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31 March 2011

Letter from a reader in 2011

Hello Tony,
I've been reading your most interesting Uncle Fred's Diary, and may have a few answers to some of your queries. I lived in Lower Downs Road, SW 20, during the war, at the end nearest Chestnut Road. I was aged 12 at the start of the war.

Best Wishes,
Fred Brewer

16th Feb 1941
Seniors was a meat and fish paste manufacturer, and also produced tinned items, such as meat puddings etc.  During the war, and for a time afterwards, a popular brand of cigarette, called Senior Service, was available, but not connected to the above Seniors.

9th Nov 1940
I remember the low flying bomber incident very well. I saw it from a different perspective. I was delivering newspapers in Toynbee Road,  which ran parallel to the main railway line. The Dornier bomber (Do 17),  known as the flying pencil, flew along the railway line, towards Wimbledon. As Fred said, very low. Even so, at this low height the anti-aircraft guns opened up and shells were bursting around the aircraft. The plane turned to the left, in a semicircle, and flew back towards Raynes Park, gained some height, and I  saw the two bombs released, as mentioned by Fred.  I cycled to the area and saw a church, a couple of hundred yards from the station, on fire. There was no apparent structural damage. An American soldier, who was  passing by, started running in and out of the church, rescuing various artefacts, and placing them on the grass in front of the building.

5th Nov 1940
The road is Worple Road; the entry may be a spelling mistake.

28th Oct 1940
There was no road called Arterial Road - as you suggest, it was a general term for the main road at the bottom of Chestnut Road, which was called Bushey Road, but was more often than not referred to as the by-pass (A298 now). It was the Kingston-by-pass, a dual carriage way, not long built. After the war, a new road was made, now Beverley Road (A3) and that is now the official Kingston-by-pass.

24th Oct 1940
The aircraft Fred refers to was a Ju 88 dive bomber, which made a shrieking sound when in a dive.

20th Oct 1940
The firm was called Venners and they specialised in time switches. After the war, they made the clocks for parking meters.

11th Oct 1940
This is St. Heliers Avenue.

17th Sept 1940
Fruins, I remember it, but can't place it.

16th Sept 1940
Yes, it's Oxford Avenue, but there were no shops, purely residential.

8th  July 1940
Pentode, a valve used in amplifier circuits. Now made in the form of a transistor.

19th May 1940 - see 28th Oct 1940

17th May 1940
Yes, it is Bellbine, so called because of the bell-shaped flowers.

2nd May 1940
The many sets of lines, included the main line to Portsmouth, Epson and onwards, with branches off to Chessington and other places. The iron buildings that Fred refers to were on the far side of the main lines, and were connected with an extensive shunting area, where coal trucks etc. were sorted into long trains of fifty and more, for onward destinations.  A few hundred yards further on, there was another substantial structure, where the lines to Clapham Junction and Waterloo passed under the main road, to enter Wimbledon Station.

Housekeeping
Scourine was a white abrasive powder, used for cleaning ovens and sinks.  Another version was called Vim.
Blue, was Rickets Blue. This was contained in a small blue and white stripped bag. made of cotton, and tied at the top; the size was about 1in diameter and 1¼ inch high. My mother used to have a 'tin' bath (galvanised iron) filled with water. One Rickets  Blue was added, then the  bed sheets, after being washed, were placed in the blue-coloured water for several hours. It was supposedly to give the sheets a heightened whiteness.    Apart from Gin being praised for its benefits, another advertisement that appeared in other publications was for Whiskey. It was advising drivers that a good swig, before going on a journey, would aid concentration, and it also advised one to take a back-up supply in a whiskey flask.

Christmas day
The best room, sometimes called the front room, was used over the Christmas period. Otherwise, this room was reserved for special occasions.The Post Office was open on Christmas morning, for the only delivery of the day -  usually, there would be seven deliveries, or more, in a single day (in the absence of any other form of communication). The BBC radio would have a special programme on Christmas morning, to follow a selected postman on his rounds, and to get the reactions of the recipients as they received their
Christmas mail. These annual broadcasts were very popular with the listeners.

Smaldons and other shops
Fred mentions Smaldons a number of times. This was a moderately-sized hardware shop in the Kingston Road, number 520, I think, and sold practically everything that would be required for jobs in the home, plus
sundries such as mousetraps and paraffin. Kingston Road was the road at which Chestnut, and the other eleven roads turned off from. The other end of the twelve roads was "The Arterial" or Bushey Road (Kingston-by-pass at  that time).

Trenches on Wimbledon Common
These were to prevent German gliders from landing, in the event of an invasion, which at the time was
considered a serious possibility.

Gunfire & The Playing Fields...
The Playing Fields were part of Canon Hill Common, where the AA guns were situated. It was about ¼ mile from Fred's house, at the side of Bushey Road. When they let fly, the sound was the loudest of any sound I've ever heard in my life. Fred often mentions the lack of gunfire, when German aircraft were in the area. I can clearly recall seeing a squadron of Heinkel bombers, with fighter escort, passing overhead, in broad daylight, on a sunny, cloudless day, completely unmolested. No British aircraft about and absolutely no gunfire.

Whitbourn
Fred often talks of Whitbourn's. This was a cycle retail shop, plus repairs and cycle accessories. I bought my one and only cycle from Mr Whitbourn. It was a Hercules, no gears, and I had to pay 1s - 6p per week. That was 1939-40 time. The shop was situated on the corner of Kingston Road, and one of the last three roads of "The Twelve", I can't remember which one, but I'm inclined to think it was the last one. (Nearest to Raynes Park Station)

Batteries, etc.
The accumulators were a glass jar, roughly 4 inches square and 8 inches tall, containing lead plates and filled with sulphuric acid. Negative and positive terminals were on top, voltage 2v. These rechargeable batteries supplied the heating filament in the valve. A high-tension battery: 120v supplied the direct current to the  rest of the radio circuit. A tapping from the battery could have been used to supply the filament, but the power drain would have been too much. The HT battery was around the size of two house bricks, give or take an inch or two, to suit the individual set. The accumulator was also heavy, so overall, these sets were quite weighty objects.  The houses did, incidentally have mains power, but the radios of the time were designed to run on direct current, as opposed to the alternating current of the mains. The technology was not so far advanced then, but nowadays we use mains power for nearly everything, and rectifiers can convert AC to DC, but now, transistors do the same job.

Paths, pubs, shops and cycling
The line path gets much mention. The small line path ran from Raynes Park along the side of the railway, and terminated at the railway bridge, on the north side of Lower Downs Road. To continue on to Wimbledon, one would cross Lower Downs to the far side, still north of the bridge, and rejoin the big line path. I would think it would be about a mile to Wimbledon, where the path came out on the opposite side to the station, near a pub called The Prince of Wales. Fred would have to go a few hundred yards into Hartfield Road to pick up his elastic from Wells West, which supplied mainly sports and games goods. There also a fish shop nearby (opposite), where he probably bought his sprats. It was quite a hike to do on a regular basis. Cycling was prohibited on the line path, though some did cycle along it. Several roads turning off from Worple Road terminated at the line path. The Downs, and other roads on the far side of Worple Road led up to The Ridgeway.  Roads turning off the Ridgeway ended at Wimbledon Common. The Common is approached on all sides by steep hills, so whichever road Fred choose, on his many visits, would mean quite a steep assent. A hundred yards, or so, up any of these roads would mean that cyclists would have to dismount. The remainder would be a hard slog. I wonder if Fred ever mentioned Merediths or Houghtons. These were two adjoining shops, at the junction of Kingston Road and Lower Downs Road, and would have been nearer to Fred's house than most of the others.
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Monday 31st March 1941:post & parcel

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Very cold after sharp white frost, bitter wind, cloudy. Quite a lot of shopping and posted a parcel for Chas. Edie Hopkins to tea. Warning from 3.55 to 4.5 a.m. Letter from Harold Conrad who is in Ireland.
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Sunday 30th March 1941: three to tea

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Bitterly cold, but brighter than of late. Madge and Margaret came in afternoon and stayed to tea. Mrs Akroyd also to tea.
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Saturday 29th March 1941: windows measured

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Cold, dull, bitter E. wind. To Wimbledon to do cats shopping: met Mr & Mrs Pontifex. Mr.Ward and a glazier measured windows for glass. Warning from 9.5 to 9.22 p.m., distant gun from the north.
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Friday 28th March 1941: set up wireless

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Cool, dull, rain at night. Gilded two more picture frames. Out to buy fish. Oh, I went in morning to buy ham. To Kinghams in evening to set up their wireless set at their new address. Fitted new rubbers to movement of pick-up.
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Thursday 27th March 1941: gilded frames

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Rather mild, but chilly wind; cloudy. To Wimbledon to buy fish. Some work in garden. Gilded two picture frames. Started repairs to my Blumdept(?) gramophone pick-up.
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26 March 2011

Wednesday 26th March 1941: pictures & carpet

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Rather mild: sunny in morning; dull, rain the rest of the day. Out to buy food for the cats. Put up pictures* and laid carpet in sitting room and completed it by the return of the furniture. Distant warning from 10.45 to 11.5 a.m. and 1.15 to 2.5 p.m.
*These would have been hung from a picture rail.
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Tuesday 25th March 1941: rose bud & over-mantel

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Up to 54 degrees which equals the previous highest this year; dull, rain commencing in afternoon. To Wimbledon in the rain to buy cats' meat. Uncle Henry called: he goes into hospital to-morrow. Saw first bid on climbing rose at front door & put up over-mantel* in best room.
* ornamental structure above mantelpiece
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On this day:

  • Yugoslavia and Austria sign the Tripartite Pact, Germany agreeing not to demand passage for its troops. Demonstration in Belgrade.
  • Weak British, Australian, Indian force left with mostly old tanks to retain Libya. Meanwhile Rommel has recaptured El Agheila for Germany.


Monday 24th March 1941: experiments

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Severe hoar frost. Cold, dull day. Jack Bradley called and stayed to tea: he has a baby son. Experiments with the gramophone.
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Sunday 23rd March 1941: visitors

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Cold, dull, cloudy. Madge called. Uncle Alf & Aunt Hannah called. Walk to West Barnes in evening.
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On this day:

  • Malta receives small relief convoy - but two ships are bombed while unloading.
  • Nearly 60,000 tons of British shipping sunk in past week in North Atlantic. U-boats (German subs) find easy pickings.

24 March 2011

Saturday 22nd March 1941: played radio gram

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Rather mild, very dull, cloudy. Put up some pictures in my room. To Wimbledon to buy cats' food. Saw loco Brighton 4.4.0 No 2447. Played the radio gram.
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Friday 21st March 1941: police collect peas

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Rather mild, dull, chilly wind. Did some work in garden. Walk along line; saw a Brighton 4-4-0 loco: very nice. Bought herrings for cats. Heard that bomb had fallen near Alb's at Tolworth. Also after Wed. night's raid Syndney Road was strewn with peas. They were collected by the police for analysis.
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21 March 2011

Thursday 20th March 1941: calm quietness

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Rather cold, hazy but a calm quietness in the air. Did some shopping; bought gas mantles and globes at Smaldon's. Also dug over part of the garden. Warning from 2.55 to 3.53 p.m. Also at 8.30 p.m. No machines came to Raynes Park but a few to eastwards, one getting within range of the local battery and getting a couple of salvoes: all clear at 10.3 p.m.
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19 March 2011

Wednesday 19th March 1941: "a nasty raid"

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Sharp white frost. Cold day, some sun in afternoon. Hung up pictures in living room. Warning at 8.15 p.m. A nasty raid; many incendiaries quite near probably on Wimbledon Estate or Dundonald. Also many explosive bombs some quite near: expect I shall hear. Raid seemed on London area. All clear at 2.7 a.m. on 20 Thur.
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On this day: battleship Malaya damaged by torpedo from U.106; the Malaya becomes first major British warship to be repaired in US, when it sails to New York. And Hitler issues an ultimatum to Yugoslavia, stipulating virtual German control of the country.
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Tuesday 18th March 1941: new front door lock

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Up to 47 degs with a maximum sin temperature of 71. Much more spinglike and the almond a forsythias are showing for(?) bloom. Mr. Ward fitted a new yale type lock to front door as a security against petty thieves. To Wimbledon to buy sprats. Untimed warning in morning. Also from 1.24 to 2.10 p.m. Mrs. Bradley and Doris called.  Warning from 6.35 to 6.52 p.m. From 10.34. A very heavy raid, a great many machines taking part. Many coming from the S. to have a look at Raynes Park, turning & going back among a storm of shells: all were fired at which is better. All clear at 5.30 a.m.
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On this day: the Italian advance into Albania has been halted.


RAF reported 370 enemy aircraft over UK. Raiding widespread but chief target appeared to be Hull. Details lacking owing to telephone damage. See 'War Cabinet' Twitter: http://twitter.com/ukwarcabinet
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Monday 17th March 1941: put up clothes airer

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Cold, very dull, bitter E.wind. To Wimbledon to buy cats' fish. Put up the airer again in the scullery. Wrote long letter to Cousin Doris who is at Preston. No warnings to-day.

Modern repro airer - lifted by pulley to scullery ceiling. This image from http://www.pulleymaid.com
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16 March 2011

Sunday 16th March 1941: balloon was up

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'The balloon was up...'
White morning frost, chilly day; yellow mist, calm. Walk to look at the new appliances at the ant-aircraft camp. The balloon was up but taken down at night. Joan Hicks & her friend Rita called. Mrs.Akroyd called. Warning from 8.58 to 10.15 p.m. distant all clear at 10.44. Only very distant gunfire from the east, that was all.
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On this day:

  • East African port of Berbera captured by British, having come in ships from Aden.
  • Greek troops have inflicted 12,000 casualties among attacking Italians in Albania - Italians withdraw - but it has meant Greeks can't reinforce elsewhere against Germans.
  • German submarines U.99 and U.100 sunk in Atlantic convoy battle. Captain of U.99 captured. New radar equipment had been used to locate U.100.
  • Hitler predicts victory by end of year.


15 March 2011

Saturday 15th March 1941:house never looked nicer

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White morning frost. Fine day with some sun but otherwise chilly. To Wimbledon to do cats' shopping. Met Winnie, Gladys and Harold. Mr Ward finished decorating the living room and the house has never looked nicer inside. Alan Spooner called; played the gram to him. Warning from 1.45 to 2 p.m. Night raid at 8.34. Large number of machines and only two escaped beimng fired at - an improvement. Three bombs swished down not far to southward. All clear at 127 a.m. on 16 Sun.
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14 March 2011

Friday 14th March 1941: domestic police mystery

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Rather cold, chilly wind, but some nice sunshine. Ciss missed a tin box with some money in & other articles in and informed the police. A detective came and took particulars. During the morning the missing articles were returned by someone who let themselves in the front door. Mr Ward who was dec orating the living room heard them come in and go out again at once; he thought it was Ciss. To buy cats' food in Coombe Lane. Night raid was at 8.7 p.m. A lot of machines but no local attack. All clear at 3.7 a.m. on 15 Sat.
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Thursday 13th March 1941: trains, fish. bombers

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Raw cold bitter E. wind but bright sunny periods.; the warmth could be felt in sheltered spots. Along rail path to Wimbledon; saw Atlantic loco also Stroudley of the Engineer class. Bought fish and cats meat. Miss Hilliard called. Night raid at 8.15 p.m. Two middle distance all clear signals one at 10.57 p.m. the other at 12.10 a.m. on 14 Fri. Not a great many machines and most of those passed over at a great height returning from a raid elsewhere: a few shots were fired at them.
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On this day: Hitler plans invasion of Soviet Union -  SS to control any captured territory, ensuring atrocities.
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13 March 2011

Wednesday 12th March 1941: scullery painted

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Raw cold, bitter, boisterous E. wind. Mr Ward painting the scullery. Only went out to feed Fluffy. Living room chimney swept. Night raid at 7.53 p.m. Not so many machines as last night. Some bombers were heavily fired at, some of them returning from northward especially one of which dropped something which swished down but there was no explosion. All clear at 1.15 a.m. on 13 Thur. Further warning from 2.16 to 2.50 a.m.: no incidents.
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On this day:

  • Italians in Albania fighting Greeks, trying to push them back into Greece..
  • Churchill says Lease-Lend Act is the new Magna Charta. Roosevelt asks for $7b military credits for Britain under the Act.

12 March 2011

Tuesday 11th March 1941: new loco... Lend-Lease law

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Warning from 2.42 to 3.4 a.m. Heavy bomber came from S.E. to a point overhead then turned and went due west just after the all clear. From 3.27 to 3.42 a.m.
Raw cold, bitter E. wind. Mr Ward finished decorating the best room. To Wimbledon along rail path saw Atlantic loco. First photographs in the papers of the new Southern Railway's streamlined Pacific type loco - the Mercantile Marine Class. Bought fish for cats. Warning from 6.25 to 6.36 p.m. Night raid at 8.28 p.m. Many machines but no bombs about here. The raid was on S.E.England and the Midlands. One bomber got a terrific burst of 18 shells: it turned & went back - hope it was hit. All clear at 12.25 a.m. on 12 Wed.
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On this day: President Roosevelt signs Lend-Lease Bill - so Britain can continue to order US materials without having to pay for them until after the war - although in fact British war production continues for a time to be greater than that of the US - Pearl Harbor will be a watershed - and Britain has to pay cash for as long at it can. (Also in USA, the airline Western Air Express, changes title to Western Airlines.)


Monday 10th March 1941: Motspur Park bombs

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Rather cold, chilly wind, rain, but a little sun in late afternoon. Mr Ward at work decorating the sitting room. Mrs. Pontifex and May called; quite nice to see them again. Dr. Milum called: he is a delightful man. Warning from 9.27 to 9.37 a.m. no incidents. Short walk only Night warning at 8.20 pm. all clear at 8.54; also from 11.15 p.m. to 12.13 a.m. on 11th Tues. The bombs last night fell at Motspur Park - delayed ones.
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On this day: Japan won political points... France ceded Cambodian land to Thailand; was granted monopoly of Indonesian rice; granted full use of airport at Saigon.
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10 March 2011

Sunday 9th March 1941: longest entry so far

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Click image to enlarge

Rather cold, very dull, rain at night. Went for a walk on Wimbledon Common to see where the bombs fell on Caeser's Camp. Saw 3 craters including a large hole where two unexploded bombs fell: I did not venture nearer than 30 yards. One was just inside the circle of trees at Caeser's well. I saw some model aeros being flown. Mrs Akroyd to tea. Night raid at 8.3 p.m. Upwards of 30 machines came here, some heavily fired at. Heard bombs whistling down not far away but did not hear them explode. Distant all clear at 11.43 p.m. more distant still at 11.59 a.m. on 10th Mon. Distant all clear at 1.5 a.m. local at 1.22 a.m. Distant al clear at 1.44 a.m. Warning at 2.30 a.m. enemy aircraft from N. to S. not fired at. All clear 2.50 a.m. Immediately followed by low flying bomber which came from the south turned about overhead and went back again: not fired at at all. In this raid the Germans appeared to be using the device of showers of small delayed bombs which exploded at irregular periods up to several hours. Distant all clear from N.E. at 3.30 a.m.
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Saturday 8th March 1941: guns and roses

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Cold, but much finer; some moderate sunshine. To Wimbledon along rail-path; Did quite a lot of shopping at Woolworth's and elsewhere; also to buy cats' food for the week end.** Bought and planted a Mrs. Sam McGrealy (?***) rose. Met Alan and Fred Spooner with their Uncle Mr Wodgrove. Night raid at 7.45 p.m. Quite a number of machines were operating and fear a number of bombs were dropped; heard four come down and explode not far away. Local guns fired. All clear at 11.55 p.m.
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**Note: Uncle Fred split words - like week end - far more than we do now. We write: weekend. His spelling is usually excellent; his use of colons and semi-colons is not always accurate.

***Can anyone say if that rose name is correct, please? 

Well - it's six years since I typed that question, and our reader 'Greyfox' has come up with the answer: 'The name of the rose  is Mrs Sam McGredy. Named after breeder’s wife. Picture here http://www.davidaustinroses.co.uk/mrs-sam-mcgredy 

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9 March 2011

Friday 7th March 1941: out to feed Fluffy

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Cold, dismal, deluge of rain all day. Temperature mounting late at night in a surprising way to 48 degrees. Out only to feed Fluffy. Warning from 11.15 to 11.29 a.m. Mrs. Akroyd called in evening bringing some cat's meat.
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On this day: HMS Wolverine sinks German sub U.47.
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Thursday 6th March 1941: 500 London warnings

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Rather cold, dull, rain most of the day. Shopping in afternoon: met dearest Annie in Coombe Lane and said "Good Afternoon" to her. I should like to have stopped - perhaps one day I shall. Two untimed warnings in morning. Deluge of rain at night. Enemy plane at 7.40 p.m. warning at 7.45, all clear at 8.5, distant all clear at 8.50 p.m.. So far there have been 501 air raid warnings in the London area since the war began.
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On this day: Germans condemn to death 18 members of Dutch resistance. Churchill issues Battle of Atlantic directive giving priority to tackling U-boats and bombers attacking shipping. Germans start dropping acoustic magnetic mines in Suez Canal. Germans move into Bulgaria after treaty.
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Wednesday 5th March 1941: thousands of fragments

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White morning frost, very cool day, but some sunny periods. Dear Mother's Birthday.** Dug up and transplanted the remaining gooseberry bush. Forked over that part of the garden, also the rhubarb bed. More work picking up the thousands of fragments of glass strewn over the garden. Wrote Dad*** a long letter: he is still at Tolworth.
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Notes: ** Mother had been dead some years. ***Dad was currenly living with his other son, Albert, and Alb's his wife Lily, at Largewood Avenue, Tolworth.
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On this day: Britain breaks off diplomatic relations with Bulgaria, given that German actions there show their intention to invade Greece.
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8 March 2011

Tuesday 4th March 1941: nothing to alarm anybody

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Rather cold, mostly dull. To Wimbledon; bought sewing machine needles, also cat's meat and fish. Saw Brighton 4-6-2 tank. Alan Spooner called to take away case of Fred's planes. Night warning at 7.37 p.m., all clear at 10.50 p.m. Only very distant gun-flashes and sounds: nothing to alarm anybody. Alan Spooner says 5 delayed-action bombs were dropped last night on Caeser's Camp on Wimbledon Common.
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Monday 3rd March 1941: piano after bombing

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Cool rain but some bright sunny periods. To buy fish for cats and to take accumulators. Dug up,two gooseberry bushes and replanted elsewhere to make room for the extension which will be fitted to the shelter in due cause. Played the piano for the first time since the bombing of this road. Raid began 9.35 p.m. About a dozen enemy aircraft came this way; some were fired at by distant guns and one had four shots from the local guns at it. Nothing was dropped hereabouts. All clear at 1.19 a.m.
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6 March 2011

Sunday 2nd March 1941: Dear Mother's grave

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Warning from 12.29 a.m. to 12.39 a.m. Rather mild after a very rough, wet night; the sun had even more warmth in in to-day and the buds on the trees are showing green. Mrs Child's sister and her friend called to take more books away. Madge & Margaret called on their bicycles. To see Dear Mother's grave. The crocuses & snowdrops in the Churchyard are a lovely sight. Warning from 8.25 to 9.20 p.m. flashes and detonations in the N.W.
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Saturday 1st March 1941: my 69 rose varieties

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Very cool, some sun through breaks in the cloud masses: boisterous W. wind To Wimbledon along railway; saw Atlantic loco. Bought meat and fish for the cats., Finished writing rose catalogue; we shall have 71 bushes and climbers for 1941 in 69 varieties.Warning from 8.17 to 8.43 p.m. Also from 9.39 to 10.39 p.m. Enemy plane passed over from N. to S., under fire most of the way; local guns fired.
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An Atlantic class locomotive
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Friday 28th February 1941: new neighbours

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Mildest day this year 53 degrees; some bright sunshine but chilly wind. Bought sprats for cats. Mr. Whitbourn the cycle dealer is dead: known him for many years. Aunt Liza & Chas went to Preston to-day; so Fluffy is lonely again. Warning from 8.20 to 9.20 p.m. Single raider dropped bombs a few miles N.W. returning this way. Got a few shells but none here. Further warning from 10.47 to 11.15, gun flashes in N.E. New tenants moved into Pontifex's old house next door to-day: do not know their names as yet.
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Thursday 27th February 1941: raider above clouds

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Mild by comparison up to 50 degree. Very dull & cloudy: drizzle. Warning from 11.19 to 11.28 a.m.; also from 11.50 a.m. to 1.20 p.m.: local guns opened fire on raider above the clouds. Did shopping in afternoon.
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.On this day: New Zealand cruiser Leander sinks Italian merchantman Ramb I off Maldive Islands. 
Photo: HMNZS Leander built in Devonport, launched 13 July 1929, sold for scrap 15 Dec 1949.
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4 March 2011

Wednesday 26th February 1941: incendiaries

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Thick white frost, clear, keen day: the air is very sweet to-day. Alan Spooner called to take away some more model aero parts. Gave him an old 'phone magneto which delighted him. Short walk in evening. Distant warning at 1.38 p.m. near warning 1.53 p.m. All clear 2.15 p.m. Night warning at 7.24 p.m. Incendiary bombs dropped a few miles S.E. oh here but soon put out judging by the light in the sky. Some machines over London but only one came here: Not fired at. Distant all clear at 10.5, local all clear at 10.23 p.m. Further warning 10.37 p.m. to 11.7 p.m. no incidents.
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Tuesday 25th February 1941: clearing broken glass

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White morning frost, bitterly cold but clear day. To do shopping in afternoon. Posted letter to Uncle Tom. Started clearing front garden of broken glass and slate. Twin-engined bomber came from S.East at 11.35 p.m. turned and went back again: no warning, no firing.
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Monday 24th February 1941: cats' sprats

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White morning frost, bitterly cold, clear day. Walk along railway in afternoon and to buy sprats for cats, Aunts Liza and Hannah called. Raid warning at 8.25 p.m. Gun flashes in S.E. All clear at 10.25 p.m.
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Sunday 23rd February 1941: bicycles and Sunday tea

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Black morning frost. Clear day but bitter wind, some sun. Madge and Margaret on their bicycles called in afternoon. Mrs Akroyd to tea. Warning from 8.13 to 10.8 p.m. Only a few machines and distant gunfire. One plane only came here; it was not fired at. Further warning at 11.34 p.m.; all clear ar 12.4 a.m. on 24 Mon.
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On this day: Italians defending Juba River in Somaliland defeated, and General Cunningham's troops are advancing quickly towards Mogadishu.
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Saturday 22nd February 1941: bed completed

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Sharp frost; clear, bright day. Enemy plane about without warning 11.15 to 11.40 a.m. distant gunfire. To Wimbledon in afternoon along rail-path to do some shopping. Finished re-building Mrs Child's bedstead.
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On this day: Rommel starts moving troops ready to invade Libya. And UK Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden meets with Greek goverment, in Greece.
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2 March 2011

Friday 21st February 1941: bombs & bedstead

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Warning 1.20 a.m. Some machines over London. One had a look at Raynes Park and got a salvo of shells & went back. Distant all clear at 2.30 a.m. but immediately another bomber was heard going back. All clear at 3.15 a.m. Further bombing, machines and gunfire at 4.15 distant all clear at 4.50 a.m.  Further warning at 5.35 a.m. Several machines & searchlights, distant bombs. All clear at 6.15 a.m. Sharp frost, bright day. Two German planes attacked without warning 10.30 to 11.26 a.m. some gunfire. Re-made head end of Mrs Child's bedstead. 11.45 p.m. distant gunfire. 11.50 machine approached. 11.55 warning. All clear at 12.42 a.m. on 22 Sat.
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Thursday 20th February 1941: bed repairs

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Very cold, very dull, snow on and off all day; very heavy in afternoon when I went out to buy cat food. Saw Gladys in Coombe Lane. Failed to find where last night's bombs fell. Warning from 10.30 to 11.26 a.m. Warning at 9.2 p.m. one machine approached at same time as warning; no bombs and no gunfire; all clear at 9.38 p.m. Started extensive repairs to head end of Mrs Child's bedstead. Distant bombs or gunfire at 9.56 p.m.
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On  this day: German & British patrols met in North African desert for first time, near near El Aghelia.
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1 March 2011

Wednesday 19th February 1941: 4 inches of snow

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Very cold. Four inches of snow fell during the night but not cold enough for it to lay for long. Dismal, rain at night. To shop in Coombe Lane in morning to buy cat food. Night raid from 8.47 to 10.45 p.m. Six or eight machines came from the south-east circled round and went back again but one sent four explosive bombs whistling down overhead to fall north-east of here. No fire from local battery; the machine that dropped the bombs was not fired at.
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On this day:

  • Emperor Haile Selassie of Abyssinia arrives at Dangilla with Wingate's Gideon Force of 1,700. Their target is to disrupt four Italian brigades.
  • British military and political leaders in Cairo discussing help for Greece.
  • 8th Australian Division land in Singapore.