16th September 1942
Considerable arguments this morning about the allocation of threshing charges for Women's Land Army girls working on the drums. About half past 9 the Mersea Depôt phoned through to say one of the men had died at Abbot’s Wick. Much phoning to Colchester Police (who would have nothing to do with the matter) and to the Abberton Police, who promised to go down as soon as possible. Apparently the body cannot be moved until tomorrow. After lunch I found that the man was Fenn, one of the crowd from Gaskin’s Lodging House. He had nothing in his pocket except an identity card with a
address, and a photograph of a woman and a girl. He had registered as single. Poor devil, he is better off than most of us. It was about half past 8 that he sat down suddenly and quietly died. Northampton
This afternoon a most extraordinary old woman came in, quite 70 years old, and startled everybody by applying for a job as a tractor driver or a horseman (“I know all about horses – I was blooded when I was three!”). I got rid of her as tactfully as I could.
Worked at the office until 7, and then cycled to Lawford. Just as I finished supper, German planes began to come in from the sea, very low. There was tremendous gunfire. Six lots of flares came down at the same time, so that the crescent moon, sinking in the W., faded to nothing. As I stood on the hill behind the farm, there was a noise like somebody throwing handfuls of gravel onto the dry turf – shell fragments falling. I heard shell-caps or shrapnel whistling down several times.
To the S. and S.W. there were two large fires, a fair way off. The guns seemed to be more than usually erratic, and neither shells nor searchlights had any relation to the true position of the planes. There did not seem to be more than 6 machines in all, and the whole affair died away about 10 o’clock, after which I went to bed.