11th August 1942: Severalls Hospital Bombed
As I write this a German plane is flying over Lawford towards the north, rather low and very fast, while there are gun-flashes far in the south.
This morning was cool and spring like, with thick bands of white vapour in the Vale. At the office Nott and Harding both said that bombs had fallen on Severalls Asylum. After lunch Spencer told me a Reserve Squad man had been dug out, and that 30 were missing.
The same plane dropped incendiaries at Fordham, some of which fell on Bulbanks Farm. Many did not go off, and old French rang up this morning to ask if they were safe to pick up. I said I thought so, but advised him to get in touch with his local warden. He said, “Oh well, I must find out who he is.”
This afternoon I went down to Mersea with Capt. Folkard. Went to East Mersea Hall to see a ploughed field, and looked out to sea with Capt. F.’s binoculars. Rain storms were marching away down the estuary, and I could see two motor patrol boats heading up Maldon Water. I could just see St. Peter’s Chapel through the mist. While I was looking we were accosted by a farm labourer, who seemed to think my behaviour very suspicious.
Back at 6. The town very full. Big queues at the cinemas. We both had tea at the “Regal”. Crowds, blaring music.
Ipswich “Star” placard outside – “East Anglian Hospital Bombed”. The whole of the victims are women.
These affairs make me very gloomy. Strange contrast to
Colchester to get back to Lawford, and have supper in the candle lit room, with everybody talking harvest and farming. Only the most casual mention was made of Severalls, and Mrs. Parrington rang up the Local Warden to tell him about the suspected shell by the buildings. He mentioned that four houses were burnt at Ipswich last night.
Planes still humming about among the stars, and a few gunflashes to the south.
More information about the tragedy at Severalls Hospital, when 38 women patients lost their lives, can be found here. CP