31 March 2014

31st March 1944: shrapnel through roof

Shrapnel through roof of this
house (Google Street View)
31 Fri. White morning frost, rather cold day, some hazy sunshine in afternoon. Did the Fri. morning shopping; got a nice piece of pork for the week-end. Got accumulator in afternoon. To Mrs Child; she showed me a large piece of shrapnel which went through the roof during a raid. Letters from Uncle Ton & Aunt Nellie; replied. Warning at 3.30 a.m. A machine beat the sirens and circled about for 1/4 of an hour then made off where it got a small amount of gunfire; there was none locally and it just went away unmolested; all clear at 4.40 a.m.

Note: this would have been at 17 Chatsworth Ave., Merton Park.

30 March 2014

30th March 1944: recycled lino in 'scullery'

30 Thur. Rather cold, cloudy. To Morden to buy fish. Posted letter to Rev. Chas. Staden. Laid the old lino taken up from the hall in the scullery; not very satisfactory.

Note: Fred refers to the 'scullery' - a term largely replaced in modern times by 'utility room'. Using the 'search' tool on this blog helps create a picture of the tiny room for washing, etc off the back of the kitchen. He had laid new oilcloth in the scullery in April 1940, removing the 'gas and copper' in order to do so. That was just four years before; the hall lino had lasted for about 30 years. Also in the scullery, there was a sink (which had a layer of ice in it on 30 Dec 1940), and an airer (replaced on 17 March 1941).  The kitchen hasn't received so many mentions - just one - when Dinky the cat caught a mouse in a kitchen cupboard! Click this sentence to see OED definition and origin of word scullery.

29 March 2014

29th March 1944: mountainside in Wimbledon?

Just one of many types of dianthus.
 Fred's Mrs Simkins pinks is another example.
29 Wed. Rather cold, dismal all day, calm. Got the groceries, also sausage meat in morning. Short ride in afternoon down Copse Hill to test cycle brakes; they do hold now; hold you back coming down a mountainside. Did work in garden in afternoon. Divided up and planted out chives, did the same to Mrs. Simkins pinks. Dug over a bed and forked in some hop manure for growing onions, sowed the seed - James' Keeping. Started digging over a rose bed. There is still a pale little rose at the front door, also a few tiny buds showing that have grown this year.

28 March 2014

28th March 1944: delayed bomb... house shudders

28 Tues. Mild, some pleasant sunshine in afternoon. Cycled to Wimbledon to buy fish. Extended my ride up the hill to Burliegh* Road to see a bomb crater in the middle of the road. No damage except to mains running under the road. Heard a very loud report at 10.15 a.m., a delayed bomb no doubt, location unknown; the house shuddered. Adjustments to the brakes of cycle; the brakes are now very efficient; short ride in afternoon proved this to be so.

Note: I take it this is the Burghley Road on a present-day map (2,000m from Fred's home) and close to Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Association.

27 March 2014

27th March 1944: forty USA Flying Fortress

27 Mon. Mild, some hazy sunshine. Got some fish at Higg's which is only round the corner. Removed grass and weeds from centre path of garden and made it up with ashes. About 40 Flying Fortress heavy bombers (U.S.A.) flew over in late afternoon. (See top of opposite page.)

27 Mon. (continued). This insertion should have followed entry of above date. Warning at 11.50 p.m. Only very distant gunfire and flashes; nothing approached within some miles. The raid was chiefly on S.W. of England and South Wales. All clear vat 11.25 a.m. on 28 Tues.

Note: the pattern of entry and the notes above are all Fred's original. He remembered to add his 'continued' on the 'opposite page' about the raid after the next day's entry. By the way, it's interesting that there was a fish shop 'only around the corner', while he usually cycles miles and miles for Dinky's cat-fish. 

26 March 2014

26th March 1944: Brixton & Croydon suffered.. railway bombed

26 Sun. Very mild; a perfect spring day without a cloud; 60 degrees in the shade, 102 in the sun. Cycled to Wimbledon Common to see where a dud bomb fell into the sandy beach at Rushmere pond. There were about a dozen patches of whitish-grey powder where incendiaries had burned themselves out. I returned along the Portsmouth Rd and Robin Hood Way; I saw where a dud bomb was being excavated in Robin Hood Lane; right in the middle of the road. There was much damage in Croydon and Brixton caused by the recent raid on Fri. night - Sat. morning. Also publishing offices in Fleet Street and three churches were hit. There were no trains between Thornton Heath and Victoria and the Chessington branch was closed; a bomb fell on the railway track and blew it up; Brixton also suffered. Doris stayed the night.

25 March 2014

25th March 1944: nice oilcloth

25 Sat. The mildest day this year.- 57 degrees Fah. Somewhat hazy but some pleasant, gentle sunshine in afternoon.. Cycled to Merton to buy fish. Finished laying the new oilcloth; looks nice now it is down, but an awkward job in the doing. Aunt Liza called.

Quote: "A medal glitters, but it also casts a shadow." Winston Churchill in the House of Commons, 22nd March 1944.

24 March 2014

24th March 1944: 100 aircraft ...guns in the streets

24 Fri. Very cool, but with some sunshine with a little warmth in it midday. Just before midnight 23rd I heard a loud aeroplane's engines; it came from the S.E. where it dropped 5 red flares. The machine circled overhead and cruised about. At 12.2 a.m. 24th the sirens went. It circled around for another 5 minutes and made off south. At long range the Raynes Park guns opened up on it but it was soon beyond reach. Two other machines were under slight fire to east and south-east. All clear at 12.33 a.m. Got the meat, some cakes and other provisions. Cycled to Morden to buy fish. Started laying the new oilcloth. It proved to be difficult and unmanageable but got part of it laid. Warning at 10.55 p.m. Nothing happened for three-quarters of an hour then a single machine came and took a few shots and went away. Then came a long wait and we thought that was all there was to it. Then came machine after machine from all quarters and the guns blazed away including light mobile guns in the streets. The noise was terrible and quite continuous. The planes were in no hurry to clear off and the battle seemed an eternity. A shell whistled down and exploded not far away, also rounds of bombs swishing down could be heard. One of the noisiest and largest raids I can remember, one hundred enemy planes taking part. There was no glare in the sky from incendiaries or fires, although there were some small outbreaks in London. All clear at 1.0 a.m. on 25 Sat.

23 March 2014

23rd March 1944: bin your bones outside butchers

23 Thur. Very cool, overhead haze but some acceptable sunshine in afternoon. Took accumulator, also put some bones in the bones-bin outside the butcher's shop: we have to do this in wartime. To Morden to buy fish. Scrubbed the hall floor after planing down projecting edges of boards; it is now ready for laying the new oilcloth.

22 March 2014

22nd March 1944: fires rage in London. Rationed raisins & eggs.

22 Wed. Rather cold, cloudy, hazy but some promising sunshine in afternoon. Warning at 12.45 a.m. A considerable number of machines came from all quarters except N.W. The firing was patchy, heavy only at times, the local guns fired at machines coming within range. Apart from several drawn out noises, which I have heard before and have not yet identified there was nothing other than gunfire within hearing. A red glow all along the eastern horizon showed that fires were raging in London somewhere. All clear at 1.55 a.m. It is announced that 9 enemy aircraft were destroyed Got groceries at Eyles and had the pleasure of taking a pound of raisins as dried fruit ration for a month. We also had two eggs from the dairyman. Bought sausage meat. Bought floor polish; these two latter locally. Cycled to Morden to buy lights for Dinky; the nice girl was taking the money at the shop again; she manages the Wimbledon branch when they have supplies. A further bulletin states that 10 enemy planes were destroyed last night. Warning at 9.25 p.m. Only one machine came from the S.E. and went N.W. It was held in the searchlights for a short time. It had a fair amount of A.A. fire, the Wimbledon guns firing. It dropped five parachute flares in a S.E. direction and returned the way it came; all clear at 9.50 p.m. One machine so far has been destroyed. This was a small scale raid and very few aircraft came to London. 

Special note: 1,300 posts on this blog

Dear Reader, a special note. I've just noticed that yesterday's post was the 1,300th on this blog. If you wish to see some of the most 'POPULAR POSTS', scroll down to that heading on the left, below the past few days' entries. - Tony.

21 March 2014

21st March 1944: linoleum lasts 30 years

21 Tues. Very cool, dismal and dreary; showers. First day of spring. Did shopping locally, going to the post office and the chemists. Took up the linoleum in the hall with a view to laying down the new; the old had done about 30 years service.

Note: 30 years... and Fred and family would have been renting the same house all that time. Click to see: 'Linoleum is extremely durable' says Wiki.

20 March 2014

20th March 1944: the Merton Road bombing

20 Mon. Very cool, dreary, cloudy day. Cycled to every Boots' branch about here to buy something for Ciss but without success; but I bought several other things, fish at Wimbledon and lentils and haricot beans at Morden, also a bulb for the bedroom light in Ciss' room which broke down last night. Merton Road is now open again to the public, it has been closed since the bombing on 19th Feb.; great damage was done and there are open spaces previously occupied by the Labour Exchange, a large garage and many large houses; few of the shops in this road are doing business.

Note from 2014 blogger. Fred, quietly writing his modest daily record with pen and ink... what would he have thought about his readership in 2014? Here's an analysis of viewers over the past week. (Left click image once for large size OR right click and select in a new tab.)

19 March 2014

19th March 1944: birthday tea for sister, many visitors

19 Sun. Very cool, overcast, less wind. Ciss is 58 to-day. The children called, including Gwennie (who has just got over chicken-pox) and Laurie. Dear Monica also came; she is a charming and modest little girl. Ciss had a birthday tea and Dad, Alb, Lily, Anthony and Mrs. Jones came from Tolworth. Mrs. Akroyd came. Aunt Liza, Cousin Len and his sweetheart Doris came later in the evening. Doris also stayed the night.

Notes: Fred's dad is now (1944) living with his son Albert, and his wife Lily, in Tolworth.  Mrs Jones is Lily's mother. Cousin Len had been a prisoner-of-war, released the previous year in an exchange with Germany as a result of his injuries. The reference to children calling is usually on Sunday, on their way to Sunday School at Raynes Park Methodist Church, Cottenham Park.

18 March 2014

18th March 1944: hard to come by...

18 Sat. A little milder, but overcast and a stiff west wind. To Morden to buy fish, also bought twin flex at Merton; other shopping locally. Rewired the bedroom light in Ciss' room with the flex bought this afternoon with splendid results. Mr. Conley borrowed my bike pump, he is having trouble with his tyres and cycle pumps are hard to come buy; I fortunately have a splendid one. Doris stayed the night.

17 March 2014

17th March 1944: meat & manure & whizzing shrapnel

17 Fri. Cold, cloudy, dreary, but a little fairer in afternoon. A letter each from Uncle Tom and Aunt Nellie telling of the terrible times they are having  in the raids at Westminster where they live. Got weekend joint at the butchers, also bought something at the cold meat shop. Then bought cake at the bakers. Paid the weekly bill for papers at the newsagents and bought some sweets there. Then to Morden; bought dried green peas @ 10d. per lb. Also got some meat from the animal meat shop. Bought bag of Wakeley's Hop Manure for the garden price 4/3d. Miss Brewer still comes to do the fri. morning cleaning. Put the staircarpet down again after cleaning. Warning at 9.15. p.m. A machine came from due south to a point overhead, turned about and went back the way it came. It had a fair amount of gunfire especially from the local guns, the shrapnel falling about; one piece whizzed down near the shelter where Ciss and I were. About four other machines came but gunfire was only slight. All clear at 9.47.p.m.
Click to enlarge. This year's hard-back notebook, when closed, measures four-and-a-half by seven inches.

16 March 2014

16th March 1944:

16 Thur. Very cool day after a sharp white morning frost; dull, overcast. Bought fish at Morden, also shopping locally. Scrubbed paintwork, treads and bannister rails of the staircase. Warning from 6.40 to 6.53 p.m. no incident.

Cassino destroyed

15 March 2014

15th March 1944: stair carpet up for beating

15 Wed. Sharp white morning frost; rather cold day, but the sunshine in afternoon had some warmth in it. Got the groceries locally, also bought two nice smoked cod fillets at R'Imand's (?) in Martin Way. Took up the stair carpet, beat and swept it, also swept the stairs down. Warning at 8.50 p.m. Only about three machines to eastward, over London; they were only under slight gunfire; all clear at 9.25 p.m.

The restored monastery of Monte Cassino, 130km southeast of Rome
On this day: in Italy, the monastery on the summit of Monte Cassino is heavily bombed by the Allies. But the Germans hadn't occupied it; they had moved its treasures to the Vatican to protect them. After the bombing, the Germans moved into the now wrecked building and usefully defensive cellars. The immediate attacks (taking advantage of good weather) by the New Zealand Corps and bombers lacked planning and failed. Today, in 2014, the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano, visits the monastery to mark the 70th anniversary of its destruction: see this link.

14 March 2014

14th March 1944: many new, fast, enemy planes; red sky

14 Tues. Very cool, cloudy, boisterous; slight showers. Cycled to Wimbledon to buy fish, also out twice to do shopping locally. Cleaned the upstairs front windows inside and out. Wrote letters to Uncle Tom and Aunt Nellie. Warning at 10.33 p.m. Many machines came; some of the new high speed ones circled and dived and zoomed about for half an hour; there were also some old slow planes. The gunfire was patchy and much less than of late, there being periods of gun-silence, when the planes' engines could be heard loudly. The local guns fired at four planes. I heard three drawn out noises which I took to be incendiaries and a red glow along the eastern horizon indicated that fires had been started. All clear at 11.44 p.m.

13th March 1944: nice bike

13 Mon. Very cool, cloudy but some sunny intervals in afternoon; very boisterous. Dug up and divided another rhubarb root and re-planted on a well prepared bed. Did some shopping locally in afternoon. Paid the club*; met Harold; saw a second-hand bicycle he has bought; quite a good machine.

* the 'Slate Club', saving for Christmas.

12 March 2014

12th March 1944: railway man

12 Sun. Rather mild, rather dull, calm; notunpleasant (sic). Ciss went to Tolworth with Aunt Hannah and Cousin Harold. Walk along rail path in evening, saw loco 488 one of the big (???) 4-6-0s. The new rail joint do lessen wheel thump to a large extent and there is little or no depression as the wheels run over them; the running of the trains should be much smoother. Distant warning at 9.45 p.m. all clear 1t 10.6 p.m.; no incident. Doris stayed the night.

11 March 2014

11th March 1944: rhubarb

11 Sat. Less cold, rather dull, wind blowing again. Did some shopping in morning also to Morden in afternoon to buy fish, more shopping locally. Have been trying for some time to buy soda but there is none to be had. Dug up and divided a root of rhubarb of a superior sort to replace those that are less good. I replanted the roots in a deeply dug trench with some rotten garden refuse in the bottom. Our rhubarb always does well and I think it can still do a lot better. Doris stayed the night.

10 March 2014

10th March 1944: pork, pilchards, cat's lights and MATCHES!

10 Fri. Cool, becoming less so. Very dull but calm. Did the Friday morning shopping; got a nice piece of pork this week. Also to Morden; bought lights for Dinky. A tin of pilchards and three boxes of matches was a surprise; our grocer had no tinned fish but the bargain stores at Morden had plenty of everything. I asked for a box of matches and the young lady gave me three. We get one box a month from our grocer. Aunt Liza called. More shopping locally in afternoon.

9 March 2014

9th March 1944: queued half-an-hour for oranges

9  Thur.Cold, very dull, misty; not much wind. To Morden to buy fish, also stood in a queue for half an hour to buy just over a pound of oranges for 9 1/2d. Three visits from Tibby Veale*; he thinks he can still come in although his people are back.

*the recently-boarded cat!

8 March 2014

8th March 1944: wireless closes during air raids?

8 Wed. Cold, some hazy sunshine, cutting north wind:  white morning frost. Got the groceries in morning and sausage meat at the butchers. Fitted new fastening in my bedroom window; it prevents the window rattling in the wind and excludes draughts. I am wondering how I have put up with the discomfort of having the east wind blowing round my head in bed all these years; I cannot remember the window having a catch. Warning from 9.30 p.m. to 10.3 p.m. Nothing whatever happened; not even the wireless closed down. It has been announced that two bombs were dropped, location not stated, causing slight damage and no casualty.

Question to readers of 2014 blog: this is the first hint I've heard or read that BBC radio broadcasts might stop during raids... so as to avoid providing direction finding for enemy aircraft? Can anyone shed light on this? - Tony

P.S. This is a link to a BBC memo to staff who are invited to continue work during raids.

7th March 1944: curious Tooting shops... & the cat came back

7 Tues. Cold, some hazy sunshine in afternoon; windy. Cycled to Tooting Market to buy fish; first time I have seen this curious collection of shops, all permanently blacked out with the electric lights on. Mrs. Hockney & Mrs. Veale came back to-day, so Tibby went home but he was soon back again, I expect he will want to be fed at both houses now; I sent some fish in for him as they hadn't got any for him. 

6 March 2014

6th March 1944: landlord sells Fred's home; cat damages lino

6 Mon. Very severe white frost; very dull misty day. Mr. Payne the landlord called for the rent and said he had sold the house and probably would not be coming again; he has owned the house for 33 1/2 years; the new landlord's name is Evans. Cycled to Morden to buy fish also some green paint and tap washers which I fitted. Also shopping locally. Repaired lino in living room damaged by Dinky last night trying to burrow under the closed door.

5 March 2014

5th March 1944: Wimbledon homes & Clock House bombed

5 Sun. Raw, cold, dull, calm; the snow soon melted. Monica who is ten just called, also Ann who is five this week. To Wimbledon Common. Saw where two unexploded bombs lay. The Clock House on the Common is destroyed. Three fine large houses on Putney Hill down. West Hill is closed. Two large houses where Inner Park Road joins Wimbledon Park Side are destroyed. Heard there are six unexploded bombs at Chessington. On fire duty tonight. There is quite a nice little rose on the climber at the front door; it came out a fortnight ago; rather pale but very precious.

Note: see this link for brief history of the Clock House, an 1888 building bombed in 1944 - see page 4 of the Wimbledon Society newsletter.

4 March 2014

4th March 1944: spiders love the air-raid shelter

How to erect an Anderson shelter
4 Sat. Sharp frost, clear, bright day; bitter north wind. I prepare the dinner midday on Saturdays. In afternoon cycled to Wimbledon, Merton and Morden but finally found some sprats at Merton. Got a few things at the grocers. Bought birthday cards for Monica Philpot and Peter Child. Met Alan Spooner. Swept out the shelter, the spiders seem to appreciate its cover and seclusion. Am board and lodging Tibby Hockney-Veal the kitten from next door till Tuesday; a little restless to begin with. I looked after him once before when he was quite a tiny kitten. Doris stayed the night. A fall of snow at night.

Shelter covered with garden

3 March 2014

3rd March 1944: home on leave

3 Fri. Very severe white frost. Keen clear day; the frost thawed in the sun later. Did the usual Fri. morning shopping; got a piece of veal to-day. More shopping in afternoon. Cousin Frank home on leave from the middle east called with Uncle Ben. He has been in the R.A.F. (radio mechanic) for over three years.

2 March 2014

2nd March 1944: 100 enemy planes & our fighters

2 Thur. Cold, clear; the sunshine had some warmth in it in places sheltered from the raging west wind. Warning at 2.40 a.m. Many planes arrived from all directions and were fired at quite heavily at times, but there were lulls which suggested our fighters were about. Did not hear anything drop but a shower of explosive incendiaries a few miles to the eastward caused a fire which glowed in the sky; the incendiaries could afterwards be heard going off. A total of 100 planes were used and six were destroyed. All clear at 3.35 a.m. Cycled to Wimbledon, bought a torch battery at Halford's for Mrs. Hippel, which I took to her; also bought fish at Merton.

1st March 1944: tree felled

March 1. Wed. Raw cold, dull, little wind. Got the groceries in morning. Asked the butcher about the shell that dropped in his garden in Burstow Road; it exploded and damaged a tree and other things in the garden; the family was in the shelter and no-one was hurt. Went so see Mrs. Hippel; she is now better of congestion of the lungs; she had six weeks in Kingston Hospital. Took her torch away for attention and new battery. 

29th February 1944: lemons are forbidden fruit

29 Tues. Leap Year Day. Severe white frost; fairly clear day, not much wind. Cycled to Wimbledon to buy fish. Bought 2 lbs. of lemons @ 6 1/2 per lb. to-day from Mr. Wheeler; it is years since we bought lemons, they have been forbidden fruit. Warning at 9.32 p.m. Two machines approached from the south. One went to northwestward but the other did not come nearer than a few miles; it dropped a bomb and made off in a southeast direction where it threw out a yellow parachute flare. Both machines were under moderate fire, the local guns firing. All clear at 10.2 p.m. The bomb dropped at Portland Road, S. Norwood. Only 15 machines took part in this raid, 3 of them coming to London. Two of them were destroyed; only minor damage was caused and there were no casualties.

1 March 2014

28th February 1944: machine guns replace Tri-ang toys

28 Mon. Severe white frost lasting till midday; a little clearer but bitter east wind. Cycled to Wimbledon and eventually bought fish at Merton. Saw the fire damage to Lines Bros factory at Merton; this is the first enemy damage I have seen done to a war factory. Got several things at the grocers also other shopping locally. 

Lines Bros was a major toy manufacturer, under the brand name Tri-ang, which was required
 by the government to switch to weapons manufacturing, notably of the Sten Mk III sub-machine gun.
  See Wikipedia entry for Lines Bros

27th February 1944: Fred investigates bombing raids

27 Sun. Very raw cold, very dull but calm. Only the Conley children and Laurie called. Cycled to Lower Morden to ascertain the truth of recent bombing there. The 'bomb' in Monkleigh Rd it seems was a dud shell in the front garden; it broke many windows. Another shell shattered the tiled path in a front garden in Hillcross Av. Further along this same road - the Lower Morden end, is a deep crater in a front garden where one of a group of three heavy bombs fell. This one threw quantities of clay on the roof and other prominent parts of the house; no one was hurt and only three windows were broken and a few tiles knocked off. Another bomb made a crater in a pasture field beside Lower Morden Lane. The third made huge crater in the front garden of the old square-built farm-house, also nearby; no damage whatever was done, save there is a big hole to fill up. These three bombs made the terrible swish we heard on Thur. night last; the result for the Germans in nil. The glow of a big fire to southwards last Wed. night was caused by a shower of incendiaries which was dropped across open fields from Stonecot Hill to the Morden Golf course; they set fire to a plantation of trees. In spite of recent heavy damage in Merton Road there was only one slight casualty there.