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World War ll London Blitz:  Buy On Smashwords
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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: 1-2-44 to 1-31-44 No word from Artie. Last week we forwarded him, by telegram and mail, a notification, which came for him from Roehampton, directing him to present himself at the hospital there, at two p.m. January 4, to receive his artificial leg.

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January 2, 1944

No, It can’t be done. I can’t conform. I can’t live as a practicing Catholic, which has become absolutely impossible for me. If I was in a strange town I might attend mass, or in the city I could go and pray in Westminster Cathedral, but to go and sit through mass in our Romford Church, no, I simply cannot do it. I can’t be one of Father Bishop’s parishioners, no, I cannot. Go to confession again? I never shall. As a Catholic I’m finished absolutely finished. I’m through, really through.
If I can’t go to mass, at least I can refrain from definitely linking myself with the Church of England, or can I? I don’t know. All I know, the pull back is terrific. Sixty years ago, in January 1884, I was still in my mother’s womb, and I must have quickened by January. What I should like to do, is to put myself openly back in the Church of England this coming April, soon after my birthday- about the time of my christening. I should like to be duly born again into my true religious life, and begin it again this year, a new year one. That is what I should like to do, and so I would do if I had only myself to consider. But there is Ted. What am I going to do about him? Oh, this marriage business, what a nuisance it is!

January 4, 1944

No word from Artie. Last week we forwarded him, by telegram and mail, a notification, which came for him from Roehampton, directing him to present himself at the hospital there, at two p.m. January 4, to receive his artificial leg. So he must have come down from Glasgow in time for that. Also, he has an examination before a medical board set for January Fourteenth. I thought perhaps he might have been traveling yesterday, and would have come in late last night. He did not come, nor is there any word from him this morning. Perhaps he traveled last night, and will go straight through to Roehampton this morning, I don’t know, but even so, he could and he should have notified us what he was doing, unless he has cut loose from us altogether. Maybe he’s done that. Maybe Hilda hates us so much not only is she not going to come here anymore, she is not going to let him come either. Quite likely, for she comes from the class of people who behave like that. She definitely has no class. What a fool it makes Artie! Well perhaps he is a fool, really, certainly there is something lacking in Artie’s mentality that he could ever have chosen such a girl for a wife. Certainly the adage is proved in Artie’s case, “A son is a son until he takes a wife.”

I am not going to think about him, or rather, I am not going to worry about him. He deliberately and underhandedly and slyly left home. He went of his own accord, he must return of his own accord. I shall never ask him to come back. It is I who shall lie on his conscience, not he on mine. Anyhow I am not going to worry about anything. I intend to kill my grief, not be killed by them. I intend to keep myself alive in health and strength as along as possible, and to do that I intend not only to take care of my body but also to take care of my mind. I intend not only to endure what can’t be cured, but also to forget it. So, if Artie has repudiated me, all right, that’s his affair, I can live without Artie.

January 10, 1944

It is the twin’s birthday. They are twenty-five today. Cuthie is still a prisoner in Germany, Artie, I don’t know where. Artie should have reported to Roehampton last Tuesday the Fourth, but whether he did I don’t know. No letters from him, or word of any kind.

January 11, 1944

A letter has come from Artie. It was addressed to his father, and came from Scotland, written on the Ninth. He said, “You will be glad to know I now have two legs again.” He added the information that he was remaining in Glasgow, would attend the limb-fitting center there, and had arranged to have his medical board exam there. He said he was well and happy and Hilda sent her love.

That was all. My name wasn’t mentioned. He neither inquired for me, nor sent me his love. As the letter stands I might be long dead and quite forgotten. So this is what a disliking daughter-in-law can do to you. Goodbye Artie.

January 14, 1944

It is St. Hilary’s Day and Charlie’s birthday. He is thirty today. The day he was born was so cold that the gas was frozen in the meter, and we had no light but candle-light. In the big front four windowed bedroom in Avenue A the hot-air furnace made hardly any impression at all, so in addition we had two oil stoves burning. In passing some cotton wool across the bed to the doctor, a candle was knocked over, setting light to the wool and the bed, so that Charlie was born in a small conflagration. Thirty years ago! Now Charlie is the owner of a country house with four acres of ground and a barn, himself, and the father of a family.

It is cold and frosty here today, but not too bad. The weather in Italy is reported to be very bad, and has been so for weeks, holding up the fighting. By the way, Ciano and DeBono were “tried” by the Germans in Verona last week, and executed there this Monday. Two of the double crosser’s crossed.

This infernal war goes on and on. On Tuesday we were told that the American’s had made a big daylight raid over Germany, but no facts were given, which was ominous, and portended a failure of some sort. This morning “corrected” figures were given out. We lost sixty bombers out of a company of seven hundred sent out, and five fighters; for a loss of one hundred and fifty-two fighters to the Germans, and some other “probable’s” brought down by the lost sixty, but not reported. Report says we hit our targets successfully and destroyed three large aircraft plants and other objectives. The attacks were on the Focke-Wulf factory at Oschersleben, the Junkers plant at Halberstatdt, and the Messerschmidt factory at Brunswick. General Arnold, Chief of the U.S.A.A.F. has stated that the huge air battle over Germany inflicted one of the hardest blows yet struck against the German Air Force, at a cost of approximately five percent of the American aircraft making the attack. I can’t see how sixty out of seven-hundred is only five percent, but there you are, reporting. Probably all the escorting fighters are counted in, and we are not told how many of these were sent out. War, damnable war. It is intolerable, and yet the fool world of men goes on with it.

We had an alert here last night, the first one in eight nights, luckily it came about eight in the evening and the all clear came before nine. Somehow it is more endurable then when it is in the dead of night, though it upsets my stomach just the same. Oh, when, when will it cease!
When Ted came in at lunch time he said he had met Mrs. Dennis on the street, and, without him asking any questions, he had received the information that Hilda had written to Mrs. Dennis this week and asked her to forward Hilda’s ration book (which she was holding with ours) to Glasgow. No comments, and why should there be any? It is natural enough for the neighbors and storekeepers to assume that the young people have gone to stay with the other parents for a while, as they have done, of course. My feeling is that I hope to never have to see Hilda again, never so long as I live, and as for Artie maybe I don’t want to see him either, certainly I don’t want to see him for some long time to come, or if ever, I don’t know. Artie dealt me a little death, such a grievous blow as he without any cause whatever takes a lot of getting over, and maybe I’ll never get over it. What I want to do is not to think of him, not to think of either of them. I said something of this to Ted at lunch-time. He said, Funny, isn’t it? It is you who are the relent- less parent, not me, as it ought to be according to the melodramas. I don’t mind, Lady. I agree they’ve behaved very badly but don’t let them know that you are hurt.

Don’t worry, I said, I’ve not the slightest intention of communicating with them.

No, why should you? Don’t let the information get round to them in anyway that they have hurt you. Don’t give the little cat that satisfaction, or any satisfaction, no matter how indirect.
That’s Ted, championing me for once. Usually Ted’s charity goes to the outside party, but he too has been hurt by Hilda’s bad behavior and Artie's ingratitude, he has been wounded in his fatherhood as I have been in my motherhood, together we are disappointed in a son.

I have been thinking about people’s characters recently and now again today; and it is my conclusion, after about forty years of observation, that Catholicism does not produce fine characters. Catholicism does seem to train people in deceit and insincerity even in downright lying. Catholics are untrustworthy. I’ve seen this over and over again. They’re liars, very often. I was thinking about Mrs. Harvey last night, remembering her goodness and her loveliness, it struck me that I have never met a Catholic person whose goodness razed out all around them, as her’s did,for instance. I’ve never met a Catholic person whose innate goodness was unmistakable, goodness palpable and unhidden. I’ve met many Protestant people who made you feel their goodness at once. I don’t mean that they were pious, or talked of God, but they were so indelibly good, through and through, that you knew it at once, and loved and revered them for it. Like Mrs. Harvey, Oh, how good she was! How kind and clever and jolly and how I loved her!

Now I’ve met Catholics by the score who talked religion, like Mrs. Jude, but they’ve always seemed to me all fa├žade with no premises behind them. Their words carry no conviction; they are merely talkers, piety- mongers; when it comes to good actions, they don’t act. I don’t call going to mass, reciting rosaries, collecting relics, going on pilgrimages, etc. goodness. Such people never do anything for others; they are much too busy saving their souls ever to do an act of practical kindness for anyone. Yes, I’ve known such pious Catholics by the score. Their religion is nothing but a colossal selfishness, a greedy self seeking coaxing bargains out of the saints, and so on. The Catholics who do show character and goodness are the converts, like Ted, and Blanche Sivell, who, being born and brought up as Protestants, have indestructible Protestant characters in their deepest being, which they cannot eradicate, no matter what overlays of Catholicism they put on.
As for nuns, of whom I’ve known plenty, they are hard women. They have a peculiar nun mentality hard to cope with. Technically living lives of perfection, vowed to observe special codes of goodness, there is a certain ruthlessness about nuns that is downright chilling. No, it is anything but palpable goodness which streams out of nuns. It is the same with priests. They are good men, vowed to goodness but you don’t feel it when you come in contact with them. They are correct, yes; austere, yes, fulfilling their vocations, yes, but they are not human. There have been a few priests in my life that I have admired and have trusted, but never in any one of them have I felt such human warmth and sympathy and downright goodness as, for instance, people could sense at once in Grandpa Searle. Why? I think it is the Catholic religion, a safety first religion. It is the Catholic who wants to know he is saved, not the Evangelical, not the Protestant. A man like Grandpa Searle, a woman like Mrs. Harvey, simply never bothered about herself; it was you they wanted to help and save, you, they cared about. Catholics don’t love like Protestants love, not in carelessness and unforgotten, simply loving, no, they can’t, their precious souls are always in the way and moreover, if you happen to be a Protestant, well you might as well not be on the earth for all a Catholic will do for you; and that is why they deceive you and trick you, I suppose, for you are merely one of the heathen, so why should they worry about you.

Oh why did Ted ever join the Catholic Church? Anyhow he wasn’t born a Catholic, thank God!

January 17, 1944

There was a bad railway accident at Ilford last night. The express from Norwich ran into the back of the Yarmouth train, which was stationary. Nine people were killed, and over thirty seriously injured, nearly all of them service people, squadron leaders and men from Bomber Command and many of them Americans too.

The accident was due to the fog, of course, which was the very worst one of the winter. We have had too much fog this year, no snow or deep cold, but constant fogs. How exasperating to the fliers it must be to suffer death and mutilation in a railway smash, instead of in the air, doing their jobs. There it is, no man knows where his death awaits him. Poor fellows, may their souls rest in peace!

January 18, 1944

We received another letter from Artie in Glasgow, to his father, in which my name is not mentioned in any way at all. We also received a letter from Eddie, a good letter.

January 19, 1944

Here came a knock on the door and I opened it to an American Air force man. He introduced himself. He said he was from “Home,” Knickerbocker Road, Tenafly and Johnnie had given him our address. His name, he said, was Stevie Clarke. For a moment this meant nothing to me, then light dawned, it was Dr. Clarke’s boy, of course, young Stevie, whose birth I remember as waiting for. He is now twenty-one. Here he is, one of the American boys in England. My clearest memories of him are of his being a bouncing two year old in a perambulator in the charge of his grandmother, Mrs. Lemon, and of her sitting on the beach with me under our maple tree whilst we chatted, and he amused himself in the baby carriage. After his sister Lydia was born I did not see much more of Stevie, though I was always hearing about him from our boys, especially our Johnnie, who was very fond of the Clarke’s and spent much time over in their house. When I was in Tenafly in 1933 their house had been pulled down, and the family had moved up to Cornwall,Connecticut. Johnnie paid them a visit whilst I was there and the twins visited them when they were over here in 1938. Lydia is in college, and Stevie was in his third year of college when the war called him. Doctor Clarke died last year. Billie is running the farm at Cornwell. Billie married a girl from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. and lives in the farmhouse proper. Mrs. Clarke lives in the big house with the lady doctor, Dr. Ebbarts, as companion and housemate. Mrs. Clarke has taken up painting as a hobby. She began with pastels, but now works in oils. She paints the darnedest things, says Stevie. Not a landscape like any other painter. Oh no! Just a lop-sided tree that she’ll pick out to paint, or if she wants to paint a room, she doesn’t do the whole room, only just a corner of it! Sounds like Cezanne or VanGogh to me.

Mrs. Clarke must be about my age, so must have taken up this painting rather late in life. What a lovely story to hear. I think it is thrilling to hear of things like this. Always to be able to find an interest in life, the Clarke’s certainly had the technique. Telling of his father, Stevie said Doctor Clarke had a bad heart, but the family didn’t know it, only Dr. Ebbart’s who lived with them, knew it. It was a stroke that killed him. He died happy, said Stevie. He was sitting taking a drink, and had the glass in his hand, and he was laughing at a joke, in fact, he was laughing so much it was actually his laughter that killed him. Dr. Ebbart’s knew about his heart, of course. Anyhow he died happy, and I’m darn glad about that.

He was seventy-four; an old man, really though I cannot think of him as old, he was always so vigorous. Of course he was a man about fifty when we first knew him, that year we went to Tenafly. He had recently married his second wife, and she was waiting for her first baby, this same Stevie. Billie, born in 1911, was the child of his first wife. Our Johnnie, born in 1910, became Billie’s inseparable pal and they’re still pals. Now here’s young Stevie in England. Oh, I am so pleased to see him.

January 21, 1944

Stevie Clarke stayed overnight, and left us about ten-thirty yesterday morning. He had made a special trip from Nottingham, on a forty-eight hour leave, especially to see us. We had a very happy time together.
Last night the R.A.F. made another very heavy raid on Berlin, thirty-five bombers were lost. I ought to be in the middle of my children and grand children, instead of which, I am thousands of miles away from them, living alone with Ted in a poky English Street and that is not enough for me. Ted alone can’t satisfy me, pacify me. I want life and more life, young life, the world of tomorrow swirling around me, not Ted’s world of yesterday and all the pieties of yesterday.

January 22, 1944

I am cooking the dinner. It is a blowy stormy day outside. Last night we had a very bad raid. It was like one of the old blitzes of 1940 and 1941. It lasted two hours, from eight-thirty to ten-thirty p.m. and planes going over all the time, and very heavy gunfire. Sometimes Gerry seemed right on top of us. I do not know what damage has been done in Romford, though several times we heard the bombs fall. Our radio is out of order, and was taken away by Stanley’s for repairs yesterday, so we shall be without the immediate news for a week or so. The milk boy said this morning that the Brewery, on High Street was hit, and was still burning. Ted may bring in more news when he comes to lunch. The papers won’t have much news because it would have been too late for them. I expect London got it badly. Anyhow this was expected before, seeing how heavily we are bombing Berlin and boasting about doing so. God! How I hate the boasting! The war in itself is horrible enough and I know it must go on but the bragging about it is sickening.

We had another alarm about four-thirty this morning, and a lot more bombing and gunfire, going on until quarter to six this morning, though it was not quite so bad as the evening one. It was much heavier than any night raid we have had for a long time, and bad enough to bring Ted downstairs. I always come downstairs when the alert is given during the night, because I am too nervous to stay upstairs but Ted hates to leave his bed, so remains in it, and takes a chance on the house being hit. Anyhow, he came down last night, everything seemed very close, sometimes directly overhead, and was very frightening. When is the world going to recover from this hellish craziness?

It is now two p.m. and the B.B.C. says ninety German bombers were over here last night, and we brought down nine of them. That is ten percent. Here in Romford, houses on Albert Road and Shaftsbury Road were hit, one man killed. This was Fulcher, the oil man, known to everybody in town until a couple of years ago, when he could no longer get supplies, he used to come around with a van, peddling soaps, oil, brushes, etc. Bombs also fell in South Hornchurch and in Rainham, but no other casualties reported. There is a rumor that in London, Westminster Hall was hit again, but there is no authentic news about this yet.

January 23, 1944

A report that yesterday allied troops made another landing in Italy, at a place named Netinho, thirty-two miles south of Rome. The enemy was taken by surprise, and the report says it was two hours before he fired a shot at our troops.

January 24, 1944

Yesterday was one of my bad days, a very bad day. As it was stormy in the morning I made no attempt to go out, nor did I go out in the afternoon. By evening I was swamped in melancholy, and aching, aching, for my boys.

I thought of Artie. Artie who went away behind my back, who never said farewell, who never writes to me, or even mentions me in the letters. He has written to his father. Artie, who has disowned me.

Yes it was a miserable Sunday, and as the radio has been taken away I could not even find any music to solace myself with. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t sew, and I couldn’t do anything. Yesterday was a terrible day of boredom and aloneness.

It is now evening and Ted brought in news of the damage done in this neighborhood on Friday night. On Victoria Road a public house was hit, and all around it many incendiaries through the houses, it is reckoned about fifteen hundred in just that small section. No bad fires resulted as all were taken out in time, but house roofs have been holed like pepper pots, and in the gardens Ted saw many pieces of furniture standing about, sofas, chairs, cots, those pieces which had caught the sticks.

At Rainham two hundred houses have been destroyed, but casualties not stated. At Warley, landmines were dropped. At the Brewery, great destruction in the bottling section, but the shelter, thought only a wall away, was not touched. This is a large public shelter, and is used as a sleeping place by many of the American Soldiers when they are on leave in this town. Had that received the bomb, the casualties would have been high. Only thirty of the bombers got through to London, and most of the damage done there was in Chelsea. We say now that we brought down twelve bombers, fourteen percent of their ninety.

January 25, 1944

I am feeling rather ill today. My stomach has been upset ever since the night of the raid, and now I have diarrhea and also am feeling very nauseated. Probably something has disagreed with me, most likely the bread, which gets more and more peculiar. What a treat it will be to have a piece of real wheaten bread, spread with some real butter. I’m terribly tired, unnaturally tired. I hope I am not coming down with the influenza. Outside the day is cold and blowy, very blowy, lots of low clouds, and no sun shining, in fact, a very disagreeable day.

January 26, 1944

The Air Ministry and Ministry of Home Security stated last night that it is now known that a fourteenth enemy aircraft was destroyed during raids on this country last Friday night.

January 29, 1944

An alert sounded last night just as we were going up to bed, about ten-thirty p.m. Ted went up, I stayed down, until the all clear came, about an hour later. Gunfire in the distance only, not in the immediate neighborhood, very alarming just the same, as you know it may come closer at any moment. After I got to bed Ted was very loving. I regarded this as a nuisance. I felt too tired to be bothered, but he was set to love, so he loved. I thought; this! This! I thought, what is the use of bothering about philosophy or religion or politics or anything, when this is the only thing that matters to man! Oh, I’m tired, tired of love and marriage, tired of thinking, tired of working, tired of England, tired of winter, tired of the war... Now I’m cooking the dinner, and I’m tired of housekeeping. I’m tired of everything and everybody.

January 30, 1944

Last night we had a most awful raid, it began about eight-thirty, and went on for two hours. It was worse than the one a week ago. It was sickening. I found myself praying like mad, the Catholic prayers, calling on the Virgin, begging for protection. When it was all over and we were still safe, I offered prayers of thankfulness, and I said, I will go to mass tomorrow. So, I have been but I really don’t know what good it has been, either to the church or me. I thought last night the Catholic prayers had a sort of authenticity, but in the church this morning I couldn’t feel it. The Church was crowded, as usual, of course, but the crowd oppressed me. It was so predominantly Irish, so foreign, it alienated me and I do not belong with these people. The only thing that pleased me was the collect for the day, the fourth Sunday after the Epiphany. I know that it is fear, and nothing but fear, which drives me to any intense realization of God. When I am afraid I call upon my God. It is atavism. I despise it, but I act it, suffer it all the same. I cannot help myself. In these awful raids, when we are in danger of destruction, when an awful death may strike us any moment, when we can do nothing what ever to help ourselves, or help anybody, when we are sick with terror, when all superficiality vanish, then our souls, our primitive souls, cry out from their depths, oh God, save us! God be merciful to me, a sinner! Our father who art in heaven, save us, save us! Jesus, save us! Mary save us! Oh God be merciful to me, a sinner! Deliver us from evil, deliver us from evil! He does save us, and we say Thank God! Thank God! Thank God!

January 31, 1944

It was a quiet night. No raids. Today is very overcast. The sort of weather which is very favorable to Gerry’s hit and run raids. If it does not clear I expect we shall have another heavy raid again tonight. I do not know what damage was done on Saturday night because our radio is still away being repaired. Presently I shall go and fetch the newspaper, and that may tell something, though, of course, the papers never give details.

The Times reports: Over two hundred German fighters were destroyed by American bombers and fighters in their attacks on Germany on Saturday and yesterday. One hundred and two were claimed after Saturday’s attack on Frankfurt, in which fifteen hundred aircraft collaborated, and the following report of yesterday’s operations adds ninety-one more. The R.A.F. destroyed sixteen in the offensive over France. The allied losses were ninety-six bombers, twenty-five fighters, and three intruder aircraft.
My God! 

World War ll London Blitz: 12-1-43 to 12-30-43 Last night we had a fairly heavy raid in this section, between eight and nine in the evening.

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December 1, 1943
It is the first anniversary of Artie’s wedding. I was in hope the pair of them would go out somewhere to celebrate, but no, here they stuck. I wished them to blazes. Hilda gets on my nerves more rather than less as time progresses. Last night Ted said there was a rumor that a certain flat on the Brentwood Road was likely soon to become vacant, and perhaps Artie would like it, if it fell into the market. Artie said, yes, but he couldn’t plan anything until after his next medical board, in January. He might not be discharged from the Army; therefore he wouldn’t furnish now. Quite right. It might pay him to pay the rent just the same, to hold it, in case he was going to be free to live a civil life very shortly. After all, it would only be a few weeks, and anyhow the flat isn’t even vacant yet, and may not become so, this is only a rumor of possible vacancy.
I, too, am impatiently waiting for January and the decision of the Army Medical Board. Some decision will be made then about Artie’s future, and what ever it is I hope it will take him away from this house. If he is to remain in the army he will have to go to some military depot, if it is civil life he will have to find a job. In either case he could leave these premises, and I certainly wouldn’t keep Hilda here without him. If he remains in the Army most likely she would go back into the W.A.A.F’s; and if it is civil life, he will have to rent a place for himself somewhere or other. If he was alone he could stay here indefinitely, but married, and to this dull boring girl, he can’t remain indefinitely, for I simply can’t tolerate this girl. She suits him all right. She doesn’t suit me, and she never will. I can’t stand her about the place. Heighho!
December 8, 1943
Last night I had another of those instructing, illuminating, warning and guiding dreams. I hope I never forget it. The facts, which induced it, I think, are there. These last few days I have been working again on my, This Heroine, story. I have written a whole chapter on Angel Road, and of course this means I have had my mother continually at the bottom of my mind. Then here in this house there has been discomfort because of Hilda, who will not be genial or pleasant. I also spent yesterday writing to Eddie, which makes me terribly homesick for America and I wrote him of my dream and intention of returning to the States once the war is over, and staying there, Dad or no Dad.
Well in my dream I was in America, staying as a guest with Ruth Eason. I was in her house, yet it had our porte-cochere, and was filled with our furniture. None of my sons came into the dream even for a minute. Two elderly ladies came to visit Ruth, and somehow I was made to know that not only was I an unwanted guest, but I was a positive nuisance. Ruth refrained from introducing me to her guests, with whom she was effusively welcoming, and I found myself relegated to a sort of charwoman who was expected to tidy the dining room and then wash up the dishes. I found myself out on the porch, shaking the tablecloth, and suffering poignantly. “I am not wanted,” went my thoughts. "I am in the way. What can I do? I’ve spent all my money, and I can’t get anymore, so I can’t go away. I should have saved some money, enough for passage money, but I didn’t, so now I must stay here, and she doesn’t want me. Oh what a fool I’ve been! I want to go home, back to Ted, and I can’t go home. Misery, misery.”
Well, that was the dream, very clear and plain, warning me not to be a fool. My mother would never go and live with any of her children, and she was right. She remained her own mistress on her own premises all her life, and so will I do the same. I’ll never go to America to live with a son. I’ll visit my sons, but never will I be persuaded to make a home with any one of them. Always before when I’ve gone back to America, my own house was there. In nineteen thirty-three we still owned Five Twenty-Three Knickerbocker Road, and I resumed residence as its chatelaine. That house has been sold, and there is no home of my own in America. If I go there I must visit in my sons homes. Well, visits of which the terminations can be seen are all right, but visits of indeterminate time are the very devil. So, I will not go back to America to live unless my funds will be sufficient to establish me in a house or apartment of my own. Look at the disagreeableness here with Hilda. She is an unmannerly girl who cannot accommodate herself to being a visitor in this house. She is not amiable and is rude, chafing, no doubt, to get away into a home of her own. Suppose this was her house and I was a visitor in it, what a hell of a time she would give me! It is obvious this girl doesn’t like me, and never intends to, nor even try to. She has put Artie in her pocket, and to such an extent that it is impossible to see Artie alone ever for three minutes. She is the possessive type, and consequently because I’m his mother she is ready to oust me in every possible way she can think of. No thank-you I do not wish to live with any of my daughters in law. I will always live in my own house even if it means I have to reside permanently in England.
I am glad my dream was so clear, reminding me so vividly of realities, or I might have gone on indulging day dreams, say of life with Eddie in Washington. Eddie maybe can go on loving me whilst I remain three thousand miles away from him, but he might stop very quickly if I sat down permanently in his premises. So, I shan’t try it. I will keep my own home, myself, always.

December 11, 1943

It is ten-thirty a.m. and I am cooking the dinner. I have a very disagreeable  incident to record. Extremely disagreeable, but here it is. On Thursday morning at breakfast time things reached a climax in the house. It was a cold, dark morning, but nothing unusual in that, considering this time of year, but when Artie and Hilda came down they complained of the weather as though that too was my fault. That was the last straw, and I exploded. I told Hilda that what she wanted was exercise, she should go out and take a walk around the block to make her blood circulate, and blow her cobwebs away. I pointed out that she went out even less than I did, and that she stuck too close to Artie.
Then she replied, that she couldn’t go out with Artie, and walking with him was too slow. “I can’t walk quickly with a crippled husband.”
I could have felled her. To allude to Artie, in front of him like that, and in the tone of voice she used, was unforgivable. She voiced what must lie in her secret heart a resentment of Artie’s loss of limb. I flared. She turned to Artie, who was saying nothing, and said, “You! Can’t you say anything? Are you going to let her talk to me like that!”
Poor Artie still said nothing, but did put his arm around the back of her chair. I was sorry at once, and rose at once to leave the room.
“Oh, never mind,” I said, “get on with your breakfast. I’ll go and dress,” and went upstairs.
Then I found myself in such a state of exasperation, I thought, I can’t stay in this house today. I’ll go and see Joan, and when I get home this evening we shall all feel better. So I dressed for the street. I concluded all the necessary preparations for lunch, and worked out things for tea. I also put out a hoarded box of chocolate candies for them. I told them of all this, asked them to tell Dad I had gone to see Joan, said goodbye, and left in time to catch the eleven-fifty train. I had a pleasant visit with Joan, and as the moon was almost at the full I remained until evening. I got home soon after nine o’clock, St. Edwards Church clock striking the hour as I walked up this road.
In the house I found only Ted, but I thought perhaps Artie and Hilda were out at the movies. I got myself a snack meal, and then Ted said, “Well Lady, you’ve got your wish. The lovebirds have flown. They gave me my dinner all right  but told me I should have to get my own tea as they were leaving for Scotland. However when I get back at teatime they were still here, delayed, I suppose, by Hilda taking the usual hour to do her hair. Anyhow they had to wait nearly an hour for a taxi, and then went off about five -thirty, with a couple of valises. I presume they are traveling all night. What a night for the journey! I must say the house feels better already without them; that awful oppression has lifted. Yes, I had a short talk with Artie. He was quite friendly with me, but said they couldn’t stick it here any longer. I told him I thought he was acting very foolishly, but of course he could do, as he liked. He said he would write, and I told him to tell me if he wanted me to still get him a house or flat, otherwise I should do nothing further in that matter. I also told him that I thought you were in the right and that Hilda did not behave well towards you. I also told him of her very bad habits of whispering in company, and of her petting in public, and said he ought publicly to stop her, that such things weren’t done in polite society, and were in extremely bad taste. He agreed. Poor Artie! Poor fellow! Anyhow he’s gone, Lady, and he left this for you.”
“This” was my empty cigarette box, on the top flap of paper he had written in blue pencil, “Mother, all my love” on the under flap,” I’ll write.” In the box a florin, with another message, “For laundry.” That was all. No goodbye, no signature, nothing else. I felt sick. I felt as though the boy had died. He has died, for this isn’t my Artie.
When Artie came home from Africa in July, he was happy and gay, in spite of his lost leg. He was his usual cheerful, careless, happy self. He was happy to be home alive, and he was happy with us, as he always was. From the first week that Hilda joined him he began to change. She is one of the most possessive, over powering women I have ever known or ever heard about. This would be all right if she made him happy but she doesn’t. The Scotch word “dour” exactly describes her. She won’t mingle and she won’t smile. She won’t be friendly and outgoing. For weeks past now I have only seen her at meals. They have lived up in their bedroom, only showing up at mealtimes. As soon as the meal was eaten and disposed of, they again retired upstairs, until the next one came along. In short, they lived here, not as though they were at home, in the family, but as though they were two strangers in a boarding house.
Dad gave them total hospitality, and I did all the work for them, but they held aloof and treated us with disdain. In fact, an ordinary boarding house keeper would have received more courtesy than they gave me. As for Ted, he says he has never had five minutes alone with Artie since Hilda got here, and if you wanted two minutes conversation with him about private matters, you had to stage a conspiracy to arrange for it. Ted says she is like a great fat spider that has gobbled him up. Ted also says of her, that he’d hate to introduce her to any decent people, the Utard’s, for instance, and he’d hate to introduce her as a daughter-in-law. That’s Ted, not me, but Ted, who can find excuses for anybody, and has an excess of charity. This girl is impossible. She is a Catholic too! For Ted can forgive practically anything for a Catholic. This girl does get on his nerves; he can’t like her, though he does try. It is her unfortunate nature. Her ignorance, her lack of good breeding, the fact that she comes from a slum, could all be overlooked, if only she was good tempered and good natured, but in Ted’s words, “She is a pill.” That’s Artie’s wife. This is the woman he is tied to for life. Ted says, “He did it himself. What can you do for him?”
The worst about it to me is Artie’s secretiveness, so great that it amounts to deception. Why didn’t he tell me they were thinking of going to Scotland? He found out he won’t get his leg until early in January, why didn’t he tell me? What is more natural than she would wish to visit her Mother? Why not say so? To pack up and go away behind my back, and with never a word of explanation, or of farewell! This is horrible for Artie to injure me, and here in our own home, and after receiving all these months of hospitality for both himself and his wife. She resents me I know, but to make Artie resent me too, what a power she must have over him, a bad power.
 Last night we had a fairly heavy raid in this section, between eight and nine in the evening. Rita Pullan was here and waited for the all clear before departing. She said it was like Nineteen-Forty when you had to run home between the raids. The B.B.C. this morning reported four bombers down, three falling to one pilot, some damage and some casualties in the Greater London area. I guess we were the area.
Ted has just gone out to get me a library book. We have been enjoying a very happy afternoon over the fire. I remarked, “Isn’t it queer how you know when a house is empty? You know there is nobody upstairs today, you feel it.”
“Yes,” he replied, “Thank goodness. I felt Hilda as a positive evil in the house. Of course it is sad that one should feel happiness at the departure of a child, and yet I am glad that they have gone, damned glad. I am glad Artie left of his own accord. I am glad I never asked him to pay us any money. We’ve nothing to regret. Now in her home, where they are poor people, he’ll have to pay his way, and it will be good for him to find out what expenses are. It’s nice to have the place to ourselves again, isn’t it?”
I agree. “Let’s forget it,” Ted said finally. “They left us of their own accord, and in a nasty way. It was a blow for you. It’s all over now; lets put it behind us and forget it. It’s no use worrying over them. They are a couple of young fools. Only let us be sure to be very nice to Artie. When he writes, write him very nice letters, extra nice letters. Make him see that we are always sane, always polite, always reasonable, and always kind. Let him know we will always do anything we can to help him. Finally he may come to see that Hilda is the unreasonable one and then he’ll promptly teach her a lesson and improve her. Don’t worry, Lady. They’ll learn sense eventually.”
Yes, I hope so. It is nice to have the place to us once more.
December 14, 1943
I have just come in from a walk around town. As I turned down this street I passed the visiting priest whom I’ve seen taking the mass at St. Edward’s. Of course he did not know me so no acknowledgement passed between us. I was glad, for his appearance disgusts me. He is an elderly man, chockfull of all the signs of good living, paunchy and with a toper’s complexion. He was wearing an expensive overcoat and a silk muffler, and he paused to light himself a cigar. I thought he is exactly the type of the prosperous priest, a stuffed pig, and a cleric who makes a derision of the religion he stands for. I thought there is nothing spiritual about him, so how can he expound or show forth the spiritual life?
I thought could any woman go to confession to this priest? Of course not. Such a man could not have anything to say to anyone that would be of the slightest use. This sort of specimen of a priest should be kept out of the public view, for the mere sight of him is a scandal to his cloth. I remembered Miss Radenacher, back in the old Bayonne days, telling us how her mother used to advise her children not to get socially acquainted with their parish priest, as a personal acquaintance ship would prove a mistake. “After all,” she’d say, “priests are only men, but if you get to know them as men you will lose your respect for them and then possibly lose your religion also. So let the priest stay in his place, in church, don’t ask him into the house, never make a friend of him. Friendship with a priest is fatal to your religion."
She must have had the fat and smug ones in her mind, though I think she meant all priests were to be socially evaded. Well, I guess she was right. The mere sight of today’s specimen passing on the street is sufficient to damn the entire priesthood.
December 18, 1943
Love, after sleep, deep in the night. This is how and when I like it, when I can best respond to it. Today, I am serene in my mind, and well in my body, content and happy.
December 20, 1943
We were up twice in the night for raids. We heard one bomb fall which sounded fairly near; we have heard this afternoon that the railway line was hit between Stratford and Bethnal Green, nobody killed but several linesmen injured, traffic stopped all morning, but has resumed again now.
Influenza is rather serious just now, quite an epidemic, last week there were eleven hundred and forty eight deaths from it in England alone. However this is the first really bad health of the war. This is Ted’s Home-Guard night, so I am going to take my tea now, and read awhile in cozy solitude. So Au-Revoir.
December 27, 1943 — Boxing Day
Mrs. White and Daisy called this afternoon and were our only Christmas callers. This year Christmas is less like Christmas than any of the last years yet. We had news at midday that we sunk the battleship “Scharnhorst” yesterday, somewhere in the Arctic Circle. So that’s disposed of at last. No word from Artie, not even a Christmas card.
December 30, 1943
I remain very serene, calm, and shall I say, “happy”? News the R.A.F. bombed Berlin again last night. I am sorry about that. I know the warring has to be resumed, but I wish our authorities had felt they could let the Christmas respite last a little longer. However…
Presently I am going out to the post office to deposit my last money of the year. It is a beautiful afternoon, clear and sunny so I shall enjoy the walk. I have been extra busy this morning, cooking soup and pudding for tomorrow, for Eric has telephoned that he will come out on Friday and bring Malvin and Karina with him. I have made a plum pudding especially for Eric, who dotes on them.
My God, I may be a rank rotten Catholic, but I can’t be anything else. I want to stay with Ted. To agree with him, that is more important to me than anything else. I can’t be heroic and independent, and stand up for my private conscience as against his. Actually I find I don’t care a damn for my private conscience. What I want is to live peacefully and amicably with my husband, and if that entails acting like a conforming Catholic, very well, it does, and that’s all about it. I can’t agree with Ted. Life is much too short, and becoming shorter, and there’s no going backwards in it. I took Ted for better or worse, till death do us part and I guess I took the Catholic Church in the same way. So there it is.

I’m not going to worry myself any more about the rights or wrongs of religions and churches, and the sorts of people one does or doesn’t find in them. I don’t intend to give another rap about the whole caboodle. Nor do I intend to make myself “believe.” I will believe as much as I can, as heretofore, and let the rest go hang. If I were a free and financially independent woman, living alone, I might do otherwise. I might do all sorts of things, which I don’t do now. I am not free and independent, so there it is. I hope I’ve settled with this worry for the rest of time. I’ll go to Mass on Sundays as required, and keep my mouth shut, also my mind. Religion has been a constant curse to me for a lifetime but I am not going to let it be so any longer. I’ll conform. I’ll conform to Ted, who is more important to me than anyone else in the universe, dead or living, so since he expects me to be a Catholic, a Catholic I’ll be.

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. 
     
Yours,
Ruby A. Thompson