12th January 1944

Very dark morning, but warm and muggy.  Left soon after 8, in the dark, the beacon still flashing.  In a field opposite Higham Hall there were two plough teams just beginning work, moving off into the dark mist.

Apparently the American raid yesterday morning was a failure, and the Germans claim that 124 planes were shot down.  No doubt an exaggeration, but the losses were obviously heavy as the American authorities refuse to give any details.

Story going round today that Hinton, the District Officer for Rochford, dismissed a Women's Land Army girl for slackness and incompetence.  The girl then appealed, and after 8 weeks has been reinstated and given 8 weeks pay, which puts the District Officer in a nice position.

This evening called at Holly Trees.  Poulter told me that he had found the big collecting box at the Castle broken open when the auditor came today, and estimates that £12 or £15 is probably missing.  The lock which was in a secret place, had been taken off and left inside the box.  Nobody could open it unless they knew where the lock was, and the box is in a prominent place, just inside the main door of the Great Hall, it could hardly have been tampered with in broad daylight.  This makes me wonder whether the theft may not have been done at night, either by one of the attendants or by the fire-watchers.  Poulter has been suspicious of the man who was formerly at Holly Trees from the very beginning.

I asked Poulter if he had told the police, but he had not, and did not intend to.  Hull was as usual away, and he had not bother to telephone him either at Elmstead or at the Observer Control.  Poulter did not seem to regard the matter as being serious.

Query – possibility that all the thefts have been done by one person, at night?  Besides the thefts inside the Museum, the lock has been broken from the outside lavatories, and was found, empty, in the Park.

While I was in Poulter’s flat, there was heavy banging on the front door, and when I went down I found Lambeth there, from Cambridge Museum.  He has just got a job as Rural Industries Organiser for Cambridgeshire and Huntingdon, and is very pleased.  He is only about 35.  I was very tickled that his main interest in the job is to get new stuff for the Cambridge Museum.  He did not seem to have much grasp of the agricultural situation.

Left him there at half past 8.  Very dark night.  No beacon.

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