This blog posts extracts from E J Rudsdale's diaries of life on the home front in Britain during the Second World War. Each extract is posted exactly 70 years after it was first written, so follow events through the eyes of a witness to the war.
30th September 1942: Air Raid on St Botolph's Station, Colchester
Dull, grey morning, wet.Cycled in rather late.About the middle of the morning I heard the noise of a plane diving out of the clouds [and four tremendous explosions]. Hull was outside, crouching behind one of the pillars, and called “Look out!Here he comes!”
I went up onto the Holly Trees roof with glasses, but there was nothing to see, the whole town being under a misty haze.There were several people standing about in the street, and traffic was running normally.I saw a Warden run out of Queen Street towards East Hill, fastening his equipment as he ran.
In Queen Street two policemen hurried out of the police-station towards St. Botolph’s.The people shopping etc were going about their business unperturbed.There were windows out along Magdalen Street, at Chambers’, Diggens, my uncle George’s old shop, and along Barrack Street for 100 yards.Several were blown out at the church [St. Mary Magdalen].One bomb fell near Portugal Terrace, and shook the roofs off two houses.There were tiles off the old almshouses in Brook Street, and windows broken opposite.
There was an “Unexploded Bomb” notice on the coal yard gates [at St. Botolph's Station] but I expect this is only a bluff to keep the public away.There seemed to be dozens of Wardens walking about.
Got back to the office, and heard old Cecil Patten had just been in, the landlord of the Horkesley “Beehive” who was blown up there two years ago.He told Capt. Folkard that he was driving his lorry down Mersea Road when the Jerry plane opened fire, and a man fell shot right against him.This is a complete lie, as nobody was shot at all!
Went on a round of dairymen at Mile End and Dedham, investigating people who have no means of keeping their cows during the winter.One man, Munday, at Mill Farm, Mile End, has 15 very good shorthorns, and is producing 50 gallons of milk per day.He has only 10 acres of grass, and buys everything he wants.I realise this is all wrong, but I must admit it is a very pleasant method of farming, a method which is very attractive to me.At Dedham, called at Mrs. Erith’s, a lovely house in the main street.She is a very wealthy lady and keeps 4 beautiful Jerseys and employs a strapping young woman to look after them.They give 6 gallons a day between them (2 being dry) and some of this is sold in Dedham, but Mrs. E. gets all the cream and butter she can use. There is 5 acres of grass, 3 of which often flood.How can these people hope to carry on?
Called at Sissons, and added copies of Bale drawings to my photo collection.Stayed to supper.
Further details on the air raid on St. Botolph's Station in Colchester are available in E.J. Rudsdale's book.