31st December 1943

Yet another brilliant day.  I have never known such weather at the end of the year before.  Bitterly cold though, and a sharp NE wind.  Hundreds of American bombers coming and going all day, on their way to bomb open towns in France or Belgium.

Walked out of the Culver St café at lunch time today, because the radio was so bad – they insisted on having a wretchedly dull war talk instead of an orchestral concert so I got up, paid for what I had hardly had and walked out.

Much preoccupied today making a new register of all the agricultural holdings in the district, which I hope at last to get complete.

Left tonight by Harwich Road.  Mist coming up, low clouds.  Called at Springgate to ask after Bob, who seems to be very well.  Went on to Lawford and while there phoned Sisson.  Tricher is calling to see him, and seems very favourable to my going to Thorington Hall.  Felt much cheered.  To Higham at 8.30, very dark and rain beginning, so every chance of a quiet night.  No beacon.

Called on sweep in Brook St to come and do dining room chimneys. I said, “looks thick tonight,” looking at the heavy mist in the Colne valley.  He replied “Yes, we ought to be safe tonight” reading my thoughts instantly. 

So ends 1943, bloodshed, terror, wild aimless destruction, and so we rush on into 1944, with the promise from our leaders that we shall have more of it, more than we dream possible.  Some people in Colchester all rather alarmed to find that the town is only about 90 miles from Calais, so that if the new “rocket shells” can reach 125 miles we may have something else to worry about.

Will the war never end?

Fire in Port Lane last night, in a house opposite Paxman’s, near the chase to the stable.  A little boy and girl there alone, and must have set the place alight.  The father, a man named Martin, rushed in from the street, and he and the boy were suffocated.  It all happened in a few minutes and the place was quite gutted.  The other child was saved.

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