Spent the night in the armchair – have not been to bed for more than a week. My birthday – 34, the first I have had without Mother. Left very early, in the dark, and went over to Lawford to collect eggs. No sign of damage anywhere. Joy thought it was all much further away, well beyond Colchester, and I was astounded to find that she was right – the fires were at Clacton, 16 miles from Higham. Marks & Spencers has been burnt, two other shops, and the whole of Lodge Farm, St Osyth – buildings, cattle, and all. Only one horse was saved. Several stacks were burnt at Weeley Heath, but no damage was done by high explosives – they all fell in fields. There was not a single casualty.
The Colchester rocket guns fired for nearly an hour, but nothing was hit.
Great feeling of relief to find that there was no damage at Colchester. Went up to see if there was a casualty board at the Library, but there was nothing.
As I came down Long Road, Dedham, this morning there was a lovely golden dawn, and some little birds were singing gaily among the ruins of Coomber’s little cottage, above the spot where Mrs. Coomber and her baby were killed.
Staff meeting this afternoon, everybody wedged into our office to be talked to by the Executive Officer, [Sadler], Engledow and Pigg. (I can never remember whether his name is Pigg or Hogg). Nothing of importance was said, but it took them 3 hours to say it. Began to feel very ill, and felt dreadful tonight. Racking cough, inflamed throat.
At Higham the light was on, but clouds were thick and low. Kept the radio on to see if there was an attack, but nothing happened.
Another night in the armchair. Terribly cold.
Today would have been E.J. Rudsdale's 104th birthday.