25th April 1944

Tuesday
Colder, with a N.E. wind, cloudy at times.  ‘Planes streaming over the house soon after 8, bombs hanging below them.  

At the office found a telegram from Mary Hulbert – “Pony not required – Hulbert”.

Handed in at Shrewsbury at 3 o’clock yesterday.  Walker must have done it for her, and did not even bother to do it in the morning, although she works in the very building from which they are sent.  This is a bitter disappointment, and I can’t imagine what is behind it.  Am I to take it as a snub?  Or is it merely an ordinary telegram, condensed as economically as possible?  The one I sent cost 2/2.  When I left they were friendly as if 14 years had never passed, and I quite thought that they had been genuinely pleased to see me.  It seems that I am quite incapable of understanding the simplest thing in human relationships.

Heard today that a ‘plane crashed during the night at Langham, not far from Severalls Hall.  It was a Canadian bomber; coming back, and appears to have been shot down by a German, trailing it back from the Continent.  Several people heard it falling, and some say that they heard the sound of machine gunning.  The thing was smashed to pieces, and all the crew dead.  Parts of the engine fell near some of the aerodrome huts.  On Saturday last, an American ‘plane crashed near the “Shepherd & Dog” when taking off, but the pilot was not hurt and the bomb did not explode.

This morning saw Sier about Col. Round’s MSS, and he promised to look through them.  Then went to Proudfoot’s office and spoke about my release from the Castle shelters.  He ‘phoned the police, but there was no-one there who could help, so he said he would have to let me know.  
 
Took Daphne to tea, then to Holly Trees, and spent evening there, writing letters and talking to Poulter.  Boxted at 10.30.  Reading and writing.  Planes about, and heard guns in the distance about 1am, but there was no alarm.  London I suppose.  Bed at 1.30. 

24th April 1944

Monday
Much colder this morning, and cloudy, but ‘planes going out very early above the clouds.  Called at Holly Trees but no letter from Mary Hulbert.  Tried to work out when the telegram may have been delivered – perhaps not until today.

Got Daphne to list my negatives – 79 of them, and posted them off to All Souls to the National Buildings Record.  Later wished I hadn’t done it.  First time I have deliberately deprived Colchester Museum of anything of mine which it ought to have had.

Wrote to the Bank today, and asked them to transfer about £80 to current account, leaving only £100 on deposit.  Can now settle debts and draw £20 any day I like.

Tea at Last’s.  Saw Diana with some of the Repertory Company.  

About 6 the clouds drifted away and it was a brilliant evening.  A huge mass of 4-engine bombers flew over the town very low, heading homeward.
 
To Holly Trees until 8.30, working on Round’s Castle papers, then to Boxted, writing letters, tea, etc.  Not many planes about. 

23rd April 1944

Sunday
Brilliant morning.  It is 16 years ago today that I first began work at the Museum.

Went to Dedham this afternoon, by Langham Lane.  At the top of Blackbrook Hill I suddenly noticed, away across Kiddles Farm, the gleam of the sea beyond Mistley, where the tide was full.  Have never seen it like this before.

Mrs. Sisson seemed glad to see me, and we had tea in the garden.  Went to the river in Mill Lane to collect some river weed for her tadpoles.  Brought away all my negatives, which I am sending to Oxford
 
Back to Boxted, lovely quiet evening.  Haze coming up, and no ‘planes about.  Somehow feel more sensible after visit to Sissons, not so wild and impetuous. 

22nd April 1944

Saturday
Fine and warm.  Cuckoos started at 7 o’clock, quite unperturbed by ‘planes rushing over very low. 

Sixty years ago today was the great East Anglian Earthquake.  My mother remembered it very well, as she was 16 at the time, and a pupil-teacher in a little school in Osborne Street

Feeling vague and nervous all day.  Quite determined to leave Colchester.  Went to see Alderman Blomfield this afternoon, to show him Charles Gray’s manuscripts.  He was interested and agrees that they should be in the Muniment Room.  I insisted that at all costs they must be in the custody of the Town Clerk, and not of the Curator, to which he agreed.  When I left, I thought little do you know that you will probably get my resignation in a few days time.  He told me that Sir Gurney Benham was now very feeble indeed, and it is most unlikely that he will ever come out again.  Wonder if I ought to go to see him.

Sent off a telegram to Mary Hulbert, to ask if she wants the pony.  Perhaps this will make her reply to the letter.

To library, and then home to tea.  Left at 6 for Dedham, by way of Ardleigh Park.  

At Dedham found Sherman’s locked up, and wondered if Sissons’ were away.  Saw Major Inde walking down the street, and then went over to Lawford, but arrived at a bad moment, as there was a supper party about to begin.  Stayed only a moment, and left feeling very flat.  Hate to call and then feel I am not wanted.  Rather colder tonight, and some thin clouds.

21st April 1944

Friday
Brilliant day, warm and sunny.  Saw nine horses going to plough between Woodside and Severalls.  Not so many ‘planes going over as usual.

Saw Poulter tonight, and he told me that Dr Henry Laver’s scurrilous diary has been destroyed by Marshall, the solicitor, on Mrs Lyon-Campbell’s instructions.  Marshall read it out to her, and then burnt it page by page.  Marshall’s knowledge of Colchester families must now be very considerable.

When I got back to Boxted tonight I found that Miss Bentley had mended a bad rent in my mackintosh and had patched one or two other things for me quite without my asking and without expectation of payment.
 
Very dark tonight, but the new moon comes tomorrow.

20th April 1944

Thursday
Warm and sunny, all sign of rain gone.  Plenty of ‘planes about, as usual.  Papers full of “invasion news”.  Hervey Benham has a very gloomy editorial in the paper this week, implying that some dreadful disaster lies ahead.  Probably right.

Meeting of Labour Sub-Committee at the office this morning to “try” recalcitrant Land Girls.  The Chairman sat with Macauley and Craig, exactly as if he was on the bench.  I took minutes, as if I was Clerk to the Justices.  It was all very amusing, but rather pointless, as they have no power whatever to inflict any punishment on these girls, and nothing will be done except to send a few more reports to Writtle, where they are never read.  However, the Chairman enjoyed himself immensely, and after it was over amazed me by leaving a bundle of Castle papers for me to look through.

These consist of various abstracts from Charles Gray’s title to the Castle lands, together with Gray’s own pocket book, in which he gives the dates when various work was carried out on the Castle.  Some of these notes have been published by J.H. Round, but not all.  They are scattered throughout the book in no particular order, and I transcribed the whole lot at once, so as to keep a proper record.  The building of the “wing” in 1748 must refer to the west wing of Holly Trees.  Showed them to Poulter tonight.

Felt oddly nervous, as it was a beautiful evening, with high thin clouds drifting slowly from the N.W., so went off at 9 to wander about as long as I could.  Cycled to Stratford St Mary, met a policeman just on the corner, who turned and chased me on his cycle, as I had no lights.  I made no effort to get away, as he was too near, and by being very polite got out of the trouble easily.  He never asked for my identity card.

Walked to Higham.  No beacon flashing, but I could see another one, red and yellow alternately, somewhere near Stoke by Nayland.  Few ‘planes going out.  Cycled along the lane over the marshes, and sat by the little ford for a time.  Just past Langham waterworks the sirens wailed out over Suffolk.  Could not make up my mind what to do.  It was now nearly midnight, and I was afraid of meeting police.  Sat down under a hedge as some ‘planes came over, and tore my mackintosh on barbed wire.  Nightingales singing, and signal searchlights flashing in every direction.

Went on and walked past Lt. Rivers.  How mad the Roses would think me to be, if they knew I was outside their house at past midnight.  Walked on through the orchards, past the village, down the lanes to the ‘Queen’s”.
 
Went through the footpaths from Harrow Corner to Horkesley Plantation.  Saw the searchlights to the north following what was presumably a German but none of the dozens of ‘planes flying across took any notice.

19th April 1944

Wednesday
Sure enough, an alarm about 2am, but nothing happened.  Good many planes flying about all night, but heard no bombs or firing.

Thick fog at 7 o’clock, and an enormous number of ‘planes flying out above it.  Never known them to do this before.

Fog cleared, and it was a brilliant morning, quite warm.  Saw the boy, Death, drive up to the house opposite the office with a load of coal, and old Sir Hugh Walmsley going up town with his shopping basket.

Telephone from the Royal Observer Corps this morning, for me to see one of the officers, Claydon.  Offered to come down here this afternoon, but I thought I had better go to the HQ in Lexden Road instead.  Went up at half past one, and ran slap into Hull on the doorstep.  Felt an awful fool.  He grinned at me, very feebly, and went into one of the rooms.

Was rather shaken to be told that girls are now being put on the out posts, but don't think there are any at Gt. Horkesley.  Now have to see the police about getting release from shelter duties – forgot all about that.

Went to Holly Trees tonight.  Poulter showed me a fine silver coin from the Park, which Hull identified as a Republican.  Thought it very doubtful, so checked it in Colven, and found it to be a “restoration” coin of Galba, Obv: 10M CAPITOLANVS, Rev: VESTA, quite rare.  Extraordinary that Hull should make such a mistake, as he used to be so good with Roman coins.

Back to Boxted at 9.  Came over very cloudy at 8, and steady rain began at 11 o’clock.  Miss Bentley told me that she heard by phone today that the Brompton Hospital (See Daily Telegraph, 19.5.44.  Was this perhaps Edmonton, not Brompton?  Perhaps Miss B. heard wrongly) was hit during the raid this morning.  It is mentioned as “a London hospital” in the evening papers, and from the account given it would seem that about 12 people were killed there, and very serious damage done.
 
Curious to think how one’s life depends on the weather.  Last night – fine, bad raid.  Tonight – wet, all quiet.