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World War ll London Blitz:  Buy On Smashwords
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)

World War ll London Blitz: 6-1-42 I was awakened at one twenty-five a.m. by the siren. All Clear was given about a half hour afterwards. There was no gunfire in this district. At midday we were told that the Germans made a reprisal attack last night, on Canterbury. They sent fifty bombers over, twenty-five of which got through to Canterbury, and three were brought down. No news of the extent of the damage or casualties given.

Purchase Diary's:

June 1, 1942 

I was awakened at one twenty-five a.m. by the siren. All Clear was given about a half hour afterwards. There was no gunfire in this district. At midday we were told that the Germans made a reprisal attack last night, on Canterbury. They sent fifty bombers over, twenty-five of which got through to Canterbury, and three were brought down. There is no news of the extent of the damage or casualties given.

June 24, 1942


Last night the R.A.F. again went out over Germany, thirteen hundred strong. The main attack was on Essex. It was only Saturday and they were over Cologne; we are surprised they can go again in such a force so soon. Maybe the tide has turned. Maybe we are now going to lick the Germans! I heard gunfire nearby about four this morning, but have no information so far as to where it was.

June 25, 1942


The war news is shocking. We go from bad to worse. Now we have suffered defeat again in Libya, and Rommel has taken Tobruk; and this in spite of the fact that we were continually told we were holding in Libya; only last week Auchinleck said to the troops: “Hold him boys! We have Rommel in the bag!” Yet on Sunday night we were told Tobruk had fallen, and we had lost 25,000 men there. Now issue will be joined for Egypt. Awful war still rages in Russia. The Germans are not driven back. The fall of Sebastopol looks to be inevitable. The losses at sea increase daily. Churchill is in Washington conferring with Roosevelt. Laval is back in power in France, and working openly for Germany.

Defeat in Libya has come as a profound shock to public confident. Parliament is shaken. So it ought to be. What kinds of incompetents are running the country? We all ask. Isn’t it true we had a new government? As for me, the more I listen to the windbags the more disgusted I become with them and also with all men generally. I think what fools men are and I despise the lot of them as for their endless talk that is downright silly. Fools of men!

Five German bombs were destroyed over the midlands last night. We are not told where and what they list. The way the news is given to us is absurd. This is from the stupidity of the ministry of information of course. We have too many ministries, all of them incompetent, some like the ministry of information, downright asinine.

June 26, 1942


The B.B.C. announces that it is twenty-five years ago today that General Pershing and his first hundred American troops landed in France. Today we are told that Major General Dwight Eisenhower has been appointed Commander-In-Chief of the American forces in the European area. Daily now there is talk of a second front, attack on Germany’s Western front. Nobody says how. It is midsummer now and still Hitler stands. Moscow has published “official” figures of casualties, according to which ten million Germans were killed, wounded, or missing in the first year of Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union. Of this number, the announcement says, not less then three million five hundred thousand Germans were killed. In the same period the Russian losses in killed, wounded or missing, were four million five hundred thousand. Reuter adds that seventy percent of the wounded Russian soldiers have returned to the ranks, but only forty percent of the German wounded have so far recovered, it is stated. What frightful slaughter! What world lunacy!

It is now eight-fifteen and there is shocking news this evening, we sent over a thousand bombers over Bremen last night, fifty-two of which have not returned. Hell, hell hell.

June 27, 1942

All women born in nineteen twenty-three had to register today. There were over three hundred thousand of them. Hateful. The government assures parents that no girl will have to leave home before she reaches her nineteenth birthday. It is a good thing I have no young daughter to be conscripted. I should ignore the rule, and then fight it. I expect I should land in jail. These young girls have had no say in the government; why should they be taken to factories or the services? We have the servile totalitarian state now, and no mistake about it; so what are we fighting the Nazi’s for? Churchill returned from Washington today. I hate the newspaper pictures of Churchill, Atlee, Eden, Bevin, Morrison and Co. All these fellows look so damned pleased with themselves: almost as though the war was a riot of fun for them. God! I hate politicians.

World War ll London Blitz: 5-2-42 to 5-31-42 If I had a daughter of twenty who was compelled to leave home and work in a factory, I should be frantic. This conscription of women is one of the worst features of this war.

Purchase Diary's:

May 2, 1942

Here is an instance of what I can only call Ted’s blatant secrecy. When he came into lunch just now, he asked, could I take in a foreign flyer, to give him a weeks holiday. After thinking it over I said no. Then Ted fetched his cheque book, and wrote out a cheque but, he wrote it so strangely, almost entirely covering it with his left hand, and moving his hand down as the pen went. Then he carefully turned it upside down on the table to dry. Then he folded it and put it in his pocket book at once. All this play most ostensibly so that I shouldn’t see how much it was for, or who it was made out to. He’s really ridiculous. Of course I made no inquiries.
Ted did not tell me who the flyer was nor who was asking hospitality for him. I consider the project impractical anyhow. This house is literally a cottage, and there is no accommodation here for taking care of strangers. For instance, there is no way of getting to the bathroom except through my bedroom. Then there is no maid to wait at the table, and I am my own cook. There are no young people in this home, and we simply know no young men at all. Ted and I are two old people. I have all the work to do, and what with church and Home Guard Ted has practically no time. We have no car. We have no wine. Besides being inconvenient for me, the house and company would be extremely dull for the airman. So I said no, I couldn’t’ take care of a foreign flyer for a week. I really feel kind of mean to refuse, but equally I really feel I shouldn’t have been asked. Now I will do a little writing. I have been going through my assorted oddments of notes, and find I have quite a lot, more than I thought I had. So I’ve heaps of material already on paper. Good!

May 5, 1942

I was surprised last night by a visit from Maureen Garvin, who stayed talking until after ten-thirty p.m. She began by saying she was feeling “so awfully fed up” and she must come and talk to me, did I mind?
It turned out she had her calling up papers and had been assigned to work in a factory in Wembley, commencing next Monday morning. Her hours will be from seven a.m. until six p.m. so she will have to find lodgings in Wembley. Her mother is crying and her father is angry. Naturally.  If I had a daughter of twenty who was compelled to leave home and work in a factory, I should be frantic. This conscription of women is one of the worst features of this war. Is it an act of Parliament? Yes and no. These rulings are made, proposed and passed practically immediately. There is no debate. Everything is blanketed as “for the war effort.” The British people are just as much asleep as the German people; they do as they are told. Liberty? Think again.

May 8, 1942
The war news this week is shocking. On Monday we landed troops in Madagascar, “to forestall the Japanese.” The French resisted, so we fought them, strictly for their own good, of course, but giving promises to return Madagascar to the French at the end of the war. It was an act of unprovoked aggression, entailing bloodshed, just the same. It is true the English are hypocrites.
In the Philippines Corregidor has surrendered to the Japanese, eleven thousand four hundred and seventy-four prisoners taken. On the other hand the Japanese have suffered a naval defeat off the Solomon Islands, losing in all sixteen ships. How many the American Navy has lost has not yet been told.
In Burma everything is going badly for the allies, and today there is a report the Japanese have crossed the Burma border into China. Hell, hell, hell! The stupidity of men! The damnable stupidity of war!
I am sick with the lunacy of men. I am angry. This week Parliament has been debating a proposed rationing of coal, to come into effect by June First. Actually Parliament got excited about this. Why? Because it is something that will touch the members themselves! When food is rationed the rich don’t care; they can buy the luxury foods. When clothes are rationed they don’t care, they have full wardrobes. When girls of twenty are conscripted they don’t care; they have few girls of twenty, the ruling is meant for the poor, the “working classes.” If coal and light is to be rationed, they will feel the cold, they won’t like darkness; therefore they protest this rationing. Men! Damnable men!
Some ask; Why not send the conscripted miners back to the mines? Yes, why not? Others ask; why not increase working hours in the mines? To which Greenwood replies the miners will never stand for increased hours. The ever recurring mining troubles. The opportunist Socialists and Laborers say, nationalize the mines, etc. it seems to me they are making an opportunity to wangle through this deal, which they have agitated for years. Then there is a nasty scandal over a by-election in Putney. Polling there today, with much mud slinging. When I listen to the reports of the speeches in Parliament I get disgusted. The idiotic trivialities the men talk about! Yesterday a ruling about boy’s trousers! As for the government, well, the least said the better. I consider the whole lot of them a company of duds. As for Sir Stafford Cripps he is a very promising coming dictator. Certainly ever since he came back from Russia the screws have been put on women. Blast him. As for the Labor men, Bevin, Morrison, Greenwood, oh, it is to groan. They are self-seekers, everyone. Party politics, men squabbling amongst themselves, consideration is not for the best man for the job, but the itching prestige of the peacocks. Meanwhile our young men die. Germany and Japan continue to win the war, and we to lose it. It seems to me this present government should be thrown out. More able men might be found, stupider couldn’t be. Oh, blast the politicians, blast politics, and blast war! God what fools men are!

May 11, 1942

Workmen are busy in this road, digging and making a tank trap. They are at work directly in front of Number Sixty-Four. Are the Germans expected to by-pass down this street?

May 22, 1942

It has been two years today since Cuthie was taken prisoner. Mary Bernadette was here all day long. Artie took her home about eight p.m. and then she returned here about nine-thirty in full uniform and with a kit bag and surprised us. She said she had found a note from the commandant at home telling her to report at once in camp. She has been posted in training somewhere in Sussex (promoted to sergeant) and must “clear” herself in camp, and leave for Sussex tomorrow. Artie had told her to return to this house, and he would meet her at nine forty-five and take her back to camp. Now they have gone out together, making their farewells. Artie has not proposed to her, nor do I think he is ever going to do so. My guess is that a girl in Scotland, a Miss Hilda Kane, has ultimately charmed him, but we shall see.

May 23, 1942

Artie left on the eight forty-six train this morning. He has to report to Dumfries before midnight tonight. This has been an embarkation leave, though there is a slight possibility we may see him again before he leaves for “abroad”. He says if he has to get a tropical outfit he will probably be given further leave in which to acquire it; in which case he would come home and get his outfit in London. I do not know whether I want this or not. These recurring farewells are too harrowing.
I am very tired. Ted is being particularly tiresome; some of his silly talk exasperates me to the verge of screaming. I consider him an utter fool. I keep quiet. To talk back to him is only to give him further openings for his boring platitudes, his endless criticisms and instructions. Oh, he is an ass!

May 24, 1942 — Whit Sunday

I went to the eleven o’clock mass. Ted was at the organ. It is a showery blustery day, but pleasant between showers. When I wakened I was dreaming of Tenafly. I have been dreaming much of America this spring. Last nights dream was of trying to find our Tenafly house. I was wandering up and down Knickerbocker Road, looking for it, but could not find it. At last I spotted it. It was in ruins, roofless, and with water flooding in from the porch, which was submerged. Some alterations had been made to it, and I was trying to figure out the original lay out. “Yes, this was the drawing room, and here was the library” I was overcome by a sense of desolation, knowing nothing could be done, it was past restoring.
So I awoke. In dreams we find the truth. That home is beyond restoring. All my Tenafly life is in ruins. The past, to which we can never return. I have no home. This house isn’t home to me; or Romford, or England, but five twenty-three is destroyed. Tenafly is a dream. I have nowhere to go. I am lonesome, my God, how lonesome! Sitting through the mass this morning I thought, no, I don’t believe a word of this. I don’t belong. Nothing can make me belong. I try to come in but I cant. I can not. Not belonging. Lonesomeness. Oh, I’m terribly weary.
It is seven o’clock now and Ted is out playing Benediction. He is on my nerves most frightfully. My fault of course, but oh, I’m weary, weary, weary.

May 27, 1942

Cold and blowy and Ted is detestable. I could write that on every line of this book to the last page and the statement would not be overemphasized. Marriage lasts too long. I could keep on saying that too and not overstate it.
I do not hate Ted but I detest him. I do not hate him because I do not feel any desire to destroy him; what I desire is to escape him. He is so repugnant to me I do not even want to see him anymore. With the ugly gray beard he has grown this winter he resembles an old Jew Rabbi more than a decent Englishman. For years he has theorized about how my family must be of Jewish origin, but in today’s actuality he himself looks like a specimen of Whitechapels Jewry more than anything else. However, I don’t care about that. Anyhow, if he were one hundred percent Jew he would most likely be one hundred percent kind to his own. As it is, he is one of the meanest, most cantankerous, most spiteful, most sarcastic, most petty, and most vindictive men, anywhere. Yet he acts religious, and the world considers him religious, which is a joke. I live with him. I know exactly the gauge of his religion. I say there is no real love in Ted Thompson, neither for God nor man. He is a religious fanatic; religion is his hobby, but of real religion, as I conceive it, he hasn’t a particle. He is a hard self-willed and cutting man, and in intimate life he is intolerable. I long to get away from him, to be free. He hurts me too much. It seems to be his pleasure to hurt me. The more he can deride me, prevent me, and belittle me, the happier he is. It’s a queer disposition to be cursed with. Secretly he must feel terribly unsure of himself, else why this everlasting urge to prove himself better and wiser then everybody he comes in contact with? I can’t feel sorry for him if that’s his trouble, and enormous inferiority complex. He has hurt me so much in the course of the years, by every mean he could happen on oppressing my personality, wounding me in my deepest sensibilities, deriding me in my tastes, insulting me in my opinions, I can no longer care what happens to him. If he suffers, all right, let him suffer.
Usually I can keep quiet. Silence is my best protection. Occasionally I speak out, as yesterday; only that’s a fatal mistake. However, I said to myself today, “I will not be doomed, I will not be made miserable, let this nagger, nag, if that is what he must do, but I’ll be happy in myself in spite of him. I can’t get away from his presence, but I can shut my mind to him, and by God I will!”
So I’ve been out and bought some loose leaf notebooks and some sermon paper, and I am going to work at my writing no matter what, and be damned to him. I am all a simmer again with this heroine, and I’m going to work at it come what may. Ted be damned. Mother once told Ted he was a sarcastic devil, and that riled him. I suppose he thought she misjudged him. Anyhow he resented the description. It was a true one, and it is still true he is a sarcastic devil. He is thoroughly disagreeable and insulting person and I’m weary to death of him.

May 29, 1942

It was as I anticipated. Fortunately I was allowed to fall asleep when we first went to bed, so when Ted touched me and wakened me for loving, my flesh and my nerves responded to him without my anger and coldness having first to be dispersed. This morning, of course, we are both in better mood. Man’s “love” pure - sexuality.  What a woman craves is desexualized love, tenderness, sympathy, friendliness, and loving kindness. This ineradicable craving for pure true love!
Mrs. Prior was here today. Mrs. Cannon calling this afternoon and Rita Pullan came to tea. Last night Dorrie Stanforth was here. I thought I was finished with visitors for a while now that Artie has returned to camp. So no free time today.


May 31, 1942, Trinity Sunday

I did not go to mass. I did start, but had only gone a few yards down the street when rain began to fall, so I turned back. I was not sorry to do so. Mass bores me. I can’t help it. I just don’t believe. I can’t. The one o’clock news gave me startling information of a huge R.A.F. attack last night on the Rhineland and the Ruhr, but mainly on Cologne. Over a thousand bombers took part. Later this evening the B.B.C. said twelve hundred and fifty bombers attacked. The attack lasted only ninety minutes and over one thousand bombers were concentrated in the Cologne area. The air ministry described the raid “an outstanding success” and bomber command has received the immediate congratulations of the Prime Minister, who speaks of it as the herald of what Germany will receive “city by city” from now on. God help us all!

World War ll London Blitz: 4-8-42 to 4-29-42 Mrs. Jude was here today. To lunch, remaining until four o’clock, and then back again this evening, to telephone Mary. She has received a letter from Mr. Jude, written in pencil, from Malta. Malta! Of all places in the world, she thinks he has been torpedoed again, and picked up and put ashore at Malta.

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April 8, 1942

Mary Bernadette came in to tea tonight. She had just returned from town, where she had said goodbye to Hugh Storr-Best and returned him his ring and “all the doings.”  She told me he had said she had broken with him because of Fred Thompson (Artie). She denied it. I think Hugh guesses right. I think Mary does want Artie, but whether Artie wants her, that’s another story. I don’t think Artie wants to be serious with any girl.

April 9, 1942

Mrs. Jude was here today. To lunch, remaining until four o’clock, and then back again this evening, to telephone Mary. She has received a letter from Mr. Jude, written in pencil, from Malta. Malta! Of all places in the world, she thinks he has been torpedoed again, and picked up and put ashore at Malta.

April 18, 1942

It is my birthday. I am fifty-eight today. I can’t believe it! Ted gave me three boxes of Turkish cigarettes. These are now extremely hard to come by. Amongst my letters was one from my cousin Will Searle. This pleased me more than any. They were blitzed out of Whitehall Place, and now are living in South Harrow. Young Will, now married, is in the police and stationed at Dorking. “We’ve lost our home,” writes Willie, “but are thankful to have our lives. You can always get another home.”

April 19, 1942

I found Mother in the back garden when I returned from High Mass bringing Mary Bernadette with me. Mother came loaded with goodies, of her own making. She brought me a fruitcake, (war recipe of course) a mince pie, (the last of Christmas) a jar of yellow plum jam, and a jar of chutney. She also brought a half-pound box of Fuller’s Candies, which she must have been hoarding for some time. She also brought me a great surprise. She handed me a little jewel box containing Auntie Lizzie Hext’s black pearl earrings. Minnie sent them to me. Will Hext gave them to Minnie when Auntie died, but it seems Minnie considers them “too old” for her to wear, so Mother asked her to give them to me. So Minnie wrote to Will and got his permission to part with them and here they are. I am so pleased. They are beautiful pearls in themselves, and I like them also because they were Aunties. I loved Auntie Lizzie. Several callers including Dorrie Stanford, Mrs. White and Daisy and this evening Mrs. Jude came over. I am tired now after a very nice day.

April 25, 1942

All this week my thoughts have been dwelling in the memories of my girlhood. I expect Auntie Lizzie’s earrings thrust them there. Particularly I have been remembering my life in Head’s, my walks up Sloane Street, the Boer War and the dance at Blankheim House, Pall Mall. I ought to write this out. I don’t but I should. When am I going to do my writing? Oh when?
When I have leisure? Perhaps. When I have leisure I shall probably be incapable. As it is I am already aware of the failure of my powers. I am sure I was born with the temperament and the mentality of a novelist, and with the easy facility of composition necessary to do the actual labor; yet I don’t write. I only dream about writing. Why am I such a dud?

April 28, 1942

The war is getting worse and worse. There were heavy raids on Bath last night.

April 29, 1942

A hurricane is blowing. Our garden fence blew down today. This is the windiest day in years. If fires are started tonight then heaven help us! There was a heavy raid on Norwich last night, many fires, many casualties. An alert was given here this afternoon, about three o’clock, but the all clear sounded about twenty minutes afterwards. Just as the sirens went, Isabel Robbins called, with Jan. She brought me a half-pound of tea, most acceptable.
I received a letter from Doris this morning. It was posted in New York on February Eighteenth, no wonder I look in vain for letters. She tells me Kay had a daughter in January.
Tonight Mrs. Owlett is coming in. Yesterday it was Miss Coppen. Where is my precious private time?
I have begun to read, The Life and Letters of Edward Thomas by John Moore published in 1939. John Moore’s book annoys me. After recounting Thomas’s love affair, he begins his chapter, Marriage, with the sentence; There were no reproaches between them, which is a preposterous statement to make. Thomas had a free-love affair with a girl named Helen Noble. It had begun on her twentieth birthday. They became lovers that day, writes Moore. That was in July 1897. From then on they had sexual intercourse whenever they could. Both of them were very young, neither of them telling their parents. Mrs. Noble did not like Edward so Helen left home and became a nursery governess; but her employer, a Mrs. Andres found out about her love affair, and there was an unpleasant row between Helen and her employer. In consequence Helen had left the Andrew’s and taken a new job as a sort of general help, with a kind and tolerant and slightly bohemian family who were already her friends and knew of her relationship with Edward. Here she was happy and at home; and Edward was made welcome too and allowed to come and see her whenever he liked. The name of this family was Logan. What sort of people were they to take in a girl of twenty, knowing she was quarrelling with her mother because of her “friendship” with a young man? They must have wanted a cheap servant extra badly. Well, At the beginning of the summer term of 1899 Helen wrote and told him (E.T.) that she was pregnant.
So says John Moore, there were no reproaches between them. I should say not! They had been sleeping together on and off, in houses, and in woods and copses, for two years. They were lucky the girl wasn’t pregnant before!
Moore goes on; the lovers decided that at first they would tell nobody except Mrs. Logan; and they were rather surprised and disappointed when Mrs. Logan, whose Bohemianism was of the refined and ladylike sort, strongly advised that they should marry and make a clean breast of it to their parents. Marry, said Mrs. Logan, a trifle disconcerted and marry soon! So on the Twentieth of June, 1899 they were married at Fulham Registry Office. Edward then returned to Oxford and Helen to her job.
Really now! No reproaches! This is the kind of writing that annoys me excessively. A man writing, and talking about what he doesn’t understand, a man's verdict! Gosh! What a situation! Moore says calmly, there were no reproaches between them. I should think not indeed.
See, this is why I want to write. I want to put down women’s verdicts on women’s affairs.
As I walked through Romford market again I had the shudders again. These people, these working class people, their voices, their accents, horrible! Affairs ought not to be that way. People are poor, working class; they ought not to be condemned to illiteracy, to bad grammar, poor voices, and poor manners. All the citizens of a country deserve a good education. I think of Mrs.. Highman telling me one of the glories of America was the little red schoolhouse, free education for everybody, as much as they could take. American public schools yes, those are the right schools. They produce Americans. Ladies and gentleman and lower classes don’t populate America as England most damnably is, but by Americans Good Americans as they say, “Are you a Good American?” Yes, by God, I am. Well I seem to be raving, so I’ll shut up for tonight. Au-revoir.


An unexploded flying bomb on display in Romford Market, October 18th, 1944


World War ll London Blitz: 3-2-42 to 3-30-42 This afternoon I heard two complaint stories from Elizabeth Coppen. She says that on Saturday the plain-clothes police went to the dog-racing track at Walthamstow and asked all the men for their identity cards, and they rounded up two hundred men who should have been at work in their factories. Now, what is this but Gestapo work? Men can’t and won’t work seven days a week; especially now when they say they get no benefit from extra pay, since the government takes it back as income tax.

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March 2, 1942

I was going through Ive’s Gardens to the library this morning and I had a chat with the one-legged old Mrs. Thompson who lives in one of the cottages. She was cheerful, as always, but this is what she said: “Where’s this war going to end? That’s what I want to know. The men don’t seem to know what they’re doing just muddling, muddling, if you ask me. This is another paper war, that’s what I say. Lots of fine words about, but what’s going to happen afterwards? That’s what I want to know. You see, it will be like the last time, 'England for ‘eroes!' I don’t think! That’s what they said before, didn’t they? Then what? Men are on the street. Men in gutters, selling matches! Paper promises! I say, that’s what this war is going to be, too: a paper war! Why don’t’ they finish it? We’re all tired of it. We want something to eat. D’you know, I’m always hungry these days, awful, isn’t it? And cold! I’ve never been so cold as this winter and why? No nourishment in the food, our blood is all thinned out. Of course we can’t keep ourselves warm. Stands to reason, doesn’t it! Two eggs in a month! What’s that? Everything is for the children. What happens? The children gorge and throw their food away. Yes, I see it; right here with the school kids, every day. Why doesn’t the government do something for us old people? I suppose they reckon we’re no good any more; we may just as well die. Well, the last war did in my old man, only twenty-eight he was, and now this is going to do in me. Muddle, muddle. It is a paper war. Why don’t they finish it, and let us live proper again?”
This afternoon I heard two complaint stories from Elizabeth Coppen. She says that on Saturday the plain-clothes police went to the dog-racing track at Walthamstow and asked all the men for their identity cards, and they rounded up two hundred men who should have been at work in their factories. Now, what is this but Gestapo work? Men can’t and won’t work seven days a week; especially now when they say they get no benefit from extra pay, since the government takes it back as income tax. The working-class has never been taxed before, and they simply do not want extra money if they’ve got to surrender it as tax. Moreover, Englishmen are not slaves; they will not be driven to work. Moreover, they say, what about the rich man? Does he give up his pleasures? What about his ascot?
The other story was about food. It concerns a young clerk in Jean Kendal’s agricultural office at Colchester. Miss Coppen knows the boy. He earns less than five pounds a week, and has been married only a year. Well, last week, two food inspectors went to his house, and searched it! Elizabeth says they even searched in the beds! The only food hoard they found was twenty tins of salmon. The case is to go to court. For what crime? The young wife had accumulated twenty tins of salmon, and she had a year to do it in. The government advised us, to lie in food stores but now if we do, it seems we have become criminals and are hoarders. How disgusting. How petty! Who told tales? By what right can police come into our houses and search them! What can a poor five-pound per week collect anyhow? Here is a young couple trying to act with foresight, according to early orders, and see what happens to them. Why don’t the food inspectors go and search in Mr. Hudson’s house? He is one of the food administrators. It is said he has one big room filled with supplies, sugar and tea by the hundredweights, etc. Does anybody suppose that Lord Woolton lives on the rations?
Land of Liberty, where? Elizabeth says the Englishmen began losing their rights in the last war, some of which have never been returned to him; and now its worse than ever, all our rights are being taken away from us, but you mustn’t say anything.
After the fall of France Hitler offered peace to England. Poland was conquered. France surrendered. What had England got to fight for? After Dunkirk we had only one division for our army. Had Hitler invaded us then we could not have held him. What did Winston do? He orated. We still had no men, no guns; but he talked us into going on with the war. Our absurd British sentimental self-righteousness asserted itself and we committed ourselves to this hellish war. It need not have been. Not any of it need have been. Men will talk, will scheme, and will fight, so here we are, in hell on earth. For what? For blah.
Now they are talking about India, and Burma, and about losing the British Empire. Why not? Why should we own and boss India, and the rest? Why for exactly the same reason that Hitler aims to own and boss Europe, for self. I can’t grieve that we lose Singapore, that he Dutch are losing Java and Sumatra, that the States are losing Hawaii and the Philippines. Those are not white mans lands. Nor are their people the white man’s burden. They are the white mans riches and the white mans servants. Why have the Australians and the New Zealanders rushed into the fight, to die in Libya and Crete and Greece? Oh oh oh! I groan at all the monstrous folly of this war, the hopeless stupidity of men. I weep for the young. Oh God, save us soon!

March 3, 1942

“I’m laffing me bloomin ‘ead off” as Vic Oliver says so often. I went out this afternoon to change my Boot’s book, as Ted was going straight to the Home Guards this evening, and I shall be alone until late. I was very surprised to find this road full of buses, going in both directions. I wondered if an invasion had begun. After leaving Boots I continued along South Street towards the market, and ran into the Fire Brigade. There was a jam of people by the co-op, and lo, the fire was at Westgate and Hammonds! The office and the hatters and the bakery adjoining were all burnt out on the top floors. The roofs were gone and all the windows, and though the flames were out the firemen were still hosing.
I had to laugh. This is the third or fourth fire at W. and H’s. They had a bomb there in the blitz. They’ve had burglars several times. This struck me as funny. I can’t be a bit sorry for old Bert. Maliciously I feel he deserves trouble. It must have been a big blaze since traffic had to be diverted. I guess Dorothy would laugh too. Of course I made no attempt to get into the premises, but I expect when Ted comes home he’ll be laughing too. We do sort of feel it is poetic justice when old Bert suffers annoyances and setbacks. “Let him suffer!” that’s the feeling. “Do him good.”
It is now ten p.m. and I’m constrained to add; well, I’ll be damned! On the air we have just been informed about a debate in Parliament today about clothes and fashion. It seems there is a man, Sir Thomas Barlow, who is Director-General of Civilian Clothing. One of the items that the war office announced, is that in order to save material, it has been decided to modify the regulation pattern of an officer’s service dress and khaki drill jackets, by the removal of the pleats from breast pockets. Silly damned old fools of men! I suppose they imagine every shred of material is utilized in making a shirt. They don’t understand that it can’t be. A garment is made out of different shaped pieces, not out of cubes. Nothing can be saved by eliminating a pleat on a pocket it will only mean a wider cut of waste and meanwhile the wearer has lost the utility use of the pleat on the pocket. God, what fools men are! They debate about this in parliament; and then the B.B. C. announcer takes time to tell it. Fool, fool men! They think they are going to win the war!
Earlier this evening Joad said something in the Brains Trust, which is worth noting. Somebody had asked would it be a good idea to send some of our trained psychologists to Russia to find out why the Russians fight so well, why their morale is so high, so that they might come back and teach us how to emulate the Russians? Agnes Hamilton pointed out that the enemy was not on our soil, as he is on the Russian’s; but Joad said something to this effect: “I am a socialist. I went to Russia once to see the Soviet. What was most striking to me was, that every Russian felt that Russia belonged to him, actually and that the young people of Russia knew that they were important to Russia, that they were listened to, and that they could assist in making decisions running the country; therefore, since Russia was for the Russians, what ever you did for Russia you did for yourself; if you made a mistake you paid for it; if you made a success you benefited. So different from public feeling here.”
Of course. When I heard Joad say that I thought of the people I had seen in South Street and the market today. You get an impression, what do they care? England is still in a sense, feudal, for it belongs to the rich, and the poor are compelled to accept the will of the rich, willy-nilly. The feeling I get so often in England is that the bulk of the people are trash. It infuriates me, because they are so content with their state. The poor do not question the “rights” of the rich, and they certainly don’t envy the rich. It is their mild acceptance of their lot, the poverty, the dirt, and the ugliness that distresses me. Things may not be the way they are but the poor don’t mind. The English good nature is a curse to the people.
I remembered something Artie said last year about the soldiers in training in Kent. They didn’t want to fight, he said. They said: “Why should we? Let Hitler win. We’ve got nothing now, nothing to lose. We couldn’t be any worse off under Hitler and we might even be better off.” Artie said, the men said, that after the war England would go communist anyhow. Yes, the present day ordinary common Englishman does not feel that he has a stake in the country. Maybe England will go Bolshevik and perhaps a good thing too.

March 7, 1942
Last night I was dreaming of my mother and father. It seemed that mother and I were going away on a visit to the Utard’s. Mother had already started and I was left behind to fix up the luggage. It was another version of my beastly “packing” dreams, and hurrying for boats and trains that I nearly miss. We were in Angel Road and I was packing in my old bedroom. Then I went into Mother’s room, to take her nightclothes out of her chest of drawers and Dad was lying there in bed. He did not speak to me, but he threw himself half way out of the bed towards me, and opened his arms to embrace me, and he smiled at me, with tender affection. Dad was glad to see me, welcoming me, completely. It was a beautiful dream, a phantom giving of what I look for in reality. Or rather, I should not say “in realty” but in today’s daylight life; for in reality Dad did give me his love and his comprehension, and in dreamland he still gives it to me.
I say thank God for dreams. Not the illusionary daydreams of self-delusion but the unbidden dreams that come to us in sleep to clear our minds and assuage our sore hearts.
By the way, when I went out yesterday I saw the MacTurk woman walking past. This is the third time I have seen her near this house recently. Why? Is she pursuing my man again?

March 9, 1942

This gloom inside and out is getting me down. The war news is worse and worse. Java has fallen. Burma is invaded, Rangoon threatened.  What next?  A beautiful man’s world I must say. Now the women are conscripted! When Maureen Garvan was here yesterday she said she was waiting to be called up. Well, if I had a young daughter conscripted I think I should go stark raving mad. I haven’t a daughter, and I am an old woman, no good to anybody, so the government can’t “use” me. Well Au-revoir.

March 10, 1942
Mrs. Harvey James came to tea. The chief item that distresses her about the A.T.S. is that girls are going to be detailed to act as batmen to officers. Looking for trouble, she says, for there are times when the girl is bound to be alone with the officer. I agree.
Rangoon has been evacuated and now has fallen to the Jap's. Australia is attacked, planes flying over from New Guinea. Vichy is reported to hand over forty new ships to the Nazi’s. What next? Elizabeth Coppen says her Colchester brother-in-law asserts that we shall be involved this spring, late April or early May. Essex men have their orders. Civilians on the roads will be shot.
On the other hand Banyard of the bank says, no, there will be no invasion; Hitler intends to starve us out. Who knows what will happen? Whether Hitler attempts invasion or not, the threat of it is sufficient to keep our soldiers tied to home.
Ted is still cranky, but the temperature has moderated somewhat today, so he may thaw out too. Gosh, I hope so!

March 11, 1942

It is four years today since the Nazi’s marched into Vienna. Douglas Reid says it is four years today since the war really began. Churchill announced in Parliament today that Sir Stafford Cripps will go to India, to consult with all parties about Indian Home-Rule, and to confer with the vice regent and General Wavell about the anticipated attack on India by the Japanese, which is imminent, for the Jap's are at the gates. This is the “next”, fighting in India. Ted is at the Home Guards, and will be late. I want to record something about us. This morning I thought I wouldn’t but something I read this afternoon has made me change my mind.
Last night Ted woke me from deep sleep and took me; consequently today our nerves are ironed out and there is harmony in the home atmosphere once again. As I fell back to sleep my inner woman insisted, this is not love, this is just the beastly nature of man, straight lust, an action as simple and as meaningless as the evacuation of the bowels; this is not love.
This afternoon I began to read Dorothy Sayer’s book, The Mind of the Maker. It is an author’s statement about religion, “a commentary, in the light of specialized knowledge, on a particular set of statements made in the Christian creeds and their claim to be statements of fact.”  Page 101 – Quotation from The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis:
“You asked for a loving God: you have one, the consuming fire himself, the love that made the worlds, persistent as the artists love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child,  jealous inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes.  . . . A work of creation is a work of love, and love is the most ruthless of all passions, sparing neither itself, nor its object, nor the obstacles that stand in its way."
These sentences struck my attention sharply. Jealous, inexorable, exacting, as love between the sexes. Love is the most ruthless of passions. Then I remembered something Ted once said about love when we were watching the Barnsbees’s and their troubles. “Its alright,” said Ted, “and it will be alright. No matter what the rights and wrongs are, no matter how many rows they have or how many mistakes they make: no matter how often they fight; as long as a man can feel desire towards a woman he’s still in love with her; as long as that lasts they’re alright, no matter what.”
So, perhaps with Ted and me, perhaps it is one long love affair. Certainly whether I like his treatment or not, like him or not, he does remain to me the most important person in the world; and though the kind of love I offer is not acceptable to him, and his regard for me is insufficient for my liking; still he does still turn towards me with desire, therefore I must take it he does love me. Love: jealous, exacting, inexorable, ruthless yes, love is not easy, it is hard, a passion, a suffering. So, there it is, our love affair.

March 12, 1942

In the beginning of the war general opinion tended to a hope that the common people of Germany would make another revolution; but as the war goes on, from one disaster to another, and all our fool politicians making the absurdist excuses but never proceeding to do anything sensible, and only annoying the people with endless petty restrictions. I find myself thinking that it is perhaps the people of Britain who will make a revolution. Our politicians are and have been a mass of duds. Ineffectual men get into high places, and do not work for the country, but for themselves, for their own glory, or their own pocket. Parliament is nothing but clack, clack, clack, and the gabble of ducks. Think of the ridiculous debate last week about clothes.
Well, I am old enough and old fashioned enough to think that what Parliament lacks is gentlemen. When salaries for M.P.s was instituted that was the beginning of the rot. How can men who “have risen from the ranks, from labor” know what is good for the country or how to rule it? They think only of themselves and their own class, and of today, for they know nothing of history or culture. Lo here we are on the rocks. Eventually if we continue to exist as an independent state, we shall either have to return to a proper functioning Aristocracy, as our fathers knew and understood Aristocracy, or else we shall have to go communist like Russia and all its vermin together. Certainly democracy as we have it now is an awful flop.

March 14, 1942

An announcement made by the admiralty has just been read on the nine o’clock news. It is that the allies lost twelve war ships, five cruisers, six destroyers, and a sloop, in the three-day battle of Java. They are listed as British, the Cruiser Exeter, and the destroyers Electra, Jupiter, Encounter, and Stronghold. Australian: The Cruiser Perth, and the sloop Yarra. United States: The cruiser Houston, and the Destroyer Pope. Dutch: The Cruisers Java and DeRuyter and the Destroyer Hortense. In addition the Dutch destroyer Everston was damaged and beached.
The Japanese losses are not known, but it is believed that an eight inch gun cruiser was sunk, a second damaged, and two more set on fire, while one destroyer was sunk and three seriously damaged and left on fire or sinking.
The only allied survivors mentioned in the communiqué were some members of the crew of the British destroyer Jupiter, which sunk near the mainland of Java. These men have already reached Australia.
This was the battle in the Java Sea on February Twenty-Seventh and this is terrible news. Not a single ship of the original allies force, which entered the battle, escaped. It is not stated how many ships the Japanese had, but only that it was a bigger enemy fleet. Awful. Awful. What price the British Navy pay now? Again an Axis partner is the winner. Now the Jap’s, the despicable little Jap’s, licks us. What was our white world doing to allow this to become possible? The lunacy grows and hell increases.

March 25, 1942

I am in low spirits. Artie is home; consequently Ted is at his most disagreeable. Today Artie remarked, “I notice Dad is even more irritable than usual.” Artie naturally wants to have a good time. He has been through a hard winter of rigorous training, and now he has nine days leave. On the thirtieth he must report at Edinburgh, and then what? At night when Artie comes in after we have gone to bed, Ted pulls his watch out from under his pillow and flashes his torch on it, to see what time it is! The Puritanism of Ted’s entire horrible conformist upbringing comes out strong. The self-righteousness of Ted has to be endured to be believed. He seems to have forgotten entirely what it is to be a young man, to want to frivol, to dance, to drink a little, and to go out with the girls. He constantly criticizes Artie to me, the boys thought, manner and speech, till my spirit groans. Oh, let us be happy whilst we can, I think; what do these trifles matter? But no! Ted must nag and nag. It is really awful.
As for the war it gets worse and worse. I am sick of the war, totally, absolutely, completely and permanently sick of the war. As for the politicians, I loathe the lot of them! What a crew! And the blah blah goes on daily. The English are a nation of hypocrites. Who ever gave that verdict gave a true verdict.
I am going to record some facts regarding the conscription of women. The conscription of women as such, I consider criminally stupid, and an astute way of obtaining cheap labor, but apart from the compulsion of the conscription I want to note these facts about the sexual side of it. It is already notorious that the girls in the services are producing bastards. Dorrie Stanforth has told me she has seen a document in the old church hospital that assures service girls that if they get into trouble they will be taken care of, that their child will be taken care of, and their secret will be kept, They are specifically told not to worry about their parents finding out, for their parents will not be informed, and that this is a promise to them. So, after taking young girls away from their houses the government condones them if they fall into immorality. Very sweet.
Pauling Dunball tells me that at Exeter an older woman was sent from London to lecture to the A.T.S. girls, and she said, “If any of you girls are going to have a baby, whether you are married or unmarried, you will be taken care of. If you do not want the baby, it will be taken away from you at birth and put into a good home. Do not think that having a baby will release you from service. After the birth of your baby you will go straight back to your uniform.” Horrible!
Last night I got even more information. Mary Bernadette came into see me. She is now in the W.A.A.F.s and she is in the administration department. These are some of the things she told me, is now going on in Hornchurch Aerodrome. There are four hundred girls in the camp, and besides our own R.A.F. there are Czechs, Poles, Canadians, there. Every night it is the duty of the Administrative staff to go the rounds and see that all the girls are in their beds. “But its no good,” said Mary, “because although you may see them in their beds, half an hour afterwards the bad ones will be out. Not out of camp either. There are enough rotten officers up there and the Czechs and the Poles are particularly bad. They make arrangements through their batmen, and any girl who wants to oblige can easily do so.”
She told me that in the health lectures the girls had to listen to they were warned that the Czechs and Poles “were not like our men.” Also, that the girls were watched, and after any girl had been seen out four times with a Czech or Pole, her parents were notified! The girl was given seven days leave, with secret instructions to her parents to give her a careful talking to. Sweet.
Mary said that the regulars, “the girls in the business,” are in with all the rest of the girls and it’s disgusting. The authorities use no discrimination to keep the vicious apart from the virtuous. The bad girls desert regularly. They go to town on their leaves and do not return; they have to be found and fetched back by the military police. Mary says they don’t care a hang; they take their punishment, and at the next opportunity go right off again. If anything is said to them, they just retort, “we didn’t ask to come here.”
Mary says all the girls are dosed daily with bromides, to keep their sensuality down. The stuff is put into their morning tea, without them knowing anything about it. This week, if you please the medical officers gave orders for the dose to be doubled on account of it now being spring. What price the sweet English Rose? Another thing Mary says is, that it is distinctly bad for the men to have the girls around. “You can see the girls distract them,” she said. Of course. The average age, I suppose, both for men and girls is twenty. What do they care if there is a war on? Twenty is twenty, and boys and girls together are bound to carry on at love making, but to give the girls bromides!
Well that’s the damn fool government. No wonder we don’t win the war. It has taken this war to make me thankful I don’t have a daughter. If a girl of mine had to go away from home into one of the women’s services I think I should go stark raving mad. Of course the girls can stay good and sweet, but thousands of them don’t. Then there is the contamination. In civil life a respectable girl need not associate with prostitutes but in army life she cant evade them, and not only must she work with them, she must even eat and sleep with them. It is horrible. The conscription of women, if that isn’t one of the stupidest rulings of our addled politicians I don’t know what is. Anyhow, if we can only win the war by conscripting our women, we’ve lost it anyhow. It would be better to cry quits.

March 28, 1942

Today the girls of seventeen are registering. In two weeks time the girls of sixteen will have to register. To me this is outrageous. Have the children got to fight this damn war?

March 30, 1942

I am now going to Boots to exchange my library book. I was wakened in the night by a terrific crash, so probably a bomb fell somewhere near. The B.B.C. news said, “No damage was done by the bombs which fell on the country last night.” Of course they didn’t say where they fell. Perhaps I shall pick up some information on South Street. The tempo of the war is increasing daily, and invasion is expected within two weeks. It’s a crazy world and I am sick of it.
Afternoon and I am awaiting Miss Coppen. I was struck anew by the ugliness and drabness of the people in Romford. Worse, I perceived in the shop mirrors that I look like the rest of the crowd. My own reflection gives me a pain, as I look as deplorable as any other Romford dowager. Sickening.