13th March 1944
Fine, rather cold. Feel much better. Jupp full of rumours about the invasion – all lorry and bus drivers are to be taken over to Europe with the army, together with dock workers and two fifths of the Fire Brigade. Prophesies complete chaos all over the country.
Strong wind this afternoon which blew down part of the ruins of Moore and Roberts’ shop in St Botolphs Street. Lorries are still at work on all the ruined sites, and men are patching the holes burnt in the wood paving blocks.
We discovered today that one of the bus drivers employed to take Land Girls about has been running a taxi every morning, not appearing with the bus until 9.30 or 10 o’clock. He is paid £4-10 by the bus company, £3-5 by the Committee, and has been making £5 on the taxi. The firm’s contract has now been cancelled, but no action is taken against the man.
News in the papers today that Ireland is to be cut off from the rest of the world as a punishment for refusing to enter the war on the side of the Allies. Papers full of tirades against “cowards” and “traitors”. Fantastic figures published of the numbers of Irishmen in the forces or in British industry. From today none of these people will be allowed to return to their own country.
Tonight saw a vast convoy on the Ipswich Road, quite a mile of vehicles. It was very dark and beginning to rain when I was going down Gunhill, the lorries moving slowly towards Suffolk. Suddenly a motor cyclist skidded and was run into by the lorry just behind him, his cycle sliding down the hill, giving up a great shower of sparks.
Everybody began to run and shout. Somebody called “Bring a torch! A torch here quick!” I ran across, and saw the rider on his back on the wet road, quite still, with the cycle partly on top of him. Black rain came down like steel rods, the wind howled in the trees, the lights of the vehicles looked like huge stars.
An officer came, and a sergeant, and they told the man to try to move his legs. He groaned, and moved each leg very slowly. He was still holding a Sten gun in his hand. More rushing about, and a stream of meat lorries edged past, going down hill, brakes screaming. At last somebody suggested moving the soldier onto the footpath, whereupon he said he thought he could stand. We heaved him up, and I held his right arm over my shoulder, like we used to be taught in the Scout first-aid lectures 20 years ago, while a lieutenant took the other side. The man limped badly, but we got him onto the path, and he said he felt better.
Left them, and went down to the Talbooth, where I was at once attacked by two red setters who were loose in the yard. Made me very angry.
Hear that Ellen Wilkinson, the Labour MP, was in the town today, inspecting the Fire Brigades.
Collected my new cycle from Langley’s. Seems a good one – Raleigh. Makes me all the more determined to go away. Considering going to Shrewsbury late one night, and then going out to Mary Hulbert’s cottage near Yockleton.