Committee at Birch Hall today. Very wet all day, and Birch Hall terribly cold and draughty. We sat from a quarter to 2 until half past 5. Cooper Bland said that during the alarm yesterday a single plane bombed Ripper’s timber yard at Sible Hedingham, for some extraordinary reason, and did quite a lot of damage.
More serious, at Braintree on Saturday night bombs fell right in the heart of the town. Lloyd’s Bank, on the corner of Bank Street, received a direct hit and was demolished, as was a garage in Coggeshall Road, while houses, shops, and the County School in Coggeshall Road were seriously damaged. In all this only three people were killed, a man and a girl in the street, and a little boy in bed, and 17 hurt, but not very seriously. This means that out of a population of about 7,500 at least 45 people have been raid casualties, and several dozen buildings seriously damaged. When I was there just a year ago I remember saying to Peggy Mens that shelters (they had none then) were not likely to be of much use in Braintree, and she remarked that Braintree was the first place in Essex where people were killed in raids in the last war. Now they have had two mines and these huge bombs.
Saw Hampshire tonight, and he agreed to let the pony, trap and harness go [to Penelope Belfield] for £12.12.0, which I think is very reasonable. Beautiful fine, starlight night but no raid. Manoeuvres to the S.W. and at 11 o’clock someone opened up with a heavy gun. The flashes illuminated the whole town, and the explosions shook windows, I wondered if my poor old people were listening to it in alarm.