Short 1942 January 1st, 1942 New Year’s Day! Have turned up the Diary for 1940-41 and feel like singing a thanksgiving. Last New Year’s Day we were in the middle of the Blitz and without an ally. To-day we have a year’s production in the instruments of war behind us and are a year nearer superiority in weapons. We have the numbers of Russia, the masses of China, the power of population, and the United States as our allies. Most cheering of all, a note of fear has crept into the speeches of Hitler and Goebbels. Their promises of victory in 1941 have come to nothing and their failure in Russia becomes more obvious to the German people at a time that the entry of the U.S.A. into the war against Germany casts long shadows of 1917 and 1919 across the Reich. Food is enough, and though there is much less than a year ago in the shops and more rationing of everything from clothes to tinned food, we are well off indeed compared with the Greeks, the Norwegians and any of Hitler’s victims. Listened last night to programme on France. Heartbreaking, France meant so much to Europe, confess that I wept at the appeal from Free France to those who live under the monstrous evil to keep their faith and spirits, to remain true believers, and never to doubt that the day will come when France will again take her place in Europe. Sunday, Jan 5th Hilary started with a kind of ’flu which takes the form of earache and lay awake a good part of the night moaning and calling ”My ear, my ear”. We do not seem to have much luck just now. Monday, Jan 5th Hilary with temperature of 102 in the morning, but slept in the afternoon and better to-night. First snowdrops in bud and brought Daphne Indica with its heavenly scent into the house. Am getting like Arnold Bennett, unable to resist patent medicines. Am now taking for sciatica Bemax, Green and Amber Vitamins, Malt and codliver oil, Fibrosan, Fynnon Salt. Something ought to touch the spot sometime! Tuesday, Jan 6th Sweets and chocolate to be controlled in price. Friday, Jan 9th My distant cousin, Edward Sims, in news to-night as H.M.S Galatea, which he commanded, was torpedoed. School started to-day, hard going with bad leg. Saturday, Jan 10th Learnt to-day that Galatea torpedoed at night and sank in three minutes over a month ago. Chances of Edward surviving not very good The German press is giving a much more gloomy picture of the war. “When the Polish war ended we thought the final decision would soon be reached. After France was conquered we wondered when the jump across the Channel would take place. England’s part in the war took on a super dimensional size. At the back of her appeared the U.S.A. After June 22nd we again turned eastwards. To-day after six months we know that nothing was as we expected”. Westdeutsche Beobachter. Monday, Jan 12th Edward’s death announced in The Times to-day. As a boy I saw a good deal of him and we were the same age. He had reddish hair as a boy, which later went quite white. The Japs pushing irresistibly southwards in Malaya….Kuala Lumpur now in their hands. Sunday, Jan 18th Weather foul to-day. Beastly cold and can’t take any exercise to get warm because of leg. Snow fell in night and sky yellow and foggy, so looks as if more will come. But everything on and still feel cold and miserable. Have to stay in bedroom as children playing in dining room. Nora messing about in scullery looking half dead. God, what a winter! If only it would get warmer. Asked the lodgers last night when they could move. All very involved, but they held out some hope at indefinite date. Tuesday, Jan 20th Yesterday evening more snow fell and this morning it was about 8 inches deep and very cold. Only about half the school arrived. The trees still deeply coated and festooned, looking lovely, especially the cedars. The news from Malaya very serious and the Japanese now about 75 miles from Singapore….. Soon a pitched battle must be fought for Singapore. I do not think it will fall. Thursday, Jan 22nd Still very cold and ground covered with crisp, powdery snow. Hilary was bought a toboggan to-day and burnt his name on the front bar. He had it out in the afternoon on the slope below the house. He was a bit nervous at first, but became more confident when he found he could brake it with his feet. As I had never had a toboggan, or tobogganed, in my life I felt it was time I had a turn (in spite of sciatica) and did one or two good runs! We came back with feet and hands very cold and rather wet. Friday, Jan 23rd Hilary’s tobogganing did not last long as rapid thaw with rain set in this morning and by this afternoon everything was covered deep in semi frozen slush filled with puddles of water. New Statesman this week as gloomy as usual…. Continues to harp on production failures and says uneasiness in country about war has not been equalled since the days of the Norwegian fiasco in early 1940. I wonder. They are such Jeremiahs and grumblers. Sunday, Jan 25th A better day, strong and rather cold west wind, but sunny. Went to Reading yesterday and had tea with M. On way back had puncture and found outer cover very thin, so went into garage to enquire about tyres. No new tyres to be obtained, and none to be retreaded, although this advertised in papers. The garage man had been badly ticked off for trying to get two new tyres for a doctor. However he he had two worn tyres, one of which was rather better than mine, so I negotiated for this in place of mine. When the present lot wear out, finish motor! Stafford Cripps returning from Moscow says Russians believe a counter attack will be made in the spring but that they can hold it. In the autumn and next winter they think they can finish off the Germans. We must strain everything to keep Russia strong in tanks and to do that we must keep the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and the Middle East with Suez. We cannot do anything that might endanger these key positions or lay this island open to invasion. Typhus is reported to have reached Paris and people in Paris are dying of cold and hunger. Paris ! Reading reminiscences by Sidney Dark, journalist and editor of Church Times. He points out that if Churchill had denounced the Nazi barbarities and persecutions as eloquently in 1933-39 as he did later the war might never have happened. He is good on the obvious incompetence of McDonald, the smug complacency of Baldwin, the cowardice of Simon, the most futile Foreign Secretary for generations, the grotesque preferment of Inskip! Chamberlain raised by political accident to a high position for which he was utterly incompetent, a man of limited knowledge and experience without a scintilla of imagination, a sincere bourgeois pacifist ready to buy peace at almost any cost. Never has England had such a succession of second rate prime ministers. In 1936 Baldwin failed to say, “Germany is rearming, we must rearm” because he believed this would have lost the Tory party the election. The Tories won the election and five years later Coventry was nearly destroyed! Think history will endorse this verdict. Monday, Jan 29th Yesterday I found the first snowdrop. To-day the wind has become icy and snow seemed likely. Churchill’s eagerly awaited speech made yesterday in opening three day debate [which] he insisted should be on a vote of confidence in the government. He was in good fighting form.... "For the sake of the Libyan battle we concentrated everything we could lay hands on …I am sure this was the right decision.” He said the Libyan battle would have been lost on November 24 if Auchinleck had not changed the command and ordered the ruthless pressure of the attack to be maintained without regard to risks or consequences. We have not succeeded in destroying Rommel’s army, but nearly two thirds of it are wounded, prisoners or dead. "We have a very daring and skillful opponent against us and may I say across the havoc of war, a great general”. Asked Hilary why he was taking his pistol to bed with him. He looked at me in a peculiar way and said, "In case a mischievous father fires off the caps!” Clifford, the French master, who left before Christmas for the Near East, has turned up in Rangoon. “We must not be rattled because this or that place has been captured.” Saturday, Jan 31st Always glad to get to the end of January – never a good month. Turned very cold and very windy again to-night. The war is reaching a stage where owing to calling up everything is reaching a point of shortage and inefficiency. You notice it most in shops, transport vehicles, teashops and restaurants. The second or third rate get these jobs because the more intelligent are elsewhere. This imposes an added strain on everyone's nerves and tempers. And everywhere there are queues. The population crowded into evacuation areas like Reading and Oxford over-strains everything. The Post Office at Reading is frightful; you can hardly get into the place for the people waiting in long queues in front of the counters. The station is the same and to get a ticket you have to wait for ages in a queue; the buses are the same or worse. It takes an immense time to get served in the shops. When things break down, wear out or go wrong it is impossible to get them repaired or replaced; you have to do without them. We live a life isolated from our friends at close quarters with evacuees whom we dislike and food that is dull and monotonous, if sufficient. This is war for many people. We think of the spacious times that will come with peace, but will they for a long time be spacious or will shortages, high prices and scarcity continue, asks Nora. I reply that at least some of the minor annoyances that bulk so large will end, e.g., the blackout and evacuees. Sunday, Feb 1st Snow has been falling steadily again and is now about a foot deep. More tobogganing for Hilary, more sciatica for me ! Thursday, Feb 5th Freezing very hard to-night and very cold wind, sciatica poor..... Letter in Times to-day to say that detection of Japanese infiltrators in Malaya impossible as troops in civilian clothes and were not distinguishable from natives by British and Indian troops. Bad enough in the plantations, but in the jungle hopeless. Short of shooting at all civilians behind the lines nothing to be done. Friday, Feb 6th The N.S. talks about the need for an enquiry about the “mismanagement” of the campaign (in Libya). It is very disappointing certainly that we never quite seem able to bring it off, only “up to a point, Lord Copper”. Our hopes are raised by talk of Marlborough etc, and then we get a very uncertain battle followed by a withdrawal. However the Sunday Dispatch, equal to every occasion, had a headline: “Little enemy resistance to British withdrawal” ….. If you are being paid to edit British news you must try to make the public think that a defeat is a strategic withdrawal. Are we getting like France in the Blitzkrieg ? Saturday, Feb 7th Still bitterly cold. Economics of evacuees very curious, and considering our evacuees have been here for 2 ½ years about, very unsatisfactory. They do their cooking on an oil stove provided by us, get their own fuel, except the electric light, for which they pay 2/- a week. They pay nothing further. We get 13/- a week, 5/- per adult and 3/- for the child from govt. For half a house I pay all the rent, all the rates, including the water rate, provide fuel for the hot water system, and pay a girl to clean the staircase, passages, bathroom and lavatory, which are common to both. When asked to do her share of the load, Florence (Mrs Alp) replied she was too busy! Rent £70, rates £42.10, evacuees £33.80. Sunday, Feb 8th Grandma [Tydeman] returned to-day, apparently better than ever ! and tougher! Still very cold, but picked first snowdrops and sent them to M. Japs have started artillery strafe on Singapore Monday, Feb 9th Soap rationed to-day at 4 oz a week. Friday, Feb 13th Japanese offensive in full blast; tanks, dive bombers, high level bombers and artillery all pounding the unfortunate defenders of Singapore. The enemy are within sight of the suburbs. ….They have also got access to the mouth of the River Salween in Burma….. To add to our cheerfulness, we seem to have muffed things in the Straits of Dover. The Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Printz Eugen were sighted at eleven yesterday morning approaching the Straits, having come out of Brest. They were attacked by Coastal Command, Swordfish torpedo carriers, fighters, destroyers and motorboats. Screened by their own light craft and protected by swarms of fighters, they got through the straits to the Heligoland Bight. We lost 42 aircraft. All the B.B.C. can say is that they were probably hit and that their speed when last seen was 20 knots! Been reading a book by American radio commentator, W. L. Shirer, who was in Germany in 1939 and 1940, Berlin Diary. Interesting on why invasion not attempted in summer of 1940. Says Hitler in no hurry as believed England would start peace negotiations, so did not push forward invasion preparations as quickly as he might. Waited till second week of July, then offered better peace terms (not revealed) in Reichstag speech – see Diary July 20th 1940. These immediately rejected, but waited another week and not till August 5th held conference of leaders in Berlin. At this probably decided in mid-August to smash R.A.F. in preparation for invasion, as army would not move without air control. This promised by Goering in a fortnight on grounds that as Luftwaffe had four times strength of R.A.F. even if he lost three quarters of his strength would still have a quarter to British zero. He sent out a thousand planes a day, but as the R.A.F. refused to put more than a fraction of their force into the air at any one time, see Diary for September 16th, they were not wiped out and the losses of bombers were so heavy that they were forced to turn over to night bombing and gave up attempt to destroy fighter strength. Hence invasion did not take place. Saturday, Feb 14th Times comment on “the Channel failure”; main leader headed “A fresh start”. We certainly need one. Not since the 17th century has a hostile fleet sailed with trifling loss from the Atlantic to the North Sea through the Straits of Dover. Germans have done successfully what the Duke of Medina Sidonia failed to accomplish and we are very sick about it. Sunday, Feb 15th Been looking at the list of books taken out from the subscription library [Times Library at Heelas store in Reading] 1939-41 – about 70 a year, but depressing, as very few titles one can remember after 12-15 months. Returned (from school) about 6.30 to be told by Hilary that Singapore had surrendered. Curiously enough discussing earlier what were our earliest memories. Said half in joke to Hilary, ”When you are an old man and have children of your own you will be able to say you remember hearing of the surrender of Singapore!” Nora very gloomy and considers in any case we are finished as a great power in the Far East whatever result of war – the day of the Sahibs over. Well, in that case Hilary will not have to be a Sahib! Churchill spoke to-night, quiet and subdued….. From the heart of misfortune would come the impulse of victory. “We shall not fail.” (Ed: My father later said that he boxed me over the ear when Singapore fell in an effort to impress upon me the significance of the event, but I have absolutely no recollection of either the fall of the island or being boxed over the ear!) On home front, the lodgers announced they are leaving on Saturday after 2 years 5 ½ months! Friday, Feb 20th In bed with sciatica yesterday and to-day. Still very cold. This has been a black week, blacker than any since the fall of France. And worse, I suspect, to come. "We can expect very little for the rest of the year but loss and disappointment," says Spectator. Tommy Inskip, late minister for coordination of defence in Mr Baldwin’s government, now chooses a daily text from the scriptures for the Daily Sketch. Wits suggest that thus he has at last found the job for which he is really suited. Saturday, Feb 20th Red letter day in domestic affairs as the Alps left. Mrs A has taken job as matron of a home for newly evacuated children, and Mr A is carried along with her like the dirt on the backend of a cow. Hilary wildly excited by arrival of furniture van, but will miss Peter. Heard from M to-day that bomb in sea off Cornish coast provided inhabitants with fish for several days. A miraculous draught! Port Darwin in Northern Australia bombed on Thursday, the first attack on Australia, though a very distant and isolated town. Bombers escorted by fighters launched from aircraft carriers. Wednesday, Feb 25th Still in bed with sciatica and still very cold. Rangoon is preparing for attack and civilian population has been evacuated. In Java, Japs trying to destroy airfields and ground our aircraft preparatory to landing. The Red Army has had an important victory and surrounded the 16th German army March. No more petrol. Mr Potter missing. Apoplexy desirable in high army posts. Plan for India's future. Tuesday, March 10th Still in bed with sciatica and not much improved. Bad spasms of pain. Have had two injections, which have made it worse. Thursday, March 12th Tirpitz, sister ship of Bismarck, found off Trondheim and attacked by naval aircraft. Apparently returned to Norwegian base. On Tuesday government published information about Japanese outrages in Hong Kong – rape, murder and torture. Everyone full of fear at what may be happening in Singapore. All ordinary petrol to be cut off at end of June and for May and June together shall only get 5 gallons. I remember the first rationing in 1939 and how I went down to Worthing to see Con on the last day of free purchase and got the tank filled in Worthing till it overflowed. Those were the days! Wonder how M and I shall manage with no car. Wish I was in better shape for bicycling. Saturday, March 14th Official news of naval action fought north of Java by British, Dutch, American and Australian cruisers and destroyers. The battle went on for a day and a night, and the following day most of the allied fleet had been sunk by numerically superior Japanese. At Tokyo about ten days ago reported a cruiser of Exeter class sunk but hope it is not the Exeter. I had just completed and addressed an answer to Potter’s letter and was about to give it to Miss Hunter to post when she told me of the Japanese story. I took the letter from her hand, then changing my mind gave it back to her and asked her to post it. Afraid my letter was written to some one already dead. Wednesday, March 18th Excellent article in Times by Sir William Beveridge saying that we are handicapped by attempt to run industry by peacetime methods of wage negotiation on labour side and management that must look to shareholders and peacetime position after the war. Must get away from the idea of buying output by high wages often greatly out of relation to conditions in the forces. What we want is not more wage increases but a better spirit, a dynamic (in present jargon), the kind of thing that animated the tank factories in turning out tanks for Russia. I wish could write more fully in Diary, but awfully tedious and difficult writing in bed. I completed a month (in bed) to-day – and worse than I was when I started into bargain. Friday, March 20th Daily Mirror put on the mat for saying that high blood pressure, heart disease and apoplexy desirable in higher posts in Army! Also published cartoon implying that oil companies making money out of scarcity caused by shipping losses. A debate on freedom of the press. Reading Gospels in bed and listening to classical music on M’s wireless. Sunday, March 29th Day of Prayer, always an ill omen! King broadcast last night, but pauses so long that could not listen to him and turned off. Princess Elizabeth confirmed yesterday, so that may have put him off. Raid on St Nazaire by mixed force. Claimed by Germans to be a failure. No communique from our side yet. It was sufficiently warm to-day for visitors to have tea in the flat roof outside bedroom – Hilary Daniels, Margaret Sheehan, Wilk, Grandma and Nora. However it was not a success as far as I was concerned as I was unable to see them. Monday, March 30th Raid on St Nazaire seems to have been a success, though impossible to get off all the demolition and landing parties. Germans very rattled as they fired on and sank one of their own AA ships. An old American destroyer filled with explosives was pushed against the lock gates and then blown with a time fuse. India plan out this morning. Dominion status with right to secede after war… A courageous, generous and enlightened act of statesmanship; the only pity is it did not come sooner. Hope the hand of friendship has not been held out too late, but don’t think so. April. Beer and tobacco tax. Miss Hunter on war outlook. Submarine engine factory raid. Listening to Hitler. Hate training. Good Friday, April 3rd ”I’m going to play Victory Day”, said Hilary this morning; ”that’s a lovely game!” Easter Sunday, April 5th A high wind and dull and cloudy. Hilary brought in a bunch of primroses last night. In 1940 attack on Norway began April 9th, in 1941 attack on Yugoslavia and Greece April 6th. Will this week repeat 1940 and 1941 ? Hitler in as much of a hurry as production is rising fast here and in America. What’s to come is still unsure. Said to Nora that always think early in the year that the year be worse than the last. ”Well, it has been so far,” she replied! Reading John Buchan’s life and his stories…. About last war curious to read how they drove over roads in Asia Minor quite close to fighting with all their headlights on and no mention of aircraft! Very dull lying in bed as now term over no staff to come and visit me. Days very long. Tuesday, April 7th The budget yesterday. Income tax to remain the same, but indirect taxation on entertainment, beer, tobacco, cosmetics to increase. Miss Hunter in yesterday, feels doubtful about the ability to hold in the East, but says if we did not lose heart in 1940 we must not do so now. If the Germans fail now, that is to say in the next six months, they are finished, and they know it. Sunday, April 19th On Friday we made a most daring daylight raid by 12 four-engined bombers on Augsburg in Bavaria. They flew in a tight formation at tree level across France, beating off fighter attacks between the coast and Paris, though with the loss of four of their number. The eight survivors finally left the short-range fighters behind and reached their objective, a factory making diesel engines for submarines, as daylight was fading. At roof height they dropped delayed-action bombs. Of the remaining eight, three were shot down. The five that were left climbed into the gathering dusk and set course for home. Yesterday I heard the cuckoo in the orchard and saw the first house martins. On Thursday and Friday night there were sirens and on Friday night there were bombs. Last night more bombs but no sirens! Saturday, April 25th Very severe raids on the Baltic ports of Lubeck and Rostock – at latter a Heinkel aeroplane works. …. They are now getting back what they have done to Coventry, Birmingham and London. 400 tons dropped on Rostock in successive night raids and photographs published of burnt out Lubeck. Necessary, but can hardly feel much elation at this fearful destruction by our Air Force of these ancient Baltic cities. Sunday, April 26th Heard Hitler address Reichstag this p.m. on German wireless followed by a translator in sections – the latter speaking very fast and caught up with the Fuhrer, who was then allowed to come over neat for a bit. Listened for some time to a long histrionic diatribe, then got fed up, but heard on news that Hitler assumed further powers and denounced German judges and civil service, a good sign I thought. The Germans starting reprisal raids for Rostock and Lubeck. Last night they raided Bath, damage and casualties severe. I am glad I was not there taking a cure for sciatica! Phyllis came in. She has been offered a job in the Foreign Office. I tell her she will not be able to attend the peace conference in….where! Has stories of German raids on coasts, sorties in lonely places, found with their throats cut, etc, and says she has heard these stories from different sources. Tuesday, April 28th Heard a pilot who bombed Rostock last night on wireless say how much he admired German AA gunners who kept firing though surrounded by flames. This in the good tradition and not like the gloating over the damage in which the BBC sometimes indulges in the news. Wavell said that the modern soldier should be a cross between a criminal and a cat burglar. Judging from accounts of Army Battle Schools in news, where buckets of sheep’s blood are thrown over soldiers and there are “hate rooms” with photographs of murder, rape and torture, he might have added homicidal maniacs! May. Margaret Sheehan goes up to the guns. "God's frozen people." Tom commands travelling workshop. Harsh speech by Churchill. Oh, la, la: Ration books reveal women's age. Miss Daniels in love. nd Saturday, May 2 Margaret Sheehan came in to lunch. Had spent part of her holiday at Cleethorpes near Grimsby where her husband is on AA site. Said that although in Liverpool blitz, she had got out of practice for bombing and felt very windy in Cleethorpes. Her husband all right on gun site where plenty to do in raid, but could not stand or rather lie in bed together waiting for the next bomb to come whistling down, so got up, dressed, and both went up to the guns, where felt better. Sunday, May 3rd On coming back from chiropractor in Reading was able to walk around the garden and see what an excellent crop of black currants there promises to be this year, and as I have some bee sugar over we shall be able to make a decent bit of jam, I hope. Have been 10 weeks in bed and likely to stay there for all the doctor could do for me. Hilary very well and sunburnt. Been able to dress himself for some time now but at present in stage of pyromania. Fortunately supply of matches very limited – only two or three in bottom of a box as a rule, but great idea is to make a bonfire. Govt scheme to ration fuel. Seems it will take as many clerks to administer it as it would take miners to get out extra coal. Hopeless mess made of mining industry, as usual. Stocks in hand on fall of France gone, more fuel demanded by munitions factories, and miners called up to army, which now refuses to disgorge them. Have bought crosscut saw, but can’t get at the wood. Prospect next winter grim. Paper headline, "God’s frozen people!" How we lived in 1942! Tuesday, May 5th Another reprisal raid on Exeter last night but 7 out of 30 bombers destroyed. City dive-bombed and machine-gunned, a girls’ school hit. Wonder if Molly’s old school, Bishop Blackall. Executions going on in oppressed Europe, 72 Dutchmen shot, and 10 French hostages at Lille. Fighting on Burma Road, outlook for British force very poor. Wednesday, May 6th Food Ministry hopes to give everyone 6lb of tomatoes this year at a controlled price. Hilary was bought a pair of utility shorts at Woolworth’s for 2/- a leg. Friday, May 8th Tom Wheeler in to-day. Trained as an electrical engineer on army cars, carriers and tanks, will now be in charge of a travelling workshop. Says we have not manufactured a rifle that will fire German ammunition. They could use ours, but ours was slightly too big. Should be useful for guerrillas in France, Belgium and Holland. Heard that High Street, Exeter, badly damaged by fire. Lloyds Bank, GPO, Woolworth’s, etc, all down, but Cathedral and Guild Hall undamaged. Molly’s school not hit, but Dellers, where had many pleasant meals for so many years, is gone. The last was in September and am glad I spread myself with salmon and mayonaise! Saturday, May 9th Hilary a bit jealous of attention paid to me in bed and remarked yesterday to Nora : ”If I were very, very ill, you’d all come up and have dinner in my bedroom.” Sunday, May 10th Many anniversaries to-day. The beech is in full leaf, the apples in blossom, lilac, magnolia, double cherry and the chestnuts’ flowery candles lit, but the day rather dull and cold. In that lovely magical summer of 1940 the invasion of Holland, last year the great raid on London before the Luftwaffe turned east against Russia, the amazing attempt of Hess to bring off some kind of deal on the basis of the Russian attack. The defence of Malta has filled everyone with pride and admiration and the island has been given the George Cross. It has been bombed and bombed and bombed again this spring, day and night for weeks on end, but has remained unconquered - non mole sed fortitudine magna. The defence largely centred around the personality of one man, Sir William Dobbie, the governor - a very remarkable soldier in, I imagine, the Gordon and Roberts tradition. Simple and unaffected with bushy eyebrows and a ragged moustache, a teetotaller and a Plymouth Brother, he has fought with a pistol in one hand and the Bible in the other. His narrow but sincere and simple piety has caught the imagination of the Catholic Maltese… Churchill’s speech to-night, which lasted 40 minutes and was made on the anniversary of his taking office in 1940, a very grim and menacing but very confident speech. “With the measure which ye meet it shall be measured out to you again” the note struck throughout. Our future in our hands and we have only to endure and to prepare to conquer. He said that on a conservative estimate more Germans were killed by the Russian winter than were killed in the whole of the last war. What an awful revelation. We had waited and endured long for the turning of the tables – now our time had come…If the German civilians did not like the bombing, let them leave the factories. He gave one public and solemn warning to the Nazis. The Russians had reported that they suspected poison gas was to be used as part of a new eastern offensive. If gas used, we had superiority in bomber strength and we should retaliate with gas. Obviously the best thing to warn the Germans but let us hope we do not have to take this road. He ended on a note of good cheer, but the speech as a whole was harsh and full of retribution for the crimes which the rulers and peoples of Germany had committed and which we were now increasingly able to repay. "We have heard his threats before. Eighteen months ago in September, 1940, when he thought he had an overwhelming air force at his command, he declared that he would ”rub out” - that was the actual expression – our towns and cities. Now the boot is on the other leg. Herr Hitler has even called into question the humanity of these grim developments of war. What a pity his conversion did not take place before he had bombed Warsaw or massacred 20,000 Dutch folk in defenceless Rotterdam and wrecked vengeance upon the open city of Belgrade. “Is there any sensible and thoughtful person who cannot see how vastly and decisively the awful balances have turned to the advantage of the cause of freedom….. Therefore to-night I give you a message of good cheer. You deserve and the facts endorse it. But be it good cheer or bad cheer will make no difference to us. We shall live on to the end and do our duty, win or die. God helping us we can do no other.” There came to my mind the earlier expression of Churchill’s – "the closing net of doom”. Thursday, May 14th More austerity! No meal to cost more than 5/- or consist of more than three courses. Certain restaurants to be allowed on licence to charge for “covers”. A Russian offensive before Kharkov. Friday, May 15th Gordon came in. Master here in 1939, now working in fighter station in Essex in control room. Says Air Force now very severe on petrol waste or scrounging and an excellent American pilot was set home for stealing a couple of gallons of petrol. Things very different from a year ago. Sunday, May 17th One of the most horrible stories to come out of this horrible war is the story of the Norwegian teachers who were taken as hostages by the Germans, because of the refusal of the profession to submit to Hitler’s Quislings, and put in a small steamer, a sort of floating Black Hole of Calcutta, but cold instead of hot, and sent without proper food, clothing and accommodation to travel up the Norwegian coast. Their sufferings were terrible and many died of disease, exposure, and the conditions in which they had to exist. Everywhere in Europe there is a hatred of the Germans, from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, from the Atlantic to the Aegean. A tremendous subterranean pressure is accumulating which must soon explode and blow the German herrenfolk and the police rule they have set up from one end of Europe to the other to pieces. You feel you are waiting and watching the hand of the pressure gauge…. Monday, May 18th Admiralty asking for snapshots of ”foreign parts”! Say often supply information about coasts and beaches not otherwise obtainable; in one place a casual snapshot showed a large car with two men on either side of it at bottom of a road onto the beach. This made clear road wide enough to take tanks. Just counted pages in Diary and find I wrote 40 pages [manuscript pages] up to last May but only 31 up to this. Why? Being in bed and having to write leaning on elbow may have had something to do with it. Tuesday, May 19th Germans counter attack and fail to hold Russians in Ukraine; tank battles; Russians say they are near vital road, but as usual no names given. The campaign in Burma is over. Rearguard has now reached the frontier with Assam. Thursday, May 21st Speech by Goering yesterday confirms belief hat there was nearly a complete break up on the Russian front in December. "The winter campaign has been terrible. There was no question of giving up our front positions because behind us was only a heap of ruins. One large white couch of death spread itself over the vast country. The Russians were in our rear. Guerrilla troops blew up the railways and cut our supplies. The terrible cold almost froze our troops. The engine tenders burst. The engines could not be made to work. For whole days the front was cut off from munitions, food and clothing. If a rifleman touched his rifle, his skin stuck to it.” The Fuhrer was the guarantee of German victory. The Almighty had blessed them with the Fuhrer! Perhaps. ”I’ve ’eard different,” as Robertson used to say. [Sir William Robertson, 1860 - 1933, first British field marshall to start in the ranks, Chief of Imperial General Staff in First World War.] Whit Sunday, May 24th Ninth visit to osteopath to-day. Leg can be raised at right angle to the body so am getting on! Glad to say that sanity has prevailed at G.O.C. in England - has issued orders that blood lust and hatred are not to be inculcated as part of battle school training. Monday, May 25th Some women indignant because for new ration books age has to be entered on identity cards and this means, as pointed out in letters to The Times, that ”friends” from whom this information has long been concealed will now in some cases be able to find it out through working in such organizations as the W.V.S. About 50,000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square yesterday to demand a second front..... Various responsible people have been saying that it will be sooner than later but not this year. American ministers have been issuing warnings against undue optimism and say the war will be long. Tuesday, May 26th Hilary was taken to the zoo for the second time. It was rather windy and rained later. Unlike most of the adults, he saw nothing funny in the chimpanzees but after watching them with interest he said, ”Aren’t they clever.” He asked to be taken to see the parrots, which had impressed him by their colour on his first visit. There were some Indian soldiers there and he was struck by their dark faces and ”funny hats.” On his way back there was time to spare so at Baker Street Nora took him to a news cinema for 40 minutes. This was his first official visit to the cinema as the only other films he had seen were in Warships Week in a church hall and by a travelling projector in the Market Place in War Weapons Week. He was most anxious and pleased to be taken and not at all nervous. First there was a newsreel with the King and Queen and then Mr Churchill at Leeds and battleships being launched; after this a colour film of lumbering, then a Mickey Mouse, which amused him very much for the mouse ran about on a piano. When he got back he came to my bedroom to tell me about it. I told him how, when I was 5 ½, there were no cinemas, for fathers will be fathers. I wonder, Hilary, whether this entry will amuse you when we are dust. Friday, May 29th We have had a terrific gale for the past fortnight and it seems to have affected my leg for the worse, which is depressing. A big tank battle is going on in Libya. The Germans are making big claims in the battle going on in the Ukraine. In Prague the German tyrant Heydrick has been shot and now reprisals have started. Yesterday passed unnoticed. It was only in the evening after going to bed after a painful walk that I remembered that it was the anniversary of the beginning of this Diary. I turned up 1941 and see I had a note of shipping losses. They are still very serious this year in the Caribbean and off the American coast. Sunday, May 31st A macabre air raid by a single German plane on S.E. coastal town. A stick of bombs hit a cemetery, threw monuments about and raised the coffins from their graves. Hilary Daniels down for the day. Says she is much troubled by constantly falling in love, and now in love with two men. Asked her what her symptoms were. Says inability to put thought of them out of her head and warm sensation in her stomach! June. Plane crashes near HGS. United Nations of 28. Seventeenth week with sciatica. Bad news from Libya. Mr Luce from Burma. Tuesday, June 2nd Another shattering raid with 1,000 planes, this time on Essen. I think we’ve got them groggy, as the best answer they could make was to send 50 aircraft to Canterbury for the attack on Cologne.... Our Air Force already must be enormous and when it is joined joined to the U.S. we shall be able to blast the Westphalian towns to smithereens. I feel no exhilaration, but horror that such destruction has been made inevitable. The shape of the battle in Libya becoming clearer - a right handed scoop [by Germans], a break in our minefield barrier through which transport columns could be pushed to nourish the outflanking panzers. Appear to be withdrawing eastwards through the gaps, leaving us in possession of the battlefield. Losses heavy on both sides. Revealed to-day that tank crews have a mask by which they can self administer temporary anaesthetics and so enable wounded to be extricated from tanks. Grim enough. Wednesday, June 3rd It is calculated that 20,000 were killed at Cologne and 50,000 injured. Frightful. This however corrected in news – a wild exaggeration, but dead may run into four figures. Thursday, June 4th About ten o’clock this morning a bomber came in very low and later there was a crash, which I thought for a minute was a distant bomb. Hilary was out and I told him to go far away. The curious crackling noise I heard must have been the breaking of tree tops. It crashed just the other side of the road about 400 yards away and burst into flames. All the poor devils were burnt, except one who jumped out and was killed. It must have been a very lame duck coming back from Germany, and it was bad luck that it could not quite make it. The plane was operational as it carried live ammunition, which went popping off in the fire. Friday, June 5th Very hot day and about 5.30, doors all open, a heavy tread down gravel; thought it was postman, but bell rang and visitor did not go away. Lying alone in bed bawled to him to come in and upstairs. Tread approached and wondered what was coming round – a small red-faced, much beribboned R.A.F. officer. Said he was looking for tail plane of aircraft, which had fallen off. Did not think it was here. He was from salvage department; others coming from accident dept. Wednesday, June 10th Picked three deep-red and sweetly-scented roses for a visitor, for M able to come and see me again. Thursday, June 11th Going into osteopath, but battery flat. Hived a swarm. Friday, June 12th Rained most of to-day. A 20-year treaty with Russia was announced last night. Full understanding has been reached about "the urgent task of creating a second front in 1942”. That’s specific enough. Wonder if it means what it says! Anyway the treaty is ten years too late. Churchill and Uncle Joe have exchanged telegrams. All very cordial and proper. Sunday, June 14th United Nations Day (28 of them!). Some flags hung out. Saw with sardonic amusement that the Red Flag with hammer and sickle in corner hanging on the front of the Town Hall. Nora said she had pointed this out to Hilary. Succeeded in getting into Reading to osteopath. Rommel striking hard again for the west round round Tobruk. Heavier battles than ever before taking place. Before nine o’clock news it is practice to have a programme in honour of various allies; this evening had an effective Salute to the United Nations. There are such lovely names to use – Rostov, Belgrade, Warsaw, Rotterdam, Guatemala, San Salvador, etc, etc. The main theme was the man and wife looking out at the road to London – but also Moscow, Chungking, New York – ”There’s a man on the road!” ”What, only one?” ”Yes”. The symbol of the United Nations, the common man, marching to the drums with one purpose, freedom – freedom of speech, of writing, freedom of religion, freedom of thought. Monday, June 15th Just completed my 17th week in bed. A funny life! Almost becoming habitual now! Oh my! Oh my! To-day is cold enough to be October and the weather has been so bad over Europe that there has been little bombing. There were some notable speeches yesterday. Roosevelt spoke of the four freedoms – freedom of speech and religion and freedom from want and fear. "We know that man, born to freedom in the image of God, will not in the end suffer the oppressor’s sword. The peoples of the United Nations are taking the sword from the oppressor’s hand; with it they will destroy those tyrants. The brazen tyrannies pass – man marches forward to the light.” 1,377 people killed in raids in April and May - this covers Bath, Exeter and York. Apparently between 11,000 and 15,000 killed in Cologne and 250,000 have been evacuated out of 760,000. Evacuation of 30,000 from Lubeck and 80,000 from Rostock. News from Libya bad to-night. Situation has become ”fluid”. Don’t like that word..... Position admitted to be "critical” and "serious”. The fall of Bir Hakeim seems to have been followed by a tremendous armoured punch. Nora was talking to a woman on night shift at the local engineering shop [Ed: Stuart Turner’s, in Market Place, Henley]. Nine o’clock to eight with two quarter hour breaks and half an hour for dinner. Pretty tough, but ends at 8 on Saturday morning till nine on Sunday evening. Gets used to sleeping by day and does shopping on Saturday morning. Wednesday, June 17th There is no doubt we have suffered a defeat in Libya, where our tanks were badly caught by the German artillery. Our advanced positions now rest on Tobruk and we are back to the old battlegrounds of the last offensive. It is a bitter disappointment to everyone, especially those who have fought so many battles. Even Hilary has picked up some ideas. ”It is a pity Ronald (i.e., Rommel) is not on our side”, he said to-day. A Beaufort fighter flew at roof level over Paris, dropped a Tricolour on the Arc de Triomph and Place de la Concorde, where it also fired cannon shots through the window of the German G.H.Q. It dodged under high tension cables and brought back photographs of the flower beds in the Tuileries Gardens. A pretty good gesture. Was up to-day from eleven to five thirty and visited school (ground floor) to astonish the natives. Feel at last have made some slight progress. Heard to-day of a man who had sciatica for two years and spent £280 on it! Tuesday, June 23rd News coming in from Libya most unsatisfactory and disappointing. As old Fisher said in 1914, Jack Johnson won because he had the bigger punch. Our troops have left Henley. Rumoured that the next lot will be Americans. Wednesday, June 24th Mr Luce in to see me this a.m. Escaped from Rangoon to India using his own car most of the way and then trekking across the mountains. Had to leave behind at the university all his years of research, which he says will probably turn up later in Tokyo. Later he got a very old ship from Bombay and eventually arrived in England. Says our defence based on roads and railways, which the Japs bypassed. Our frontier town garrison had most carefully rehearsed a movement in buses to the end of the road. This went like clockwork. As soon as the defenders had left the buses, the Japs emerged from the jungle and got into them and drove back to the town! Rangoon badly raided on Christmas Day; fighters and bombers came from different directions and bombers were not intercepted. A Babu postmaster on the coast had seen them and telegraphed a message: ”Much aeroplanes come.” The Babu at the other end was not going to accept this and proud of his grammar answered ”Message not understood.” By the time this point had been settled, much aeroplanes had come! Thursday, June 25th Enemy now over 50miles inside [Egyptian] frontier. Churchill according to Congress leader said in Washington Egypt not in danger. Hope leading Rommel up the garden path. Sunday, June 28th Tom, the caretaker, on leave. Contrary to usual custom is very optimistic. Says thousands of men are in movement pledged to secrecy and that second front will be opened in a fortnight! That war will be over by Christmas (which Christmas?). Driving to osteopath this a.m. saw American car with warning painted on back, ”This car has left-hand drive” - the first swallow of summer, but one swallow does not make a summer. Monday, June 29th Went into school for an hour to-day, but leg rather painful for sitting for long and got rather depressed with it. Rations for hens are to be cut. Meal is only to be given on the surrender of egg ration coupons on the basis of one hen per person in the household and no one is to be allowed to keep more than 25 (till now 50). Tuesday, June 30th Auchinleck has taken charge of the 8th Army himself and a confused and deadly battle is taking place..... Correspondents say there is no real idea of what is happening..... The military correspondent of The Times thinks it is "incredible" that the Canal should be in danger from a force the size of Rommel's considering the vast numbers of men sent to the Near East. The U.S. Navy sank 4 aircraft carriers at Midway Island, sank 2 heavy cruisers, damaged 3 battleships, 3 heavy cruisers and sank 3 destroyers. 275 aircraft with the carriers were lost. This for 1 destroyer sunk and 1 aircraft carrier damaged. October. Wonder at coal black Negro soldiers. Trouble in Henley with drunken GIs. Car garaged for the duration. A.R.P. exercise at school. Hunt for razor blades. Army demonstration at HGS. November. The smell of violent death. All these victories - Alamein, Midway, Caucasus. Life without a car. Thanksgiving Day celebrated at HGS. December. Austerity Christmas pudding. Beveridge report. Lashings of food at Prefects' Party. Jewellers with nothing to sell. Reduced to rabbit and bacon for Christmas dinner. Ansells in for tea. July. "Utility" goods arrive in shops. First American troops seen in Henley. Shipping losses outpace new building. HGS performs Twelfth Night at Town Hall. Friday, July 3rd Yesterday afternoon a battle developed in front of Alamein [First Alamein], lasted till evening when the enemy withdrew. It is believed that battle has been renewed. We have air superiority. This morning our positions were intact. Saturday, July 4th Another attack on Alamein yesterday in which we seem to have got the better of the engagement. ... Position still very critical, but every day counts, I feel. Egypt reported calm. We have got our first ”utility” crockery, very plain and large china beakers. There is also to be utility furniture as well as clothes and what not! [Ed.Utility, in the sense used here was a second world war invention. The OED subsequently modified its definition of utility by giving in the meaning "severely practical".] Sunday, July 5th El Alamein holds. Our attacks from the air go on ceaselessly and a slightly more confident note is heard. Rommel's men are being bombed without air cover, the boot for once is on the other foot and the position in France, Greece and Crete reversed. Good! Con over to-day to ask my advice about joining one of these community schools near Stoke Poges. Board and lodging, but otherwise only £75 per annum. Advised her to try it for a year. Friday, July 10th Trouble at school about fire watching in school holidays. Staff think it unnecessary – probably is too. Little news from Egypt for two days. The advance halted for the time and both sides preparing for the next round - a very fine effort. Sunday, July 12th Sundry rumours about curtailment of travelling by rail. Wilk went to get ticket in advance, advised to wait a week by booking clerk, as much might happen in that time! Salute to France before news to-night. Accounts of bravery of hostages, sabotage, the helping of British airmen and soldiers and so on. Fresh savagery threatened by Huns in retaliation for attack on Germans in Paris. Families to be punished by death, imprisonment, and the sending of children to "houses of correction”. The news now seems to be full of German brutality. What a legacy they are accumulating for themselves. How many years will it take to purge the crimes which make their behaviour in the last war seem by comparison civilized! Wednesday, July 15th The first American troops reported in Henley. Saturday, July 18th Things are getting so difficult to replace that that shops are charging heavy deposits. I heard of a man who sent out for three cups of tea in London and was charged 9/- deposit on the cups and saucers. A visitor to Henley who wanted a punt pole had to put down £1. Another 100 days before winter starts in Russia, but wet and cold enough here for October! Wednesday, July 22nd All very gloomy as listened to news to-night. Sinkings in week to July 12th heaviest yet and much heavier than building. Germans threatening Rostov. If they get their hands on Russian oil war may go on for years. Nora late home to-night and Hilary enquired anxiously when having bath, ”Do policemen lock up mummies in prison?” A tremendous craze for model paper aeroplanes lately. Thursday, July 23rd Lady offered a present of a skeleton to the school. All very pleased till soap box full of awful dusty old bones turned up. On examination appeared to have four shoulder blades, three right and one left, and no skull. A boy picked out a skull and suggested that this might be it till someone else said, ”It’s got horns”! Nora giving mothercraft classes under youth training scheme asked girls what they would do if asked by three- year-old, "Where do I come from?” No answer till at length one damsel said, "I should try to take his mind off it”! Friday, July 24th, Fall of Rostov on Don claimed by Germans Sunday, July 26th 600,000 men and 2,000 tanks, masses of guns and an entire air fleet are battering at Rostov, where the Russians say the situation is ”alarming”..... Phase I of the great offensive is over. The Russians have lost another great mineral, industrial and agricultural belt the size of England and Wales and the German armies stand on the Donerforms Twelfth Night at Town Hall. Thursday, July 30th Broke up for summer holiday. Generally rather gloomy about war and everyone wondering what will happen if the Russians crack and whether there will be a landing soon. Children did Twelfth Night in Town Hall for Red Cross, though couldn’t go because of sciatica. August: First 4-engined bomber sighted. Dieppe raid. Newspapers in short supply. Friday, August 14th Diary rather neglected owing to visit to Droitwich to sweat in brine baths. Had to stand in corridor all the way until Oxford and could hardly turn round. People determined to travel at Bank Holiday despite appeals. In Midlands coincided with Birmingham holiday week so everything in buses impossible. News from Russia grows worse. Germans have reached the oil fields this side of the Caucasus.... Nothing has happened in Egypt. ... In India it was revealed that Ghandi had proposed to negotiate with Japan and the Congress leaders have been arrested. I went to Worcester last Sunday and while there saw my first 4-engined bombers with the American star on them. They circled the city very slowly. In Droitwich all the big hotels have been taken for training the A.T.S. Tuesday, Aug 18th P.M. been in Cairo and Moscow – saw Joe Stalin. Some plain speaking in Moscow! Wednesday, Aug 19th A landing on the French coast at Dieppe announced at 8 o’clock this morning. French told it is a commando raid and ordered not to join in. I wonder! Thursday, Aug 20th No need to wonder. All off again in 9 hours. Casualties heavy on both sides and 90 aircraft lost on our part. An account of how Winston suddenly appeared in the desert. Before his arrival the important visitor was known as Mr Bullfinch. One of the Australian troops asked for a cigar as a souvenir. There has been another shuffle round of generals and the man from Burma, Alexander, has gone to Egypt. Had a postcard from Hilary to-day: ”Daddy, I have had a swim. Hilary” (on holiday with his mother at Trevone, near Padstow). Thursday, Aug 27th Stalingrad and Volga in great danger.... Don’t know details as have not had a paper for some days... Here at Kingham [Cotswolds] many aeroplanes and quite a number of gliders on tow. Walked to Bledington Church but gave me a shock to find name in visitors’ register under June 3rd, 1921, a holiday before taking schools twenty one years ago. As I was looking at 15th century tower saw the trail of a fighter so high that the aeroplane was itself invisible – the medieval and the modern world! Friday, Aug 28th A lovely day. Took train to Bourton on the Water and walked to Upper and Lower Slaughter. Had an American major in the carriage coming back and chatted to him about English farming. Saturday, Aug 29th To Bourton again intending to walk to Clapton, but extremely sultry and thundery so hung around Bourton and then came home. Trains on local lines very hot and crowded and very late. Food at hotel good as far as it goes, but helpings very small and service poor and inefficient. Sunday, Aug 30th Frightfully oppressive with several bad storms, heavy rain and indigo sky. Leg not good and morale rather low. American police appear to be at Kingham. Very difficult to get any papers now except a few of the cheap penny ones September. Letter to Mr Potter returned to mailer. Coal situation deteriorates. Meat, two veg and pudding at the A.R.P. Thursday, Sept 17th Since last entry went to Stratford on Avon (with M) and saw four plays, then home to preparations for new school year. To-day to the Post Office, returned a letter I wrote to Potter six months ago with a typewritten slip posted over the address to say they much regretted to say the letter could not be delivered as he was missing. To-night the Germans have forced their way into Stalingrad. Friday, Sept 18th Term started. Hope for a better year than last – that not difficult, I fancy. The Canadian casualties at Dieppe were 3,350 out of 5,000. Saturday, Sept 19th It looks as if the Dieppe affair was a failure. The guns north and south of the town were to be put out of action and the main assault made on the town itself. The landing to the south succeeded and the guns were put out of action, but the northern landings were disastrous. The barges had to make a detour to avoid an escorted German tanker and arrived at the beaches in broad daylight instead of before dawn. They were bloodily repulsed..... A tremendous rumbling of heavy bombers going over about 8.30 p.m.... Sunday, Sept 20th Filling in a fuel form for the school. Coal situation very poor. Old men in pits cannot increase output. Consumption believed to be about 208m tons, output 200m tons, yet export trade of 44m tons in 1937 practically disappeared. Govt have brought back miners from civilian occupation, but not from Army and Air Force. They have refused to introduce rationing, but ask the public not to exceed a voluntary "target". It looks as though we can only increase output by getting back miners from the services, otherwise we shall be cutting off nose to spite our face. The Russians estimate the Germans killed at 1,300,000 in the southern offensive this year. The campaigning season is drawing to a close with about another month to go. The Russian armies have not been destroyed, or the Russian morale broken. Monday, Sept 21st Street fighting continues in Stalingrad. It may not fall after all before the snows. Heard to-night of a man who bought a sweep’s kit and did his own chimneys! Found to-day that the Rest Centre blankets had got wet and some of them rotted away. They were all very damp and stank. Had a jolly time lugging up from cellar heavy bundles of 20 blankets a piece with a gang of small boys. Sunday, Sept 27th Went down to see the Rest Centre at the National School. There was an A.R.P. exercise and this one was open. I discovered however that its real purpose was to provide a meal for the A.R.P. workers, meat and two veg and pudding! The schoolmaster had a large torch, ”cost 3/6” – there was as he put it "money in the firm", i.e., the Public Assistance Committee. The Rest Centre was to be open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. As Len Hayes put it to- day, perhaps they’ll open the National School before the Grammar School because the headmaster has a torch! The Minister of Fuel has prohibited central heating until November 1st. Wednesday, Sept 30th Neutral politicians returned from Germany and report German people determined to fight through to the end and still believe in victory, though no longer pretend to see how or when the victory will come. Officers say the summer of 1943 should see the occupation of Moscow. Great hopes placed in Rommel, who is being reinforced. Among the German people the physical strain and long months of overwork is beginning to make itself felt. The British and American raids recognised to be only a foretaste of their strength. Hitler spoke at the Berlin Sportpalast to-night and said Germany would never ”capitulate” – however that a new word in his vocabulary. Went for a pleasant walk from Pangbourne towards Goring. Friday, Oct 2nd Stalingrad struggle still continues with no spectacular advance by either side. The Germans are said to have 45,000 troops in the city. Heard London Symphony Orchestra in Reading, Schumann's piano concerto in A minor, Beethoven’s 7th. Had not been to a concert since last Christmas because of my leg. Saturday, Oct 3rd Schools may have central heating on before Nov 1st only if Medical Officer says so. Sunday, Oct 4th. J. B. Priestley on propaganda: "The trouble with most of it is that it has to be done under ultimate direction of men considered by the highest authorities to be sound fellows who won’t go off the rails” and unfortunately what is regarded as sound here is regarded as unsound almost everywhere else, and what our allies or potential allies want to read or hear are not men still on the rails but men who have gone off them! Rommel has told newspaper correspondents in Berlin that Egypt is within his grasp, although he admitted that they came up against large quantities of American war material in the last battle. The new American tanks [Ed: Sherman], he said, are a much better weapon. Propaganda magazine issued in Russia contained photographs showing ”tranquility” in England. Not well received by Red Army! Wednesday, Oct 7th A small raid was made on Sark last week. It confirmed the suspicion that people were being deported from the Channel Islands for forced labour in Germany. Sunday, Oct 11th Papers full of latest German move – the chaining of British prisoners taken at Dieppe because they say German prisoners were bound. Apparently an order was given to tie prisoners’ hands to prevent them destroying papers, and this was unauthorized and was not in fact put into effect. We have in reprisal manacled a similar number of German prisoners. This does not seem wise or dignified. Two wrongs do not make a right, and in competition in reprisals we shall be beaten every time. For one thing we have comparatively few prisoners. Thursday, Oct 15th U.S. Army said to number 7 ½ million. You see lot of Americans about. Some seem tough, some look very pansy and degenerate and prop themselves up against walls with their hands in their pockets and droop. I saw about 30 U.S. troops on Reading station, and everyone a coal-black negro. People were staring at them in lively wonder. They had, I imagine, hardly expected this. There may be trouble. They are already a great nuisance in Henley as they get drunk than then molest women. Miss Hunter said the women would soon be frightened to come up to firewatch, and Miss Sheehan had already pushed three into the gutter. Sunday, Oct 18th Yesterday had lunch with Mrs Peach, an excellent chicken, a great treat. In the evening an A.R.P. exercise at school at 7.30. 4 boys on roof and 6 in cellar to be rescued by First Aid Rescue parties with ladders, ropes, slings etc. All boys labelled to show injuries - fracture on roof, shock in cellar etc. It was dark, but with a moon breaking through clouds. The groups of tin-hatted figures scurrying here and there to the beams of shaded lamps without, at first, apparent order, yet really working to a coordinated plan, the hum of the engines and the streams of water, the slowly-moving headlights of the ambulances and the rescue parties’ lorries – it all made an interesting pattern of sound, movement and shape. Spent morning jacking up, washing and cleaning car; when it comes out (from garage) again the war will be over. Chastening thought that "when". Drained radiator, removed distributor head, locked and covered up. Used stirrup pump for washing car and Hilary much enjoyed squirting and worked the pump most efficiently. Friday, Oct 23rd Extracts from a speech by General Smuts to a meeting of both Houses of Parliament. "One thing, the most precious of all, remains, and has rather increased. For what will it profit a nation if it wins the world and loses its soul. The soul remains. Glory has not departed from the land. I speak not of outward glory.... I speak of that inward glory, that splendour of the spirit, which has shone over this land from the soul of its people, and has been a beacon of light to the oppressed and downtrodden people in this new martyrdom of man. This is the glory, to have stood in the breach and to have kept the way open to man’s vast future.... This is the glory of the spirit, which sees and knows no defeat or loss, but increasingly serves, nourishes and sustains the will to final victory..... "Hitler has trampled under foot the great faith which has nourished the West and proved their greatest dynamic in all human history and made western civilization the proudest achievement of man.... The real issue has been made clear. This is a challenge to all we have learned to prize even above life itself.” Smuts has a clear rather thin, precise voice. He was introduced by Lloyd George, ”the architect of victory in the last war”, in the low, deep voice of an old man of 80. Mrs Roosevelt arrived to-day to stay with the King and Queen to see women’s work and visit the American troops. Nora said, Hope she does not do so at night! Went to a concert of Purcell and Handel’s music in Reading. One song was heard with a kind of spellbound and entranced attention by the audience. Art thou troubled?/ Music will calm thee. / Art though weary? / Rest shall be thine. The intense emotion of those who listened, soldiers, airmen, women in service uniform and civil defence workers, all of us caught up in the trials and worries of living in wartime, filled the garish dance hall, and as the song went on you felt a kind of lightening of the load, and had an almost physical sense of burdens falling away in a silence so complete that the clock on the wall ticked loudly through it. Sunday, Oct 25th I spent some time yesterday hunting razor blades in Reading. I was not very successful. In the end I managed to get two autostrop, the kind I use, and purchased with great difficulty a new safety razor and bought two blades for this. One shop said they got 100 autostrop blades in six months and they sold out in 24 hours. Came back to Henley and registered for compulsory fire watching. Up to now Henley has been watched (or not) on a voluntary basis, but as the inflammable shops in the centre were not sufficiently manned it has now been made a compulsory area in which men from 16 to 60 and women up to 45 are to be enrolled. I spend a good deal of time travelling by train to and from Reading now that I have no car, but do not find this disagreeable when fine, though the walk to the station is long in wet weather and there are not many trains at night. The offensive appears to have begun in the Western Desert..... . This is the fourth offensive in Africa and the records of the other three are not encouraging.... Must hope this will be different. Tuesday, Oct 27th Hilary to-day remarked: "That stool was made by my grandfather; I was two then; he was young then, but now he’s dead. Had a daylight raid warning yesterday and to-day. I heard that yesterday’s was on Slough and some damage was done. Had the children all down to the bottom floor, but seems and awful waste of time. Last furious German assault on Stalingrad before the winter begins. The defence of Stalingrad the greatest monument to human courage and endurance. Russia to-day a proud but bitter country, bitter because of losses and occupation of so much of their country, their struggle alone. Friday, Oct 30th Great excitement among the boys to-day as demonstration by the army. I expected a lecture only; instead as well as the lecture there was a six pounder anti-tank gun with a lorry, carrier pigeons with officer and a parachute sergeant. We first had a lecture on Tobruk, then the parachutist displayed his weapons, a miniature rifle, Colt automatic, hand grenades, a dagger; food in small tins, solid meta fuel, smoke candles, etc. He said they carried enough food for a week and had a little frying pan and dripping so they could fry a rabbit if they "knocked one off.” Then the pigeon officer brought in his birds, displayed the wings and showed how the messages were written and attached. Messages were written and the pigeons sent off to Salisbury. Finally the gun crew performed their drill with the 6-pounder. Hilary arrived at this point and was very apprehensive when he saw the gun, however he returned and examined it holding my hand tightly. There was only one casualty – the sergeant cut his hand on the dagger and was plastered up! All this seemed very intelligent on part of army and was a great success. Monday, Nov 2nd Reading a book, Post D, an account of the London blitz....The Borough of Chelsea refused to prop up a basement post because if it collapsed the borough would be held responsible, but offered £7-10-0 towards private burial of wardens! "The worst part of the bombing, they all agreed, was the smell: the harsh, rank, raw smell. They tried to analyse it. Its basis certainly came from the torn, wounded, dismembered houses; from the gritty dust and disemboweled brickwork, masonry and joinery. But there was more to it than that. For several houses there was an acrid overtone from the high explosive which the bomb itself had contained., a fiery constituent of the smell. Almost invariably, too, there was the mean little stink of domestic gas, seeping up from the broken pipes and leads. But the whole smell of the smell was greater than the sum of its parts. It was the smell of violent death itself.” (From book, Post D, author unknown, 1941) Thursday, Nov 5th, 8 a.m. Just seen midnight communique in morning paper. A great victory in the desert. The enemy in full retreat. Rommel’s second in command dead, the head of the Afrika Corps captured, 200 tanks, 1,300 aircraft destroyed and the retreating columns battered and scattered by our air forces..... Retreat admitted in the German and Italian communiques, but of course "according to plan". [Ed: This victory the second Battle of Alamein, but not so described in the Diary until later] Tuesday, Nov 10th A wonderful weekend. Following on victory over Rommel, and it is a victory this time, we heard on Sunday morning that an American and British army had landed in North Africa.... The chief ports and airfields from Morocco to Tunisia are in our hands or surrounded. The French at the ports put up a fight and there are rumours of big French naval losses, but the bulk of the troops are friendly and General Giraud, who escaped from the Germans, has arrived to take control of the French armies. As some one put it, we feel like a man who has just inherited £50 million. The speed, secrecy and skill with which this great venture was carried out promises well for the future. The war is not over, but the offensive has begun and the initiative is ours. I spent the weekend in London (with M), which seems full of American voices, and heard the news of the landings from the newspapers near the Ritz. I saw a Russian film, The Defence of Leningrad, a grim, authentic record of the city’s suffering from the enemy and the very severe winter of 1941-42, and a film of the Navy called In Which We Serve- excellent. Wednesday, Nov 11th A more cheerful Armistice Day than for two or more years. The utter destruction of a large and powerful army of about 100,000 men, of which only a few thousand got away to Libya, has the true attributes of victory. P.M. spoke yesterday at Lord Mayor’s Banquet. "Henceforth they will have to face in many theatres of the war that superiority in the air which they have so often used without mercy against others.... When I read of the coastal road crammed with fleeing German vehicles under the lasting attacks of the R.A.F., I could not but remember those roads of France and Flanders, crowded not with fighting men, but with helpless refugees, women and children, fleeing with their pitiful barrows and household goods, upon whom such merciless havoc was wrecked. I have, I trust, a humane disposition, but I must say I could not help feeling that what was happening, however grievous, was only justice claiming her rights.” German and Italian losses in Egypt 59,000, ours 13,000...Church bells to be rung on Sunday in celebration. Last time they were rung was after Cambrai in the autumn of 1917. Thursday, Nov 12th Yesterday P.M. in statement to Parliament dwelt mainly on preparations for offensives in Egypt and N. Africa. The American tanks, Shermans, just coming from the American factories and in the hands of the American divisions for the first time, were taken back on the news of the fall of Tobruk and sent by sea to Egypt under American escort with a large number of 105mm guns. The loss of Tobruk delayed operations. We had to recreate and revivify our war-battered army and arm and place by its side a new army. He described how confidence in the Eighth Army in the High Command was restored by Alexander and Montgomery and the electrifying effect of the new men and equipment..... It was clear that the enemy was going to attack, and this he did on August 30th, the Second Battle of Alamein, but found himself faced with stern resistance and greatly increased artillery.He withdrew after about three days. We had to wait for our attack until the troops had been trained with the new weapons and there was a full moon. These conditions were satisfied on about October 23rd. The infantry had to clear a way for the tanks under cover of the barrage. On a six-mile front there was a 25mm gun every 23rd yard! A new corps of 40,000 men and including all the best tanks was created. It was this thunderbolt hurled through the gap that finished Rommel and his arrogant army. By making a misleading statement about a second front in Europe in 1942, we had drawn and kept about 33 German divisions in the west and a third of the fighter and a large bomber air force. Our allies were not misled. The Russians were told we were making a landing, but could not promise to do so in 1942. Monday, Nov 16th We went yesterday to see Long Dene School and found the H.M. old boy of mine at Leatherhead. Think it would be a good school for Hilary 7 – 11, if finances permit. Wednesday, Nov 18th An American naval victory in the Solomon Islands, the first time battleships were in action in Pacific in a night action. The Japs lost a battleship, 3 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers and five destroyers and eight transports; the Americans lost 2 light cruisers and six destroyers. The enemy were trying to capture Guadalcanal. Saturday, Nov 21st We shall not know what to make of all these victories! Not used to it. Victories in Egypt, Solomon Islands, New Guinea and now the Caucasus. Here the Grozny oil fields have been saved and the Germans have got no fuel from the small oil fields they have captured and have had to abandon 100 - 150 tanks and large quantities of stores. Had lunch with M in Reading to-day. Necessary to book a table and then go at 12.30 to take it. 3/6 for an indifferent lunch – to-day venison on the menu and some unknown fish: I had the unknown fish! Only advantage is that once you have got in there is quiet and space. This in these days is worth paying for. As no car now, everything by train (chiefly) or bus. Am getting more used to this. Did we lead a too complicated life in the silly years 1930 – 1939 and waste money on inessentials? After the war will we go back to the pre-war standards or go on doing without some things that we have got used to doing without now? Even the Lamas of Tibet have sent a message of congratulation on our victory in Egypt. Tuesday, Nov 24th More good news. The Russians have made a surprize attack and cut in behind Stalingrad from N. and S. It is not yet completely isolated, but they have reached an important railway station. German casualties about 23,000. It looks as if they must either retreat out of the salient or be cut off altogether. Went to the cinema for the first time for about a year in Henley to see The Foreman Went to France about the collapse in 1940 – good in parts. Earlier in the day we had a talk from a woman who returned from unoccupied France in the summer. Last winter she spent in Grenoble: no fuel; food – five slices of bread, acorn coffee, vegetable soup and turnips. Described how they had a wireless in attic in the roof and posted a sentry downstairs while they listened to B.B.C. broadcasts, which were of course badly jammed. Invited American Officer Commanding to send representative to Thanksgiving service on Thursday but refused for lack of time. Thursday, Nov 26th Kept Thanksgiving Day. Told the school: "To-day we join the people of the United States of America and American citizens in this country in giving thanks to God. We English people must have thankful hearts that our country has been spared the horrors of invasion and that our families have been saved from starvation and want.” At Stalingrad the net of doom is closing and the Germans’ hope of escaping from the sack is dwindling.... Went to an excellent film, The Young Mr Pitt, to-night; Robert Donat as Mr P. Taking us from Chatham and the War of American Independence to Pitt’s Guildhall speech after Trafalgar. "England has saved herself by her exertions and will, I trust, save Europe by her example!" The close parallel with our own troubled times emphasized and in the audience’s mind the parallel between "the pilots who weathered the storm” – Pitt and Churchill. Curious to think that you are living history if you are Churchill. /"....... How many ages hence / Shall this our lofty scene be acted o’er / In states unborn and accents yet unknown." Friday, Nov 27th Heard to-night that Hitler had invaded Toulon, giving as a reason that the French naval officer had given secret orders that an allied landing was not to be resisted. The French fleet lying off there had been scuttled by their crews. Some submarines were reported to have got away. Saturday, Nov 28th A bad business at Toulon, though only the final result of the decision made in 1940 by the fascists in Reynaud’s cabinet. The fleet could not get out as there was a patrol of German submarines and Italian battleships outside, and on Thursday night German aeroplanes came over and dropped flares and magnetic mines in the channel and H.E. on the forts surrounding the base. At the same time German troops reached the docks. Explosion after explosion followed as the ships blew themselves up. In some cases the Germans were held off until scuttling operations were complete. Most of the captains lost their lives. Morning broke on a scene of devastation, for munitions dumps and oil tanks had been fired and the ships lay on their sides with smoke streaming from them. According to U.S. information there were 64 ships, including three battleships and four heavy and three light cruisers De Gaulle broadcast last night. "In one brief instant captains, officers and ratings saw through the odious tissue of lies which since 1940 have hung before their eyes. In one brief instant they understood to what terrible end they had been led..... On to victory. There is no other road - there never was." The effect on France will be plainly to lift the scales from her people’s eyes. All will be equally beneath the German rule and the hateful fraud of Vichy will be swept away. A tremendous brumming sound about 7 last night. Was woken to hear them returning, very low, about 2 o’clock. Monday, Nov 30th Last night P.M. made another appeal to Italy (they say ”Peace” is being chalked up in the public lavatories. When I was there in 1922 it was Viva Lenin!). Described N. Africa as a springboard for further offensives. Said he could not guarantee that more successes were not on the way! Remarked that it was possible that the war in Europe might not come to an end before the war in Asia. "I know of nothing which justifies the hope that the war will not be long and that bitter and bloody years do not lie ahead. The dawn of 1943 will soon loom before us and we must brace ourselves for the trials and problems of what must be a stern and terrible year.” Of the Russian front: "180 German divisions, many of them reduced to little more than brigades by the slaughter and privations they have suffered, together with a host of miserable Italians, Rumanians and Hungarians - dragged from their homes by a maniac’s fantasy - all these, as they reel back from the fire and steel of avenging Russian armies, must prepare themselves with weakened forces and added pangs for a second dose of what they got last year. They have of course the consolation of knowing that they have been commanded and led not by the German General Staff but by Corporal Hitler himself." However, days are not all slaughter and destruction. The new drug sulphapyrimide, known as M & B 693, has saved 10,000 lives in cases of (?ceretro)-spinal fever and 7 500 in [cases of] pneumonia in the last three years. 17,000 lives saved is something, if only a little compared with the casualties of war. Thursday, Dec 3rd A Ministry of Food "austerity" Christmas pudding containing gravy browning mixed with cold tea or coffee! Sir William Beveridge's report of Social Security out. meeting on the whole with favourable reception. Tuesday, Dec 8th At the weekend the terrible damage done by the Japs to the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbour was revealed. All the eight battleships were either sunk or damaged, but all except one have been repaired or salvaged. It was a frightful catastrophe. A good thing we did not know the truth at the time. No wonder the Japs had it all their own way in the Pacific in the first half of 1942. Was up in London at the weekend..... Had lunch with Ginger Lane from Air Ministry. Was discussing failure of naval shells in last war; says early bombs a pretty good failure in this. Very difficult to get reliable information about the effect of blast. Swiss inclined to magnify effect of bombs accidentally dropped there in order to get compensation! One night a bomber set off from Lincolnshire with very heavy bombs to attack Calais. Returned and reported bomb dropped on middle of target. Intelligence officer pointed out they had been away for a very short time! Soon a report from Home Security that a very large bomb had fallen in a field near Southend! Experts no end pleased as now they could study effects on cottage near by. Fortunately no one killed. Saturday, Dec 19th The Prefects’ Party to-night, but didn’t feel much like it, bad tempered and out of sorts. Lashings of food, more even than last year, but very loud and ear-splitting canned music. Was in Reading last night trying to buy a brooch but the jewellers practically empty. Stocks seems to have come quite to an end and showcases with nothing in them. Soon there will be nothing to buy. Even carnations 1/6 each. Very depressing, but effect partly of weather. Buses not cleaned now, so you cannot see out of windows, and trains in darkness between Reading and Henley, so you cannot read. Sunday, Dec 20th Women in the retail trades are to be combed out up to 35. This will include M, who worried about it but will not say so. Then I should say we have reached the limit. Already we have stopped the Arts courses for men at the universities, which is probably bad on any long term view as will hold up educational reforms after the war. Sometimes wonder where I am, in which war, 1914 – 1918 or 1939 – 19?? The same symptoms are appearing, the same drabness, the same shortages, the same inefficiencies, the same frustrations. The unfinished task – a boy in one, growing up to the realization that one’s chances of survival were not very good; a middle-aged man in the other, trying to cope with Father’s staffing difficulties etc etc. Queer period in which to live. However, with all the horrors and waste, these years of war are better than the years in which one had to watch and stand impotently while the peace was lost and future bartered away by those vain, cowardly and futile old men of 1929 - 1939. One can hope; then one could not. Friday, Dec 25th, Christmas Day We had breakfast about nine and then did some chores. Hilary woke at six and had his presents in a pillowcase in his bedroom. Very difficult to get any toys. In the morning went out and got some yellow winter jasmine, but for some reason there was practically no iris sylosa this year. The farmer was keeping a cockerel for us, but it died. Chickens were very expensive and difficult to get, turkeys were unobtainable, so we were reduced to rabbit and bacon. Fortunately it was a young and tender rabbit. Nora had obtained a little suet, enough to make one Christmas pudding, and a little brandy, in the precious bottle I bought in September, 1939, in anticipation of air raids, was used in it. There was no drink of any kind to be obtained in the shops and all we had was a bottle of lemon barley water from the grocer, and lucky to get that! However we had a good dinner really and plenty to eat compared with a great part of Europe. After washing up we had coffee. By that time it was getting near three o’clock, the King’s broadcast. Listened to some of this. He was better this year on the whole. Then we walked with Hilary to Greys and back. Got home about five and had tea. Miss the fruits as well as the drink at Christmas – one fruit this year, some Blenheim oranges Spent 5 – 9 in the control room at the Town Hall yesterday. Rang up on Wednesday and did not like to refuse as had not been for over a year. To-night we shall have to sleep at the school. Some people growing optimistic and think the war will be over by next Christmas. Can’t say I do, but as am in a very depressed and pessimistic mood not inclined to think it will end before 1945. The weather up to now has been very open and we have had some beautiful sunny days. ”Winter,” said the Coal Controller, ”has not yet begun.” Hope it won’t. Sunday, December 27th Feel more optimistic to-day. Sciatica definitely improved in past three months. Suffer a good deal at intervals from an annoying indigestion. Put it down to the masses of starch we have to eat and the bread, which has developed streaks lately and is a nasty grey colour. Can get rye crispbread, but have to give five points for it. Great efforts by Food Ministry to get us to eat more potatoes, but potatoes more starch. Added to the superfluity of starch, two main meals a week have to be cheese, and this rather difficult to digest. Never see fish now at all. Fishmongers either shut or vast marble slabs with nothing on them. No fruit either, except apples, consequently much miss (?dried) peaches, pears, apricots, figs, not to mention all the canned varieties of them we used to enjoy, mixed with raisins, sultanas, dates and dried walnuts. I suppose that all things considered anyone with a weak or tricky digestion ought to be glad it is no worse. Railway engines in future to be painted all black. G.W. R. [Great Western Railway] long since given up painting its coaches cream; now all choc. Col. ”Britton”, the man who invented the V-sign.. . . . and undoubtedly helped keep alive resistance in Europe in 1941, has bobbed up again: "25 years ago this same war was raging and in 1918 the enemy could fight no more. Let us remind the enemy of 1918. We painted the V for Victory on the walls in the dark days. In these brighter days the figures 1918 are beginning to appear on the walls!” Betty and David Ansell in to tea to-day. Conscientious objectors, but David at beginning of war in Mines Dept. Gave that up because more cheese added to miners’ ration. More cheese, more coal; more coal, more war effort, so David resigned! He has had various humanitarian jobs since, now working in Reading Hospital, taking round bottles of medicine to the wards and collecting empties. Been reading Parson Woodford’s Diary to-day. Good eating in those days, and how they did eat! Monday, Dec 28th Rommel says the German soldier has astounded the world and the Italian soldier has astounded the Germans!....Germans describe their retreat in Africa as ”a methodical disengagement westwards.” ”The Axis won this war a long time ago. The only difficulty is getting it finished,” they said in a broadcast in Denmark....They seem to be on brink of a colossal disaster in Ukraine... Saw a picture of Negro soldiers looking at the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Parliament Square. Two or three hundred years ago their ancestors were brought across the Atlantic as slaves; eighty years ago through Lincoln their grandfathers were were freed. to-day they return as citizen soldiers to fight on African soil for the liberation of mankind!