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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)

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
www.daveysradios.org.uk
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.