9th November 1944 - Maidenhead

Dull and grey this morning but fine later.  The WLA girl brought in a rabbit which she had wrested from a stoat.

Great excitement in the press because Hitler did not speak at Munich last night and because the Germans are now claiming to be bombarding London with rockets.  We all know that something has been coming over intermittently since the first week in September, but whether rockets proper or shells from the French coast I am not yet convinced.  Have heard nothing of London lately, and they know nothing here, although only 30 miles off.

This afternoon went over to Maidenhead.  The old familiar road, the “Star”, where Father and my Uncles used to go, “Wethered’s ‘Marlow Ales’” written up, the lovely spire of Shottesbrooke, White Waltham and the stocks.  (I remember the drawing I did in 1918 or was it 1917? – and old Miss Harris told me I was a little liar and had not done it myself).

The aerodrome at White Waltham is enormous, hundreds of ‘craft of all types parked along the road.  Among others saw a small sea-plane, (bi-plane), and several Dakotas.  The rest were quite unknown to me.  Things I have never seen before.  Planes taking off and landing all the time, the noise frightful.  Sorry for the people who live along here, where it was once so quiet.

Cox-Green, the railway bridge, with the familiar expresses rushing down to the west, the houses with bright red roofs and Boyne Hill Church beyond.  Past the wood-yard, across King’s Grove, through the passage under the little railway bridge, feet echoing as they did 25 years ago when Maitland and I used to ride scooters down here.

Went to “Loxley”, rang the bell.  Aunt came to the door – “Well! Boy!  Come on in do,” just as she always did and I knew she would.  She has not changed and does not look a day older.  She spoke of Mother – “poor dear old Dot, I do miss her”.  

Jocelyn came in, quite unchanged, with that curious little girl’s voice, sounding so immature, yet she is now about 28.  She is now really quite good looking, but never pretty and still talks and acts as she did 10 years ago.

We had tea in the old warm kitchen, the big clock from Colchester still ticking on the wall.

About 7 o’clock, as we were talking family chatter in front of the fire, the sirens sounded.  All my old sensations came back, and I could do nothing but say, as steadily as I could, “Well, I’ll just take a look round outside, and let you know if there’s anything about.”

Surprised to find that the street lamps were alight and remained alight during the alarm.  Stars glittered.  It was cold.  Walked down Kings Grove, to the house where they used to live, where I played in the garden as a little child.  A fighter flew over, green and red lights.  What could be more strange than to stand shivering on this hill, where I used to play a quarter of a century ago, waiting to see if some extraordinary projectile should come whizzing out of the east.  No nightmare that I had 25 years ago ever showed me this. Suddenly noticed a light travelling high towards the west, a long way south.  The searchlights waved vaguely towards it, but could not hear any motor, because of the noise of 2 trains on the mainline.  It disappeared and I could not tell whether it was a bomb or a ‘plane.  There were two or three big yellow flashes towards London, but no sound.  All-Clear did not come for at least 25 mins, and I waited in the road until it did.

Aunt said that a diver had fallen in Norfolk Road, not much serious damage, only windows, slates, etc.  During June and July, Aunt and Jocelyn slept downstairs, as so many divers fell in the district, but the all missed the town.  A lot of damage was done at Windsor and Staines.  Lately, since the divers have come in over Essex, there have been hardly any alarms, though one or two have reached the Aylesbury district.

Saw Uncle, who was in bed, and looked very queer, so pale and wizened.  Left at 10.30, Aunt urging me to come again.

Back to Shurlock Row soon after 11.  Saw several “Specials”, and had to creep past them quietly as no rear light.  Can't think why these men don't go to bed.  The sound of singing and shouting in the camp in the Manor Drive.

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