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20 November 2010

Wednesday 13th November 1940:

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

Tuesday 12th November 1940: swish & rumble

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

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

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

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

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

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'Germans simply can't hit the railway. Local battery opened fire also the Lewis guns but marksmanship was rotten as usual...'
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Rather cold, dull, some rain. Warnings from 2.2 to 4.30 p.m. (Unusually Fred corrects his entry here - it did read 2.30 to 4.40 - I feel he must have made notes elsewhere and then transcribed them to his diary.) Followed by raid without warning by medium, twin-engined bomber with twin rudders: have never seen a German machine lower. Came between the rows of houses toward railway; turned left and dropped two bombs - meant for station I expect, but they dropped in Aston Rd. with little damage except to scatter earth over the road. The Germans simply can't hit the railway. Local battery opened fire also the Lewis guns but marksmanship was rotten as usual. To feed Fluffy, Uncle Joe was home. Warning from 4.55 to 5.30 p.m. Night raid at 5.55 p.m. Few machines and all clear at 9.40 p.m.
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2011 reader's memory of same incident at 31 March 2011
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16 November 2010

Friday 8th November 1940: baling out shelter

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

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

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14 November 2010

Thursday 7th November 1940: gun crews seem slack

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

Wednesay 6th November 1940: fear there is much damage

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

Tuesday 5th November 1940: bombs and cats

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

Monday 4th November 1940: radio gram & Molotovs


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

Sunday 3rd November 1940: quite a treat

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

Saturday 2nd November 1940: Polished floors as usual

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Click to enlarge

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

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

Thursday 31st October 1940: 288th raid warning

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

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

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