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.
Had a bad night.Slept 11-12.30, then awakened by planes, and lay in fear of hearing an alarm.The hours crept by, but nothing happened.I was wide awake, reading most of the time.
Went out early into a lovely dawn, the valley full of mist, the cuckoos calling everywhere.No wind, everything beautifully calm.Near John de Bois Hill saw a poor little dead kitten, run over, and its mother hurrying anxiously along the road, looking for it, mewing piteously.Had to put it on top of a high hedge where she would not find it.
To Colchester at 6.45, nobody about but engineers on their way to factories, and Home Guards coming back from a night’s duty on the battery.Went through Priory St. Queen St, and Culver St, not seeing a soul and went across to Holly Trees.
Saw Poulter’s “Mail”.Two bad raids yesterday, one at Torquay in the morning, at least 50 dead, and at “two East Coast towns” in the evening, when I heard sirens.Perhaps Walton and Clacton.The opposition to all these raids was almost nothing.
Today engaged a thatcher to work for the Committee, a man named Herbert.Should be useful.
Committee at Birch.Much talk about the Peldon business.All the local papers are full of violent criticisms of War Agricultural Committee methods.Oswald Lewis [Colchester's MP] is now being asked to take an interest.
When I got back at 6 the evening placards said “Raids on two East Anglian towns.Many dead.”
Lawford at 7.30.Went across the fields to see the new bull, who was blaring away at some heifers.
Wakened by an alarm just after midnight.Heard Fisher’s dog bark, and the sirens moaning.A plane came over, and circled around for nearly 3 hours, I suppose waiting for the RAF machines to come back.Three or four guns were fired, a long way off, but there was no other opposition.The RAF began to come back about 3, and I fell asleep before the all-clear sounded.
Dark and cloudy this morning, and a heavy thunderstorm broke about 11 o’clock, and lasted half an hour.The rain is much wanted.
Spent the whole day writing.Wrote to Joanna, and to the National Trust.I have asked the Trust to take over direct control of Bourne Mill, from June 1st, so that I shall have no further responsibility.
This evening the sun came out, and at 7.30 heard a distant alarm, and then one at Hadleigh.All-clear in less than 5 minutes.
In the “Observer” today there was an article discussing Germany’s threats to carry out great raids on England, but the Civil Defence people don’t seem to take the threats very seriously.All branches of Civil Defence services are being reduced, especially wardens.The same paper also prints a list of churches, museums, great houses, etc destroyed by the R.A.F.I see that the Romisch-GermanischeMuseum at Mainz has gone.All this frightful carnage and destruction is being done in the name of freedom and democracy.
Lovely day.Busy all morning, and this afternoon went to the Market to see two horseshoes which one of the Writtle men had brought down.They were both late 17th century types, but he was under the impression that they were ox-shoes.Naturally an officer of the War Agricultural Committee could not be expected to know that cattle have cloven hooves.These shoes were found near Chalfont St Giles.
An alarm at 2 o’clock for 10 minutes, but nothing came.I was nervous, because there were thick clouds, but the sun came through, and when I went up High St. there was a military band playing outside the Hippodrome, while crowds stopped to listen.Even now the ‘Cups’ Yard is packed with cars.Where does the petrol come from?
As I came out tonight I noticed that the guns which were about Ipswich Rd railway bridge have all gone.Does this mean we may expect a quiet time?
Felt happier today, and not so desperate as I have done recently.
Planes began to go out soon after 11.How I hate the sound of them.
Another lovely day.Went home to tea, and then took the photos which I got yesterday and compared them with the existing views.Fascinating to see Bourne Mill and the ghost of it 87 years ago.
Big flights of planes went over, heading for the coast.
Coming past the Recreation Ground saw Hampshire sitting on the grass, his little pony cart nearby.He had just been cutting green-food for the pony.
Lovely cool evening, big crowds coming out of the public houses as I cycled down East Hill.At Ardleigh ‘Crown’ saw a lot of drunken Irishmen from the aerodrome. In Long Road cows were feeding along the roadside in the dusk, tended by a man and a boy.Everybody in bed when I reached the Mill.
This afternoon went round to see old Smith the farrier, who I had heard had several old photos.Although I had known his daughter Hilda so long, I had never met the old man before.He looked incredibly old and frail, but was not deaf as I had imagined.He lives in a little bungalow in Maldon Rd, on the W. side, and when I got there was sitting in a chair at the window, watching the passing traffic, the sun shining on his bald head.It was rather pathetic to see this shrunken little man, once so strong.We talked for a long time about old times and old people.He spoke of his disappointment when he got only £4 for the last pony cart he had, which was sold down at the market.I remembered the occasion, about 1928.
Old Smith was famous for his trotting ponies 30 years ago, and showed at Olympia, and in Belgium and Holland.When the last war began, he lost the ponies and show carts in Holland, as there was no transport to bring them home.
At last I got him round to the subject of photographs, and he admitted reluctantly that there were a few “old pictures” about somewhere, but the only thing he really wanted me to see was a huge enlarged photo of himself and his 6 brothers – all farriers, taken about 40 years ago, on the last occasion it had been possible to get the whole family together.
At last, after much searching the housekeeper produced three photos, which were apparently with a lot of rubbish in the air raid shelter.They were three beauties – Bourne Mill, the German camp on the Recreation Ground, and Hythe Quay, all apparently taken about 1856.The Mill and the Camp are wet-plates, the Quay is a silver bromide.It is a wonderful find, the pleasure of the discovery only reduced by the news that he formerly had “about two dozen” like them, but in various removals they had been thrown away.What a tragedy!He bought them at old George Joslin’s sale about 1903, and it seems that G.J. was the photographer.I had never heard of this before.
I had quite a job to get the old man to let me take the photos away, and had to talk about everything under the sun, from tandem driving to the war, before I got them away.
Rudsdale made copies of these important early photographs of Colchester and these are now held by Colchester Museums Service and the National Monuments Record in Swindon. The photographs have also been reprinted in a number of local history books about Colchester. CP
Just after midnight heard the distant throb of bombers.Looked out – clear, starlight night.Could see the forms of trees, of Kerry’s cottage, of the horses in the field behind the house, and the gorse bush below my window.The bombers were droning away to the N.E.I thought how all this – houses, fields, horses, would still be here when they come back, but what changes would have been wrought at the other end of their journey?Slept, and woke at 4 to the noise of more planes.
Woke late.Brilliant morning.Papers say another “savage” attack on a S. Coast town yesterday.Four planes down out of 50.
Had a wonderful night.Slept from 10 o’clock until 6, and then dozed until 7.The sun rose and shone among clouds.
There was an alarm at midday, but the sky was clear and blue, and nothing came.Saw Peggy Mens and her husband at lunch in Rose’s café.She told me that farms belonging to her uncle and her cousin were both largely destroyed by bombs on the night that Chelmsford was raided. Her husband said he wished he had bought a farm before the war.Poor devil, if he had, he would not be in the army now.
This evening saw Rogers driving old Polly, the first pony I ever had.She looks as well as ever.Called to see Lawrence the coach builder on East Hill, and had a long talk about old times.
Just as I got to Lawford, heard all-clears sounding at Manningtree and Wenham, but heard no alarms.Mrs. Simonds, is staying at the farm.Says she heard a distant alarm about 2 a.m. Monday.Thank heavens I didn’t.
Awake at 7.30, and found a light rain falling, high, thin clouds.Saw Poulter’s “Daily Mail” in the letter-box, and read of attacks on the South and S.E.Coasts yesterday.Many dead.Made me feel bad.About 10 o’clock, got a sharp pain in the belly.Tried to walk it off by strolling round the Castle Ramparts, but without success.Very cold, east wind.
As I walked, considered a scheme to level out the ground S. of the Castle to the original ground level.This would make the keep seem higher, and would be a great improvement.The soil so removed could be used to restore the Western Rampart.All the old Brewery buildings ought to be taken down, and all other buildings as far as St. Helen’s Chapel.This would be a tremendous improvement.But will it ever be done?Never.
The clouds began to drift away about 4.Heard today that the Corona lemonade company had sold their last horse, as they are forbidden to retail soft drinks under a new Government order.Only God and Winston Churchill know why.Went down to see the flat trolleys they are also selling.Very good, but they want £60 for them, and the Committee would never pay that.
As I went out tonight saw there are gypsies camping in Harts Lane and by the ‘Wooden Fender,’ – tents, horses, vans, and carts.Children playing, and music screeching from an old fashioned gramophone.How I envy them.Near Dedham Heath a tremendous storm broke, and I had to shelter in Polley’s workshop for half an hour.Our carts are almost finished, so far as woodwork is concerned.
Windy, with great cloud galleons sailing over from the S.W.Spent a very lazy morning, reading Compton Mackenzie’s “Vanity Girl”.How extraordinarily well he does that period and that kind of thing.After lunch, carting straw from the buildings to the home stables and then carting washing to the village.Came back through the Park, and saw the Nichols’ family sitting on the grass.Mrs. Nichols waved to me as I drove by.
Went into Colchester at 7, very reluctantly.Called at Dedham on the way, and stayed an hour.Could hardly force myself to leave.Rode along wondering who but a fool would go into town on such an evening as this, and envying all the people I met coming away from Colchester.There was a lot of cycles outside the Ardleigh “Crown”, and much music and singing within, and children playing in the garden.
Took some eggs home, then up to the Castle.Lovely evening, the wind dropped to a light warm breeze.Had supper in Culver St, then went to talk to Poulter, who had gone to bed.
When I got over to the Castle, I found the other men had locked and bolted the door.I knocked and shouted, but without result.I was so furious I almost turned round and went back to Lawford, but knocked again and again until at last one man came down to let me in.
I was very nervous tonight.For a long time I lay reading.Heard the hours strike very slowly.Several times I went down into the vaults, wondered about with a candle for a while and then came back.The atmosphere was icy cold and filled with a horrible smell of decay.
Sat in the Oven for a time, then down into the Vaults again, bats flitting about, disturbed by my candle.Thought of all the centuries that have gone.At one in the morning, heard a man walk across the Park, but could see no one when I looked out.Perhaps an American.Bright starlight.Read until 4 a.m., and then thought “Well, they won't come now,” and dozed off.
Brilliant dawn.Up early this morning, and drove Robin in to Colchester to be shod and to collect some hay.He went very well but during the morning got loose and bolted out of the blacksmith’s shop.Fortunately Brooks dashed out and caught him.As I came away, met Woods’, Moy’s man, in Chapel Street, and he told me that they lost two horses all the carts and harness and both drivers at Chelmsford last Friday – a direct hit on the coal-yard.He had been to Ingatestone to get two fresh horses on Wednesday.
Had an early tea at home, loaded 3 trusses of hay on the trap, and got away by 6.Robin went very well indeed, and we got to the buildings by 7.
Good news!Frantic appeal from Clayton at Springgate to get Robin away, as they can do nothing with him.Called tonight, and found him in a very anxious state, but not as worried as the Claytons, who were all in fear of his feet and his teeth.Took him back to Lawford, but must get him settled somewhere quickly.
This evening cycled out slowly.No sign of Robin at Springgate.Sat on the bank by John de Bois Hill in the cool of the evening and read a book.Watched the trains go by, and a flock of white pigeons swooped overhead.A breakdown train went through, towards Colchester, carrying a great crane.Not a sound of an aeroplane anywhere.Near the ‘Wooden Fender’ I saw Everitt’s timber-jib, with two horses tandem, carrying a great tree-trunk, while the light van came behind.Just round the corner was the pony-cart of the Ardleigh carrier.
Children playing outside the settlement houses, among tethered goats, and the sound of a tractor in the distance.Fine, soft evening.
Sirens at 2a.m., but nothing happened except a dull distant thump of bombs.The alarm was on until after 3.No newspapers at Lawford when I left, so there may have been a raid on London.
Another lovely day, clear, cloudless, sky.
This evening cycled to Lawford, put the harness on Robin, and then started back to Ardleigh.He was a bit reluctant to start, but I finally got him trotting quietly behind the cycle.Went by Coggeshall Road and Hunter’s Chase.Near Rookery Farm heard Brantham and Wenham sirens, and a very distant hum of aircraft.Clear, cloudless sky.Children playing in the road, did not bother to look up.All-clear came in less than 5 minutes.
Went down the lane by Harvey’s Farm.Lovely Suffolks in the fields belonging to Jocelyn, and they came along at full gallop.Got to Springgate about 8.Everybody seemed vague – no stable, no food.I wish I had never let this deal go through.
Brilliant weather, but still not too hot.There was an alarm at 4 o’clock this morning, but the birds were already singing and the eastern sky was lightening.Nothing happened, and the all-clear came in 10 minutes.
Wrote a long letter to Proudfoot today, about Emerson’s case, giving the facts about rural blacksmiths, but I don't suppose he will understand it.
Committee at Birch this afternoon.The Chairman and Col. Furneaux both away.Quite a lot of talk about “after the war”.Alec Page said “… now that it looks as if the war may end suddenly.”What a hope!
Called at Springgate, Ardleigh tonight, and arranged to take Robin over there tomorrow.
Joy’s pony broke loose today and galloped through the village, causing more excitement than a load of bombs dropping.
Raids over London last night.Tonight there is an almost full moon, in a calm clear sky.How many more nights are we to suffer?
Slept from 12 till 6, and again until 8.Busy all morning.
I hear that the damage at Chelmsford is very bad, several hundred houses down.No telephones working yet, except official calls.Some people say about 30 dead and 60 in hospital.
Saw Hill Farm, West Bergholt, this afternoon, which was quite demolished.Only the end room remains.Mr and Mrs Evans had gone into a shelter only 10 minutes before, but the maid stayed in the house, in the room which is still standing.W. Bergholt has had 8 or 9 lots of bombs since 1940.I suppose they must aim at the Brewery.
Yesterday Emerson the blacksmith came in, and said his appeal to the Ministry of Labour had been turned down, and he is forbidden to leave Paxman’s.By this insane decision the Board has turned a good hard working craftsman into an embittered slacker, and has deprived the farmers of the Bergholt area of a much needed service.How many times must this case be multiplied up and down the country?
No raid last night.Wakened at times by the noise of planes coming back from somewhere, but had several hours sleep.Glorious morning.Fisher says Brantham Court was seriously damaged last night, but no one hurt.
The morning papers say “12 dead in East Anglian town”, and others missing.The Germans have already announced an attack on Chelmsford, they say with a heavy force.We say with a very small force.At least 30 planes passed over Lawford, but they did not all get as far as Chelmsford.
I feel relieved that I have sold Robin.After all, I can always use Hampshire’s pony, and there is the jennet, who really ought to work.
Went down to Bourne Mill.Old Bob does not look at all well.
Saw Poulter about 7, when I went on duty.Duncan Clark was in the Castle today, looking for carved wood work which has long been lost.
Dusk, and the moon rising.Sat writing in Holly Trees, when suddenly, at a minute or two before 10, the sirens went off.Not so scared as I expected to be, perhaps because it was hardly dark.The streets were full of men and girls going home from cinemas, and there was the roaring of drunk Canadians in the yard of the “Castle” pub.
Awakened from a light sleep just before 2 a.m. by the roar of high flying planes, and the wailing of the Brantham and Manningtree sirens.Got up, and looked out.The moon was sinking in the west, casting long shadows across the fields, birds were twittering, and a cuckoo calling.There seemed to be a great number of planes overhead.
I had had enough, and put on a coat over my pyjamas and hurried down, everybody getting up.I was in such a hurry that I forgot to put any shoes on, so all the others laughed.Pepper and Snippet were barking violently, Pep particularly in a great state.Can dogs feel intangible terror as much as we can, or are they only barking at the noise?
I went back upstairs to get my shoes, in case I should have to run out, and as I reached the top of the stairs there was a great sheet of flame outside, lighting the house even through the curtains, and a violent explosion.I flung myself down.Joy made some hot Ovaltine, but I was trembling so much I could hardly drink it.
‘Planes came over every few minutes or about three-quarters of an hour, and then gradually the noise died away.I looked out about 3, and saw the procession back to the coast, each plane escorted by bunches of searchlights, accompanied by a little intermittent firing.In the west were immune flashes and low rumbling, but it was God’s doing, not the Germans.The thunder lasted half an hour, setting poor Pepper off barking again.
I became calmer, but felt anxious, and wondered if there was any damage at Colchester.Got into bed and lay listening to the storm.What a pity it had not come an hour or two earlier.At last the all-clear rang out about 4 o’clock, and I dozed off thankfully, glad to know that Mother and Father would at last be getting back into bed.It was a warm night, and should do them no harm, but what of the coming winter?
I meant to go in v. early, but did not wake until 7.Lovely morning, clear cloudless sky.Felt too nervous to eat anything.As I went up the hill towards Long Road, cuckoos were calling, and I saw a Bomb Disposal lorry going down the Lane by Stour House onto the marshes, so I suppose some bombs fell there.
Went by Ipswich Rd, staring about anxiously for signs of damage.Great relief to see everything normal – Hiron’s cart from Boxted, a girl from Claudius Rd. driving a Co-op: lorry, vans and coal-carts – East St., Marriage’s, Brook St., a glance up Winnock Road – such a relief! – Bourne Mill.Not a sign of damage anywhere.To office, and opened letters.One or two people mentioned the raid, but it was not until we found that we could not telephone to Chelmsford that we realised where the attack had been.Obsessed with a horrible feeling of uncertainty.What has really happened?
This afternoonhad to go down to Pete Tye, to a bungalow on the far side of the common, which has now been taken in possession.There was a lot of furniture there which had to be moved out of the house.Went into the garage and found two swifts had got shut inside.One dashed out as I opened the door, but I caught the other as it flashed by me.It was a beautiful thing, like a little jewel, and its little heart thumped like a tiny hammer.The free bird would not fly away, but stayed wheeling and swooping, uttering plaintive cries.I let mine go free, and they both swept away crying together.
Broke into the cottage through the lavatory window.The place had been used by the army, and I saw from various notices pasted on the doors that it had been a “detention barracks” for 6 men, who had been confined in the front room, about 12' x 12', with a curtain of barbed wire across the windows.On the mantelpiece was an empty tobacco tin, the brand it had contained being appropriately called “Captive”.
Two men came, and we moved the furniture.Then I went out onto the edge of the Common to wait for a Mersea bus.A very charming lady of about 45 came out of the Rectory chase, also waiting for the bus, and we got talking about last night’s attack.She said she had just come from Criccieth, where raids were unknown.Awful temptation to bolt there.She told me that Langenhoe Rectory had been sold to an Air Vice Marshall, but that the police would not allow him to live there as the place is within a defence area.
Went to Mersea, saw Martin the builder, and then back to Colchester.Planes were machine-gunning a target over the estuary.
Called at home for tea.Mother’s first words (as usual) were “Oh! What a night!”Nurse Horwood had come over as soon as the noise began.Mother had heard that Hill Farm, W. Bergholt had been completely destroyed, but nobody hurt.
Back to office, and got away at 6.Called at Springate, Ardleigh, and agreed to sell Robin - £25.Dirt cheap.Could get £35 in open market.I hate selling horses, but I must let him go.It is too expensive to keep him any longer, and I no longer feel competent to drive him.I shan't sell either trap or harness.
Mrs. Clayton had just come back from London, and said there was a lot of damage round Chelmsford Station, and only one line was working.The evening papers say 7 dead, but it is rumoured that there is really about 40.
To Lawford by 8.Kippers had come this evening.Lovely supper, but an air of strain.Laughing talk about “the next raid” – “Colchester next time.”Very warm tonight.A few planes going out about 11 o’clock.
Cloudy, great masses of cumulus, and still a strong S.W. wind.Slept well last night after midnight.Fisher said that the radio had announced a “sharp raid on an East Anglian town”, probably either Yarmouth or Norwich, I suppose.Cycled in slowly, feeling unusually well.
This morning we moved a safe over from Bedwell’s, for the War Agricultural Committee's use.Had to give Hazell £20 for it.Worth perhaps £5 before the war.
Some men came today to apply for post of foreman at Bower Hall.One came from Kessingland.He said he had not slept or undressed since Sunday, as there had been continual raids on both Yarmouth and Lowestoft.Tremendous damage done, especially last night.He did not know what the Germans were after.The poor devil looked terribly worn out, and was pathetically anxious to get a job down here, but he was not chosen.
This morning Young’s horses were cutting the grass in the Holly Trees field – a pair of greys, beautifully matched, a lovely sight in the sunshine.The grass, very lush and green, was being loaded onto a motor lorry to go to the silo down at the Cattle Market.Two Land Army girls were loading.It seems a great pity not to make this into good hay rather than doubtful silage.I went down to watch them cutting round the MithraicTemple, and two old men came along the path.I heard one of them say “There!That’s a fine pair of horses, if you like.You’d have to go a long way to see a better pair of horses than that.”The other said “Better than your old motors any day.”
The Park was full of old men and babies, sitting in the sun.Park gardeners planting vegetables in flower beds.
Some of the men who came today for the Bower Hall job were very curious.One young man, about 30, was really a colt breaker.He wanted to argue about the money, and would not consider less than £5 a week and a house.Yet he ought to be very grateful for his luck.He had a most unpleasant face.
Another, a tall, red-haired man, who I think will be the one chosen, wanted to leave his present job in Suffolk because the house in which he lives has only 2 bedrooms and 1 room downstairs, in which he, his wife, and two daughters have to sleep.
Another applicant was an Australian, who seemed to be a very well educated man.He refused to consider less than £6 a week, yet £4 is the most we shall give.
A man from Ipswich used to be a milkman, and he mentioned that out of 65 milkmen in that town a few years ago, only 23 are left.The Co-op: had smashed all the others.
The last man interviewed was an ex-farmer who for some years had been an engineer at Leiston Works.He told us that if chosen he would have no difficulty in getting away from Leiston, as they were so slack that they were now working only one shift instead of two.
After tea went to the Hippodrome to see the film “Fires Were Started”.Most realistic, and very well done.Got back late.Joy had a swarm of bees, and was still getting them settled at 10.30.Lovely soft, balmy evening, a sickle moon in the sky.Some planes went out, a long way off, and then very heavy firing began in the direction of Colchester, some night exercise I should think.Leaned out of my window in the dusk, listening to the firing, distant dogs barking, women laughing and talking up the hill, a man coughing near Fred’s cottage, screech-owls calling.A few bats flashed across the dim fields.
Dull, but warm.Read in the “East Anglian” this morning of a tremendous raid on Yarmouth yesterday.Some 18 planes flew in, only 2 hit.There was no cloud at all.Dozens killed, including about 30 ATS girls, whose hostel (conveniently situated on the front) was demolished.People talking in the café today about the “wickedness” of killing the ATS girls – “That’s what Hitler calls a ‘military objective’!”
The sun came out later.How we worship the great fiery disc – Solus Invictus, Helios, Ra-harmanchis.How much braver we feel under his warming rays.Yet how misled we were all last winter, when we longed for his return to frighten the Germans away.Now he is here, but they still come.In winter we were told “You can't expect us to do anything on cloudy days, we can't see the ‘planes.”Now they say “There’s nothing we can do – the sun’s in our eyes.”
Very busy all day.Labour is a great problem.Mrs. Voake is quite useless with the girls.Hear that the Women's Land Army have requisitioned “Orleans” at West Mersea for a hostel – simply stuck a notice on the gate.The old lady who lives there is furious, but apparently she has no redress.
Called at Sissons’ on the way out.Mrs. S. is now quite recovered.Talk about Bourne Mill.It seems that the National Trust are quite determined to take all the machinery out.It seems rather a pity, but I suppose there is nothing else for it.The suggestion was made that it should be turned into a house and that I might like to live there.Rather an attractive idea.Sisson is quite convinced that the place was never built as a mill, and I suppose he must be right.In that case, the original mill may have been a wooden building at the south end of the mill-dam, where the old overflow is.They could get carts there along the top of the dam.
[The machinery at Bourne Mill was saved and is still in place today].
Dozed off at half past 10, but awakened in about an hour by guns.Several ‘planes about, but nothing very near.For a time mistook the snoring of a dog downstairs for a ‘plane and wondered why nobody fired at it.
This morning I had to go to the Labour Exchange as a witness in an appeal by Emerson, the farrier, who has been forbidden to leave Paxman’s to open the old shop at West Bergholt.The appeal board was under Proudfoot the solicitor, who had with him two other men whom I did not know.Ulting, the National Service Officer, was there, two other men from the Ministry of Labour, and a fellow called Neep, representing Paxman’s.
Proudfoot rather disconcerted me at the start by saying that he was the legal representative of Paxman’s in many matters, and suggested we might like to have another Board.Naturally, I could only say that I was sure the appeal would be heard fairly and without prejudice, but afterwards I wished most heartily that I had asked for a postponement of the hearing, for whatever board we got next time, it could not possibly be as stupid and pig-headed as this one turned out to be.
Proudfoot first questioned Emerson, very fairly, and then asked Neep to state Paxman’s case.It seems that this man, a skilled agricultural farrier, is employed merely as a striker, and actually works only 3 or 4 hours a day.Neep denied this, but admitted that he knew nothing of the conditions in the tool-room where Emerson is employed.
Then I was asked for my views, which I gave at length, and pointed out how necessary it was to get more smiths in these county areas.Proudfoot showed a complete ignorance of rural conditions by saying (a) that no farriers were needed as there were no horses, and (b) that farmers could easily get their repairs done by bringing them in to Colchester, to Joslins’ or Williams’s.He spoke several times of “the days when blacksmiths were needed,” as if they were a feature of the remote past.The other two on the board never said a word.How is that such ignorant persons are invited to so this work?Well, I did my best, but I am not at all optimistic as to the result.Meanwhile there is no smith between Colchester and Bures or between Colchester and Earls Colne.Some Bergholt horses have to go to Stanway now.
Tonight writing until 10.30.There was an alarm at about half past eleven, but it only lasted about 15 minutes, thank God, so no doubt the old folks at Colchester soon went to bed.
It is strange that I become more and more scared of raids as the war goes on.
Dreadful day, violent S.W. wind, quite a gale, rain at times.
Was told this morning that Butcher, the Museum Attendant, was set on by two soldiers in Land Lane last night, about 10 o’clock.They cut his head with a large stone, but he beat them off with his stick and they ran away.I asked if he had reported it to the police, but he said it was not worth bothering about, as the police never take any action.This happened when it was still quite light.
Heavy, low clouds swept over all day, but for some reason I did not feel nervous.Went home to lunch, and made Father laugh by reading some pieces out of Wentworth Day’s book, Farming Adventure. [James Wentworth Day was a journalist and critic of the War Agricultural Committees].
Back to Lawford by 5.15 bus.Very full.Spent evening writing archaeological notes, the gale still howling outside.Throat much better, and had a very good night last night.
I have now been here [at Sherebourne Mill, Lawford] a whole year, and in that time have not spent more than 40 nights in Colchester.I love this place, and have been very happy here.
Felt a good deal better.Slept from 10 last night till 8 this morning, without waking once, first full night’s sleep I have had for a week.Dreamt about a huge mansion, horses, and a cormorant, but nothing horrible.
Lazed all day.Howling gale, and rain at times.Did a little writing, but mostly sat reading in front of a blazing fire.Throat not so inflamed, and can eat much easier.Joy and Parry came back about 7, bringing Joy’s cousin, Doreen Jessup.
Terrible S.W. wind, heavy rain at 6.Joy and Parrington off to London today.Went in by bus, feeling very ill, throat like sand paper.
Called at E. Stockwell Street this morning and found that the Ministry of Labour have now taken No. 9, on the E. side of the street, a plain brick front about 1750, but very fine panelling inside.I remarked to a girl clerk what a pleasant room it was, and she replied “I’m afraid it’s awfully old.”
A Mr. Law from Gt. Horkesley called this morning, driving a very good hunter-type horse in a high-dog-cart.Told me it was only the second time he had had it in harness, yet he brought him right through the town.
Home to lunch.Mother talking about an alarm there had been this morning, between 6 and 7, which I had not heard.It was raining heavily at the time.Saw in evening papers that 6 planes came over Essex, and that two were shot down at Romford and Southend.
Felt bad all day, legs painful, headache, throat very bad.Back on 4 o’clock bus.Had some tea, fed dogs, hens, pony, and went to bed with a roaring fire in the room at 8 o’clock.
Slow, ruddy dawn, the sun creeping along the bedroom wall.
Hull has now definitely forbidden me (or anybody else) to go into the Muniment Room, so this afternoon I went to see Sir Gurney Benham about it.He was very cold and off-hand, and said that he could not see why he should have to be bothered with “these trivial matters”, and that he thought it most extraordinary that at the Museum we should all be at loggerheads.My blood rose, and I felt very glad that I had made that new will last night.He gave me to understand that he wished that the War Agricultural Committee would leave Holly Trees.So do I, and I assured him very coldly that nothing would keep us there a day after we had found another place.
Saw Pim Barbour, the horse dealer today, driving a fresh turnout, very smart.He waved his whip to me most affably.Feel I shall have to sell Robin.Cannot carry on.
Still feeling unwell.Cloudy and cold morning.Got the trap wheels loaded onto my trap before I left, so that Joy can take them over to Nayland.
Mr. Lofthouse called this morning, from Layer Marney, to complain that his horseman had left in a rage at a moments notice, leaving the horses on a gang of harrows, in the middle of a field.The man had gone straight to the Labour Exchange and had been given another job at once.In cases of this sort the Ministry of Labour will always support the man against the master.
Chairman came in, and signed bills.Lunch at Rose’s.Came out through St. Mary’s Churchyard – people sitting on the tombs in the sunshine, and the organ playing.Met Gunton in Balkerne Lane, had a long talk with him about Hull, the Museum, and the Committee.He was sympathetic, but said he could see no way out.
Had a letter from Joanna this morning, in which she referred to her baby as “young Tritton”.She is sure it will be a boy, and she is going to call him Oliver after her dead brother.
The Fire Brigade were washing out rooks nests on the Castle Ramparts today.Most effective, and much more satisfactory than shooting.Eggs and young birds all destroyed, and now it is too late for the old birds to build again.Rooks are a terrible pest in this district, because it is no longer possible for farmers to employ children to scare them, as was done in the old days.
Poulter went up to London again today, for another overhaul, to make sure there is no recurrence of the disease.
In the “East Anglian” this week was reported a murder at Diss, and a rape and robbery at Eye, both done by Americans, and when I got back tonight I was told that a girl was assaulted and raped by a Canadian near North Station last night.
Late tonight I made a new will, in which I definitely excluded ColchesterMuseum from any benefit.The whole of my archaeological material shall go to the BritishMuseum.So I join the ranks with Pollexfen, Laver, and Poulter.
Lovely morning.Felt bad, and got up late.Headache all day.On the way out, called at White House Farm, Langham, to see Barker, our tenant [who was living on the edge of the new aerodrome].He is very worried, and I advised him privately to get out if he could.Things are now in such a state that he cannot leave his wife alone in the house without labourers trying to attack her, and cannot leave the house empty without old Mrs. C, the late owner, wandering about the place.He is scared that she will set it on fire again, as she has all ready done so twice, and got off scot-free each time.
One of the Land Girls was charged with stealing a watch today.This is the first time we have had a police-court case involving any of the girls.
Came out by Dedham.Called at Sissons.Mrs. S. much better, looking thinner and younger than before her illness.Had an hour's talk, then on to Lawford, and took the wheels off Joy’s trap, as she is going to have new rubber tyres.Sky clouded over and looks like rain.Am wondering if there will be an attack tonight – there was one last night, somewhere in Suffolk.Feel very tired and sleepy, and hope for a good night.
Glorious day.Felt better.Came in on the bus, 70 people jammed into a 36 seated vehicle. A record, I should think.
Called at Bruce’s at the Hythe to inspect progress of carts, which are going very well.Capt. Folkard out all day.Later, went up to LexdenPark to see the gyrotiller at work, tearing up the last piece of the old parkland still remaining.Walked all over the land, but could see no sign of pottery or anything else.
Busy all the rest of day, aftermath of Committee.Felt bad again tonight, throat and legs, and did not want to do much.
Joy said today that R.J. Minney’s film about Laval had been abandoned, because Rank, the man behind the film company, thought it most inadvisable to attack Laval in case Britain might want to be friendly with him one day.She also repeated an amusing remark about money.Somebody said “You can see what God thinks about money – look at the people He’s given it to.”
Lovely day, warm and sunny.Felt very ill today, hardly any sleep last night.Seem to have forgotten how.No food today except a bun or two, and many cups of tea.Committee at Birch this afternoon, but could hardly sit up straight.Several members made criticisms about the way the minutes have been sent out.
Back tonight on the bus, as I could not face the cycle journey.Praying for a quiet night.Things have been very quiet lately, ominously so in fact.Feel rotten, pain in every limb.Throat very bad.