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.