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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: 5-4-44 Planes passed overhead incessantly all night; our planes.

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May 4, 1944

Planes passed overhead incessantly all night; our planes. I thought our invasion of Europe must have begun, at last. But no, all we have been told today is that our aircraft were out over occupied territory during the night.

May 5, 1944

Mrs. Camus was here this morning. She tells me that Bobbie (Roberta), her youngest daughter, barely sixteen, has commenced as a probationer in a London Nursery Hospital, and that Beryl, the elder, has volunteered to do Red Cross work, in her evenings, here at Old Church Hospital. She says Old Church is absolutely empty of patients, but has increased its staff of doctors and nurses, and that many foreign doctors are there; American, Polish, Czech, etc. They are standing by waiting for invasion casualties. Beryl has been warned to prepare herself for terrible sights, men without legs, men without faces. War, damnable devilish war!

In London a conference of Prime Ministers is sitting on Wednesday dined with the King at Buckingham Palace. Mr. Fraser of New Zealand, Mr. Curtain of Australia, Mr. Mackenzie King of Canada, General Saints of South Africa, two Indians, the Maharaja of Kashmir and Sir Firoz Khan Noon, and Sir Godfrey Higgins; and of course, Mr. Churchill. The old gang, they have met, they say, “to examine afresh the main efforts and opportunities which lie before their peoples in war and peace.” In effect, how to conduct the war, how to make more men fight, work, and pay taxes, and how to pocket the proceeds. Vile old men, on the spree. Old men who talk glibly about war and glory. Rich old men who suffer none of the discomforts of war. Talkers; damned talkers. Opportunists. Fools. Hateful old men.

May 6, 1944

In the Catholic Herald of yesterday, is printed this: “An allied woman who does not wish even her nationality disclosed because the people she worked with might be arrested and put to death by the Nazi’s talked to me in London about her experiences in Hungary. She escaped there from one of the occupied countries and worked for some time in the underground movement with others of her compatriots who have escaped. Two or three months ago she managed to get to this country by way of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, a great deal of the journey being done on foot although she managed to travel on trains when she could board them away from the big towns. She arrived in Hungary about March, 1943, and spent seven months there.” (Then there are a couple of columns about what she saw, etc.) This is what caught my attention, and what I wish to stress: “But” and this was said very sadly, “I sometimes wonder if resistance to the Nazi’s does any good to a country. It is heroic and noble, I know, to resist as the Poles have done, but what have they gained? They have lost three and a half million of their people, not to speak of one and half million deported to Russia, and their position is not going to be too happy in peace. Big nations cannot understand the position of small nations who have to live beside powerful neighbors. To resist them may only be folly. It may only be abnormal. It is unfair to judge those who feel they are unable to do so… Everyday some member of the underground movements in Europe gives up his or her life for the course of freedom from the Nazi yoke. I wonder sometimes, are we right? The end is not so rosy.”

Exactly. What is the use of it all? Jesus said: “Make peace with your adversary quickly.” War is madness, the most colossal madness possible to mankind. It need never be. Men insist on making war. Oh, I hate men, the old men who maneuver nations into war, for their own ends. War fills me with furious anger, not against the poor young combatants, who are forced to fight, but against the statesmen who bring it to pass. The fool politicians.

May 13, 1944

Artie and Hilda moved into their house today. We have combed this house to gather enough furniture so that they can start on their own. Finally Bodger’s carried away a vanload. New furniture is absolutely unobtainable, but young couples starting up housekeeping, or folk who have been blitzed out, can obtain from the government a book of coupons permitting them to buy a certain limited amount of utility furniture. Artie says he can not get his coupons until he has his premises, then he must fill in forms, then he will be investigated (authorities will probably call here to interview us, to find out if his new address is authentic, and so on) then he will get his coupons, after that, then he must wait until the merchant procures it, probably up to three months. What a game! So we’ve furnished him. This makes me think of Mother furnishing homes for Eric out of surpluses of her house. There is a heavy rainstorm this evening, and a big drop in the temperature. We have had summer weather for a month past, maybe all the summer we are going to get this year.

May 18, 1944 Ascension Day

Ascension into what? The stratosphere? The Bomber Squadrons? The Spitfires? The Mosquito’s? The Flying Fortresses?

May 20, 1944

Oh, but I am tired! Almost all night long, airplanes have been droning overhead, our planes going out, and then returning. There must have been thousands of them. Europe must be bombed now more than we were in 1940. Civilization is committing suicide.

May 22, 1944


Just before ten this morning, as I was beginning to put my fresh bandages on, the alert sounded, and we had a short day light raid, the first day light one for some time. This mornings bombs dropped somewhere, supposing they had dropped on me.

May 24, 1944

I had several visitors this afternoon. Mrs. Fitch and Bertha, Mrs. James, and Elizabeth Coppen. We had another daylight alert from four forty-five until five -twenty and only a little gunfire. I suppose it was only a stray reconnaissance plane.

May 27, 1944

I am afraid I am perilously near what is known as a complete nervous breakdown. I am so tired in body and exasperated in mind I feel I can’t endure another minute. I was in such a state of nerves this morning whilst cooking the dinner I felt I should break down and cry, and I did not dare to let myself go in case I should never stop. I am sick to death of cooking dinners, I am sick to death of the house and the housework, I am sick to death of looking after a husband and I am sick to death of the war, this infernal war. I am sick of myself, this miserable body. The weather has turned very hot suddenly and consequently my legs are bad. It is torture to walk about. It is worse I suppose because of all the heavy work I have done this week. I really do feel on the verge of collapse. Ted is too silly for words. At dinner just now he said if the war ended now he was afraid it would be too soon, because we, England, hadn’t suffered enough. France had suffered, he said, and Poland, and now very likely Germany was suffering, but we hadn’t suffered enough. This is the religious maniac talking; also the safe old man. It is true this country hasn’t suffered invasion, but it suffered the expectation of invasion and still isn’t free of the dread of the threat of it. It is Ted who doesn’t suffer, but he is an abnormal man. What about Artie? What about Cuthi? What about me in my grief for them? What about all our millions of young men fighting and dying in the air, on the sea, on the land, all over the globe and all their families grieving for them? What about our blasted cities and villages? What about our young women thrust into the factories and the services? What about the demoralization of our juveniles? What about the nightly air raids, the fires, the terror? What about the taxes, to put something down to Ted’s comprehension? This war will never be paid for, even in cash. All who survive will be impoverished for the rest of their days in mere money, let alone in their affections.

If Ted were a young man who had to go to fight he might feel differently about the war. To say the least he would find it inconvenient to have to leave his home, and to have to take orders from his superiors. Isn’t it conceivable that millions of our men, especially the older and the married ones, find Army life a suffering, long before they come to the actual fighting and the danger? What about their wives and their mothers? Isn’t it suffering for them to sit at home, or in their compulsory “directed” job, alone? Partings, the breaking up of homes, infidelities, intolerable loneliness, intolerable herding, insufficient money, restrictions! All these miseries on top of blitzes, Foreign Service, wounds, blindness, and death. Then Ted calmly says we haven’t yet suffered enough! I suppose he wants everybody to be crucified like Jesus! Oh, he’s mad! It is true that the sea has saved us from the boot of the invader, but it hasn’t saved us from anything else of war. The air war has been and is terrible. There isn’t a family, scarcely a solitary person, in this land, who hasn’t suffered because of this war, even Ted, though he takes it lightly, yet one of his sons is a prisoner, and the other is mutilated, and will be mutilated for the rest of his life, perhaps another fifty years or more. What of the agony of body and of mind which Artie has suffered? There are thousands like Artie, and will be thousands more. War. Devilish, damnable war; yet men will war. I can’t understand it. I don’t think any woman can understand it. Men are fools that’s what women understand, right well. Ted Thompson is an intolerable fool. He’s mad!

Whit Tuesday May 30, 1944

Still hellishly hot. The B.B.C. reports temperatures in the shade at Dover, seventy-nine degrees. The R.A.F. is out all day and all night just the same; day flying planes return so hot that ground crews have to spray them with water before they can touch them. This heat is making me feel downright sick, as well as being bad for my legs. It makes me feel cross also. Damn rotten world.

World War ll London Blitz: 4-2-44 We had no raiders over last night. This afternoon I managed to do a little writing. Ted took himself to the parlor and I had a couple of free hours. I wrote about ten pages, I think they are passably good. I have no interest right now in any of the countries of Europe, and as soon as the war is over I hope to get right away from it, and never see it nor hear of it again. It is like all the war books. I don’t want to read anything about the war. It is hell enough to endure it so why read about it?

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April 2, 1944 Palm Sunday 

We had no raiders over last night. This afternoon I managed to do a little writing. Ted took himself to the parlor and I had a couple of free hours. I wrote about ten pages, I think they are passably good. I have no interest right now in any of the countries of Europe, and as soon as the war is over I hope to get right away from it, and never see it nor hear of it again. It is like all the war books. I don’t want to read anything about the war. It is hell enough to endure it so why read about it? 

April 3, 1944 

We had no raiders last night. The B.B.C. reports that last night Molotov officially announced in Moscow that Russian troops have crossed the River Prut and entered Rumanian territory in several sectors. He also told representatives of the foreign press that the Soviet had no wish to acquire new territory or to alter the social structure of Romania. The Red Army’s intention was to pursue the German and satellite armies until their final rout and capitulation. Well, we shall see. 

In the postscript to the nine o’clock news last night a press correspondent, a Mr. Moorhead, just back from Italy, gave a description of occupied Europe, with an admonition that we had better consider the future of Europe after the war! He said that England was an oasis of safety and plenty in comparison with occupied Europe, and that we didn’t sufficiently realize the maliquity of the war. He said that Italy was a shambles, and all the Italians wanted was food. Food! I didn’t care a hoot. I don’t care if the Italians are suffering, or the French either. I think, Let’em suffer. I think: Europe wanted war, now Europe has war. Very well, pay for it. No, I’ve no tears for the poor Italians; no sob story about them is ever going to stir my stony heart. This war need never have been. It is a sure thing we English didn’t want it. Hitler and Mussolini would have their war, and their Germans and Italians were whole-heartedly behind them, but now they are squealing. All right, let them squeal, but give them a bellyful of war, their glorious war. I don’t care if they starve to death. Hitler and Mussolini inflicted Hell on the world and nobody raised a protest against them; their people followed them like sheep. Well I am not sorry for sheep. I am sick to death of Europe and all Europeans, and I’ll never be sorry for one of them. Let’em suffer and the more the better. They willed this war, now they must endure it, and take the consequences. Devil takes them all. 

April 5, 1944 

On Monday Ted received a letter from Artie saying that the Medical Board had passed him grade C, and so it looked as though he would be in uniform until the end of the war, and asking his father to send to him a whole list of his army belongings, which are still here. Bed, shoes, pajamas, books, etc. This morning Ted got a second letter from him, saying that he couldn’t understand the War Office communication, and he couldn’t say definitely yet whether he was remaining in the army or not, but to please send on the things that he asked for, to Glasgow, in case he had to report for duty. At lunchtime Ted said to me: “I didn’t tell you I had written to Artie, did I? I refused to send on his things. (There was a sheet long list, and information where to find everything; how to pack it, and how to forward.) I told him, that when King Louis XIV got tired of his court company he used to say: “If I were you gentleman, if I was in your place, I should go home now” and that I was saying to him, if I was in your place I should go home now. I told him that I hadn’t got time to attend to all those things, and he had better come and fetch them for himself, and also take a good look around the house and see what else he wanted. I wasn’t going to lug through that lot of work for him, he added. It would be a lot of work. Several things he asked for are in trunks, under the bed, very hard to get at. 

It is now evening. Ted has gone to play the organ for the evening service. At tea-time he told me that he walked up the road with an American soldier who was on his way to visit the Story’s; said he must have been one of the boys who has been here some time, because he addressed him by name, and enquired after me. This is the significant point of the story; the soldier said this was the last night any American soldier was going to get a sleeping out pass. So, it’s the invasion any day now. 

April 6, 1944 


Today the Postmaster General announces that the public telephone service between Great Britain and all parts of Ireland will be withdrawn immediately. The telegraph service will be maintained, but subject to strict censorship. This is to prevent any possible leakage of vital information through Ireland. 

From America comes news of the defeat of Mr. Wendle Wilkie in the Wisconsin primaries yesterday. He has asked his friends not to present his name at the convention, in view of this defeat. The big vote went for Mr. Dewey. 

I received a card from Sket today, dated the Fifth of January 1944. He writes: “Dear Folks, just to say I am o.k. I am glad that Christmas Day and New Years are passed. It was a depressing period. I had hoped to get my glasses by Christmas but I suppose they are still in Switzerland. This year there was no flood of Christmas cards from England and strangely enough we have survived without them. I send my respect, Sket.” Poor old Sket! These are weary years for him. 

April 13, 1944 


Soon after we got to bed last night we had an alert. The raid lasted from eleven p.m. until nearly midnight. The moon is waning so we expect raids every night until we get moonlight again. At first it was the moonlit nights that brought the raiders, now it is the moonless nights. 

April 14, 1944 


We had a raid in the night, between one-thirty and two-fifteen a.m. The B.B.C. says we brought down two of the raiders. I want to note this “letter” in this week’s “Listener”. It is headlined, The Doctrine of Forgiveness. It reads: “I am not much good at elegant streamlined phrases, so please forgive my bluntness when I ask just what does Mr. W.R. Childe mean by his “Philosophy of Christ?” When the Master said, “Love your enemies,” he could not possibly have meant by it ‘a considered policy – when the power of harming others has been taken away? There is no vitality of love in a forgiveness of that sort. It makes me think of a widow placing a nice wreath on her deceased husband’s grave with the sentimental satisfaction of knowing he can no longer torment her as he did when alive. ‘The key to the healing of the nations’ is to be found in Christ himself; not in any ‘Lo, here is Christ’ and ‘there is Christ’ philosophy. Brigg. Mary Watkinson.” I note it for its touch about the widow.

April 15, 1944 

My dinner is all set. We are having a half shoulder of lamb, potatoes, carrots, beetroot, broccoli tops and a spicy rice pudding. We get one good dinner a week, and this is it. This is our whole weeks ration of meat. I am ravenously meat hungry. I miss meat more than any other food. 

We had no raid last night, but I slept badly all the same. I have suffered with insomnia ever since the beginning of the war. For one thing, I have to go to bed too early. Ted retires about ten-thirty and I have too also, not more than ten minutes later. Consequently I lay awake for hours. When the alert went at one-thirty a.m. the night before last I had not slept a minute. Naturally I am what my mother would describe as a “night bird”. All of us in our family were, usually we didn’t have supper until about ten, and never thought of retiring before midnight. Anyhow, my brain is most active at night, which is when I could write. I could write all night easily. So for me to lie awake in bed is a sheer waste of time. Of course I can’t read because I have no light. If I could go to bed when I was ready for bed, that would be all right, but no, that is not permitted. When Ted goes to bed I must go to bed, that’s the rule. The household must pleasure the husband, “the head of the house”, that is the inviolate rule in England. Why do I put up with it? Why don’t I say, no I don’t want to go to bed now, I want to listen to the radio? I say nothing. I let him get away with it. I let him get away with murder. I am certainly terribly tired of it, deathly tired of it. As I lay awake last night I thought of how sick I was of goodness and of being good. I thought of all the fun I have missed in life, tagging along with Ted Thompson. I should have burst out of bounds years and years ago; I ought to have done so. 


Wednesday April 19, 1944 

We had another raid here last night, between one and two a.m. W. & H’s office received a bomb, and is completely gutted. Also Allen’s, the Brewery, The Cottons, Hale’s, Cakebreads, Neumann’s, Knightsbridge Road, Waterloo Road. Bert’s office is completely burned out. This is the fourth fire there, once through Ritchie’s fault, once through Dunne’s, and now twice from Gerry. The B.B.C. reported at eight a.m. that we brought down ten of the nights raiders, I should think at least half of them in Romford. No details yet. I shall learn more when Ted comes in for lunch. 

It is now evening. Fourteen people were killed in Waterloo Road and four at Seven Kings, where a plane crashed on top of a house and killed the people inside. Mrs. Wallace of Albion Terrace killed. Mrs. Shadforth, wife of the chemist “missing”. A London hospital severely damaged, one hundred and fifty three patients’ hurt, seven of the staff killed. Allen’s is completely destroyed and all the cars in the garage; but across the road in an empty lot where scores of tanks were awaiting repairs, nothing was touched, though several of the surrounding houses are down. The B.B.C. reports we brought down fourteen of the raiders. 

April 20, 1944 

A short raid last night before midnight, not bad in this neighborhood, but bad enough to be frightening. Mrs. Owlett was buried today. After the funeral, in the afternoon, Mr. Holloway’s daughter in-law came to tell him of the death of his son, in Nairobi. This is a terrible blow for the old fellow. I believe it was his only child. So Miss Owlett and old Mr. Holloway have gone away for a week or two, and Miss Owlett has asked us to keep an eye on the house for them. Or course, I can’t understand this going away so promptly after a funeral, but there you are, different people act differently. If I suffered bereavement I shouldn’t want to leave the house for a long time, because if I did, it would be too hard to return to it. Then, I never care about “going away” at any time. I like best to stay on my own premises. 

April 24, 1944 


Joan arrived at eight o’clock this morning, for the day. Of course she was very surprised to find Artie and Hilda here. Miss Coppen the same, when she came this afternoon. It is another perfect day. The B.B.C. announces that the Government has decided that beginning next Thursday, nobody may leave Great Britain, and this is for security reasons. 

April 25 1944 

The B.B.C. announces that Germany has isolated Denmark; beginning today, nobody may either leave or enter Denmark.

World War ll London Blitz: 3-2-44 There was a raid last night between two forty-five and three-thirty a.m. It was very terrifying. One bomb sounded as though it was surely going to land in our alley.

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March 2, 1944 

There was a raid last night between two forty-five and three-thirty a.m. It was very terrifying. One bomb sounded as though it was surely going to land in our alley. When I went back upstairs to bed at the all clear, I saw three distinct fires on the horizon in the direction of London. The B.B.C. announced at eight a.m. that we had brought down five of the raiders.

March 5, 1944

Yesterday the Americans bombed Berlin for their first time. We will probably get a reprisal raid tonight.

March 7, 1944

This morning Daisy White came in. She was after some more of the Mrs. Henry Wood’s, which she enjoys keenly. She took away two volumes. She happened to have her business attaché case with her, and offered me some soap, coupon free. She also had some real linen tea towels, four of them, one coupon each, those were all she had, and she let me buy them all. She says it is the coupons that bother her business; with only twenty coupons to spend to cover the entire “clothes” ration, people can’t and won’t spend coupons for towels, handkerchiefs, etc. Of course not. You must give up eighteen coupons for a suit or a dress, seven for a pair of shoes, six for a vest, so it goes, people simply can’t buy oddments like towels.

I have sent off an order today to Harrods for ten pounds of coffee. Dorrie Stanford told us there is a rumor going around the hospital that coffee is about to be rationed, so Ted said we’d better lay in a few pounds for a stand-by. We use on the average about a pound a week. A food news item on the radio today, stated that beginning in the new four-week food ration period, cheese would be reduced to two ounces per person per week, but milk would be increased half a pint per week, and there would be no change in the tea ration. Coffee was not mentioned, so I hope our order goes through before a ban gets clamped on it.

March 9, 1944

Yesterday at teatime Ted brought in two American soldiers for coffee. One was from Albany, N.Y. and the other from Olympia, Washington. They were ground staff boys of the air force. Talk turned on what the Americans are doing in Berlin now, and one of them, the Irish boy from Albany, said he guessed they would have to do the same to Rome, and that though he would like to see the grand old monuments he guessed there would be none left by the time they got there. After the boys left Ted began talking to me about the likely coming bombing of Rome, and whether it should be bombed etc., Then he branched off into his disquisition about life and art. “After all, he said, “When you think of it what is life but length of days? So if a man dies in war it only means he has less length of days. What are days in comparison with great works of art? I wouldn’t want to see Rome destroyed. Some of those art treasures are irreplaceable. I think we should make every effort to preserve them.” “Yes,” I said “and so are young lives irreplaceable, and we should make every effort to preserve them. There is no work of art that is worth more than a man’s life.” “Ah!” said Ted, “I’d hate to see Rome damaged and as I say, “life is only length of days, so if men give up some of their length of days so that the glories of Rome may be saved, I should think it would be worth it.”

I let the conversation drop. I cannot talk with this inhuman madman. Both our sons are now out of the fighting, but suppose they weren’t, would he be satisfied to have them throw away their lives to preserve stones? If not our sons, whose sons? If the Germans insist on fighting for Rome, Rome will be fought for, for I don’t think the Allies will be so insane as to make the Germans a present of it. What’s Rome? The Eternal City? There are other eternal cities, Athens, London bombed and shattered. The city is not its stones, its bricks and mortar. A city is the idea and the work of men. The material city can be knocked down, and it can be built up again, and even more beautiful than before, if the idea of the city persists. The idea of Rome cannot be destroyed anymore than the idea of London can be destroyed. Human life can be destroyed, and no one can bring back the dead. After all, our boys and the American boys haven’t gone to war so as to save works of art; they have gone to war to destroy the enemy and thereby to save civilization. Here’s Ted moaning about Rome. Oh, he makes me sick.

March 11, 1944

I am cooking the dinner. A miserable piece of middle neck and scrap is our “roast” today, it is mostly waste, but tomorrow the roasted bones will flavor some soup. Our diet gets poorer and poorer. It keeps us alive, but it is impossible to extract stamina from it. Everybody complains of tiredness. Lack of sugar, lack of protein, too much starch, poor bread, it’s something amiss. We all keep going, but we all feel unduly exhausted.

Yesterday we were told that United States government had requested the government of Eire to close down the German and Japanese Legations in Dublin, in view of the very near approach of the Allies invasion of Europe, and because it is known that the German’s draw constant information of our affairs through the German and Japanese Legations in Dublin. This morning we are told that the Irish have refused the request. Naturally. The Irish were all for Germany in the last war, and they are the same in this. What an urgent need there must be for this request for the Americans to make it! They too must have known it would have been refused; surely, yet they have asked it. De Valera has answered with the explanations about the neutrality of Eire, etc. Well, we know all about the neutrality of Eire. Eire has been a positive and active friend to the Axis constantly from the very beginning of the war. Because of Eire’s neutrality thousands of our boys needlessly lie on the ocean floor. God curse Ireland. He has done, and he will do. 

March 13, 1944

Joan arrived at eight a.m. and stayed for the day. This is the first time I have seen her since December Twelfth. Now that the longer days are coming she says she will come to see me about once a month. She looks very well. She told us of the recent bad blitzing in Hammersmith, Kensington and Fulham. She said the King and Queen came to look at the damage, and their visit was resented. The unfortunates thought they were only showing common curiosity. Churchill also visited the neighborhood, and was resented. It was in the Broadway, where a bomb had fallen, Joan said they had nine bombs in Hammersmith alone, that he waved his hand and called out “It’s quite like old times!” This remark was not well received, and one man who answered rudely, and swearing, was taken away by the police; it turned out that he was one of the unfortunates, whose family had to be dug out of ruins. Joan said Churchill’s cigar is so deeply resented: “him and his two shilling cigar!” Well, it would seem more politic not to puff those cigars in the faces of the poor and the blitz victims.

March 14, 1944

I received a parcel from Bumpus. A twelve-volume edition of Shakespeare and a four-volume edition of “Middlemarch.” Nothing else. I am very pleased with these. We had a raid last night between one a.m. and one-thirty a.m. I came downstairs but Ted remained up in bed. The figures for casualties in the air raids for February have been given today. Civilian casualties due to air raids in the United Kingdom during February were nine hundred and sixty-one killed (or missing, believed killed) and seventeen hundred and twelve injured and detained in he the hospital. This is the highest total since May 1941. Churchill is speaking in Parliament today about the ban on travel to and from Ireland. Last week the United States Government, with the approval of our government, asked DeValera to expel the German and Japanese representatives from Eire. The request was refused. The reason for the request was severely practical. It was to clear out the nests of espionage and plotting in Dublin, and to free Allied Forces in Northern Ireland from continuing danger. On Sunday it was announced that because of Eire’s refusal to expel the Germans and Japanese from Dublin, a ban on all travel between Eire and the United Kingdom would come into effect at once, and further steps would be taken to isolate Southern Ireland from the world, for reasons of military safety.

Among the reasons given by DeValera for his refusal was the “forced partition” of Ireland. DeValera’s policy in this war has clamped down partition. Ulster’s objections to the merger with Eire have been intensified. DeValera has “missed the bus.” If at the beginning of the war, he had offered collaboration with Britain and the Empire, and British use of Irish ports, on the condition of national unity, Ulster leaders would have found it difficult to justify continued partition, and the British people would have welcomed a settlement on that basis. The opportunity passed and will not return until there is a change of heart in Southern Ireland. That, I think, will be never. The Southern Irish simply will not be friendly to Britain. Nay, and more than that, not only will they not be friendly, they will insist on being positively unfriendly, and that perpetually would not end. The lovely Irish!

March 15, 1944

There was a very heavy raid last night between ten-fifteen and eleven forty-five p.m. The B.B.C. states this morning that we brought down nine bombers. It was most frightening. Even Ted showed nervousness. He became very pale, and finally took his rosary out of his pocket and began saying it. This is the first time I have ever seen him do this. I didn’t pray. I couldn’t. Instead I kept on with my reading, luckily a light book, Esther Maxwell’s “Life of the Young Lincoln.” As the war goes on my “Christian” religion evaporates more and more. I can’t see what Jesus Christ and the gospels have to do with this affair, and as for the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, even less. As for mass, nothing. My God is a spirit, and I worship him in spirit and in truth as the human Jesus once told a woman to do. This religion about Jesus I cannot swallow. I cannot believe in a God who was an historical person. That is why I like the Anglican Church so much, Jesus is in it, of course, but much more so is God there, the God one can find in the Old Testament, the God that declared that he was not a man that he should repent him. I have to try to have feelings about Jesus, and responses to him, it is all artificial, a pretense. I don’t have to try to have feelings about God, they are spontaneous, I can feel God in the Old Testament, I can feel him in the sunshine, the moon and stars, the grass, in my love for Ted in the night when that can be spontaneous and true, in an infant, in an eclipse, but I cannot feel God in the Christian religion.

The one o’clock news reported that we brought down a total of thirteen German bombers last night. Lily Hartnet came this morning. She brought a parcel, which Gladys had directed, by mistake, to 78 Eastern Road. This “Eastern” and “Western” is very confusing. The packet was a pound of tea, most, most acceptable. Lily stayed quite a long time. She tells me she will be eighteen this October. I think of her only as the pretty little child of four!

We had another raid this evening, from nine-fifteen p.m. until ten p.m. It is all quiet now, Ted has gone up to bed and I am about to follow. I hope to have a quiet night. Tonight’s raid was not as bad as last night’s but bad enough.

March 16, 1944

We had an alert at six-thirty this evening, before dark. The raid lasted only a little over half an hour. It was a small attack only. The weather is still very cold. Winter is lasting long this year.

March 21, 1944

It is the first official calendar day of spring, but the weather is most unspring like. It is very cold. The Government has published a ban today on all travel to the coast, from The Wash to Lands End, and certain portions of the Firth of Forth, to come into effect on April First. All schools in the country were asked a few weeks ago to close down by March Thirty-First, for the Easter holidays, as no travel will be permitted after that date. Is the Invasion about to begin at last?

March 22, 1944

It is colder than ever. We had another very heavy raid last night, over London and the S.E. coast. It began here about twelve forty-five a.m. and went on until two a.m. this morning. It was extremely bad. Several times I thought we should surely be hit, but no, here we are, still intact. We are in the dark of the moon now, so many expect several more raids during the next week or so. There is a new moon on Friday. I wrote to Marjorie today, and to Eddie last Sunday. I have received a card from Sket, dated December Tenth. He writes: “Dear Folks, I had a parcel from you a few days ago. I was pleased to get only what I asked for. It is hard to realize that only in a month’s time I shall be twenty-five years old. I hope that it is to be my last birthday in captivity. Art has got out of the war pretty lightly so why should he not be cheerful? I have no more to say. Sket.”

Poor boy, poor child!

March 25, 1944

There was a very heavy raid last night. It began about eleven p.m. and went on until after one o’clock this morning. On today’s one o’clock news we were told that whilst the Germans were bombing London, we were bombing Berlin. The R.A.F. dropped twenty five hundred tons of bombs on Berlin, during one half hour. Seventy-three of our aircraft are missing from the thousand who were sent to do the job. Over here we suffered damage and casualties, but, as usual, details are not given us. Most of it, of course, was in London. The only “fact” we are given is the information that we brought down eight of the enemy raiders.

The German’s have occupied Hungary.

Vesuvius, which has been in violent eruption since last Saturday was yesterday reported to be subsiding. The streams of lava appear to have stopped and the other activity of the volcano is on a declining scale, telegraphs a “Times” correspondent. This has been a most violent eruption, the worst since eighty years ago, many villages buried, and thousands of people evacuated, their homes lost forever. One of the very strange things during these war years is the constant violence of nature. There have been many serious earthquakes in this time, and now Vesuvius has been pouring out relentless destruction. One reporter broadcast from Italy that the destruction caused by the eruption was more awesome then the fighting going on there. Of course. The eruption of the volcano is an act of God; it cannot be stopped until God stops it. War is the act of man, it need not be. War is a deliberate madness, gigantic folly, and folly is not awesome, it is enraging, it is heart breaking, but it is not awesome.

March 31, 1944

The weather is very cold and we had frost in the night. It was a bad night, a raid from three-thirty to four-thirty a.m., also much crossing over of our own aircraft, back and forth. There was bad news on the one o’clock bulletin, a report that the R.A.F. made a raid in great strength over Nuremberg last night; and ninety-six of our aircraft are missing. This is awful. This is the highest loss in one night we have had yet. One night in February we lost seventy-nine, but this is much worse. Poor boys. One prays that they go straight to heaven. Poor boys. When, oh when, will this damnable war end?

World War ll London Blitz: 2-1-44 “The Journal de Genève” reported yesterday (that would be January 29,) that Himmler had been relieved of his position as Minister of the Interior in Germany. “Possibly he has been executed,” added the report, which mentioned rumors that a “brutal elimination” of Hitler had been planned inside Germany. —B.U.P.”

Purchase London Blitz Diary's

February 1, 1944 

When Miss Coppen visits me on Mondays she brings me her Sunday papers, The Sunday Times, and The Observer. Today there is one item worth noting. First, this from the Observer: “The Journal de Genève” reported yesterday (that would be January 29,) that Himmler had been relieved of his position as Minister of the Interior in Germany. “Possibly he has been executed,” added the report, which mentioned rumors that a “brutal elimination” of Hitler had been planned inside Germany. —B.U.P.” 

Lets hope all this is true, but I think it very unlikely. 

February 2, 1944 


What else do I believe? That is what I am trying to find out. That is found for myself and myself as a woman. I repudiate men’s beliefs, most of them, for they are no use to me. The longer I live the more I grow to look upon men as fools. No, a man’s mind is not for a woman, she never thinks his thoughts, she can’t, for not only are her thoughts different from his, her whole nature is against them. Look what men have made of the world today, women have to live in it and endure it, but their secret minds and souls scorn it and reject it. Men seem to regard war as a game; but women know it is lunatic hell, and that it need never be. God almighty did not ordain war; it is only men who will wage it. 

Of course first of all above everything I believe in the individual soul, but not the sort of theoretical general masculine soul priests and parsons talk about. I believe in my individual woman’s soul, and I hold that it contains within itself its own recognition of validity and truth, and its own surety and witness to its own value and its own end. I am because I am, and know that I am. Morality, therefore, for me, consists in my soul’s recognition of right and wrong, and not in man’s words or dictates, nor in the performance of any act either of custom or utility or expedience. The justification of morality lays in my inexpugnable sense of duty towards a personal, absolute and above all, a good God. The God who made me is good so I must be good. I must choose the good. I must. If I go against it I suffer more than I can bear. That is why the war is such suffering for me, and for all women. Women know that war is the voluntary inexcusable wickedness of men, and to think about it is to go mad. 

War, I think, is man’s prerogative, and so, I think, is religion, or rather, not religion, but theology, along with the churches. Religion is that living contact between the soul and its maker, an experience of the spirit; but theology is something very different from that. For men, like as with war, theology is a game that they play, a game that is mainly only word spinning, but one that can lead to death and torture, if played hard enough. Comparatively only a few men take their theology seriously nowadays. The fanatics like my poor Ted. Mostly the churches are dead. Then why am I bothering so about church? 

February 4, 1944 

I have been given an answer to my religious problem, but not through the workings of the subconscious but through the workings of Hitler. Between a quarter to five and a quarter past six this morning we endured another very bad air raid. It was frightful. Sitting in my corner, retching, shaking, praying, I looked across at Ted who was reclining on his sofa, and all at once I saw what I had to do, and that is, stay in the Catholic Church, at least “for the duration.” I thought, supposing I was to get killed in one of these raids, what a distress it would be for Ted if he couldn’t bury me as a Catholic! So, for Ted’s sake, I must stay a Catholic. I am resolved to put out of my mind all my irritations and disbeliefs about Catholicism, and all my attractions to Anglicanism. I will believe what I can and all I can. I will meditate on the fundamental doctrines of Christianity and ignore, as far as I can, all those aceretionary dogmas, which float my intelligence. 

No authentic news of the raid yet. A big fire was burning all morning across the tracks but I don’t know exactly where. Ted has heard bombs were dropped in Stanley Avenue, Hornchurch, and Dorset Avenue, Hornchurch because people were in the office looking for houses. There are reports of them falling in Upminster and Chelmsford and also on Fords at Dagenham, though Ted said he heard they only struck the car park, not the works. The salvage man, who came at breakfast time, said he was out fire-watching last night, and he saw three Gerry’s brought down at Upminster. There must have been hundreds over here, by the sound they made; it was ceaseless, like as in 1940-1941. This terrible world! 

February 6, 1944 


It is all quiet, no raids yesterday, nor last night. Miss White and Daisy came today, and told us that last Thursday a whole street behind the cinema at Upminster was demolished, and many houses at Great Nessing, near Chelmsford. I have not been to church. I guess my resolution is not so much to remain a Catholic, as not to become an Anglican. 

February 12, 1944 

We had a raid last night between seven-thirty and eight-thirty p.m. Southeast England, and the London area. Reports the B.B.C. bombs dropped in several places and “some” casualties reported. I was sick with fright, as usual, and shook so uncontrollably that I am still tired from it today. I feel as though I have been beaten. Oh this blasted war! When are the lunatic men going to stop it? The weather continues bright, cold and frosty, very healthy. 

It is now ten p.m. and we had a raid between nine and nine-thirty p.m. All quiet again now and pray God we have a quiet night. 

February 14, 1944 St. Valentine’s Day 

I am just back from town. I went to get Ted’s newspaper, and to draw some money out of the post office bank. I withdrew three pounds, and will withdraw another three pounds tomorrow. With what I have on hand this will give me a total of ten pounds to take to town on Wednesday. Perhaps I shall spend it all, and perhaps I shan’t, what I don’t spend if any I will redeposit on Thursday. I am determined to get myself the Wordsworth and the Shakespeare. Money in the bank is only good to be spent these days I think, we may be dead tomorrow, anyone of us. Last night we had a most awful raid, lasting from eight thirty p.m. until ten o’clock. It was awful. This morning the B.B.C. laconically reports: “We brought down four bombers last night, out of a more numerous lot than have been sent over during the last three or four raids. Idiotic! We know they “were more numerous” all right! During the raid Ted kept saying: “Well, I’d rather them come now, early, than after I had gone to bed.” How convenient for slumber! The milk boy this morning said he saw one brought down at Havering. It fell in a field, three men in it killed, but one man escaped by parachute. Poor boys, poor German boys! They were only doing their duty, the same as our boys over Germany. I grieve for all the young men destroyed horribly in this bestial war, whether friend or foe. Poor lads, they didn’t start the war, they only have to fight it. Oh lunacy, lunacy! Bestial hellish madness! It does not bear thinking on, that way madness lies. 

So I shall buy myself the books I desire, and anything else I may discover to help my mental defense. Anyhow these raids make me so ill, I think I might die of sickness if I have to suffer them continuously. I felt last night as though I were dying, and this morning I feel as though I had been kicked around, my ribs are sore from so much retching, and my thighs ache as though I had climbed a mountain, from the effort to hold my limbs still from the destroying trembling. Yes, I think incessant raids could kill me, without a bomb having to fall on the house. 

February 16, 1944 

There was shocking news at one o’clock. The B.B.C. said we were out over Berlin last night, and made the heaviest air attack ever on any objective in this war yet. Over twenty five hundred tons of bombs were dropped on Berlin, commencing at nine o’clock in the evening. Of over a thousand of our planes sent out we have lost forty-five. Also yesterday we bombed the Monastery of Monte Cassino, in relays of one hundred Lancaster’s and Fortresses at a time, and the Monastery is completely destroyed. The Germans had been using it as a fortress for some time, until finally we decided we must attack it. The Abbot of Downside spoke a few words about it at the end of the news. He deplored its loss, but said he had full confidence in our military leaders judgments, and so the attack was a case of military necessity. He added that the loss of the great abbey was another crime to be charged against the Germans. He also said he deplored the loss of brave young lives, but he considered the life of even one man more valuable than any building, no matter how beautiful, historic, or venerable. Good for him! He said the war must go on until the curse of Nazism is purged utterly from the earth. Also we have been given the figures of our casualties in Italy. Since September 3, until February 12, they amount to over thirty-six thousand, roughly seven thousand killed, twenty-three thousand wounded, the rest missing. My God My God! This weary weight of this entire unintelligible world! Where is the end of all this lunacy? 

February 17, 1944 

Well, I’m spending my own money for my own luxuries, not Teds. I do feel that whilst life is so unsafe and chancy it is only merely sensible to give ourselves whatever innocent pleasures we can, before Hitler possibly destroys us. What a world we live in! What a hateful world! The war has been going on for four and a half years now, and the Germans are nothing like licked. They are a most powerful enemy and I should think it’s quite likely that they have power and resources enough to go on for another four and a half years. Of course, ultimately they will be licked, but until then and after then, what agonies lie before us! Oh God, save us! 

February 19, 1944 

We had a bad raid last night between one and two a.m. The B.B.C. says more raiders than usual got through to London, but no details are given yet. There was news yesterday from Russia of the annihilation of the encircled German divisions in the Dieppe Bend, and the capture of Nikopol. This was the trapped German Eighth Army. Stalin announces fifty-two thousand Germans killed and eleven thousand taken prisoner. It is said that the Germans were issued with triple doses of rum and told to try and cut themselves out, and ordered to commit suicide rather than surrender to the Russians, Hitler’s orders. Do young German’s still think it glorious to die for Hitler? I wonder! Oh God! When will men return to their senses? 

In Italy we are only just holding our ground. This week we have destroyed the Monastery of Monte Cassino. Questions have been asked in Parliament about the destruction of ancient monuments, and there has been an awful lot of gabble about it, in fact, this question of the preservation of historic buildings has been turned into a burning war issue. People talk about the value of civilization of the great architectural monuments of the past, but not those who have sons and brothers, husbands and lovers, doing the fighting. We are not giving our men so that they may save the manifestations of civilization, but so that they may save civilization it self. Civilization ultimately survives in the minds of men, not in bricks and mortar, oil and canvas, print and parchment, and the survival of civilization depends on the civilization of civilized men. In war civilized men die. We cannot afford to lose our civilized men for material things. Things can be replaced. What man has made once he can make again. Europe is too cluttered anyhow with the tangible remains of the past. Let us destroy the destroyer, that is the task, and when he is destroyed we can rebuild Monte Cassino if we want to. What man has done, man can do again to satisfy the spiritual and artistic needs of his soul. Creation, destruction, creation; that has been the law of life. It may cease to be the law if the creative force itself, civilized man, perishes. I would not throw away the life of one man to save one historic building, no matter how grand or beautiful. I want to bring near the end of this hellish war, and if the German’s want to fight in the Vatican, all right, let the Vatican perish along with the Germans. Why be tender to monuments? It is our young men we must save, not old marbles. 

We had a raid early this evening, not too bad. 

February 20, 1944 

We had a bad raid this evening, lasting from nine-twenty p.m. until ten-forty five p.m. The B.B.C. says we were out over Leipzig last night “in great strength.” We lost seventy-nine bombers. 

February 21, 1944 

There was another raid during the night, lasting from two-thirty a.m. until three-fifteen a.m. 

February 22, 1944 

It is Washington’s Birthday. It is extremely cold. Some snow fell this morning, but blew away. We had a raid in the night between three and three-thirty a.m. It was less noisy then the previous nights. 

Elizabeth Coppen came this morning and brought me an egg, straight from the hen. She made me promise not to make pancakes with it! It seems this is Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, but I hadn’t realized it. I shall boil it for my tea, and eat it with thankfulness. For Ted I will boil some leeks. This diet question is an awful business. Everyone is craving fresh food, and there isn’t any. I crave fresh fruit, fresh meat, and some real bread. The National Bread gets worse and worse, and it is horribly indigestible. However, we survive it. We are increasing terrifically the weight of our bombing over Germany. Two thousand allied aircraft, including a very large force of heavy bombers, made a daylight attack on Sunday; following a night attack of nearly a thousand R.A.F. bombers the previous night, on Leipzig. They were out in force again yesterday; and all this morning I heard droves of planes flying over. Tonight I expect the Germans will come back at us. Will there be any world left at all? What is so appalling is how we have all come to take destruction for granted. Oh God, when will this awful war end? 

February 23, 1944 Ash Wednesday 

We had another bad raid last night. It was just midnight when I came downstairs at one-thirty a.m. when the all clear went. It was a terrible raid. I thought one bomb was falling in our side alley, but no, it wasn’t. When I went back to bed I saw from the bathroom window a big fire blazing across the tracks, Victoria Road or Brentwood again, I suppose. At eight a.m. the B.B.C. said we brought down six bombers during the night. Yesterday Churchill spoke in Parliament reviewing the war. He says our attacks on Europe will increase all during spring and summer and we must expect increasing retaliation. Naturally, but the complacency with which men, men who don’t have to fight, talk about war, infuriates me. God, how I hate old men! I think “our elder statesmen” enjoy themselves over the war. Blast them! Shall we ever know a natural life again? I wonder. I am miserable. I don’t know what to do with myself. Existence is almost unbearable. Weather is abominable. The house is gloomy, I am tired from lack of sleep, and I had bad cramps last night in my left thigh, to add to my troubles. Churchill’s speech is most depressing. The war stretches forward indefinitely. Hell, hell, hell! 

I hear that in the neighborhood last night the Germans started fires at Upminster, Chadwell Heath, Ochenden, Brentwood, and Gidea Park Railway station. At one o’clock the B.B.C. reported that we brought down ten bombers last night. Churchill gave a lot of figures yesterday. Amongst others he said, that excluding Dominion and Allied Squadrons working with the Royal Air Force, the British Islanders have lost thirty-eight thousand three hundred pilots and aircrews killed and ten thousand four hundred missing, and over ten thousand aircraft, that is, since the beginning of the war, and they have made nearly nine hundred thousand sorties into the North European theatre. Cheers, the house gave cheers. Cheers for the dead. What good does that do them? Any thing more futile and lunatic than war I can’t imagine. Oh when will this misery end? Why do I rave? Why rave? It’s silly to let myself come so near to the edge of madness. I’ve got to control my mind. I’ve got to and I will. 

February 24, 1944 

I just got back from another quick trip to the library, and feeling better for the outing. There is heavy frost on everything, and all the little puddles are iced, but the sky is clear and the sun shining, good healthy weather. I am feeling better, but not yet well. I have a cold still in my head and in my chest. Anyhow, I feel better, so that’s good. We had a small sharp raid between eighty-thirty and nine-fifteen this morning, the first day light raid for a long time. I distinctly saw two of the Gerry’s fly right over this house. 

We had a bad raid again last night. It began at ten p.m. and went on until eleven-thirty p.m. This was the fourth successive night. However, we had not gone to bed, so were at least comfortable with our clothes on. When it started I felt I wanted to cry. Really I feel I can’t stand much more of this war. If it doesn’t stop soon I feel I will go mad. I made myself read the Wordsworth book, Herford’s, but really couldn’t take any pleasure in it. Yet I force myself to read whilst a raid is on, endurance is a little easier. I find I don’t pray anymore, or if I do it is because my resistance is cracking, prayer now seems to intensify the sense of danger rather than alleviate it. Prayer it seems, like other experiences, love, religion, hunger, even fear, comes to an end. Apropos of love, and the insatiable appetite of men. Concupiscence and the insatiable sex hunger of men. Presumably because a bad raid was finished and we had a sense of being able to spend the rest of the night in peace, and because the bed was warm, and because my coughing had ceased, and because he felt like it, Ted “loved” me before settling down to his sleep. This was the climax of his Ash Wednesday. What is this? It isn’t love, it certainly isn’t passion, and it is not my idea of desire, it is simply the simple basic nature of a simple man. It is the nature of a man to be un-romantic, un-refined, and un-important as a simple bellyache. Yet it is inescapable, fundamental, the rock bottom base of a man, of all men. 

Well! Well, is it possible to respect a man, to believe in this notion? I don’t think so. An old maid might, or any sex ignorant person, but certainly emphatically not an old wife. 


February 25, 1944 

We had another raid last night, from nine-thirty p.m. until ten p.m. It was not so heavy as before in this neighborhood, but have heard today it was the other side of London that got the worst of it, bombers brought down at Wembley and Ealing. Mrs. Whitbread was here today. She tells me a one thousand ton bomb fell in the middle of Hainault Road one night this week; nobody was killed, but there was much damage to the property. It is Harold’s thirty-sixth birthday today. 

February 27, 1944 

We had no raiders last night. It is two-fifteen p.m. now, and a most peculiar darkness has fallen over us. It is not fog, nor yet darkness like night, but, a green-yellowy blight, obscuring everything. It began soon after one o’clock, whilst we were at dinner, and has gotten worse and worse. If I turn out the electric light the room is as black as a coalhole. Ted has just gone out “to walk around the block” for curiosity. Not a sound to be heard. It is most weird. It makes us think of that day in May when France fell, and a similar peculiar darkness fell over England. It makes me wonder: What is happening right now? Has the invasion begun? Has France broken into open revolution? Has Hitler been assassinated? One can’t help feeling that this worst peculiar, most unnatural, most frightening atmosphere and darkness are an omen from Heaven of some great world gloom and doom. What is it? 

February 28, 1944 

No raiders over last night. On Saturday Ted received a letter from Artie, with an enclosure for me; this is it: “23, February 1944. Dear Mother, It was very kind of you to purchase a film for me at Forster’s and send it on. I had it on order and they are so hard to get. The Chesterfields too were more than welcome and I was pleased to have them. I am sending you the money with this to cover the film. I hope you are feeling better and not disturbed by the raids. Love and prayers, Fred.” That’s all. 

February 29, 1944 

I have had a letter from Joan, written Sunday. She writes: “Three times last week I tried to phone you but the queue of people waiting to use the phone was so long that I gave up as a bad job each time. We have had it very badly in Hinsmith, and all around us too, we have had oil bombs dropped here in each of the raids last week. On Wednesday night when I got back from the shelter I found this house had been blasted again, the front door was blown in and the window in this sitting room was blown complete with the frame out of the wall, and yet not a bit of glass broken. In Mother’s bedroom some of the ceiling was down and the whole house was covered with fine black and white dust. On Thursday men came and put the window back and saw to the front door, I cleared the mess up and once more I am clean and tidy. One night the fires were so bad I was afraid to go to bed for hours after the all clear had sounded; the smoke of the fires came into the house. A number of houses on this road have lost their windows again and the same in King’s Street. I will not tell you where all the bombs fell in Hammersmith, but whole roads of houses have gone this time, and the reason why we have had it so badly is because General Montgomery has his Headquarters in St. Paul’s Boy’s School in Kensington; all around there is in a mess: as a matter of fact West London has had a packet full. I go over to the shelter as soon as the warning goes and hope for the best. I am very jittery, but thank goodness the desire to run away is no longer with me, so I suppose my nerves are standing up to the strain. Don’t you drag all this way over here to see me, especially just now when the line is up between here and Liverpool Street. It took Eric an hour to get from Paddington to Hinsmith yesterday. He took me out for a drink at lunchtime today. He is being moved to Wales next week. Except for the raids, life with me goes on very much as usual, and except for my back, which troubles me a bit, I am very well. ….. Except for the raids. Yes, except for the raids! 

We had a raid this evening between nine-twenty p.m. and ten-fifteen p.m. Guns sounded further off than of late, and we did not hear anything, which seemed to be falling in this neighborhood. Oh, what a weariness!

Letter to Bill Berry 4-26-43 (Friend of Ruby Thompson living in the USA)

                                              78 Western Road
                             Romford, Essex
                         Easter Monday, April 26, 1943



My dear Bill,


I have been writing to all the boys these last few days and now I feel I shouldn't stop before writing to you also, who seem to have become a sort of adopted child of the Thompson clan. I can't leave you out when I think of my American family. So here's a spiel from Grandma.


First of all I think I must say thank-you for a parcel from Macy's which came to hand in March. It contained two jars of turkey and 3 bars of chocolate. There was no clue at all as to who was the sender, but I think it must be either from you or from Johnnie. Anyhow, my most warm thanks to the sender, whoever he was. We are going to eat the second jar of turkey for dinner today, accompanied by a small bottle of Invalid Port which my brother in law, old Herbert, sent for my special consolation, because he thought I was so dreadfully knocked over by the bad news we received about Artie last week. This was so sweet of him, though booze isn't my idea of consolation. Still it was awfully nice of him to give it to me, and his brother Ted will sure appreciate it! Oh, I am afraid this sounds horrid. It was a nice thought  and a nice gift of Herbert's and I shall drink Artie's health in it presently, and the health of all my boys and all whom I love. Artie, now a lieutenant in the Reconnaissance Corps, was sent to North Africa last March. We had a couple of letters from him, according to which he was thoroughly enjoying himself, swimming in warm ocean water, doing p.t. on the sands, and glutting himself with oranges after a three years absence from them. He was happy and well. Then last week we got a telegram from the War Office, stating that he had been wounded in action on 10th of April, and a letter would follow shortly. No letter has come so far, but neither has any other communication, so we take comfort from this, concluding he can't be worse, and must be recovering somewhere. There was an awful battle around the 16th of three boys in this neighborhood whom we know were there, 2 have been reported killed, and one as having lost an eye. So it goes, damnation all around and Hitler not licked yet. My prayer is that Artie's eyes are alright. It seems to me it would be easier for a man to live minus a limb than minus his eyes. We have no idea where Artie is wounded. We only know it must be serious or we shouldn't have been  notified. Also, he can't be worse, because if so, we should have been notified of that also. I'm very sorry for his wife. Young love grieves so terribly. When you are young you think every disaster is the end of the world; you don't know what you can get over. She is a nice young girl. I like her very much. She is a Scotch girl whom he met when he went to Scotland for his O.C.T.U. She is a W.A.A.F. at an action station in Scotland. Poor thing, she has no private place to hide her grief, which may be as well. I know what it is to make yourself ill with weeping and it doesn't do the slightest bit of good. After all the tears everything is exactly as it was before, so why weep? There you are, women do. Yes, Bill, we are awful fools.


Fancy you dreaming of joining the navy!The navy ties with the R.A.F. for first place in public affection over here. We have so many hero's in this war and we need them all, God knows. It is strange I hear nothing of my U.S.A. boys having to go into a uniform. Is it because they have all got children? What about Dick? Is he still civilian also? The only boy I have heard of is the one you have told me about, The Harp, and whose house you are renting. By the way, is The Harp, an American yet, or is he still an Irishman? No family? 


Thanks for telling me about Chili's Lynne and Charlie. I hear my sister also considers them the best brought up kids in the family. Well, both Marjorie and Chili are fine people, they should produce nice children. I wish I could see them though, all of them. I hear there are two more grandchildren to come to town this month. Have you heard of any arrivals yet? Tell me, Bill, what have you heard about poor Harold's children? I had a letter from Harold a few days ago in which he said he might ultimately  have to put his two youngest into a Catholic orphanage. This idea puts me into a frenzy.

Harold wrote that on March 16 so he must have made some arrangements for his family long before this. Poor Harold! Poor Kay! Poor children! I feel so keenly that I ought to still be in Tenafly, so that I could take the children, all four of them, until poor Kay can be straightened out again. Bill, whatever went wrong there? Do you know? I hadn't heard from Kay since Susan was born, but of course I thought she was just too busy to write. We had a short non-newsy letter from Harold a little later, but no Christmas letter. Harold is not a good correspondent at the best of times, so I did not think much of that. Now last week comes this awful shocking letter, telling us Harold has had to have Kay put away for awhile. This is too awful for words and has shocked me even more than the news about Artie. After all, one's mind is prepared for bad news from the front, but never for this sort of news. My poor children! I feel so utterly useless, that makes it even harder to take. How is Harold? Do you know? You know Bill, Harold can get just as moody as Eddie, only he isn't so noisy about it. Johnny is the most steady based boy of the family; then perhaps Jimmy; then Charlie. That's the way they used to be. Maybe they have changed now like everything else. 
         
It is very interesting to hear your nephew is so like your father. Your mother wrote me the same thing. I have often noticed more resemblances  between grandchildren and grandparents than between parents and children. It is as though likeness skips a generation, sometimes two, for when Sheila was over here, only 2 years old, she was far more like my mother (her great-grandmother) than she was like anyone else in the family and showed many of my mother's characteristics markedly. I always thought Eddie showed very much of my father in him. Can you see me, as you know me, in any of my grandchildren? Sometimes I think I see my face in some of their snapshots, but maybe that's only my fond imagination. The persistence of family likeness is a certain thing, and I think it must feel awfully queer to see oneself being reproduced visibly in ones descendants. It works the other way, too. As I have grown older there have been occasions when I have sort of startled myself by recognizing an ancestor peeping out of my mundane ordinariness and asserting themselves most definitely almost violently. "Good gracious!" I think "that's Dad!" or "that's Aunt Marla!" or somebody of other, and usually the most far from perfect ones. Queer, but interesting. Interesting is what we crave, isn't it? Or it is what I do. You know, Bill, how bored I can get. I can still get bored. My God, do I get bored! Ted thinks it is some sort of failing on my part. Very likely. Unhappily I have got a lot of failings I can't do a darn thing about, except suffer 'em. Why is it, I wonder, that the virtuous invariably think the non-virtuous revel in their vices? I'm sure we suffer as much from our failings as everyone else does.

Do I ever want to be bored? Yet sometimes boredom will just swamp me like the sea, and I drown into anguish. I recover. Oh, yes, I recover. I'm like my mother, so tough nothing ever really drowns me.  

Thanks for the little snapshot of the Wyoming Chapel. I'll tell you about what I have done with that. I have had it enlarged and formalized into a design suitable for embroidery. Last year I took up embroidery again, and I find it a fine anodyne in trouble, and a good pastime in loneliness.I am not doing useful things;I am splurging out into pictures. I cannot find any commercial designs that were of the slightest interest to me, so I commissioned an artist to make me some designs, all landscapes. I am doing one now which I call my Van Gogh. It is a road going up a hill, with a group of houses on one side, and a church and churchyard and ploughed field, on the other, and tall poplars blowing in the wind. It's really very French Impressionistic. That's the way I work, I'm not earthly good at anything exact, neat, and dainty. The result is really very effective "even though I do say so myself." Even Ted approves and likes it. We found a funny title for this picture last night. I hung it over the sofa-back as to get a good look at it. Near the church, which is yellow with a rust roof, are three grey figures. "What are those?" says Ted: "the three first families?" Yes, and so the Three First Families it is. I thought your snapshot would make an excellent picture. I've had it drawn out about 22 x 32 inches and I shall begin on it very soon. Maybe someday your Jean might like it, for an over-mantle, if it turns out any good. Yes, foolish work, most of it a waste of time. Yet I am sure it helps to keep me sane. When I can't read and often nowadays I can't read, I can keep myself from getting broody by this useless, senseless distraction. If this comes to fail me, then heaven help me! Now Au-revoir, dear Bill. Please convey my greetings and compliments to Jean, my love to yourself. 

Yours affectionately,
Ruby Thompson