13th January 1941

Mother got word from Ipswich this morning that old Aunt Julia was “very sadly”. Her face became longer than ever, and her eyes looked very bright, and, in spite of Father’s grumbles, she set off about 10 o’clock. She was only away a few hours, and got back by half past 4, but Father grumbled all the while she was away. Aunt is very bad. Mother said “I’ve seen her for the last time” and her voice broke. “She didn’t know me, and she was always fond of me.” I patted her shoulder, and the poor old dear pulled herself together, and sat staring at the fire, two tears on her cheeks. I wondered what she was thinking about, what memories of 50 and 60 years ago were running through her mind – she and Julia, little girls of 10 or 12 in 1880, running to school, playing in the garden, going to music lessons, looked after by old Aunt Ciss, dead these 20 years, while Aunt Hetty was still unborn. Julia, fair and plump, in those hideous 1890 dresses, being courted by a florid young commercial traveller, a man obviously destined to “get on”, or by his rival Dan Blomfield, brother of Councillor Sam, who still never fails to ask after her, half in fun. It won’t be so funny next time he asks.

Julia Cleveland (nee Webb) was an older sister to Eric's mother.

I began with the Essex War Agricultural Executive today. More details on EJR's secondment as Secretary to the War Agricultural Committee are to be found in his book: 'E.J. Rudsdale's Journals of Wartime Colchester'.

This afternoon running round Colchester getting office supplies. Saw Grubb at Rose’s café. Blandly sure her field will not be ploughed. It will.

Mother says that there is a big unexploded bomb at Ipswich on Bishops Hill, which is quite closed, all traffic being diverted along Woodbridge Road. It is alleged to weigh a ton (!) and has been there since last Tuesday. Fine day though cold. Beautiful fine night, with a misty moon coming up orange over the Castle, but not a plane over, and no alarm at all. I should have imagined the conditions to be ideal for raiding, but it seems to be impossible to guess whether they will come or not.

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