EJ Rudsdale on Twitter from 3 September 2019

30th April 1945

During the night, dreamt of trees covered with snow, and that I was standing on a leaded roof, looking at the scene.  Amazed to wake up and find that there was snow, falling thick and heavy, driven by a strong N.W. wind, a most extraordinary sight.  What could be the meaning of the dream?  Could I in some way have been “projected” onto the roof during the night?

Had a hurried breakfast arranged to send cycle off by train, and caught bus to Colchester.  Snow was still falling fast, and people in Dedham Street battled against the blizzard.  Got to Colchester at 9, still snowing.  Went straight home – Father, taking a look at the weather, refused to get up, but Miss Payne lit the fire and he did.

Left at 10.30, and went up the road to the War Agricultural Committee office.  Maidstone very pleased to see me, and soon had me hard at it settling queries of one sort or another.  The old place is quite changed now that Captain Folkard is no longer there.  Strange to think that A G Wright lived in this house.

Had lunch with Diana then to the Library to see “Essex Review” back volumes and to the Holly Trees.  Poulter still on the theme: “It’s a pity you ever left – what a fool you were!”

Sun came out at lunch time, and the snow vanished as mysteriously as it came.  Looked in at the theatre to see Di again, had tea with her and caught 5.25.  A huge ambulance train was in the bay at the back of the up platform, the upside approach blocked by police, with buses, ambulances and lorries standing about.  This is the only ambulance train I have seen during this war, but I can remember them arriving at St. Botolph’s Station more than 25 years ago, and the wounded men, often caked in Flanders mud, going up to the hospitals in open private cars, amidst the cheers of the large crowds which always used to gather.
Snowball was on the train as far as Ipswich.  A good many Americans got on at Bury.  March at 8.30, and at last Wisbech at quarter to 10.

29th April 1945

Cold, but sunny.  A late breakfast while Dedham took itself to church.  Left at 12, had a cup of tea and a sandwich at Gunhill Café and went slowly to Boxted.  Called on the Roses’, who seemed glad to see me.  Stayed to tea, and then took the old track over the watermeadows to Higham, in the hope that Jacquie might be at the cottage, but alas she was not.  They have moved back to either Portsmouth or Southampton.
Back to Dedham, and spent a delightful evening in talk and idle chatter – idle, but very pleasant.

28th April 1945

Up early, fine and cold, and got into Colchester by 9.30.  Went straight to 66 Winnock Road, and found Father very well.  Stayed over an hour – then went to Holly Trees and saw Poulter, who had no particular news.  Went on to Essex County Standard office, saw dear Mary Ralling and had a talk with Hervey Benham.  Lunch at Last’s with Diana.  Home again in the afternoon and stayed there to tea.  The old man in great form.
Left at 7, and cycled out to Dedham,  Long talk with Marjorie Sisson about Bourne Mill.  Hard to saw what can be done.

27th April 1945

Fine but cold.  Left on 11.10 for Cambridge.  Went to the Archaeology Museum, where all is still in confusion.  Went to the Mill Lane rooms to hear Sir Cyril Fox talk on the wonderful finds in Llyn Cenig, Yuys Fon, which he did very well indeed.  The amount of material recovered is amazing, and the condition of the iron work is so good that it is almost impossible to realise its true age.  Afterwards had the chance to talk to him for a few minutes about the slave chains in the Mithraeum, of which he had no note or record.  He seemed very well and full of energy.  Did not like to ask after Iorwerth Peate, in view of what had happened at Am. Gen. in these recent years.  Dr Iorwerth Peate, a Curator at the National Museum of Wales had been dismissed from his post by Sir Cyril Fox for registering as a conscientious objector but was reinstated by the Museum's Board of Governors.
Left Cambridge on the 5.12, got to Colchester just after 7.30.  Cycled out by way of Boxted to Dedham.  Great activity on the aerodrome.  Full moon tonight.  Sisson made me very welcome, had supper and went to bed at 11, after the most delightful chatter.

26th April 1945

Fine and cool.  Spent all day in the Library.  Edwards in for an hour this afternoon.  At 5, saw four undertaker’s men taking a coffin into the church through the West door.

In the town today saw Mrs Jewson walking with her husband, now back from the German prison camp.

Churchill firmly announces the last of the rockets.  Hope he is right for once. 
Phoned to Sissons' this evening, and arranged to go there tomorrow night.

25th April 1945

Beautiful day, slight frost early.  Confused tormenting dreams.  Spent morning in the Library, and the nprepared draft of report for the Annual Meeting next month.  This afternoon Mrs Munday sent £3.3 for Edwards’ testimonial, bringing total to just over £20 – not quite £1 for each year he has been here!!

This evening went to the sewer excavation in the Vicarage paddock.  At the W. end there is a burst layer, with bricks, stoneware sherds, oysters, and fragments of stone, apparently late 17th century.

The foreman of the job told me that he was in the Suffolks at Meanee Barracks in 1904, and remembered the murder of Maude Lewis.  He also remembered the great “invasion” manoeuvres, and saw von Kluck and his staff there.  He sleeps in the wooden hut on the site, because beds are impossible to find in Wisbech.  His wife had been bombed and buried in London, and he had had “three fine sons” killed in the war.  In the air-raid a picture of Jesus was unharmed.  This impressed him enormously.

Very bad ‘plane crash near Bury St Edmund’s yesterday morning.  Glorious moon tonight.
This evening a wonderful Hogarthian scene in Norfolk Street – a girl of about 15, half undressed, was standing in a doorway screaming filthy obscenities at two Yankees who were retreating hurriedly, while an elder sister tried to pull her back.

24th April 1945

Cold but fine.  A little frost last night, and the fruit people are beginning to worry.  The blossom is so early this year that late frosts will be very bad.  Worked hard in the Library all day, made myself feel quite ill.  Wrote to Father.  Endless trouble all day with children coming into the Museum.  Old Edwards called looking very bad.

This evening went to cinema and saw “Horse Sense”, very well done and most enjoyable.  Talking to Miss Brewer very late, which I much enjoy, but Bennison sat us out.

Heard a heavy distant explosion as I came home at 10 o’clock. 

23rd April 1945

Cold but sunny.  ‘Planes flying low over the town all day, making a hideous noise.  Had a request from the Librarian of Bedford College for permission to study the MSS in the Town Library.  Got them out and checked them.  They are all in very bad condition, and need a lot of repair.  Worked in the Library all the afternoon and evening, checked and listed the Dickens’ first editions, and discovered Moore’s “Life of Byron” with an inscription from Moore to Sam Rogers, inside which is a copy of the pamphlet written by Lady Noel Byron in reply, with her autograph.  Must tell Margaret Sherry.  Worked until 9.30.

On Saturday afternoon some Coastal Command aircraft, quite by accident, intercepted 18 German torpedo bombers 150 miles off the Scots coast, and brought down 9.

22nd April 1945

Cold and blustery.  Cycled to Elm this afternoon.  Went to tea at the “Limes”, met a young man named Henderson, a musician.  Cycled home by the light of a cold brilliant moon.

21st April 1945

Cold and blustery.  Heard ‘planes going out early and a lot more after breakfast.  

Essex County Standard came by the second post, and has reports of two cases of raids on bogus “clubs” to stop illicit drinking.  In one case the “stoolpigeon” was an American army captain, who went in with two police-women.  This is quite a new departure in dirty tricks.

At lunch-time young Mrs. Jewson called at the Swifts’, and said she was expecting to hear any moment that her husband had been flown home from Germany.

20th April 1945

The weather still fine, hot and summery, a wonderful spring.  A little cloud came up this afternoon.  

All black-out restrictions are to be lifted next week, except for a 10 mile belt round the coast, where lights might help submarines to take a bearing or to shell a town.  (There is a rumour going round that a sub: shelled Liverpool recently).  In “event of a raid” lights are to be extinguished, but as gas-lamps can't be turned off, (as we know full well here after last month’s experience) there seems little point in such an order.

Cooler towards the evening and a heavy shower at 7, then about 10.30 a tremendous thunderstorm for an hour and a half.  Spent the time talking to Dorothy Brewer about my “Fox One” manuscript.  She seemed to like it and thought it had a good chance for publication.

19th April 1945

Fine and warm.   Very odd thing – an auction sale in the Market Place of the furniture and fittings from Jackson’s old office.  Amongst them were sold several dozen deed-boxes, with the names of old Fen families and estates painted on them.  One had belonged to the Revd. Caliphronas of West Walton, the Greek who was a friend of Chauncey Hare Townshend, and another had the name of Ald. Girling’s father.  There is quite a lot of chatter about this, as it was felt to be rather indecent to expose private boxes, even through empty, to a public sale.  People have of course no idea of the way in which the firm had treated the contents of those boxes.

Spent most of the day sorting and listing the MSS and other material which we recovered on Monday.

18th April 1945

Yet another fine hot day.  Press hard put to find a reason for the postponement of Churchill’s “end of the war”.  It seems (reading between the lines) that two or three factors have been overlooked, viz:
1)                  The Germans
2)                  The Americans
3)                  The Russians

All the papers make a great deal about the air manoeuvres over London last night, or rather couple of nights.  First the Americans spent several hours flying bombers over the city, very low, then the RAF came over “in force”, dropping flares.  Apparently everybody was much alarmed, and there have been some curious references to the affairs in Parliament.  This morning, between 11 and 12, about a hundred Forts and Liberators circled at 4000 feet or so, S.W. of the town.  Are these “demonstrations”?  If so, whom are they directed against?

17th April 1945

Glorious cloudless day, very hot.  Penny came up from the Control Room and said he had “found” one of our tables in the ARP depôt in Barton Road – the County people have made very free with anybody’s property which they wanted.

Mrs. Munday called, and left her scrap books for me to see.  Spoke of knowing Col. Manson of Walpole St Peter, who is said to own descendants of the Shales.

Writing nearly all day.  Little Miss Torey came in, and I showed her the Dickens autographs, which she enjoyed.  Saw Woodgate, who emphasised the need for absolute secrecy in the matter of the Jackson Diary and other MSS.  Regret that I mentioned the matter to Curtis Edwards, who came in this morning and was most anxious to know where I had been all yesterday.

The six o’clock news announced that Churchill had “postponed” his end-of-the-war statement for Thursday.  No reasons given, but this morning’s papers say that Eisenhower has made a statement that he will say when the war ceases, and nobody else.  Great to-do in Parliament today because MacIntyre, the new Scottish Nationalist member refused sponsors when he entered the House, and the Speaker, (most enthusiastically backed by Churchill) refused to allow him to take his seat.  Without doubt Nationalism in Scotland and Wales is going to be a force to reckon with.  Interesting to see results of the Caernarvon election on Thursday week.

Wrote to Ann tonight, and arranged to go to Inverness on 12 May.  How I am to afford all this I have no idea.

Cycled to Elm in the cool of the evening, and talked to Mrs. Coulter and her sister-in-law for an hour or so.  Ought to have worked.  More air manoeuvres tonight, the sky a mass of search-lights, with a pale watery crescent moon, and red and yellow flares falling.

16th April 1945

Glorious hot sunny day.  GMG Woodgate came very early, and asked me to go at once with him to Friends’ junk yard.  It seems that the old firm of solicitors, Donald Jackson & Jackson, whose office for more than a century has been in Hill Street, have suddenly been evicted by the Town Council to provide room for the Food Office.  Old Donald Jackson is over 80, and takes no active part in the firm, so his chief clerk calmly sent the whole of the contents of the private boxes to the waste paper merchants.  Quite by chance Woodgate met him in the street and learnt what had happened.  He then arranged with Friend that we should go round there today and see if anything could be saved.  The first thing noticeable in the junkyard is a huge stack of iron railings, many of them 18th century, from houses on the Brinks, which were stolen from the owners 3 or 4 years ago, and then never used.

We spent the whole day in the wastepaper store, emptying and sorting some 40 sacks of stuff from Jackman’s Office.  What a scandal that a lawyer, may, with impunity, destroy material of this kind – court rolls back to Edward VI, rentals, releases, terriers, estate maps.  Most of these relate to West Walton and the Walpoles.  Everything was mixed with modern letters, bank books, old cheque-books, law journals, old newspapers, in filth and confusion.  Quite late in the afternoon I discovered what seemed to be the best find of the day – the diary of the Revd. Jeremiah Jackson, Master of the Grammar School, Vicar of Elm, President of the Museum, covering the period 1812 to within a few days of his death in 1857.  It is contained in 63 little notebooks, each with a synopsis of the contents inside the cover.  He refers to many public events – Peace Celebrations of 1814 and 1815, the Coronations, the new railway, races at Peterborough.  Interesting to note that he expresses the hope that Napoleon will be tried by a military commission and shot.  In 1815 he records with some surprise that the morris-dancers have appeared at Guylin.  He writes too of his work as Grammar-School master, and the dirtiness of the boys.  This very fascinating diary does not begin until he was 38, when he considered the best part of his life was already over, and continues to within a few days of his death at 83 in 1857.  I hastily removed all these books to Clarkson Avenue for careful study.

Had a bath as soon as I could, being very filthy from this work.

15th April 1945

Glorious warm day.  Had determined to write to Ann, when Jessie Swift came in and asked Dorothy Brewer and myself to go to a picnic at Walton Dam.  The orchards at Walsoken were a mass of blossom.  Dorothy Brewer and I went on ahead along the Sea Bank to Walpole, which she had never seen.  Took a much greater interest in buildings in the light of what O’Neil had told me yesterday.  Noticed the “tumbled” gable a very common feature.

A large brick tower-mill stands near the Seabank and by Walpole Church are two high mounds, most curious, cannot see what they are.  The rectory is a fine house of ancient beautifully weathered brick.  As we went into the churchyard an Italian prisoner came out, saying “good afternoon” very cheerfully.  Walked slowly round the outside by the passage which runs under the chancel, paved with slabs and cobbles, and covered by vaulting with finely moulded bosses and corbels.  In the east wall of the passage there are still two or three iron rings to which horses are tethered, and it was here, one Sunday, more than 150 years ago, that the great Shales was foaled to the sound of the prayers and singing overhead.  Can his owner have had any idea that the wet smelly little thing laying on the cobbles would achieve such fame that years later, when old and stiff, men would raise their hats to him in Norwich market? Felt strongly that some memorial to the “wonder horse” ought to be placed in this passage.

We saw the figure of Hickathrift on the N. wall of the chancel, and then went into Walpole Church, which has a beauty quite unsurpassed.  The absence of coloured glass (except in the E. window) fills the great arcades with cool, clear light, and the building has a wonderful feeling of repose and quiet silence.  The passage under the chancel makes it necessary to elevate the altar about 6 feet, so that it is approached by a flight of steps which are covered with a rich blue carpet, the altar itself bearing a pair of tall candlesticks and a crucifix.  The choir is lined with richly carved stalls and stone sedilla behind them, as if it were some conventual church rather than that of a small simple parish in the Fens.  There are no less than 7 beautiful brass chandeliers, 6 small ones in the choir and one large one just in front of the chancel arch.  The pulpit, most of the pews, and the great arched screen at the W. end are all of the early 17th century, and are in beautiful preservation.  Near the porch is one of those curious little sentry-boxes, used by the parson when taking a funeral service in wet weather.  Went up into the ringers’ gallery in the tower, and looked down the glorious vista of the nave, with the sun streaming in through the windows.  The space between the tower and the screen is as large as the whole of any normal church, with a wooden screen in one corner serving as a vestry.  The church is a national monument.

In the graveyard are several 17th century stones.

We then had to hurry back to Walton Dam for the picnic, which was really rather fun.  Little Mrs. Jewson was there, whose husband was probably released from a prison near Brunswick yesterday.  Her little boy was with her, aged 6, who was 3 when he last saw his father.  He borrowed my glasses, to look at some “forts” coming in from the sea, crying “That’s a German!  That’s a German!  Bang! Bang! Bang!” with greatest enjoyment.  Belinda looked on with astonishment.

Glorious evening and a golden sunset when we all cycled back to Wisbech, a crescent moon hanging in a deep blue sky.

Most of the papers say that Churchill will make “an announcement of utmost importance” on Thursday if not before.  One succulent piece of news, to delight the British as they eat their Sunday dinners, is that old von Mackensen has been “captured” by the Yankees.  What a triumph!  He is well over 96, and long since retired from the Army, but the Yankees are photographed hauling the old fellow from his home, and taking him away in a car.  However wicked an old brute he may have been, one would have wished him to be spared this last indignity.  What an end of the young officer who galloped through France in 1870.

Some of the papers now imply that we are in danger from radio-controlled ‘planes filled with explosives, some of which have already been used on the Continent.

14th April 1945

O’Neil spent a pretty terrible night at the White Lion, which was the only place where he could get a bed.  The Rose & Crown refuse to take any visitors unless they are a) American, b) crooks, or c) friends of the management.

Spent the whole morning with O’Neil, who then went back to London.  Letter from dear Ann, who is ill again with rheumatism.  Must try to go to see her, but have no money or time for such a trip. 

This afternoon went to the Wisbech Gymkhana, held in the field behind Bank House, “by kind permission of the Hon. Alexadrina Peckover” as the posters announced.  Am quite sure the dear old lady has not the least idea what goes on at these gymkhanas (whatever the plural may be).  Never have I seen such a mob of horse-thieves, gangsters and general riff-raff.  There were three bookmakers (professionals) with their stands, all quite illegal of course, but ignored by the police who were on duty on the ground.  There seemed something quite disgusting in the sight of little boys and girls of not more than 10 or 12 years old betting in 10/- notes with these “bookies”.  The real point of the afternoon was the “flapping” races.  It was for all the world like a Rowlandson picture, such a mob of odd-sized, odd shaped, odd-coloured horses, ridden by as queer a crowd of jockeys as one would wish to see – youths with long hair, little girls, coarse blousy women.  The main race included every type of horse from a 12 hh pony to a second hand race-horse, with about 25 entries in all.  Some were handicapped to such an extent that the runners were placed all the way round the course.  There were about 4 laps, and by a miracle nobody was killed, but two of the smaller ponies came down heavily.

There were two or three rather good looking turnouts on the ground, the best being the thickset black cob belonging to the dealers in the Horse Fair.  On the whole the horses were a very poor lot.

Rain all the evening, cold and windy.  Sat up until 11, reading, writing and talking the most amusing nonsense with Dorothy Brewer.

13th April 1945

Brilliant fine warm day.  No talk anywhere about President’s Rooseveldt's death yesterday – apparently not worthy of a moment’s consideration.  O’Neil [from the Ministry of Works] came today, an inspection, and said he had travelled from Yarmouth with three or four U.S. soldiers in the carriage, but Rooseveldt was not even mentioned.  Yet we cannot say what the outcome of this may be.  The “Daily Express” has the somewhat misleading headlines – PRESIDENT ROOSEVELDT DEAD.  ROAD TO BERLIN OPEN.  There is a very strong hint that Churchill will announce the “end” of the war next Thursday, and in the House yesterday an odious comparison was made with a similar announcement about the South African War, after which it continued for another 2 years.

Curtis Edwards in again for an hour, looking very ill.  Met Mrs. Saltmarsh yesterday, and she agreed that he is really very ill, but nothing can be done.

Met O’Neil at 1.30, and had lunch with him.  Went all over the town with him, showed him everything.  Felt dead tired.  Had tea, then this evening took him to Leverington – walking all the way because he cannot ride a cycle.  Showed him Rabbit Hill, Leverington Church, Roman Bank, and called at the Hall, where Mrs. Munday made us very welcome.  Back to the church with Mrs. M. and went up the tower.  Walked back to Wisbech in the dusk, talking about Mortimer Wheeler, now a General, and Ward Perkins and Stuart Piggott, now both Lt. Cols.  O’Neil had been doing some work on air-photos after raids, and said that the efficiency of US and British raids was often very poor.  More often than not they hit the wrong places.  In a recent “special” attack on the Hague, to destroy the Gestapo HQ, a school was hit by mistake and utterly destroyed.  He has been doing a lot of research among the ruins of Yarmouth, with most interesting results.  Says the Rows are almost entirely destroyed and he fears the Borough Engineer will wipe out all that remain.

Bed at 10.30, very tired.  Chestnut tree blooming at Leverington.

12th April 1945

There was rain all last night, and this morning everything was wonderfully green and sweet.  Fine and warm all day.  Had a letter from Father, 3 and a half pages, dear old man.  Answered at once.  Also had a letter from Poulter, asking my advice as to whether he should go to Winchester, which he has again been offered.  If he does leave it would really be the end of the Colchester Museum, as he is the last link with the saner, happier times.  Yet – should he be expected to stay there, enduring the insults and bad manners of Hull.  Must think this out.

“Colchester Gazette” came, from which we learn that old Dr Campbell of Layer Marney Towers is dead.

Had the windows cleaned, for the first time for a year.

Tonight took Jessie Swift to the orchestral concert in the Queen’s School.  It was really very good indeed.  Very funny incident – the programme included “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik”, which by what I imagined to be a printer’s error was written “Keine”.  To my delight, when the item was announced, the conductor actually read it out as “Keine”!

Walked home in a pleasant warm evening, under the stars.  Had a cup of coffee at the Swifts and then to bed.

11th April 1945

Very fine and warm all day.  Many ‘planes about.  This evening went down to Elm, and called at the Coulsons’.  Bought two tickets for a concert tomorrow night.  Coming back after a shower of rain, saw there was a big night exercise going on – at least 50 searchlights, and many aircraft flying about in every direction.  Could hear men’s voices from far away over the fields, and the noise of the ‘planes above.

10th April 1945

Cold this morning and had the office fire on, but fine later.  Old Edwards came at 10.30 and stayed until nearly 12.  Got busy afterwards, when he had gone.  Worked in the Library and went back again this evening.  Feel I get nothing done at all.

9th April 1945

Fine, but very cold and a bit of a mist.  Got ready for the Committee meeting.  All the old fossils came trooping in, shivering and snuffling, poor Edwards looking like death itself.  Gardiner also looked very ill.  Rather a sticky meeting.  First of all they jibbed about the fiction books being given to the County Library, and some members suggested that I wanted to throw away “valuable books”, in any case they ought to be handed to the Grammar School.  Eventually they appointed a sub Committee to deal with the matter, consisting of Levers, old Wolton, and Curtis Edwards.

Next came my suggestions to alter the time of the Annual Meeting next month from 12 to 4.30.  Got support from Mrs Munday and Levers, but great protest from Girling, Wolton and Curtis Edwards, who said that such an alteration would be illegal, as the Trust Deed, dated 1869 specifically gives the time as 12 midday on the first Monday in May!  Wondered whether to ask if summer-time had been allowed for.

After the meeting Dr Bullmore called to see the new accessions, much regretting that he was too busy to come to the Committee.

Got a copy of Gardiner’s “History of Wisbech” from Bowers & Bowers today for 7/6.  Cheap.

Am becoming worried about money – the income tax is so heavy that I have little more than £3 a week to live on, and am rapidly spending the remainder of my savings.  Girling still owes me about £10 on the last quarter’s salary.

Went out to tea with little Miss Ellis.  Miss Brewer came back today, and sat talking this evening, when it was fine and sunny.  About 8 a great mass of bombers went out, and there was a heavy explosion in the distance, shaking the windows.  Probably one crashed over in Norfolk.  No more signs of the war ending, nothing in the papers but jeers and horrid gloatings over the destruction of Germany.  Silly arguments as to whether they can send the rockets from Norway or not.

Planes coming in about 10.30, and another tremendous explosion.  Alarmed this evening to find the door from the office to the Hall was sticking badly.  Hope there is further settlement.

Feel rather ill today, left side very painful. Really ought to see a doctor.

Looking through Archaeologia: Vol: 90 today, noticed Ward Perkins’ paper on the Iron Age hill-fort near Ightham, Kent, in which he kindly acknowledges my help with regard to Essex sites.  Can't remember the circumstances at all.

8th April 1945

Unpleasant dream in the early morning in which Joy Parrington, Molly Blomfield and myself were all being machine-gunned from the air, somewhere out in fields where there was no cover.  Still no further divers anywhere in the country.  Can this be the end?

Gorgeous day, spent the morning writing and got a good deal done.  People riding and driving ponies and horses along Clarkson Avenue all the morning.

Very nice lunch, and while eating it listened to a programme on the radio from Caernarvonshire – not very good, but a delight to hear once again the lovely Welsh voices.  Mr Benison remarked “Curious how some people still speak with an accent, isn’t it?” blissfully unaware that his Middlesborough background showed every time he opened his mouth.

Writing letters, then to post.  Came back by Queen’s Road, and outside the school saw two Army staff cars, an army lorry and two or three civilian cars standing outside.  Wonder what’s up. 

Had a look round the old cemetery at the North End.  The chapel was built in 1848, and the gravestones begin about the same time.  The break in tradition compared with the 18th and early 19th century stones in the churchyards is very striking.  Most of the designs here are absolutely hideous, with bad vulgar lettering, but we must get out a corpus of them, as they are decaying fast.  One grave has a most peculiar cast-iron canopy over it, apparently derived from the mediaeval iron “herse”, now apparently falling into powdered rust.  On one stone noticed the name “Kerhannappugh (Kate) Ollard”.  There are several odd names in the town – Favarque, T. Tong, and a butcher called Goodby.  There used to be a butcher called Hardmeat!!

This evening to the Levers’ in Sandringham Avenue.  Spent a very pleasant evening, talking about the museum, school work and so forth.  Miss Quayle called to say goodbye, as she is leaving the town on Tuesday.  We talked about Wisbech scandal with great enjoyment.  It seems that Ollard, as ARP Controller, frequently comes on duty drunk, and bringing with him a loaded revolver.  He had a theory that if bombs fall in Wisbech, the populace would mob the Report Centre, and he proposed to defend the place to the end.  On one occasion he made a most offensive speech to the ladies who voluntarily serve at the Report Centre, ending with “The trouble with you women is you want a man!”

Came away at 10.30, into brilliant starlight, with a great mass of searchlights to the north, lighting up a little fluttering silver ‘plane.  Apparently another night exercise was on.  

Saw Miss Quayle home to Norwich Road, and then back to my own room, writing until past midnight.  Back very painful today.

7th April 1945

Cold and cloudy.  Town very full as usual, and quite a lot of people in the Museum.  Walked over to the Market.  Several ponies and horses, and a very smart turnout-tubcart, pony and new set of brown harness.  Called in at a shop and met little Miss Ellis the teacher.  Asked her to tea on Monday.

This evening in office until 8, getting ready for the meeting on Monday, then to cinema to see Bette Davis in “Old Acquaintance”, very well done indeed.  Much enjoyed it.  Dark and cold tonight, with much cloud.

6th April 1945

Heavy explosion about 2am, when a lot of ‘planes were going over.  Busy day, much delayed by Curtis Edwards, who stayed nearly 2 hours.  This afternoon paid some money over to Girling, who insisted on opening and counting all the 5/- copper bags, in spite of my having signed them.

Have had no letter from Colchester, but the Colchester Gazette came today.  Nothing much in it.

Very cold all day, and began to rain at teatime.  No Arts Club tonight, but at the next meeting there will be an awful “inquest” on the absurd dance which the Club held recently.  It was a complete failure, only about 40 people went.

Spent the evening at the Swifts’, bitterly regretting the waste of time, but much enjoying myself.

News continues of the allies still advancing, but it seems that no surrender is possible – Churchill has seen to that.  We hear that Queen Victoria’s great-grand-daughter has been turned out of her castle, Schloss Norder Kirchen, by the U.S. forces, and the Count-Bishop of Munster has deplored the obstruction of his palace and cathedral.  On this side, the Bishop of Gloucester has protested against the present dreadful gloating over the destruction of Germany and its art treasures, but what is his voice among so many?

5th April 1945

This morning listing Warby’s pottery, and this afternoon reading Ellis’s remarkable “Letters” published in 1824.  Very interesting.  Siege letter, signed by Capall and Lucas, not apparently recognised by Ellis as being of 1648, as it is undated.

Tonight went down to the ARP Control Room to hear the radio.  The Deputy Controller, Muntzer, came in, and looked rather annoyed at finding me there.  He hinted that the Regional Office might want to charge us for all the work they had done on the building!

Back to Clarkson Ave. and went to bed at 11.30.

3rd April 1945

Fine, but a cold biting wind.  Very busy all day.  Started a catalogue of Warby’s pottery, as a beginning to cataloguing all the Romano-British pottery in the Museum.

Another letter from Ann today, only posted in Inverness yesterday morning.  Says she feels better and is back at work.

Poor old Edwards in again, looking quite dreadful.  When he stands he has great difficulty not to fall over.  The result of the appeal for his testimonial is very disappointing – only 5 members out of the 20 on the Committee has replied, and the money so far amounts to about £15, of which £10 comes from Miss Peckover, and £3 from Southwell.  They should have got at least £50.

This evening went to see old Pearson to talk over the suggestion that the time of the Annual Meeting should be changed.  It is obviously absurd to maintain this custom of having it at 12 midday, when nobody can come.  I suggested 4.30 or 5, and that tea should be served.  He more or less agreed, but said we shall never move the Committee.  However, we will try on Monday.  Also talked of my idea to get another Carnegie Grant for the Museum – perhaps £250?  Told him of the possibility of publishing an account of the Roman Fens.

Called at Mrs. Osborne’s on the way back – she has been very ill, but is better.  Brilliant starlight night – cold, and a lot of aircraft moving about.  Evening paper reports that there have been no rockets or ‘divers’ since Wednesday. Can this really be the end?

Bed at midnight.

2nd April 1945 - Easter Monday

Windy, but sunny.  Museum shut.  Went to the Office, wrote a letter to Penny of the ARP about the Museum furniture which they have, and suggested that we have a talk.  Went up to the North Brink to Mrs. Shucker’s, with a message from Charlotte Osborne about the Art Club dance.  Several ponies out, a trap or two, fields of blowing daffodils.

This afternoon went to Walton Dam with the Swifts’, the Osbornes’ and the Shuckers.  Did not enjoy myself, watching the silly ball games  Withdrew, lay on the river bank, and watched the trains go by on the far side.  Had a very nice tea, and back to Wisbech, past the sweetly smelling blossom of the plum orchards.  When we came out, there was a wedding at West Walton, and the bells were pealing merrily.

Went back to the Shuckers’, which was a mistake.  Mrs. S. brought out large quantities of strong drink.  Mrs. S. was working on the dance decorations, which I privately thought were terrible.  Light until half past nine.  Many ‘planes about tonight, and searchlights flickering up here and there.  The Germans are said to be pulling out of part of Holland, but the press reports are vague and contradictory.

1st April 1945 - Easter Sunday

Reading and writing all morning, then down to see Warby again.  Ponies being ridden and driven up and down Clarkson Avenue.

Packed all the complete plates and bowls, and listed coins from which there appears to be another Emneth hoard, found less than a quarter of a mile from that which we already have.  There are about 80 of them, the majority Postumus.  Query – could these hoards, which occur so frequently, have been left by people fleeing from Brancaster in the face of early Saxon Raids?

Called at Bullard’s to see more pottery, which Warby says he has, but he was not there.

Had tea at the Limes.  Some people there from Bury, talking about the recent machine-gunning.  ‘Divers’ are over the town quite frequently.  Left at quarter to 11.  A strong gale, driving thick clouds, and every prospect of a quiet night.