EJ Rudsdale on Twitter from 3 September 2019

18th September 1944

Another false alarm at 4.30am – siren and all-clear within a minute.  Up at 7.45, cloudy and misty.  There was a threshing drum on Head’s holding, chugging away, and a black and brown horse ploughing in the next field.

Busy with Committee work, but rang Spivy and slipped out to see him.  He was most affable, heard my story, looked up my dossier, and told me that there was no reason whatever why I should not go back to the museum as soon as the Museum Committee like to apply for my return.  I was quite delighted, rushed out, met Diana and Yvonne walking down the High Street, both looking very smart, pretty and cheerful, pleased with the opening of the new season.  As we stood talking, a single Dakota towing a glider passed slowly over the S-side of the town.  Later could hear many ‘planes towards the north.  The press is very non-committal about the success of the Arnhem venture. 

Called at Holly Trees told Poulter what Spivy had said, and left him to tell Ald. Blomfield as soon as he can.

Committee this afternoon, very long, tiring, and acrimonious, everybody in a very ill humour.  Did not see Joanna, and came away very depressed.  A.W. Page said that as many ‘planes went out over the Stour Valley today as there were yesterday.

Called at Holly Trees, Poulter told me an incredible and infuriating story.  Ald. Sam Blomfield had been in, Poulter told him what I had said, Ald. Sam immediately got cold feet, and got Poulter to go to Spivy himself.  Poulter then comes back with the exact opposite to what Spivy told me.  He says Spivy made it very clear that it was entirely my responsibility – that – I must give notice to leave War Agricultural Committee, become out-of-work, report to the Labour Exchange, who might then direct me back to the Museum, or, alternatively, I can apply to the Museum Committee to have my old job back.

This I would not do under any circumstances whatever – the post is still mine, and I have never left the employment of the Corporation.

Sam Blomfield apparently seized this with alacrity – I don't believe he ever had any intention of bringing the matter before the Committee at all – he is terrified of Hull, and dare not even mention any matter with which Hull would disagree.

I was so angry I almost quarrelled with Poulter for being such a damned interfering old fool.  If he or Ald. Sam think that I am going to crawl back to the Museum, as an unemployed worker, begging for my own job, they’re both wrong, for I’ll do no such thing.  I would rather stay with the War Agricultural Committee for life, I’d rather work on the land myself.  It is scandalous that I should be treated in this way, after all I have done for the Museum.  If Sir Gurney Benham were alive it would not have happened.  Don't know whether to see Spivy again or not – don't trust any of these Ministry of Labour people, and it is very dangerous to upset them.  Rather lucky I did not get the chance to speak to Captain Folkard after all.

I have no intention whatever of going back to the Museum at less than £4 a week, and will not go unless I am invited and offered that sum.  I certainly won't ask for it.  Considering that I have given 14 years service to the Museum, at the end of which time I was getting £150 a year, I think I deserve a little better treatment than this.  [Rudsdale was earning £5 a week at the War Agricultural Committee].

To Boxted, darkness growing, flooding the road with light from my unobscured lamp – for the first time since 1939.  The Government have at last decided that perhaps bicycle lamps are not such guides to bombers after all, particularly when there are no bombers.

Had to be on Post at 1am, but felt so nervous and restless, could not stay indoors, so collected milk and food and went down to the big straw stack on the lower road, just below the Post.  There curled up in the warm straw and had supper.  Dozed off, hearing through half-sleep Nayland church strike midnight, and immediately as if waiting for the witching hour, the sirens blared out.  Very comforting, down among the straw, to know that I had nothing whatever to do about it.  The air was so still I could hear voices in the Post on the hill above me, then the sound of planes far off to the S.E., but almost at once the ‘all-clear’ came.  These continual false alarms show what a state of nerves the Civil Defence people are now in.
Afraid to go to sleep again, so went up to the post early.  Minter was on with me.  Talking about rockets, he said that a brother of A W Page is an Royal Observer Corps post in Watford area, and one of them fell within 350 yards of the post, without doing much damage.  He (Minter) thinks they may be launched from aircraft flying in the stratosphere.

We spent a quiet night, talking about farming, and listening to the girls at the Centre reading fortunes to the men on the Easy’s until 4 o’clock, when there was a sudden cry of “Diver!”  Sirens at Colchester were 5 minutes later, and Centre told us and the other two Foxes to look out for a “Diver” on one-four, coming straight at us.  We could hear it plainly coming along the valley, over Dedham and Stratford. 

Another diver was down across the Blackwater, we heard Centre say.  We saw the flash, but heard the rumble of the motor some time after.

That was all – just two of them.  Centre chattered a long time about the one which glided over us, and the Easy’s and Fox 3 were yapping like excited children.  ‘All-clear’ was at 4.30am, and I was in bed an hour later, just as light was beginning to break through.  Heard the golden plovers crying in the dusky dawn, and the clank of milk pails in a cowshed as I rode by.


Anonymous said...


For the record current values of ER's discussion of his wages at the museum etc.

£4 = £158.94 a week
£5 = £198.67 a week

He says he left the museum at £150 a year, but at £4 a week this would be £208! So again for the record

£150 = £5,960.12 a year
£208 = £8,264.69 a year
£260 = £10,330.87 a year

Which now doesn't seem that well paid, but at the time was.

Mike Dennis

E J Rudsdale said...

Hi Mike,
As always, I am most grateful that you have converted the financial figures for us to today's values. When Rudsdale left the Museum to work for the War Agricultural Committee in 1941 he was earning £150 a year (under £4 a week) and he felt he could not return for less than £4 a week in 1944 after gaining a wage of £5 a week for the War Agricultural Committee.

Museum staff were generally underpaid in this period and the Museums Association complained in 1938 that an Assistant Curator post at Reading Museum was advertised at £3 a week, when the same wage was being paid to Reading's dustmen.

Nevertheless, in comparison with manual workers at the time, Rudsdale was earning a better wage than many.

Thanks again and best wishes, Catherine