A few of the extracts from Eric’s wartime journals were published in his lifetime in a book entitled, Essex at War, which was edited by his friend Hervey Benham in 1945. Benham was keen to publish the diaries in full but Eric declined the offer stating that publication should not take place until 50 years after his death.
Consequently, Eric’s journals, covering the period from 1920-1951, were bequeathed to Essex Record Office in 1951 on condition that that they were not to be opened for 25 years. In 1998, whilst undertaking research on the history of Britain’s museums during the Second World War, Catherine Pearson was introduced to Eric’s diaries by a retired archivist from Essex Record Office. Since then she has edited his wartime journals and has undertaken further research on Eric’s life, resulting in the publication of this blog and a book: E.J. Rudsdale's Journals of Wartime Colchester.
The aim of this blog is to show, through Eric’s observations, how the town and the people he knew were directly affected by war. The diary extracts, therefore, have been edited to reflect this aim. Eric did not always write an entry in his diary every day and there are days when no entry appears in this account. Where necessary, short commentaries are provided to give the historical context for the events Eric describes in his journal. Each extract is published exactly 70 years after it was first written. The blog began on 3rd September 2009 with the publication of Eric's first wartime diary entry on 3rd September 1939 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the start of the Second World War.
The diary extracts demonstrate Eric's ability to bring a scene vividly to life and each account highlights the daily pressures that people endured as they valiantly tried to carry on with normal life in spite of the war.
Please feel free to let me know if you are interested in following the blog. It gives us the opportunity to step back in time and witness wartime events on the home front as they occurred. CP
I am most grateful to the heirs of Eric Rudsdale’s estate and to Essex Record Office for granting their permission to reproduce these extracts for this blog. The extracts, and the photographs of Eric Rudsdale, appear courtesy of Essex Record Office (Ref: ERO A2308 (D/DU888)). All other photographs within this blog are my own. I am further grateful to Bill Lamin for his very helpful advice and support in the creation of this blog. Bill's blog: WW1: Experiences of an English Solider, based on the First World War letters sent by Private Harry Lamin, provided the inspiration for the publication of Eric Rudsdale's diaries via this blog.
Essex Record Office in Chelmsford is an excellent starting point for local history research on the county of Essex. The range of archive holdings is searchable via the Record Office’s online catalogue, SEAX. The archives can be used to help trace your Essex ancestors and to uncover the history of buildings, villages and towns in the county. There is also a vast range of resources available to show how national events, such as the Second World War, were experienced in Essex.
E.J. Rudsdale Talk
I will be giving a talk as part of the Chelmsford Ideas Festival on E.J. Rudsdale's Journals, entitled 'Creating History: A Civilian's Experience of the Second World War in Essex' on Thursday 30th October from 7.30-9.00pm at Anglia Ruskin University. Tickets are free. Book your ticket here. Many thanks, Catherine Pearson