16th May 1944

Up early.  Office at 9.10.  No big raid on the Continent last night, but another attack on the S. coast, apparently on Portsmouth.  Fine, but cloudy.  Went up to the By-Pass at 10 to meet Frank Warren, to go to Ipswich [Horse Sale).  Convoy of enormous American vehicles, carrying bulldozers.  They turned up towards Ipswich.  Frank Warren came along in his big car, with Joe Porter the horsedealer, and his housekeeper.  We got to Ipswich by eleven. The markets were crowded for the fair, and something like 20 traps and carts for sale, as well as 40 sets of trap harness.  Joy Parrington’s trap was there, and the old buck-cart which we smashed with the runaway last year.  Joy and Parry came in while I was there, with Joy’s brother Eric.  I was sorry they have sold the trap, but Joy seems to be quite finished with driving.  It made £18, and most of the others made over £20.  There was a top-hole little trolley there, nearly new, made £35, which would have suited me very well.

Big crowds at the sale-yards and all over the town.  The public house yards were full of traps, floats, and ponies, and the blacksmith’s near the market was full.  As I came out into Princes St, I saw an enormous crowd by the Marsh Tavern, and everybody on the other side of the street stopping to stare.  Suddenly I saw what they were looking at – a cob, in a rough old ralli-car, with dirty harness, a “Tremendous cob”, his head up, ears pricked, mane-flapping, his great legs rising and falling like piston-rods, sparks flying from his hooves, being driven by a boy of about 16, sailing down the street.  And the crowd stopped to stare at him, the poetry of motion, timeless, ageless, the youthful “whip” sitting back as if he were Bertram Mills himself.  It was a grand sight.

Began to rain a little, so I went up to the Museum and spoke to Maynard.  A clergyman was there, talking about the Shrine of Our Lady of Ipswich, of which I had never heard before, but which apparently at one time rivalled Walsingham.  How much more material there is at Ipswich as compared with Colchester. 

The Museum struck me as being rather sad, the cases were much too crowded.  Maynard has been there a long time now and is getting very old.  He told me that they were having a considerable number of books from the late Reid-Moir’s library, including many rare palaeontological monographs.  Apparently the old man had been very badly off for some years, and had been paid a pension by the Ipswich Museum for the last 5 or 6 years, in return for which he carried out research work on a number of sites, the result to be for the benefit of the Museum.  This seems to show quite a high standard of intelligence on the part of the Museum Committee.

Back to the Market, and saw the cattle which Frank Warren had bought for the Committee.  Curious to note how farmers at sales always seem to delight in standing right in the way of cattle, causing them to break and bolt in every direction.

About 4.30 began to feel rather queer, and although had had no food since breakfast, did not feel inclined to risk anything.  Caught the bus back to Colchester, first having to wait in a hot, stinking garage for half an hour.  The journey was agony, even on the top deck.  Every seat was full, and the atmosphere foul.  Only two windows would open, and those merely cracks.  The seats were excruciatingly uncomfortable and the vibration intolerable.  The head officials of this abominable Eastern Counties Company should be condemned to ride in their filthy buses day and night for a week.

Spent the journey mentally marking off each mile as we traversed it, and sprang out as soon as I could at East Street.  Frightful waves of nausea flowed over me, and I was suddenly and disgustingly sick in the gutter outside the “Welcome Sailor” public house, a horrid and degrading sight.

The wind and rain were getting worse, and I cycled back to Boxted thankful for the promise of a quiet night.


Anonymous said...


Another fascinating entry.

The horse fair seems to have attracted a large number of people, and with money to spend so once again challenging our view of financial matters during WWII.

The current equivalent values for what ER notes again are surprising

Trap £18 - £395.73
Trap £20 - £773.04
Trolley £35 - £1,352.81

His observations of American troop movements are interesting with hindsight as we know D-Day is getting nearer though of course he doesn’t. I wonder what Americans were doing with bulldozers! For building airfields?

The bus journey sounds horrendous, but then on the other hand I am always impressed by how public transport carried on during the war whereas today the slightest thing seems to disrupt it.

Lastly ER himself is clearly unwell (and again with hindsight we know the outcome), it seems from the journals he never goes to the doctor though he could clearly afford to. Perhaps he felt such detail should not be recorded?

Mike Dennis

E J Rudsdale said...

Hi Mike,
Many thanks as always - the prices for traps and trolleys are enlightening and much higher than I expected, indicating how many people were relying on horse power at the time.
I find this build up to D-Day fascinating as Eric records the movement of machinery and troops and the description of the horse sale in this diary entry is particularly vivid.
I believe that Eric hated visiting the doctors and was afraid to find out how ill he really was so he only went in extreme circumstances and even then doesn't seem to have admitted all of his symptoms. He does record his occasional visits in his diary and there will be more on this later this year. Best wishes, Catherine