EJ Rudsdale on Twitter from 3 September 2019

31st May 1941

Work on the [Castle] Muniment Room was finished today, and they appear to have made a very good job of it.

Maura Benham came in today, looking very tall and gorgeous, with a scarlet turban round her dark hair. She is going to Wales in June.

The swans are still sitting on the eggs at Bourne Mill.

Went on duty at 9 tonight. Went on the roof with glasses. Lovely evening, sun sinking, clouds rolling up. Saw Frank Goddard walking home with his Pekinese dog.

30th May 1941

Felt very bad at first, sick and dizzy, pains and headache. No breakfast. Phoned office and went home to bed. Sorry to leave the others on a pay-day, but I could hardly see. Lay in bed all day, taking only hot tea. Felt a little better this evening, though head still rather bad. Back to the Oven [for Castle duty tonight]. Cold wet day.

28th May 1941

Felt very ill today, with severe pains in the limbs, neck and face. Felt so bad that I went out about 4 o’clock and went to the pictures to relieve my mind. There was a lovely film in colour, showing a horse-show with jumping, a sight I never thought to see again.

An alarm early this morning. Could not sleep last night.

26th May 1941

Committee meeting at Birch, 4 ½ hours, much too long. Felt ill, and very sick in the car coming home. Glorious evening. Birch Park looked very lovely.

Work going on today reinforcing the roof over the Castle Muniment Room, an improvement long needed. Had to go over in the morning to unseal the keys.

20th May 1941

Alarm in the early hours of this morning, and about 1 o’clock a ‘plane came low over the town and dropped four bombs in Lexden Park, just at the back of Councillor Blomfield’s house. Little damage done, and none are hurt. It appears that for some while the authorities did not know where the bombs had fallen, as there were no Wardens on patrol in the district. At first they went down to the Potter’s Field, thinking they were there.

Penelope came to tea with me today, looking very lovely indeed. Miss Blomfield came to Holly Trees this evening, and went through some of Dr Laver’s early MSS.

19th May 1941

The Borough Engineer came down today to see about re-inforcing the roof of the Castle Muniment Room, a job which should have been done years ago, as the place is hardly waterproof. Heard that tremendous damage was done at Harwich the other night by a mine, although only one dead, I believe. Meeting at Birch for five hours this afternoon. Dull day and dull meeting.

18th May 1941

Glorious fine day. Drove over to Mr and Mrs Stuart Rose’s at Boxted with Bob. Tied him in the garden, but he broke away and ran over a ploughed field. I thought he would head straight for Colchester, but I managed to catch him just as he came onto the road. A most enjoyable drive back. Rain began at last this evening, so much needed. Heard the cuckoo at Bourne Mill.

Stuart Rose was an artist and graphic designer. His wife, Dodo, was a Russian emigre. They moved to Essex at the start of the war and Stuart Rose undertook farmwork for the duration of the war. From 1941, they lived at 'Little Rivers', a cottage in Boxted and in 1942, they had a baby daughter called Harriet. I would like to trace what happened to the Rose family after the war and if anyone has any further details about them, please let me know. Many thanks, CP

Update (19/5/2011): I now believe that Stuart Rose (born 2/10/1911) became the Design Director for the General Post Office from 1968 to 1976, when he retired. Rose initiated an innovative era of art and design in British stamps, commissioning artists such as David Gentleman and Ronald Maddox to produce memorable artworks for stamp series.

16th May 1941

Three short alarms tonight, after three lovely peaceful nights. Had a letter from Mother today, in which she says that [her brother-in-law] Bob Cleveland’s house at Ipswich has been demolished by a bomb a week or more ago, but he is quite unhurt. It seems hard to believe. A good deal of my childhood was spent in that house.

The London Blitz which began in September 1940 came to an end on 16 May 1941, as Hitler reassigned the Luftwaffe's bombing missions to support his campaign against the Soviet Union. The air raids that EJR mentions in this entry, therefore, may have been the last of the London Blitz, although indiscriminate air attacks were to continue against British cities throughout the rest of the war.

Poulter came back from the club this evening with an extraordinary story that 5 Germans had escaped from a camp near “Bury St Edmunds”, and the Colchester police were on the lookout. Also an even more incredible story about a German spy being in Colchester last week. I don't believe either of them. For one thing, there is no German camp near Bury or anywhere else in East Anglia.

When at the Mill tonight I met little Miss Grimsey, who rather shook me by saying that from her house opposite the pond she heard last night all that I was saying to Dolly. As the next house to Miss Grimsey is that of Inspector Olyot, this makes me rather thoughtful. There must be some curious acoustic trick over the pond.

A little warmer.

15th May 1941

Terribly cold. Very bad for crops. Had tea with Dolly S., then walked down to Bourne Mill. Had a long talk there about war, etc. Talking of English actors and writers, some of whom have come back from America to join the Army, Navy or Airforce. I said that in my opinion such men were fools and a lot more in similar strain. I also said that if I had the chance to get away, I would go without hesitation, and so I would, to any country in the world, not caring if I ever saw Colchester again.

Eventually we came out of the field and I walked home with her. She agreed with most that I said, although she was not prepared to agree to leaving England, as she thinks that in reality conditions are probably worse elsewhere.

14th May 1941

Weather very cold again, but still no rain. Papers full of nothing but the [Rudolf] Hess affair, and everybody talking about it. The disasters to British forces in many fields quite overshadowed by this fantastic “mystery” which the Government are trying to make even more mysterious.

13th May 1941: Rudolph Hess in Scotland

Much talk all over the place about Rudolph Hess, the Deputy Fuhrer, flying to Scotland on Saturday night. Some rumours connect his arrival with the arrest of the Scottish Nationalists on Friday. Others state categorically that he has deserted his leader in the hour of triumph, and quote the case of Napoleon’s brother as a parallel. An amazing business, but not more so than many things at this time.

Wrote to Mother and to Hervey Benham. Cloudy, but slightly warmer, and no rain.

11th May 1941

Slightly warmer today. Went over to Lawford for lunch, and had a wonderful feed. Cream. Then went up to Birchett’s Wood, saw Penelope and heard all about the pony’s habits, which are entirely Penelope’s own fault. She is wonderfully pretty, and her little nervous stammer is so very fascinating.

Had tea there, cleaned the harness and then went down to Dedham. The Sissons were out, so I went round by Stratford and called at Ida Hughes-Stanton’s. Poor Ida, the place is really very squalid, in spite of the wonderful art treasures it contains. Perhaps it is really very like it was 400 years ago – beauty, and a lot of smell.

Lot of cloud, but no rain, which is very much needed.

While I was at Lawford, it suddently occurred to me to walk across the road, climb the hill, and see the tumulus and the high point overlooking the Stour. When I got there, I was surprised to find that it had been cut into by a wide trench running right across it. I cannot understand this, as I know of no records of its opening. Can this be the actual site of the Bronze Age Urn given [to Colchester Museum] by Mrs. Nichols of Lawford Hall and said to have been found at Mistley? I remember writing to her about it some years ago, but cannot remember exactly what she said. The matter is of great importance, especially as the Home Guard intend to make a “strong point” on the site (they have already pegged it out) and may find secondary interments. The Parringtons promised to keep me informed.

The tumulus that EJR visited at Lawford is a Neolithic - Bronze Age Round Barrow, which had been excavated in 1812 when two urns were discovered.

10th May 1941

News in the papers today that a number of Scottish Nationalists have been arrested for “conspiring against the United Kingdom.” I am anxious about Meg [MacDougall].

Margaret MacDougall was the Acting Curator of Inverness Museum during the war and a supporter of the Scottish Nationalist cause. EJR had met her whilst attending museum training courses in the 1930s.

9th May 1941

Saw George’s wife [Maisie Farmer] today in the Regal, and had tea with her there. She is worried about George, who is not enjoying life in the RAF. She told me that last weekend Mary Hulbert was in the town to see Aunt Grace Farmer. She never came to see me. How odd if I passed her in the street without knowing it. Ten years is a very long time.

Mary Hulbert had been EJR's girlfriend during the early 1930s. She was a cousin of EJR's schoolfriend, George Farmer.

8th May 1941

It is incredible how the days and weeks speed by, so little done, so much to do. I never achieve anything of importance, yet I never seem to have any spare time.

7th May 1941

Still icy weather. Office intolerable.

Reading is a vice with me. Once I pick up a book I can never lay it down until I have finished it, thus wasting many hours.

6th May 1941

Still dreadfully cold. We have got the electric fire restored [in the office], but it makes little difference in such a huge room. It is said that a German plane was brought down near Jaywick, Clacton, last night, but I do not know if this is true. Wrote to Mother tonight.

Tried to get in at the “Regal” [Cinema] tonight, but the crowds were too big.
Very cold all day. Mrs. Parrington called this morning to ask if I would see Penelope Belfield about the little pony. Pretty Penelope is very careless, and it is to be feared will let the pony hurt either her or itself if she is not more cautious.

Poulter was furious today because we had an electric stove in the office. The main heat was turned off in the middle of last month, and no matter how cold the weather may become, Poulter refuses to run the boiler for another day.

5th May 1941

Terribly cold again. The weather is enough to kill anybody. Still no heat in the office. This evening did work in the meadow and did a little digging to try to get warm but it made me feel ill in a very few minutes.

4th May 1941

A most glorious day. Sunshine and brilliant blue sky. Went down to Bourne Mill and met Maura Benham. We spent a profitable morning clearing up and burning rubbish, both thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Had rather a scrappy lunch of eggs and milk, and then cycled off to Dedham. Crowds of people about, walking in the sunshine, digging their gardens, etc. The country looked lovely. Army “scheme” on, with patrols and military police all along the Ipswich Road. Called at Ida Hughes-Stanton’s [Ida Graves] at Stratford then went on round by Stratford church, and saw old Canon Rendall sitting on the grassy bank, talking to his valet who goes out with him, while in the clear blue sky an aeroplane droned far above. The Stour Valley looked glorious, so remote from war. It seems absolutely incredible that Rendall was born in 1850, was a boy of 7 at the time of the Indian Mutiny, and that had England been involved in the war of 1870 he would probably have served in it.

Crossed the river, running full and clear between lush meadows, and went to Sisson's. From the upper windows we saw a christening party, all dressed in their “Sunday best”, going into the church opposite. I could not but help contrast the little babe being carried in, a mass of long white lace clothes, with the old canon sitting by the roadside. If the child lives as long as he, two lives will span from 1850 to 2030.

The weather was so hot we all had tea in the garden. Much talk about the chances of Penelope Belfield being called up for munitions work. It seems unbelievable that such a thing should be possible. Left about 7, before dark. No planes about on my way home, a great relief to me.

Went to Bourne Pond to make sure our bonfire of this morning was out, and then to the Castle at nine, to relieve Hull. Alarm at 10.35, few planes, and distant explosions until midnight, then quiet. To bed.

From the spring of 1941 all women had to register their occupation under the National Service regulations and single young women between the ages of 20 and 30 began to be directed into war work. By December 1941 the National Service Act (No 2) made the conscription of women legal for the first time and led to a huge increase in women workers of all ages being employed in the Women's Services or in essential war work.

3rd May 1941

Looked in on the Market. Only two horses there, one being a pony of Miss Knight’s. It did not sell. A cart mare made £42.

Had lunch at Rose’s café. She smiled at me. This afternoon was very nice so I suddenly decided to drive Bob over to Fingringhoe to see Grubb. He went very well, although it must be quite a year since he was in the trap. I put up just like I always used to do, in fact it was quite like old times. We went down to the marshes and saw what horses she has turned out there, and then had tea. Drove back in the early evening.

Supper at Culver St. café. Alarm at 9.15, but I had just finished. Few planes, and no bombs at all.

2nd May 1941

Another quiet night, although fine and clear. Short alarm, but very few planes about. Heard today that the Duchess of Gloucester had been in the town on Wednesday, inspecting a Red Cross depôt. How I wish I had seen her, the most attractive of all the Royal Duchesses. Had supper in the Castle tonight.

1st May 1941

Fine and spring like, and at last the buds are bursting. Hull has recently been taking on a most annoying attitude regarding firewatching, uttering threats as to the consequences of anybody leaving the buildings during their hours of duty. Considering that during the whole of the “bad” nights of last winter he never came near the post, never knew that we always manned the post, never knew that ever since the early part of last October I had been sleeping there every night, I think his anxiety is a little belated. I feel that he would dearly like to catch me out in dereliction of duty if he could.