16th July 1944

To the post at 1am.  A still fine night, with traces of the sun still faint in the N.W.  “Diver” was on when I got there, and we could hear them at the Centre talking about “ten” or “a dozen” coming in over Kent.  Heard a girl’s voice say: “My goodness!  Look at that!  Poor Bromley!”

About 2, several divers came into Essex, and I heard them being plotted over Southend and Rayleigh.  Began to feel very alarmed and expected to hear sirens at any moment.  Once there was a great yellow flash to the S.W., and about 20 seconds later a low rumbling roar.  Reported it, and was told that it was a diver at Baddow, 25 miles away.

“Diver” was off at 2.30, and I felt better and made the tea, but it was on again at half-past 4.  Nothing happened this time.  Began to feel very tired, as this was an eight hour duty to make up for the one I missed on Friday.

A golden dawn broke slowly, and the birds began to sing.  At 5 one of the “A” men arrived, and I still stayed.  “Diver” was off again soon after 6, and then a fog came in from the sea, rolling along in great clouds until the sun faded again and we were in the midst of a dark wet night.  This lasted about an hour, and before it had cleared the Flying Fortresses began to come down from Suffolk, circling and climbing.  As they left, glittering in the sunlight, heard somebody at the Centre say there were 1700 in the air.  No doubt they arrived over some French or Belgian town about the time of early Mass.

By 8 all the fog had gone, and the wet corn was sparkling.  Saw a Co-op milk van drive down to Kersey’s Farm, delivering bottles of milk.  The civilisation of 1944 – Co-op milk on a farm.  Of course, Alec Page does not keep a single cow on all his 1000 acres, so his people naturally have to get their milk from somewhere.

At last got back to Woodside at 9.15, very tired.  Miss Bentley never knew I had been out all night.  Felt dreadfully tired.  Slept this afternoon, had tea, then cycled over to Lawford.  Lovely calm evening, no ‘planes about.

Found Mrs Knibbs at the Mill, and heard about conditions at Beckenham and in South London.  The damage is indescribable, hundreds of thousands of houses destroyed, and many thousand people dead, yet the Press still speaks of the attacks as being far more of a nuisance than a real danger.  Mrs Knibbs has been living in an Anderson shelter for weeks. 

Went down to Dedham at 9.30, and stayed at Sisson’s until half past eleven.  Cloudy then, and fog coming up.  Six months ago this meant a quiet night, but not now.  Now it simply means the divers won't be attacked at all, because they will fly noisily but invisibly in the fog.

Cycled slowly along towards Boxted, and as I got near Little Rivers suddenly decided to go down to the stack again.  Curled up very comfortably, and quite warm.  Went to sleep in spite of the rustling of rats beneath me.  Awakened, perhaps about 1 o’clock, by the sirens and saw three terrific flashes far to the S., but heard nothing.  Slept again, but had a fearful nightmare, consisting of rows of galvanised buckets full of blood, and a pair of severed hands in one of them. 

On Saturday morning, between 6 and 8 o’clock, I had two very curious dreams, but not at all unpleasant.  The first was about the invasion of Africa by the British and American troops, and the second seemed to be about the evacuation of Colchester people to Lavenham in the time of Napoleon.  It was just as described by Anne Taylor, the long covered wagons, the folks riding on their baggage, babies crying, children running along the roads.  Wished it had lasted longer, it was so interesting.

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