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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: 3-1-44 to 3-31-44 There was a raid last night between two forty-five and three-thirty a.m. It was very terrifying. One bomb sounded as though it was surely going to land in our alley.

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March 1,1944

On the radio at seven fifty-five a.m. this week the Reverend Bloomer, Vicar of Barking, is talking. I always hear these “Lift up your Heart’s” talks, because I am getting the breakfast, and have the radio turned on so as not to miss the eight a.m. news. This man’s theme this week, is forgiveness, which he extends to the world at large and all people’s “becoming one.” Well! Not only am I aware that I can’t forgive my enemies, I am even more deeply aware that I don’t want to. As for the world being one, I am aware that I don’t want to be “one,” not even with our allies.

When I hear the “wonderful Chinese,” I am revolted. I don’t care a damn about the Chinese. I certainly don’t want us to go and fight the Japanese so as to help China. Our boys will have done enough when they have licked Hitler. Why should we throw them away against the Japs? Let the yellow people settle their own affairs betwixt themselves. For all the talking about the heroic Chinese, and the establishment of our future with the Chinese, it makes me sick. I don’t want anything at all to do with yellow people, let alone make friends with them. I remember the talk that went on in my childhood
about what my Father’s papers called “The Yellow Peril.” The idea then was that yellow people would over run the whites. What is happening is, that the whites are about to be destroyed in “helping” one set of Asiatic exterminate another set of Asiatic. It is true that the Japs have made war on the United States, and Americans will have to conquer the Japs; but I don’t see why they, with us, should proceed further against the Japanese in their war against China. We kept out of it when the Japs began against Manchuria, why be talked into that war now?

As a matter of fact I don’t believe in the goodness of the Chinese. I can remember the Boxer Rebellion, when the Chinese acted with the same cruelty of barbarism, which is charged against the Japanese today. I can’t see much to choose between yellow dog and yellow dog. I’m positive I don’t want my country, whether it be England or America, to have continuing alliance with China once this world conflagration has died out. Why should we fight China’s battles for her? I don’t like the Chinese and no talker, no matter how clever or persuasive, will ever be able to make me do so. No, I don’t want to be one with the world, no, I certainly don’t.

March 2, 1944

There was a raid last night between two forty-five and three-thirty a.m. It was very terrifying. One bomb sounded as though it was surely going to land in our alley. When I went back upstairs to bed at the all clear, I saw three distinct fires on the horizon in the direction of London. The B.B.C. announced at eight a.m. that we had brought down five of the raiders.

March 5, 1944

Yesterday the Americans bombed Berlin for their first time. We will probably get a reprisal raid tonight.

March 6, 1944

I awakened about six this morning suffused with a delicious languor feeling of desire. I was warm, the bed was comfortable, I had a good sleep because Gerry didn’t come, I had pleasant dreams, and if Ted had only turned to me I could have loved him with passion, and it would have been good. Early morning like this is when I feel naturally most inclined to love, but nothing happened. Why didn’t I take the initiative? I know better. He would have repulsed me. I must never make the first move. I learned this lesson with heartbreaks years ago. Love is for when Ted desires, not when I do. Of course he had to go to church! Damned idiot!

March 7, 1944

This morning Daisy White came in. She was after some more of the Mrs. Henry Wood’s, which she enjoys keenly. She took away two volumes. She happened to have her business attaché case with her, and offered me some soap, coupon free. She also had some real linen tea towels, four of them, one coupon each. Those were all she had and she let me buy them all. She says it is the coupons that bother her business; with only twenty coupons to spend to cover the entire clothes ration, people can’t and won’t spend coupons for towels, handkerchiefs, etc. Of course not. You must give up eighteen coupons for a suit or a dress, seven for a pair of shoes, six for a vest, so it goes, people simply can’t buy oddments like towels.

I have sent off an order today to Harrods for ten pounds of coffee. Dorrie Stanford told us there is a rumor going around the hospital that coffee is about to be rationed, so Ted said we’d better lay in a few pounds for a stand-by. We use on the average about a pound a week. A food news item on the radio today, stated that beginning in the new four-week food ration period, cheese would be reduced to two ounces per person per week, but milk would be increased half a pint per week, and there would be no change in the tea ration. Coffee was not mentioned, so I hope our order goes through before a ban gets clamped on it.

March 9, 1944

Oh, What shall I do? What shall I do? This is what I keep asking myself. I am so weary I don’t know what to do. I feel that I shall have a nervous breakdown, along with all the rest of the neurotics. I feel that I am on the verge of madness, dangerously near. If circumstances don’t change soon I am afraid my mind will crack. Anger at trifles keeps rushing through me, and I want to start screaming, but I don’t, because I am afraid that if I let myself go I might not be able to take up controls again. Everything bothers me: the war, the weather, the house, my health, my family, and my husband.

We had a raid again last night. This morning is bleak and grey and cold and miserable. I am in a state of antagonism to Ted, which is hateful. I don’t want to be that way but he exasperated me to such a pitch I feel I can’t bear him another minute. I have to bear him. It is a loath- some marriage, how I hate it. In the night he loved me, against all my will and inclination, only by great effort of will did I make myself stay in the bed, my impulse was to get up and rush away. I don’t consider this is love, it is only animalistic, it is neither passion nor affection, only mere beastliness, and I loathe it. It is doubly repulsive to me because I know when six o’clock comes Ted will get up and go off to mass, to another of his gratifications. To love me without delight is horrible. Oh God, I am tired.

Yesterday at teatime Ted brought in two American soldiers for coffee. One was from Albany, N.Y. and the other from Olympia, Washington. They were ground staff boys of the air force. Talk turned on what the Americans are doing in Berlin now, and one of them, the Irish boy from Albany, said he guessed they would have to do the same to Rome, and that though he would like to see the grand old monuments he guessed there would be none left by the time they got there.

After the boys left Ted began talking to me about the likely coming bombing of Rome, and whether it should be bombed. Then he branched off into his disquisition about life and art.

After all, he said, When you think of it what is life but length of days? So if a man dies in war it only means he has less length of days. What are days in comparison with great works of art? I wouldn’t want to see Rome destroyed. Some of those art treasures are irreplaceable. I think we should make every effort to preserve them.
Yes, I said, and so are young lives irreplaceable, and we should make every effort to preserve them. There is no work of art that is worth more than a man’s life.

Ah! said Ted, I’d hate to see Rome damaged and as I say, “life is only length of days, so if men give up some of their length of days so that the glories of Rome may be saved, I should think it would be worth it.

I let the conversation drop. I cannot talk with this inhuman madman. Both our sons are now out of the fighting, but suppose they weren’t, would he be satisfied to have them throw away their lives to preserve stones? If not our sons, whose sons? If the Germans insist on fighting for Rome, Rome will be fought for, for I don’t think the Allies will be so insane as to make the Germans a present of it. What’s Rome? The Eternal City? There are other eternal cities, Athens, London bombed and shattered. The city is not its stones, its bricks and mortar. A city is the idea and the work of men. The material city can be knocked down, and it can be built up again, and 
even more beautiful than before, if the idea of the city persists. The idea of Rome cannot be destroyed anymore than the idea of London can be destroyed. Human life can be destroyed, and no one can bring back the dead. After all, our boys and the American boys haven’t gone to war so as to save works of art; they have gone to war to destroy the enemy and thereby to save civilization. Here’s Ted moaning about Rome. Oh, he makes me sick.

March 10, 1944

The two American boys here this week upset me. I like to show friendliness to American soldiers, but they remind me too much of my lost American sons, and inside I am disturbed. Then, too, I have been staggered by Artie’s desertion. I try to forget it, but do not succeed very well. Life is not the way I would have it and I do get fretful. Yes, I know I ought not to, but knowing what is right and being able to pursue it are two different things. I think I am depressed by poor food, as well as by the duration of the war. Some really good fresh food and a little whiskey occasionally would cheer up my spirits considerably, I’m quite certain.

March 11, 1944

I am cooking the dinner. A miserable piece of middle neck and scrap is our “roast” today, it is mostly waste, but tomorrow the roasted bones will flavor some soup. Our diet gets poorer and poorer. It keeps us alive, but it is impossible to extract stamina from it. Everybody complains of tiredness. Lack of sugar, lack of protein, too much starch, poor bread, it’s something amiss. We all keep going, but we all feel unduly exhausted.

Yesterday we were told that United States government had requested the government of Eire to close down the German and Japanese Legations in Dublin, in view of the very near approach of the Allies invasion of Europe, and because it is known that the German’s draw constant information of our affairs through the German and Japanese Legations in Dublin. This morning we are told that the Irish have refused the request. Naturally. The Irish were all for Germany in the last war, and they are the same in this. What an urgent need there must be for this request for the Americans to make it! They too must have known it would have been refused; surely, yet they have asked it. De Valera has answered with the explanations about the neutrality of Eire, etc. Well, we know all about the neutrality of Eire. Eire has been a positive and active friend to the Axis constantly from the very beginning of the war. Because of Eire’s neutrality thousands of our boys needlessly lie on the ocean floor. God curse Ireland. He has done, and he will do.

I would like to start writing again. I want to write as a woman. I’m sick of men and their assumption that this is entirely a man’s world, and that only men have brains. I know quite a lot about men’s brains and I don’t think much of them. I have a wonderful specimen right here on the premises and more often than not I regard it merely with derision. Men are such fools, such fools! They think they are compact of all wisdom! Men laying down the law, men expounding the mind of God, oh, they make women groan. I bow to the geniuses, but they are few and far to find. It is the ordinary man’s eradicable conviction of his own superiority and his own omniscience that infuriates me.

Women are much more humble minded. Women know what they know, but they never pretend to know every- thing. Women don’t have the expounding fervor of men. I think most women know, or sooner or later come to know that talk is useless, or that it only leads to trouble. Women may chatter together over superficiality like a
flock of birds, but they don’t waste themselves in talk as men do. Women act, when they see what to do, and know what they can do, they do it, and without either explanations or excuses. That is woman’s practicality, and it is of far greater use and value for creating a good life than all men’s philosophy’s and idealism. You’ll never hear women talking about “ideals” they have got too much God-given sense. It is men’s ideals and men’s talk, which has brought us to where we are today. Men talking, the damn fools men.

Possibly if I had married “a big silent man,” “a practical man,” I might now have a better opinion of men and of mankind generally, but I had the misfortune to marry a weakling Adonis and a voluble doctrinaire. I fell in love with a stranger, made a romantic marriage, only to find myself caught in a trap from which I can never get free. After I had fallen for the bait of the handsome lover I found myself behind the façade of romance and what I was inextricably entangled with was not the man of my dreams, nor certainly not. What I had drawn in the lottery of marriage was merely a perpetually interfering and domineering second rate schoolmaster who fancied himself in the role of Petruchio. What luck, oh my God, what luck!

Yes, I am unfair to Ted. I know it. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa. He is a good man, faithful and true, a good provider. Certainly I cannot ever have been the sort of wife he must have dreamed about. The trouble is I am the one who has been compelled to live against the grain all these years and I am so tired. These last seventeen years especially have warped me. Now these awful war years. It’s all too much. However, I do stay sane. These books are my safety valves, herein I say what I think, literally spill over. These books hold the worst of me. Outwardly I toe the mark, speaking and acting in all the required and expected ways; and so I shall go on doing I expect, go on being, Oh so politely! Mrs. Edward Thompson.

March 13, 1944

Joan arrived at eight a.m. and stayed for the day. This is the first time I have seen her since December Twelfth. Now that the longer days are coming she says she will come to see me about once a month. She looks very well. She told us of the recent bad blitzing in Hammersmith, Kensington and Fulham. She said the King and Queen came to look at the damage, and their visit was resented. The unfortunates thought they were only showing common curiosity. Churchill also visited the neighbor- hood, and was resented. It was in the Broadway where a bomb had fallen. Joan said they had nine bombs in Hammersmith alone, that he waved his hand and called out “It’s quite like old times!” This remark was not well received, and one man who answered rudely, and swearing, was taken away by the police. It turned out that he was one of the unfortunates whose family had to be dug out of ruins. Joan said Churchill’s cigar is so deeply resented: “him and his two shilling cigar!” Well, it would seem more political not to puff those cigars in the faces of the poor and the blitz victims.

In the afternoon Mrs. Cannon came, her first visit this year; and Elizabeth Coppen also. There was much talk and laughter here this afternoon. Joan is an amusing talker.

March 14, 1944

I received a parcel from Bumpus. A twelve-volume edition of Shakespeare and a four-volume edition of Middlemarch. Nothing else. I am very pleased with these.

We had a raid last night between one a.m. and one-thirty a.m. I came downstairs but Ted remained up in bed. The figures for casualties in the air raids for February have been given today. Civilian casualties due to air raids in the United Kingdom during February were nine hundred and sixty-one killed (or missing, believed killed) and seventeen hundred and twelve injured and detained in he the hospital. This is the highest total since May 1941.

Churchill is speaking in Parliament today about the ban on travel to and from Ireland. Last week the United States Government, with the approval of our government, asked De Valera to expel the German and Japanese representatives from Eire. The request was refused. The reason for the request was severely practical. It was to clear out the nests of espionage and plotting in Dublin, and to free Allied Forces in Northern Ireland from continuing danger. On Sunday it was announced that because of Eire’s refusal to expel the Germans and Japanese from Dublin, a ban on all travel between Eire and the United Kingdom would come into effect at once and further steps would be taken to isolate Southern Ireland from the world, for reasons of military safety.

Among the reasons given by DeValera for his refusal was the “forced partition” of Ireland. DeValera’s policy in this war has clamped down partition. Ulster’s objections to the merger with Eire have been intensified. DeValera has “missed the bus.” If at the beginning of the war, he had offered collaboration with Britain and the Empire, and British use of Irish ports, on the condition of national unity, Ulster leaders would have found it difficult to justify continued partition, and the British people would have welcomed a settlement on that basis. The opportunity passed and will not return until there is a change of heart in Southern Ireland. That, I think, will be never. The Southern Irish simply will not be friendly to Britain. Nay, and more than that, not only will they not be friendly, they will insist on being positively unfriendly, and that perpetually would not end. The lovely Irish!

March 15, 1944

There was a very heavy raid last night between ten-fifteen and eleven forty-five p.m. The B.B.C. states this morning that we brought down nine bombers. It was most frightening. Even Ted showed nervousness. He became very pale, and finally took his rosary out of his pocket and began saying it. This is the first time I have ever seen him do this. I didn’t pray. I couldn’t. Instead I kept on with my reading, luckily a light book, Esther Maxwell’s, Life of the Young Lincoln.

As the war goes on my “Christian” religion evaporates more and more. I can’t see what Jesus Christ and the gospels have to do with this affair, and as for the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, even less. As for mass, nothing. My God is a spirit, and I worship him in spirit and in truth as the human Jesus once told a woman to do. This religion about Jesus I cannot swallow. I cannot believe in a God who was an historical person. That is why I like the Anglican Church so much, Jesus is in it, of course, but much more so is God there; the God one can find in the Old Testament, the God that declared that he was not a man that he should repent him. I have to try to have feelings about Jesus, and responses to him; it is all artificial, a pretense. I don’t have to try to have feelings about God, they are spontaneous, I can feel God in the Old Testament, I can feel him in the sunshine, the moon and stars, the grass, in my love for Ted in the night when that can be spontaneous and true, in an infant, in an eclipse, but I cannot feel God in the Christian religion.
The one o’clock news reported that we brought down a total of thirteen German bombers last night.

Lily Hartnet came this morning. She brought a parcel, which Gladys had directed, by mistake, to 78 Eastern Road. This “Eastern” and “Western” is very confusing. The packet was a pound of tea, most, most acceptable. Lily stayed quite a long time. She tells me she will be eighteen this October. I think of her only as the pretty little child of four!

We had another raid this evening, from nine-fifteen p.m. until ten p.m. It is all quiet now, Ted has gone up to bed and I am about to follow. I hope to have a quiet night. Tonight’s raid was not as bad as last night’s but bad enough.

March 16, 1944

We had an alert at six-thirty this evening, before dark. The raid lasted only a little over half an hour. It was a small attack only. The weather is still very cold. Winter is lasting long this year.

March 21, 1944

It is the first official calendar day of spring but the weather is most un-spring like. It is very cold. The Government has published a ban today on all travel to the coast, from The Wash to Lands End, and certain portions of the Firth of Forth, to come into effect on April First. All schools in the country were asked a few weeks ago to close down by March Thirty-First, for the Easter holidays, as no travel will be permitted after that date. Is the Invasion about to begin at last?

March 22, 1944

It is colder than ever. We had another very heavy raid last night, over London and the S.E. coast. It began here about twelve forty-five a.m. and went on until two a.m. this morning. It was extremely bad. Several times I thought we should surely be hit, but no, here we are, still intact. We are in the dark of the moon now, so many expect several more raids during the next week or so. There is a new moon on Friday. I wrote to Marjorie today, and to Eddie last Sunday. I have received a card from Sket, dated December Tenth. He writes:
Dear Folks, I had a parcel from you a few days ago. I was pleased to get only what I asked for. It is hard to realize that only in a month’s time I shall be twenty- five years old. I hope that it is to be my last birthday in captivity. Art has got out of the war pretty lightly so why should he not be cheerful? I have no more to say. Sket. Poor boy, poor child!

March 23, 1944

Something has happened to me. I had a letter from Marjorie last Saturday, and because it was appealing, I began to reply to it on Monday. I had to write it at intervals, but I finished it yesterday. It was a rather long letter and I had written her only about a fortnight ago. I have written a lot of letters lately to my children in America.

Well, after I had finished writing to Marjorie yesterday, I was overcome by the most dreadful feeling of depression and dereliction that I have ever known. Never before in my whole life have I ever felt so derelict and forsaken. It was terrible. I did not know what to do with myself. I could do nothing, nothing at all. It was evening and Ted and I were sitting here in this little dining room together. He was reading and happy as usual. I could not read, I could not think, I could hardly breathe. In my breast was an agony, not a physical pain, but a torture of despair. It was complete mental agony, utter dereliction of soul. I was sitting here by the table, my eyes closed, in a state of suffocating suspense, then lo, all at once my mind began to say the Hail Mary, and then it went on into the Salve, Regina and then the Memorale. Release, consolation, encouragement, and then, best of all, conviction.

This went on for hours. It is still going on. I had to get up in the night for an air raid, and it still went on. I still have it. It is a conviction of the reality of the supernatural, which I have never experienced before. I felt the reality and the presence of the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God. I felt her. I felt her as my mother, my heavenly mother, surpassing my own earthly mother, and in a different way altogether from the flesh. It was supernatural. Mary, the mother of God, and the mother of me. All my mental distresses passed away. I have been thinking for months past that I was definitely out of the Catholic Church, and that I was making up my mind to re-enroll myself in the Church of England. But no, it isn’t so. God the father, Yes, but God the son, I cannot ever see him, but Mary, yes. That woman, she I can see as a Divine Person and now I have experienced her. I have.

March 25, 1944

There was a very heavy raid last night. It began about eleven p.m. and went on until after one o’clock this morning. On today’s one o’clock news we were told that whilst the Germans were bombing London, we were bombing Berlin. The R.A.F. dropped twenty five hundred tons of bombs on Berlin, during one half hour. Seventy- three of our aircraft are missing from the thousand who were sent to do the job. Over here we suffered damage and casualties, but, as usual, details are not given us. Most of it, of course, was in London. The only “fact” we are given is the information that we brought down eight of the enemy raiders.

The German’s have occupied Hungary. Vesuvius, which has been in violent eruption since last Saturday was yesterday reported to be subsiding. The streams of lava appear to have stopped and the other activity of the volcano is on a declining scale, telegraphs a “Times” correspondent. This has been a most violent eruption, the worst since eighty years ago, many villages buried, and thousands of people evacuated, their homes lost forever. One of the very strange things during these war years is the constant violence of nature. There have been many serious earthquakes in this time, and now Vesuvius has been pouring out relentless destruction. One reporter broadcast from Italy that the destruction caused by the eruption was more awesome then the fighting going on there. Of course. The eruption of the volcano is an act of God; it cannot be stopped until God stops it. War is the act of man, it need not be. War is a deliberate madness, gigantic folly, and folly is not awesome, it is enraging, it is heart breaking, but it is not awesome.

March 31, 1944

The weather is very cold and we had frost in the night. It was a bad night, a raid from three-thirty to four-thirty a.m., also much crossing over of our own aircraft, back and forth. There was bad news on the one o’clock bulletin, a report that the R.A.F. made a raid in great strength over Nuremberg last night; and ninety-six of our aircraft are missing. This is awful. This is the highest loss in one night we have had yet. One night in February we lost seventy-nine, but this is much worse. Poor boys. One prays that they go straight to heaven. Poor boys. When, oh when, will this damnable war end? 

World War ll London Blitz: 2-1-44 to 2-29-44 “The Journal de Genève” reported yesterday (that would be January 29,) that Himmler had been relieved of his position as Minister of the Interior in Germany. “Possibly he has been executed,” added the report, which mentioned rumors that a “brutal elimination” of Hitler had been planned inside Germany. —B.U.P.”

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February 1, 1944 

I have just had a visit from Mrs. Peel, Doreen’s mother. She explained why Doreen hasn’t been to see me for such a long time. It is because she has a job in the city, and now lives in town. All the same this doesvvn’t explain why Doreen has never written to me. Oh, well. The explanation is rather obvious, I think, now that Artie is married, what is the point in a girl visiting here? Nevertheless I had expected differently from Doreen Peel, but here it is, another disappointment, somebody else glittering but not gold.

When Miss Coppen visits me on Mondays she brings me her Sunday papers, The Sunday Times, and The Observer. Today there is one item worth noting. First, this from The Observer: The Journal De Genève reported yesterday (that would be January 29) that Himmler had been relieved of his position as Minister of the Interior in Germany. Possibly he has been executed, added the report, which mentioned rumors that a brutal elimination of Hitler had been planned inside Germany. — B.U.P
Lets hope all this is true, but I think it very unlikely.

February 2, 1944

Last night Ted went to the house of Mr. Hedge, in Massiters Walk, to play the piano and to rehearse for a band of Civil Defense Workers who are preparing a Christ minstrel show. When he came home about eleven he was full of laughter, because he had overheard Hedge say to a newcomer whom he was admitting to the house. Come in, Mr. Thompson is here, a fine old man. It strikes him as funny that the world now sees him as an old man. Of course he is an old man. After all, he will be sixty-five this year, and what is that but old age? He is not very old, but old just the same. Several times this winter he has told me how young people have got up and given him their seat in the bus, occasionally have even taken his arm across the road, so he must strike the public as an old man. Of course his beard adds to the impression. Quite early in the war he let his beard grow, because he began to find the barbers too crowded, and his impatience couldn’t wait long for a turn, well, his beard is quite white, and so is his hair. Now his gait is bad because of his broken ankle, so why wouldn’t the world consider him old? Of course he is old and so am I.

It is two p.m. and the dishes are out of the way and I have a clear empty afternoon before me, so I ought to begin to write the letters I owe, but am disinclined to begin. Perhaps it is the general unsettlement of my mind at the present, which makes me wary of writing any statements to my friends and relations, no matter how trivial. It doesn’t matter how often and how much I go back on myself in a private record like this, in fact, this is really how I sift over in my mind and sort out its debris, but I think it would matter if I went back on myself to my correspondents and perhaps not. Those who love me, love me, I have to believe that. Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am huge. I contain multitudes.

What else do I believe? That is what I am trying to find out. That is found for myself and myself as a woman. I repudiate men’s beliefs, most of them, for they are no use to me. The longer I live the more I grow to look upon men as fools. No, a man’s mind is not for a woman, she never thinks his thoughts, she can’t, for not only are her thoughts different from his, her whole nature is against them. Look what men have made of the world today. Women have to live in it and endure it, but their secret minds and souls scorn it and reject it. Men seem to regard war as a game; but women know it is lunatic hell, and that it need never be. God almighty did not ordain war; it is only men who will wage it.
Of course first of all above everything I believe in the individual soul, but not the sort of theoretical general masculine soul priests and parsons talk about. I believe in my individual woman’s soul, and I hold that it contains within itself its own recognition of validity and truth, and its own surety and witness to its own value and its own end. I am because I am, and know that I am. Morality, therefore, for me, consists in my soul’s recognition of right and wrong, and not in man’s words or dictates, nor in the performance of any act either of custom or utility or expedience. The justification of morality lays in my inexpugnable sense of duty towards a personal, absolute and above all, a good God. The God who made me is good so I must be good. I must choose the good. I must. If I go against it I suffer more than I can bear. That is why the war is such suffering for me, and for all women. Women know that war is the voluntary inexcusable wickedness of men, and to think about it is to go mad.

War, I think, is man’s prerogative, and so, I think, is religion, or rather, not religion, but theology, along with the churches. Religion is that living contact between the soul and its maker, an experience of the spirit; but theology is something very different from that. For men, like as with war, theology is a game that they play, a game that is mainly only word spinning, but one that can lead to death and torture, if played hard enough. Comparatively only a few men take their theology seriously nowadays. The fanatics like my poor Ted. Mostly the churches are dead. Then why am I bothering so about church?

Actually I think it is not church I am bothering about, but Ted. Ah! Now I see, my problem is not a problem about right belief, which is the true church etc, but it is a problem about fidelity.

Fidelity. To be faithful and true. Whose truth and where is it? Am I to be true to myself, or true to Ted? Perhaps it is only in being true to him that I can be true to myself. Perhaps it is Artie’s lack of fidelity to me, which has shocked me so horribly, his being faithless to the relationship between us, which has cut me so deeply. “To thine self be true.” Yes, but which self? You are an awfully complicated sort of person when you happen to be a married woman, particularly an old married woman. Am I the sort of woman I once was, or the woman I have become? What sort of woman have I become? What sort am I tonight and tomorrow morning? Am I more or less myself as now, when I sit quietly writing in an empty house in a still afternoon or when I crouch in a corn shaking and vomiting with fright when an enemy raid flies over and around us? Who and what exactly am I? Who and where is my true self and what is her name? Am I still Ruby Side or have I become totally Ruby Thompson? I don’t know. Not knowing, that is the trouble. When my soul can recognize facts, the truth, then I can act and then I am at peace. The trouble is, sometimes I think I see the truth only to have it vanish. My souls pretty much at sea in a dirty fog.

I wish my old subconscious would go to work for me, and throw me up a solution in a dream some night and some night soon. I am tired of this circling around, Do I or don’t I? Shall I or shan’t I?

February 4, 1944

I have been given an answer to my religious problem, but not through the workings of the subconscious but through the workings of Hitler. Between a quarter to five and a quarter past six this morning we endured another very bad air raid. It was frightful. Sitting in my corner, retching, shaking, praying, I looked across at Ted who was reclining on his sofa, and all at once I saw what I had to do, and that is, stay in the Catholic Church, at least “for the duration.” I thought, supposing I was to get killed in one of these raids, what a distress it would be for Ted if he couldn’t bury me as a Catholic! So, for Ted’s sake, I must stay a Catholic. I am resolved to put out of my mind all my irritations and disbelief's about Catholicism, and all my attractions to Anglicanism. I will believe what I can and all I can. I will meditate on the fundamental doctrines of Christianity and ignore, as far as I can, all those aceretionary dogmas, which float my intelligence.

No authentic news of the raid yet. A big fire was burning all morning across the tracks but I don’t know exactly where. Ted has heard bombs were dropped in Stanley Avenue, Hornchurch, and Dorset Avenue, Hornchurch because people were in the office looking for houses. There are reports of them falling in Upminster and Chelmsford and also on Fords at Dagenham, though Ted said he heard they only struck the car park, not the works. The salvage man, who came at breakfast time, said he was out fire-watching last night, and he saw three Gerry’s brought down at Upminster. There must have been hundreds over here, by the sound they made; it was ceaseless, like as in 1940-1941. This terrible world!

February 6, 1944

It is all quiet, no raids yesterday, nor last night. Miss White and Daisy came today, and told us that last Thursday a whole street behind the cinema at Upminster was demolished, and many houses at Great Nessing, near Chelmsford. I have not been to church. I guess my resolution is not so much to remain a Catholic, as not to become an Anglican.

February 7, 1944

A letter from Artie to his father, acknowledging the receipt of a parcel with battle-dress and shoe, and a letter from Eddie which Ted had forwarded. He said Eddie’s letter gave no family news. At the end of his letter he wrote: Fondest love to you and to Mother. This is the first mention he has made of me since he went away. I suspect Eddie must have said something about me in his letter to Artie, and thus pricked Artie’s conscience. However I do not feel pleased at all. Artie has been silent too long, repudiated me too thoroughly, I do not feel I want his love anymore it has proved rather a worthless love I think. I think the boy has no filial principles. Suppose Hilda did dislike me, what of it? She is at liberty to dislike me. That he should go away, behind my back, as he did, with no word of farewell, and then to treat me with silence. I am afraid he is an expediency man. Why didn’t he stand up to Hilda, and say, No, I don’t treat my Mother like that. I will take you back to Scotland, since you wish it so much, but not underhandedly. Not sneaking away. Why doesn’t he say to Hilda: Alright, dislike my mother if you must, but you can’t stop me loving her. Artie has behaved abominably towards me. He has treated me with disdain, or as though I were dead, and it makes me feel as though he had died. My fondest love to Mother. I don’t think it means anything. It’s just a phrase. I don’t believe it.

February 11, 1944

Mrs. Whitbread was here, so I went out shopping as well as to the library this morning. At Forster’s the chemists, Mr. Forster produced a roll of Selo Film, which he said he was saving for Artie. This I have made up into a small parcel, with a few Chesterfield cigarettes, and a very short note, and posted off to Glasgow. I had thought I would never write to Artie until he had first written to me, however, perhaps it is necessary for me to break the ice, so I have done so.

February 12, 1944

We had a raid last night between seven-thirty and eight-thirty p.m. Southeast England, and the London area. Reports the B.B.C. bombs dropped in several places and “some” casualties reported. I was sick with fright, as usual, and shook so uncontrollably that I am still tired from it today. I feel as though I have been beaten. Oh this blasted war! When are the lunatic men going to stop it? The weather continues bright, cold and frosty, very healthy.

It is now ten p.m. and we had a raid between nine and nine-thirty p.m. All quiet again now and pray God we have a quiet night.

February 14, 1944 St. Valentine’s Day

I am just back from town. I went to get Ted’s newspaper and to draw some money out of the post office bank. I withdrew three pounds and will withdraw another three pounds tomorrow. With what I have on hand this will give me a total of ten pounds to take to town on Wednesday. Perhaps I shall spend it all, and perhaps I shan’t. What I don’t spend if any I will redeposit on Thursday. I am determined to get myself the Wordsworth and the Shakespeare. Money in the bank is only good to be spent these days I think, we may be dead tomorrow, anyone of us. Last night we had a most awful raid, lasting from eight thirty p.m. until ten o’clock. It was awful.

This morning the B.B.C. laconically reports: We brought down four bombers last night, out of a more numerous lot than have been sent over during the last three or four raids. Idiotic! We know they were more numerous all right!

During the raid Ted kept saying. Well, I’d rather them come now, early, than after I had gone to bed. How convenient for slumber! The milk boy this morning said he saw one brought down at Havering. It fell in a field, three men in it killed, but one man escaped by parachute. Poor boys, poor German boys! They were only doing their duty, the same as our boys over Germany. I grieve for all the young men destroyed horribly in this bestial war, whether friend or foe. Poor lads, they didn’t start the war, they only have to fight it. Oh lunacy, lunacy! Bestial hellish madness! It does not bear thinking on, that way madness lies.

So I shall buy myself the books I desire, and anything else I may discover to help my mental defense. Anyhow these raids make me so ill, I think I might die of sickness if I have to suffer them continuously. I felt last night as though I were dying, and this morning I feel as though I had been kicked around, my ribs are sore from so much retching, and my thighs ache as though I had climbed a mountain, from the effort to hold my limbs still from the destroying trembling. Yes, I think incessant raids could kill me, without a bomb having to fall on the house.

February 16, 1944

My mother’s birthday, had she lived she would have been eighty-one today.

I am too ill to go to town. I think perhaps I’ve got a touch of pleurisy, because of constant pain at the top of my ribs; or it maybe simply soreness from coughing. Ted is really concerned about me and says, Get the doctor. I don’t want to do that. The doctor would only send me to bed, and I don’t want to go to bed. The bedroom is cold, and there is no one here to do anything in the house. There is no help obtainable any more for anybody. I’m better off fully dressed and sitting downstairs by the fire. My breathing is very bad. This was Mother’s complaint, shortness of breath, bronchitis. I am growing like her in a lot of ways, and it seems I am even going to copy her sickness too. What I need is drinks of hot whiskey, but there isn’t any whiskey. There isn’t anything. No beef for beef tea, no chickens for chicken broth, no milk, no eggs. Oh this damned war! If you are sick you can just die.

There was shocking news at one o’clock. The B.B.C. said we were out over Berlin last night, and made the heaviest air attack ever on any objective in this war yet.

Over twenty five hundred tons of bombs were dropped on Berlin, commencing at nine o’clock in the evening. Of over a thousand of our planes sent out we have lost forty-five. Also yesterday we bombed the Monastery of Monte Cassino, in relays of one hundred Lancaster’s and Fortresses at a time, and the Monastery is completely destroyed. The Germans had been using it as a fortress for some time, until finally we decided we must attack it. The Abbot of Downside spoke a few words about it at the end of the news. He deplored its loss, but said he had full confidence in our military leaders judgments, and so the attack was a case of military necessity. He added that the loss of the great abbey was another crime to be charged against the Germans. He also said he deplored the loss of brave young lives, but he considered the life of even one man more valuable than any building, no matter how beautiful, historic, or venerable. Good for him! He said the war must go on until the curse of Nazism is purged utterly from the earth. Also we have been given the figures of our casualties in Italy. Since September 3, until February 12, they amount to over thirty-six thousand, roughly seven thousand killed, twenty-three thousand wounded, the rest missing. My God My God! This weary weight of this entire unintelligible world! Where is the end of all this lunacy?

February 17, 1944

I had a letter from Eddie yesterday, written in January, in reply to my last letter to him in which I told him dad wanted me to make a will, and asked him if there was anything particular he would like left to him. He writes, It amazes me to hear you talk about legacies (either of you), I hope you and Dad enjoy yourselves and don’t leave a dime to anyone. I think I’m safe in saying that all of us over here would prefer you to enjoy whatever you have, all of it. Hell, it’s yours! If you and Dad ever have any thought of leaving any money, don’t. Spend it and enjoy it, and the easiest way is an annuity. Turn your money into an annuity for yourself. 

Well, I’m spending my own money for my own luxuries, not Teds. I do feel that whilst life is so unsafe and chancy it is only merely sensible to give ourselves whatever innocent pleasures we can, before Hitler possibly destroys us. What a world we live in! What a hateful world! The war has been going on for four and a half years now, and the Germans are nothing like licked. They are a most powerful enemy and I should think it’s quite likely that they have power and resources enough to go on for another four and a half years. Of course, ultimately they will be licked, but until then and after then, what agonies lie before us! Oh God, save us!

February 19, 1944

We had a bad raid last night between one and two a.m. The B.B.C. says more raiders than usual got through to London, but no details are given yet. There was news yesterday from Russia of the annihilation of the encircled German divisions in the Dieppe Bend, and the capture of Nikopol. This was the trapped German Eighth Army. Stalin announces fifty-two thousand Germans killed and eleven thousand taken prisoner. It is said that the Germans were issued with triple doses of rum and told to try and cut themselves out, and ordered to commit suicide rather than surrender to the Russians, Hitler’s orders. Do young German’s still think it glorious to die for Hitler? I wonder! Oh God! When will men return to their senses?

In Italy we are only just holding our ground. This week we have destroyed the Monastery of Monte Cassino. Questions have been asked in Parliament about the destruction of ancient monuments, and there has been an awful lot of gabble about it, in fact, this question of the preservation of historic buildings has been turned into a burning war issue. People talk about the value of civilization of the great architectural monuments of the past, but not those who have sons and brothers, husbands and lovers, doing the fighting. We are not giving our men so that they may save the manifestations of civilization, but so that they may save civilization it self. Civilization ultimately survives in the minds of men, not in bricks and mortar, oil and canvas, print and parchment, and the survival of civilization depends on the civilization of civilized men. In war civilized men die. We cannot afford to lose our civilized men for material things. Things can be replaced. What man has made once he can make again. Europe is too cluttered anyhow with the tangible remains of the past. Let us destroy the destroyer. That is the task, and when he is destroyed we can rebuild Monte Cassino if we want to. What man has done, man can do again to satisfy the spiritual and artistic needs of his soul. Creation, destruction, creation; that has been the law of life. It may cease to be the law if the creative force itself, civilized man, perishes. I would not throw away the life of one man to save one historic building, no matter how grand or beautiful. I want to bring near the end of this hellish war, and if the German’s want to fight in the Vatican, all right, let the Vatican perish along with the Germans. Why be tender to monuments? It is our young men we must save, not old marbles.

We received a letter from Artie to his father. In it he says, It was kind of Mother to send me the film, and I much appreciate the cigarettes. I will get her a P.O. for the film and send it later. That was all, no word of love. No direct word to me. I shall never write to him again.

We had a raid early this evening, not too bad.

February 20, 1944

The weather is still uncomfortably cold. Of course I made the attempt to go out. I am still quite ill, though slowly improving now I think. I spent the day writing letters. Sorting out my drawer I find I owe eighteen letters. What a task before me! Anyhow I will write them all. I wrote three long ones today, one to Gladys, one to Harold, and one to Johnnie. Johnnie and Harold’s birthdays are this week; Johnnie will be thirty-four tomorrow, and Harold thirty-six on the twenty-fifth.
We had a bad raid this evening, lasting from nine- twenty p.m. until ten-forty five p.m. The B.B.C. says we were out over Leipzig last night “in great strength.” We lost seventy-nine bombers.

February 21, 1944

There was another raid during the night, lasting

from two-thirty a.m. until three-fifteen a.m.

February 22, 1944

It is Washington’s Birthday. It is extremely cold. Some snow fell this morning, but blew away. We had a raid in the night between three and three-thirty a.m., less noisy then the previous nights.
Elizabeth Coppen came this morning and brought me an egg, straight from the hen. She made me promise not to make pancakes with it! It seems this is Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, but I hadn’t realized it. I shall boil it for my tea, and eat it with thankfulness. For Ted I will boil some leeks. This diet question is an awful business. Everyone is craving fresh food, and there isn’t any. I crave fresh fruit, fresh meat, and some real bread. The National Bread gets worse and worse, and it is horribly indigestible. However, we survive it.

We are increasing terrifically the weight of our bombing over Germany. Two thousand allied aircraft, including a very large force of heavy bombers, made a daylight attack on Sunday; following a night attack of nearly a thousand R.A.F. bombers the previous night, on Leipzig. They were out in force again yesterday; and all this morning I heard droves of planes flying over. Tonight I expect the Germans will come back at us. Will there be any world left at all? What is so appalling is how we have all come to take destruction for granted. Oh God, when will this awful war end?

February 23,1944 Ash Wednesday

Ted came back from church with his nice black mark right in the middle of his forehead. This is preposterous really. The childishness and the rank materialism of the Roman Catholic religion have to be lived with and experienced to be believed. It is a religion for morons. What has all this got to do with today, with the war? A silly game of make believe, that is what the Catholic religion is, and all it is.
We had another bad raid last night. It was just midnight when I came downstairs at one-thirty a.m. when the all clear went. It was a terrible raid. I thought one bomb was falling in our side alley, but no, it wasn’t. When I went back to bed I saw from the bathroom window a big fire blazing across the tracks, Victoria Road or Brent- wood again, I suppose. At eight a.m. the B.B.C. said we brought down six bombers during the night.

Yesterday Churchill spoke in Parliament reviewing the war. He says our attacks on Europe will increase all during spring and summer and we must expect increasing retaliation. Naturally, but the complacency with which men, men who don’t have to fight, talk about war, infuriates me. God, how I hate old men! I think “our elder statesmen” enjoy themselves over the war. Blast them! Shall we ever know a natural life again? I wonder. I am miserable. I don’t know what to do with myself. Existence is almost unbearable. Weather is abominable. The house is gloomy, I am tired from lack of sleep, and I had bad cramps last night in my left thigh, to add to my troubles. Churchill’s speech is most depressing. The war stretches forward indefinitely. Hell, hell, hell!

I hear that in the neighborhood last night the Germans started fires at Upminster, Chadwell Heath, Ochenden, Brentwood, and Gidea Park Railway station. At one o’clock the B.B.C. reported that we brought down ten bombers last night. Churchill gave a lot of figures yesterday. Amongst others he said, that excluding Dominion and Allied Squadrons working with the Royal Air Force, the British Islanders have lost thirty-eight thousand three hundred pilots and aircrews killed and ten thousand four hundred missing, and over ten thousand aircraft, that is, since the beginning of the war, and they have made nearly nine hundred thousand sorties into the North European theatre. Cheers, the house gave cheers. Cheers for the dead. What good does that do them? Any thing more futile and lunatic than war I can’t imagine. Oh when will this misery end? Why do I rave? Why rave? It’s silly to let myself come so near to the edge of madness. I’ve got to control my mind. I’ve got to and I will.

February 24, 1944

I just got back from another quick trip to the library and feeling better for the outing. There is heavy frost on everything and all the little puddles are iced, but the sky is clear and the sun shining; good healthy weather. I am feeling better, but not yet well. I have a cold still in my head and in my chest. Anyhow, I feel better, so that’s good. We had a small sharp raid between eighty-thirty and nine-fifteen this morning; the first day light raid for a long time. I distinctly saw two of the Gerry’s fly right over this house.

We had a bad raid again last night. It began at ten p.m. and went on until eleven-thirty p.m. This was the fourth successive night. However, we had not gone to bed, so were at least comfortable with our clothes on. When it started I felt I wanted to cry. Really I feel I can’t stand much more of this war. If it doesn’t stop soon I feel I will go mad. I made myself read the Wordsworth book, Herford’s, but really couldn’t take any pleasure in it. Yet I force myself to read while a raid is on, endurance is a little easier. I find I don’t pray anymore, or if I do it is because my resistance is cracking. Prayer now seems to intensify the sense of danger rather than alleviate it. Prayer it seems, like other experiences, love, religion, hunger, even fear, comes to an end. Apropos of love, and the insatiable appetite of men. Concupiscence and the insatiable sex hunger of men. Presumably because a bad raid was finished and we had a sense of being able to spend the rest of the night in peace, and because the bed was warm, and because my coughing had ceased, and because he felt like it, Ted “loved” me before settling down to his sleep. This was the climax of his Ash Wednesday. What is this? It isn’t love, it certainly isn’t passion, and it is not my idea of desire, it is simply the simple basic nature of a simple man. It is the nature of a man to be unromantic, unrefined, and unimportant as a simple bellyache. Yet it is inescapable, fundamental, the rock bottom base of a man, of all men.

Well! Well, is it possible to respect a man, to believe in this notion? I don’t think so. An old maid might, or any sex ignorant person, but certainly emphatically not an old wife.

Ted this morning, up bright and early, and out to his mass and Holy Communion. Such goings on deflates religion in me absolutely. For me, “holy communion” is the intimate union of the man and wife in the bed; what “communion” can possibly be closer and deeper than that? Except the union of the child in the womb with it’s mother. Of course I am physically better for the nights experience, my body responds to what is naturally good for it, and I realize that I am fortunate that at our ages such experiences are still possible whenever they offer. For they cleanse my mind as well as my body of its humours, and they keep me the woman, well and in good health, as well as the man, but they certainly take me down to earth, out of the heady atmosphere of the brain and all illusions. Why did Jesus have so many women friends? I think it was because he didn’t ask sex of them.

February 25, 1944

We had another raid last night, from nine-thirty p.m. until ten p.m. It was not so heavy as before in this neighborhood, but have heard today it was the other side of London that got the worst of it, bombers brought down at Wembley and Ealing. Mrs. Whitbread was here today. She tells me a one thousand ton bomb fell in the middle of Hainault Road one night this week; nobody was killed, but there was much damage to the property. It is Harold’s thirty-sixth birthday today.

February 27, 1944

We had no raiders last night. It is two-fifteen p.m. now, and a most peculiar darkness has fallen over us. It is not fog, nor yet darkness like night, but a green- yellowy blight, obscuring everything. It began soon after one o’clock, whilst we were at dinner, and has gotten worse and worse. If I turn out the electric light the room is as black as a coal hole. Ted has just gone out “to walk around the block” for curiosity. Not a sound to be heard. It is most weird. It makes us think of that day in May when France fell, and a similar peculiar darkness fell over England. It makes me wonder: What is happening right now? Has the invasion begun? Has France broken into open revolution? Has Hitler been assassinated? One can’t help feeling that this worst peculiar, most unnatural, most frightening atmosphere and darkness are an omen from Heaven of some great world gloom and doom. What is it?

February 28, 1944

No raiders over last night.

On Saturday Ted received a letter from Artie, with an enclosure for me. This is it:

23, February 1944. 

Dear Mother, It was very kind of you to purchase a film for me at Forster’s and send it on. I had it on order and they are so hard to get. The Chester- fields too were more than welcome and I was pleased to have them. I am sending you the money with this to cover the film. I hope you are feeling better and not disturbed by the raids. Love and prayers, Fred.

That’s all.

Ted wrote him last night, so I enclosed an equally short note. I told him it was not the raids which had made me ill, but a serious chill and that I had been very ill and was now getting better and I hoped he also was progressing. I sent my compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Kane, and also to Hilda and with love to him remained his affectionate mother.
That was all I wrote. I feel I have nothing to say to Artie any more. He has repudiated me. Things must stay that way. 

February 29, 1944

It is leap year, which I had forgotten. We had another quiet night. I had a good deep undisturbed sleep and feel much better for it. Ted the same.

I have had a letter from Joan, written Sunday. She writes:

Three times last week I tried to phone you but the queue of people waiting to use the phone was so long that I gave up as a bad job each time. We have had it very badly in Hinsmith, and all around us too, we have had oil bombs dropped here in each of the raids last week. On Wednesday night when I got back from the shelter I found this house had been blasted again, the front door was blown in and the window in this sitting room was blown complete with the frame out of the wall, and yet not a bit of glass broken. In Mother’s bedroom some of the ceiling was down and the whole house was covered with fine black and white dust. On Thursday men came and put the window back and saw to the front door, I cleared the mess up and once more I am clean and tidy.

One night the fires were so bad I was afraid to go to bed for hours after the all clear had sounded; the smoke of the fires came into the house. A number of houses on this road have lost their windows again and the same in King’s Street. I will not tell you where all the bombs fell in Hammersmith, but whole roads of houses have gone this time, and the reason why we have had it so badly is because General Montgomery has his Headquarters in St. Paul’s Boy’s School in Kensington; all around there is in a mess: as a matter of fact West London has had a packet full. I go over to the shelter as soon as the warning goes and hope for the best. I am very jittery, but thank goodness the desire to run away is no longer with me, so I suppose my nerves are standing up to the strain. Don’t you drag all this way over here to see me, especially just now when theline is up between here and Liverpool Street. It took Eric an hour to get from Paddington to Hinsmith yesterday. He took me out for a drink at lunchtime today. He is being moved to Wales next week. Except for the raids, life with me goes on very much as usual, and except for my back, which troubles me a bit, I am very well.

Except for the raids. Yes, except for the raids!

We had a raid this evening between nine-twenty p.m. and ten-fifteen p.m. Guns sounded further off than of late, and we did not hear anything, which seemed to be falling in this neighborhood. Oh, what a weariness! 

Letter to Bill Berry 4-26-43 (Friend of Ruby Thompson living in the USA)

                                              78 Western Road
                             Romford, Essex
                         Easter Monday, April 26, 1943





My dear Bill,


I have been writing to all the boys these last few days and now I feel I shouldn't stop before writing to you also, who seem to have become a sort of adopted child of the Thompson clan. I can't leave you out when I think of my American family. So here's a spiel from Grandma.



First of all I think I must say thank-you for a parcel from Macy's which came to hand in March. It contained two jars of turkey and 3 bars of chocolate. There was no clue at all as to who was the sender, but I think it must be either from you or from Johnnie. Anyhow, my most warm thanks to the sender, whoever he was. We are going to eat the second jar of turkey for dinner today, accompanied by a small bottle of Invalid Port which my brother in law, old Herbert, sent for my special consolation, because he thought I was so dreadfully knocked over by the bad news we received about Artie last week. This was so sweet of him, though booze isn't my idea of consolation. Still it was awfully nice of him to give it to me, and his brother Ted will sure appreciate it! Oh, I am afraid this sounds horrid. It was a nice thought  and a nice gift of Herbert's and I shall drink Artie's health in it presently, and the health of all my boys and all whom I love. Artie, now a lieutenant in the Reconnaissance Corps, was sent to North Africa last March. We had a couple of letters from him, according to which he was thoroughly enjoying himself, swimming in warm ocean water, doing p.t. on the sands, and glutting himself with oranges after a three years absence from them. He was happy and well. Then last week we got a telegram from the War Office, stating that he had been wounded in action on 10th of April, and a letter would follow shortly. No letter has come so far, but neither has any other communication, so we take comfort from this, concluding he can't be worse, and must be recovering somewhere. There was an awful battle around the 16th of three boys in this neighborhood whom we know were there, 2 have been reported killed, and one as having lost an eye. So it goes, damnation all around and Hitler not licked yet. My prayer is that Artie's eyes are alright. It seems to me it would be easier for a man to live minus a limb than minus his eyes. We have no idea where Artie is wounded. We only know it must be serious or we shouldn't have been  notified. Also, he can't be worse, because if so, we should have been notified of that also. I'm very sorry for his wife. Young love grieves so terribly. When you are young you think every disaster is the end of the world; you don't know what you can get over. She is a nice young girl. I like her very much. She is a Scotch girl whom he met when he went to Scotland for his O.C.T.U. She is a W.A.A.F. at an action station in Scotland. Poor thing, she has no private place to hide her grief, which may be as well. I know what it is to make yourself ill with weeping and it doesn't do the slightest bit of good. After all the tears everything is exactly as it was before, so why weep? There you are, women do. Yes, Bill, we are awful fools.



Fancy you dreaming of joining the navy!The navy ties with the R.A.F. for first place in public affection over here. We have so many hero's in this war and we need them all, God knows. It is strange I hear nothing of my U.S.A. boys having to go into a uniform. Is it because they have all got children? What about Dick? Is he still civilian also? The only boy I have heard of is the one you have told me about, The Harp, and whose house you are renting. By the way, is The Harp, an American yet, or is he still an Irishman? No family? 



Thanks for telling me about Chili's Lynne and Charlie. I hear my sister also considers them the best brought up kids in the family. Well, both Marjorie and Chili are fine people, they should produce nice children. I wish I could see them though, all of them. I hear there are two more grandchildren to come to town this month. Have you heard of any arrivals yet? Tell me, Bill, what have you heard about poor Harold's children? I had a letter from Harold a few days ago in which he said he might ultimately  have to put his two youngest into a Catholic orphanage. This idea puts me into a frenzy.


Harold wrote that on March 16 so he must have made some arrangements for his family long before this. Poor Harold! Poor Kay! Poor children! I feel so keenly that I ought to still be in Tenafly, so that I could take the children, all four of them, until poor Kay can be straightened out again. Bill, whatever went wrong there? Do you know? I hadn't heard from Kay since Susan was born, but of course I thought she was just too busy to write. We had a short non-newsy letter from Harold a little later, but no Christmas letter. Harold is not a good correspondent at the best of times, so I did not think much of that. Now last week comes this awful shocking letter, telling us Harold has had to have Kay put away for awhile. This is too awful for words and has shocked me even more than the news about Artie. After all, one's mind is prepared for bad news from the front, but never for this sort of news. My poor children! I feel so utterly useless, that makes it even harder to take. How is Harold? Do you know? You know Bill, Harold can get just as moody as Eddie, only he isn't so noisy about it. Johnny is the most steady based boy of the family; then perhaps Jimmy; then Charlie. That's the way they used to be. Maybe they have changed now like everything else. 
         
It is very interesting to hear your nephew is so like your father. Your mother wrote me the same thing. I have often noticed more resemblances  between grandchildren and grandparents than between parents and children. It is as though likeness skips a generation, sometimes two, for when Sheila was over here, only 2 years old, she was far more like my mother (her great-grandmother) than she was like anyone else in the family and showed many of my mother's characteristics markedly. I always thought Eddie showed very much of my father in him. Can you see me, as you know me, in any of my grandchildren? Sometimes I think I see my face in some of their snapshots, but maybe that's only my fond imagination. The persistence of family likeness is a certain thing, and I think it must feel awfully queer to see oneself being reproduced visibly in ones descendants. It works the other way, too. As I have grown older there have been occasions when I have sort of startled myself by recognizing an ancestor peeping out of my mundane ordinariness and asserting themselves most definitely almost violently. "Good gracious!" I think "that's Dad!" or "that's Aunt Marla!" or somebody of other, and usually the most far from perfect ones. Queer, but interesting. Interesting is what we crave, isn't it? Or it is what I do. You know, Bill, how bored I can get. I can still get bored. My God, do I get bored! Ted thinks it is some sort of failing on my part. Very likely. Unhappily I have got a lot of failings I can't do a darn thing about, except suffer 'em. Why is it, I wonder, that the virtuous invariably think the non-virtuous revel in their vices? I'm sure we suffer as much from our failings as everyone else does.

Do I ever want to be bored? Yet sometimes boredom will just swamp me like the sea, and I drown into anguish. I recover. Oh, yes, I recover. I'm like my mother, so tough nothing ever really drowns me.  


Thanks for the little snapshot of the Wyoming Chapel. I'll tell you about what I have done with that. I have had it enlarged and formalized into a design suitable for embroidery. Last year I took up embroidery again, and I find it a fine anodyne in trouble, and a good pastime in loneliness.I am not doing useful things;I am splurging out into pictures. I cannot find any commercial designs that were of the slightest interest to me, so I commissioned an artist to make me some designs, all landscapes. I am doing one now which I call my Van Gogh. It is a road going up a hill, with a group of houses on one side, and a church and churchyard and ploughed field, on the other, and tall poplars blowing in the wind. It's really very French Impressionistic. That's the way I work, I'm not earthly good at anything exact, neat, and dainty. The result is really very effective "even though I do say so myself." Even Ted approves and likes it. We found a funny title for this picture last night. I hung it over the sofa-back as to get a good look at it. Near the church, which is yellow with a rust roof, are three grey figures. "What are those?" says Ted: "the three first families?" Yes, and so the Three First Families it is. I thought your snapshot would make an excellent picture. I've had it drawn out about 22 x 32 inches and I shall begin on it very soon. Maybe someday your Jean might like it, for an over-mantle, if it turns out any good. Yes, foolish work, most of it a waste of time. Yet I am sure it helps to keep me sane. When I can't read and often nowadays I can't read, I can keep myself from getting broody by this useless, senseless distraction. If this comes to fail me, then heaven help me! Now Au-revoir, dear Bill. Please convey my greetings and compliments to Jean, my love to yourself. 


Yours affectionately,

Ruby Thompson