World War ll London Blitz: 9-1-44 to 9-30-44 Today is the fifth anniversary of the day upon which Hitler launched his war on Europe, but today, Thank-God, he is nearly beaten.

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September 1, 1944

Today is the fifth anniversary of the day upon which Hitler launched his war on Europe, but today, Thank-God, he is nearly beaten. The battle of France is in its last hours. The Allies have passed Sedan; today they have stormed and taken Verdun, and right now are approaching Metz; they have crossed the Seine above Le Havre, and are within fifteen miles of Dieppe. Rouen and Rheims are freed. The Germans are fleeing in rout. The Russians are in Bucharest; yesterday they took Ploesti. The Poles are fighting in Warsaw. The Czechs are ousting the Germans from Slovakia, and the Italians are in possession of the Great Saint Bernard passes. Yes, the war is winding to its end, thank God; Nemesis is overtaking the Nazis. 

September 3, 1944

It is a National Day of prayer and dedication, by the wish of the Majesty the King. Five years ago today we entered the war against Hitler. It is just a day as that Sunday was, clear and sunny and warm. I took myself in hand and went out to the eleven o’clock mass. The church was packed, and so I believe have all the churches in the country been. As a people we are all moved to prayer by this anniversary.

September 4, 1944

The B.B.C. interrupted all programs to announce that we are in Brussels. Last night the British and Canadians were on the borders of Belgium; this morning they are in the Capital. Also this morning comes the news that the Finn’s have agreed to the Soviet’s terms for an Armistice, and at eight a.m. all firing ceased.

No air attacks from the Germans were launched on Great Britain last night; and no flying bombs have dropped on us since Friday afternoon. I don’t think we shall ever get any more of them. Hitler may be able to launce air attacks on us from inside Germany, but it is certain he cannot now do much. The Germans are licked. Hitler declares he will carry on the war from inside Germany, but it is hard to see how he will be able to do so. Any day now Germany will be invaded from both sides; the Russians will surge in on the East, the Allies on the West. My idea is that once the Allied Armies get into Germany there will be no more fighting, I don’t think the Germans will fight at home, because I think their civilians won’t let them; once the Allies get into Germany all the fraidy cats who’ve never had the courage to defy Hitler and his Nazism will flock to us for protection, like the other refugees. I don’t think there will be a revolution in Germany; though I think it is likely all the impressed foreign laborers will revolt, perhaps even rise and come out openly to join the Allies. I think the people of Germany, the oppressed Germans themselves, will act by passivity, they will know that we will never shoot them, though they’ve been afraid that Hitler might. Well, we shall see.

September 7, 1944

It has been officially announced today that the Battle of London, the battle of the flying bombs is over. Our armies have over run all the launching sites on the coast of France, and the Germans can send no more against us, unless, perhaps a few odd ones they may be able to launch from airplanes over the North Sea. In all, in the eighty days of bombardment, eight thousand seventy flying bombs were launched against London; there were a few others at some coastal towns, Southampton and Portsmouth, but the great majority was aimed at London. Ninety-two percent of the casualties were in the London area. Bombs came at the rate of one hundred a day, but now they will come no more. Thank God.

It is evening now and something apropos. In the Times today, in the column from their correspondent in Washington, date of yesterday, September Seventh about politics, comes this, “Senator Vandenberg (Michigan) said: ”Peace, finally is a state of mind; peace is a moral and spiritual conviction; peace is a matter of world-wide education.” It might have been Woodrow Wilson speaking. Whether any change has been wrought by events in the texture of public opinion in this country has yet to be put to the test, but a quarter of a century ago it was true, if anything was true, that the American vision of peace as a moral and not a political, or a military question marked the deepest dividing line between the United States and Europe. The feel that reason has its dwelling place here and that Europe is a battleground of prejudice, and the hatred, which is born of prejudice, is still deeply implanted. Senator Vandenberg and President Wilson, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, were moved by something which may be irremovable because it is emotional.”

September 9, 1944

In the late afternoon Ted brought in with him three Italian soldiers, for coffee and cake. They had very little English, and chiefly with the dictionary carried on conversation. All had been in Abyssinia and Kenya, and all three seemed to thoroughly dislike Africa. “Africa, no good” they kept saying. I should say these men were some of the Italian prisoners sent here, and now, since the Armistice with Britain, part of the regular army again preparing to fight with the Allies.

I didn’t like them. I looked at them, three swarthy ruffians and I thought, they are Italians, turncoats, the enemy. Then I thought, my God! They are Catholics! I felt in revulsion to all they represented.

September 10, 1944

It is the last official day for the Home Guards. They shut down tomorrow. Ted left the house early, before ten, to go to headquarters. The morning was beautiful, a perfect day so I went out early and took myself to St. Edwards.

September 12, 1944

Now a new terror has struck us. Whilst we were at breakfast, about eight-fifteen, without sound or warning, a most terrific explosion occurred, shaking the whole place. Ted rushed upstairs to look from the windows, but could see nothing. About nine o’clock another happened, though not quite so violent. I had also been awakened in the middle of the night by an awful loud noise, and Ted heard what he thought were guns whilst dressing around six a.m. Mrs. Fitch has just been in, coming from shopping, and she tells me that what we heard this morning, was the V2, a rocket fired bomb; this fell in Dagenham, on a nursery school utterly destroying it. Luckily there were no children in it, as it was just too early for them to be there. Where the others have fallen she did not hear. I am filled with a grinding hatred of all Germans. I will never forgive the Germans anything. They are demons incarnate. Last Sunday we heard gunfire from the Channel. It was weird. About half past three I began to hear queer noises, but I thought it was Mrs. Thomson next-door, sweeping heavily through her bedrooms, but nobody was in the Thomson house. Then there were sounds in the top of this house, like an elephant padding about. Then the house began to shake, as though in a gale, and this got worse, until I thought all the windows would rattle themselves out of their sashes. The doors went too, an awful racket. Then all the noises and shakings repeated themselves about five o’clock, and again at seven. We were told it was gunfire on the Channel ports. Perhaps it was, perhaps it wasn’t. It might have been these rocket bombs falling in our southern countries. What ever it was, it was eerie and frightening.

September 13, 1944

Those three Italians that Ted brought to the house on Saturday must have rattled me even more than I recognized that afternoon. I can’t forget them. One of them said, when asked was he anxious to get home: “No, me stay here when war is over. Italy is no good anymore. No money in Italy. No work. Me stay here. Here good food, good work, good money. Yes, yes. Me stay here.” What a patriotic Italian! What does he intend to do, but grab for a job and a living from an Englishman! What about all our own demobilized? Of course I expect all the Italians will be taken back to Italy and demobilized there; then they will have their difficulties in getting back into England again. I hope England will be swept clear of all foreigners, and England left for the English.

September 14, 1941

Guns are sounding intermittently ever since nine o’clock, but I think it is only practice somewhere. I was wakened in the middle of the night by a most terrific explosion, followed by a long rumble, and then another explosion, slightly less in volume. I thought the earth had cracked open. I looked at the time and it was three-twenty a.m. I could not sleep again, mainly because I felt so sick. At six-thirty the alarm went, and Ted got up and went off to mass. I thought: Isn’t this preposterous!” After all, that’s the way he guards his mind, I suppose. Then when I was washing in the bathroom another explosion cracked without warning. The B.B.C. does not mention these things, going on the principle of “fool the enemy”. These bombs are worse than the flying bombs, for they cannot be detected, so no warning of their approach can be given, nor do they make any preliminary sound of their own. You could hear the doodlebugs coming, but you can’t hear these things. They fly extremely high, so you cannot see them. You know nothing until they explode. They are fiendish. The whole war is fiendish. The longer it goes on the more and more I hate the Germans. I didn’t hate them in the beginning, but now I hate them fiercely, and for all time. I will never forgive the Germans anything, not one German, one thing.

Two or three weeks ago the new Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Griffin (Irish!), returned from a visit to Rome bringing a letter from the Pope to the people of London, in which the Pope talked about forgiving our enemies, and not being revengeful against the Germans, etc. This roused a storm of protest in all the papers. To talk to Londoners about loving the Germans is to insult intelligence. The Germans are accused, and will remain accused. The accumulation of their crimes and savage barbarities can never be atoned for. They have put themselves outside the pale of civilized humanity, and there they will stay. As long as memory lasts, as long as history is written, the Germans will stand in time as the most cruel and most infamous of all peoples. They are worse than the antique pagans, because the Germans were supposed to be Christian; they could and they did, know better. Deliberate they chose to make evil their god; they are unforgivable. They are totally, completely absolutely unforgivable.

September 15, 1944

I found it very difficult to fall asleep last night because of apprehension about the V2. However I finally fell asleep and had a quiet night after all, no bombs.

September 16, 1944

I was up very early this morning, so my work is well advanced. Just before dawn the alert sounded, and flying bombs began coming over again. Between five-fifty and six twenty-five this morning three dropped very close here, about Woolwich, I should guess. Then without sound or warning, a V2 dropped somewhere near at exactly seven-thirty and a second at eight-thirty. I expected one a quarter of an hour ago, the Germans are so regular! It didn’t come. The damned Germans! My God, how we hate them! It just occurred to me while preparing vegetables a little while ago that it was a German church where we were received into the church way back in nineteen hundred and nine; old St. Henry’s, Bayonne. Father Riley told us that it was the old Catholic Church for the Germans of Bayonne, and he had been sent there because he spoke German. All pastors previous to him were Germans; he was the first English-speaking priest to be appointed to that parish. He told us the trouble he had because he refused to speak German in the Church, in sermons, notices, and so on. The congregation almost came to riots; they wanted to hear their German tongue. He insisted on using English. They told him they didn’t understand it; he replied they must learn it, for they were in America, they must use the American language. Of course he would hear confessions in German, but nothing further. In the end he had won out, we never heard any German there, but he said it had been a tussle. Certainly now that I think of it I distinctly remember seeing German –Latin missals and prayer books in use in the church, particularly by the older people, and you could pick up an odd one in the pews right up to the time we began to use the new St. Henry’s on Avenue C. A German St. Henry’s, well I never!

September 17, 1944

Yesterday again before dark the alert sounded again, and we had three doodlebugs over. Then all was quiet, until just before eleven when with out warning came the awful crash of a V2. Only one, but this put the wind up me, so that I could not go up to bed, so I spent the night on the sofa here in the dining room. Several bombs passed in the early part of the night, and then we had quiet until about five twenty-five a.m. after which we had a few more. This morning was without incident, but I could not get up the nerve to go out, so no church.

Reta Pullan came in to tea. She was looking very well. Whilst she was here we had some more doodlebugs, and just at the end of our tea another V2 came crashing without warning. She left before dark (the clock went back an hour last night) but before she could have reached home another warning sounded, but the all clear came quickly, and nothing fell hereabouts. On the six o’clock news we were told that this afternoon an enormous Allied Air-Borne Army had safely landed in Holland. After the nine o’clock news “war report” gave several eyewitness accounts of this feat. I sat and cried. I weep for all the young men. They are all glorious, and they are defeating the enemy, but in what strange and awful ways. Everything is so unnatural, so frightening, and so awesome.

September 18, 1944

Joan arrived about eight a.m. She had written last week to say she would come, but I scarcely expected her, for we had raids in the night, so I thought she would be too cautious to start out. However, it seems they had no incidents in London, so she was quite unperturbed. The day had been a long talkfest, for we had not seen each other for months. We had no warnings or raids or V2’s all day, thank goodness.

September 19, 1944

I am very tired after an extra busy morning, catching up with the work that didn’t get done yesterday. Oh, God, I am tired of housekeeping! The early part of the night was quiet, but at about four-fifteen a.m. the alert sounded. I came downstairs at once, and about a half a dozen flying bombs passed and dropped nearby in the next forty minutes. The last one was extremely close; I thought this house was falling down. That one, we have found out this morning, dropped between the gardens at Cranham Road and Hasel-Rise, only a very little behind Artie’s place. Ted was up there this morning. He says the devastation is worse than at Hainault Road. Four people, so far, are known to be killed, and when Ted was there he said the A.R.P. were still digging for victims. These bombs are being launched from Henkel’s, from over the North Sea. Of course they can’t keep up long, but everyday they hit and destroy and kill somewhere. It is hellish awful. It’s so stupid. His flying bombs could never have won the war for Hitler. All they can do is to make even more indelible the English mind our undying hatred for all Germans. The end of this week brings the equinox. Pray, we can bring this war to an end before the bad weather sets in. We are now past the middle of September and soldiers say that only a fortnight remains of the season of good weather conditions for campaigning in Western Europe. It is important if we can to reach a decision within that time. Can we? General Montgomery and General Eisenhower broadcast optimistic speeches, and say the end is in sight, but they do not say when, and certainly they do not say within the next fortnight.

September 20, 1944

I awakened at two a.m. by a warning. I came downstairs immediately but Ted remained in bed. The all clear was not given until three a.m. During this hour many bombs passed overhead, I lost count of them. One seemed barely to skim our roof tiles. I thought I would die. The din alone is terrifying, they sound like express trains rushing through the air clackety clack clack. We had more of them this evening between nine and ten p.m. two of them seemed to travel our roof. Of course they didn’t but it sounded like that. Ted went into the garden to look at the second one. He said it was on the other side of the tracks, probably a mile away, and heading for Chadwell Heath. (At Cranham Road and Brentwood Road the death toll is now thirteen, and two hundred people injured.) Romford is now directly in the new bomb alley, all the bombs come in from the East. It is believed that they are discharged over the North Sea from aircraft based on aerodromes which may be in the Island of Sylt or even further away. (Cuthie used to fly over Syet in 1940) Anyhow they come, and wherever they are coming from we are in their direct line of route. Lord, defend us!

I thought in the night, holding myself together whilst the bombs flew over: Germans: it is Germans who are doing this. I thought; millions of Germans are Catholics, Roman Catholics; so then, even if there were no other reason then that, I shall leave the Roman Catholic Church. I will not stay in any church, which holds Germans any more than I will stay in any other place in this world that holds Germans. Germans have put themselves outside the pale for all time so far as I am concerned. The Pope can keep them if he wants, as many as he likes, but he can’t keep me also. The unspeakable Germans I am English and I cant be anything else. I wont be anything else, so help me God!

September 21, 1944

We had one short alert in the night; it sounded about four-thirty with the all clear given at five a.m. I came downstairs at once, but nothing fell in the neighborhood, and I heard only one passing at a great distance. It has been quiet ever since then.

Brest has fallen and so has Boulogne. The British Second Army has established an armored corridor through Holland to the banks of the Rhine at Nijmegen, and at noon today we were told that they had secured the bridge there. In Italy we have taken Rimini and are on the heights North of Florence. Stalin has announced the launching of a double offensive in Estonia. Warsaw? God knows what is going on in Warsaw. In Denmark the Germans have tried to abduct King Christian, but were foiled. The population of Copenhagen has gone on strike. The Germans have rounded up seventeen hundred of the Danish police and sent them to Germany to an internment camp. It is impossible that any people could ever be more hated than the Germans are hated, and will be hated, until the end of time.

A flying bomb factory has been discovered at Thiel, near the Luxembourg frontier. The workshops were in tunnels of an old iron mine, three hundred and thirty feet below ground. It is estimated that fifteen thousand impressed workers there could eventually have assembled five hundred flying bombs daily. It is said that the workers were never allowed out of the mines. They were Russians, Poles, Italians, Serbs, and German political prisoners, under the supervision of two hundred German technicians. Even the local French had no idea of what was going on inside the mine. Yes, Hitler intended that the flying bombs should utterly destroy London; there is no doubt about it. On Monday Joan was telling me of the flying bomb damage in Hammersmith, and round about. One bomb she says, fell behind Woolworth’s, down Cambridge Road. It completely obliterated eight houses. She says not even bricks and rubble remained, there was nothing there but one huge hole. This is annihilation. Then the Pope dares to write to Londoners expressing his hopes that they will forgive the Germans! We shall never forgive them.

September 23, 1944

I am so weary of wartime meals! They are so monotonous and dull. Not that monotony would be so bad if only it was real food, real beef, real eggs, real milk, real bread, and real fruit. It is the monotony of fakes and substitutes, which is so tedious and so uninteresting. There were no raids during the night, although we had a short one between eight-thirty and nine o’clock last night. Three bombs went over here, that was all, but they made me feel very sick all the same. After all any one of three is likely to kill you, the same as any one of one hundred, if you happen to lie in its direct line of travel, and it explodes upon you. Oh, I hope the war ends soon. I can’t endure it very much longer.

This letter is in the Times today:

To the editor of the Times:

Sir, May I direct your attention to the incalculable harm, which is being done to the prestige of the United States Troops by the knowledge that they are treating the Germans with the kindness that has been extended to a liberated people of Europe?

This attitude is being bitterly commented upon in the country homes and quiet villages where British public opinion is often more vocal then in the towns. It is essential to the future peace of the world that American soldiers should understand what Europe has suffered at the hands of Germany.

Yours faithfully,

W.A. Skeate, Squadron Leader, R.A.F. Rose Cottage, Cookham.Berks. September 19 (retired)

Yes and I too, hear with nausea some of the accounts given by war correspondents regarding the behavior of the Germans in Germany towards the invading Allies, how they come forward with cups of coffee, bowls of plums, and the girls giggling, bidding for favor from the incoming troops, of course. The Americans breeze along, of course. As Eddie says, the Germans are already busy with the whitewash brush. Can they wash out their concentration camps, their atrocities? Not for us, never for us. There is an alarm now. Damn the Germans! God Damn them forever.

September 24, 1944

Last night was so threatening that I could not go to bed. Searchlights were everywhere weaving about, searching, and searching. So I made up my bed on the sofa again. As it happened no bombs came over during the night but I was full of apprehension and could not sleep. There was incessant traffic on the railway; too, trains seemed to be going out all night. Supplies, of course, were being carried to the coast for shipment to our armies. Towards dawn heavy rain began to fall, and there has been rain and storm ever since. It is the equinox of course. We have had a raid tonight, between nine-fifteen and nine forty-five p.m. bombs dropped at a distance, but more immediately near. All clear now and I am going up to bed or at least to start the night there.

September 25, 1944

I was awakened soon after five this morning by an alert; almost before I could get downstairs I could hear the damned bombs traveling toward us. There were three of them that fell in this neighborhood, one very close, though I have not heard exactly where. There have been none since six a.m. but my poor old insides still feels quakes. What bliss it will be when we no longer go in fear of our lives from hour to hour, day after day, night after night. When we can live in peace and security again, what Heaven!

September 27, 1944

I had to get up this morning for an alert, one bomb only came and dropped near by, possible in Chadwell Heath again.

September 29, 1944 Michaelmas Day

There were flying bombs over the southern counties and London again early this morning. No alert sounded in this area, but three terrific explosions were felt and heard at five twenty-five a.m. No warning was given, no approach was heard; Ted says he thinks they must have been rockets. News was given at ten a.m. that the Canadians are now in The Citadel of Calais, but fighting is still going on in the town. All this week our hearts have been wrung for the Battle of Arnhem. We have had to withdraw and our losses are very heavy. Glory. What price glory?

September 30, 1944

We had two nasty periods yesterday evening, between eight-thirty and nine ten p.m., and again between nine-thirty and ten-fifty p.m. One bomb seemed to trundle over the back garden, and stopped and dropped very soon afterwards. The night was cloudy, so I thought they might come over all night long. However I decided to go to bed, and slept soundly until four-thirty a.m., when I was awakened by a long alert. I came downstairs at once, and the all clear didn’t come until five-ten a.m. I heard several bombs, but all in the distance. It was a horrible time. You think every bomb is making towards you; then they pass and you feel better, but only for a few minutes, because lo, you hear another one on its way. You are literally sick with apprehension, or at least I am. Last night Ted heard nothing, he slept through it all.

When this war is finally over I think nothing will ever bother me anymore. To have surcease from this constant fear of sudden and frightful death, knowing you are alive only by luck, oh, what bliss! We had great hopes in the spring that the war would be finished this summer, but it isn’t, nor shows any likelihood of being over soon, either. Opinion is that it may be over by the end of the year, but I don’t think any of us believe that. The Germans will be able to fight quite along time on their own ground. Why wouldn’t they? They are beaten now, and they know it, but they are not going to easily surrender. In fact, Hitler has boasted that if he is destroyed he will drag all Europe down to destruction along with him. He has ordered all his troops to stand and die for him, and most of them are obeying. To only comparatively a few does it occur to consider that as a live man he could live for the future good of his country. Germany seems to be a nation of lunatics, with an arch lunatic raving at the head of them. I wonder how posterity will see us all.

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