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

11th January 1942: The arrival of snow

Woke up at 9. Cold and sunny, with nothing to show any immediate change in the weather, except that I saw an army lorry come in from the west with snow on the tilt. However, just after 1p.m. the sky clouded over rapidly with thick grey snow-like clouds, and grey fat flakes came whirling down thick and fast.

The weather showed no sign of abating, but I was determined to go to Lawford as I had decided, although I had so much work to do I had better by far of stayed in the town. However, I caught a bus, as cycling seemed out of the question, and away we went, snow falling faster than ever. The driver had to get out quite often to clear the windscreen. When I asked to be set down at the field path past Bargate Lane, he laughed, and said “That’s funny, I never put anyone down there except it rains or snows.”

I set off across the long path, snow not quite so bad, but great grey clouds still rolling across, and the sun shining behind them giving a luminous glow in the west. At the end of the path to Humberlands I met Parrington, Mrs. Belfield, and a handsome young goddess, very pink and blonde, walking back to Birchetts Wood, Snip and Pepper [the Parrington's dogs] gambolling in the snow. The young lady was a Miss Jessup, a prospective Land Girl, who may be coming to Parringtons. We walked as far as the plantation, where the fir trees, growing on the steep slope, heavily laden with snow, made a scene like Canada or Russia. Then I went back to the Mill with Parrington, looking in at the buildings and collecting samples of peas from a stack. At the buildings were pigs, young kerry heifers, and the horses in the stable, all excited as Fred was coming to feed them, so the air was full of squealing, lowing and neighing.

At the Mill, a roaring log fire in the parlour, a lovely farmhouse tea, homemade bread, cream and plum jam.

Sat talking and reading, until supper time, with beautiful mixed broth. Mrs. B. came back to supper. Much talk about Land Girls, advice being asked of me which I could not give. More talk, agricultural in general, War Agricultural Committee in particular. About a quarter to 7 we heard sirens faintly blowing in the distance, but no sound of planes. I think the “All Clear” blew about half past seven. I believe this is the first alarm this year.

I had to catch a bus at Bargate Lane at 8.20, so I walked up Jupes Hill, and had a long wait in the cold as it was late, and spent the time walking up and down trying to keep warm. The bus was fairly full. There was a girl conductor, trying to write her ticket records with frozen fingers. The cold was so intense that there icicles inside the windows. A Guardsman got in at School Corner, wearing full equipment, I suppose going back from leave.

The roads were sheets of ice, and the bus lurched and skidded round corners. We stopped by the dark gloomy trees of Ardleigh churchyard, black against snow covered graves. Some Canadian and English soldiers got in. I heard an Englishman say to a Canadian, “Well, I was in the Territorials, I was called-up two days before the war started, and I’ve only been on the ranges once. Then we fired 25 rounds.”

Back at the Castle 9 o’clock, and took over. Finished a few letters. Dashed out to post them. Hot milk. Bed.

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