7th November 1944 - Rowton - Shurlock Row

Not a very good night, but got up briskly at 7, as soon as I heard Walker moving about.  Mary hustled off at quarter to 8, to go up to the Castle gardens, and we made quite affectionate farewells.  Left at 8, bitterly cold, the wind still howling out of Wales, and still more moonlight than daylight.  Determined to set foot in Wales, so fought my way against the gales, past dumps of ammo and poison gas to Alberbury, through Loton Park, now full of American army vehicles, through a cutting in red stone, and across a brook into Wales.  Just beyond the Park wall, on the corner of a lane leading towards Wollaston, stands a mighty oak apparently the boundary mark.

I looked over towards the hills, on the left, the Breiddaw, Mocl y Crolfa, and beyond, the highlands of Sir Trefaldwyn, Cirggian village in foreground.  Welshpool was only 9 miles on, and Llanfair Caeremium less than 20 miles away.  Took my pencil and wrote on the concrete below the tree DYMA CYMRU.  CYMRU AM BYTH, [Wales forever!] then turned back into England.  With the wind behind me, sailed along and got to Shrewsbury at 9.15.  Calves lowing in the market, but hardly any stock because of foot and mouth near Wolverhampton.

Went to the Library for an hour.  Still not made up my mind whether to go to Colchester or Shurlock Row.  Found out about trains, one to Reading at 2.15, so on the spur of the moment brought a ticket.  Suddenly realised with a shock that Reading was 4 and a half hours journey away.

Heard a band, and down the hill came the Shrewsbury School OTC behind their band, the officers very obvious schoolmasters.  Much shouting of commands, and they all marched into the station.  Some of the little boys were only as big as their rifles, strutting in their little uniforms.  What a delightful picture for German propaganda!

Went to Post Office, sent a telegram to Margery, and a letter to Captain Folkard, offering either part time work or my resignation.  Felt much better.  Went to Food Office, got ration card and bought sugar, marmalade, etc.  Had lunch.

Train pulled out on time.  Along the familiar line past Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Oxford – as we drew in I heard the great clock strike 6 o’clock.  First feeling of insecurity – blinds on the train windows.  Then down the Thames Valley to Reading, where there were lights. Set out through the cold streets. Much traffic on the road until I got to Twyford.  Far away 2 searchlights waving, and suddenly realised that I am really back in the ‘war zone’.

Turned up the old familiar road, over the Railway, and along the dark lanes where I used to drive on the back of Jerome’s trap at Christmas time 30 years ago.  Fumbled at the signposts and had to take my lamp off to read them.

At last the village street, and the old school house, white in the star light.  Margery gave me a wonderful welcome, and I felt really happy for the first time since I left Scotland

The household is now Margery [Eric Rudsdale's cousin], old uncle, tall and hearty and nearly 84, a Women's Land Army girl and a little black cat called Toby.  All the old furniture is there, the coloured lantern in the hall, the photos, the drawings which poor Claude did 35 years ago.  Had supper, and went to bed in the little back room, dead tired.  

The WLA girl works for a vet called Munless, the son of old Charles Munless, the famous hunting man and coachman, who has a little farm down the straight mile.  The old man recently died, and left the son £83,000, so he doesn’t have to worry about much.

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