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

22nd August 1940

Weather still chilly. One feels that summer is gone now. I wonder where we shall be next summer?

I rang the Museum this morning to ask if I ought to come back today, as I know warnings have sounded every day and night this week. Poulter answered, and said no, I need not bother, as they were doing very well.

I now realise that there is no hope of my getting permanent work here. It is a very small farm and it is quite obvious there is no chance at all. Besides this, farming is now in such a terribly depressed state that it is unreasonable to expect farmers to take on any more men. Parrington is a most humane man, and I am sure he will not put any of the men off if he can possibly help it. Sometimes he is greatly depressed about the war, and sees no possible end to it. I do not think he would agree to “peace at any price”, but he would if he could stop the war at once, even if it meant giving concessions to Germany. I find most of the farmers in Essex and East Anglia take a similar view, and I hear Doreen Wallace the authoress is holding “peace” meetings in various parts of Suffolk.

These people are not anti-British, but they are so fed up with the lies in the daily press about “Britain’s might”, “the greatness of the Empire”, and all that nonsense. They feel that the war is lost, that it never ought to have begun, and that the sooner it is finished the better for everybody. It is quite obvious that nobody will gain anything from the war except business men and international financiers, and it is for their benefit that the whole thing is being run. We die, are mutilated and terrified so that armament makers can live in greater luxury than they have done hitherto.

Well, I must get used to the idea of going back to Colchester, to more years of Hull or else the army, I don't know which is worst.

Doreen Wallace (1897-1989) was a novelist and social campaigner, who wrote a number of books on East Anglian life. In the 1930s she had campaigned as chairman of the National Tithepayers Association to support farmers' rights against the claims of the church to collect a tithe on their lands. She and her husband refused to pay and for six weeks in 1934 their farm was in a state of virtual siege. She later recorded these events in her book 'The Tithe War'. From Rudsdale's account, it appears that she continued to maintain close ties to the farming community during the Second World War. CP

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This 'blog' becomes more interesting day by day. Living in East Anglia I started reading it as I have family connection with the Heinkel bomber crash in Clacton, now I read it for the insight it gives in to how ordinary people viewed the progress of the war.
Even now we only have an image of the war of a unified nation supporting everything Churchill did - he clearly was a great war leader (hopeless in peacetime) but to read the negative comments about him and the progress of the war changes that image.

Barbara Critchley said...

I find this attitude of civilians in the face of "gung ho" official propaganda fascinating. It echos some of the sentiments in the Critchley letters and diaries 1940-1945 (written in Enfield and north and Central London) I am currently putting on a blog.

E J Rudsdale said...

Thank you to you both for your interesting comments on today's post. I agree - I find it fascinating to see how ordinary people reacted to the war. At this critical juncture in 1940 it could not have been easy to maintain the wartime spirit that the propagandists were promoting and personal diaries allow us an insight into people's real thoughts, fears and differing opinions.
Very pleased to discover your blog, Barbara, congratulations! and I'm looking forward to reading more. And thank you to 'Anonymous' for your comment, so glad you are enjoying EJR's blog and interested to learn of your family connection with the Heinkel bomber crash, would be pleased to hear more about this. CP

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the anonymous posting last time.
My connection with Heinkel crash in Clacton in that my late grandfaher was one of the ARP wardens in the area, the family home was a couple of hundred yards away. Subsequently he was one of the first on the scene - unfortunately he was close when one of the bombs exploded after the crash, though he was uninjured he suffered deafness for months afterwards and had hearing problems for the rest of his life. Also on the scene soon afterwards was my late mother and her brother - he was the individual who sat astride one of the unexploded bombs thinking it was the hot water cylinder from the destroyed house! My mother was interviewed about the crash for BBC Look East in I think 1979 for the 40th anniversary.

Mike Dennis

E J Rudsdale said...

Thanks so much for this information, Mike - it's great to have this account about the people who were witnesses to the Heinkel bomber crash at Clacton and I shall link it up to EJR's account of the crash on 1st May 1940. Your uncle was very lucky to escape any harm having sat on the unexploded mine! But it also makes you realise how people such as your grandfather went on suffering the effects of these events for the rest of their lives. I'm glad to hear your Mother's account was filmed by the BBC, it's an important record of events. Thanks for sharing this, CP