EJ Rudsdale on Twitter from 3 September 2019

31st December 1940

Poulter back from Scarborough today. Says there has been very little trouble there, and no damage at all. Seems to have spent a very pleasant week and to have enjoyed himself considerably.

Welcome to readers of Harry Lamin's Blog

I would just like to welcome followers of Harry Lamin's blog: WW1: Experiences of an English Soldier to E.J. Rudsdale's blog.

Bill Lamin, who compiled Harry Lamin's blog and produced the excellent book 'Letters from the Trenches', provided the inspiration for me to begin Eric's blog and to research and edit the book of his journals.

Bill has been very generous in providing advice and encouragement to me throughout this process and I am most grateful to him for his support.

I hope you will all enjoy reading about E.J. Rudsdale's experiences of life on the home front during the Second World War. CP

29th December 1940

Spent most of the day down at the mill, sawing and carting wood. Finally brought on heart pains, and stopped.

Down to the flat to tea. There was an alarm, so did not stop for supper.

The night of 29th-30th December 1940 witnessed one of the most destructive air raids of the London Blitz with many historic buildings and churches destroyed by fire. CP

28th December 1940

Maura Benham and her sister came to see me at the office this morning, looking very well. The raids do not appear to affect Maura in the least.

26th December 1940

Museums shut. Went down to Mill, cutting and carting wood. Made myself very tired. Called to see Hervey Benham. He seems very well, and not so lame as he was.

Heard rumours today that there is another invasion scare on, and that all schools have been warned, but I don't suppose there is anything in it.

23rd December 1940

Terribly cold day. Poulter went off to spend Christmas at Scarborough. I went up to [the Essex Agricultural Institute] at Writtle to see the Feeding Stuffs Officer, Knowles, about the chances of a job. Went by train and took my cycle with me. Knowles was very charming, and could offer me a senior clerk’s post in his department. The work did not sound very exciting, but it would be better than nothing. He told me there was no great hurry to decide, so I can let him know after Christmas.

Cycled back to Chelmsford, and found that the stories of bomb damage there yesterday are quite false, and are merely a further example of the lies which people love to spread in these days.

Came back on the 5.15. Trains late, both ways. Snow beginning tonight.

22nd December 1940

Lay late in bed. This afternoon drove over to Fingringhoe with Hampshire’s little grey pony. Very cold day. Saw Grubb, who seems to keep wonderfully cheerful in these times. Had tea there, in the same dirty old room, nothing altered. Her mother is still up at Severalls [Asylum], and keeps as well as can be expected. She is very old now.

Alarm about 6, and kept on all evening. Harding came in on duty tonight, and said he had heard bombs were dropped at Chelmsford yesterday, and a lot of damage done. Heard one lot of bombs tonight, somewhere in the distance, but not many planes came over.

21st December 1940

Wrote to Meg McDougall [Acting Curator at Inverness Museum], and sent off a few Christmas cards.

Bunston’s old delivery cart is out as usual, with Wick’s horse, although supplies of wines and spirits are very short indeed. The Post Office are not using any horse-drawn vans [for Christmas] this year.

17th December 1940

Museum Committee today. I arranged a special show of the dresses and costumes from Nayland.

Beautiful fine day. Not a raid all day.

Called at Rallings this evening, and had tea there. Cold tonight, and foggy, with the moon showing faintly through it. Excellent weather to keep raiders away.

Colchester Castle's Christmas Open Evening

Just to say thank you to everyone who attended Colchester Castle Museum's Christmas Open Evening last night. It was a pleasure to meet you and to talk about E.J. Rudsdale's Journals of Wartime Colchester. Thank you for your support for the book and my thanks to all the Museum staff for making me so welcome. Best wishes, Catherine Pearson

15th December 1940

Alarm in the early hours, but I was very tired and only heard the all-clear at about half-past two. Poor Mother and Father, how they hate these alarms in the middle of the night.

Cold and foggy this morning, but no more rain. Home to lunch. This afternoon to the mill, chopping and carting firewood. An alarm from 7.15 to 10.25pm. Few planes about, and distant gunfire to the south west, I suppose guns near Billericay. Occasionally one can see shells bursting in the sky in that direction, like a lot of matches being struck.

14th December 1940

Terrible weather. Rain began last night, and kept on all day, getting steadily worse. Managed to get a little hay up this afternoon. The costumes were sent over by the Nayland carrier, and I went round by the “Bull” yard to pick them up.

This evening determined to go over to Dedham, in spite of heavy rain, as I had previously arranged to do so. Alarm at 6, just before I left. Planes very low in the clouds, sounding very terrifying. No amount of bad weather seems to keep them away.

Sisson seemed rather unusually nervous tonight. Mrs. S. was playing with her puppets. Spent a most pleasant evening, and back at 11, the rain having stopped. The full moon came peeping through the clouds, and there was not a sound of a plane anywhere. Came back whistling and singing, so as to avoid being fired at by any sentries who might happen to be about.

13th December 1940

Short alarm tonight, from 7.45pm to 9.25pm. Sound of a few planes in the distance, but nothing else.

12th December 1940

Cycled over to Nayland this morning to see some costumes belonging to a lady living on the Wiston Road. There is a very nice lot of stuff, including a few which may be old theatrical costumes. The best is a child’s frock of red shot silk, period I should say about 1710-1720. There were also 5 or 6 men’s coats, 1780-1790, one being of the well-known “Directoire” pattern, and half a dozen very ornate waistcoats, late 18th century. Altogether a very nice lot, and well worth having.

Came back by way of Lt. Horkesley. The church chest has now been found, badly crushed, with all the Rate Books and a very fine 18th century service book in it. There are still two men working on the ruins, and practically the whole of the interior of the church has now been cleared.

11th December 1940

Went to the Hippodrome this afternoon at half past four, but had to come out for an alarm at a quarter to 6. Not very many planes came over, but there was no all-clear until nearly 2am. It is so strange to hear these beastly machines throbbing in from the sea, a few searchlights feebly wavering, but not the slightest opposition to them in any shape or form. They say the London barrage is much bigger than it was when I was there two months ago, but although between 200 and 300 planes come over at a time it is very rare for even one or two to be brought down.

10th December 1940

A whole day with no alarms at all. What a blessed relief. I get so tired of rushing back to the Castle at all hours. Rain on and off most of the day.

9th December 1940

Another alarm this morning at 12.30am lasting until 5am. Heavy rain most of the time. Old Taylor is away ill, so I had to stay awake the whole time. Was wakened again at 6.30 by explosions fairly close, but by the time I had got out there was nothing to be seen. After breakfast I heard that a plane had dropped a string of bombs near the Bergholt Road, some in a field opposite the Golf Course killing one of Young’s horses and slightly injuring two more. Immediately before this the same plane had let go a mass of incendiary bombs over the west end of the town, falling in Inglio Road, Beverley Road and Lexden Road.

There is no damage to be seen except a few charred patches on the roads and pavements. There was a small fire in the outbuildings of St Mary’s Terrace, but firemen from the station close by soon had this out. Most of the incendiaries were quite harmless. Some I saw seemed to be full of carbide.

Went home to tea. Mother had heard nothing of all this, and was disposed to be quite interested in it now that it is all over. She does not seem to be very well today.

8th December 1940

No alarms until 5 o’clock this evening. Lay in bed rather late, and had breakfast before I went home to bath and change. Then went down to Bourne Mill, saw wood, repaired fences. Old Bob is standing the winter very well, and the donkey is as fat as butter on practically nothing. Of course, the weather has so far been comparatively mild. We shall see if we have a hard time like last year after Christmas.

Went down to Rose’s to tea, but had to leave at 5 when there was an alarm. A few planes passed over. The all-clear came at half past 9, and as it was fairly early I went up to Seymour’s for a time, and had a very pleasant evening, quite like the old days. Several people there, including old Pepper [one of EJR's teachers at Colchester Royal Grammar School], who never changes.

Back to Castle at 11. Fine night. Some planes came over towards the W. soon after 11, and there were some distant explosions, but no alarm was sounded.

7th December 1940

Went down to Pulford’s this afternoon for a quarter ton of hay. No alarm all day, or this evening. So pleasant to have a day quite free of alarms.

6th December 1940

Short alarm this morning, but nothing at night. I had intended to go to the pictures again, to see the rest of last night’s film, but thought better of it.

5th December 1940

Decided to risk going to a cinema this evening, but had not been inside more than half an hour when there was an alarm. Went down to the Castle. Nothing happened, but a plane went over S. of the town, very low, and apparently only one engine working. Whether it was enemy or friendly I do not know.

4th December 1940

Alarm from 8.15 to 11.45. Heard a few distant explosions but nothing else.

3rd December 1940

Matheson, Secretary of the National Trust, came with Sisson today to inspect Bourne Mill. He seemed to me to be quite well satisfied, although the whole place is in a terrible condition. I do not think he realises how bad it is, and how much it is likely to cost to get the pond properly cleaned. He seemed a rather pleasant man, but inclined to be a little vague.

2nd December 1940

Quiet day. A big plane flew over at lunch time, but was apparently English. Maura came in, and I went to Horkesley with her sister and mother in their car, to see the ruins. We found a few more pieces of the figures, and brought them back to Colchester. I do not expect much else will be found now, as the whole interior of the church has now been cleared. There are still three men working there. The church chest has been taken out, rather badly crushed. It has not been opened yet, but appears to contain some books.

No alarm tonight.

1st December 1940

Had tea at Rose’s flat. Alarm from a quarter to ten until midnight. Few planes came over, low above scudding clouds, but nothing happened.

The “state of alarm” of a few weeks ago seems to have died away, and most of the sentries on the tank blocks and barriers have now been withdrawn.