Today, Vickie Washuk shares a sneak peek of Volume 2 of her series of the war diaries written by her great grandmother detailing both her personal and historical experience living in London during the World War ll London Bombing Blitz. If you missed the sneak peek of Volume 1, you can read it here.
Imagine yourself seeing hundreds of Messerschmitt war planes overhead and hearing the explosion of bombs being dropped around you. Wondering if this is the day one will fall on your house. Ruby Side Thompson’s personal diary was written during the terrifying World War Two London Blitz. Her diary is a true and detailed account of what she experienced during that horrific time. This is volume two of a four volume series written by Ruby Alice Side Thompson.
Wednesday, January 1, 1941
It was another quiet night due to bad weather. This afternoon the weather is clearing, so I expect we shall have the raiders again tonight.
Ted is cranky. Year-end bills, I suppose. This is laundry day. Our wash goes to the laundry every two weeks, and is collected on alternate Wednesdays. After dinner today when Ted descended from the bathroom, where, of course, he had found clean towels, he asked, “How long were those towels in the bathroom?” (Meaning those I had taken away).
“Two weeks,” I replied.
“But that one behind the door; that one wasn’t dirty”.
“It’s been there two weeks anyhow.”
“But it wasn’t dirty. I haven’t had so many baths. Why send it? Is it just your lust to spend money?”
“Not at all. The towel was soiled. I’ve used it, you’ve used it, it hung there a fortnight, and it was time it went to the wash.”
“Time has got nothing to do with it. The question is was it dirty?”
“Yes, it was,” I said, and added no more. I thought, what a man! What a petty fellow! Fancy bothering about the wash. The cost of laundering a towel is two pence. Why interface in such household trifles? He’s an extraordinary man, but Oh, how tiresome!
I was interrupted here by the arrival of Miss Coppen, so I have had a good chin with her and am feeling tons better. One of the greatest treats in the world is intelligent conversation.
Thursday, January 2, 1941
It is very cold, and a powdering of snow and a very noisy night last night again. At dinnertime Ted brought me in a letter, addressed simply to Mrs. Edward Thompson, Romford, England, which had been taken into him in the office, to be enquired about. It was for me, from Mrs. Slocum, in Roselle. It’s made me so happy I’m walking on air. She had heard of the news about Cuthie, through her Jimmie, via one of the Leech boys. Jimmie also wrote in a few lines, and sent me a snapshot of his boy, now in the U.S. Navy, on a destroyer. This made me brim over with tears. Here is one of the children I knew before he was born, now a sailor. Incredible. I was so excited, and so happy about everything. I sat down after clearing up lunch, and wrote back to Mrs. Slocum right away. Now I’m full to the brim with memories of Bayonne. Those were good years, the Bayonne years. The best years of my life were there in Bayonne.
Friday, January 3, 1941
Today is colder. The pail of water that is kept by the front door, and ready to douse an incendiary bomb, is a solid block of ice: also the rain water tank at the back of the house. Luckily the indoor pipes are not frozen. Ted is very cranky. I expect it’s the cold.
Saturday, January 4, 1941
It is even colder, and Ted even more sarcastic than usual. I’m laughing inside; he’s so silly. My ordered books did not arrive until this afternoon, and now I have only got two out of the three of them. “The Anatomy of Inspiration” is reported as out of print. I’m sorry. I particularly wanted that book. So what I have got, are, “Ideal Weight,” and Mrs. Hughes latest volume, “A London Family between the Wars.”
From the library I have a good American novel to read: Chad Hanna, by W.D. Edmonds. It’s true Americana, about circus life, in the days before the Civil War. It is five hundred and twenty-four pages. So I’ve plenty of good reading now for two or three days.
I’m full of dreams of America, both waking and sleeping. Mrs. Slocum’s letter plunged me right back home. Some day I’ll go back and live in Bayonne again, if Hitler doesn’t get me. Au-Revoir.
Monday, January 6, 1941
Bardia has fallen. The news was received in London late last night. Prisoners captured exceed twenty five thousand including six generals. To the Australians go the first honors, for they led the attack. The Italians are crumbling fast, making Hitler’s first broken prop. The axis is now wobbly. Hitler gave London another bombardment last night. The alert was given about six o’clock, and the all clear came just before midnight. We have not been told yet what damage they did last night.
We spent a very terrifying evening here in Romford. Edna Renacre was here to tea, and did not leave until ten-fifteen, afraid to start out. However, we think she must have got home in a fair lull, because the next big explosion did not come until eleven p.m. This house was shaken several times last night, so if it was caused by the bombs dropping in London, they must have been even worse than usual. Most of the week anyhow dynamiting has been going on in the city. The damaged buildings left standing after the fire raid of last Sunday were judged dangerous, and the Royal Engineers have been dynamiting the shells. What can be left in the city to destroy I don’t know. Hitler has vowed that he will raze London to the ground, and certainly he seems to be getting on with the job considerably. He doesn’t cow the Londoner. What he doesn’t understand is that the more he bombs and bullies and burns us the more we will resist him. Supposing he could bomb every city in Britain to rubble heaps, he still wouldn’t have beaten the British. The French surrendered Paris rather than have Paris destroyed. Maybe that’s French economy and carefulness. The English won’t surrender London. What if London is destroyed? Hitler can only destroy the bricks and stones. Like Rome and Athens, London is immortal: an immortal idea, which can never be destroyed. Once Hitler is destroyed, the form of our city can be built up again, and even fairer.
It is four-thirty p.m. and I am back from the doctor. I have lost another two pounds. This brings me down now to fourteen point nine stone. Dr Keighley told me of the damage in Romford last night, two houses down in Coms Street, a bomb behind the Westminster Bank, one in the Havana Car Park, one behind the Plaza, one in London Street; and this morning they got Brentwood Station. When I got back to the house I found Ted sitting here. He had not returned for lunch when I left, about two-fifteen. He told me there was an unexploded bomb in the office. I thought he was joking, but it’s true. I burst out laughing. So did Ted. Neither of us are the least bit sorry for old Herbert. I think we both feel that whatever misfortunes befall him he deserves them. Ted remarked, “And he hasn’t even finished with the havoc from the other bomb yet!” Yes, we had a real good laugh at old Bert’s expense. Nobody, of course can get into the office. The bomb behind the Westminster bank has been safely taken away. Another alert has just sounded. They have been sounding all day today. Goodmazes has received two land mines.
I wonder what sort of a night we shall have tonight! There’s a moon, and it’s perishing cold. I suppose Hitler is furious because of the fall of Bardia, so he’s relieving his temper by giving us an extra peppering. My God! When will this hellish war end?
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