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30 January 2011

Thursday 30th January 1941: plane machine-gun dive

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Very cold, dull. Out only to feed Fluffy in evening. Warning 9.25 to 10.00 a.m. thence on and off all day from 10.30 a.m. to 5.20 p.m. Sound of many planes and gunfire. One plane dived out of the clouds to 300ft. using its machine guns. The local battery let fly but I think it got away.
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On this day: Germany warns that any ships taking supplies to Britain would be torpedoed.
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29 January 2011

Wednesday 29th January 1941: revolution

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Very cold, very dull. Mr Ward has put a pale green paper on the walls of the small bedroom and a pale silvery blue on the front bedroom. The ceilings have been whitewashed and drop friezes done and the effect is a great improvement - very stylish. My room is now to be done. Alan Spooner called to take some washing away: very impressed by my wireless with the parallel power output: it really is good: volume and quality. Warnings from 9.35 to 9.55 a.m. and 5.45 to 9.37 p.m.. A few machines and some gunfire but none locally: nothing dropped hereabouts.

On this day: the Luftwaffe dropped mines into the Suez canal
Modern Cairo and the Nile (via Wiki)
And on this day in 2011, 70 years later to the day,  Egypt is the scene of popular protests in Cairo and across the country. The cabinet has formally resigned. People are ignoring a 4pm-8am curfew. The police are unpopular; the army is urging police restraint. The army is in the tv station, protesters are outside... elsewhere army and people are mingling... 2.50 GMT, police open fire at demonstrators at the Interior Ministry, 4 dead, in London protesters are moving towards the Egyptian embassy... (and in London & Manchester students are on the streets protesting against increasing student fees).
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50 years ago: Lord Bertrand Russell, philosopher and Nobel Prizewinner along with Lady Russell and another demonstration of  political moment, in London, in support of nuclear disarmament
(photo, copyright this blogger, Tony French)  

28 January 2011

Tuesday 28th January 1941: bombs & a mouse

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Rather cold, dismal, rain until early evening. Out to shops in Kingston Rd and Coombe Lane. Warnings from 1.00 to 11.25 a.m. distant gunfire. 12.35 to 1.0 p.m. 1.15 to 1.50 p.m. more gunfire 1.55 to 4.5 p.m. Enemy aircraft flying above dense masses of clouds, dropping bombs through them at objects which they could not have seen. Local guns came into action during this morning. Dinky caught a mouse in kitchen cupboard.
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Monday 27th January 1941

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Raw cold, very dull, rain all day: wretched. To do some shopping in afternoon. Mr Ward at work decorating the upstairs rooms.
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On this day: British reach Agordat in Eritrea. Italian government members take up army roles in Albania. Rumours in Washington of Japan planning attack on Pearl Harbor.
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27 January 2011

Sunday 26th January 1941: putrid meat, precious cat

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Cold, very dull, damp. Walk along rail path in afternoon. Alb & Lily called in afternoon: Alb seems much more rational than he was. To 34 Chestnut in afternoon. Uncle Joe. Len's sweetheart Doris was there, also Chas. Absolutely sick at heart of wartime food restrictions. Food, the most essential of all necessities, is severely curtailed, and the most nourishing foods are the scarcest  and most expensive. Even half putrid ox heart and ox liver that has been in cold storage for years - not fit for human consumption is rationed and doled out in minute quantities. I am not satisfied that there is a real need for such stringency, or, on the other hand the food situation is more serious than the government are willing to admit. Anyway, I am hungry again within one hour of having a meal and the difficulty of feeding cats at all is maddening to a man whose cat is the most precious thing he has.
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Saturday 25th January 1941: prisoner of war

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Rather cold, very dull, rain all day. In morning to telephone doctor as Ciss has got a bad cold; also to do some shopping. Met Judge the aero-modellist who told me he is now living at 19 Chestnut Road: pleased to meet him. Then in afternoon to do more shopping as Ciss cannot go out. Miserable plodding about in the rain. Heard that Cousin Len is now arrived at prisoner of war camp at Stallag in German.
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Friday 24th January 1941: cats & radio

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Rather cold, very dull, drizzle becoming heavier.Out only to feed Fluffy and to the shops. My modification of the wireless set appears to be very successful, but as accumulator is running down a fair test could not yet be made.
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25 January 2011

Thursday 23rd January 1941: bombed bed in garden

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Rather cold, very dull. A lot of callers to-day. Brought away a bedstead from what was once Mrs. Child's: it was spoiling in the garden. Mrs Snudden & her neighbour called, also Lily Hewitt. Bought food for cats. Fitted extra valve in my broadcast receiver to work in parallel with the output valve to increase the output. Shall have to test it tomorrow.
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On this day: in Eritrea, British advance to Biskia railhead.

Wednesday 22nd January 1941:birds sung; no bombs

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Temperature up to 47 degrees: rain nearly all day but a little warm sunshine to end the day, and it made the birds to sing! Walk round the roads of Cottenham Park. Re-wound the primary coil of broadcast receiver - made a good job of it: the spacers had dropped out and the wires were loose. Needed doing months ago.
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On this day: British and Australian troops took Tobruk, capturing 25,000 Italians, and 87 tanks. Approaching 400, mainly Australian, casualties. 
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24 January 2011

Tuesday 21st January 1941:'dog food' for cats

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Mild by comparison - 47 degrees: dismal, rain all day. Hunts about to find food for cats saw some minced meat in butchers kn Coombe Lane marked "dog food", no coupons - bought 1/2 lb. 4d. Warning from 10.40 to 11.0 a.m. 1.11 to 2.3 p.m., two bombs followed by warning at 3.27, all clear at 4.20 p.m. Tried grid-stopper in 1st(?) L.F. valve of wireless set but no improvement. It seems hard to improve upon my set.Dr Milum called; I like him very much: a cheerful man.
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On this day: Australian troops attack Tobruk. Italians broken and General Mannella captured. USA end prohibition on exports to Russia.
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23 January 2011

Monday 20th January 1941:

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Local all clear at 2.16 a.m. Snow throughout the early hours getting slushier as time went on, turning into rain continuing all day which was now cold and dull. Bought sprats on Coombe Lane. Edie Bennet called.
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On this day: Rumania Iron Guard (Home Guard) are in revolt. This is put down over coming days with help of Rumanian and German Armies. In the USA, Roosevelt inaugurated for an unprecedented third term. 
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Sunday 19th January 1941: steak for cats

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Less cold and thawing but freezing again at night: dull. Walked along Arterial Road as far as West Barnes Lane Bridge and back. Mrs. Ackroyd came to tea, she brought some steak for the cats. Night raid at 6.27 to 6.45 p.m.; no incidents but further warning at 7.10 p.m. A number of machines but none very near although the local battery opened fire at long range. The raid which was not very heavy was on London: all clear at 12.22 a.m. on Mon 20.
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On this day
  • In Eritrea, in the Sudan, British - along with Indian and Sudanese forces - begin offensive against Italians, who have 17,000 men.
  • Hitler and Mussolini meet at the Berghof. Italians willing to accept German help in Africa, but not Albania. Hitler appears ready to attack Greece, if Britain's involved.


22 January 2011

Saturday 18th January 1941: made special spanner

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Warning from 1.49 a.m. to 2.54 a.m. - one machine only. Cold not so severe but still freezing, more snow to-day - from 2 to 3 inches; less dull. Heard a bang followed by warning at 3.8 p.m.; all clear at 4.0 p.m. Only went out to feed Fluffy. Repaired switch of pocket lamp. Took down Magnavox loudspeaker to celluloid varnish the speech coil and former(?). Re-assembled after much difficulty having to make a special spanner. Tested and found O.K. Good job.
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On this day: more attacks on Malta, this time concentrating on airfields. (Click map to enlarge)



The airfields of Malta. Note the Safi dispersal strip linking Luqa and Hai Far. From The Air Battle of Malta, HMSO, 1946
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18 January 2011

Friday 17th January 1941: no incidents!

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Many degrees of frost all day; some wintry sunshine. Out for shopping: returning along rail path. Warning from 7.20 to 10.12 p.m. No incidents.
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Thursday 16th January 1941: tough rationing

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Two planes came over at 2.40 a.m. terrific gunfire and two lots of heavy bombs which shook the house: no warning given and I was in bed. - got up. Warning subsequently about 3.0 a.m. and all clear about 5.30 but I went to bed it was so cold. Five degree of frost under cover. Severe frost all day but not so dull to-day. Spent afternoon trying to buy food for the cats. Difficult enough to buy food for humans; even ox-heart and ox liver is rationed and only 1/2d worth of meat per head per week is now allowed. We are reduced to living mainly on bread, potatoes and oatmeal porridge - none of them appetising, satisfying or nourishing. Just a case of filling up and hoping for the best. Warning at 6.55 p.m. Only one machine past over and some distant gunfire; all clear at 1.37 a.m. on 17 Fri.
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The cost of feeding the cats
Three loose pages (6 sides) where Fred recorded the costs of cat food were folded inside his 1941 diary. Note the farthings, halfpennies and three-farthings. Here's the first of the pages, from Monday 27th January to Saturday 27th February 1941. 


- Click on image to enlarge - 

On this day: Malta attacked by about 80 Stukas; 10 shot down. They damaged the carrier Illustrious and the cruiser Perth. The harbour was suffered heavy damage. 
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16 January 2011

Wednesday 15th January 1941:maze of exhaust trails

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Wintry weather to-day. One inch of snow followed by one inch at night, half-dark: bitter wind. Out only to feed Fluffy 3 times and to get carpet rescued from the ruins of Mrs. Child's house. Mr Ward & his boy assistant started stripping the paper off the walls of upstarirs rooms. Warning from 1.55 (?) to 2.15 p.m. Gunfire at 11.45 p.m. followed by warning at 11.50 p.m. Brilliant moonlight night: the sky was a maze of exhaust trails left by the planes: all clear at 2.2. a.m.
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14 January 2011

Tuesday 14th January 1941: blackbird & graves

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Cold, a little less dull: calm and a sweet quietness in the air like the first signs of Spring. Heard a blackbird trying over his notes. Planted dear Mother's grave with mixed daffodils and narcissus. Mrs Akroyd called with meat for the cats: let her have the rest of the bulbs for planting on Mr. Akroyd's graves . Bought clear dope at Norman's and doped the (???) fuselage at night: looks nice. No raids.
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13 January 2011

Monday 13th January 1941: 'great minds think alike'

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A little less cold, very dull. Alan Spooner called to show me his new moving coil loud-speaker; ut was a Magnavox exactly like my new one: neither of us knew the other had bought one and at the same shop: great minds think alike. We visited the scene of his demolished house but did not find much worth taking away. Dr Milum called to see us.
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12 January 2011

Sunday 12th January 1941: widespread blast

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Very cold, dismal. Walk to see damage in Cannon Hill Lane district; walked home round Cannon Hill Common. Nowhere is the effect of blast so widespread as in Chestnut, Sydney and Dupont Road. Mrs Akroyd to tea; she brought a jar of Kit-E-Cat. Covered the rebuilt 23 1/2 fuselage with violet bamboo tissue; looks fine. Night raid at 6.30 p.m. severe while it lasted, many bombs but not here. All clear at 10.46 p.m.
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On this day: from Malta, British aircraft attack Sicily to protect Malta while HMS Illustrious is repaired. 
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11 January 2011

Saturday 11th January 1941: motoring death

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Raw cold but not freezing: very dismal. Bought fish for cats also bought paraffin at garage. To Normans model shop at Merton: bought dark blue bamboo tissue to cover modified fuselage. Norman's father told me his son was in the R.A.F. Met Harold who told me Sylvia's young man had died of injuries received in motoring accident: he was in the army. Brought away Uncle Joe's loudspeaker for cleaning and adjustment which was done forthwith. Might raid at 6.23 p.m. Great many planes and far more bombs dropped but none quite near. Raid finished with surprising abruptness; the all clear sounding while the guns were firing heavily. They soon left off for good and the all clear signals got nearer until the local one went. All clear at 10.50 p.m.


On this day: cruiser'Southampton sunk by Stuka attack and Gloucester damaged on leaving Malta.
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10 January 2011

Friday 10th January 1941: cat food problem

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Freezing all day, dull. Still puzzled how I can feed the cats. Bought packet of Spillers cat food & some sprats. Eileen McCappin (?) and Eileen Boxall called. Distant warning at 8.25 p.m. no incidents: all clear at 9.30 p.m: local warning was not given.
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On this day: Lend-Lease Bill introduced in US Congress, to supply arms to Britain, met with strong opposition, not lease from Charles Lindbergh and former Ambassador Kennedy.


British carrier HMS Illustrious attacked by German and Italian aircraft near Malta. Over 200 crew killed. She returned to Malta, leaving Germany free shift supplies to North Africa. Malta was left nearly defenceless. 
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Thursday 9th January 1941: played gramophone

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Freezing hard all day. Fine; some winter sunshine. Mrs Wheals called; played the gramophone to her. Out to buy fish for cats. Saw Violet Bickerstaff. Mr Ward called to see about papering the upstairs rooms. Night raid began at 6.55 p.m. Guns and planes. Warning at 7.10 p.m. Quite a lot of bombers but nothing fell hereabouts. Very little firing by local battery. Thought we were in for an all-night raid but all clear at 2.7 a.m. on 10 Fri.
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Wednesday 8th January 1941: cat bed & hot bottle

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Still very cold but slowly thawing, very dismal. Plasterer still at work repairing ceilings and cracked walls. Took Fluffy's sleeping box to him - he seemed pleased with it; cleaned the windows of his shed. Went later and put a hot water bottle in the compartment of his box designed to fit it.
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7 January 2011

Tuesday 7th January 1941: Bovril on cereal for cats

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Freezing; about an inch of snow, half dark. A day of raids by planes flying above the dense masses of clouds. Gunfire at 12.56 p.m. followed immediately by the sirens. Heard bomb swish down at 2.35 p.m. Went out with planes droning overhead and guns firing to buy food for the cats. Am experimenting to find something they will eat, now that meat is barred to them. Am trying various cereal foods savoured with Bovril etc: don't know what to try next. All clear at 4.19 p.m. Made sleeping box for Fluffy; Dink tested it and passed it as OK.
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6 January 2011

Monday 6th January 1941: food rationing

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At freezing point all day: half dark. Raids by single machines all day. Warnings from 9.0 to 9.15 a.m., from 10.0 to 10.45 a.m. Gunfire - no warning at 12.0 noon, also during afternoon, one machine passing overhead. Warning at 3.30 p.m. also at 5.0 p.m. all clear at 5.20 p.m. Food is very scarce to-day and it looks as though we must submit to semi-starvation. A new rationing scheme starts to-day with severe curtailment: how the cats are to be fed I don't know. There's plenty of beer and tobacco and non-essentials but that does not help me. Alf Snudden took away the wood that we have been minding for him. Fall of snow in the evening and the landscape is white.
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Sunday 5th January 1941: quite a lot of gunfire

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12.7 a.m. local guns in action but no warning. Gunfire at 1.14 a.m. and warning given at 1.16. Many machines and heavy gunfire. A long and tedious wait, but all clear at 7.30 a.m. Frost not quite so severe, dismal, wind still high. Did not go out save down the garden to take cover in the shelter. No callers. Warning from 2.45 to 3.25 p.m. Gunfire at 6.55 p.m. followed by warning at 7.0 Many planes flying at great height and quite a lot of gunfire: something swished down and exploded - sounded about Martin Way. All clear at 11.21 p.m.
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Saturday 4th January 1941: meat rationing

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(Air raid warning) Also from 12.22 a.m. to 4.2 a.m.: four machines came and went: I think some bombs were dropped south-east of here. Severe frost continues, not so dull, but cruel wind is still east. Great difficulty in getting food for the cats. All offals will not be restricted and rationed, so no more liver, lights and oxheart for pussy. And only 1/6 (one shilling and sixpence?) worth of meat per head per week for human beings, which means about 3/4lb for the week. Played the gramophone with the R&A moving coil speaker installed. Distant warning from 10.45 to 11.23 p.m.
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Friday 3rd January 1941:repaired delivery boy's bike

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Intensely cold; 4 days of frost under cover. Fairly bright but an east wind that cuts like a knife. Through the cold to get and take accumulator and to buy cats' food. Bought new book for 1941 diary. Saw tradesman's boy with disabled cycle in this road- back wheel would not revolve. Went home, got some tools put it right and he rode away: good.
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5 January 2011

Thursday 2nd January 1941: banana oil & cat fish

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Severe black frost all day, with high wind from the East. Warning from 5.0 a.m. to 7.45 a.m. slight air activity. Sound of aircraft and gunfire to the north at 12.0 noon but no warning. Bought fish for cats. Ciss bought banana oil at Normans for me, she having to go nearby. Warning at 6 57 p.m. Only about three machine came within hearing and only one came near enough to get a few salvoes from the local guns. All clear at 11.45 p.m.
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Wednesday 1st January 1941: bitter cold, gale force

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Very cold, some bright winter sunshine but bitter cold wind of gale force. Not having to buy cat' food - stayed in - best place too. Distant warning at 6.41 p.m.. all clear at 6.55. A local warning at 8.14 p.m. all clear at 9.18. Further warning at 10.0 p.m. About three machines, one of them coming in for several rounds from the local battery: nothing dropped near here and all clear at 1.51 a.m. on 2 Thur.
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1 January 2011

A New Year: 1941

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Uncle Fred recorded the first few days of the new year in his old notebook... click to enlarge.