4th January 1945

Tremendous upheaval during the night.  About 1am awakened by kicking of doors, shouting, and continual ringing of the back-door bell.  Jumped up, thinking that at least the place was on fire.  Then heard American voices, followed by a terrific assault on the back door, just below my window.  Apparently these two had been out with girls, and had only just arrived back.  The noise became worse, and I heard people stirring in other rooms all along the corridor, but nobody went downstairs.  At last their footsteps went away down the yard, and I thought they had given up, but no, they had only gone round to the front to begin another assault there. 

All this must have gone on for at least half an hour, but silence came at last.  Tried to doze off, but could not, so lay and read Cobbett, (a lovely copy from the Museum's Townsend Library), and ate some cheese.  Just as I was falling into a doze, about 2, damn me if they didn't come back and start all over again.  I was contemplating some really drastic action when I heard Boots go down and let them in.  Peace.

This morning clear blue sky, bitterly cold N.W. wind, freezing hard.  Great committee meeting in the Coffee Room at breakfast about the disturbance in the night. Learing speculations on the part of commercials as to how one occupies oneself in Wisbech until one o’clock in the morning.  Mrs Smith reported back door cracked, front door covered with boot marks.

So much excitement about this that nobody mentioned flying-bombs, but heard two little girls skipping along to school shouting “Doodle-bugs!  Doodle-bugs!”  That the New England name for a lady-bird should be given to a flying bomb is a typical English inanity.

Received membership from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings today, as I am now joining at Sisson’s suggestion.  Have to sign an impressive manifesto to the effect that I disapprove of all restoration work done on ancient buildings.  Do I?

This afternoon in the Library, sorting prints and drawings.  There seem to be thousands of them, all tied up in different parcels.  About 5 it began to snow.

New “commercial” in at dinner tonight, talking about the flying bombs in the north.  Mentioned the one which fell at Didsbury, which apparently killed nobody, and said there was another not far from Nottingham as well as Sheffield, and that there were “rare-to-dos” as the warnings were all very late and that practically all the Civil Defence people have gone from those districts.  This man who was speaking lives near Stockport.  He did not seem to be very impressed with the diver raid, and had a good deal more to say about the earthquake which followed a few days later.  At Sheffield the whole city shook, and there was a great roaring sound.  Many people though that a new bomb had fallen.

A lot of people are very amused at the idea of flying bombs in the Midlands, as they think it only right that the people up there shall get a taste.  To me it is most depressing to think that these wretched things must have fallen within 40 miles of the Welsh border, not much more than 50 miles from Llangollen.  If I go to stay at Ty’n-y-Wenn again I shall be looking up the valley and listening for the thump of a diver, instead of relaxing into deep sleep.  To think too that never again a blissful weekend at Alderley Edge, when nothing but the wind out of Wales would come to rattle the windows.

Obviously this business was merely an experiment, and God knows what may be expected before the year is out.  What can possibly be the end of it all?  Where must we go?  Lleyn?  Wester Ross?  Hebrides?  Man?

Heard people saying that the diver which was seen last night fell some four miles beyond Peterborough, on the Oundle Road.  Wonder if it was intended for Peterborough or whether it was an accident.  What frightful surprises there are in store for people in these Midland towns.  After all, Northampton is only 40 miles beyond Peterborough.  

Back to the Museum at 6.30, snow falling heavily, the flakes glittering in the light of the lamp at the corner of the square.  Wrote letters, and wondered if there would be an attack in the snow, but nothing happened.  Called at Mrs Shepherd’s, 3 The Crescent, almost opposite the Museum, to see if I could get permanent rooms there, and succeeded.  She is to charge £2-2-0 a week, with meals, as against £3-17-0 at the White Lion.  Got a nice little room, 3 floors up.  Felt a little nervous about raids, but can always make the excuse to go down to see to the Museum.  It is a charming little house from the outside, Regency, about 1810.

As I went back to the hotel at 9.30 the snow was still falling, nearly 2” deep.  Moon rises at half past eleven, so I think we are safe for tonight.

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