24th June 1944

Brilliant day, mild and sunny, but felt it overshadowed by the coming night.  This morning Charlie Baldwin came in with a story about the murder at Abberton.  A Home Guard officer named Capt. Grundy has been shot by a regular soldier, whom he came across when rabbiting.

Charlie said: “Did you hear together about these goings on at Abberton?  That was like this: Thursday night we had a ‘robert’ bomb [V1 robot bomb] at Copt Hall, and then later on the same night there was an owd Jerry came over and he dropped a string o’bombs on the next marsh to where that was.  Well, of course all this here upset our cattle, and we had about 100 head o’stock out by the morning, so I went up to Copt Hall Chase to find Cutting, and he says to me “I suppose you know all these here cattle are out all over the parish?  You might let Webb know when you’re up the village, and you might tell him there’s an unexploded bomb on the bottom marsh.”

Well, I thought if I went to Ponder’s place, him being Head Warden, I could tell him, and he could ‘phone Webb, ‘cause that’d be cheaper, like, but when I get to Ponder’s his missus said “He’s out, but that ain't a might o’good getting on to Webb, ‘cause he’s got a murder on his hands, and he’s busy.”  So I says “Oh, has he.  But what about this here unexploded bomb?  Webb can't do no good to the poor chap what’s dead, but if this bomb go off that might kill somebody else.”

Well, I went off and told my brother Cecil, and he went off with young Neville to the tractor they’d left behind the stacks near Peldon ‘Rose’.  When they got there, Cecil noticed that the cloth had gone off the tractor, so they had a look round, and right agin the stack they found the cloth with an R.A.F. chap rolled up in it, fast asleep, in fact he looked that white and queer they thought he was dead, so Cecil goes up and gives him a kick.  Well, that woke him up, and Cecil says “What are you up to mate?” and this chap says “I’m a-going to Mersea.”  “Where are you come from?” says Cecil, and he says “I’ve come from London”, he says, “and I’m on a secret mission.”  “Well,” says Cecil, “I reckon you’d better be gitten on the bus,” so they put him on the Mersea bus and then Neville says “What about this murder?  Do you reckon he’s had something to do with it?”  Cecil said he thought they ought to tell the police, so they got on their bikes and went onto the Island and told Sergt. Woods.  He says “That’s all right,” he says “he wont get off,” he says, “And I’ll tell you for why,” he says, “cause I’m going to put a man down by the Stroud, and that’ll stop him, see?”

Well, last night my brother and Neville was in the Rose, when in come Woods.  He calls my brother out, and he say “You know that fellow what you told me about?” and my brother say “Yes”, “Well,” he say “we found him.”  “Yes?” says my brother.  “Well,” he say, “he ain't nothing to do with that murder at all!”

It appears that Capt. Grundy was killed just behind Mabbitt’s house, Manwood Chase. The soldier then went across to the Layer Road, called at Lilley’s house and asked them to telephone the police.  He was still carrying the tommy-gun with which he had committed the murder.  

A flying-bomb fell at St Osyth either yesterday or the day before.

Went into the Park this afternoon, and went to sleep on the grass.  Big crowds about.  Felt strangely lonely.

To Rallings’ at tea-time and picked several pounds of cherries.  The fruit trees here are all very old, but still bear well.  Some of the pear trees are over 60 years old.  Father came over and we all had tea.  Miss Payne went off to Takeley for the weekend, and I am spending two nights in the old house.  Have not slept there since before Mother died.

Thinking about preparing maps of Boxted to show the agricultural development of the parish, with particular notice of the siting of the little 15th century hall houses round the Heath.

Went up town this evening.  Saw an American at St. Botolph’s Corner, very drunk, standing on one leg and shouting “Look at me!  I’m a stork!”

Calm evening, and not many ‘planes about.  To bed at eleven, in the front room, in Mother’s place.  Have to go on duty at Horkesley tomorrow.  The Royal Observer Corps don't seem very anxious to make use of my services, but I shan’t complain if they leave me alone entirely.

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