7th January 1944

Up early.  Fine clear morning, quite warm.  Many heavy bombers going over in the direction of France, flying low, with their green, red, and yellow navigation lights glowing like little stars.  By the time I got to Birchwood some were coming back, so I suppose they had been to Pas de Calais.  A big flight went across flying high in formation.  Noticed that the landing lights were on at Langham.

Busy all day.  Trouble brewing about the Committee cows and heifers.  Snowball is very much up in arms and Nott furious.  Captain Folkard was in Chelmsford for an N.F.U. meeting and missed it.  It generally falls to me to keep the peace between all these people.  In this case, Snowball is undoubtedly right, as Nott is not fit to care for cattle.  They have treated the bull at Brickhouse so badly that he is now almost useless. 

This afternoon the weather became cloudy and fine rain began, so I felt emboldened to take Daphne out to tea.  About 6 went to Holly Trees and talked to Poulter for a couple of hours.  Told me that Alderman Hazell was still alive, but not expected to last much longer.  Mrs. Lyon-Campbell is also very bad, and is only kept alive by stimulants.

Cannot help noticing that Alderman Hazell was admitted to the Essex County Hospital although suffering from nothing but a stroke, yet I was told that Mother could not be admitted under any circumstances.  There is a note in the Essex County Standard tonight about old Lamb, the hospital porter, who has just died, at the age of 81, in the Workhouse.  Although he had served the hospital well for nearly 40 years, and had been made a life-governor, even he could not be allowed to die there in comparative comfort.  Apparently there has been a good deal of comment in the town, and the hospital authorities have published an “explanation”.

Poulter told me that there had been another robbery at the Castle – a case cupboard in the Prehistoric Room was forced open, the lock entirely removed, and one or two drawers of Belgic stamps were emptied.  It is not known what is missing, as of course Hull had no idea what was in the drawers.  The Chairman got to know by accident and made himself quite unpleasant to Hull, who was entirely unrepentant.  Where will it all end?

Left at 8, slight rain, and a thin watery moon.  To my surprise, a fair number of heavy bombers went out, apparently flying in formation above the clouds.  They reckon to fly in any weather now.

Higham at 9, writing, reading, and bed at 11.30.  Wrote to the Penroses in Canada today, envying the letter as it vanished into the letter box.


Anonymous said...

Hello Catherine

I have recently discovered this blog and E.J. Rudsdale’s book, of which I have already managed to obtain a copy, despite living in the wilds of France. I am sure that I am not the only one that is extremely grateful that you came across these diaries and ensured that they can now be saved for posterity.

I was originally a Colcestrian, raised in Prettygate (although never thought to enquire why “Rudsdale Way” was so called); and my dentist must have been the same Alan Seymour who was Eric’s friend; and I had three grandparents who lived through the war as civilians in Colchester. So you will understand why I have found everything about the journals addictively fascinating.

But, for me, one of the most interesting aspects of Eric’s memoirs (and one which appears to have provoked few, if any, comments) is his portrayal of his personal life, notably his relationships with various women. I note that today he has felt “emboldened” enough to invite Daphne out to tea! My favourite diary entry so far (which appears only in the book) is for April 1st 1942 – with its atmospheric description of an afternoon cycling with Joanna Round and parting with a kiss in the gathering dusk at Layer Cross. But then, every time that his personal life starts to get particularly interesting, it seems as if Eric suddenly reminds himself that he is actually writing an historical document, ultimately intended for publication, and he either back-pedals swiftly or nothing more is mentioned! For example, his girlfriend Rose’s friendship with a soldier and her subsequent rejection of Eric seem to be somewhat understated. And I have little doubt that Eric cared greatly for Joanna (although his attempts at courtship were clearly doomed to failure – for reasons probably beyond his control). It was therefore somewhat disappointing to find him saying of Joanna’s engagement, barely four months after the Layer Cross kiss, “I have never heard such good news!” Not that I would wish to doubt his sincerity!

Anyway, I would be intrigued to know what you feel about Eric’s relationships, and how much you think he has deliberately left out. But perhaps there were entries that you had to miss out – for whatever reason?

With all best wishes,


E J Rudsdale said...

Hi Chris,
Many thanks for your interesting comments and for your support for the blog and the book - much appreciated! I was fascinated to learn that Alan Seymour was once your dentist, and this would indeed have been Eric's schoolfriend.

You are quite right that Eric's personal life is often curtailed at the most interesting point and I think you are right that he saw his journal first and foremost as a historical document and on occasions he seems to pull back from recording his feelings and emotions. In fact some of his real feelings I only gleaned from letters and from talking to people he knew. I do know, therefore, that he had no wish to marry and did not want children and so in many ways he did not view his relationships in any long term capacity. I think this stemmed partly from being an only child and from his poor health and in some ways, as someone once told me, he was like someone who never grew up.

I think he was definitely very fond of Joanna Round but knew that the class dimension would always keep them apart. His joy at Joanna's engagement partly stemmed from the fact that this would mean she would not have to join the ATS, which looked possible after she was no longer permitted to work for the War Agricultural Committee.

Eric was clearly attractive to women and enjoyed their company and apparently a lot of glamorous women attended his funeral!

The relationship with Rose Browne ended acrimoniously partly because Eric refused to marry her. There are a few entries, therefore, which I have had to edit, out of respect for the people involved but generally Eric did edit his own personal life himself and we are left to piece the story together.

I hope this helps and thank you again for your interest.
Best wishes, Catherine

Anonymous said...

Hi Catherine

Many thanks for taking the trouble to write such a long and interesting reply. I'm glad that I asked you for your thoughts about Eric's relationships - your additional information and opinions have provided an even better insight into his personality and way of thinking. At some point, I am sure that we diary/blog enthusiasts would love to hear more about the background information that you came across in your research. Did you manage to speak to anybody actually mentioned in the diary? As you probably know, Joanna went on to be married twice and died in Birch in 2004.

Thank you once again.
Best wishes,

E J Rudsdale said...

Hi Chris,
Yes I did speak to Joanna Round, who was lovely and remembered Eric with great fondness. Eric's surviving cousins have also been extremely helpful in sharing their memories and correspondence and have been most supportive of my research.
Members of the Parrington family have also helped me enormously and Douglas Carter, Boxted's historian, who is referred to as 'young Carter' and worked with Eric on the ROC post at Great Horkesley in 1944 has been a wonderful fund of information. I have also researched museum records at Colchester Museums and Wisbech Museums which have helped to give me a broader picture of Eric's life.
I plan to publish Eric's journals from 1920 to 1939 as my next project and hope to be able to provide more background to his life in this book.
Thanks again for your interest and thoughts,
With best wishes, Catherine

Anonymous said...

Hello Catherine

Thanks yet again for this further information. Really pleased to hear about your next project!
Amazing to hear that you spoke to Joanna - I wonder if she remembered that bike ride on April 1st 1942?

Best wishes,

P.S. Have just posted a somewhat anachronistic comment about the Audley Road murder in January 1943. Not for the first time, Eric has solved a mystery for me....

Anonymous said...


As you know, I am one of those who have read some of Rudsdale's actual diaries in the Essex Records Office which when doing so realise what a difficult editing task you have had in preparing this blog and the published version.

In answering Chris you say you have had to take care over some aspects of ER's personal life to be respectful to those involved, with this in mind I would recommend, if it is possible, that people read the original volumes. This will give them insight to those parts of his life that you have been unable to include.

I realise that for those like Chris, far away from the Records Office, this is not an option so hopefully one day the full volumes will be published.


Mike Dennis

E J Rudsdale said...

Dear Chris,
Many thanks for your comments and apologies for the late posting of your recent comments but I have had a busy workload and have got a bit behind with the blog. However, normal service is now resumed!
I think maybe Joanna Round did remember the bike ride but seemed a little reticent about talking about it. However, she spoke very happily of their horse rides together and said what an interesting and engaging man Eric was to talk to.
I am so glad Eric has been able to solve the Audley Road murder mystery for you - I am constantly amazed by the amount of information and connections that readers of the blog have gained from Eric's journals.
Thanks again and best wishes, Catherine

E J Rudsdale said...

Hi Mike,
Many thanks for your helpful comments and I agree, it would be great to be able to publish the volumes in full in the future.
Best wishes, Catherine