October 2, 1944
Yesterday we heard details of the surrender of Calais and the capture of Cap Griz Nez. On Saturday at noon the Mayors of Dover and Folkestone announced to the people of those towns the capture of the last cross-channel of guns. This corner of Kent has been nicknamed Hell’s Corner. Saturday night was the first night they could sleep without fear of being shelled, for over four years. They came out of their caves and sang and danced in the streets, and they went to church in the evening, to offer prayers to God for their deliverance. At the end of the news last night the B.B.C. gave a short recording of one of these Thanksgiving services form Folkestone Parish Church. As I listened to those Kent's people singing a hymn, I wept. I experienced a great feeling of belonging.
October 10, 1944
The war still drags on. The summer has not seen the finish it. Yesterday we were told Mr. Churchill and Mr. Eden were in Moscow; they had flown there for consultation with Stalin. Today we are told they have taken fifty members of their staffs with them. What are they going to cook up now? Final victory? Soon?
The Germans have launched their flying bombs against us from Henkel’s over the North Sea, these past five nights. Everyday a few of their rocket bombs fall without warning. The last was at ten-twenty this morning. Ted said he thought from the smoke that it fell Chelmsford way. Anyhow the explosion was terrific, sounding much closer than Chelmsford. The wireless never mentions these things; only the neighborhoods, which receive them, know anything about them. They make me furious. They fill me with a raging anger against all Germans. In the beginning of the war I did not hate the Germans. I think I was sorry for them because they had to obey Hitler but now I despise them because they do obey them. The obscenities and cruelties of the Germans are beyond all computing, and not one German dares to stand forth and refuse to carry out orders. They must like Hitler. So I say all Germans, they are all demons. Forgive them? Never! They are unforgivable, the whole nation of them, and always will be.
Wednesday October 11, 1944
I am taking a pause before finishing my scullery jobs. I have had a full morning of cooking, and I am now very tired. A rocket bomb startled us while we were eating lunch. It fell at one-fifteen p.m. a worse one, or perhaps a nearer one woke us at five twenty-five a.m. and this was something terrific. Yet the B.B.C. never mentions these things, nor ever has done. We are waiting for either the capture or surrender of Aachen. An ultimatum was given it by the Americans, which expired at ten-fifty a.m. today. So far the commander of the city has made no reply, although a company of German soldiers walked out and surrendered last night, and today in many houses in the city have hoisted white flags. The Germans were informed that if the city did not surrender it would be totally destroyed. This is the first German city to fall to us, although the allied armies have already occupied many villages. The Polish Prime Minister in London has been invited to attend the conference in Moscow with Churchill and Stalin. He is leaving at once. Dunkirk is being demolished. Possibly the explosions we have heard today were not rockets at all, but came from Dunkirk. The B.B.C. said just now on the one o’clock news that people on the South Coast have been hearing and feeling the explosions at Dunkirk since early this morning. What next?
October 13, 1944
Mrs. Jude called in this morning. She went away to Teignmouth when the doodlebugs started, and only returned to Romford last week. She is very concerned over the rocket bombs, but what are we going to do about them? They are fired from inside Germany, and they travel at the rate of nine hundred miles per hour, so we cannot be notified of their approach. Every morning this week one has fallen in this neighborhood at exactly five twenty-five a.m. The first we know of them is the explosion. They are falling on practically the same spot every time in Warstead, so presumably that is their range. The B.B.C. never mentions them.
Saturday October14, 1944
We had a very bad night. Two rockets fell between one a.m. and one-thirty and then at three-thirty a.m. we had an alert for doodles. Oh this wearying war! Aachen has not yet fallen, but Stalin last night announced that the Russians had taken Riga and there is a report, not yet officially confirmed that the allies have liberated Athens. They freed Corinth some days ago. It doesn’t look like the war is ending this year after all, and Eisenhower himself has said there is a prospect we shall have to fight all through this coming winter. What a dreadful prospect!
Sunday October 15, 1944
I had pain in my stomach all night. I had to come downstairs at one-fifty for an alert. One flying bomb passed practically directly overhead almost immediately afterwards. It was very frightening. Then a little later I heard two others exploding at a distance. The all clear was given at two-thirty a.m.
We had authentic news today of the freeing of Athens. The made me weep a little. It seems to me Athens means more to us English than Rome does. It is of Greece we think when we dream of glory and beauty, not the Roman Empire. Damn! There is an alert now. Au-Revoir
Saturday October 21, 1944
The Americans have now taken Aachen outright. This is the first German city to be occupied by the Allies. I wonder how the Germans like that. I am feeling fine. Fine. I haven’t been so serene for years.
Sunday October 22, 1944
An alert went last night just as I had put out the light and got into bed about eleven-fifty p.m. I came downstairs immediately and a flying bomb came right overhead almost immediately. Three others came in such quick succession, almost as close, but all went further on before dropping. However, they were so near they made me sick with apprehension. The all clear came just around midnight, so I went back to bed, but could not fall asleep for a very long time. How heavenly it will be to lay oneself down in bed without fear of the night. According to the six o’clock news we have been doing a lot of bombing over Germany today so I expect we shall get more over here tonight, probably before very long, as the night is pitch dark already. Infernal war.
Monday October 23, 1944
We had no alerts during the night, nevertheless I lay awake a very long time. I was thinking of the books I have never written, and scrapping them all I think.
Tuesday October 24, 1944
We had a bad night. About seven-thirty last night, without a hint of warning, a rocket bomb exploded somewhere near by. The impact was terrific. The whole house rocked. Ted dived under the table. This morning we have heard it fell in Brentwood. We had an hour of the alert with flying bombs between eight and eight-thirty p.m. Four fell in this district but no details are known yet. The remainder of the evening was without incident so we went to bed in the usual way around eleven. I fell asleep quickly but was awakened soon after midnight, by another violent explosion. Then all was quiet, so I fell asleep again, to be wakened at one a.m. by an alert. I got up at once, but one buzzy bomb fell before I could get out of the bedroom, then several more through the next half hour. The all clear was given at two a.m. however sleep seemed banished for the night, and I lay in a semi doze, full of bad dreams, until morning.
When will this damn war end, and life get back to normal? There is a report today that the Russians are thought into East Prussia, thirty miles in on a ninety-mile line. Good! I hope they will soon get to Berlin! A month ago we hoped that the war would be finished this autumn, but now we are not so optimistic. The Germans may collapse any day, but they look more likely to fight on all winter. They’re licked, and they must know it, but Hitler is going to make them keep on fighting. It’s a suicide policy, but Hitler won’t save his own Germans any more than he would save any other peoples. For so long as he can prolong the war, for so long he can save his own life, and that is all that matters to him. Who can be sorry for the Germans? If they are so stupid as to throw away their lives senselessly and uselessly, because Hitler commands the silly sacrifice, well, such sheep are bound to be slaughtered. Who is ever sorry for sheep?
Wednesday October 25, 1944
Two months until Christmas. Will the war be over then? God knows.
It is ten a.m. and I am waiting for the radioman. Last night we had three rocket bombs between seven and nine p.m. and the last one seems to have cracked the radio. We were listening to the Brains Trust when it fell, and the whole house seemed to crack and shake. There was a sound as thought the roof was tumbling off. The radio stopped dead, and has not revived, so have had to call in the expert. The girl at the telephone said she would try to send someone this morning, and I surely hope she does, for one feels lost without the radio these days
Like the previous evening we had an hour of buzzy-bombs during the spasm of rockets. We heard four in this neighborhood, which seems to be our average quota of these damned things. Then after we had gone to bed there was another alert, about midnight, and four more of them passed close by. One dropped before I could get to the bottom of the stairs, taking my breath away. My response to these is anger. Not fear, but anger, deadly anger. They make me furious, and full of hatred of all Germans. As the war goes on I hate the Germans more and more, and I shall hate them until I die. Mrs. James came in yesterday afternoon. She was talking about the war, of course, and about the weather, which has been so bad all the year, and always against us. She said, “ It really seems as though God doesn’t want us to win too easily. He wants to make it hard, so that we’ll fight. We’ve got to fight, really fight. He wants us to remember it. That’s why the weather is so extraordinary, my dear. God doesn’t want to make the war too easy for us.”
What can I say to that? How weary I am of folks that know the intentions of God.
Thursday October 26, 1944
If the war doesn’t end soon I shall die of sheer fatigue. We had raids last night between seven and ten p.m. These make me feel so ill. We had none in the night, but a rocket fell nearby at eight-fifteen a.m. and another at eight-forty. We had another at twelve-thirty p.m. and another at one-fifty p.m. It has been all-quiet since. The afternoon is closing in misty, so probably we shall get more as soon as darkness settles. Early morning was misty, almost foggy, too. Apparently October twenty-fifth is reckoned by the government as the first day of winter, for it provided a winter timetable for transport, and for shop and office hours, to start as yesterday the twenty-fifth. I feel very sleepy and long for a long night of deep solid undisturbed sleep.
Friday October 27, 1944
I am saying damn the war, and damn the war and damn the war. We had no flying bombs during the night but are being peppered with the rocket bombs. One fell at six-thirty last night, and another about eleven p.m. none during the night, but one fell at eight-fifteen this morning, another at ten-thirty and another at eleven-ten, another at eleven-fifty and the last at twelve-twenty p.m. These are terrible things. They drop without warning, and do an awful lot of damage. The one at eleven o’clock last night fell in Ilford, at the corner of The Drive and Cranbrook Road. A whole block is down, and it was a big old property that stood there. Casualties are not known yet, but there must be many. Ted laughs and jokes about the bombs, and says; “ see, we are alright” but I can’t take them so lightly. Somebody dies every time, and sometime it might be us, we have no guarantee the bombs will never fall in this road. They are horrible. They do fill me with fear. I can’t help it. I am afraid.
Old Bert paid us a surprise visit last night. He is staying in Romford with Peggy for a week whilst Mrs. Webb is having a holiday. He told us he has just had a letter from Bertie, from somewhere in Holland, who gives it as his opinion that the war will either be finished in the next three weeks, or else if not finished by that time, it will carry on all through the winter. It seems to me it can go on indefinitely. Mr. Churchill is to make a statement in the House today on his recent visit to Russia. We shan't be able to hear anything of it, because the radio is again on the blink, and was carried away this morning by Mr. Bean to be dismantled “at the bench”, to have its fault found. On hates to be without the radio these days, for one does look for the announcement of the end of the war any day now, or, for the news that Hitler is dead.
Yesterday we heard of the death of the Princess Beatrice, mother of the ex-Queen of Spain, and the last surviving child of Queen Victoria. She was eighty-seven so nobody minds. We were shocked by the news of another death, and of a really important person, Dr. Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury who died very suddenly. He was only sixty-two. The previous Archbishop, Lang, who resigned only two years ago, because he felt too old for the job, is still alive. Temple, they say had been suffering for a few weeks with the gout, but succumbed yesterday to sudden heart attack. I always listened to him when he was on the air, and I was glad when he was made Archbishop of Canterbury, I felt him to be nice in every way and now he is dead.
Saturday October 28, 1944
Last night we had a rocket at seven-fifteen and another at eleven-twenty and another at eleven –fifty p.m. This last upset me so much I came downstairs and spent the night on the sofa. If one drops again tonight before midnight, I shall come down again. We had two more this morning and another this evening. I do not know what the latest news is, as Mr. Bean did not bring back the radio this afternoon, as promised.
Monday, October 30,1944
Sure enough, as I anticipated, a rocket bomb fell around midnight, but somewhat farther off then usual. Of course, close enough to wake us from sleep. Another louder and closer, much closer, fell about four-thirty a.m. but since then there have been no more.
It is now twelve-thirty p.m. and we have had two bombs without warning. I was standing on a kitchen chair, hanging up my bandages to dry, and was blown backwards off the chair. Luckily I was able to grab hold of the sink and support my back against the pantry-door so I did not fall to the ground; nevertheless I am shaken badly.
It is now four-twenty and we had another bomb. The midday bombs fell on Becton Gas-Works. Mrs. Cannon’s niece, in Ilford, lost her home in last Thursday’s blowup in the Cortauld’s Road; and only by a fluke did she save her life. The bomb fell at eleven-fifteen p.m., and the young woman (I do not know her name) happened to be standing at her gas-stove, making some coffee, for her mother who was paying her a late night visit. Had the mother not been there, the daughter would have been in bed. After the explosion she found an enormous lump of concrete on her pillow. She had no idea where it came from, but it is certain had she been in her bed she would have been killed.
At six forty-five we had another bomb. Dorrie Stanford came in soon after it fell. She verified the report that this morning’s bombs fell on Becton Gasworks as true, as notification came through to Old Church Hospital about it. I do not know yet where the others have fallen. The radio was brought back at two o’clock today, but no news is ever given about these rocket bombs. So far as the B.B.C. is concerned they have never happened.