12th August 1944

Wakened by another alarm at 7, followed by a tremendous explosion, shaking the windows.  Dull, cloudy, and warm.  Sounds of harvesting, voices on a stack, and the creaking of wagons.

Went to the Library for 3 hours this afternoon, then home to tea.

This evening went to Higham, but Jacquie was not there.  Felt terribly lonely, depressed and frightened.  Went down the mill track to Rushburys’.  Mrs. R. and the two girls and a very pretty niece were there.  Henry Rushbury away in the North, working.  They did not seem to want me and I wished I had not gone.  Talked of Layer Marney church and the monuments in an aimless sort of fashion, and felt more and more depressed, the atmosphere becoming like that in a nightmare.  Somebody telephoned, somebody who sounded very drunk and very frightened.  He said something about flying-bombs falling near him this morning, and obviously wanted to talk to somebody now, as the shades of night gathered and fresh attacks became imminent.

Thought what a bizarre scene – the gracious room, the pretty girls, sitting in their long coloured frocks in the fading light, while this sad maundering voice went on over the ‘phone, and we all waited for darkness and terror. 
Left at 10, went back to the cottage again, and met Jacquie on the hill.  Jacquie said she was very frightened this morning, and had sat up half the night with Ida, talking.  The explosion was terrific, though some say the thing was as far away as Polstead.

Went a little way up the lane towards Langham, and lay under a stack until past midnight.  Then cycled slowly to Ipswich Road, and turned at Seven Sisters to East Bergholt.  Great concentrations of searchlights over Ipswich and Felixstowe the far distant hum of ‘planes, many meteors flashing across the sky.  Met a few cyclists.  Went through East Bergholt and down towards Manningtree.

Suddenly saw torches waving and ran into a crowd of police and American Military Police.  A policeman said “Where are you off to, mate?”  I answered on the spur of the moment “Down to Manningtree”, and he simply said “OK, straight on,” without asking to see my card.  Met a good many Americans cycling back from a dance somewhere, mostly very drunk.  Warned some of them about the MPs ahead.  Some said “Thanks, buddy” and others “F*** the bloody cops.”

Went by the pepper factory, with its overpowering smell of pepper and spices, across Cattawade Bridge, by the dim lights on Mannningtree Station.  Half thought of asking if there was a train to Norwich before morning.  Felt very tired.

There was a Special Constable by Lawford Place, so hastily and loudly said “Good Morning”, to disarm any suspicion he might have had.  At Sherbourne Mill lay on the wet grass above the farm for half an hour, wondering what on earth the Parringtons would say if they knew.  Thought of going down into the lower barn, but decided not to, in case the dogs barked.

In Pond Lane, (it was now about 2.30am), met a couple of soldiers, North Countrymen who asked me for a light.  Cycled quickly past, not much wanting to find myself alone with two strangers in such a lonely spot.

Not a soul about in Dedham, just a deserted dusky street, with a cat slinking over to the churchyard.  Heard Stratford Church chime the half hour.  Went to the iron seat on the road to Gunhill, where people sit to enjoy the view on quiet summer evenings, and sat there for half an hour or so.  A few ‘planes came over, probably mosquitoes back from Berlin.

At last, by way of Langham, got to Boxted at 3.30am.  Clouds were coming gradually over the stars, but was now so tired that I did not care whether the sirens sounded or not.  Fell into bed and slept soundly until almost midday Sunday.  Miss Bentley thought I had been on duty.

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