27th November 1942

Endless trouble today getting the pay out.  Everything seemed to go wrong.

Finished reading “The Golden Ass”.  Wrote to Joanna tonight.  Felt tired.

Becket, the architect, was on the phone today about the thatchers working at Mersea.  He said that if they did enough to North Farm barn to make it watertight for 5 or 6 years, that would be quite sufficient, from which I should assume that Mr. Becket has very little faith in the future of farming.

This evening Joy told me a frightful story of an occurence at her cousin’s place, in Sussex.  It appears that there is a large estate called Yew Lodge, East Grinstead, belonging to Mr. Margary, F.S.A.  The place was very largely taken over by the army, and it so happened that a certain unit there had orders to go abroad at very short notice, either in July or the beginning of August.  They had a certain amount of stores, including a quantity of tinned foods, which they were unable to take with them, and they offered to give these to any of the farm workers of the people on the estate.  There had been a good deal said about stealing army rations, so all refused.  The soldiers then dug a large pit and buried the whole lot!  Later, a sack of rice was found, and was left in a shed belonging to Mr. Margary’s foreman.  I am not quite clear whether he knew it was put there or not, but at all events an informer tipped off the police, and a search was made in every house on the estate.  During this search, every tin of foodstuffs from every house was removed, as the owners could not prove that the stuff was their own property!  In one case, an old woman lost the whole of her little store.  The foreman was arrested and sentenced to a month’s imprisonment.  There was no censure on the military authorities for a wicked waste of foodstuffs, and as far as I know the owners of all the food taken out of the houses received no recompense.

The foreman has since been released, after serving his time, and states that Pentonville seems to be full of postmen and policemen.  So far no effort has been made to get the whole case reviewed, nor has the local M.P. done anything.


Anonymous said...


Yet another insight from the journal in to a side of WWII we do not hear much about. Crime was a serious issue during the war but one that tends to get overlooked or even dismissed.

I was particularly interested in the foreman’s view that Pentonville (prison) was full of policemen and postmen.

When I did a sociology degree in the 1970s I started to find out about some of these issues and how crime levels increased during the war, but when trying to discuss it with my late mother who lived through the war she refused to believe it – even the Home Office statistics!

Equally interesting is the waste of resources by the Army for what seemed illogical reasons, I wonder who tipped off the police about the bag of rice? No doubt Rudsdale did too.

Mike Dennis

E J Rudsdale said...

Many thanks for your interesting comments on wartime crime, Mike. There will be some other extracts relating to this issue coming up in the diary soon. Best wishes, CP