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31 December 2010

Tuesday 31st December 1940: glass jars of Kit-E-Kat


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"1941 will doubtless be a difficult year but God is with us I am sure...".
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Rather cold, dismal, drizzle. Out to buy food for the cats and was pleased to find a shop where I bought two glass jars of Kit-E-Kat. There was no enemy activity to-night, so the Old Year closes with a quiet night, and the New Year begins; and I went to be undisturbed. 1941 will doubtless be a difficult year but God is with us I am sure and the new year will bring us nearer Victory.
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30 December 2010

Monday 30th December 1940: fireman's ginger wine

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Very mild for season - 51 degrees. Very dull; humid. Poor old Chas came in mid-day. He had just some off duty after a heavy night of fire fighting as a result of intense incendiary bombing of the City of London by the Nazis: he was exhausted and had a seat by the fire: gave him some ginger wine. Many fine old City buildings were destroyed. To South Wimbledon to buy plywood for a baffle to fit the new louspeaker to, which I did last night: tried it on the gramophone but not quite satisfied.
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Winston Churchill
 
'Apart from the Tubes there were no really safe places. There were very few basements or cellars which could withstand a direct hit. Virtually the whole mass of the London population lived and slept in their homes or in their Anderson shelters under the fire of the enemy, taking their chance with British phlegm after a hard day's work. Not one in a thousand had any protection against blast and splinters... if the bombs of 1943 had been applied to the London of 1940, we should have passed into conditions which would have pulverised all human organisation.' - Winston Churchill The Second World War, Cassell, 1959                                    
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29 December 2010

Sunday 29th December 1940: red glow in the sky

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"red glow in the sky of a great conflagration..."

Cold, but not so dull as of late. Sunday or not I put up the new wire clothes line also two short ones as well. Alb, Lily & Mrs Akroyd to tea, played the gramophone to them. Night raid at 6.5 p.m. Many machines and considerable gunfire but, it seems, the main raid was on East London, judging by the red glow in the sky of a great conflagration. All clear at 11.40 p.m.
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On this day: Fred had witnessed what we now know was an attack with some 1,500 incendiary bombs being dropped on London.


"the arsenal of democracy"
Meanwhile, in the USA, Roosevelt sought a direct programme of arms being provided to the UK: "The Nazi masters of Germany have made it clear that not only do they intend to dominate all life and thought in their own country, but also to enslave the whole of Europe, and then to use the resources of Europe to dominate the rest of the world..." It was in one of his 'fireside chat' broadcasts that Roosevelt said he wished the USA to become "the arsenal of democracy".

28 December 2010

Saturday 28th December 1940: I went the whole hog

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Raw cold. Very dull. Did some shopping in Raynes Park including buying a galvanised wire clothes line. Thence to Wimbledon and bought fish for cats. But I went the whole hog and bought a Magnavox moving coil loud-speaker unit at Stones to fit into the radio-gram in place of the Blue Spot balanced armature unit which is now obsolete although in perfect working order. Have not yet tried the new unit in the cabinet but it promises to be even better than my R&A unit on test out of the cabinet. I think it will be money well spent. No raid before midnight; and so to bed.

On this day: Japan to try charcoal as alternative to petrol in cars to conserve supplies.
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27 December 2010

Friday 27th December 1940: "hope they got hit"

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Cold, dull. To do some shopping in afternoon. Not much worth recording. Night raid at 6.40 p.m. A considerable number of planes droning about some of which came in terrific A.A. fire; hope they got hit but unlikely. Didn't hear any bombs coming down; all clear at 10.50 p.m.
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26 December 2010

Thursday 26th December 1940: those hungry cats!

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Boxing Day. Raw, cold, dull, foggy at night. Ciss went to dinner at Tolworth (i.e. brother and sister-in-law at 98 Largewood Avenue). Lily sent me a mince pie and a piece of her cake, Walk along line (i.e. path beside railway);  had a look at moving-coil speaker units in Stones wireless shop: have a mind to buy one for the radio-gram. No visitors so had a day on my own: oh, I forgot the cats - they don't forget me: hungry little beggars
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25 December 2010

Wednesday 25th December 1940: happy but different

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Christmas day. Raw cold, dismal, damp. Ciss and I spent the day together. Heard the King on the wireless. In evening played Madge's records on the radio-gram with enjoyable results. With a moving-coil speaker it would be very high class indeed. I may buy one: it would be money well spent. A very different Xmas to those we spent years ago, but there was no enemy activity to mar the day which was quite a happy one. Last Xmas Day I went to see Ciss in hospital. Oh, I forgot: in afternoon walked along rail path right into Wimbledon and back.
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"Heard the King on the wireless"
(1940s' portrait of George VI  via Wikipedia)


On this day: German cruiser Admiral Hipper attacked British troop convoy - three cruisers and carriers Argus and Furious - 700 miles west of Cape Finisterre. Hipper is forced to withdraw to Brest after engagement. She sinks one ship en route - the only 'success' in a month's voyage. 
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Tuesday 24th December 1940: cat food scarce

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Christmas Eve. Cold, but not now freezing, dismal, misty, drizzle. Received Xmas card and 5/- from Dad, Alb & Lily. Did shopping in afternoon; got to get enough for the cats to last till Friday: hard enough to get anything at all. The bombs dropped last night fell in Cannon Hill Lane, Cherry Wood Close, and Monkleigh Road (cousin Harold's road). Dear Madge called.
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Monday 23rd December 1940: Jerry comes so early

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"Not much like Xmas..."

Very cold, dull, cutting wind, light fall of snow at night. Not much like Xmas. Last night's raid was centred on Manchester. Out to do some shopping. Days are so short and Jerry comes so early in the evening there is little time for anything much. Night raid at 5.57 p.m. Many machines, very little gunfire but some missiles whistled down but didn't hear them explode; don't know what they were. All clear at 1.24 a.m. on 24 Tues.
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Sunday 22nd December 1940: Fluffy & distant guns

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The ground is frozen hard, dull, bitter wind. Mrs Akroyd to tea. Did not go out save to give Fluffy his breakfast and dinner as usual. Night raid at 5.57 p.m. Nothing happened here: Most activity was in a S.S.W. direction and almost on the limit of audibility, so distant were the noises. A few machines approached but were turned back by gunfire. All clear at 1.30 on 23 Mon.
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Saturday 21st December 1940: violent gunfire

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Hard black frost, bitter wind, dull. To buy cats food. Moved slate rubbish from back garden: shovelled it into road for council's men to cart away. Warning from 3.0 to 3.10 p.m. enemy plane passed over: no firing. Night raid at 5.57 p.m. Several planes went right over and returned: others raided London. Violent burst of gunfire at 3.30 a.m. on the 22nd. All clear at 4.54 on 22 Sun.
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Friday 20th December 1940:lit gas during day...

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Bitterly cold, windy, dismal. Had to light the gas during the day. Mrs Pontifex and Mary called. Bought grape fruit and cat food in evening. Finished the construction of 24 ins fuselage except covering and doping. Night raid began at 5.58 p.m. A few machines paid their usual visit to Raynes Park but turned back again. More activity over London and somewhere well south of here. All clear at 3.15 a.m. on 21 Sat.
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Thursday 19th December 1940: train spotting

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Less cold, some sun. Did some shopping and went along little rail path, saw a King Arthur loco with Lemaitre chimney. Men boarded ceiling of little room to-day. Night warning at 6.35. Two planes approached and turned back, but main raid was on East London. All clear at 9.20 a.m.
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Wednesday 18th December 1940:new roof, ceilings

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Bitterly cold, morning frost, thick fog. In morning to buy ox-hearts for the cats. Workmen are boarding the ceiling of my bedroom, also have nearly finished slating the front of roof. We now have a rainproof roof which is something to be thankful for but the place is in a dreadful mess.
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Tuesday 17th December 1940:first Christmas cards

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Very cold, white frost, dismal; thick fog at night. Men working on ceiling of my bedroom now. Out to do cats shopping. No warnings to-day. More work on modifying the lifting fuselage. Christmas cards have started to arrive.
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Monday 16th December 1940: time for hobbies

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Very mild for season - 50 degs, very dull and damp. Out morning and afternoon to do shopping. In afternoon along rail path: Saw Atlantic 2321 - most unusual to see a 4-4-2 on this line: the L.S.W.R. never built any and this engine was a former Brighton design. The men are putting up thick board on the ceilings. May Pontifex called. Am rebuilding the lifting fuselage on orthodox lines and lengthening it. Warnings from 9.52 to 10.1 p.m. also 10.24 to 10.34 p.m. No incidents.
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Atlantic locomotive from Brighton Works.
See Blubell Railway  for details of photo and a reconstruction project.
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Sunday 15th December 1940:Sunday roofing

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Cold, dull. Men at work on roof, also man taking down cracked ceiling in front upstairs room. Night warning at 6.44 p.m. Mrs Akroyd to tea. About 1/2 dozen machines had a look at Raynes Park, turned and went back again: each had about three salvoes of shells: all clear at 10.15 p.m.
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Saturday 14th December 1940:planted roses

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Very cold, dull, damp. Parcel of rose bushes arrived from Pontings: planted same. Varieties are Mrs Herbert Stevens, Mme Butterfly, Golden Ophelia, Crimson Glory, Barbara Richards, Duchess of Atholl** twice. Workmen started putting on new slate roof. Warnings 1.16 to 2.1 a.m. 6.9 to 6.58 p.m. further al clear at 7.27 p.m.
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**On 10 Oct 1942 an unescorted British passenger liner bearing this name, the Duchess of Atholl, was sunk by torpedoes fired from a German U-boat. This was about 200 north-east of Ascension. 5 crew died, but 825 survivors were picked up by HMS Corinthian.  See history of event
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Friday 13th December 1940: POW postcard

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Severe white frost; dull. Mr Ward the builder called. Also in afternoon an estimator from the surveyors called. Mr Pontifex called. Saw the barrage balloon hauled down and towed by a lorry to its moorings on the playing fields. Out to do shopping for the animals. A postcard in his own writing has been received from Cousin Len prisoner of war in Germany. Night warning at 7.50 p.m. Nothing happened. All clear at 8.44 p.m.
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Thursday 12th December 1940:tedious raiders

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Hard frost, dull, thick fog at night. Warnings from 11.10 to 11.20 a.m. From 11.58 a.m. to 12.20 p.m. In afternoon to Wimbledon along rail path to buy high-tension battery. Saw extensive raid damage especially at corner of Stanley Road. Saw many interesting types of locos, including new0-6-0 goods No.545 also a Brighton 4-6-2 tank. Night raid at 6.21 p.m. Not so many raiders but continuing in a tedious and annoying manner. They could not posibly have sen the ground owing to the thick fog: some got shots at them. Main attack was on towns in the north. One unexploded bomb fell near here. All clear at 4.45 on 13 Fri.
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24 December 2010

Wednesday 11th December 1940:bombers circled Raynes Park

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Very cold, dull, but brilliant moonlight, frosty night. Walked up the Downs for a change. Night raid at 5.58 p.m. Twenty enemy planes came at intervals throughout the night from the south-east had a look at Raynes Park circled to the left went back the way they came, some followed by salvoes of shellfire. A belated bomber returned from the Midlands where the principal raid was and then followed all clear at 7.53 a.m. on 12 Thur.
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Tuesday 10th December 1940: collecting time-bombs

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Cold - fairly clear, moonlight night. Mrs Child called with little Jenefer; had dinner with us. Left Jenefer asleep while she went on business. Took away the mincing machine. She lives at Farncombe with the children at present. Out to do shopping for cats. Four time bombs went off. They collect them and explode them in Richmond Park.
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A peaceful Richmond Park 70 years on

Monday 9th December 1940: de-rusted mincer

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Cold after rain, dull. Severe damage to London in last night's raid: bombs on Wimbledon, Carshalton and Surbiton.Two Nazis brought down. Nothing much to report during day. No warning before midnight. Emery clothed rust off Mrs Child's mincing machine saved from the wreck.
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Sunday 8th December 1940: bombers do as they like

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Very cold - hard morning frost, dull day.Not much like Sunday. Alb & Lily to tea. Night raid began by a German bomber coming over before dark - unmolested, they do as they like. Warning at 5.30 p.m. Constant drone of engines till 4 o'clock the next morning but very few bombs dropped. The planes hung about for 1/2 hour at a time while the anti-aircraft gunners went to sleep or so it seems. All clear at 7.10 a.m. on 9 Mon.
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Saturday 7th December 1940: bombs but no siren

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Very cold, dull but less wind. Seven bombs in southerly direction in morning: don't know whether they were time bombs or dropped at the time. To buy week-end provisions for the cats. Visited Conrade's they have only one cracked window - lucky. No warnings at all to-day.
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Friday 6th December 1940:beautiful and refined

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Very cold, clear, brilliant sunshine but the most violent wind I have experienced for years. Stayed in except to feed Fluffy and to the public shelter for a short while. Had a delightful talk with Lily Bickerstaff and her mother. I admire Lily very much, she is very beautiful and refined. Night raid at 6.25 p.m. Only slight activity and all clear at 9.19 p.m.
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Thursday 5th December 1940: barrage balloons

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Cold, dull, damp, windy. Man cementing in the loosened window frames. To post-office to cash postal-order. Barrage balloon up on fields. There seems to be eight guns now. Night raid at 6.32 p.m. Only two raiders approached but both wdre turned back by heavy salvoes: all clear at 10.7 p.m. Further warning at 10.59. Gun flashes over East London: all clear at 11.58 p.m.


'Barrage balloon up on fields...'

Wednesday 4th December 1940: golf course bombed

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Less cold, very damp, some sun which could just be felt.No warnings during the day but 4 time bombs went off. Surveyor called to view the house. Alan Spooner called. Wrote to Doris. One of last night's bombs made a huge crater on Wimbledon Park Golf Course. Night raid at 6.25 p.m. Only a very light raid with long intervals  between the few machines: all clear at 11.53 p.m.
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Tuesday 3rd December 1940: more gunfire than usual

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Less cold, very damp, some rain. Warnings as follows: 8.10 to 8.36 a.m., one machine, fired at severely. 11.20 to 12 noon 12.20 to 12.30 p.m. 1.50 to 2.35 p.m. one machine. Out to do some shopping. Night raid at 5.58 p.m. several machines, and heard a few bombs come down. More gunfire than usual including guns in the fields. All clear at 11.40 p.m.
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Monday 2nd December 1940: repaired shelter door

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Thick white morning frost but less cold day. Warning from 12.20 to 12.56 all clear & warning together. Repaired door of shelter damaged by blast. Night warning from 9.56 p.m. till 10.24, nothing occurred.
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23 December 2010

Sunday 1st December 1940: Lily Bickerstaff

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Warning from 12.20 to 12.50 a.m. one machine. Thick white frost, the pink, lilac and blue shades in morning sky and its effect on the frost was very beautiful. Warnings from 11.0 to 12 noon. From 3.14 to 3.30 p.m. Night warning at 6.58 p.m. About two machines and slight gunfire. All clear at 7.44 p.m. Spent evening in public shelter. The Bickerstaff family go there and Lily has taken my fancy: a very dear girl.Further warning at 9.56. About 3 machines and the local guns fired: all clear at 12.27 a.m. on 2nd Mon.
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Saturday 30th November 1940: heroine Nurse Killick

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Very severe frost, thick white mist. Warnings from 10.07 to 11.0 a.m., 1.32 to 3.44 p.m. To see Uncle Alf and Aunt Hannah in their restored house after being bombed. Also shopping. Met Nurse Killick, heroine of a destroyed hospital. Thick fog at night. Warning & one German machine at 10.50 p.m. all clear at 11.11 p.m. To public shelter but decided to come home.
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Friday 29th November 1940:blackout casualty

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Very cold. Severe frost. Clear, winter sunshine. Warnings from 12.0 to 12.10 p.m., 12.49 to 1.16 p.m.. Arthur Swift called, he has just come out of hospital having been run down by a car in the blackout. Mr and Mary Pontifex (?) called. 150 to 2.44 p.m. Mrs Child called with Jenefer. (?) Bought ox-heart for the cats. Night raid at 6.15 p.m. Many more machines than for many weeks. Heard numbers of incendiaries clattering down also explosive bombs on Merton & Morden district. All clear at 1.55 on 30 Sat.
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Thursday 28th November 1940:high plane & cat food

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Cold, clear day. Warnings from 12.30 to 12.45 p.m. German plane extremely high leaving a trail: a few shells at it. Posted letters and to buy cat food. Showed Alf's Lily damage in this road. Night raid at 6.15 p.m. rather more severe than of late. All clear at 3.40 a.m. on 29 Fri.
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Wednesday 27th November 1940: much air activity

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Warning at 7.0 a.m. All clear 7.42 a.m. Cold, clear day. Warnings from 11.0 to 11.20 a.m. & from 3.45 to 4.25 p.m. Much air activity and 8 bombs of one sort or another. Mr. & Iris Pontifax called; made them a cup of tea. More work clearing up slates & broken glass. Night warning from 7.15 p.m. to 2.15 a.m. on Thur 28. More machines to-night but no bombs locally. Further warning from 6.25 to 7.49 a.m.
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Tuesday 26th November 1940: water in shelter

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Rather cold, fairly clear. Have a few hours sleep on a shakedown in my room. Warning from 1.30 to 11.54 p.m. (Fred may have meant 1.54 or 2.54...)  Baled out the shelter at last but filling up again. Shopping for cats. Night warning at 7.15 p.m. Slight gunfire only. All clear at 11 p.m.
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Monday 25th November 1940: first quiet night...

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Cold, misty morning, fairly clear day. Three time bombs in morning, six altogether to-day. Warning in morning. Some shopping, but an easier day. No night warning & no night raid: the first perfectly quiet night since the raids began.
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Sunday 24th November 1940: 'I write up this diary in public shelter... a few bombs on Wimbledon...'

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Cold, clear. Had a good dinner at Alf & Lily's in Botsford Road. Warning while we were there. From 4.0 to 4.30 p.m. Alb & Lily called. Night warning at 6.47 ending without incident surprisingly at 7 p.m. Thence from 7.35 to 10.15 p.m. a few bombs on Wimbledon and Merton. A clear night.
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Saturday 23rd November 1940: heavy work

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Morning frost, clear cold day. Warnings from 9.15 to 9.40 a.m. - a terrific explosion. Also another great bang at 12 noon. Warning from 12.58 to 2.15 p.m. From 1.25 all clear not known. From 4.0 to 4.33 p.m. Heavy work clearing slates. Callers were Mrs Child & Jenifer. Len Garrod. Miss Hilliard and her friend. And Eddie Bennett. Shopping for the cats. Night warning at 8.5 p.m. Saw a few shellbursts over E. London but not a sound was heard all night. All clear at 7.55 a.m. on 24 Sun.
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Friday 22nd November 1940: windows covered

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Cold, clear. All windows now covered with white linen or black card. Still clearing up the fallen roof. Mr Child buried. Alb (Fred's married brother) called, surprised at damage. Night warning at 6.18 p.m. Heavy attacks on West Midlands but some bombs on London. At 3 a.m. ten bombs in a row quite near. Spent night at public shelter as usual. All clear at 8 a.m. on 23 Sat.
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Thursday 21st November 1940: roof repairs

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Very mild, dull, rain, Two warnings in morning, one in afternoon. Three time bombs. Busier than ever. Mr.Payne the landlord called; he will have the house repaired at once. Workmen removed damaged slates from roof & re-covered with fabric for time being. Night raid at 7.1 p.m. Not a bomb on London but 100 bombers over the provinces. All clear at 11.50 p.m.  Further warning at 1.50 a.m., little doing: finally clear at 6.30 a.m. on 22 Fri.
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22 December 2010

Wednesday 20th November 1940: moved out furniture - no beds - temporary covering on roof

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Cold, rain cloudy, some little sun. Moved out furniture from upstairs and sent to depository. Great number of callers. Men started to put temporary covering on roof. 10 time bombs went off. Busier day than ever & house very uncomfortable - no beds at all. Night raid at 6.55 p.m. Spent night in public shelter; not a very severe raid here. All clear at 7.25 on... ((Thur. 21)
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Tuesday 19th November 1940: No time even to wash

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Cold, dull, but no rain to-day, so house is drying. Kept busy by callers, no time even to wash. Jack Bradley called & to see his damaged house No 72. Night raid at 6.2 p.m. A number of machines & bombs but none nearer than Wimbledon. All clear at 6.35 a.m. on...(Wed 20th)
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Monday 18th November 1940: no roof on house... Mr Child dies

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Cold dismal rain all day. No roof on house everything saturated. Heard that Mr Child had died. Gladys called with parcel for Mrs Child. Two untimed warnings during day. Night raid at 7.45 p.m. - all clear at 10.20 p.m. Have to spend the nights in public shelter. Further warning at 10.50 p.m. Only 4 machines came: all clear at 7.50 a.m. on Tues 19.
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Sunday 17th November 1940: 3 hours lay down

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Untimed one in morning. had 3 hours lay down at Aunt Liza's. Another warning at 3.59 p.m. Night raid at 6.50 p.m. Thence from 7.59 p.m. to 7.35 a.m. on Mon 18. (This is a short entry, not surprising in the circumstances. These two days have been the first entries in pencil.)
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Saturday 16th November 1940: Chestnut Road bombed, houses wrecked, people killed

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Cold, rain. Warnings from 5.55.to 9.55 p.m. At 7.0 p.m. a bomber dropped 5 explosive bombs & an oil bomb. 3 explosive bombs and the latter on Chestnut Road; Mrs Lundy's house and also Child's & Spooner's wrecked, but all escaped, but Mr Child is seriously injured. A man opposite was killed & man killed in Botsford Road.Our house has suffered badly from blast and all windows broken. I was in the waterlogged shelter when the bombs fell. Also from 9.55 to 12.50 a.m. on Sunday 17. From 4.35 to 7.40 a.m.
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12 December 2010

Friday 15th November 1940: "serious raid for some"

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Cold, bright clear, morning frost. The raid last night was on Coventry 373 people killed. Only 3 time bombs hereabouts. Two untimed raids in morning, also from 1.20 to 2.10 p.m. Bought herrings for the two cats. Alan Spooner called. Night warning at 6.12 p.m. Very many machines. Hundreds of fire bombs clattered down; only a few explosive bombs locally. But a serious raid for some people: most raiders went right over to destinations to northward. A fire over London way. All clear at 7.00 a.m. on Sat 16
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11 December 2010

Thursday 14th November 1940: full moon on Coventry - 554 killed

Cold, dull, marvellous full moon and frost at night. Untimed warning during morning. Also from 1.20 to 153 p.m. Bought liver for the cats. Alan Spooner called. Night raid began at 6.15 p.m. when plane dropped bomb very near, but siren was not sounded till 7 p.m. A fair number of enemy aircraft came but at long intervals apart but they kept it up. This district was not on their bombing list to-night so it seems: which is a change. All clear at 6.20 a.m. on... (15 Fri)
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On this day: 449 German bombers attacked Coventry, killing 554 people and injuring 865. Some 30,000 incendiaries plus 500 tons of high explosives were dropped. The 14th century cathedral of St Michael's (above/Wiki) was destroyed. The raid was in retaliation for the RAF raid of 8 November on Munich. Uncle Fred would not have know that the Coventry raid was the probable reason for the different, lighter, pattern of the night-time raid for south-west London. General Albert Kesselring (below/Wiki) personally led the German raid.
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20 November 2010

Wednesday 13th November 1940:

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Rather cold, very dull. Warnings from 11.0 to 11.50 a.m., 1.26 to 2.55 p.m., slight gunfire. Alan Spooner called. Chas called. From 3.20 to 4.3 p.m. To see where last night's bombs fell. - on Dundonald ward. A crater 20ft deep in Avebury Road. Two houses demolished in Rayleigh Road, also others in Fairlawn Rd., Merton Hall Rd.. Night warning at 6.15 but deluge of rain and inky blackness & a hurricane of wind was too much for the Germans. A drone of engines & distant gunfire early on was all that happened. All clear at 9.40 p.m.
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On this day: Japan and Dutch East Indies reach agreement on imports of oil to Japan. Molotov, Soviet Foreign Minister, is in Berlin negotiating uneasily with Germany on their and Italy's spheres of influence.
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'Pilot and second pilot' from Bomber Command, HMSO 1941

Tuesday 12th November 1940: swish & rumble

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Rather cold, dull, very high wind. Warnings from 11.29 a.m. to 12.15 p.m., 3.40 to 3.47 p.m.. Out to do the cats chopping. I feed Fluffy every evening. Night raid at 6.38 p.m. A fair number of machines in the first two hours, and a not noticeable increase in gunfire. Five bombs fell making a very loud swishing noise; they shhok the ground violently but made little noise save a dull rumble: shall hear where they fell, I expect. All clear at 7.35 a.m. on - (Note: Fred, by this date, simply uses the time of the all-clear at the end of each overnight, often night-long, raid to introduce the date of the next day's entry.)
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On this day: last night (11 Nov) a force of Italian bombers, protected by biplanes, attacked Harwich. The RAF shot down six with no British aircraft lost. Meanwhile, British ships are attacking Taranto, an Italian base in the Mediterranean. 21 Swordfish aircraft torpedo the new battleship Littoria and other vessels. Of the aircraft, from the carrier HMS Illustrious, two are lost.
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19 November 2010

Monday 11th November 1940: bought rabbit for cats; 11 people killed

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Rather cold, dull, torrents of rain all day. Warnings from 10.2 to 10.15 a.m., 10.44 to 11.30 a.m., 1.20 to 1.40 p.m., 2.47 to 3.15 p.m. Heavy reports about 4 p.m., 4.2 to 4.35 p.m. Enemy plane about; local guns fired. Out to buy rabbit for the cats.Saw damage to house in Whately Av. & Bushey Road. Two bombs in the latter - right at this end of Chestnut Road. Two people killed there. Bombs also in Cherry Wood Lane, Cannon Hill, Monkleigh Road, Martin Way, etc. 9 people killed. Letter and 3/- (shilling) postal order from Ron Cooper for doing his film. Warning from 6.0 to - no, the night raid did begin then. Sound of a few distant planes and gunfire only: all clear at 9.5 p.m. Mr. Frayne called: he is going back to Wales.  (Note: I believe Fed Frayne may have been a solicitor... I wonder if any historians or ancestors are reading this f who can confirm? - Tony.)

This is a link to the photo Charlie Womble mentions in his comments below.  Readers may like to note that I have promised to give all Fred's original diaries to the Merton Library & Heritage Service - Tony French.
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Sunday 10th November 1940: the ground danced

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Rather cold, very dull, rain. Raid continued at 3.50 a.m. Four machines came, heard four bombs probably on Wimbledon. Gunfire was wider of the mark than ever: many shots must have been 4 or 5 miles out: all clear at 7.9 a.m. Short walk round the houses: had close view of where bombs dropped in Aston Road. Night raid at 6.15 p.m. but no warning till 6.32. Very severe raid till midnight. Counted over 50 bombs all within a mile or two. Mr. Frayne said houses were down in Whatley Av. Five bombs whistled down very near; the ground danced beneath one, seemed only a few gardens away bit have not found out yet where they are. All clear at 5.4 a.m. on 11 Mon.
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Saturday 9th November 1940: fed Fluffy... two bombs

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'Germans simply can't hit the railway. Local battery opened fire also the Lewis guns but marksmanship was rotten as usual...'
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Rather cold, dull, some rain. Warnings from 2.2 to 4.30 p.m. (Unusually Fred corrects his entry here - it did read 2.30 to 4.40 - I feel he must have made notes elsewhere and then transcribed them to his diary.) Followed by raid without warning by medium, twin-engined bomber with twin rudders: have never seen a German machine lower. Came between the rows of houses toward railway; turned left and dropped two bombs - meant for station I expect, but they dropped in Aston Rd. with little damage except to scatter earth over the road. The Germans simply can't hit the railway. Local battery opened fire also the Lewis guns but marksmanship was rotten as usual. To feed Fluffy, Uncle Joe was home. Warning from 4.55 to 5.30 p.m. Night raid at 5.55 p.m. Few machines and all clear at 9.40 p.m.
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2011 reader's memory of same incident at 31 March 2011
.in-2011.html

16 November 2010

Friday 8th November 1940: baling out shelter

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Rather cold, a little watery sunshine. Warning from 1.45 to 2.30 p.m.;4.45 to 5.15 p.m. Spent lot of time trying to bale water out of shelter but cannot get rid of the last 6 to 8 inches. Bought Kit-E-Kat & to feed Fluffy. Night raid at 6.20 p.m.. Three parachute flares over London. Not many machines and gunfire slight and very inaccurate. Only 4 bombs: two whistled down. All clear at 3.20 a.m. on 9 Sat.

On this day (8-10th): Greek troops take over 5,000 Italian prisoners, the attacking Italian 3rd Alpini Division having been trapped around Pindus Gorges. .See  Pindus in Wikipedia. (Photo: Bogdan Giuşcă)

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14 November 2010

Thursday 7th November 1940: gun crews seem slack

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Rather cold but a little finer. Warnings from 12.15 to 1.5 p.m. 1.15 a time bomb exploded. 6.15 another time bomb. Bought fish for Dinky & Fluffy. Night raid at 6.35 p.m. Much less severe: heard only 3 bombs whistling down.Saw two shells the bright orange light being surrounded by a nebulous orange-glowing globe of fire of some sort: detonated with a terrific, sharp bang. Searchlight and gun crews seem to be getting very slack; the searchlights soon give up and switch off, and the local guns haven't fired at all tonight. All clear at 3.11 a.m. on 8 Fri.
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10 November 2010

Wednesay 6th November 1940: fear there is much damage

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Rather cold, dull. Warnings from 2.40 to 3.14 p.m., from 3.24 to 3.50 p.m., one bomb. To feed Fluffy as they have all gone to Preston today. Night raid at 6.15. p.m.. A very severe raid seeming to be concentrated against the S.W. outskirts. Have never heard so many bombs coming down as to-night; many followed by heavy explosions; fear there is much damage. Much more gunfire to-night, but many bombers were allowed to come and drop their bombs without a shot being fired at them. All clear at 7.49 a.m. on 7 Thur.
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7 November 2010

Tuesday 5th November 1940: bombs and cats

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Rather cold but a little brighter. Warnings from 10.10 to 10.50 a.m. 10.55 to 12.00 noon. 2.55 to 3.30., Walk along Worpole Road to see recent damage., 4.9 to 5.0 p.m. Doris called gave me instructions to feed Fluffy until  further notice. Night raid at 6.15 p.m. Not many bombers except at beginning and end of raid and very little gunfire. All clear at 8.25 a.m. on 6th Wed.. (Note: the commas and capitals are accurately transcribed from Fred's diary. The repeated air raid warnings - and a full night awaiting the all clear - must have drained strength and prevented sleep. Fred's efficient writing shows some signs of tiredness.)
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On this day: President Roosevelt is elected for a third term.
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4 November 2010

Monday 4th November 1940: radio gram & Molotovs


Rather mild, dismal, rain. The shelter has 14 ins of water in it. Tried baling it out but like trying to empty the sea. Played radio gram to Alan Spooner. Warnings from 3.55 to 4.15 p.m. Delayed bomb went off. Raid began at 6.15 but no warning till 6.30. 3 or 4 bombs whistled down quite near, but no bang with them. Pale flickering light in N.W. as if a Molotov bread-basket had been dropped. A somewhat heavier raid than of late: all clear at 7 a.m. on 5 Tues.
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."like trying to empty the sea..."
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On this day: Italians meet with Greek counter-attacks. Spain takes over International Zone of Tangier.
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3 November 2010

Sunday 3rd November 1940: quite a treat

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Rather mild, downpour all day: half-dark. Warnings from 6.35 to 7.5 a.m. Nothing happened 3.25 to 6.30 p.m. Stray raiders, gunfire and distant bombs. The all clear came when the night raid usually begins: quite a treat.
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On this day: Fred was right. We now know this was the first night since 7 September when there was no night raid on London. There had been an average of 165 aircraft attacking London for 57 consecutive nights.
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2 November 2010

Saturday 2nd November 1940: Polished floors as usual

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Click to enlarge

Further warning at 3 a.m. solitary raider over London under fire, & went off S.E. All clear at 4.30 a.m. Also at 6.12 to about 6.30 a.m., 8.30 to 9.0 a.m. 1.26 to 1.41 p.m. Polished floors as usual. Did quite a lot of shopping. Night raid at 6.40 p.m. Only very slight enemy activity. All clear at 11.20 p.m.
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Friday 1st November 1940: little gunfire - scandalous!

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A few machines circled round, drew some gunfire and went off. Two bombs swished down but went over Coombe way. All clear at 7.10 a.m. Warnings from 8.15 t 8.26 a.m. From 11.25 to 12.9 p.m. and 1.20 to 2.57 p.m. With Alan & Fred Spooner to bring away radio-gram which Madge has given me: used their box-truck. Night raid warning at 6.40 p.m., more panes than of late, but a few bombs dropped on other side of railway: little opposition in the way of gunfire - scandalous!  All clear at 1.50 on 2 Sat.
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On this day: RAF support, e.g. from Egypt, send to help Greece. Royal Navy mined Bay of Biscay.
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1 November 2010

Thursday 31st October 1940: 288th raid warning

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Mild, torrents of rain, dismal.Warnings from 8.50 to 9.5 a.m., 1.37 to 4.48 p.m. Heavy Junkers bomber plainly visible, local battery fired a few shots but all went a long way beyond. Alan Spooner called. Night raid began at 6.30 & ended at 9.8 p.m. Very little activity, only a little gunfire & heard no bombs. This warning was the 288th since war began. Further warning at 3.15 a.m. on 1 Nov Fri.
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On this day:

  • German bombing of Britain had killed 6,334 civilians during October, with 8,695 injuries recorded.
  • Vera Brittain noted 'numerous bombs' in the morning, while 'revising Living Dangerously chapter' during a 'very wet day'.

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30 October 2010

Wednesday 30th October 1940: "only slight gunfire..."

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Cold bitter wind, very dull. Warnings from 11.50 a.m. to 12.40 p.m., 3.50 to 4.55 p.m.. Night raid began at 7.3 p.m., very few machines, only slight gunfire and no bombs within hearing.  All clear at 1.0 a.m. on 31st Thur. Developed 16 prints (photographs) for Ron Cooper during the raid.


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On this day: Roosevelt said whilst electioneering: "...I shall say it again and again and again: your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars."  (Franklin D Roosevelt. Photo via Wikipedia.)


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Tuesday 29th October 1940:

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Fifteen bombs on Morden at 4.10 a.m. without warning which sounded at 4.15, then 16 bombs on South London. All clear at 7.15 a.m. Warnings at 11 to 11.30 a.m., 12.35 to 1.15 p.m. enemy aircraft under fire. Gladys & Margaret called. 125 to 1.45 p.m. gunfire. 4.5 to 5.22 p.m. Night raid at 6.46 p,m very slow start and few machines. Can't say I heard any bombs. All clear at 4.55 a.m. on 30 Wed.
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On this day: British troops landed on Crete.
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29 October 2010

Monday 28th October 1940: yellow fog till midday

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Rather cold, very dull, yellow fog till midday. Air raids from 6.40 to 7 a.m., from 1.5 to 1.25 p.m., from 2.40 to 3.30 p.m., 4.25 to 5.28 p.m. Fred Spooner brought in a wireless for me to see. Alan also called. Dear Gladys called with a note from Madge. Bough fish for Dink. Night raid at 6.42 p.m. Fairly severe but nothing dropped in immediate district but 20 bombs in rapid fire seemed to be aimed at factories along the Arterial Road - we shall see. All clear at 3.15 a.m. on 29 Tues.
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On this day: Italy invades Greece. Hitler and Mussolini meet in Florence. 
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28 October 2010

Sunday 27th October 1940: 7 bombs... slight fire

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Rather cold, dull, less wind. Warnings from 7.55 to 10.6 a.m., 11.35 to 12.20 p.m. guns and bombs, 12.30 to 1.0 p.m., 1.45 to 2.20 p.m., 4.44 to 5.15 p.m., Night raid began at 6.48 p.m. Most raiders seemed to come here and seven bombs swished down but only two seemed to explode and they were not severe. Heard fire-engine at work so went to investigate. Slight fire apparently at Merton Mansions, lot of water about. Bombers came at very infrequent intervals to-night. All clear at 6.25 on 28 Mon.
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On this day: Italy tells Germany that it will invade Greece. And de Gaulle formally declares the Free French Government.
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Saturday 26th October 1940: singled out for attack

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Rather cold, cloudy, chilly wind. Air raid warnings from 7.25 to 8.30 a.m., 10.25 to 11.5 a.m., 11.15 to 11.30 a.m., 12 to `2.30 p.m., 1.0 to 1.50 p.m., 3.14 to 3.30 p.m., 4.16 to 4.32 p.m. Out to buy several articles and fish for Dinky & Fluffy. To 34 (Chestnut Road, Raynes Park) to feed Fluffy. Night raid at 6.34 p.m. Fairly heavy but this district singled out for attack. Ten bombs of various sorts aimed at railway, most, I should say, falling on opposite side of the line. They haven't hit the railway here yet. All clear at 7.45 a.m. on 27 Sun.
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On this day: The liner Empress of Britain (42,000 ton) bombed, off Irish coast. Two days later it was sunk by the German submarine U.32. Meanwhile, Italy is concentrating troops along border with Greece.
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27 October 2010

Friday 25th October 1940: prisoner of war

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...Heard today that Cousin Len, missing in France since beginning of June is alive in prisoner of war camp in Germany. Thank God! Night raid began at 6.45 p.m. 7 bombs seemed to swish overhead to land on Cottenham Park side of railway. Late in the raid a plane dropped four on Morden, I judge. German plane carrying a screaming device past over about 4 a.m.
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Thursday 24th October 1940: terrific shrieking

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...Single machine dropped two bombs at Collier's Wood...Saw what appeared to be a seaplane which dropped an object which made a terrific shrieking noise. Dear Gladys and Eileen called. Some shopping. Alan Spooner showed me a main power unit...
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26 October 2010

Wed 23 Oct 1940: five-week time bomb

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...The heavy explosion two mornings ago at 9.0 a.m. was huge time bomb at High Park, Merton, which made a crater 100 feet across; it blew up the railway. It was thought to be dead. There is another "dead" one nearby. These bombs were dropped on Aug 16... night raid began at 6.33 p.m. Only three machines approached this part of London but all were turned back by heavy gunfire. A few got through to Central and South London but otherwise it was the quietest night since the raid began. All clear at 1.50 on 24 Thur.
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Churchill, in a broadcast to France (on 21st Oct)
"We are waiting for the long-promised invasion. So are the fishes."
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25 October 2010

Wed 16 to Tues 22 Oct 1940: the ground lifted beneath one then the sound wave came

Shannon Corner, from Shannon's building
 in early 1960s (see Sun 20th entry).
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Wed 16th: ...more bombs on Worpole and Delamere Road last night also Cranbrook Rd, Elm Walket etc. Kingston had a bad time. Southern railway power station hit and some electric trains are steam hauled. London tube railway is flooded. Saw Chas and he was on duty all through last night's raid and all to0day without any food & had to walk home from Clapham Junction as transport so disorganised. he then went to see Doris in hospital at Kingston.
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Thur 17th: ...Two warnings during morning. Birthday card and letter from Uncle Tom and Aunt Nellie. Uncle Henry gave me a shilling. Mended his glasses yesterday and my birthday to-morrow... to Aunt Liza and to feed Fluffy as usual. Night raid began at 6.55 p.m. and very quickly bombs began to fall, there being eight so  ear as to be heard swishing & whistling overhead: I think some must be very near aimed at the railway as usual & I expect they mostly fell on houses instead. Later the raid dragged on in thick fog. All clear - a distant "all clear" given about 3 a.m. on 18 Fri but the raid continued - the local siren not sounded.
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Fri 18th: ...I am 52 to-day and don't feel very happy about it. To buy wick for oil store for Aunt Liza; also to see Dr Rose on her behalf & to the chemists: she is very bad. ...a delayed bomb went off: there are four at the back of Senior's works on Bushey Road...
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Sat 19th : ...Walked all round the shops to buy ox-liver for cats: found some eventually. To see Aunt Liza who is still very bad and to feed the cat. Edie Bennett called. Night raid began at 7.14 p.m., very severe but ended abruptly at 2.7 a.m. on 20 Sun. Many bombs but only one near enough to be heard whistling down, seemed to be aimed at the factories in Bushey road: gunfire very heavy.
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Sun 20th: Mild, some pleasant sun... Warnings at 10.12 a.m., 11.26 a.m., 1.35 a.m., 2.30 p.m.... went for a walk along Arterial Road, saw damage to Council boys' School, also huge crater right between Reid & Sigrist's and Shannon's works, also large crater and broken gas main opposite Vernier's (?) works...(Notes: was in fact Venner's - see later comment. 2. Reid & Sigrist manufactured aircraft components - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reid_and_Sigrist )
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Mon 21st: ...sporadic raids by individual machines: some gunfire... two heavy bombs just before 6 p.m., looked out and saw the machine with shell-bursts all round it: the best A.A. gunnery I have seen yet, it could not have escaped damage. Bought Kit-E-Kat for Fluffy & Dinky... During a lull (in night raid) developed panchromatic film for Ron Coper... (Note: Fred would have held the long film at each end and see-sawed it through a shallow dish of developer, and fixer. This would be in a darkened room with a strongly-filtered photographic safety light of some sort - but I believe without mains electricity in this case.)
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Tues 22nd: ...Mighty big bang just before noon. The ground lifted beneath one then the sound wave came.... Doris and her new baby came home to-day: nice little chap: Lawrence. Out to do some shopping and to feed Fluffy once more... Fog became pretty thinck and all clear at 11.38 p.m. Further warning at 1.0 a.m. on 23 Wed...
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24 October 2010

Wed 9 to Tues 15 Oct 1940: families killed

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Fred did continue writing his diary every day, despite every night and day being interrupted by air raid warnings. For modern rather than 1940 reasons, these few days are a summary, but in Fred's own words.
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9th Wed: Air battle without warning. Some bombs and fearful bursts of machine gun fire... Saw 20 Spitfires fly over... saw squadron of Hurricanes chasing German bomber. Ron Cooper called in car; brought some damsons from Wilstead. He is just returning to duty on the South Coast after 7 days leave. He works on secret wireless experiments for the Air Ministry.
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10th Thur: ...Ciss to Tolworth to see how Dad is: a bit better (There have been few mentions of Fred's sister, Ciss, or their Dad recently.) 
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11th Fri: ...bombs at Cheam & Sutton. Walk in evening to see the damage. A crater in front of a house at corner of Common Hill Lane, also one on grass verge at Hillier's (? Hilleroso?) Avenue; these were dropped in last night's raid.... The gas is off, so it seems the main in Worple Road is severed once again. Imagine Uncle Henry in Southdown Road had an uncomfortable experience...
[Blog reader Fred Brewer comments:  I suggest this is Hillcross Avenue, a turning off Grand Drive, often mentioned by Fred, which ran along the north side of Morden Park - this park had a complete Messerschmitt 109 on show, and the local youths used to clamber around it, and take a turn in the pilot's seat as well - alternatively, the road could be St. Helier Avenue, not far away, and which also ran to Morden. This was a main road, and a large hospital, St Helier Hospital, stood at the far end.]
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12th Sat: ...six bombs dropped, each one getting nearer, the last one rattling windows and shaking the house, no doubt at Merton or Wimbledon... Walk to buy food for cats: have now to feed Fluffy - Doris's cat, as she has gone into hospital... family of four killed in house in Common Hill Lane, Wimbledon... counted 36 bombs...
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13th Sun: ...two bombs swished down very close. Had to run for the shelter... Great air fight from 3.44 to 4.12 p.m.... Saw Aunt Liza ill in bed and fed Fluffy the cat...
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14th Mon: ...the two bombs heard midday yesterday were at Crown Lane, Morden: five killed at dinner...
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15th Tues: ...Went to 207 Kingston Road to get smoke filters fitted to Ciss and Dad's gas masks: they provided completely new ones... to buy liver for the cats... Saw where the Junkers 88 crashed in Richmond Avenue...
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16 October 2010

Tuesday 8th October 1940: "death and sorrow"

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Rather mild, some slight sunshine. Warnings at 11.20 to 11.50 a.m.then many short warnings till all clear at 1.0 p.m. From 2.45 to 3.0. Finished re-making the floor of shelter and improved one of the benches. Len Garrod called in his police uniform, his beat lay past here so he called in. Night raid began at 7.25 p.m. Many machines coming over. Heard bombs swishing down and exploding. Heard one lot come down which I believe were incendiaries; sounded near Uncle Henry's in Southdown Road: expect I shall hear. All clear at 1.0 a.m. on 9th, but still bombs and gun flashes over London, so waited rather than going to bed. Chanced it and turned in. Final all clear at 5.0 a.m. on 9th.
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On this day Churchill said in the House of Commons...
"death and sorrow will be the companions of our journey; hardship our garment; constancy and valour our only shield. We must be united, we must be undaunted, we must be inflexible."
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15 October 2010

Monday 7th October 1940: gunfire and roses

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7 Mon. (con) Mild, some bright sunshine. Warnings from 9.55 to 10.20, 10.25 to 11.15 a.m. some gunfire. Warning at 1.20 all clear at 2.15. Also from 4.0 to 4.35 p.m. From 4.50 some gunfire, to 5.15 p.m. Cut a nice bunch or roses and put them in a vase. Walk along Arterial Road in evening. Night warning at 7.32. Heard five bombs in a row about Kingston at a guess: I know hawker's aircraft works have been hit before. Also three bombs whistled down about two miles to westward. A long drawn out raid. Not many machines taking part but coming at infrequent intervals. All clear at 6.35 a.m. on 8 Tues.
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On this day: Germans order Jews in occupied France to register.  Japan protests at USA's embargoes.
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Sunday 6th October 1940: American Asia warning

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Rather heavy (overnight) raid & three bombs fell near, in the station direction, but perhaps beyond. (The 3 bombs heard in the early hours of the 4th were at Worcester Park.) Further warning at 2.50 but little happened save a fire in E. London direction. Then a long wait while nothing whatever happened. All clear at 4.30 a.m. Further warning immediately and all clear at 6.5. a.m. on 6th Sun. Mild, dismal, rain all day, very windy. Warnings from 11.5 a.m. to 12.10 p.m. followed at once by two detonations. Then warning at 1.19 p.m. which lasted on and off till 5.40 p.m. Many bombs were heard three loud enough to shake the windows. Night warning at 8.22 p.m., nothing transpired, all clear at 8.40. Went to bed to sleep at midnight. Woke up by sirens at 5.40 a.m. on 7 Mon but all clear at 6.40 a.m. and nothing untoward.
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On this day: American citizens were advised to leave the Far East.
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12 October 2010

Saturday 5th October 1940: calm before storm...

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Rather mild, dismal, windy. Warnings from 125 to 11.55 a.m., 2.20 to 2.50 p.m., 4. to 4.30 p.m. Went out to buy Kit-E-Cat for Dinky; saw soldiers at the camp rush to action stations during warning: air fight but no shots fired. Night raid at 7.32 p.m., all clear at 2.0 a.m. on 6 Sun....
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Friday 4th October 1940: repaired shelter floor

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Rather mild,dismal, drizzle. Warning from 5.50 to 6.14 a.m., from 12.50 to 5.32 p.m., enemy machines about; our guns fired many rounds. Got a wheelbarrow and collected some brick rubble to repair the floor of the shelter. 6.51 to 6.30 p.m., 6.52 to 1.23 a.m. on 5 Sat.... Not so heavy a raid as earlier ones, but some bombs on South London, also some South from here probably Caterham or thereabouts. Our local battery was in action but no planes past overhead. Further warning at 2.13 a.m. Only distant gunfire and all clear at 3.35 a.m. on 5 Sat...
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11 October 2010

Thursday 3rd October 1940: bombs swishing down

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Very cool, dismal, rain. Warning during morning, do not know when it began but ended at 11.20 a.m. Also from 1.5 to 2.44. From 2.25 to 5.20 much gunfire our battery fired many rounds. Out to buy herrings for Dinky. Night raid began at 7.59 p.m. A few enemy aircraft approached with some gunfire; all clear at 9.33. Continued at 10.10 p.m. Not many machines but one fired thre bombs which I heard swishing down to explode not far away: shall doubtless hear where they fell: all clear at 2.15 a.m. on....
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On this day: Neville Chamberlain resigned from the War Cabinet, replaced by Herbert Morrison and Sir John Anderson. Bevin and Wood brought into Cabinet.
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Wednesday 2nd October 1940: new gas masks

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Rather mild, some feeble sunshine, fierce chilly wind. Warnings from 9.20 to 1040 a.m., 12.8 to 12.32 p.m. , 1.25 to 1.54 p.m. 3.5 to 3.29 p.m., 4.32 to 4.55 p.m. To the food office to transfer our butter and margarine registration from Mr. Jones to Pomeroy. Mr Jones's shop has been bombed twice and he can only continue the milk round. Also to change Ciss and Dad's gas-masks for new ones; the others were damaged by flood water in the dug-out. Night raid began at 7.45 p.m.. A few machine approached and then all clear at 9.15 p.m. Then further warning at 10.5 p.m. A fire to the north, also one in south-east. A less severe raid. All clear at 6.25 a.m. on...
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10 October 2010

Tuesday 1 October 1940: London heavily bombed

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Very cool, a little feeble sunshine. Warnings from 1.37 to 1.54 p.m. 2.30 to 2.15 p.m. Out to phone doctor for a bottle of medicine. Warning from 4.14 to 4.48 p.m. There is now a barrage balloon on the playing fields, so we are getting on. Night raid at 8.5 p.m. Small number of bombs to west of us and a fire, but heavy bombing to east of us; that is central and south-western areas of London. All clear at 5.29 a.m. on --- (2 Wed)
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Monday 30th September 1940: bullets struck roof

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Rather cool, very dull. Warnings from 9.30 to 9.55 a.m., 10.0 to 10.55 a.m., 1, p.m. to 2.115 p.m. nig air battle, and 4.15 to 5.58 another air battle overhead; machine gun bullets struck the roof of Towner's house. Night raid from 7.50 p.m., to 5.58 a.m. on Tues 1 Oct. Ciss**, Doris and Aunt Liza came with me to spend night at Botsford Road shelter. Could not hear much of the raid but it was probably a little less severe. Heard one bomb come whistling down, and ending with a bump.
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**Note: I am surprised how little we hear of Fred's sister, Ciss. And what of his Dad, who should have been living at 66 Chestnut Road still at this time?
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8 October 2010

Sunday 29th September 1940: slept till 3pm

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Very cool, dull, getting very chilly. Did not wake up until 3 in the afternoon. (After a night of raids and time spent in a public shelter.) Warning from 4.30 to 5.5. p.m., one bomb. No gas, so took joint to Lily at Botsford Road as she has an electric cooker. The night raid at 8.0 p.m.. Went to Botsford shelter till the all clear at 6.10 a.m. on the 30th. Mon. Heard one or two bombs whistling over, but many fell not many miles away. Several fires as usual.
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On this day: Luxembourg was incorporated into 'Great Germany.
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Saturday 28th October 1940: ten-hour air raid

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Cool, some feeble sunshine. The gas is on again at half pressure. Warning at 10.5 a.m till 10.45 a.m. no untoward incident. Out to buy week-end joint and liver. Warning from 1.20 to 1.59 p.m. Aunt Liza and Mrs Akroyd called. To Botsford Road shelter. Warning about 8.0 p.m., all clear at 5.58 a.m. on 29 Sun.Heavy raid; twelve heavy bombers in a row probably Kingston way. Fire at Isleworth. Saw the crater in front garden of Dr Rose's in Worple Road, and fractured gas main.
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7 October 2010

Friday 27th September 1940: bombs whistling over

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"Spent night in Botsford Road public shelter"
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From 9.15 to 10.0 a.m. air battle overhead. Continued at 11.5 without warning, but the latter was given at 11.45 a.m. all clear sounded at 12.35 p.m. Warning 3.15 p.m. eleven German bombers under shell fire over London: all clear 4.49 p.m. Night raid began at 8.10 p.m. Very heavy to begin with and numbers if incendiary bombs were dropped & fires started. Spent night in Botsford Road public shelter. Heard two explosive bombs whistling over. Gas main broken and no gas. Fire in Worple Road & a large one in the North.
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6 October 2010

Thursday 26th September 1940: our shelter flooded

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Very cool, dull. Warnings from 11.45 a.m. to 12.10 p.m. & from 4.12 to 4.39 p.m. Out to buy a herring for Dinky. There was a large water main burst in Bushey Road and flooded the district, traffic being diverted through this road. The gardens were flooded and the water came right up to the back doorstep. The shelter is unusable for the time being. The night raid began at 8.32 p.m. and fires were soon reddening the sky: one big blaze could actually be heard. Then bombs fell which shook the house. After the all clear a 4.00 a.m. on 27 Fri. I went out and found many houses down in Sydney Road, while rubble strews Chestnut Road and houses damaged. Further warnings at 5.57 a.m.
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Wednesday 25th September 1940

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Rather mild, some warm sunshine; chilly wind. Warning from 10.15 to 12.10. Walk in afternoon to Heath Dive and district. A large number of incendiary bombs were dropped here and many fires caused. Eight such bombs fell on the playing fields. The night raid began at 8.23 p,n, Not quite so many machines or bombs as last night, but some heavy explosions coming from Wimbledon direction. Also a fire lighting the sky not far away.
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On this day: ...and the next few days, Germans concentrate more attacks on factories. Locations in Bristol, Southampton and Yeovil are among those targeted.
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27 September 2010

Tuesday 24th September 1940: "unabated fury..."

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"London is crumbling before our eyes"
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Mild, bright sunshine, but chilly at night. Raid warning from 8.35 to 9.23 a.m. From 11.53. a.m. to 12.25 p.m., bombs and gunfire before the warning. Edie Bennett called; her mother is not expected to live. The night raid began at 8.11 p.m. and continued with unabated fury till 5.32 a.m. on 25 Wed. Enemy aircraft were more numerous than ever, each one getting a few rounds of gunfure but without any noticeable effect. It seems as though they cannot be stopped and London is crumbling before our eyes, thousand have been killed already.
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On this day:

  • Over 3 days (23-25) Free French forces and British try to take the port of Dakar in French West Africa. Operation Menace falters and Churchill calls it off.
  • Vichy i.e. French forces supporting Germany, attack Gibraltar by air, dropping 600 tons of bombs, but causing limited damage.
  • The German Commissioner in Norway appoints Quisling head of government, formally deposing the King.

25 September 2010

Monday 23rd September 1940: "Things are looking very serious..."

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Mild, fine, bright sunshine. Raid warning from 9.40 to 1045 a.m. From 1.27 to 2.43 p.m. - distant bombs or gunfire. From 5.28 to 6.2 p.m. from 7.44 p.m. when the night raid began, being even more severe than last night;   great many bombs on S. London area; gunfire less effective. Things are looking very serious as there seems no way of dealing with night bombers and they come over in droves. All clear at 5.58 a.m. on 24 Tues.
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Note: Fred, like thousands of others, must have been kept awake by the aircraft and the bombs, witness his recording the precise times of the all-clear siren in the middle of the night. 
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24 September 2010

Sunday 22nd September 1940

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Mild, dull, slight rain. Warnings from 2.35 to 4.10, rrom 4.42 to 6.0 p.m. Was out walking when the sirens sounded. Saw Madge and Margaret on their bikes in West Barnes Lane. The night raid began at 7.15 and 20 heave bombs were dropped within a mile or two judging by the dreadful noise. yesterday bombs were dropped on the railway between Raynes Park and Malden Stations, the latter being put out of action. All clear at 2.34 a.m. on 23 Mon. Further warning from 3'28 a.m. to 5.58 a.m; bombs on E. & S.E.London.
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22 September 2010

Saturday 21st September 1940: "A great red ball of flame..."

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"Mrs Webb's house... is just a pile of rubbish."


(Fred's entry runs on from yesterday, as do the air raids) ...raid recommenced at 1.20 a.m. but it was over E. & N.E.London. Am convinced I saw a German plane blown up in mid air by a direct hit from a shell. A great red ball of flame suddenly appeared which developed into a vertical line of fire and smoke: I then heard a terrific explosion. We shall see if I was mistaken.... I am inclined to think now that it was a barrage balloon hit by a shell, all clear at 5.20 a.m.
   21 Sat (con.) Mild, dull, chilly at night. Warnings from 11.13 to 11.25 a.m., 6.7 to 7.0 p.m. four bombs dropped. Went to see Mrs Webb's house in Durham Road; it is just a pile of rubbish, yet the greenhouse is intact - glass and all. The nightly raid began at 8.15 p.m. One bomb whistled overhead and landed somewhere to Northward. The guns allowed this plane to do its work firing only afterwards. The bombs on Dupont Road might not have fallen if the guns had fired sooner. Last night not a single bomber was permitted to approach: they were all turned back by spirited gunfire. All clear at 4.37 a.m. on 22 Sun.
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21 September 2010

Friday 20th September 1940: Fred was given part of a German aircraft...

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Mild, dull, less wind. Warning from 11.40 a.m. till 12 noon. Went to see where the German plane crashed. The Scottish troops from the anti-aircraft station were removing the machine which was reduced to scrap. A boy gave me a piece of the self-sealing compound which the Germans use to make the petrol tank bullet proof. The night attack began at 7.53 p.m. but so well did our guns fire that no raiders got past the London area; they just turned tail and dwindled to silence in the darkness. Raid recommenced at 12.20 a.m. on the 21 Sat.
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On this day: in fact over the period of 3 days, Atlantic convoy HX-72 is attacked by a group of German U-boats, which sunk 12 ships. Seven of these loses were overnight on 21-22 Sept., sunk by a single German U.00 which was not detected by the escorts.
  • German army commanders are warned that troops will be sent to Rumania, to be stationed in case of war with the Soviet Union.

19 September 2010

19 Sept 1940: "...the house was demolished"

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Thurs 19. Mild, heavy rain. Warning from  8.55 tp 9.10 a.m. Short walk to buy Dinky something. In evening to see the damage in Cambridge Road. A huge crater on Cottenham Park Rec. and a still larger one in Cambridge Road where Mr Halliday lived: but not a window broken. Called in at Richmond Road to see how they all were: Margaret has a Siamese kitten. The night raid was characterised by few bombs within hearing but large number of machines past over and our local guns blazed at them good and strong - starting at 8.3. p.m. it finished at 5.46 a.m. on 20th Fri. One alarming incident was when a German plane power dived at stupendous speed to within a few yards of us in the shelter. We thought it was going to crash on us as it had been under heavy fire; don't know what happened to it.---
Since writing the above I do know that the machine was a Junkers, type 88. It was fired at by our local battery and a shell blew its tail off. It dived at incredible speed on to a house in Richmond Avenue. The house was demolished. The plane buried itself deeply, blew up and caught fire.
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18 September 2010

Wednesday 18th September 1940: "many swishing noises..."

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"The bombers came over like a swarm of bees for 6 hours"
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Mild, some moderate sun, windy. Raid warnings as follows. 7.15 to 7.32 a.m. 8.25 to 8.44 a.m., - our gune fired. 9.45 to 10.5 a.m., 11 to 11.15 a.m., 12.45 p.m. to 2.30. 4.13  p.m. to 4.32 p.m., 5.14 p.m. to 5.45 p.m. 7.55 p.m. when the night raid began. The bombers came over like a swarm of bees for 6 hours without a break but the attack became more sporadic as the time drew on. One bomb would not have been far away in a W.direction. Heard many drawn out swishing noises as if objects were gliding down out of control owing to gunfire? Hope so! All clear at 5.30 a.m. on Thur. 19th
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17 September 2010

Tuesday 17th September 1940: my windows blasted

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"it looks as if Uncle Alf's has barely escaped"
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A further raid began at 3.50 a.m. but was not on a large scale: went to bed so do not know when it ended. Two short warnings followed from 8.0 to 9.0 a.m. and another - time or duration not observed. The bomb on the Rec. proved to be a British one captured by the Germans in France. Warning from 2.55 to 4.25 p.m. Nothing developed. Maud called ion evening. Warning from 6.30 to 7.0 p.m. The night raid began at 8.7 and a bomber flew overhead circling round and dropped a bomb which sent a powerful blast through the house, and blew out two windows and cracked another. Aunt Liza has several windows out. The road is strew with glass. Fruins (??) shop window is out, and it was an aerial torpedo in Kingston road. I shall have to see how Uncle Alf and Aunt Hannah have fared. All clear at 6.0 a.m. on 18 Wed. Went out immediately and saw what has happened. A bomb in Kingston Road opposite Sidney Road, and several in Dupont Road, demolishing several houses. The police would not let me down, but it looks as if Uncle Alf's has barely escaped. (It was badly damaged.)
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On this day:

  • 10,000 Britons killed or wounded in today's raids, the fiercest yet. So far this month, 2,000 have died.
  • Germans postpone invasion plans - Operation Sealion - indefinitely. RAF bombers attack German vessels which had been gathered for invasion.
  •  In the Med, aircraft from the carrier Illustrious sink four Italian ships in the harbour at Benghazi. 

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16 September 2010

Monday 16th September 1940: "The nightly smash-up of London began at 8.10 and was very severe"

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"Our guns fired and scared Uncle Henry"
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Mild, dull, rain. Warnings from 10.0 to 10.35 a.m. from 11.5 to 11.40 a.m., from 12.15 to 12.55 p.m. From 2.15 to 5.59 p.m. during which time a few enemy aircraft were heard. Not long before the all clear sounded a bomber flew over low and dropped a bomb on Joseph Hood's Rec. & made a crater - saw it afterwards. Our guns fired and scared Uncle Henry who was here. Many bombs dropped on Wimbledon in the night. Some shop windows at Oxford (??) Av. broken by concussion. The nightly smash-up of London began at 8.10 p.m. and was very severe until 1.45 when there was a lull. After an hour's silence the all clear went at 2.45 a.m. on 17 Tues.
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15 September 2010

Sunday 15th September 1940: "Great battle over London"

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"...they are smashing London up."
Warnings from 1.0 a.m. to 3.30 a.m. From 11.45 a.m. to 12.55 p.m. Great battle over London. Buckingham Palace bombed again. German raider down at Victoria Station. German in flames over Wimbledon Common: the crew baled out. Saw two Nazis coming down by parachute. From 2.15 to 3.20 p.m. Battle over Croydon. From 7.15 to 7.40 p.m.  Walk on Common in evening: heard 3 delayed bombs. The usual London raid began at 8.10 p.m.: a serious business. Many bombs dropped, these sounded quite near. Shrapnel falling and whistling all around. Seems impossible to stop these night bombers: they are smashing London up. All clear at 5.30 a.m. on Mon. The three bombs nearby were in  Morden Road; three were killed. The delayed bomb dropped beside St Paul's Cathedral weighed a ton. It was dug up and conveyed to a safe spot where it was exploded; it made a crater 100 ft across.
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14 September 2010

Saturday 14th September 1940: six air raid warnings

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Mild, chilly wind, a little weak sunshine. Warnings - 9.45 to 10.00 a.m. & 11.0 to 11.15 a.m., 3.47 to 5.5. p.m. flight of machines passed over and sound of bombs as if they were dropped on Wimbledon Common; I'm sure they are welcome. 6.20 - 7.15 - one bomb sounded as before. 7.40 to 9.0 p.m., 9.38 to 9.59 p.m.
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On this day

  • Hitler postpones invasion decision again, hoping Luftwaffe will have better weather to attack Britain in the meantime - making 27 September earliest possible date. But autumn and winter weather threatens... Luftwaffe commanders believe they are defeating the RAF. 
  • Vera Brittain records seeing damage to Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. "Immense detours now necessary in Central London." She also records (note Hitler's decisions affected by weather, above): "A bad day for raids, lots of low clouds."

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13 September 2010

Friday 13th September 1940: "The aerial bombardment began punctually at 9.0pm."

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13th Fri. Very mild, much heavy rain, very cloudy, very boisterous. Warning from 7.40 to 8.30 a.m. Also from 10.15 a.m. to 1.56 p.m. during which periods aeroplanes were heard and some bombs and firing. An unexpected burst of machine-gunning were heard at 3.50 followed by a warning: all clear at 4.15 p.m. Walked along rail path to see the bog tank engine. The aerial bombardment began punctually at 9.0 p.m. The anti-aircraft barrage being particularly intense. Noted a new weapon, probably a rocket which fires three shells from one discharge. Counted upwards of 30 German bombers passing here alone. Hope they got hit. The sky was ablaze with shell bursts. All clear at 5.30 a.m. on 14th Sat.
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On this day
  • Britain's Royal Navy moves battleships Nelson and Rodney to join the Hood at Rosyth, preparing to back-up the existing fleet of cruisers and destroyers in areas of potential invasion. The battleship Revenge is in Plymouth. 
  • Italian troops advance from Libya into Egypt, and also a minor advance into from Ethiopia into Kenya.
  • All 27 Chinese fighters were shot down in an encounter with 13 Japanese Zeroes over Chungking.

12 September 2010

Thursday 12th Sept 1940: "Card saying Tolworth was bombed on Monday..."

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12 Thur. (con.). Mild, chilly wind, cloudy. Bought liver for Dinky. Was watching guns on fields when the warning siren went at 4.40 to 5.45 p.m. Card** from Albert saying Tolworth was bombed on Monday afternoon last. The nightly attack began at 9.15 p.m. Less machines took part, but a big glow in the N.sky showed where they had been. The firing was less intense All clear 15 5.45 a.m. on 13th Fri.
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**Neither brother had a telephone at this time.
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On this day
  • Reporters in Berlin were told that by German authorities that the RAF wouldn't last another two weeks.
  • Finland agreed transit rights for German troops. 

11 September 2010

Wednesday 11th Sept 1940: "The nightly attack on London at 8.38pm"

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"It was indiscriminate bombing of non-military places"
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11th Wed (con.) Mild, some autumn sunshine, chilly N.wind. Raid warnings as follows; from 11.55 a.m. to 12.10 p.m. from 3.23 to 4.43 p,m. many bombs dropped in a S.W. or W. direction. From 5.5 to 5.25 p.m. Then the nightly attack on London at 8.38 p.m. The gun barrage was terrific and the Germans were subjected to real opposition, may being held off. Some got through & started fires as usual. It was indiscriminate bombing of non-military places. Our local guns (4) made a dreadful din, but I like to hear it all the same. The all clear came at 5.38 a.m. on Thur.12th.
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"Our local guns (4) made a dreadful din, but I like to hear it all the same"


Link to photo of incident map of bombs falling in Wimbledon. Note the line of incendiaries parallel to a railway line. Uncle Fred's home in Chestnut Road, Raynes Park is towards the eastern end of that set of 12 or so north-south parallel roads ('The Apostles') at the foot of the map:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarflondondunc/1825914314/lightbox/.
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10 September 2010

Tuesday 10th Sept 1940: "...the red glow of many fires."

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10th Tues. (con.) Mild, cloudy. Warning from 12.5 to 1.22.pm. From 4.5 to 4.20, from 5.25 to 5.44, from 5.57 to 6.25 p.m. Was out cycling when the sirens went so took shelter at Uncle Ben's, New Malden. Warning from 8.15 to 4.45 a.m on 11th Wed. The nightly bombardment of London continues and the sky is lit up again with the red glow of many fires. The bombs - by the sound, were of the heaviest calibre. These fell at Tooting, I have just heard.
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On this day: Hitler suspends decision on an imminent invasion.
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Monday 9th September 1940: "The sky is red with the light of a hundred fires"

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Mild, cloudy, getting very cool. Raid warning from 5.15 ro 6.25. A squadron of the enemy met a squadron of our Hurricane fighters. Four German machines tumbled down immediately the forces met. Others came down so I was told, and some of the enemy airmen came down by parachute. Many bombs were dropped however, and some fires started, at Kingston I believe. Alb & Lily called to say they were all right after last night's hectic affair. Went to see the damage in Elm Walk: an enormous bomb crater in the garden. Raid at night from 9.37 p.m. till 5.45 a.m. on Tues 10th. Fierce bombing attack especially on east London continued. The sky is red with the light of a hundred fires. The damage must be grievous. St.Thomas Hospital is badly damaged. The docks have suffered most. Our anti-aircraft guns are firing more accurately and without waiting to get a sight of the enemy. They brought a German down in this raid.
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On this day: US ships start operating with Royal Navy in North Atlantic. Germany warns that any ship, whatever the nationality, will be attacked if in a war zone.
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