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World War ll London Blitz:  Buy On Smashwords
I am the great-granddaughter of Ruby Side Thompson. 
Recently I started re-reading the World War ll journals and felt that they were such an important part of a history that will soon be forgotten if not published and shared with the world. These diary excerpts are not the entirety of what is published in print and kindle.
Ruby grew up during a time when education was just beginning to be encouraged for both upper and middle class women. During the late 1890's Ruby explored many radical political ideas of London, England. She met many famous people including the writers George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats. 
5.0 out of 5 stars A choice pick, not to be overlooked, November 6, 2011 By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

World War ll London Blitz: 4-15-43 Today all nurses, male and female, and all midwives born on and after March 31, 1883 had to register. 1883! That is before I was born. That’s the war, now taking old men and women of sixty, as well as the boys and girls of sixteen. Damn the war!

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April 2, 1943 

A letter from Gladys arrived, after a very long silence she sent me some tea (three quarters of a pound), which comes like a lifesaver, I was down to my last two ounces. Also a letter from Cuthie, dated February 8, he says he has been very depressed the last six months or so, but is now back to normal spirits. Poor old Cuthie! Soon he will have been a prisoner three years. 

April 3, 1943 

I received a letter from Artie, the first since March 20, written from somewhere in British North Africa. No, not British North Africa, we think probably he is in Algiers, but from British forces in North Africa. I find this gives me a certain sense of relief. I was afraid he would be in the first company of men to invade across the channel, and somehow I think he will be safer fighting Rommel in Tunisia than storming the beaches of Northern France or the Lowlands of Belgium or Holland. He writes that he is permitted to tell us he is in North Africa. He says he feels well, the swimming is warm, all the boys are in good spirits, and glutting themselves with oranges after three years fast from them. 

April 10, 1943 

Today all nurses, male and female, and all midwives born on and after March 31, 1883 had to register. 1883! That is before I was born. That’s the war, now taking old men and women of sixty, as well as the boys and girls of sixteen. Damn the war! 

April 15, 1943 

I spent all my free time today writing to Eddie, with the result I am devastated with homesickness. It is now ten years since I was in America, eight years since I have seen Eddie and Harold. It is three years since I have seen Cuth and now Artie has gone to North Africa, and I wonder shall I ever see him again. I’m a Rachel. My sons, my sons! There was a bad raid here last night, it started soon after midnight, and lasted until two a.m. 


April 19, 1943 

As I anticipated we had raids last night. The first one came at ten-thirty, before I had gone up to bed, the second at one a.m. this morning. We also had one at two o’clock yesterday afternoon. Last week’s raids hit Chelmsford severely, and also Ongar. Today I am very tired, through lack of sleep. 

April 20, 1943 

I got a letter from Sket today, date of March 5, also one from Artie, which must have been the first he wrote after leaving England, not dated, and also an aerograph letter for me for my birthday. This is written April 4, he says he is well and happy. Good. Cuthie’s letter is more downcast. Poor boy, it is almost three years now he has been a prisoner. 

April 21, 1943 

At eight fifty-five this morning the telegraph boy brought this message to the house: 

Important, Hand Delivery. Mrs. A.F. Thompson 78 Western Road. Romford, Essex. 

Regret to inform you of report dated 16 April 1943 received from North Africa that Lieut. A.F. Thompson, Reconnaissance Corps has been wounded inaction. Letter follows shortly. 

Under Secretary of State for War. 

Although addressed to Hilda I opened it and read it, and then gave it back to the boy for re-transmission to Glasgow. First, of course, I made a copy of it for us, and then I telephoned it through to Ted. Now this afternoon I must write to Hilda. My idea is that Artie gave this address as Hilda’s purposely, and for our satisfaction. The wound must be serious, or there would be no notification. I pray it is not his eyes. My instant private hope is, that it is bad enough to keep him out of the war. I’m no patriot. I say damn and damn the war. Poor Artie! Yesterday’s letter was so bright and happy. 

I received American mail this morning, a birthday card from Eddie and Chic, and a letter from Marjorie. Marjorie writes that she and Charlie have signed contracts to buy a house in Westwood, New Jersey. It has eight rooms, and four acres of ground and a barn. That’s fine. That’s the kind of home I’d like. 

Every time I think of Artie I begin to cry. What am I to say to Hilda, poor child? 

April 24, 1943 

We had a raid last night, lasting from ten-thirty to eleven forty-five p.m. No damage in this neighborhood. I have been writing letters these past two days. I have written long letters to Eddie, Charlie, and Harold and Marjorie. 

April 27, 1943 

This afternoon I received a letter from Hilda with an aerograph letter from Artie enclosed. It reads: 

“April 15, Darling Hilda, at the present moment I am in the hospital and shall be for a long time. I am o.k. I’ve got to lie still and let two broken bones set. There is no need to worry in the least, I am perfectly whole. My driver was killed beside me but I escaped with a broken leg and small wounds. It was a German land mine. Maybe I’ll be sent back to England this year. Please “don’t worry darling, you can see this is my writing. I am recovering quickly. Please tell my people if you get this first, it would be best to send them this letter. My constant love for you dear. Fred.” 

What a relief! If he wrote this on the fifteenth he was probably wounded on the fourteenth, perhaps before. Here in Romford this morning we received a picture postcard of Algiers, which he had written on the Eleventh of April. So maybe he only knew three days of battle, maybe less. Thank God he is safe in the hospital and will be safe there for some time to come. The fighting there in Tunisia gets worse and worse day-by-day and the worst must yet be to come. Oh, this awful war.

World War ll London Blitz: 3-4-43 Well, today, March Fourth, I live. I still live. Last night we had two bad raids. The first came at eight-thirty and went on until ten p.m. The second came at four thirty this morning, and lasted until a quarter to six. Our gunfire was terrific.

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March 4,1943 

Well, today, March Fourth, I live. I still live. Last night we had two bad raids. The first came at eight-thirty and went on until ten p.m. The second came at four thirty this morning, and lasted until a quarter to six. Our gunfire was terrific. I have not heard yet what damage was done. Nothing in this immediate vicinity, though when Ted returned from the Home Guard he said one of their officers had come in, in an extremely nervous state, and said bombs had fallen in Collier Row. However, when the radioman came this morning, about a half and hour ago, he said, no, not Collier Row last night, but nearer to Fairlop and Warley, the airdromes, well, we’ll know later. Whilst the racket is going on I get very sick, and retch constantly. I can’t help it, and I can’t stop it. This morning I feel sore in the ribs, as though somebody had kicked me. If a bombardment went on for twelve or eighteen hours, I think I should expire, not from a direct hit, but from my one bodily mechanism, which will not behave properly, and which I can’t control, no matter how emphatically my will commands it. Sheer animal fear, over which the soul has no control, yes, sure it can kill you. This blasted war! When, oh when, will it finish? If there is anything in this world stupider than war I have never heard of it. Men deliberately destroying mankind, men deliberately destroying the entire world, could there possibly be anything more insane? Well, I pray like mad. God be merciful to me, a sinner. Deliver us from evil. Oh, deliver us from evil. 

March 5, 1943 

I wrote Artie today, also Hilda, and Hilda’s mother, Mrs. Kane. I am weepy. I can’t help it. There is news today of a terrible accident on Wednesday night, mostly women and children, and sixty injured when the crowd entering the shelter after the alert, tripped up and fell on top of one another, blocking a stairway. They were suffocated to death. Authorities say there was no panic, and the nearest bomb to fall was two mile away. There must have been panic. There were nearly two thousand people already in the shelter, and many more coming in. A woman with a baby and a bundle tripped near the foot of a flight of nineteen steps, which leads down from the street. This flight of steps terminates on a landing. The woman fell down the last two or three steps and lay on the landing. Her fall tripped an elderly man behind her and he fell similarly. Their bodies again tripped up those behind them, and within a few seconds a large number of people were lying on the lower steps and the landing, completely blocking the stairway. Within a minute there were hundreds of people crushed together. What a terrible accident! 

This was announced over the radio, but I heard of another awful disaster this afternoon, which has not been broadcast, nor put in the papers. Mrs. James came in as I was finishing my letters, and she told me of it. She got the news from the wives of two railway men who live in the neighborhood and are customers of Mrs. Dumaresque’s. On Wednesday the bombs hit the railway, at Sheffield, when the Harwich Express came through it went straight down into the crater. The engine catapulted three times and the four first coaches were completely smashed. Nobody got out alive. The train was full of sailors, returning to their ships at Harwich. 

We boast about what we do to the German railroads, but we don’t utter a word about what the Germans do to ours. No, we are not told half the news, nor yet a quarter of it. We are lied to, half-lied to, and kept ignorant of events. Propaganda? The Germans are not the only liars. 

March 10, 1943 Ash Wednesday 

Ted is with the Home Guards. All is quiet for the present. On the six o’clock news we heard that all boys and girls of sixteen and seventeen must register next Saturday. What next? Are the children now to fight? Blast the war! 

I am more than ever determined to get whatever I wanted, whilst I can get it. Today alone I live. As with the books I ordered that came today, they are not necessities, oh, no. I am not going to content myself with necessities, not ever, not ever again. Why save for a future, which may never dawn? This week is a “Wings for Victory Week,” and the city of London has set itself the job of collecting one hundred and fifty million pounds for the war effort. Hundreds of millions has already been reached. This leaves me cold. The men wanted this war, let them pay for it, that’s what I think. I’ll never save. I’ll soon be fifty-nine if Hitler lets me reach my birthday. Even if the war stops, how many years are left to me anyhow? We considered Mother a very old lady yet she was only twenty-one years older than me. I intend to get all the pleasure I can out of whatever time remains to me. I intend to spend my own money while I know it is expendable. God knows what life will be like when the war is over. Well, I am not going to voluntarily put myself into any sort of straightjacket. Save? Economize? Give to charity? Not me. No, I’ve no sympathy, no charity, and no patriotism. I realize there isn’t a darn thing I can do about the outside world, so I quit trying. To keep myself secure, serene, inviolate, that’s my object. To keep still, and let the damned war wash over me, and so to keep sane, that’s what I must do. Today, tomorrow, if there is a tomorrow. Every day. 

March 12, 1943 

Whilst I was in the bathroom washing, just before seven-thirty this morning, I was considerably startled by what sounded like the wheels of a plane directly on the roof, and a second later a huge machine flew in view, right over the gardens, away towards the town. Then there was firing, and a minute later, the alert. From the back window I saw smoke, a row of it, running down along the railway. 

Six enemy planes were over this district; flying so low they cut the tops off the trees, machine gunning and bombing. They set fire to the gasometer, hit the brewery, and took the roof off the water-works; they machine gunned people in Old Church Road, in the busses, and the trains on the line. Our butcher’s boy, crossing the railway bridge from Victoria Road, was hit in the leg. It is not known yet how many people have been killed on the streets. Leaving here they flew on to Ilford and Barkingside. At Ilford they hit the co-op stores, completely destroying them, and two busses standing near. Both drivers were killed, and several passengers inside, also passengers waiting in the ques. At Barking they dropped their biggest bombs, bringing down several streets. All of this out of the blue, before breakfast this morning. War, damnable war! Death without warning, and not to the soldier, but to the civilians going to work, and to the women and children in the houses. It is simply devilish. Yes, today alone we live, and for many of us, not even today. Oh, when will all madness end? 

March 17,1943 St. Patrick’s Day. 

The death of Cardinal Hinsley was announced this morning. It was a terribly foggy morning. I went to town, and had to wait fifty-five minutes on Romford Station for a train. Whilst waiting I was joined by Jean Lee, and then later by Doreen Peel, who was in her W. R.A’s uniform. So of course we all rode up to Liverpool Street together. 


March 31, 1943 

The war gets worse and worse but seems now to be mounting to a zenith. At this last full moon we expected to be told any hour that we had begun the invasion of Europe. No, the moon is waning, and except the increasing aerial bombing by the R.A.F. nothing has been done. The Germans are still in Russia, still in North Africa. Artie has vanished. He is probably at least off on invasion tactics somewhere. God knows. No more word of Cuthie since the Third of January. No news from America. My sons, where are they? 

I am terribly restless. Some days I feel I cannot endure the war, this life, any longer. Here I am, still here, still miserable

World War ll London Blitz: 2-6-43 The Russians have taken Stalingrad; we have taken Tripoli, and this morning came the news that Mussolini has dismissed his entire cabinet, including his son-in-law Ciano.

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          February 6, 1943
          I am cooking dinner. I have a half a shoulder of lamb for a change. Mostly our war-joint is a piece of brisket, which we are sick to death of, but there is nothing else. Today’s half shoulder weighs two pounds, and is our entire meat ration for the week.  War news is speeding up this week. The Russians have taken Stalingrad; we have taken Tripoli, and this morning came the news that Mussolini has dismissed his entire cabinet, including his son-in-law Ciano. We bombed Turin very heavily last Tuesday so perhaps that has something to do with it; maybe the Italians are panicking. The meeting of Churchill and Roosevelt in Casablanca must have alarmed the Axis pretty considerably. Report of a letter from Stalin to Roosevelt, made public today, says that Stalin states the speedy end of the war is in view. Well, don’t we hope so! Yesterday the English feminists celebrated their Silver Jubilee with a grand luncheon. In spirit I belonged to that group it was only due to the fact of being in America that kept me from joining them. Yesterday, Lady Astor said, it took the First World War to give women the vote, and it has taken the Second World War to give them full citizenship; it will take a tornado to get them on the bench of Bishop and the end of the world to get them in the House of Lords. This is funny, but it is also true. This is still a man’s world, with men regarding women as very secondary creatures to themselves. As to the Bench of Bishops well I feel as the war goes on and on, that the Churches are done for, all of them. Men’s religion doesn’t work any better than men’s politics. As for myself, I still feel and think Mrs. Eddy to be more real and more helpful, to me, and perhaps to women generally, than the Pope.

          February 9, 1943
          At eight thirty this morning we had an alert, and then guns firing for about twenty minutes. Very nasty. Ted has been under the weather and it is the food or diet we have to eat. Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting. We shan’t get any real food until the war is over. When will it be over? God knows. One thing to note. Mussolini has appointed Ciano Ambassador to the Holy See. This is absolutely farcical. How much religion has Ciano got? As things are, one is tempted to ask, how much religion has the Pope got? This present Pope, Pacelli, is a Roman Aristocrat, an intriguer of the first order. 



World War ll London Blitz: 1-18-43 I am saying hell and damnation. Last night the bombing began again. The alert went at eight-thirty, the all clear at ten p.m. We were wakened at five forty-five this morning, and there was another raid, lasting until nearly six a.m. They were bad raids, and today I am sick from fright.

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January 18, 1943

I am saying hell and damnation. Last night the bombing began again. The alert went at eight-thirty, the all clear at ten p.m. We were wakened at five forty-five this morning, and there was another raid, lasting until nearly six a.m. They were bad raids, and today I am sick from fright. When the guns begin I begin to tremble and to retch. I can’t help it. It is sheer animal reaction and I can’t do anything at all to stop it. Animal fright. Today my ribs feel sore. I wretched so much last night I feel today as though someone had been kicking me in the stomach.

There has been intermittent gunfire all morning too, though no alert has been sounded. Yesterday the news was full of accounts of how the R.A.F. bombed Berlin on Saturday night. This was the fifty- fourth raid on Berlin, though we haven’t been over for fourteen months. The boasting and complacency of the announcers was sickening. Well, back comes the Luftwaffe on London last night, what a game! What a damn fool game! Men and war, loathsome. I am full of anger, and its terrible impersonal anger. War. What can an old woman do about it? Nothing, simply nothing at all. What a filthy world! I loathe it.

January 20, 1943

I went to town. An alert sounded whilst I was on the bus, about noon, and there was a prolonged daylight raid on London. I managed to get into number six before the heavy firing began. Joan was extremely frightened. We stayed in the drawing room and watched the street. It gave me a horrible feeling to see people running through clear streets, in broad daylight. Mostly we are indoors, in the blackout, when the raids come, so we do not see how other people are affected. To watch them running for shelter was a queer sensation, making me feel sick.

The all clear came about one-thirty and we proceeded to eat lunch. After lunch I went in to see Jo Tibbs, and find out how the dressmaking was getting on. She had completed for me a black alpaca skirt, and a black gabardine frock. When I returned to Number Six I found Artie and Hilda home on leave having tea with Joan. I packed a couple of valises with some of Mother’s things, and the children will bring them with them tonight. Official reports tonight say that one hundred and thirty planes were over London and Kent, and eleven were brought down. The worst casualties were in the L.CC. School which was bombed.

January 21, 1943

Mid-day news of the L.C.C. school, which was, bombed yesterday, gives figures as: forty-four children killed, fifty injured and in the hospital, five teachers killed, two more teachers and about another thirty children still unaccounted for. It was an infant’s school, mixed boys and girls, and they were assembled at the midday dinner. There are many other casualties and destructions but the school is the most shocking. It was bombed from low level, by direct aim, so the German knew exactly what he was hitting. The swine’s also flew about machine-gunning children and people in the streets. This is not war, soldier against soldier this is murder. Oh when will this frightful war end?

It is a full moon tonight, so I expect we will be raided again. No alert so far today, but I have just tried the radio and can get nothing, so I suppose the devils are somewhere about and the B.B.C. is off the air.

January 22, 1943

Artie and Hilda left for Scotland at two-thirty today. Last night during a discussion on the radio about religious problems the question was asked: When we are told to forgive our enemies is the condition of repentance on the part of their past necessary? This led Ted and myself to talk about forgiveness. I said that I found that as I grew older fewer things offended me and therefore I had less to forgive; also that I found that in moments of great danger, as in a raid, where death may strike you any moment, I found out that I forgave everybody everything, I could hold no grievance against anyone, not even the bombing flyer. So I thought the great majority of the aged and of the dying did forgive their enemies, not only easily, but because they could not do otherwise.


January 23, 1943

News was given at one o’clock that our Eighth Army in Africa has taken Tripoli. Now Italy has nothing left in Africa. Also the Germans have admitted a withdrawal of several miles in the Stalingrad area, an admission that our military authorities consider “the gravest they have yet made.” Leningrad was relieved this week too, after a siege of sixteen months. The indomitable Russians are slowly but surely pushing the Germans out of Russia. Defeat for the Germans has actively begun. How long will it take to complete it nobody knows, but it will be completed.