
this morning the Ministry of Information stated that the identity of the man
who landed from a Messerschmitt in Scotland as Rudolf Hess has now been
established beyond all possible doubt."
Joan has had
news from the war office that George died in the hospital, May Twentieth, 1940.
Gladys has been bombed out of her house in Plymouth. Plymouth is
practically annihilated. We have been quiet in this part of the country for
nearly two weeks, but trouble is stirring up again now.
tonight more than one hundred and fifty of our fighters have gone over, there
is probably a battle in the Channel. I expect we’ll
have a bad night tonight. It was a new moon Monday; it will be first quarter 6-2. Last night, about midnight the alert went, planes went over, but
no gunfire in this neighborhood. What I noticed, was, that my nerves were much
worse when this alert came after a spell of quiet nights. I trembled horribly
and even after the all clear went, I could not fall asleep.
The war is
getting worse and worse. Terrible fighting is going on in Crete. A naval battle
has been fought off Greenland. On Sunday the
Germans sank the Hood, our biggest battleship; but yesterday we sank their
ship, the Bismarck, in quick vengeance
The loss of
life is appalling. Where will it end? Last night President Roosevelt broadcast,
declaring the United States to be in a state of great national emergency, and
declaring America would fight to defend the Americas, even if the new Bunker
Hill should be a thousand miles from Boston, Massachusetts.
It is a year
today since Germany invaded Holland and Belgium and Luxembourg. Today, the
Duchess of Luxembourg broadcast from America and M. Pierlot, for Belgium, and
Queen Wilhelmina broadcast from London. The war is accelerating. America is
debating using her Navy to convoy armaments and food to Britain, and is
practically in the war already.
It was a most
frightful night. The main attack was on London. Thirty-three bombers were
brought down, by thirty-one fighters, two by anti aircraft. The raids are
awful. I do not know yet what happened in Romford. One awful blast rocked the
house and blew in our dining room window; Mother ought
to leave London, but she won’t. God knows what happened in London last night!
The planes were over incessantly for hours.
Of the two air force boys I have here, one
came in at midnight and calmly went to bed; the other was on duty from midnight
until eight this morning. He said all night the fires could be seen in London,
predominantly in the East. I suppose the devils were after the riverside and
Oh God! How
hard it is to keep rational in these crazy times! Is there anything more
insane, more hellishly insane than war?
We had three
alerts last night, and a fairly noisy night, though nothing as bad as Saturday
night. Saturday’s was another terrorization raid on London. In the nine o’clock news last night we were
told of some of the damage. The heart of the attack was at Westminster. Serious
damage was done to Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, and the Houses of
Parliament. Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Hall were all
seriously damage by high explosives and incendiaries.
The abbey is open to the sky, the Lantern Roof
burned. The Little Cloisters were burnt out. Five more hospitals hit, a cinema,
a large hotel. In the hotel one hundred and forty guests and
employees were sheltering in the basement, but a bomb crashed through, and it
is feared all are dead.
live or lived on Castellan Avenue, Gidea Park. A land mine came down just
outside their house. Several land
mines fell in Gidea Park. A block of twelve flats near the station was
completely destroyed, and the row of shops at the end of Carlton Road also.
Squirrel’s Heath Church is gone, and All
Saints, at Gidea. I shall have further details of our local damage when Ted
comes in for dinner presently, Poor Elizabeth
Coppen! They had all their windows blown out by a bomb in Pettit’s Lane, only
about two weeks ago,
The Gidea Park
section gets an awful proportion of the bombs and mines in our neighborhood.
Why? Nobody knows.
news from the Balkans yet, but it is reported that the Germans have crossed the
Egyptian frontier at Sollum at several points. Yesterday
General Saints made a speech about the war and last night the Prime Minister
Winston Churchill, again spoke on the air. Had we had the
use of the Irish ports we could have fought Hitler much more effectively even
than we have done. Well, if the
Germans invade Ireland, nobody will be sorry for the
The war news
continues badly. Churchill announced that eighty percent of our troops have
been safely evacuated from Greece. News tonight
says the enemy has penetrated the outer defenses of Tobruk. There is trouble
brewing in Iran, and the Russians are stirring. There is talk
that Germany will now “take” the Ukraine. What next? The Germans win
everywhere. We thought
perhaps the invasion of Britain would really begin today but it didn’t. Perhaps
tonight it will.
To listen to the political talk disgusts me.
To excuse our defeat in Greece, and withdrawal from Greece, the politicians
say, “Well, of course, we knew we couldn’t defeat the Germans in Greece.” Why did we
start the war anyway? We knew we weren’t “prepared” whereas Hitler has done
nothing else but prepare, ever since 1933. Except for
Turkey and Spain and Portugal the Germans now occupy all of Europe.
Except for Poland
and Greece and Yugoslavia not one country withstood them, and three have been
conquered. If the little
countries wouldn’t combine to resist, why should we go and fight for them?
We’ll be licked too, I suspect. The talkers
insist we shall win in the end, but I can’t see how. Hitler has literally
hordes and hordes of men,
We can’t fight
all of Europe. Oh the damn fools politicians are! Talk about liberty and
democracy and honor and a better new order won’t win the war. Talk, talk, talk,
God, it makes me sick.
assumptions that Britain and America are wholly virtuous whilst Germany is
wholly vile. Oh God, such absurdity makes me sick. Each country
trying to corral God in for umpire! How he must laugh! Meanwhile common people
everywhere suffer and die. Where will the bombs drop tonight? London,
Berlin, Athens, Romford.
last night was on a town in the North East, probably Hull or Tyne-Side again. No fresh news
from Greece is given us yet, except that we are retreating. The Germans claim
the capture of the Pass of Thermopylae, and occupation of the Island of Lemnos. Mr. Skiliton is particularly disturbed about
Lemnos. He says he was stationed at Lemnos in the last war, and if the German’s
have taken that, “someone has been asleep.” In Washington,
Roosevelt has publicly censured Colonel Lindbergh, and the other “appeasers.”
He declared they “were just dumb”
news. The Germans have entered Athens. Six o’clock news, the Germans claim to
have captured Corinth, by means of parachute troops.