10th December 1944
Woke very early, and was given a can of hot water. Got down at 8, to find a cold bright morning, the crescent moon still showing, the street lamps alight, and great sheets of crimson cirrus cloud in the east, where the sun struggled up.
Caught the 8.50 to Ipswich, jogging slowly along by Six Mile Bottom, across the Devil’s Dyke, to
Newmarket, with its rows
of railway horseboxes, and so to Bury.
Should always have liked to have had the Museum there. Then on to Stowmarket, Haughley and Ipswich. Big crowd
there, but only 18 minutes to wait for the Colchester
Lunched on sandwiches and soup at the Milk Bar in
St John’s Street,
then went to Holly Trees to wash and shave.
Saw Poulter and told him all. He was
quite shaken - Hull will
wreck the Museum, Poulter will retire in 1946, and what happens
then? But then he said it was useless – Councillor Sam Blomfield was
terrified of “the little man’s shattering rages”, and would not even mention my
return to him. Then why the hell, I ask, did Sam
make use of me during these last 4 years, often to my very great
inconvenience? “Sam’s that sort” he
said, “He’ll use you to the last minute, but he won’t fight Hull for you.”
We sat and gloomed in the flat this dull December afternoon, with occasional explosions far away, and the old man said these words, which have so often been said in one form or another by people who have given years of their lives for the benefit of Colchester: “I wish I’d never come here. It was a mistake ever to leave the North.”
He said that if I go, he will not stay beyond his time, and that he was only keeping Holly Trees for me to come back to.
Feeling of great sadness. Rain began to fall, heavily. Went across to Winnie’s and had sausages for tea. Terrible gale sprang up, almost due South, so was blown out to Boxted in record time, amidst sheets of rain. Suddenly, just at the corner of
heard sirens sounding an “all clear”.
Felt terrified, as having heard no alarm, I wondered if I had had
another “black-out” and missed it altogether, but before the “All-clear” had
died away the aerodrome sirens gave an alarm, about a minute later, Colchester
began an alarm as well. Heavy rain still
falling, but felt I must stay out at any rate for a time, to see what on earth
could happen on such a night. Set off
round by the Queen’s and Holly Lodge, right past the Observer Post (just a glimpse of a
helmeted head above the parapet) to Boxted village. Gunfire to the South, probably at Bradwell,
and a few flashes through the rain. Two
‘divers’ could be heard very faintly, then, just by Boxted Hall turning,
another sounded much closer, and cut out.
Very alarming not having any idea how far it might drift in such a wind,
but nothing whatever happened, and it must have been blown far away perhaps to
fall quite silently on some village or farmhouse.
Went down by Boxted Mill, and decided to call on the Rushburys, for want of anything else. Don't know who is at Higham at the moment. The rain stopped, and the “all clear” rang out far and near us. I went by the gates of Thorington Hall – where, I wonder, are the Penroses at this very moment? 4,000 miles away, safe in another world.
Henry Rushbury was at home, as well as “Birdie” and little Janet who was busy designing the most delightful Christmas cards. Henry Rushbury had just come back from the North, and we spent a pleasant hour talking about
and . Told him I had hoped to have gone to the Kirk
Collection at Art Galleries York,
had it not been for the war. Left them
at 10 o’clock, stars now glittering. No
aircraft about. Boxted at 10.30. Miss Bentley very glad to see me. Told her there might be a chance of my going
to Wisbech. She said that on Friday
night a rocket fell near Layer Breton, with a tremendous explosion, and that on
either Thursday or Friday a ‘diver’ fell at Mersea, doing a lot of damage,
broken windows and so forth.
Bed at 11.30, very tired, and hopeful of a quiet night. Terribly anxious about Wisbech.