31 December 2013

31st December 1943: bitter fighting foreseen & possible victory

31 Fri. Very severe white frost, only giving in patches where the sun shone. Saw brilliant glow of prismatic colours in a white cloud near the sun, caused doubtless by the sun's rays being split up by the ice crystals in the cloud. Got the meat, liver & suet from the butchers also other things locally. Thence to Wimbledon along rail path. Bought a nice note book at Altons for my 1944 diary. And so ends a year of greater achievement by the United Nations. The New Year will be one of bitter fighting on a hitherto undreamed of scale, but 1944 may see Hitler and his forces put into a hopeless position; indeed, it may by God's help be a Year of Victory.

Total cycling mileage for the year 1943 was 1,134.5 miles.

(Note a reader's interesting comment on today's blog)

29 December 2013

30th December 1943: one of ours

30 Thur. Very cold, bitter N. wind, clear, some sun.Cycled to Morden to buy fish and dried, green peas. Warning at 7.17 p.m. A heavy bomber came from the south, was picked up by the searchlights and apparently identified as ours as the searchlights were quickly put out; there was no firing and no other incident; all clear at 7.42 p.m.

29th December 1943: Epic of the Defence of Calais

29 Wed. Cold, very dull, drizzle, calm. Did shopping in morning - butchers, groceries, etc. Read the book on the 'Epic of the Defence of Calais' by Clifford Lever.

Note: link to The Glasgow Herald's news item headed Epic Defence of Calais , helping the evacuation at Dunkirk.

28 December 2013

27 December 2013

27th December 1943: dinner, tea, music, games & fire duty

27 Mon. Bank Holiday. Very mild for season, very dull. Cycled to Tolworth to dinner. Ruth & Ena were there. From thence to tea at Len Garrods; Mr & Mrs Jennings were there. Had some music and played Auctioneer game. Maud came here to stay the night. On fire duty - no incident.

Note the comments on this post... there are a reader's links to an old cycle-shop photo and memories of the area... the same reader added comments to 'Extensive Notes from a reader' (See side column) 

26 December 2013

26th December 1943: Oh Jesus!

26 Sun. Boxing Day. Rather cold, very dull and damp. The children called, all full of the excitement of having the presents brought to them by Father Christmas. Monica brought a lovely illustrated book called "If Jesus came to my house". It was a poem of the little Lord Jesus and how he would be welcomed and entertained at the home of a little boy. Mrs Akroyd to tea. We each enjoyed a slice of delicious Xmas cake sent by dear Cousin Elsie from Canada. 

25 December 2013

25th December 1943: cake from Canada breaks wartime fast

25 Sat. Christmas Day. Cold, very dull. Dad, Alb, Lily and Anthony came to dinner and tea. Gave Anthony his "Mosquito" plane*; he was very pleased with it. Cousin Elsie sent a parcel of goodies from Canada, including some very rich fruit cake, luxury chocolates, ans some cream-filled biscuits. We are unused to such luxury fare here in wartime - most kind of her.

*Possible photo mislaid. Blogger will report at a later date!

A reader of this diary blog, Fred Brewer, who posted a very full set of comments (31 March 2011) had this to say about Christmas Day postal deliveries:

Christmas day
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.

24 December 2013

24th December 1943: Woolworths' sweets & Xmas invitations

24 Fri. Severe white frost, giving only where the sun shone. Got the meat, provisions and other things locally, also cycled to Morden to buy Dinky's meat also sweets at Woolworths - among many other things - a busy day. Len Garrod called; he wants me to go to his party on Monday. Mrs. Childs wants us to go to her tomorrow evening.

23 December 2013

23rd December 1943: Xmas shop... & Wimbledon's Methodists

23 Thur. Rather cold day after white frost, very dull. Posted cards in morning. Phoned Alb in afternoon. Also shopping locally, buying a holly wreath etc. Also bought fish at Morden. Alan Spooner brought me a calendar. Showed Mr. Akhurst Anthony's plane, he said it was splendid. Mr. Williams brought some copies of Mr. F. J. Bonham's book* on the history of Wimbledon Methodism.

*This will have been 'Notes on Wimbledon Methodism, 1849-1943'. 52 pages. Seemingly self-published. He also published a supplement, in 1949.

22 December 2013

22nd December 1943: more Xmas cards addressed... & air raid warning

22 Wed. Rather mild dull. Did shopping locally in morning. Phoned Albert*  in afternoon, told him about Ciss being unwell but hoped all would be well for them to come Xmas Day. Maud called and brought me some China tea. Addressed a number of cards. Warning from 10.5 to 10.20 p.m. No incident.

*Fred's brother, in Tolworth

21 December 2013

21st December 1943: Morse code, guns & gastric flu

Double click to enlarge Fred's diary

21 Tues. Rather mild for season; rain. Warning at 1.50 a.m. All that happened was one of our fighters circling round for half an hour and a fixed searchlight signalling V.E. V.E. V.E. in morse for that period; all clear at 2.15 a.m: no firing heard. Did shopping locally in afternoon. Ciss is very bad with gastric flu to-day. Warning at 7.25 p.m. A plane came from the south and manoeuvred overhead. It was fired at heavily from all quarters, the local guns firing continuously with great rapidity. Its engine stopped but came on again later. Other planes were being fired at over London all clear at 3.20 a.m.

20 December 2013

20th December 1943: 'prowling' planes shot at

20 Mon. Rather cold, as much bright sunshine as is possible for the season. Warning at 2.25 a.m. Several planes; some I think were ours; one was held in searchlights over London; no firing whatever; all clear at 2.55 a.m. Further warning at 5.55 a.m. Two planes in cones of searchlights over London, many others prowling round; could not tell if any were ours, but one plane in the S.E. had six shots fired at it but not by local guns; there was no other firing at all. All clear at 6.30 a.m. Cycled to Morden to buy cats meat, also torch batteries. Bought battery for cycle lamp at Whitbourne's. Posted Xmas parcel and letter to Uncle Tom. Ciss had afternoon from office to do Xmas shopping but came back with the flu.

19th December 1943: "a lot of children called"

19 Sun. Less cold, clearer; some sun in afternoon. A lot of children called.

Note: children called in on their way to Sunday School.

18th December 1943: Is it Hitler's secret weapon?

18 Sat. Less cold, dismal, drizzle. Uncle Joe and Cousin Will from Hornsea called. Many years since I had seen Cousin Will. Wrote letter to Uncle Tom. Warning at 10.28 p.m. Some brilliant flashes in the east; they gradually came and went, duration about two seconds. Am unable to say how they could be caused; is it Hitler's secret weapon? All clear at 10.42 p.m.

17 December 2013

17th December 1943: fire duty

17 Fri. Very cold, dull; misty. Miss Brewer came to do the cleaning again. Did the usual Fri. morning shopping. Also did some more in afternoon. Len called to say his mother was ill and was going into hospital. On fire duty from 4 to 6 a.m. no incident.

16 December 2013

16th December 1943: wounded ex-POW discharged

16 Thur. Very cold, dismal. Did not go out. Doris stayed the night. Cousin Len called in civilian clothes he is being discharged from the army.

15 December 2013

15th December 1943: very smart and realistic model

15 Wed. Very cold, very dull, windy. Did not go out. Got the boy next door to get some sausage meat from the butchers. Gave Anthony's aero a final coat of silver dope and decorated it with pale blue. Affixed the red, white & blue roundels which finishes a very smart and realistic model; not unlike the de Havilland Mosquito. 

14th December 1943: caught bad cold

14 Tues. Very cold, dull, but less wind. Have got a bad cold, so stopped in. Nothing to report.

13 December 2013

13th December 1943: Xmas cards 7d each

13 Mon. Very cold, a little brighter. Cycled to Morden; bought liver for Dinky & two nice Xmas cards price 7d each. Fitted transparent celluloid cabin top to Anthony's aero & gave it a coat of silver dope. Cousin Harold called to say his father is in a very poor state of health and the doctor says he cannot last that much longer; he came to prepare us.

12 December 2013

12th December 1943: folded paper boats, beaks & bellows

12 Sun. Very cold, dismal. The children called. Amused them by making folded paper toys. We loved our paper boats, bird beaks, paper bellows, etc when we were young, but few seem to know of them now. Mrs. Akroyd to tea; she brought an amusing toy for Anthony.

fold an origami flapping bird - YouTube link 
fold an origami bird beak - YouTube link

11 December 2013

11th December 1943: snow & flu

11 Sat. Very cold, showers of snow & sleet, very dull. Got groceries as usual also to Morden; bought meat for Dinky and some spice. Called in at Alf's. Len & Doris called. When Doris came later she said Len had gone to bed with the flu. More work on Anthony's aero, started painting it silver and pale blue.

9 December 2013

9th December 1943: house cleaner & gunfire

10 Fri. Very cold, dismal morning, brighter later, bitter wind. Miss Brewer* of Tolworth came to do the house cleaning in place of Miss Dixon to-day. Did the usual Friday morning shopping including going to Wimbledon. Bought more Xmas cards. Warning at 7.30 p.m. Nothing came this way but prolonged gunfire over London way. All clear at 8.25 p.m.

*Note: Miss Brewer and her sister lived at 104 Largewood Avenue, Tolworth, Surbition, Surrey (3 houses along from Fred's bother & sister-in-law).  It would have been a ten-minute walk to a bus stop then a fifteen-minute journey to Chestnut Road along the old Kingston By-Pass.

8 December 2013

8th December 1943: last respects in Morden Cemetery

8 Wed. Very cold, dismal, misty. To butchers in morning also bought Xmas cards for Ciss among other things. Paid my last respects to dear Rosie Kingham. Was present at her interment at Morden Cemetery in afternoon.
Rosina Dorothy Kingham
died 3rd Dec. 1943.
Age 18 years. R.I.P.
Fitted undercart and landing wheels to Anthony's aero; beginning to look very businesslike. Inquired of Gladys how Russell was progressing; he is just recovering from pleuro-pneumonia; getting on well. Eileen McCapin's daughter is quite well of an accident to her head which blinded her in one eye for a time; now quite well.

7 December 2013

7th December 1943: model aircraft wheels of Ebonite

7 Tues. On fire duty from 2 to 4 a.m.; no incident. Very cold, dismal. Cycled to Morden to buy fish. Made pair of ebonite wheel discs for Anthony's aero and fitted wire undercart to same.

Notes. 1. 'Ebonite' is a brand name for a very hard rubber, first registered by Charles Goodyear. It has been used in castors, so Fred's use for wheels is appropriate. The Ebonite company now manufactures bowls. 2. 'undercart' - a correct but now outdated term for an aircraft's undercarriage.

6 December 2013

6th December 1943: Rosie died aged 18

6 Mon. Very cold, dull, bitter wind. Ciss hurt her knee yesterday and could not go to the office so phoned her firm to tell them. Mr & Mrs Cooper went home this morning. Did shopping in morning; met Kitty Morris whose sister Rosie Kingham died a few days ago. I saw Rosie grow up from a tiny girl; she was only 18 when she died. A sweet girl whose lovely character will be a great loss to all who knew her. Bought some aero materials at Merton in afternoon. Called in to see Mrs Child about buying a model aero kit for John Child.

5 December 2013

5th December 1943: clever lads

5 Sun. White frost, very cold, fairly bright. Ciss hurt her knee this afternoon but went to Tolworth to tea with Mr. & Mrs. Cooper and the two boys. Took Mrs. Winsley's wireless back; going well except for some noises when the tuning knob is turned; will put this right later. Ron & Roy went back to their hotel in Bloomsbury to-night. Nice to see them again; they are both very clever. 

4 December 2013

4th December 1943: full house

4 Sat. Very cold, dull, cutting N. wind. Ciss got the morning off, so she cooked dinner to-day. Mr. Mrs. Ron & Roy Cooper came to stay the weekend; we are greatly honoured. Did shopping locally in afternoon also to Morden, bought liver for Dinky, fish & some soap at Woolworths.

Note: we don't hear much about Ciss (Theresa), Fred's sister, who shared No 66 Chestnut Road with Fred. She had an office job (including it seems Saturday mornings) at Holloway Brothers, a substantial building/construction company dating back to 1882. Her office would have been in Millbank. The company was very busy during WWII building RAF and armament facilities. It was also responsible for building sea-forts in the Thames Estuary. The company constructed bridges over the Thames (Chelsea, Hampton Court, two at Reading, Wandsworth), over the Tweed and the Esk, the Towy Bridge at Carmarthen, and several in the Middle East.  The Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court) and the Bank of England were among their many construction projects. 
Chelsea Bridge Photo by DAVID ILIFF via Wikipedia (licence CC-BY-SA 3.0)

3 December 2013

3rd December 1943: Cleaner quits. Sister returns in bad temper.

3 Fri. Cold, foggy, dismal. Miss Dixon gave notice that she will not be doing the weekly house-cleaning again. Did the usual Friday morning shopping. Ciss came home in a bad temper. Undertook to repair Mrs Winsley's wireless. Repaired output transformer, fitted new fuse. It goes but tuning condenser plates are touching, giving rise to devastating noises in loudspeaker.

2 December 2013

2nd December 1943: ginger wine essence... the Co-op's Yuleade?

2 Thur. Cold, bright, clear. Did shopping locally in afternoon, also on cycle to Morden to buy fish & some ginger wine essence at Merton. Fitted engine nacelles to Anthony's aero, also perspex fairing to fuselage; beginning to look nice.

Note. A blog thread about making non-alcoholic ginger wine from essence:

1 December 2013

1st December 1943: one model aircraft & two enemy.

1 Dec: Wed. Cold, dull, damp. Did shopping in morning. Met Winifred Ewing. The first time she has been out since her return from a long time in hospital; pleased to see her but she is not yet well. Made two engine nacelles for Anthony's aero. Warning at eight p.m. Local system did not sound and a machine from the south got here before the warning was sounded. It received a fair amount of gunfire from distant batteries. A second machine came from the north and circled round for ten minutes then went east over London, was fired at by distant guns only; heard nothing come down. All clear at 8.45 p.m. Len called in evening. He is going into hospital tomorrow to have his knee put right. Doris stayed the night.

30 November 2013

30th November 1943: model-maker

Chestnut Road, Raynes Park, early 1900s
30 Tues. Cold, dull, less wind. Made a second three-bladed propeller for Anthony's aero. Cousin Len called. Doris stayed the night.

29 November 2013

29th November 1943: '...cycled to Morden to buy sprats'

29 Mon. Very cold, bitter, driving N. wind but bright sunshine all day. Took accumulator. Cycled to Morden to buy sprats. Warning at 2.0 a.m. Only one of our own machines co-operating with the searchlights came this way; all clear at 2.20 a.m.

On this day: the Allied leaders at their Tehran meeting. Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill. 

28 November 2013

28th November 1943: wretched weather

Golestan Palace, Tehran
28 Sun. Mild, 53 degrees; dismal, rain, humid. A lot of children called today. The weather was so wretched I stayed in.

On this day: UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Franklin D Roosevelt and Premier of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin met in Tehran. It was their first meeting, in a conference lasting from today until 1st Dec. They agreed upon the plans to invade and retake western European areas from the Germans (May 1944) and on plans to campaign in southern France (code-named Anvil). Stalin promised Soviet support against Japan, once Germany had been defeated.

27 November 2013

27th November 1943: blue suit good as new

Coombe Lane, early 1900s. With thanks
Harold Conrade-Marshall
Hong Kong, 1924

27 Sat. Very cold, dismal, rain all day with a rise to 49 degrees at night. Got the groceries as usual. Cycled to Morden cat's meat shop. Also collected my blue suit from Eastman's the cleaners in Coombe Lane.; cost 3/6 - looks like new. Wrote long-letter to Harold Conrade-Marshall.

26th November 1943: one aircraft; two hours fire duty

26 Fri.Thick white frost lasting till midday; some feeble sunshine. Did the usual Fri. morning shopping locally, also walked to Wimbledon along railway path. Warning at 9.0 p.m. A solitary machine came from the west & cruised about for 25 minutes, everything being quiet. It then made off in a south-east direction where a few shells from distant guns were fired at it; I suppose it was German; all clear at 9.37 p.m. On fire duty from midnight to 2.0 a.m. on 27 Sat.

25 November 2013

25th November 1943: Raynes Park...

25 Thur. Very cold, bitter N. wind but fairly bright. Cycled to Morden to buy something for Dinky. Warning from 7.3 to 8.8. p.m.: no incident.

Kingston Rd, Raynes Park, early 1900s
Note 'light refreshments' at 'The Pagoda', a name
surely taken from the towers at the end of the row.
Thanks to:

...same view, 21st Century (Google)

24 November 2013

24th November 1943

24 Wed. Rather cold, but brighter. Shopping in morning; met Mrs. Conrade. Took milliameter* back to Uncle Joe in evening.

*Note: no doubt linked to Fred's radio repairs. An ammeter measures electric current in amperes; instruments used to measure smaller currents, in the milliampere or microampere range, are called milliammeters or microammeters.

23 November 2013

23rd November 1943

23 Tues. Sharp morning frost; cold day but less dull. Sudden rise in temperature at night accompanied by drizzle. Walk to Merton to buy haricot beans and fish.

22 November 2013

22nd November 1943: a walk in the dark

22 Mon. Cold, but less so than of late; dismal, drizzle. To pay the club* in the black-out**. To see Mrs. Kingham's wireless set. L.T. now all right but only 15 volts H.T. instead of 120.

Notes: *a 'slate' club savings account, to withdraw especially at Christmas; ** Fred often puts a hyphen in a word (or uses two) where today we would use a single word - for instance, he writes: to-day.

21st November 1943: Sunday's children (+ see Comments)

21 Sun. Very cold, dismal, misty. A lot of children called, Connie Freeman came first and Shirley Bridges stayed last: they do like to come. Stayed in to-day; best place too. Doris stayed the night.

20 November 2013

20th November 1943: ONE shot from Raynes Park' guns

20 Sat. Very cold, dismal; thick fog all day. Got the groceries as usual., thence to Morden on foot, bought dried green peas, and fish and some lights for Dinky. Re-fitted slow-motion dial on Mrs. Child's wireless. Warning at 8.17 p.m. Four machines approached from S.E. circled overhead and returned the same way. Only very slight distant gunfire; the third machine had ONE shot at it from the Raynes Park guns; all clear at 9.10 p.m. This said was in a blanket fog. Doris stayed the night.

19 November 2013

19th November 1943: another sick wireless

Fred's favourite rail path in 2010
Photo credit: CycaLogical
19 Fri. Bitterly cold, dull; not much wind fortunately. Did usual shopping; got the meat etc. Walked along rail path* to Wimbledon. Harry Morris called to see if I would look at Mrs Kingham's wireless set. Could not do anything on the spot but indicated what they could do and promised to call again.

*Note. See Cycalogical for more recent notes on Fred's much loved footpath

18 November 2013

18th November 1943: red & yellow parachute flares

18 Thur. Very cold; some wintry sunshine in afternoon, otherwise dull. On foot to Morden; bought cats meat. Warning at 7.15 p.m. Two groups of red & yellow parachute flares some miles to S.E. and some distant firing. Some of our own fighters went over that way. All clear at 7.43 p.m. Len called; he had been to Tolworth to see Dad.

17 November 2013

17th November 1943: no apples in Raynes Park

Link to gallery of Fred's photos: 'Relative Values'
17 Wed. Very cold, morning frost, dull day. Did shopping locally. Tried all over Raynes Park to buy apples but failed. Adjustment to dial of Mrs. Child's wireless. Looked through old photograph's* in evening which gave me great pleasure. On fire duty; no incident.

* Note: some of the photographs would have been those featured in this blogger's website 'Poems Please Me' in the gallery 'Relative Values' (click this link).  There are several other photos yet to be scanned. A selection of Fred's and Ciss's postcards and greetings cards are also show, in the gallery headed 'Past Cards'.

16 November 2013

16th November 1943: 3 years since bomb on Chestnut Road

16 Tues. Very cold, dull, biting N. wind. Three years ago today** since Chestnut Rd was bombed. Took suit to Eastman's, Coombe Lane, to be pressed; also other shopping. Cycled to Morden to buy cats' meat.

On this day. Winston Churchill says (in 'The Blast of War - referring to the Chiefs of Staff system): 'You may take the most gallant sailor, the most intrepid airman, or the most audacious soldier, put them at a table together - what do you get? The sum of their fears.'

**Note: here is Fred's diary entry for that day three years ago. Mr Child died a few days before Christmas. (As usual, it's Fred's entry and the current blogger's headline.) 

Saturday 16th November 1940: Chestnut Road bombed, houses wrecked, people killed

Cold, rain. Warnings from 9.55 p.m. At 7.0 p.m. a bomber dropped 5 explosive bombs & an oil bomb. 3 explosive bombs and the latter on Chestnut Road; Mrs Lundy's house and also Child's & Spooner's wrecked, but all escaped, but Mr Child is seriously injured. A man opposite was killed & man killed in Botsford Road.Our house has suffered badly from blast and all windows broken. I was in the waterlogged shelter when the bombs fell. Also from 9.55 to 12.50 a.m. on Sunday 17. From 4.35 to 7.40 a.m.

15 November 2013

15th November 1943: wireless guru

1940s' GEC bakelite mains wireless
15 Mon. Cold, dull, north wind. To see Mrs. Child's wireless - new H.T. needed. Bought torch bulbs at Whitbourne's.

14 November 2013

14th November 1943: Anthony is two

14 Sun. Cold, dismal, rain, windy. A number of children called. Ciss went to Tolworth. Anthony is two and had a party to-day and yesterday.

13th November 1943: Doris still staying

13 Sat. Rather cold, fitful sky, showers. Got the groceries as usual also shopping locally and in Wimbledon. Doris stayed the night.

12th November 1943: brief entry...

12. Rather cold, dull, windy. Did the routine Friday shopping. Len called in the afternoon.

11 November 2013

11th November 1943: "incredibly ugly" engine

11 Thur. Cold, dull. To Wimbledon along rail path to buy a few things. Saw new "2" type goods loco. Incredibly ugly; it is as much as can be carried on six wheels. Len called to say Doris will stay the night.

10 November 2013

10 Nov 1943: Malden's unexploded bombs. Smack-up dinner

10 Wed. Rather mild,dull. Did shopping locally in morning. Cycled through the bombed roads of Malden in the Afternoon; there are still some unexploded bombs in Dukes Avenue and the little footbridge over the railway is closed. Cooked a real smack-up dinner with fried onions - good!

9 November 2013

9th November 1943: bought cycle pump for 3/6p.

9 Tues. Rather mild, dull, misty. Cycled to Morden in afternoon; bought fish. Bought nice Bluemel's celluloid cycle pump at Whitbourn's for 3/6. Climbed up Coombe Hill to find where Sunday night's bomb dropped but did not see damage, but it did fall there.

Link to historic photo of Whitbourn's cycle shop

7 November 2013

8th Nov 1943: Raynes Park fires 6 shots; 81 killed by bomb

8 Mon. Very cool, dull. Aunt Nellie called, bringing two boxes of watercolours and set of draughtsmen & board; gave her some preserves. The enemy plane that dive-bombed to northwards last night, hit a crowded dance hall* with a great loss of life ensuing. The second bomb dropped, some say, fell at Cannon Hill and others Coombe Hill; expect we shall hear later. Cycled to Morden in afternoon; bought fish. Picked the last of the runner beans and had them for dinner. Warning at 10.35 p.m. One machine from S. to N. Only very slight gunfire. Raynes Park guns fired six shots, Wimbledon guns two. Then no more firing. Machine did not return this way. All clear at 11.10 p.m.

Please see the Comments below. Was this the sailor who saved a girl's life?
*Notes: 81 people were killed and 248 injured. This excerpt from - with acknowledgements to the Wandsworth Historical Society: At 9.02 p.m. a lone aircraft released a single 500 kg Stabo high explosive bomb that hit No. 35 Putney High Street, which is opposite the end of Felsham Road, causing great damage on the east side of the high street including Rego the tailors on the corner of Putney Bridge Road.  It also started a serious fire in Perrings bedding shop opposite, on the corner of Felsham Road.  The Black and White Milk Bar was on the ground floor of No. 35, and upstairs over two shops, including Rego’s, was the ‘Cinderella Dance Club’, at the time a very popular venue in Putney for young people.  In addition to the many casualties in the dance hall and milk bar, there were a number of people killed and injured in the High Street, who had been walking or standing at bus stops.  A total of 81 were killed, 46 females and 35 males, with 248 injured, many of them seriously.  Among the casualties were 18 service personnel killed and 26 injured.  The youngest killed was Edward Henry Smith, aged 14, of 196B Fulham Palace Road.  This air raid brought great grief to many families and to Putney, since nearly two-thirds of the casualties were young people under 23 years of age.
See this link to photo of a grave, of a sailor killed in the Cinderella Dance Club that evening:

7th November 1943: gunfire becomes 'hopelessly inaccurate'

Sun 7. Rather cold, sunny day, misty later. Fire duty from 4 to 6 a.m. A great number of children called. Short walk in early evening. Warning at 8.40 p.m. Only one fighter-bomber from the south-east, then to northwards over London. It came under very heavy fire, concentrated at first but then becoming hopelessly inaccurate later. The Wimbledon Common & Raynes Park guns fired. All firing then ceased and it wandered about for 20 minutes at will. It dived and dropped a bomb to northwards passed overhead and dropped a heavy bomb with a swish & a bump to south-east, I think. All clear at 9.25 p.m.

6 November 2013

6th November 1943: 3rd bombing at Uncle Ben's, Malden

6 Sat. Cool, chilly N. wind, dull. Did shopping locally on foot also to Morden by cycle. Having heard that bombs fell on Malden last night went to see how Uncle Ben was. Found that a bomb had fallen only 20ft away and had damaged his house, this being the third time it has been blasted. All his windows were broken, the side wall knocked about by bomb splinters. Eight bombs fell, including delayed bomb in Duke's Av. but no one was hurt. Another bomb fell at Addiscombe. Len's Doris stayed the night here. Warning at 11.45 p.m. gunfire & a few machines over London. All clear at 12.25 a.m. on Sun 7....

5 November 2013

5th November 1943: Jerry's latest idea - flares and tracer

5 Fri. Cool, dull, calm. Did the usual Friday morning shopping, also to Morden on foot in afternoon. Warning at 9.25 p.m. A plane came from the south and came overhead; was under heavy fire, the shrapnel falling about. It dropped a bomb a little way to the south also a number of red & green parachute flares. There were two other groups of similar flares dropped by other planes. When these flares died down they each fired a red tracer bullet; Jerry's latest idea for our benefit I presume. All clear at 10.10 p.m.

4 November 2013

4th November 1943: Len's sweetheart delayed - she slept here

4 Thur. Cool, chilly east wind, but some sun but little warmth in it. Did shopping locally on foot. Made a small, three bladed propeller in a conical hub for Anthony's aero. Warning from 9.15 to 9.45 p.m. no incident. Maud has been sleeping here while she is home from Preston to see Len, and Len's sweetheart Doris was delayed tonight by the said warning, so that she could not get home. There being no accommodation at Aunt Liza's she slept here with Maud. Len came here to say good-night to her.

3 November 2013

3rd November 1943: Raynes Park provides! Sutton bombed.

3 Wed. Rather cool, a little fairer. Did shopping without going out of Raynes Park. Met Cousin Len and his young lady; he is going to her home to-day. Took four geraniums off dear Mother's grave and potted them up. Warning from 7.30 to 7.45 no incident. Letter from Aunt Nellie. There was a bomb dropped at Sutton on Sunday night, so I was right after all.

2 November 2013

2nd November 1943: our night fighters were too late

2 Tues. Mild, slight showers; hazy clouds. Cycled to Morden for Dinky's meat. Fitted pair of engine nacelles to Anthony's aeroplane. Posted two letters. Warning at 7.10 p.m. Not more than six raiders came from S.E. Some went towards London others to westward, returning later. Only slight gunfire; local guns fired only one shot. Two of our own night fighters came later - too late. All clear at 8.40 p.m.

1st November 1943: new German plane - Me 410 - blown up

Me 410 fighter-bomber. Operated from 1943-45.
1,200 were built. Twin-engined, 388 mph max speed.
Photo: RAF Museum, Cosford, via Wikipedia.
1 Nov. (Monday) Mild, dull, humid. Cycled to Morden to buy fish. Called to see Cousin Alf who is at home with a bad foot; he is having treatment at Nelson Hospital. As I thought, the German planes last night were new and extremely fast, the Messerschmit 410. However, one was blown up mid-air by an A.A. shell; this was the noise I took to be a bomb.

1 November 2013

31st October 1943: the PoW returns; new German planes

31 Sun. Mild, dull, slight showers. Cousin Len came home this afternoon after having been a Prisoner of War in Germany. I went to see him in evening and to have a chat; his sweetheart Doris was there. Gwennie, Laurance came to tea also Mrs. Akroyd. Warning at 10.20 p.m. The Germans appeared to be using machines of a new type, terrifically fast - about 1/2 doz. of them hurtling about. Very little gunfire. One machine coming from the south, straight for us, dropped a bomb a little way to the south: local guns were silent. All clear at 11.5 p.m.

30 October 2013

30th October 1943: 'Raynes Park guns blazed... heartening row'

30 Sat. Very cool, less damp;  little fairer. Got the groceries in afternoon, then to Morden on foot to buy lights for Dinky. Also got accumulator. Cycled a short distance along Robin Hood Way. Maud called in evening, while she was here the sirens went at 7.58 p.m. Not more than two machines came from the south. The Raynes Park guns blazed away in a very rapid fire and kept it up so long as the machine was within range: a heartening row. All clear at 8.33 p.m.

Photo: anti-aircraft guns in Hyde Park, London, in 1939. Government photo via Wikipedia.

29 October 2013

29th October 1943: blackout blinds from Woolworths

29 Fri. Very cool, dull; less humid. Did all the usual Friday shopping locally. Thence to Wimbledon along rail path; bought two black-out blinds at Woolworths @ 3/2 ea. In afternoon fitted same to upstairs front room windows. Laurance called in afternoon with some pieces for Dinky.

28th October 1943: fish & beans

28 Thur. Very cool, dull, calm, damp. Walked to Merton to buy fish & haricot beans. Met Mrs. Child & Jenefer. Jean Child called in evening.

28 October 2013

27th October 1943: tanks & Bible study & roses

27 Wed. Cold, misty, damp, but some weak sunshine in afternoon. Did shopping locally in morning. Short cycle ride to Worcester park in afternoon. Saw two tanks on trucks in Arterial Road followed by another travelling under its own power. Mr Luckcock our minister came in evening and held  little service of prayer & Bible study here. Cut a nice bunch of roses which look as if they will open nicely in the warm.

27 October 2013

26th October 1943: Handel's music from Woolworths

26 Tues. Cold, dismal, foggy, very damp. To Wimbledon along rail path in afternoon; saw loco 484 on siding; good. Met Mrs. Child. Made two engine nacelles for Anthony's aero. Bought Minuet from Handel's Berenice at Woolworth's for 6d.

*You can hear this gracious, graceful minuet here < link - Fred would have bought the sheet music. How often I think as I type his words seventy years later how much he would have appreciated the music - and the technology - which are available to us in 2013. - Tony

26 October 2013

25th Oct 1943: Cousin Len in prisoner of war exchange

25 Mon. Rather cold, misty, dismal, very damp. Heard that Cousin Len who has been a wounded prisoner in Germany since early June 1940 has arrived at a Northern port in an exchange of prisoners with Germany. He will go to hospital for examination, but thank God he is safe and back in this country again. To Morden and to Merton to buy something. Warning at 7.35 p.m. About two aircraft in S.E. & E. direction; only very slight, distant gunfire; all clear at 8.7 p.m.

24 October 2013

24th October 1943: Sunday - midday dinner guest

24 Sun. Very cool, but fairer and no rain. Mrs. Matson came to dinner and went with Ciss to Tolworth. Jeanette came, brought by her father to-day. Walk along Coombe Lane in late afternoon.

23rd October 1943: shop, shop, shopping

23 Sat. Mild, cloudy, very heavy showers, but surprising bursts of lovely sunshine in between like April weather. To greengrocers in morning.  Also got groceries in afternoon and to cats' meat shop. Phoned Mr. Luckcock to say we would have a meeting here on Wed. next. Mrs. Akroyd called. Fitted wings and tail to Anthony's model aero. Warning at 11.40 p.m. Only our own night fighters about, being signalled to by searchlights; no other incident; all clear at 12.25 a.m. on 24 Sun.

23 October 2013

22nd October 1943: touching memoir

22 Fri. Mild, cloudy, heavy showers on and off all day. Did usual shopping going to Morden in afternoon. I put up 1,000 miles so far this year on my bike to-day. Warning at 7.10 p.m. About ten machines came from south and went towards London. They were all fired at, the local guns firing many rounds at three of them. Heard something whistle down and explode; a dud shell, I think. A glow in the sky to northward looked as if a fire had sprung up. All clear at 8.30 p.m.. In afternoon, picked a good cooking of runner beans, large fleshy and tender. Finished reading a touching memoir* of Winifred Vida Canton a little girl who died at 11 after a most charming little life.

*Note: this must have been The Invisible Playmate: A Story of the Unseen by William Canton (1845-1926), containing recollections about his daughter, Winifred (1891-1910) who died suddenly aged 10 from peritonitis. William was a poet, journalist (in London and Glasgow, where he edited the Glasgow Weekly Herald) and writer, becoming best known for his children's literature. William gradually turned to more religious works, and wrote far less after his daughter's death, which affected him greatly. His poetry was noted for including scientific (and historic) references, including the then recent work of Charles Darwin. One of Winifred's nicknames was 'Mingie', as her younger brother, Guy, could not pronounce 'Winifred'. Here is one story about Mingie and Guy written by their father...

Mingie's was the first of the Christmas cards to arrive. It came early on Christmas Eve. Mademoiselle had sent it from Rouen, and she must have chosen the loveliest she could buy, for when the box was opened and the card unfolded, there, within a ring of Angels, was the Stable of Bethlehem, with the Babe in the manger, and a star gleaming over the roof.
   Mingie was in an ecstasy; Phyllis, her cousin, was delighted; and even Guy Greatheart, though the little man was too young to understand, clapped his hands and cried, "Pretty, pretty!"
   It was placed on the music-cabinet, so that the maiden-hair fern dropped over it, and made it look like a scene in a forest among the lonely hills.
   And there, after many last looks, the children left it when they went up to bed.
   It had been very cold all day, and it was snowing when mother and auntie and uncle set out for the watch-night service. Father preferred a book by the warm fireside.
   “Then," said mother, "you might leave the door ajar, so that you can hear the children. And won't you send a line to Tumble-Down Dick?”
   Father and Tumble-Down Dick had quarreled long ago, and it seemed no longer possible to say anything that could make any difference.
   "You know that I am in the right," said father, shaking his head and frowning.
   "Yes, dear, I know," said mother; "but when one is in the right, it is so much easier to be large-minded."
  Father smiled grimly at the crafty reply, but said nothing.
  Long afterwards, as he sat thinking, two little white figures crept down the stairs (which creaked dreadfully), and stole into the drawing-room. Then father heard the striking of a match, and going out to see what it meant, found Mingie and Phyllis.
   "Oh, father," Mingie explained, "we awoke and remembered that there was no stocking hung up for the Babe; so we thought we would each hang up one of ours for him. Santa Claus is sure to see them, isn't he ? "
   Father laughed and carried the two back to bed.
   Then he went and looked at the Stable and the Babe and the stockings.
Over the roof the Star of the East was shining, as it shone two thousand years ago. The song the Angels were singing was one of peace and good-will.
Then father wrote to Tumble-Down Dick, and hurried through the snow to catch the last post.
   Tumble-Down Dick never knew what had induced father to write that letter. 

22 October 2013

21st October 1943: Posted pencil to Miss Perkins in Argentina

21 Thur. Mild, very dull, heavy showers, interspersed with sunshine: a proper mix-up. Shopping locally, also to Morden but got nothing there. Posted pencil to Miss Perkins who lives in Argentina. Warning at 12.50 a.m. immediately after a thunderstorm. Three machines came together, one was fired at with more accuracy than usual; the others were hardly fired at at all. The two others sauntered about, with very few shots at them; local guns did not fire; all clear at 1.35 a.m.

20th October 1943: five bob for birthday.

20 Wed. Mild, windy, fair amount of sun, but little warmth in it now. Shopping locally, including cashing a 5/- postal order sent me on my birthday from Tolworth. To Morden to buy cats meat. Short ride about Malden in afternoon; saw house where Winifred Bishop used to live. Rain and thunder at night.

20 October 2013

19th October 1943: bombs & flare

19 Tues. Mild for season; cloudy, deluge commencing in late afternoon. Warning at 10.50 p.m. A few machines came and circled about for about half an hour, some of them being subjected to moderate shell fire, the local guns fired almost 50 rounds. All clear at 11.30 p.m. Shopping locally in afternoon also along rail path saw one of the big new goods loco. No. G (C?) 39. - very ugly. Warning from 10.20 to 10.55 p.m. One machine cruising round somewhat east of here, it was hardly fired at at all, in spite of the fact that it circled for 1/4 hour in one place; dropped 3 bombs also saw flare in the sky as if incendiaries had been dropped.

19 October 2013

18th October 1943: 55th birthday & gunfire

1878 edition of Verne's novel
18 Mon. Rather cool, a few rays of sun in the afternoon; windy. Am 55 to-day. On fire duty from midnight to 2.00 a.m. Warning at 2.15 a.m. Two machines cruising around for 20 minutes: were fired at by local guns as well as others but they eventually made off. Then about a dozen parachute flares were dropped some miles to northwards. The machine that dropped them came southwards and was held in the searchlights and came under fire which for the most part was very inaccurate, most of the shells bursting literally miles away from it; it made off S.E. All clear at 3.15 a.m. To Morden in afternoon to buy fish. More work on Anthony's aero. Finished reading Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Waste of time!

17 October 2013

17th October 1943: "Journey to the Centre of the Earth"

17 Sun. Rather mild, some sun in afternoon, rain at each end of the day. The children called. It is Laurie's birthday and he brought a doll to show us - a present. Jeanette called. Short walk in evening. Started reading Jules Verne's "Journey to the Centre of the Earth". Warning at 1.35 a.m. Two machines cruised about for 1/4 of an hour; no firing at all. All clear at 2.0 a.m.

16th October 1943: 'wonderful' train washer

16 Sat. Cool, dull morning, some autumnal sunshine in afternoon. Did the usual shopping then bicycled to Morden, Merton and Wimbledon in search of food for Dinky. Saw the Southern Railways carriage washing machine at Durnsford Road bridge in operation - wonderful; trains go in dirty at one and and come out clean at the other! Met Harold. Received birthday card, letter and a nice tie from Uncle Tom and Aunt Nellie.
The view from Durnsford Road bridge in the 21st Century -
does anyone know if those are train washing sheds, top left?
(Photo credit: Google Street View)

Our blog reader 'Greyfox' adds: The picture shows the Wimbledon Traincare centre but I believe it’s used for general maintenance rather than train washing per se. There are several automatic washing systems (similar to car washes) but I can’t recall having seen evidence of one here... I will have a better look next time I pass on the train...'

15 October 2013

15th October 1943: fence & radio repairs; book to Germany

Radio coil of copper wire, wound,
& lacquered, with terminals at top

 - this from the early sixties.
 Photo: via Les Franklin's website
15 Fri. Very cool, dull, damp. Did the usual Friday morning shopping, including going to Morden. Posted order for a book to be sent to Len in Germany. In afternoon to Smaldon's woodyard; bought 32ft of wood 6" x 3/8" - cost 6/10 1/2 (halfpenny). Used the wood to repair fence at end of garden. Received letter from Chas. Staden also long-wave coil for me to repair.

14 October 2013

14th October 1943: prisoner of war

14 Thur. Mild, dull, very humid after a night of rain. Did shopping locally also 'phoned* Epworth Press about sending a book to Cousin Len who is a prisoner of war in Germany. Bought cycle lubricating oil at Whitbourne's 3 fluid ozs. for 1/3.

*Note: only the second mention of using the phone since this diary began - I'm almost certain they didn't have their own telephone - I think this must be from a public telephone kiosk. It's interesting that Fred abbreviated this to: 'phoned  - given that he is otherwise quite formal in his writing, complete with full stops to indicate abbreviations.- Tony

13 October 2013

13th October 1943: the cat came back

13 Wed. Very mild, dull, hazy, calm; not unpleasant. Mrs. Veale & Mrs. Hockney returned to-day and called for "Tibby" the fluffy tabby kitten. They had not taken it back very long before it was in here again! I expect it thinks "why not two homes?" Cycled to Mitcham Common and went past Harold Marshall's house in Almond Way. Heard Beethoven supreme "Mass in D".

Evacuate children, put up blackout curtains, kill the cat

A note here, from today's editor of this blog, which puts Fred's care for animals and endless search for cats' food into perspective. At the start of the war, government-sponsored advice to animal owners resulted in some 750,000 animals being put to death in the space of a single week. Link: this BBC report tells the story.

Note the reader's comment, from link below...

12 October 2013

12th October 1943: still have kitten

12 Tues. Cool, dull, hazy, calm. To Morden to do some shopping, also locally. Mrs Veale did not come back to-day, so we still have the kitten. Took some photos and a note to Mrs. Child. Gwen and Laurance brought some meat for Dinky.

On this day: US Fifth Air Force drop 345 tons of bombs on Rabaul, New Guinea, the main Japanese base in the South Pacific. Many defending aircraft shot down and ships damaged. Rabaul was destroyed in 1994 when volcanic ash destroyed 80% of the buildings.

11 October 2013

11th October 1943: photos, fish and that fluffy kitten

11 Mon. Cool, hazy but milder in afternoon; calm. Cycled to Morden & Merton in morning but failed to buy cat's food. To Wimbledon, Merton & finally Morden in afternoon & got some fish. To pay slate club in evening; to get photos from Madge, Richmond Road, & took some to Mrs. MvAinsh, Vernon Av. Mused the kitten in evening.

On this day: General Montgomery is regrouping troops in Italy. Soviet troop capture Novoselitsa  from Germans. 

10 October 2013

10th October 1943: a bundle of fluffy mischief

10 Sun. Mild, hazy, calm. The kitten is tirelessly playful; a bundle of fluffy mischief. The bunch of roses on the table fills the room with fragrance. Jeanette called. Short walk in evening.

On this day: a German submarine mined the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal.

9 October 2013

9th October 1943: cat-minder

Light green eyes, an 'M' on
 forehead... must be a tabby!
9 Sat. Pleasant day after a cold start. Rather mild, some gentle sun in afternoon. Mrs. Veale next door asked me to mind her kitten till Tuesday. A fluffy dark tabby - very lively. Did shopping locally also to Morden. Cut a lovely bunch of roses.

8 October 2013

8th October 1943: brief fire duty

8 Fri. Cool, but some genial sunshine midday. Did usual Friday shopping including going to Morden. Short cycle ride in late afternoon. Gwennie and Laurance brought scraps for Dinky. Warning from 8.25 to 9.55 p.m.: no incident. On fire duty from 10 to midnight.

7 October 2013

7th October 1943: sixty German aircraft

7 Thur. Cool, very dull, local shopping.To Smaldon's wood yard but no weather-boarding in stock which is what I wanted. Started making a solid wood model aero for Anthony's birthday. Mr. Luckock the new minister called. An energetic and spiritually minded man. Warning at 8.42 p.m. About four machines came from the S.E. and circled about for half an hour, at times coming under heavy fire; our local battery fired many rounds very rapidly. Later two aircraft from N. to S.E. were caught in the searchlights. I had a good view of these and although shells burst near them, most of the hundreds that were fired would never hurt them. The first of these two dropped something Londonwards which made a long drawn out noise: I could not guess what it was; all clear at 10.56 p.m. It is just announced on the wireless that two machines were shot down. Final score is Jerry lost three out of sixty planes sent.

6 October 2013

6th October 1943: letter of condolence

6 Wed. Mild, dull, cloudy, windy, rain setting in later. Shopping locally also bought Dinky's meat at Morden. Did some tidying up in garden. Warning from 7.55 to 9.25 p.m.: no incident. Wrote letter of condolence to Frank and Nellie, John's parents at Basingstoke.

5th October 1943: 'failed to return'

5 Tues. Mild, dull, drizzle later. Cut the lawn. Gwen & Laurie brought some meat for Dinky. Learned with regret that John of Basingstoke who is in the R.A.F. failed to return after an operational flight over Germany. I hope & pray that news may yet arrive of his safety.

5 October 2013

4th October 1943: 'nothing to show for it'

4 Mon. Mild, cloudy, windy. To Morden also to Wimbledon on errands. Also much shopping locally; quite a busy and tiring day, and nothing to show for it.

3rd October 1943: bombing "present" to Germany

3 Sun. Rather cool; some weak sun. The children's Harvest Festival. Monica and others called. Alb, Lily, Anthony and Mrs. Akroyd to tea. Anthony is getting very interesting and lovable. Alb showed me a letter from John of Basingstoke who has been on night bombing raids on Germany. I saw a letter from him in which he said that on last week's raid on Hanover he dropped a 2,000lb bomb on which he had written the inscription "A Present from Chestnut Road". Took flowers to Mrs. Smith in Wimbledon Hospital. Warning from 2.15 to 2.37 a.m. slight gunfire. From 11.40 p.m. to 12.7 a.m. on 4 Mon.

2 October 2013

2nd Oct 1943: submarine secrets

2 Sat. Mild, dull, windy. Got the groceries. Alan Spooner called to show me a wonderful cathode ray tube used for detecting the presence of U. boats. Shirley called to practise of song. (sic) Took her in Winsley's to show her the pigs, chickens and rabbits. Alf called; he played the organ. To get the accumulator riding my bike to get it; Shirley wanted to see me riding my bike! Bought a birthday card at Meredith's. 

1 October 2013

1st Oct 1943: screams at hair cut

1 Oct. Fri. Very mild, dull, rough. Did the usual Friday morning shopping including Dinky's meat at Morden. To Tolworth in afternoon. When I arrived I found Anthony was screaming loudly; he was having his hair cut, but then he is not yet two. I charmed him however with Annette, his doll. Told Dad I had been to Kennington to see the bomb-scarred buildings and took him mementos of St Agnes School and the Primitive Methodist Chapel. Ciss arrived back from a holiday at Wilstead, Beds.

30th Sept 1943: quiet day... played Beethoven

30 Thur. Very mild, local shopping also bought fish at Morden. Nothing much to report to-day. Played some Beethoven and enjoyed it.

29 September 2013

29th Sept 1943: Fred revisits boyhood haunts... happy times

19 Faunce Street, Kennington some 70 years later.
 (First door on left behind the lady with the pushchair.)
This is a few hundred yards from Surrey's famous cricket ground,
 The Oval - no wonder Fred is so interested in cricket!
(Photo: Google Street View)
29 Wed. Mild, very dull; calm. Did small amount of shopping locally in morning. In afternoon I paid a visit on my cycle to Kennington the land of my boyhood's day. I had not been there for a very great many years. I went particularly to see the old house 19 Faunce Street. It had previously lost its windows in the raids but these have now been replaced and the house is occupied. I felt as though I had returned home at last and that here was the haven of my desire, but I had to look and pass on as though I had no connection with it. I also saw St. Agnes Church and Schools, so dear to me but now a blasted, burned out wreck. I spent all my school days there and I owe much to those who conscientiously taught me. The Church was a magnificent building which I remember well, especially the mighty organ. It is now a roofless empty shell. I picked up two pieces of red brick from the school as a memento. Also I saw the Primitive Methodist Chapel & Sunday School hard by. These also are devastated. I looked into the lower school-room through the glass-less window; I had been to many a Band of Hope meeting there. I then went into Wareham Street to see the Chapel and stood bare-headed just inside the porch. I remembered the happy times we had had there, particularly the anniversary services and I picture myself a small boy singing with the others on the platform. I thank God for the labour of those who taught me and who helped mould my character there. I picked up a piece of lath which had fallen from the ceiling and brought it home. I cycled round all the once familiar roads, the destruction is terrible; this neighbourhood suffered much in the raids. Some roads are obliterated. I saw too the factory of T. & W. Judge where Dad worked for so long and where I worked for nearly six years; these works were undamaged, so too was the house in Ravensdon Street where we lived once, but I was so small then I hardly remember it. I saw many destroyed Churches; Kennington Theatre is gone. This district suffered greatly at the hands of the Nazis and many parts are now open spaces or masses of rubble. Let us hope that one day a nobler London shall rise, never more to be blasted into heaps of ruins by high explosives.
'Girls and Infants' it says in stone over the entrance to the present day
Keyworth Primary School at the end of Faunce Street, Kennington.

28 September 2013

28th Sept 1943: sister away & Gwennie naughty

28 Tues. Cool, becoming milder; very dull; drizzle all day. Ciss went to Dolly Cooper's at Wilstead, Beds. for a few days. To Morden in the rain to buy liver for Dinky. Gwennie & Laurance brought some meat in afternoon; Gwennie played up a bit and did not want to go home. Made the other half of divided centre bay of 39 ins wing. On fire duty to-night.

27th Sept 1943: tomato crop

27 Mon. Very cold day after sharp morning frost; a little feeble sunshine in afternoon. Uncle Tom called in morning; gave him some home-made jam and a few other things. Ciss has a holiday this week so she saw Uncle Tom. To Morden in afternoon top buy fish. Gathered all the tomato crop as there are now night frosts. We have had a total of not far short of 30 lbs of six plants. Started making centre bay of new 39 ins. span wing.

26 September 2013

26th Sept 1943: "partook of some home-grown beetroot"

26 Sun. Cool, cloudy. Little Jeanette McAinsh and her mother came to tea to-day. Walk up the Downs & down Canterbury (??) Road in afternoon. Partook of some home-grown beetroot which was very good. Jean Child called for her Beethoven book & was very pleased.

25 September 2013

25th Sept 1943: sister's teeth; my beetroots

25 Sat. Mild, cloudy; chilly wind. To fetch dentures belonging to Ciss from Wilton's. Got groceries locally. Along line to Wimbledon. Bought fish. Also bought a Beethoven book of music to give to Jean Child. Dug up three sound beetroots; first I have grown in the garden. Picked runner beans; there are still some more to come.

24 September 2013

24th Sept 1943: handsome locomotive

24 Fri. Very mild; perfect sunny day after a chilly night.; we are getting ground frost now. Did shopping locally in morning, also to buy lights for Dinky at Morden. Along rail path to Wimbledon in afternoon to buy something there. Saw "Engineer Class" loco. "Cudworth", these are handsome engines.

Note: Looking at a modern railway database - - this could be Southern Railway's N15X Class of which only 7 were built at Brighton Works and which served from 1914-1957. Equally, the class also appears to be named Remembrance. This non-expert can't locate the 'Engineer Class' of Fred's diary.

23 September 2013

23rd Sept 1943: public shelter meeting on fire duties

23 Thur. Mild, nice sunny day, after a ground frost in morning. To Wimbledon along rail path to buy fish; also bought a book of Beethoven's music arranged for the piano. In evening attended a meeting at the public shelter to appoint a new fire party leader & deputy as Miss Cox former leader has retired. Mr Conley was appointed he was already deputy; Mr. Hart becoming deputy.


A rather different post today - not from the 1943 diary but from the modern blogger. Two days + 70 years ago Fred mentioned John in his diary, and I added a photo and notes on the airman who was to die within two weeks of his visit to Fred in Raynes Park. I wrote this poem last year, using for the 2nd and 3rd verses words from John's letter to his aunt and uncle. I remember flying a small aircraft, as a private pilot, in areas once contested by the RAF, which makes the history even more poignant.


You fly with me above the clouds

where dreams compete with memories
of pain and pleasure, long-forgotten stories
of bold young heroes -
warriors who killed, were killed
for... honour? freedom?
Some were very gentle warriors...

'I am writing this to the music of Mozart,'
his final letter -
'there is a time when we must talk...
I am more than thankful for everything
everything that you have done for me
and the many happy times
that I have spent with you...

' can guess that I am well away
listening to such lovely music...
if I could have practised my piano more
I feel sure I could have done so well...
I should very much like a small photo
of Anthony if you have one to spare...
Cheerio for now, the war will soon be over!

'Love to you one and all,
Your ever loving nephew,

                                           Tony French, 2012

The body of John Hodgkins was eventually moved to Hanover War Cemetery.
Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

22 September 2013

22nd Sept 1943: 'longitudinals'

22 Wed. Mild, sunny afternoon but little warmth in it, rough, chilly N. wind. Shopping both locally and at Morden. Put up two longitudinals and palings towards the repair of the end garden fence; need some more wood to finish the job.

Tirpitz accompanied by destroyers in 1942
On this day: six British midget submarines set out on a mission to enter Norway's Altenfjord in order to fix explosives to the Tirpitz. Two submarines reach the German battleship, attaching eight tons of explosives that severely damaged the ship - which the Germans henceforth kept in Norway as a floating battery, not attempting to return it to Germany for repairs. It was finally sunk by Allied bombs on 12 November 1944. This is a link to a short contemporary newsreel of the 1944 attack. (First minute of 8 min film.)

21 September 2013

21st Sept 1943: testing, testing...

21 Tues. Mild, cloudy, very chilly at each end of the day. Bought some wood & nails at Smaldons to repair the fence at end of garden. Gwen & Laurie called. Fire watch practice at night but was not required to do anything; it was more a test of communications than anything else.

20 September 2013

20th Sept 1943:

20 Mon. Mild, some pleasant sun in afternoon but quite cold morning and night. To Morden to buy meat for Dinky, also to Martin Way Post office. Gwen & Laurie called. Mr. Conley called to tell me I am due to take part ion a fire drill tomorrow night. Paid Slate Club.

19 September 2013

19th Sept 1943: the pity of war

19 Sun. Mild, very cloudy; calm. Gwennie, Laurance & Jeanette called. To tea - all the Tolworth folk, also Frank and John from Basingstoke. John is an air gunner in a Halifax bomber and has been on six bombing raids on Germany - twice to Berlin. Short walk in evening. Mrs Akroyd to tea.

John Hodgkins
Notes: John was Sgt John Hodgkins. He died 14 days after this visit to Raynes Park.

Frank was his father. They lived at 12 Soper Grove, Basingstoke. John's mother, Nellie, was the sister of Lily, the wife of Fred's brother, Albert.

Sergeant John Hodgkins RAFVR, wireless operator and air gunner, died along with five colleagues during a raid over Germany on 3 October 1943.

The following February the Red Cross wrote to his parents saying that John was laid to rest in the cemetery of Burguffoln in the district of Hofgeismar Nord, 13 miles northwest of Kassel. His body was later moved to Hanover war cemetery, at grave Number 11.C.1.

18 September 2013

18th Sept 1943: all presents

18 Sat. Very mild, some moderate sunshine; calm, pleasant. Did shopping locally in afternoon & took some beans to Miss Dixon. Also bought meat for Dinky at Morden. Cycled to Tolworth, taking a present for Dad, some sewing machine accessories & some photo paper for Alb.

17 September 2013

17th Sept 1943: classic music score: eightpence at Woolworth's

17 Fri. Very mild; very cloudy. Shopping locally also to Morden in morning. In afternoon to Wimbledon; bought book of Schubert's music at Woolworth's - 8d. Letter from Harold Marshall.

Salerno and its habours
On this day: German troops began pulling back from Salerno.

16 September 2013

16th Sept 1943: Mr Conley, "He's a special bloke"

16 Thur. Very mild, very cloudy. Rev. Chas. Staden called for the wireless set I repaired for him. He was in London to attend Centenary meeting at Richmond College. He returned to his home at Spalding taking the set with him this afternoon. Bought fish in Morden in afternoon. Short walk in evening; saw Pacific loco. also Brighton 4.4.0. In earl;y hours 2.45 a.m. heard terrific, resounding explosion to northwards. Warning from 9.47 to 9.59 p.m. Little Ann Conley tells me her father has been made deputy fire party leader - "He's a special bloke".

15 September 2013

15 Sept 1943: gunfire, red glare, crash

15 Wed. Very mild, cloudy, rather rough. Did shopping locally in morning. A Rutlish boy named Peter called re model aeroplanes: he is an enthusiast. Warning from 9.52 to 10.53 p.m. A few machines approach London: only slight gunfire. While watching a cone of searchlights to northwards I saw a red glare suddenly light the sky, followed by lesser but similar flashes. After the lapse of some seconds I heard a drawn out crash: I got the impression a machine was down; gunfire ceased almost at once. Heard one bomb to northwards.

14 September 2013

14th Sept 1943: Fish and chains

14 Tues. Rather warm, humid, plenty of warm sun; lovely day: showers later. To Merton to buy fish. Finished adjustments to bicycle chain & tested same by a short ride. Aunt Liza called.

Illustration: WAAF with bicycle, 1943. Toy model being advertised at this company's website: Britain's Soldiers.  

13 September 2013

13th Sept 1943: fruitless shopping - but music & repairs

13 Mon. Between very mild and rather warm; some periods of pleasant sun, but humid after last night's storm. To Morden but came back empty handed. To Len Garrod's to play the piano for him. Some repairs to Chas. Staden's wireless.

12th Sept 1943: Sunday's children

12 Sun. Mild, dull, cloudy, windy; some thunder at night. The children called including Shirley. Little Jeanette is very loving. Monica had not seen the organ before. 

11 September 2013

11th Sept 1943: creating b&w photo prints

11 Sat. Warm, fine, sunny day; lovely. Did shopping locally, also to Wimbledon along rail path. Tried to buy photographic gaslight* paper but could not get any. Madge called in evening. Repaired 3-speed control chain of cycle, but shall have to assemble it accurately another day.

Eastman Kodak Darkroom Lantern
with hinged flap and slid-in glass filter
*A paper against which photographic negatives were placed, in close contact with the paper, in a glass frame, making a 'contact' print by exposing the whole to light for a measured period and then washing the paper in a tray of liquid 'developer', then rinsing this, then a 'fixer' to stop further darkening. The 'gaslight' term comes from the possibility of handling these papers without fogging them in a darkroom lit only by dim electric or gaslight, usually with a filter of a colour to which the paper had minimum sensitivity. Your 21stC blogger recalls Fred's brother using an electric bulb in a tin lantern with a (waxed?) thin cloth filter of yellow. 

10th Sept 1943: mustard, organ, model aeros & thunder

10 Fri. Rather warm and humid after a night of rain; cloudy calm, not unpleasant. Did the Fri. morning shopping including a fruitless walk to Morden. Also an errand in afternoon. Showed Shirley the organ and my aeros. Sowed mustard seed. Thunder at night.

9th Sept 1943: music & exams

9 Thur. Very mild, very cloudy, rough east wind; rain at night. Shopping in morning. Bought cycle lamp battery. Margery Costella called. Mrs. Child & Jenefer called to tell me her niece Peggy has got her L.R.A.M.* for oboe playing and her daughter Jean has passed her matriculation** exam. Gwen & Laurance called.

*Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music. A professional qualification, at that time either for performing or for teaching.

**The entrance exam for universities. 

10 September 2013

8th Sept 1943: Italy surrenders. Victory much closer.

8 Wed. Between very mild and rather warm; some periods of pleasant sunshine. Did shopping locally, also to Morden to buy fish. It is announced that Italy surrendered unconditionally last Friday. The news was withheld as there are German troops in Italy; the Italians will now help us to drive them out. This is great news and it brings victory much nearer. Light adjustment to dial of Mrs. Child's wireless. Met Aunt Liza and Gwennie with Barbara, Cousin Cyril's wife.

7th Sept 1943: fire party women

7 Tues. Very mild, some periods of gentle sunshine, almost calm. Warning from 3.15 to 3.37 a.m. Reported for fire duty for the first time. Other members of the party were Mrs. Kink, Mrs. Varney & Mrs Dawson: no incident. Walked part of the way along rail-path but returned owing to a shower. Started designing a new 39 ins span wing. Heavy detonation at 11.5 p.m. 

6th Sept 1943: music and fire duty

6 Mon. Very mild, some gentle sunshine, cloudy and rain later; boisterous.To Morden in morning to buy Dinky's meat. Went out with a view to making an adjustment to Mrs Child's wireless but got no reply when I knocked at her house. To Len Garrod's in evening for music. Distant warning from 9.40 to 10.20 p.m. Was on fire duty but the party did not turn out the warning being so distant.

5th Sept 1943: many children called today

5 Sun. Very mild, much sunshine of the soft sort; a pleasant day. Very many children called to-day before and after Sunday School. The three Conleys had not seen the organ before. Shirley Bridges called today. Mrs. Akroyd came to hear evening service on the wireless. Walk along Aylward Road to Mostyn Gardens where there was a large bed of glorious dahlias of every gorgeous hue.

6 September 2013

4th Sept 1943: the grocer's wireless & tea for many

4 Sat. Between very mild and rather warm; lovely sunny day of the moderate kind. Got groceries in afternoon. Mr. Eyles the grocer asked me to look at is wireless set, it gives out a loud hum; told him I thought a smoothing condenser had broken down. Gave him P.G. West's address; he down repairs. Also bought sprats at Morden. Mrs. Child Audrey, John, Peter & Jenefer came to tea, and had a happy time I hope; I did. Showed John and Audrey the microscope. Sent Alan Spooner a record.

3rd Sept 1943: Allies back on mainland of Europe

3 Fri. Very mild, very cloudy. Did all the usual shopping in morning. Gave sweets to Monica & Ann. Met Shirley in the bakers. She was running errands for Mrs. Collis who is laid up following a fall. To Tolworth in afternoon. Albert has week off so he was at home. Also to see Len Garrod who is progressing after his fall. British & Canadian troops land in Italy opposite Messina in Sicily which is now in our possession. So Allied troops are now on the mainland of Europe, the first time since the B.E.F. left France at Dunkirk in 1940: the invasion of the Continent has begun. Fourth anniversary of the opening of hostilities.

2 September 2013

2nd Sept 1943: child-minding & wild hops

2 Thur. Very mild, dull, but a few periods of moderate sunshine in afternoon. Mrs. Jordan brought Nigel for us to mind while she did shopping in Kingston. He was very good and amused himself particularly with my wireless junk. To Wimbledon to buy fish. There is a plant climbing on the railings beside the rail-path; it looks like wild hops. 

1 September 2013

1st Sept 1943: troop-carrying glider

1 Wed. Very mild, very dull, rain evening. Shopping locally also to Morden. Cycled to Mitcham in afternoon; saw cricket on the Green. Continued as far as the Pond, Thornton Heath. Saw an R.A.F. lorry with a crashed troop-carrying glider on it. Heard a distant all-clear at 1.50 a.m.