This blog posts extracts from E J Rudsdale's diaries of life on the home front in Britain during the Second World War. Each extract is posted exactly 70 years after it was first written, so follow events through the eyes of a witness to the war.
Slept from quarter to 6 until 11
o’clock.Torrential rain from 12 until
1.Terrible for the corn.The wind veered right round to the N.E.
This evening went over to Dedham,
but found the Sissons at supper, so did not stop.Called at Lt. Rivers on the way back, but
there were strange cars outside so I did not call.Back to “Woodside” rather depressed and had a
lonely supper.Early bed, hoping for a
News in the Sunday papers seems pretty cheerful, but
very difficult to know what to believe.
Up rather late, after 9 hours
continuous deep sleep, without a dream.Cloudy and warm.Busy morning,
many visitors.Went on the market to see
various people this afternoon.An alarm
as I was walking past the post office at 3 o’clock.Cycled round to Clark’s Meadow, and heard the
thing thumping away to the NW, above the clouds.A dull, distant crash, and ‘all clear’.
Suddenly thought to buy some
flowers for Molly Blomfield, put them on the seat of her car which was standing
in Sir Isaac’s Walk.Shortly after ran
into Ald. Sam Blomfield, and talked about the Museum and Poulter.He promised to speak to Poulter, and see what could
Went round to the Library to see
newspapers, and when coming out looked into the old graveyard of St Runwald’s,
and saw the tombstones of so many of our leading citizens.
Cycled out through Boxted to
Higham.Saw the damage to the cottage
and the Post Office caused by the flying bomb on Wednesday evening.Not very serious, mostly broken windows.
At Higham Jacquie was running
about the garden with Susan her little dog, her hair flying loose,
looking wonderfully well and happy.Told
her I hoped to go to Scotland if I get some leave next month, so she wrote a
letter to some very good friends of hers, called Biggam, saying I will call on
them.Stayed talking until nearly
midnight.Tremendous firing at 9 o’clock
and again just before 12, but a long way off.
Went to the Post, by way of the
Marsh Lane and Langham Waterworks.Got
in at 10 to 1.Dull watch.No ‘divers’ and only two ‘planes over the
whole night.Stars twinkling through the
thin haze.Deep silence but for the
sleepy chirp of birds.Several hours
talk on the Nature of God.
Two hours in bed, and awakened by
an alarm at 7.30.Lovely fine hot
morning.Nothing happened.Going in, saw a man riding a good class rough
coated cob up Maidenburgh Street.Like
the look of it.
Very busy all day.Wages troubles and so on. Capt. Folkard not in a very good mood.Daphne restless, and says she wants to leave.
Home to tea, and then went over
to the Rallings for supper, Joan and Jane both there – Joan is becoming very
handsome.Mary Ralling showed me her
photograph albums, very interesting stuff.She has several very early views of the Castle and High Street,
apparently about 1860-65.Besides these
she has some views of their own home, [Winnock Lodge] when new-built, standing quite alone in
the New Town fields, the backs of the houses in Magdalen Street showing over a
distant hedge.Even the fruit trees in
the garden are there, the pears and the big cherry, so they must be over 60
years old.Very odd to think of them
growing and blowing in sunshine, while my Mother was a tiny girl in the old
house across the market garden [in Wimpole Road].
Lovely warm, sunny evening, not
many ‘planes about.Back to Boxted at
10.30, and went straight to bed, hoping for a little sleep.
Nothing yet from Poulter.Very worrying.
My review of “Britain’s Good
Earth” appeared in the “Essex County Standard” tonight, and looked very well.
Yet another quiet night, and a
brilliant dawn.Hot day.Nothing from Poulter.
Hear that last week, on Friday I
think, Eisenhower was at Dunmow and Debden, inspecting USA bases.
Trouble all day, mostly about
labour.Mrs Allen and Spencer both away,
and long streams of ‘phone calls for me to answer, mostly about Women's Land Army.
Chapman from Dedham,
came in, and was very rude because he thinks we ought to pay him some ploughing
subsidy, which was in fact paid to the previous owner, although he did not
actually bring the land into cultivation.
This evening went over to Higham,
calling at Dedham on the way, to have a chat with Sissons.Jacquie was very charming, looking like a
little brown boy.There was an alarm at
quarter to 9, and two ‘divers’ were heard, somewhere to the south, followed by
two explosions.Went to the Post at 1.00am and heard that one was recorded in our sector, and that it fell at Castle
Hedingham, 14 miles away.Most puzzling,
the way these wretched things seem to come in almost due East.Feel that they cannot be launched from Holland.Some people say they are sent from small ships, or possibly from
Had a completely uneventful
night, no ‘divers’, nothing.Came home
at 5am so dark I had to use a lamp – signs of dreaded winter coming on.
This morning saw Harry Neale ride
past the office on a nice blue roan.
Quiet night, but a series of four
alarms one after another soon after quarter to 9 this morning.Some distant gun-fire, but nothing happened.
Brilliant hot day.Big crowds at the Bus Park, going to the
seaside, children with spades and pails.Busy day in the office, ‘phone going the whole time.Home to tea, then up-town, saw Molly Blomfield, near
Sheregate, for the first time in six months.Spoke to her, and she laughed and chatted happily.Felt very sorry for her.
Then went down to St Botolph’s
Corner, where a deep trench has now been dug across the street from the site of
Blomfield’s shop through the cartway between the “Woolpack” and the next shop
towards Osborne Street. A few feet within this cartway a
number of pieces of ancient timber were stuck, perhaps parts of pipes or
troughs, similar to those found when the Electricity Works were built.
Saw a circus on the Recreation
Ground, a horrid, dirty little affair, with a dirty patched tent a few tired
looking thin ponies.These poor derelict
circuses are now given free sites on municipal land all over the country now,
as part of the “holidays-at-home” business.
Back to the office and wrote a
letter to Poulter.Felt better.Must bring this affair to an end.
To Boxted 9.30, and to bed soon
after 10, very tired.
Yet another quiet night.Up early in the cool dawn, the sun casting
long shadows of the traved wheat across the stubbles.
This afternoon an alarm at 2.30,
in brilliant sunshine.Nothing
happened.From the back window of the
office could see an old cripple sat in a wheeled chair under the shade of a
tree, quite unmoved and unmoving.‘All-clear’ came in 10 minutes.
There was another alarm about 6,
while I was having tea in the café.Felt
very nervous against the plate glass window, but two prostitutes at the next
table were quite uninterested, and only ceased their chattering when one dashed
out to greet an American officer.They both went up to her flat on the other
side of the street.She had been
impatiently waiting for him, and I heard her say to the other girl “Surely he
can't be flying all day.”
Went home.Father said he had rheumatics, and was
walking slowly and with difficulty.The
parson’s little boy from across the road came running in, and the old man suddenly
became brisk and active, walking across the room as if he were 10 years
younger.He took the child on his knee and pointed to me, saying “That’s my little boy, that
is.”I was once, dear Father, 30 years
and more ago.But what am I now?
Had to leave at 7 to get to the
Observer Post, and to leave a message at Lt. Rivers.
Post at 9, but all quiet.Rumours spreading that all the ‘divers’ have
been used up, but the 9 o’clock news quite depressing, and no sign of the
“general collapse” so confidently predicted.
Quiet night, except for
‘planes.Looked out at 5, and saw all
the landing lights on, ‘planes continuously coming in.
This morning talking to Capt.
Folkard about marketing of agricultural produce, and remarked how Colchester
street market had decayed during the war – on last Saturday there were only 12
stalls set out.
Heard by ‘phone that we had a bad
fire at Copt Hall on Saturday – the engine of the combine harvester back-fired
and destroyed 20 acres of standing wheat in fields below the lower
buildings.Maidstone went down to see,
as Capt. Folkard went off on a short holiday, which he richly deserves.
Glorious fine day.News in the papers optimistic, and some idea
that the war will be over before winter.Very doubtful, but anyway the divers will be ended in a few weeks, as the
launching-sites are being cut off.
Early evening decided to go to
the Playhouse, but the film so bad wished I had not.
To Boxted 9.30, in a lovely quiet
cool evening.‘Planes taking off again
tonight.Bed 11.30, hopefully.