15th October 1943

Very late up, Higham church struck 9 as I went past, but got in by 20 to 10.  

Serious shortage of hay in ColchesterWatts wrote to Writtle, complaining that he could get none at all.  I went to see him and was horrified to find this was quite correct, and that for a whole week his ponies had to live on carrots, turnips, apples and bread.  He told me that this week he had one bale from Mathews’, but nothing else.  Clark, Harvey and several others are in the same muddle.  This is the most serious situation I have known, much worse than last year.

Hay is short, but I am sure the big dealers are holding up supplies.  I know Curry is baling several hundred tons in Suffolk.  I shall make inquiries tomorrow and send in a report.

As an example of the state of horse breeding, especially ponies, Watts told me that Williamson of Langham had offered him £100 for Colchester Fuse.  She is now 13.  I was offered her for £35 before the war.  Will high class breeding ever go down again?  

The weather is really wonderful, light clouds, some fog, but no rain at all.  Everybody hard at work drilling, and several threshing machines at work between Higham and Colchester.  I wish there was more fog at night, to keep the planes away.

As I came out of Holly Trees, an American convoy was going down East Hill, an Australian sergeant with a girl crossed the road, and a lot of commando men got out of a lorry on the other side of the street.

On Ipswich Road by the By Pass another convoy with AA guns, came along from the East and the motor cyclist in front asked me the way to Mile End.  Are they moving guns into the district?  There was an alarm about 8, and several planes flew over Higham, and there was a lot of firing towards the coast, and I heard bombs dropping.  So lonely here with only the little cat, who is quite unperturbed.  The firing died away but about 9.30 there was another alarm, and faintly on the wind I heard the Manningtree and Brantham sirens.  The sky was cloudy now, and it seemed incredible that any planes could hope to do good in such weather.  Fog now on the water meadows.  Sat eating my supper, bread and milk, listening to radio.

All clear about 10.15, very faint and distant.  Screech owls crying like murdered babies, and the moon just peeping through the swirling clouds.

Just as I thought I could settle down for a quiet night, there was another attack, and the same heavy gunfire to the East.  It was now clear brilliant moonlight, not a cloud in the sky.  Two night fighters came over, and soon the firing died away.  Curiously enough there were no searchlights about at all.

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