30 November 2014

30th November 1944: even more repairs.. continuing

30 Thur. Rather mild for season; dull morning sunny later. Rocket in S at 12.5 a.m. also another at 3.0 a.m. Made and put up black-out blind at new back-room window. More work on Mrs. Veales fence. To Merton to buy cats meat returning via Morden, buying a paper there. More wallpaper stripping in sitting room.

29 November 2014

29th November 1944: flying-bomb's blast & woof...

29 Wed. Cold, dull morning but the sun was pleasant in the afternoon. Got the groceries at Eyle’s also sausage meat at Johnson’s. Thence to Shorts’ to buy soda and matches. More work on Mrs. Veales fence, halved a piece of Harris rail in the gap where it was broken and filled in the gap with palings. There is still more to do yet. More wall-paper stripping in sitting room. Man painted the outside of new back window. At 11.55 p.m. a heavy rumbling explosion. I heard the blast wooff and hiss past the shelter – presumably a rocket in SE direction.

28 November 2014

228th November 1944: windows replaced... taken four months

28 Tues. Cold, dismal morning, driving wind. A few gleams of sunshine late; then heavy rain. Some more wall-paper stripping in front room. Joiner brought two newly-made window frames with glass and fitted them in living room. We can now look out upon the garden for the first time since July. Bought fish at Morden.

27 November 2014

27th November 1944: gas iron for young widow

27 Mon. Cold, dull morning, some weak sun later. More stripping of wallpaper in sitting room. Did some shopping locally. Bought fish in Wimbledon. Further repairs to fence for Mrs. Veale. She borrowed our gas-iron. Also she got me to witness a document for her in respect of her late husband’s will. I am deeply sorry for her: she is a dear girl: Mr. Veale went down with H.M.S. Isis he was 34, A brave man: we knew him. Rocket at 11.15 p.m. in NE

HMS Isis (notes from Wikipedia): Isis took part in the evacuation of Greece in April 1941. On 19 February 1943 she and the frigate HMS Hursley and a Vickers Wellington medium bomber-attacked and sank the German submarine U-562 in the Mediterranean Sea northeast of Benghazi.
Isis was hit in 1941 off BeirutLebanon after the Battle of Crete. She pursued two Vichy French destroyers which escaped. A Junkers Ju 88 aircraft then attacked and severely damaged her. Hero tried to tow her HaifaPalestine. The tow rope snapped, but the engines were started and she successfully reached Haifa.
Isis struck a mine and sank off the Normandy landing beaches on 20 July 1944.

26 November 2014

26th November 1944: friend went to Holland and Belgium

26 Sun. Severe white frost: cloudy day. Ron Cooper came to tea. He told me of his air trip to Holland and Belgium and of how he stayed with the Burgomaster of Brussels, showing me many photographs. Cousin Len and his wife paid us a visit while Ron was here. The sitting room ceiling looks nice in daylight.

25 November 2014

25the November 1944: boiled beef... and good neighbours

25 Sat. Rather cold but bright sunny day. Warning from 4.55 to 5.10 a.m. one down between S and SE. To Cheam meat shop in morning, bought some for Mrs Veale as well as my own. Cooked a nice boiled beef dinner. Mrs Veale helped me to put up part of her fence blown away at the time of the bombing. Put another coat of whitewash on sitting room ceiling.

24 November 2014

24th November 1944: home and gardens

24 Fri. Rather mild; cloudy. Helped Mrs Veale to clear her garden of debris and also cleared ours as well. Bought meat and other provisions locally. Also to Smaldons to buy more ceiling white and blue. Whitewashed the sitting room ceiling: it may require another coat.

23 November 2014

23rd November 1944: more decorating after bombing

23 Thur. Rather mild, dull morning, sunny afternoon. Bought envelopes locally, then to chemists at Morden. To Morden in afternoon to buy fish. Finished removing old paper from drop ceiling of sitting room, filled up holes with plaster and gave the ceiling a coat of size. From 1.0 to 1.25 a.m. no incident. Rocket at 2.0 a.m. in E.

22 November 2014

Fred's Dad, 110 years ago

Sunday School Outing to Oxshott, 1904

Back: Mrs Laurence, Mrs Blackman, Mr Barrett, Miss Chapman, Mr F French, Miss Hay,
Mr Bond, Miss Waller, Unknown.
Front: Mr Walden, Miss Seeley, Miss Yalden, Miss Read, Miss Ringwood, Mr Dawson

22nd Nov 1944: sunshine & old gold distemper... USA radio

22 Wed. Rather mild, dull, rain later. Got the groceries locally also to the butcher’s. Thence to Wimbledon to buy distemper powder at Woolworth’s, colours - sunshine and old gold. Also bought concentrated size and ceiling white at Smaldons. Fitted curtain brackets and put up curtains. Fitted indoor aerial for Mrs. Veale and got good results – two U.S.A. stations.

21 November 2014

21st November 1944: escaped rocket in vicarage

21 Tues. Cold, clear, sunny day. To Cheam meat shop in morning; met Mrs. Snudden. To Mrs. Child; saw Audrey – just returned from Nottingham where she has been since summer: John Child also came back to see me. To Morden in afternoon but could not see what I wanted. Did some more stripping of paper off walls of sitting room. Rocket at 12.5 p.m. in NE. Rocket at 11.10 pm; it fell near the Prince’s Head at Battersea. It struck the steeple of Christ Church. Lily Bickerstaff escaped: she was in the vicarage

On this day: 21st November 1918, if you'll forgive me switching to WWI for a day, today was the day the entire Germany Navy surrendered - as significant as Armistice Day. Here's a link, below, which will open in a separate window. 'For those who witnessed "Der Tag" or "The Day" it was a sight they would never forget - the greatest gathering of warships the world had ever witnessed.'
This is a link to BBC feature:  article - painting - photos - charts. Well worth a look.

20 November 2014

20th November 1944: pudding basins... & puncture repair

20 Mon. Rather mild for season, sunshine in morning, rain later. Bought candles, matches and two pudding basins locally in morning. To Wimbledon in afternoon. Rocket at 6.50 p.m. in E. Started stripping paper off sitting room walls. To pay Slate Club. Mended puncture; first one for a very long time.

19 November 2014

19th November 1944: neighbour using our cooker still

19 Sun. Rather mild for season but wind of hurricane force; dull. Jean called. Mrs. Hockney cooked a dinner on our gas cooker. Finished painting woodwork of sitting room windows: looks nice. Rocket at 8.30 a.m. it fell at Hazlehurst Rd Tooting. Warning from 8.35 to 8.45 p.m. no incident.

18 November 2014

18th November 1944: many killed... we enjoyed radio Music hall

18 Sat. Rather mild, very damp: dull. To the Cheam meat shop; got some for Mrs Veale to whom Tibby has now returned. Started painting the interior of sitting room in lovely cream enamel commencing on the window frames. Fitted up Mrs. Veale’s wireless and got good results; it withstood the bombing without damage. Having got it going she invited Ciss and I to hear Sat. night’s Music Hall and enjoyed it very much. While at Cheam I saw where the flying bomb dropped on Wed. last at Frogmore Gardens: the damage was terrible and very extensive and many were killed. Also saw great demolitions – the result of earlier bombing in Wrayfield Rd. Windsor Av. and Henley Road.

17 November 2014

17th November 1944: neigbour used our gas stove for dinner

17 Fri. Less cold, dismal; rain all day. Got the meat also to cold meat shop, bakers and the confectioners. To Morden also to chemists. Mrs. Veale cooked a dinner on our gas cooker to-day; they are still without gas. Warning from 7.20 to 7.36 p.m. no incident.

16 November 2014

16th November 1944: charming neighbour

16 Thur. Very cold but a sunny afternoon. Put up a shelf in Mrs. Veale’s scullery to put the saucepans on: bought some brackets at Smaldons. To Merton to buy fish. To Morden to buy cream enamel. Heard two rockets in morning. A letter from Uncle Tom: he said a rocket had fallen in Green Park. Mrs. Veale called in evening: she is very charming.

15 November 2014

15th November 1944: camp bed by rail, a few miles from Tolworth

15 Wed. Very cold: dull. Received the camp bed by rail from Tolworth. Got the groceries in morning also to the butchers. Started preparing woodwork of sitting room for painting. Warning from 12.10 to 1.5.a.m. Two in SE; one at Frogmore Gardens, Cheam. Also from 5.45 to 5.58 a.m. one distant SE: one passed over quite near making a loud noise, falling at Lovelace Rd. Surbiton.

14 November 2014

14th November 1944: daughter & furniture return to 68

14 Tues. Cold sunny morning, dull later. To the Cheam meat shop. Mrs. Veale, no 68, next door came back from Coventry with her furniture: she went away after the bombing. They have no gas or water yet in their repaired house so I made tea for Mrs. Veale and her mother Mrs. Hockney. I also cooked late dinner for them and we sat down together both for dinner and supper. Warning from 7.10 to 7.30 p.m. no incident. A rocket distant ENE at 10.25 p.m.

13 November 2014

13th November 1944: back to an empty house

13 Mon. Cold, very dull. Bought paraffin, glass paper and putty locally. To Wimbledon to buy fish. Mrs. Hockney came back to no. 68 next door to-day: her furniture will arrive to-morrow. As there is nothing in the house we entertained her to meals here. I lit a fire for her and lent her some curtains which I put up in the living room. She cleaned some of the floors ready for tomorrow. Rocket at 5.10 a.m. in E. The rocket at 8.50 p.m. yesterday was at Victoria.

12 November 2014

12 November 1944: seven bombs

12 Sun. Severe white frost; very dismal, rain late in day. Did a bit of cleaning in sitting room. Two rockets at 1.30 a.m. At 11.35 a.m. two rockets, one in NE and SE respectively. At 5.30 p.m. one rocket in E. At 8.50 p.m. a rocket between E and NE very heavy report followed by long drawn-out rumble. At 9.55 p.m. another due E.

11 November 2014

11th November 1944: another ceiling & German rockets

11 Sat. Very cold, rain in morning: dismal. Warning at 1.45 a.m. preceded by two explosions and followed by two bombs distant in S. and two more nearer in S. all clear at 2.2 a.m. The two rockets at noon yesterday fell at Middlesex St E. London or nearby. Cycled in the rain to N Cheam cats meat shop. Men finished plastering the sitting room. Shopping locally in afternoon. One rocket in E at 6.40 p.m.

10 November 2014

10th November 1944: why two birthday cards?

10 Fri. Severe frost lasting till midday; bright afternoon, cutting wind. To the butchers, cooked meat shop, bakers and sweet shop in morning. To Merton in afternoon to buy fish; also two birthday cards for Anthony locally. Two rockets distantly at noon, also two loud ones at 2.25 p.m.: the latter fell at Edmonton. Warning from 7.40 to 8.15 p.m. one distant in E.

9 November 2014

9th November 1944: liver & a lamp

9 Thur. Bitterly cold; fairly clear: windy. To butchers to buy liver – ¼lb. between two: also other shopping in morning. Bought cycle lamp battery and a paper in Wimbledon in afternoon. Warning from 7.7 to 7.35 p.m.: one down in NE. From 10.36 to 10.45 p.m. one very distant in S.

On this day: US troops crossed the Moselle, planning to take Metz.

8 November 2014

8th November 1944: bombed ceiling completed

8 Wed. Raw cold, dismal, damp, rain. Got the groceries as usual on Wed also a loaf. The men put a finishing coat of plaster on sitting room ceiling – over the plaster boards. Aunt Liza brought photos, of cousin Len and Doris wedding. Warning from 8.47 to 9.37 p.m.: one* very distant SE.

*Note: a reminder, or for readers new to the blog... Fred is referring to the 'new' generation of German flying bombs, later known as the V-2, against which we had no defence. They were the precursors of space rocket technology, epitomised by Dr Wernher von Braun (1912-1977). The photos show him with Nazi officers in 1941 and with President Kennedy in 1963 - he worked with NASA. He was inducted into the 'US Space and Rocket Center Hall of Fame ' in 2007. Several German cities have streets named after him, as do several American university centres of research.
Left: advert for book. (No, you can't 'look inside! - Sorry about that!)

7 November 2014

7 Nov 1944

7 Tues. Cold, dull, windy. To Cheam to buy cats’ meat. Several explosions to-day but I believe they were experimental from Richmond Park: it was announced that such would be heard. To butchers in morning. Nita Hart, Pamela & Pauline Easterbrook, three such sunny girls who have made themselves friendly, came to the door and I gave them some biscuits: O, they did make me happy. A man painted the new window sashes in sitting room.

6 November 2014

6 Nov '44

6 Mon. Rather cold, cloudy; wind getting up at night. Mrs. Hockney came up from Maidstone to-day. She borrowed a few brooms and so on to clean some rooms in her repaired house next door. To Mrs. Kingham’s to bring away some goods she has been minding since the bombing. Saw Kitty also her friend May with a little girl aged 13 months who runs about like a flash of lightning and talks in her way. Little Gloria patted a chair for me to sit down and she said “tatah” when I went away. To Wimbledon to buy fish.

5 November 2014

5th November 1944: nasty weather... tea for a few

5 Sun. Rather cold, cloudy, wind of hurricane force; rain later. The wind blew one of the damaged houses in this road down. To tea at Mrs Child’s. Geoffrey Trory** was there. Warning from 7.30 to 8.30 p.m. one flying bomb in S: I was returning from Mrs. Child’s when it came down.

**I couldn't be sure of the spelling from Fred's handwriting, but have now researched - a Geoffrey  Brian Trory ARCO (I guess an Associate of the Royal Colleg of Oragnists... without having looked it up) was indeed an organist at Cottenham Park methodist and was mentioned as an organist in a BBC 'Songs of Praise' by the BBC researching whether a 60s' programme mentioned in the 'Radio Times' was ever in fact broadcast! 

4 November 2014

4th November 1944: soldier sees his ruined home

4 Sat. Cold, clear day: the sunshine was as bright as could well be for November. To N. Cheam to buy cats meat: Jack Bradley called in afternoon to say good-bye: he is going abroad with the army. He saw his old house No. 72 Chestnut road, now a ruin. Bought things locally also in Wimbledon: saw the Spooner family also Uncle Dick. Jean Child called inviting me again to tea tomorrow. Warning from 7.30 to 8.0 p.m. no incident. Alb & Lily called in afternoon: gave them some wood for Dad to make Anthony a toy.

3 November 2014

3rd November 1944: only one room has glass in windows

3 Fri. Cold, dismal, rain later. Got the week-end joint and other provisions locally in morning. To Wimbledon in afternoon to buy batteries etc. Cleaned the sitting room windows – the only glass in the house, fitted gas-globe & mantle and put up the curtains. Ciss scrubbed the floor so it looks more homelike. Lit a fire in sitting room to dry the plaster on the walls.

2 November 2014

--------------- Your opinions & ideas, please ---------------

Dear Readers,

Fred's last diary entry is on 1st January 1969, that's 25 years from now. I believe it will be at or shortly before the death of his sister, his lifelong companion.

Clearly his wartime memories have special interest, and peace will bring a different flavour to his life. So, looking to the future, how do you think I might proceed?

One day at a time, as now, with the occasional notes I add on world events? Or summaries - perhaps less about the weather! - bringing in more than one day at a time (and reducing the 70 year gap between his writing and our reading), but not losing the flavour of Fred's own words and unique perspective on life? I've not read ahead myself in the actual diaries, just dipped - and I see there's a reference, for instance, to taking his first colour photographs. There is certainly social history in the pages.

Comments and thoughts most welcome - in public, here - or privately if you wish - if you type the e-mail name tony and after that: ...that is my main personal mail.


Tony French

PS I have promised to donate the actual diaries to the library service in the Merton/Raynes Park area - with no commitment as to when.

PPS Approaching 100 people read these pages each day.  

2nd November 1944: railway bombed... helped neighbour with gas cooker (post bombing)... happy, innocent, dancing days

2 Thur. Cold, some hazy sunshine in afternoon. Loud rocket at 3.30 a.m. it fell on the railway between Surbiton and Thames Ditton. Two loud rockets following each other at 10.10 a.m. Another very loud one with a shattering echo at 5.5 p.m. A letter from Mrs. Hockney to which I replied. She asked me to instruct the gas men where to put the gas cooker in her repaired house next door. Bought sausage meat, posted a letter and bought a curtain rod locally. Also bought fish and a paper at Morden. Little Pauline took my arm and danced along the road with me this afternoon this afternoon: she is a happy little love. Bought sweets: gave Clifford some.

1 November 2014

1st November 1944: plastered

Nov 1 Wed. Cold, dull, N. wind. Loud rocket at 12.5 a.m. also another at 5.5 a.m. Got the groceries during the morning also other shopping. The Polish plasterer put the first layer of plaster on sitting room walls. To Morden to buy a paper. Rocket at 4.0 p.m. also two within a second of each other at 6.35 p.m. Distant rocket 10.45 p.m.