19th March 1944

Had a splendid night [in Rudsdale's new lodgings at Woodside, Boxted, the home of his new landlady, Miss Bentley].  No alarm, and heard no planes.  Up at 9, had a hot bath, then breakfast, reading, and writing.  Went into Sprott’s Marsh, lovely spring day, warm, and birds singing, but oh how we want rain.  Walked right through the wood, and found that the little cottage which used to stand in the wood has long since been destroyed, nothing remaining but the outline of the garden and an old apple tree.  Did a few sketches and then went to Dedham by way of the aerodrome.  What dirt, confusion and noise, huge bombs scattered about everywhere.  And what a contrast to see Dedham in the sunlight, the church bells peeling for afternoon service, jackdaws and rooks wheeling, fat white clouds floating across the sky, people walking out, a football match on the playing field, children skipping.  The Colchester bus came in and several people got out of it and wandered down towards the river.

At 4 I had tea at the café, full of soldiers and girls and family parties.  Then went to Lawford for some eggs for Annie Ralling who is coming home from hospital on Tuesday.  Mrs Nichols was there, with her little girl.  She seems to want to sell the phaeton.

The sun sank in a mass of crimson flame, and I went along the Long Road to Langham and then to Boxted, feeling more and more nervous as night fell.  Called at Lt. Rivers, more to fill an hour than for anything else, and then walked from there to Woodside by back lanes.  A lot of lights were on, some signalling as marks for night fighters, and there seemed to be a fire of some sort towards Polstead, rising and falling.  Brilliant stars.  As I reached the “Queen” heard an all-clear from Suffolk, but heard no alarm.

Bed 11.30, full of wild thoughts, and feeling increasingly nervous.

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