31 May 2014

30th May 1944: new ration books

Artist: Peter Fraser. WWII poster campaign.
Sample of a child's ration book
30 Tues. Very warm, cloudless sky all day, but the sun was not so fierce as yesterday. To Morden to buy fish etc. Also got new ration books at Aston Road School. Did some thinning out of marigold seedlings; weeding and watering. The drought is serious and growing plants are wilting and dying.

30 May 2014

29th May 1944: first sight of countryside for years

29 Whit Mon. Very warm; blazing hot sunny day; overcast and thunder at night. Mrs. Matson and her friend Mrs. Brown both of Wandsworth came in afternoon, stayed to tea.  Mrs. Brown was interested in the organ and can play. In afternoon cycled to Box Hill by way of Worcester Park. Old Malden, Ruxley, Ewell, Horton, Epsom Common, Ashtead where I heard a nightingale singing, Leatherhead, Mickleham and Box Hill where I heard the cuckoo. At Mickleham I saw a party of people enter a gate and make across fields, the last man in the party was Geo. Gooding whom I spoke to. They were the Youth Club from the Church. The country was looking gorgeous and it was grand to see it again after so many years. Have not been to Box Hill for a great many years. Saw two enormous craters (bomb) one each side of Old Malden Lane they were the largest I have seen both for diameter and depth; they were in fields but in Ruxley Lane a long row of houses area down, the result of bombing this year.

Note: a long cycle ride around those roads on an old bike. As the crow flies it would have been a 24-mile round-trip to Box Hill. It was probably about thirty allowing for Fred's route.

28 May 2014

28th May 1944: 'had a blessed time'

Whitsun Day. 28 Sun. Rather warm, lovely sunny day. Only a few children called to-day. There will be fewer now as scholars over 7 will go straight to Cottenham Park School instead of Whately Av. Went to Church in evening and stayed to Holy Communion; had a blessed time. Mr. Luccock preached. Doris stayed in night.

On this day: Canadian troops take Ceprano, in Italy. US troops suffer severe losses on Biak, New Guinea, against a Japanese attack, but General MacArthur says the New Guinea campaign is virtually over despite some fierce fighting anticipated.

27 May 2014

27th May 1944: no suet in Tolworth

27 Sat. Rather warm; perfect, sunny summer day. Out to buy potatoes in morning. To Morden in afternoon to buy fish. Bought cress seed locally; sowed same in a shallow metal tray - on earth. Cycled to Tolworth in late afternoon to take a jar of suet who cannot get any there. Had tea there and saw Anthony and his toy tools that Dad has made. Doris stayed the night.

26 May 2014

26th May 1944: pork again

26 Fri. Very mild; cloudy morning; getting warmer with some pleasant sun in afternoon. Did the shopping as usual; got pork again this week. To Merton in afternoon to buy fish. In evening did some tidying up in the garden including thinning out some seedlings.

25 May 2014

25th May 1944: ...unexplained missions

25 Thur. Mild, cloudy; small amount of hazy sunshine. Gwennie brought some meat for Dinky; gave her a rose. Cycled to take an envelope to Gladys in the Grand Drive, thence a book to Miss Sawyers in Berrylands, and - a little further afield, to take a school register to Mr. White in Traps Lane, Malden. On fire duty tonight. No incident.

24 May 2014

24th May 1944: dancing Girl Guides... and forgotten by Ernie

24 Wed. Mild, some half-hearted sunshine through the haze, but not unpleasant. Got the groceries, and much other shopping locally. Thence bought Dinky's fish in Martin Way and a bottle of sauce in Morden. Bought a birthday card for Uncle Tom, wrote a letter to him and posted both. Laurie called in afternoon. To The Sunday School Anniversary in evening. A very successful show. It included demonstrations by scholars of all ages, a dancing display by girl-guides and two comic sketches by the scouts. The Youth Club sang some part songs very well indeed. Ernie Kirkman took the chair. Spoke to him and his wife afterward but he could not remember me; he left Cottenham Park so many years ago; he was our first Scout Master.

23 May 2014

23rd May 1944: "It is a Thing Most Wonderful"

23 Tues. Mild, cloudy, less wind, rather more pleasant than of late. Gwennie and Laurie brought some meat for Dinky. This was Gwennie's first time out after her operation. She seems a little weak but is going on quite well. Shopping locally. Jean Child called in evening; gave her some packets of flower seeds for her mother. To Merton Churchyard to water Mother's grave. Alan Spooner called, demonstrated the microphone to him. He asked me to play Maunder's "It is a Thing  Most Wonderful" on the organ which I did; he seemed to enjoy it. Sowed wallflower seed.

Notethis line is a link to the traditional hymn played on the organ, with words over a video of a rural river. Music: John Henry Maunder; words William Walsham How.

22 May 2014

Fred's diary had its 50,000th page view at...

...we are just 5 page views short of the 50,000 at 13.41 BST on 22nd May...  Are YOU the 50,000th?
Update, 49,998 reached at 13.42...

That's it! 50,001 views at 13.43. Thank you to all readers. Your future comments most welcome too. - Tony French

22nd May 1944: poor little Laurie's nose

22 Mon. Mild, some half-hearted sunshine; the chilly north wind is still making things unpleasant. Laurie called and slipped over in the living room and snubbed his nose on the dresser drawer; poor little chap, but he soon got over it. Cycled to Morden; bought herrings. Sowed marrow seeds in evening, also did tying up and weeding.

Dear Uncle Fred... a special entry from your nephew

Dear Uncle Fred, 

Today, 22nd May 2014, 70 years after you penned your words so carefully, your entries will have been seen a total of 50,000 times by readers in at least ten countries -  more times even by readers in the USA than the UK, and by others as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Thailand and throughout Europe.

I wish you were still here, to thank you for allowing us into your life.


21 May 2014

21st May 1944: eight children to Sunday tea

21 Sun. Cool, very dull; the north wind makes it feel quite cold. The Sunday School Anniversary. Children called here before the afternoon service and had a lark with the microphone. Eight came to tea and seemed to enjoy themselves. I liked Pat Miller who is 9 and lives in Sandringham Av. Her father was killed in an air raid on Bath. They went to the evening service and I followed on. Mr Luckcock preached.

20 May 2014

20th May 1944: no fish in Tooting

20 Sat. Cool, cloudy, nasty chilly wind. To Tooting but no fish there. I then tried Morden, but eventually found a shop open at Wimbledon. Shirley Bridges called; showed her the microphone. Leonard Burich (?) also wanted a demonstration; he is experimenting with a telephone. Planted geraniums on Dear Mother's grave. Met Miss. Clements in the Churchyard. Doris stayed the night.

19th May 1944: a rose for Gwennie

19 Fri. Mild, cloudy, almost calm. Miss Brewer still comes every Friday morning. Got the meat and other foodstuffs locally. Paid for newspapers and posted letters. Also walked along rail-path in morning; saw Pacific loco with different front end to the others. Also saw a re-built Wainwright 4.4.0. Made a bed for the marrows, digging very deeply and burying vegetable refuse as manure. Short cycle ride in evening. Doris, Laurie and Donald called to say Gwennie had been operated on for tonsil trouble and was doing as well as could be expected. Gave Doris a nice Mme. E. Herriot rose to take to Gwennie.

18 May 2014

18th May 1944: live smoke-bomb drill in Chestnut Road

18 Thur. Cool, a little finer to-day. To Wimbledon along rail-path; bought biscuits and lentils at Woolworth's. Gwennie called in evening; gave her a tin of biscuits and sixpence. She is going into Nelson hospital tomorrow to have her tonsils done. In evening we had instruction and fire-bomb drill in this road. Several live smoke bombs were lit and fire-parties had to tackle them with stirrup-pumps. I tackled two of them directing the jet of water, also did some pumping as well. I learned some valuable lessons.

17 May 2014

17th May 1944: nursery rhymes - and repaired my shoes

17 Wed. Very cool, fitful clouds, rain most of the day: slight thunder and hail showers. Got the groceries and other shopping locally in morning. Laurie brought some meat for Dinky. Gwennie and her father called in afternoon, so Gwennie said some nursery rhymes over the microphone to show her Dad. He also said a few words which came through very realistically. The moving-coil makes afine microphone. Made up the heels of my shoes and fitted new rubbers. Oh, I nearly forgot, I gave a box of paints to Gwennie.

A few notes...

Nursery rhymes and loudspeakers. Wired correctly, a loudspeaker can also be used as a microphone. This is what Fred is doing. Normally, electricity is sent though a coil which creates a current in a magnet and moves a paper cone, which disturbs the air and produces the sound we hear. Fred is simply using this in reverse. Gwennie's nursery rhymes spoken into the loudspeaker move the cone, creating a current in the magnet, which send the varying electric current along a cable to Fred's radio or other loudspeaker.

Shoes. Usually, we wear our shoes until they wear out. Previously, most high streets had shoe repair shops to replace rubber heels, or the soles. Where's your nearest 'cobbler' now? Some dry-cleaners offer a shoe repair service. 

Shopping. Fred is still going to the shops nearly every day. No fridge or freezer at home to keep food fresh. And most of the food will be fresh... not in a packet.

16 May 2014

16th May 1944: indoor games

16 Tues. Very cool, cloudy, fine rain most of the day. Took accumulator which was my only outing. Tried my re-conditioned R. & A. moving-coil loudspeaker as a microphone with greatly improved results over the cone speaker previously tried. Voice re-production was very faithful, the speaker being easily recognisable. Also the organ came through splendidly.

Note: Fred uses a hyphen in many words which we would now write as a single word, even the word 'to-day'. See 're-production' in above entry, for instance.

15 May 2014

15th May 1944: fish... and music... and fire watch

15 Mon. Very cool, cloudy, chilly; rough north wind. Walked along rail path to Wimbledon in afternoon; bought fish. To Len Garrod's for a musical evening. On fire duty to-night; no incident. 

14 May 2014

14th May 2014: fun playing broadcasters

14 Sun. Very cool, very cloudy, chilly, strong wind. The children called and had an enjoyable time with the home broadcasting arrangement. They loved it and Monica brought some music to play on the piano. Len Conley was the announcer; they all had a good laugh. To Church in the evening to a Youth Service; the preacher was Mr. Howell. Short walk along Coombe lane after the service.

13 May 2014

13th May 1944: coming up roses

Climbing Mme Edouard Herriot 
13 Sat. Rather warm and sultry, fine morning but thunder clouds and some rain later, getting cooler. Cycled to Tooting to buy fish, also got accumulator at Whitbourne's. Dig over and weeded part of the garden. Doris stayed the night. Trust roses out on the Climbing Mme. Edouard Herriot at font door; the blooms are of good quality and firm (?); they have three centres with the petals prettily coiled. Got Dinky to purr into the microphone.

Dear Fred, this is a cat loudspeaker on a thing called eBay on a thing called a computer 70 years later found via a worldwide communication system called the Internet. Simply dinky!

12 May 2014

12th May 1944: ..."the invasion cannot be far off."

12 Fri. Lovely, warm, sunny day; could hardly have been better, but we need rain, the drought is becoming serious. Did the usual shopping; got half shoulder of lamb this week for a change. Gwennie and Laurie called in morning, so Miss Brewer* saw them; she thought they were very nice children; but Gwennie has got the earache and is to go to hospital for examination. Bought fish in Morden. Bought seven tomato plants named "Money-maker". Prepared ground carefully with organic fertiliser and planted them in afternoon. The cats having raked over the beetroot bed, and had to buy more seed and re-sowed for a second time. There has been a procession of planes to and from the French coast all day on bombing missions, they are trying to smash the German defences; the invasion cannot be far off.

*Miss Brewer does the cleaning on Friday. She lived at 104 Largewood Avenue, Tolworth, with her unmarried sister.

11 May 2014

11th May 1944: dried blood powder and bone meal

11 Thur. Very mild, pleasant, sunny, almost calm. Gwennie and Laurence called; played the the gramophone. Bought dried blood powder and bone meal, two useful, organic fertilizers which I am using for tomato growing. Preparing the ground for tomato plants applying the above fertilizer. In evening to Mr. Luckock's Bible study circle at Len Foley's house at Merton Mansions.

10 May 2014

10th May 1944: cat meows into microphone.... has the invasion begun?

10 Wed. Very mild, lovely genial sunny day. I ought to have recorded that the first swifts were circling high over the houses here on Monday last, the eighth. In morning to get the groceries and something for dinner also fish for Dinky. Laurie called so I showed him the microphone arrangement which amused; I afterwards got Tibbles Norris the little she cat from next door to meow into the microphone while Mrs. Norris heard the meows coming out of the loud-speaker. Sowed cos lettuce seed. Started preparing sites for planting the prospective tomatoes. A terrific cannonade started about 11.30 p.m., the sounds coming from the south-east. It must have been distant but the windows shook with the thudding; has the invasion begun?  

9 May 2014

9th May 1944: National Grow More fertiliser... and that cat!

9 Tues. Slight morning frost, but very mild day and some nice sunshine. To Morden to buy a few things, also bought some fertiliser and other things locally.Experimented with using a loud-speaker as a microphone in the sitting room connected by the flex wires to the amplifier of the radio-gram in the back room with powerful results. A cone speaker makes a too-sensitive microphone for practical purposes.
Treated a bed prepared for beetroots in the garden with National Grow More fertiliser*, sowed crimson globe beet seeds and then the cat walked over them.

*Note: a BBC history web page has recollections of 'National Growmore' fertiliser. The term National Grow More occurs in modern times in other countries. This is link to BBC page.

8 May 2014

8th May 1944: amplifying sound

8 Mon. Cool days after a thick white morning frost with a minimum temperature of 27 deg. The sun shone all day but did not develop much power. Uncle Tom called in morning; he seemed a little better than when he last called. To Morden in afternoon to buy fish and a paper. Little Donald* is one to-day and Doris sent a piece of birthday cake. Took a note to Pat Miller of Sandringham Av. also took a book to Mrs. Child for Jean. Altered back the radio gram so that three amplifying valves are used to follow the gramophone pick-up with greater volume than could be got with two amplifying valves as it was.

*Donald Thompson

7 May 2014

7th May 1944: D-day preparations?

7 Sun. Cool, dull morning, sunny later but little warmth as wind is in the east. Many children called including Clifferd who has not been for a long time; he wants to hear the gramophone. To see what has been done to the damage at Lower Morden; it is practically all repaired save a crater in a field. Along rail path in evening, saw two trains* going down full of paratroops. Doris stayed the night.

*Note: we now know that D-day was 6th June 1944. I can't help thinking that Fred's sightings of this train and a troop train a few days before was part of the lead-up to the Allies' invasion of Europe.

6 May 2014

6th May 1944: weather poor, trees wonderful

Viburnum opulus
6 Sat. Very cool, dull, cold east wind. To Morden and Merton to buy a few things. Finished putting up double row of bean sticks and planted second sowing of beans. Cycle ride to Wimbledon and Morden in evening - very cheerless too as regards weather but the trees and flowers are wonderful. Chestnuts, red and white may, laburnum, viburnum all in bloom, azaleas and wisteria are lovely. Doris stayed the night. In afternoon posted letter to Cousin Maud.

5 May 2014

5th May 1944: troop train & exquisite violin

5 Fri. Very cool; a few bursts of bright sunshine but mostly nasty black clouds; some heavy thunder and hail midday then more rain; very dull later. Did all the shopping as usual; the meat was pork again but it was a nice piece. To Wimbledon along rail path in afternoon. Saw a long troop train of L.N.E.R. coaches drawn by a large 2-8-0 tender engine of American build, I believe. Bought packet of marrow seeds also fish for Dinky. On fire duty to-night. Heard the Elgar Violin Concerto on B. minor over the wireless, the soloist was Henry Holst with his exquisite violin; cousin Maud knows him' he is a Dane.

4 May 2014

4th May 1944: 'Salute the Soldier'

Nation Fire Service vehicles preserved. (Photo: Clem Rutter)
See Wikipedia Commons for details of photo and
here for notes on the National Fire Service
4 Thur. Rather cool, dull and cloudy; some rain in evening; we need much more. Took in 2 cwt. of coal @ 3/8 per cwt; went to Truins to pay for it. Was walking down the road when I saw an elegant grey Packard loudspeaker van of the National Fire Service when I noticed Chas. was driving it. He stopped outside 34 so I had a look at it. Chas showed me inside. There were four loudspeakers on the roof the microphone and amplifier being inside. It will be used in Wimbledon's Salute the Soldier week and Chas. will be at the microphone as he has a good voice. Started erecting a double row of bean sticks but rain stopped proceedings. Helped Ciss with the spring-cleaning of the front room; did a few minor repairs.

3 May 2014

3rd May 1944: war triples battery price to 15 shillings & 6d

3 Wed. Quite a lot of sun but its power was spoilt by a chilly north wind; rather rough at times. Got the usual Wed, groceries locally. Thence to Wimbledon to buy a new H.T. battery at Stone's, price 15/6 they were 5/- before the war. Fitted same in wireless set. Cycled to Morden to buy a paper - just for the ride. Planted first sowing of runner beans, Curtis Champion Scarlet. Watered part of the garden it is so dry. Laurence called, he is very intelligent for his age. 

2 May 2014

2nd April 1944: door-slamming day... thumbed out seedlings

2 Tues. Rather warm, fine sunny day but a very boisterous door-slamming day, howbeit. Took a bike ride to Morden merely to buy an evening paper not having else to buy. Did a good days work in the garden. Planted out Glady's white violets in a specially prepared bed. Started preparing a second bed for runner beans also a bed for beetroots. I manured the latter with Wakely's hop manure. Had a few home grown leeks for dinner. Thumbed out two rows of lettuce seedlings.

1 May 2014

1st May 1944: time to garden

1 Mon. Very mild, quite a lot of sun but less power in it to-day. To Wimbledon to buy fish, also to Raynes Park Post Office. More work in the garden, chiefly preparing ground for beans and putting up more sticks. Mrs. Collins called; gave her some fern roots etc.