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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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