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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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