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31 December 2011

Wed 31st Dec 1941: God help us!

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Raw cold, dirty dismal, misty, damp day. To grocers to take order in morning. Finished re-fitting pick-up and tried it, but mystified because it sometimes operates the phones and at other times not. It works all right on the amplifier, am not satisfied with it and would like to buy a new one. The last of the old year. We have much to thank God for but do not know what lies ahead but I feel all will be well by this time next year.
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30 December 2011

Tues 30th Dec 1941: ever-handy Woolies

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Raw cold, still ice lying about, dismal, dirty misty day. Shopping locally and thence to Wimbledon. Bought valve rubber at Woolworth's. In evening re-rubbered the armature suspension of my Burndept* pick-up once again but found a thin wire lead was broken so could not finish the job at one attempt.


*Burndept, a company founded in the 1920s, acquired in 1934 by Vido, and moved to a the former Light Gun Factory in Erith, Kent, a factory destroyed by bombing this very year, 1941. Illustrations show a 1934 advert (right) and an early advertising van (above).
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On this day: Churchill speaking to Canadian Parliament in Ottawa about President Roosevelt - "That great man whom destiny has marked for this climax of human fortune."


Churchill also said: "When I warned them (the French Government) that Britain would fight on alone, whatever they did, their Generals told their Prime Minister  and his divided Cabinet: 'In three weeks England will have their neck wrung like a chicken.' Some chicken! Some neck!"

Mon 29th Dec 1941: BBC Brains Trust

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Severe white frost, freezing hard all day, cloudy, misty. Posted question to B.B.C. Brains Trust. Shopping both in Raynes Park and Wimbledon. Bought a book for my 1942 diary. Mr Costilla up from Portsmouth on business in London called in early evening for half an hour.
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Sun 28th Dec 1941: brrrrrrrr...!

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Sharp morning frost, bright, sunny day, blue sky but cold wind coming - surprisingly from the south; freezing hard by early evening. Len Garrod called in afternoon and returned my micrometer; he now works at aero. factory at Mitcham.
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27 December 2011

Sat 27th Dec 1941: surprise visit

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Raw cold, dull, damp. To Wimbledon along rail path to buy fish for cats. Dad and Alb paid a surprise visit* and stayed for tea.

Note: they'd have caught a double-decker red London Transport bus, probably a No 72 or 152, along the Kingston-by-pass from Tolworth . No phone in either home to warn of a visit... and they didn't tell Ciss yesterday?
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Fri 26th Dec 1941: Boxing Day

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Thick white morning frost which was not dispelled till midday. Very cold cloudy day. Miss Dickson* came to do the cleaning as usual. In afternoon to Russell Road to inquire about Fred Spooner; he has not yet been operated on. Walked home through Wimbledon and along rail path. Ciss went to Tolworth.**

* So a normal Friday's work for the young housemaid.
**This would be for tea with her other brother, Albert, and his wife, Lily.
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24 December 2011

Thur 25th Dec 1941: Christmas Day

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Christmas Day. Mild: 50 degrees but dull and a chilly north wind blowing. Aunt Liza called to say that Len is now in Rouen - nearer home at any rate. Just for a short walk in the afternoon. No visitors, so Ciss and I had our Christmas by ourselves. Played a match with her on the pin bagatelle board.** Played the gramophone. Heard the King's broadcast, also the bells of Bethlehem.

**This dark wooden board about 26in x 18in (estimated) had circles of metal pins (small nails) and inset small circular metal trays which would just take a single silver-colour metal ball, pushed up a side alley by each player with a shaped wooden rod. Lesser scores were achieved by getting the ball inside a circle of pins, while the higher scores came from resting in the individual trays. The scores relating to each tray or circle were printed on small gold on black labels on the board. Great fun!

Wed 24th Dec 1941: walloping

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Remarkably mild 50 degrees and not at all like Christmas Eve. Sun shone all day with a warmth that was perceptible Got the joint, beef, and other provisions. Took some presents to the Child's for Mrs. Child to give to the children. Young John Child came in crying, another boy had given him a walloping, but he soon forgot it. Mrs. Child gave us some eggs. Thence to Wimbledon and got home late by half an hour. Cleaned the windows earlier in the day.
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Tues 23rd Dec 1941: tea for a sailor

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Rather cold; as much sunshine as might be expected at this time of year. Did some shopping locally and thence to Wimbledon but came back empty handed. Saw a Wainwright 4.4.0 loco on a siding: unusual. Mr. Veal called unexpectedly and found the house - No.68 empty. He was not expected and Mrs. Veal and her mother must have gone away for a day. He is a sailor on leave and did not know he was coming till midday. Gave him a cup of tea: he must have been disappointed.
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Mon 22nd Dec 1941: rationed food; Xmas; death

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Rather cold, very dull, misty and damp. To grocers to buy jam, salmon and meat loaf. All rationed goods. Thence to Wimbledon; bought sprats and a soup bowl and saucer for a present for Ciss. Met Mrs Conrade and Joan in Wimbledon. Mrs.Kingham told me her sister has just died, she is dear little Violet's mother: it will be a sad Christmas for many.
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Sun 21st Dec 1941: my radio gram

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Very cold, dismal day, but no wind. Alan Spooner called to tell me his mother is laid up with flu and his brother Fred was taken to hospital this morning with severe abdominal pains: an operation may be necessary. Went to see Jimmy Wiltshire's new radio-gram.  Fitted new 120 volt high-tension battery to radio gram and played same - fine to have ample H.T. once again! good volume and quality.
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Sat 20th Dec 1941: holly wreath on grave

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Severe morning frost; very cold, dull day; foggy. To greengrocers in morning to buy potatoes, parsnips and Brussels tops. In afternoon to buy groceries. Thence to dear Mother's grave to put on a holly wreath. Continuing to Merton to buy ginger wine essence. Met Mrs.Child, Ivy Hessey(?) as was, and another. Bought grid-bias battery, clear dope, Christmas cards & sprats at respective shops and home along rail path. A busy day. Oh, and stamps.
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21 December 2011

Fri 19th Dec 1941: more cards...

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Severe white frost, very cold - coldest day this winter, so far, dull and very misty. Did the usual shopping in morning also to Wimbledon in afternoon. Addressed a number of Christmas cards in evening. Getting more like Christmas now.
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Thur 18th Dec 1941: parcel and letter day

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Severe white morning frost. Very cold, dull day: pinkish mist in later afternoon. Posted parcel to Harold Conrade. Also to grocers and to Wimbledon to do shopping. Wrote letter to Chas Staden.
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Wed 17th Dec 1941: house badly shaken

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Rather cold, mostly cloudy. Did shopping locally in morning including posting some Xmas parcels, letters and cards. Wrote letter to Harold Conrade also sent a card and also a book he lent me. A very heavy bomb explosion in afternoon which shook the house to its foundations and rattled the windows, followed at intervals of a few minutes by two other reports getting successively less severe. Mr.Norriss said an unfamiliar plane had just gone over in a S.E. direction where the sounds came from. It was announced that an enemy plane was shot down off the S.E. coast this afternoon but it was not stated if it had penetrated inland and dropped bombs. It seems likely as surely all the delayed bombs must have been disposed of by now.
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Tues 16th Dec 1941: emotionally toughened by war



Christmas cards and searchlight practice
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Rather cold but as perfect and cloudless a day as is possible at this season. Remarkable. The sun shone all day and its warmth could be felt. Did some shopping locally and thence to Wimbledon along rail path. Bought some Christmas cards at Woolworth's. Doing up the presents and parcels for posting. Searchlight practice at night; a plane was held in the beams for a long time: it was British of course. The sky was so dark and clear at night that I was able to see Uranus without optical aid near to and between the Pleiades and Saturn. It is about 5th or 6th magnitude - on the limit of naked-eye vision. Have never seen it before. I know I should have been thrilled but my emotional reactions are very slight nowadays. I suppose it is one result of a toughening process - the result of war.

"my emotional reactions are very slight nowadays"
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Mon 15th Dec 1941: most laughable boxer toy

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Rather cooler than of late, alternate sunshine and showers with a rainbow thrown in. Chilly West wind: almost like fitful Spring weather. Did some shopping locally including buying a child's rag picture book and a comic mechanical toy of a whirlwind juvenile boxer who spars with a celluloid punch ball in a most laughable manner! And all for 4 1/2d. Thence to Mrs. Child's to regulate the clock and to Wimbledon to but cats' food.
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19 December 2011

Sun 14th Dec 1941: trial air raid warning

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Phenominally (sic) mild for time of year - 57 degrees: very dull; rain all day, wind blowing great guns. Aunt Liza called. Air raid warning at 6.23 p.m. lasting about two minutes when the all clear sounded. It was announced on the wireless that the warning was just a test - for practice purposes. The sirens have not sounded for such  long time that I suppose it was thought wise to see if all were in working order.
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Sat 13th Dec 1941: I am paid 7/6d for the aero

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Rather colder, dull, chilly S.W.wind. Got the groceries in afternoon then to Wimbledon to get food for cats. Got paid 7/6 for the aero. and took a bottle of rubber lubricant. Discovered that the people's name is not Williams after all but Freeman; don't know how I came to know them as Williams. Wrote letter to Uncle Tom and Aunt Nellie.
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Fri 12th Dec 1941: model aircraft delivered

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Mild, some sun also some heavy showers. Did the usual Friday shopping in the afternoon instead of morning. Took the completed aero. to Williams so that finishes that job.
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Thur 11 Dec 1941: bought sprats; war on USA

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Mild, some sunshine in morning. To Wimbledon, not along rail path this time but through Wimbledon Housing Estate and Dundonald and back the same way. Bought sprats. Wrote out instructions for using model aero. made for Williams. Germany and Italy declare war on U.S.A.
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Wed 10th Dec 1941: house railings to make tanks

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Singularly mild for season 55 degrees: dull, damp, windy. Flew William's aero on Common with very steady flights in gusty weather - a little too much negative thrust but that was afterward rectified and the model is ready for delivery. I should like a good spar model of my own, they are very free flying. The whole of the front railings of houses in this road were removed to-day: they are to be used chiefly for making tanks. Madge & Margaret called in evening.
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On this day: battleship Prince of Wales and battle cruiser Repulse sunk off Malaya - by 99 Japanese aircraft - the first ever battle between aircraft and capital ships on the high seas (as opposed to in harbour).  
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Tues 9th Dec 1941: perfect model aero

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50 degrees; dull, damp, windy. Did shopping in morning including two nature study books for Jean and Audrey Child. Met Gladys. Thence to Wimbledon Common to test Williams aero. Perfect in every way from the start but being very windy made a rough landing which started two joints later repaired. Cycled to Wimbledon to buy meat for cats.
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Mon 8th Dec 1941: news of Pearl Harbor


Sharp morning frost, cold clear day, some sun in  morning, To Wimbledon to buy cats' meat. Also to get accumulator from Whitbrown's, two torch batteries and the long-awaited 120-volt high-tension battery, price 9/3. So now we are well-equipped and should get another six months of listening. Japan attacks American and British Possessions in the far East, also lands troops in Thailand without a declaration of war: the latter capitulates on the first day.

Churchill, writing about the declaration of war against Japan:
 'When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.'

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Sun 7th Dec 1941: Pearl Harbor

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Very cold, bitter wind after night of deluge: but a sunny day: rain again at night. To Childs to fit up the reconditioned clock in the hall and left it going well. Took a railway book for Arthur.
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On this day: Japan attacks US fleet at Pearl Harbor sinking 4 battleships and destroying 188 aircraft.  1,103 men died on the battleship Arizona; 2,334 in the raid all told. 12 other major vessels were damaged. Japan also attacked British territories in the Pacific. 
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Sat 6th Dec 1941: news of Doreen

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Mild for season but, boisterous, chilly S.W. wind. Cloudy, rain setting in towards end of afternoon. Bought vegetables in morning. Groceries locally in afternoon thence to Wimbledon to buy cats provisions and on to Merton Road to by 1/4" elastic & balsa at Collins. Also bought new dishcloth in Wimbledon. Oh, and lentils. Came home via Merton. A very long walk. Fitted wheels to chassis of Williams model. {Put new washer on tap. During afternoon met Leslie Moore walking through this road on his way to a football match on the fields. They live at Twickenham and I asked him about his mother and in particular Doreen of course. They are well and Doreen works at Woolworths; she is 15 - fancy, and she was seven when they moved to this road. Glad to have news of her again.
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On this day: Russian army of 9 million start counteroffensive against Germans. Finnish forces reached most easterly point, on railway north of Lake Onega. Britain declared on Finland, Hungary and Rumania. Roosevelt approved funds for research towards atomic bomb.
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18 December 2011

Fri 5th Dec 1941: a shilling for my mercury

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Less cold - 45 degrees, cloudy but a little fairer. Two outings in morning to Raynes Park shops, thence along the rail path to Wimbledon. A shop has just opened which buys old gold, silver or any metal ware for reclamation. A notice in the window says that mercury is urgently needed. So I took a small quantity of it and to my surprise got a shilling for it, seeing it was only about a dessert spoonful. I was pleased at the price. Mrs Williams and little Connie called to see how the plane is getting on: I showed it to her. Fitted the chassis in evening also propeller. bearing and tried it for running with a temporary rubber motor: very smooth and steady. Not much more to do.
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On this day: Hitler stopped anti--Moscow operations. 750,000  of 3.5m Axis troops had been died or were missing. Secret US mobilization plans published in some US newspapers. 
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13 December 2011

Thur 4th Dec 1941: Points Rationing for tinned foods

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Cold, dismal, damp, misty. To Wimbledon to do shopping. Fitted cane crossbar to landing chassis of William's aero: used aluminium fittings. Aunt Liza the only caller save for Uncle Henry's usual morning visit. Made first purchase under new Points Rationing Scheme for tinned foodstuff, namely meat roll.
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On this day: Japanese forces leaving Haiman Island prior to invading Malaya and Thailand.
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Wed 3rd Dec 1941: crystal music expensive

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Very raw cold, damp, dismal, misty. Being early closing did shopping in morning. The weather being so foul and not having any business to do in afternoon stayed at home. Alan Spooner called to tell me he knew the principle of the crystal pick-up which has puzzled me: he explained that a Rochelle salt crystal of special size and shape made only in America was used - the crystal actually generates voltage pulsations under varying pressures, the vibrations being applied by the needle mechanisms of the pick-up. Should like to try one but they are very expensive. Staretd making bamboo landing chassis for Williams aero.
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On this day: Sagadahoc, a USA merchant ship, torpedoed and sunk in South Atlantic.
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Tues 2nd Dec 1941: just one of those days

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Very cold, dismal, rather foggy, thicker at night. Bought a few things locally. Met Alf Snudden twice; he was going to Whitbrown's for advice as his wireless had broken down. Also met Doris Pudney. Spent some time repairing ball valve of lavatory cistern: put in new rubber.

On this day: new Japanese cabinet confirms decision to attach Pearl Harbor - the coded message translated as 'Climb Mount Nikita'.
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6 December 2011

Mon 1st Dec 1941

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Very cold, dismal, foggy, visibility 200 yards: rain commenced midday. Nearly finished propeller shaft gear for William's aero. To Wimbledon as usual for shopping; also shopping in Raynes Park.
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On this day: Japan made final decision to go to war with USA, Britain and the Netherlands, at a meeting in presence of Emperor Hirohito.
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Sun 30th Nov 1941: bottle of peppermint

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Very cold, dull. So unpleasant out of doors that, having no reason to go out stayed at home. Len Garrod called for some final instruction on the micrometer. Ciss went to Tolworth and Alb sent back a bottle of peppermint for me; very acceptable.
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Malta, 1941. RAF bomber in protective pen at Luqa. From The Air Battle of Malta, HMSO 1944
On this day: Malta receives 1,000th air raid of the war. In Britain, past two months had seen 351 fatalities in bombing raids. In Leningrad, besieged by German troops, an estimated 11,000 people starved to death during November.
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Sat 29th Nov 1941: could not oblige

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Very cool; getting colder; very dull. Got the groceries as usual and thence to Wimbledon along rail path; saw the Atlantic loco Beachy Head. Met Madge and Margaret in Woolworth's. Alf called in evening - wanted an accumulator but could not oblige.
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Fri 28th Nov 1941: Dear Gladys

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Very cool dismal, rain all day. Did the shopping in morning in the rain and got very wet. Also on an errand in the afternoon when I met Dear Gladys. I have always admired her lovely and un-selfish disposition. Fitted trip to propeller gear of William's aero.
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On this day: Japanese remind other countries that Providence decreed that nothing must interfere with Japan's leadership in east Asia. Russia recaptures Rostov. 
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4 December 2011

Thur 27th Nov 1941: pianist, technician, modeller

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Rather cold, cloudy but another astonishing rise in temperature late at night to 50 degrees. Len Garrod called in morning to have his first lesson on reading the micrometer; lent mine to him for practice purposes. To Wimbledon; bought music of first movement of Beethoven's 5th Symphony arranged for the piano. Fitted stop pin to propeller gear of Williams aero.
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On this day:  US forces in Pacific on alert for Japanese attack. German Panzer tank advance stopped 19 miles short of Moscow. Allies occupied final Italian outpost in Ethiopia; this ended fight for Allied control of Red Sea and Gulf of Aden - in less than a year 21,500 Allied troops had beaten 350,000 Italian troops.

Wed 26th Nov 1941: micrometer man

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Sharp white morning frost; cold sunny day but suddenly turning milder late at night. Did shopping in morning when I met Len Garrod and Jack - in uniform of course; he is on leave. Len has resigned the police and is going on war work and has to train to use the micrometer. He is coming here t0-morrow for me to give him a lesson in use of same. Work on propeller bracket of William's aero.
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On this day: German forces attack Moscow. USA still trying to negotiate with Japan, but Japanese forces have secretly set sail.  
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3 December 2011

Tues 25th Nov 1941: mad dash for fish

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Still 54 degrees* but getting colder as the day wore on. Cloudy and misty at night. Did some window cleaning and shopping locally. Met Doris Pudney and Mrs Child with the three youngest children. Had to dash into Wimbledon to get some fish for the cats as there was nothing to be had in Raynes Park. - on my bicycle I ought to have said.
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*Note: that's 12.222 degrees Celsius
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2 December 2011

Mon 24th Nov 1941

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Less mild, dull, wind S.W: drizzle. Shopping locally; met Len Garrod in Whitbrown's(???). Thence to Wimbledon. To Hick's to have a look at both their wireless sets but could not readily detect the fault so advised them to consult Mr. P. G. West.
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On this day: British battleship Barham sunk in Mediterranean; great loss of life. US commanders in Pacific warned of possible Japanese actions.
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Sun 23rd Nov 1941: model flying

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Cooler to-day but some sunshine that was cheerful but had little perceptible warmth. Flew the 34 ins model on Wimbledon Common with good result but the (elastic) motor which was very old gave out: repaired it and got a few more flights. A lovely sunset.
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On this day: Japanese strike force given orders re Pearl Harbour. In North Africa, the 5th South African Brigade practically wiped out by Rommel, who issues orders for a dash to Egypt-Libya border. German ultimatum to Denmark.
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Sat 22nd Nov 1941: rolled oats & lentils

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Mild 55 degrees which was maintained till midnight. As lovely a sunny day as could well be for this time of year: rain late at night. Did shopping in morning; apart from household duties: Also to Wimbledon in afternoon along the rail path bought rolled oats, lentils, etc. and something for the cats.Made brass brackets for prop shaft for Williams aero. Alb & Lily called to get their spectacles from Gleed's. They say Dad is making a good job of Mrs Child's clock.
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On this day: German raider Atlantis sunk in southern Atlantic by British cruiser Devonshire. British advance in North Africa blocked by Rommel. USA and Japan trading proposals.
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Fri 21st Nov 1941: the cornet player

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Mild - 54 degrees. Lovely sunny morning., some little warmth could be felt in the sun but dull and rain later. Miss Dickson called as usual to do the house cleaning. Spent the morning doing the shopping: met the cornet player in Coombe Lane again; had a short talk with him and gave him something. Doped the wing and tail of Williams aero. looks fine and true.
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On this day: troops from New Zealand cross Egypt-Libya frontier and take Fort Capuzzo.
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Thur 20th Nov 1941: relative peace

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Milder than ever up to 54 degrees: dull, damp. Water-tightened wing of Williams aero, also starting making propeller shaft and bearing: fitted rear hook. To Wimbledon along railway to do shopping. News today of British offensive in North Africa. Have been comparing these days of freedom from raids with our experiences last year.
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On this day: Commonwealth forces have reached Sidi Rezegh in Libya, triggering a four-day battle with Rommel's troops.


Churchill at Mansion House, London: "Should the United States become involved in war with Japan, the British declaration will follow within the hour."
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