26th January 1941: Bombing of train at Chitts Hill

Went over to Dedham this afternoon, to tell the Sissons about my new job. The Parringtons came in, and Major Inde. Canon Rendall was walking down the street, and stopped to enquire after the parson, poor old Given-Wilson, who was taken ill at early service today. The Canon was 90 yesterday, and still walks spryly down the village.

Raid alarm this afternoon, but did not hear any planes. Dedham is no longer in the least perturbed by these alarms. As I had no cycle, I had to walk a mile to Stratford Bridge and catch the Eastern Counties bus there, no mean feat for me in the dark. My eyes are beginning to play me curious tricks. Sometimes, in pitch darkness, I seem to see a shadow of myself on the ground. Other times I see the road or footpath quite clearly where there is no road, and walk blindly into a ditch.

Got back to Colchester and went to Seymour's. Nobody there but me, so I had a long talk with Seymour, until 2 o’clock in the morning. He is very scathing on ARP matters, and of course he has a great deal of inside knowledge. He tells me that on the occasion of the bombing of the Yarmouth train last Saturday, after the bombs had fallen the train was stopped across the crossing at Chitts Hill. It was a bomb which injured [two passengers on the train] a woman who died and a young man [whose] fingers were cut off [he was a pianist]. When the train stopped the driver, guard and others got down on the line, and at that moment the German plane came back, firing with machine guns. The guard fell with several bullets in his chest but did not die, and 3 or 4 other persons were hit. A few moments later the plane appeared again and again fired, though apparently without doing much harm. All this took place during a blinding snowstorm, only two miles from the crowded streets of the town.

When the alarm was sent through for ambulances, there was actually an argument as to whether the “incident” was in Colchester or Stanway, as the train was across the boundary! What incredible swines the English are when in power. What do they care that seriously hurt people are out in the snow? The guard died on the way to hospital, and the woman when being operated upon, she was said to be pregnant.

Very dark night. No planes about. My old uncle William Webb died today, aged 85.

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