29th January 1943

Strong wind, high clouds, moving fast.  Lovely fine day after 9 o’clock.

Mr. Lucker came down from Writtle again, this time to make an inspection of the actual payment of wages.  Nott and Spencer were furious, and made sure that he had to walk miles over wet, heavy fields.  The old chap came back about 2, quite exhausted.  This continual spying and investigating from Writtle is most irritating.  Spencer went so far as to say that he did not care who won the war – German methods could be no worse than English.  

There was then a general conversation about Germany and England (a thing which rarely occurs) from which I gathered that the Ministry of Information and the Press have over-estimated the credulity of the public in their treatment of Germany’s “total mobilisation” this week.

To infer, as has been done in every paper, that open announcements to the German people that the situation for them is black and that the nation must mobilise for total war, mean that Germany is in a desperate plight, is absurd, for England has been told repeatedly by all members of the Government, particularly Churchill, that this country’s plight is worse than desperate.  Some papers even made a great thing out of the “conscripting” of German women for war work, while they printed, (often on the same page), the official announcement that all married women up to 46 are now to be compelled to undertake part-time work, yet other headlines spoke of the mobilization of men from 16 to 65 – exactly the same as in England!  I can never understand if the editors of the daily papers are themselves fools or whether they think their readers are.

Heard a very interesting conversation at lunch.  At the next table sat an elderly woman, a pretty little red-haired girl, and a young couple, probably man and wife.  The exact relationship between them all I could not guess.  When I walked in the pretty girl was discussing (very loudly) as to how she could avoid being called up, and suggested that she might say she was a conscientious objector.  The elderly woman said briskly “Oh no, you can't do that!  You can't be a conscientious objector unless you’re one of God’s Witnesses or something.  Of course we all have our objections, and nobody wants to go, naturally, but it doesn't do to set yourself against people, you know, you only get called eccentric.”

The girl then said she would not register, and “they” would never find her, at which the other three hastened to point out that as the possessor of an identity card she was “on the list” already.  But, the girl said, how can they know how old I am?  Ah, she was told, they know that from the figures on your card.  “Oh well,” said the girl, “I’m not going if I can get out of it, anyway.”

All this conversation was quite loud, and everybody in the café could hear.

This afternoon left at 4, and cycled to Dedham.  Back to Lawford at a quarter to 11.  Many searchlights out, and a few RAF planes.

In Essex County Standard tonight that Hervey Benham has got a daughter.

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