24th July 1944

Up again at 8, and office at 10 past 9, getting in before Capt. Folkard.  Busy all morning on Committee work. 

Birch at 2.15, Col. Round told us that one of the ‘divers’ missed Birch Hall “by feet”, and passed right over Birch Church.  Noticed beds have been brought down into the front hall and the gun-room.  Mrs Round is home, but rather weak, and feels a little nervous.

Meeting was fairly short, and had great hopes of getting off by 5.30, but right at the end a most distressing thing happened.  The Chairman said, as he always does, “Well now, has anybody got anything else?  Claude? Frank? Gardner? Joe?”  And Joe Percival got up and said very quietly “Only this Sir, I want to give you my resignation.  I think you know why.  But I’d like to thank you for all your kindness, and now I’ll be goin’.”  He walked to the door and opened it.  The Committee was quite stunned, and the Chairman called out “I won't take it like that, Joe, you know,” but Joe only said quietly “Alright, Sir, I’ll be writing to you,” and shut the door behind him.

So there we all sat in the gloom, everybody sad and angry, nobody knowing what to say.  At last the Chairman said “Well, we’d best go away and think this over,” so we all went.  Left Capt. Folkard at the Regal, and as I went round Headgate saw Joe and Alec Craig talking in Craig’s car.  Wished I hadn't seen them.  Who can say what intrigues there are.

Decided to go to Higham, felt so very depressed.  Found Jacqui Conran very charming, and spent a most delightful evening until nearly midnight.  Started back to Boxted by way of Langham Mill, and decided to curl up on a stack near the Stoke road for an hour or two.  Suddenly wakened by a ‘diver’ about 4 in the morning, and saw the thing rush past about half a mile away, going west, a most terrifying sight.

Decided to move away, and thought how amazed Alec Page would be if he knew that the Committee Secretary had slept on one of his straw stacks.  Boxted at 4.30, and went to bed, still greatly saddened about Committee affairs.  I had had a slight hint that things were bad between Joe Percival and old Warren, but had no idea that they were so bad as to make Joe resign.  The trouble started with Joe criticising Frank Warren’s methods of dealing with the Committee’s cattle and grazing land.  Frank Warren is a complete dictator in these matters, and does just as he likes.  This of course has been going on for a long time, until Joe took it on himself to complain to the Chairman of the Executive Committee one day last week when he was at Writtle.  Kemsley then spoke to Round, who was furious, and told Joe if he was not satisfied with the work of other members of the Committee he’d better resign, and he has.  It’s very tragic, because Joe and Col. Round have been great friends for many years.


Anonymous said...

Oh dear. One almost needs a War Agricultural Committee flow chart to keep up with that one. Any chance we might be reminded precisely who was chairman at that point? Alec Page? Col. Round? Joe Percival?

Thanks from a devoted reader of four years from Texas

E J Rudsdale said...

Hello and thank you for following the blog for the last four years, it's great to hear from you!

Sorry for the lack of clarification about the War Agricultural Committee. At this point, the Lexden & Winstree District War Agricultural Committee, for which Rudsdale was Secretary, was still chaired by Colonel Round. Joe Percival, Alec Craig, Mr Gardner Church, Claude Furneaux and Frank Warren were members of the District Committee and Captain Folkard was the District Officer for the Committee.

The District Committee reported to the Executive Committee of the Essex War Agricultural Committee at Writtle, near Chelmsford, which was chaired by Gerald Kemsley. The Executive Officer for the Executive Committee was Ralph Sadler.

Colonel Round was clearly unhappy that complaints about Frank Warren's methods for buying cattle and horses for the District Committee had been reported to Gerald Kemsley of the Executive Committee and not to Colonel Round himself. This caused the rift between Colonel Round and Joe Percival, which led Joe Percival to resign.

There are several extracts in the last couple of months where Rudsdale notes that Joe Percival does not seem to approve of Frank Warren's methods and matters clearly came to a head at this meeting.

Rudsdale was quite upset by the incident because he had respect for the local farming community and was unhappy that the District Committee members were becoming antagonistic towards each other, whereas previously they had been united against the interference of the Executive Committee from Writtle.

I hope this gives some of the background to this extract and thank you again for your support of the blog - it is much appreciated.

Best wishes, Catherine