30 April 2014

30th April 1944: science & astronomy, religion & nature

30 Sun. Warm; glorious sunny day; could hardly have been better. A number of children called; showed them how a reading glass could condense the sun's rays and set fire to a match and brown paper. Short cycle ride in afternoon; saw some nice loudspeaker units in a shop at Lower Morden. To Church in evening. The Rev. G. Standing, M.C. preached a good sermon. Geoffrey Trewry (?Trewny?) the 17 year old organist at Cottenham Park is amazingly good; he has a musical future. Walk after the service as far as Wimbledon Common. Chestnut, laburnum and wisteria are almost out. Watched the conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. By 12.20 a.m. double summer time on 1st May, Jupiter was almost touching the upper point of the first quarter moon like this.  (See Fred's drawing in copy of diary below.) Jupiter is represented by the dot - not a moon occultation.

29 April 2014

29th April 1944: a touch of music, Tooting fish, marigolds & kids

29 Sat. Mild, dull, calm. Alf called in morning; told me he was going to play the organ at the wedding of a friend. To Tooting in afternoon to buy fish, bought a few other things locally. Planted marigold seeds. Gwen and Laurence called. The garden is very dry, we need rain.

28 April 2014

28th April 1944: shops, garden, kids call, write letter...

28 Fri. Mild, but a few periods of sunshine but a chilly wind to spoil things. Rain is needed and the ground is dry. Did all the usual Friday morning shopping and bought a few things in Morden in the afternoon. Some more gardening. Planted Russell Lupin seeds. Gwennie and Laurence called they are full of fun nowadays. Wrote letter to Uncle Tom*.

* Entry in this blog's list of Fred's friends:
  • French, Tom (uncle), 12C Peabody Buildings, Old Pye St Estate, Westminster SW1

27 April 2014

27th April 1944: night of warnings... but oh what a lovely day

27 Thur. Rather warm; perfectly lovely sunny day.Warning at 2.5 a.m. One machine from S. to N. It was picked up in the searchlights when it threw out two Verey lights, one red, one orange; it proved to be friendly; all clear at 2.30 a.m. Further warning at 4.48 a.m. Heard the sound of planes flying very high and that was all there was to it: all clear at 5.25 a.m. To Morden in afternoon, bought fish, also a packet of Russell Lupin seeds at Woolworths. Sowed poppy seeds in evening, also planted a few aquilegis. Preparing ground and a screen of sticks for the summer beans which will be sown soon.

26th April 1944: fireman's whistle

26 Wed. Mild, fresh breeze but some sunny periods later. Warning at 12.26 a.m. Being on duty I went to 40 Chestnut Road, the fire-party assembly point. I was the only one of my party of four who turned out. Mr. Conley the leader was out; he gave me a whistle which is blown to indicate incendiaries have fallen. However, apart from distant gun-flashes and a few machines flying over, which I took to be our night-fighters nothing transpired. All clear at 12.46 a.m. Got the groceries and bought something at the butchers. Bought some fish pieces for Dinky in Martin Way. I was preceded in the fish queue by Agnes Williams. Planted poppy seeds. Dug over a bed and planted mint. Planted some bordering campanula at the house end of the garden. Short cycle ride in evening.

25 April 2014

25th April 1944: fire duty all night

25 Tues. Mild, stiff chilly  breeze, mostly cloudy, becoming heavily overcast. To Wimbledon to buy fish. Posted letter to dad. Dear Gladys called; she is so pleasant. More weeding in garden and trimmed edges of side path. On fire-guard duty to-night. Duty runs till dawn the next day.

24 April 2014

24th April 1944: New Jersey? Ho, ho, ho!

Bell lime - did Fred mean the plant?
24 Mon. Very mild, cloudy, but a little sunshine late in the day. To Merton to but something also to the local post-office. Cut the lawn which looks very nicely. Removed bell-lime from around the gooseberry bushes. Dug over a border and planted selected marigold seeds saved from last year. Gwennie and Laurance called, they were in a jolly mood, and Laurie was wearing a new jersey. I made them laugh as heartily as I have heard them by saying there was a city in America called New Jersey.

23 April 2014

23rd April 1944: fairyland, faith & fondness

23 Sun. Rather warm; perfectly lovely sunny day. Connie Freeman called. The flowering trees and shrubs and the spring foliage are like fairyland. To Church (yes, Fred did use a capital C! - Ed.) in evening: (yes, he did use a colon rather than a semi-colon, his only regular fault, & the only thing I have sometimes corrected in past entries - Ed) Rev. G. Vivian preached. Walk as far as Rushmore on the Common in evening. While walking saw the nice girl who sold me some rose bushes at Woolworth's a few years ago: of course I did not recognise (i.e. did not 'acknowledge' or 'say hello to' - Ed) her but it was a pleasure to see her.

22 April 2014

22nd April 1944: more spring gardening

22 Sat. Very mild, lovely day, the sun being quite warm. In morning to buy potatoes. Cycled to Tooting in afternoon to buy fish also bought scarlet runner beans at Merton; a half packet cost 1/10d. Took accumulator. Doris stayed the night. Did some gardening; divided up a clump of montbretia bulbs and re-planted.

21 April 2014

21st April 1944: cat stolen?

Albert Edward Sammons CBE
Wiki biography here

21 Fri. Mild; lovely sunny morning, very dull & cloudy later. To the butchers, got beef this week for a change, also to other shops locally. In afternoon to Morden to buy a few things. Tibby Veale the pretty Persian cat next door is missing since last night. I roamed the back gardens about here but to no purpose. He is old enough to know his way and must be stolen; hope they get him back, I am fond of him. Listened with Maud to Albert Sammons playing most exquisitely the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D over the wireless.

"I have no intention of passing my remaining years in explaining or withdrang anything I have said in the past, still less apologising for it."
Winston Churchill in the House of Comnmons, 21 April 1944.

20 April 2014

20th April 1944: bombs in Purley Reservoir and Rushmere Pond

10 Thur. Mild, but boisterous, chilly wind; some bright sunny periods through the clouds. Walk along rail path to Wimbledon; saw Cudworth*, one of the beautiful 'Engineer' class locos. Bought biscuits at Woolworth's. Only a small amount of work in the garden to-day. The bomb that I heard come down and explode in the raid in the early hours of yesterday fell in the water reservoirs at Purley; it destroyed the offices. The dud bomb is removed from the Rushmere Pond on the Common.

*Named after a prominent C19th engineer: details HERE.

All very confusing... this is 'Cudworth' but not the Class named
 by Fred. See this link for part of the history.

19 April 2014

19th April 1944: many planes bomb London & plants galore

'shrapnel was whizzing about like a battlefield'

19 Wed. Slight morning frost, becoming milder; brilliant sunny day but spoilt by a stiff chilly wind. Warning at 12.55 a.m. A great many planes bombed London and the North Middlesex Hospital* in Edmonton was badly hit. There was no local damage. Gunfire was not very severe although some rockets were fired. Only three planes came directly over here the local guns firing at one of them. Mobile guns were about and at times shrapnel was whizzing about like a battlefield. Fourteen enemy planes were destroyed; all clear at 1.50 a.m. Got the groceries and other things in morning. Finished the second border of ferns. Planted out some fancy grass and asparagus fern. Peter Child, sent by his mother asked if I had anything for her garden; she has more room now that their shelter has been taken away. I gave him several clumps of fern and other plants, telling him to call again which he did. Gave him Michaelmas daisy, montbretia, fancy grass, companula, polyanthus and aqualegias. Mrs Collins called for some pea sticks I promised her. She liked the garden and called it "old world". Maud stayed the night. Warning at 10.25 pm. Only three planes came at a very great height in the rain. Only very slight, distant gunfire; they were practically left alone; all clear at 10.55 p.m.

* The 'North Mid' hospital began life as a workhouse, in 1840, and from 1915-20 became the Edmonton Military Hospital. During WWII six high explosive bomb fell on the hospital site. See THIS LINK, a Wikipedia page, for a history. 16 people died at the hospital on 19th April; some bodies were unidentified. (Those last facts from a brief discussion at

18 April 2014

18th April 1944: D-Day expected

18 Tues. Rather cool, becoming milder. The sunshine became warmer as the day advanced to a lovely afternoon. To Morden to buy a few things. Dinky rolled on the lawn in the sunshine and liked it. Divided up the big ferns and planted them out on the other side of the garden but the job is not finished yet. Maud stayed the night. The invasion of the Continent by Anglo-American forces is daily expected.

On this day: for secrecy in the lead-up to D-Day, the UK began censoring diplomatic bags from London, stopped foreign diplomats leaving the country, and banned all coded radio transmissions - - the USA, USSR and Polish are exempted. The distribution of newspapers to Southern Ireland and and Gibraltar was stopped on 5th April. In the Crimea, Russian troops take Balaclava and start operations near Sevastopol.

17th April 1944: played piano for Emily and Len

17 Mon. Very cool, very, very dull. To Wimbledon to buy fish. Planted some aquilegia. and double daisies in garden. To Len Garrod's in evening to play the piano for his 'cello. Also played some song accompaniments for his wife Emily. Maud stayed the night.

16 April 2014

16th April 1944: chemical weapons

16 Sun. Mild, dismal, rain nearly all day. In morning to Joseph Hood's Rec. to hear a lecture and to see a demonstration on how Fire Guards should tackle phosphorus bombs. The bombs contain a highly inflammable mixture of phosphorus benzine and rubber solution. The bombs when broken burst into flames when air reaches the phosphorus and they can only be put out by the application of water spray or wet sand; as soon as it dries they burst into flame again; nasty thing to have about the house. Len Garrod called. Mrs. Akroyd to tea.

15 April 2014

15th April 1944: threepenny seeds & a new fighter plane

15 Sat. Mild, very cloudy; a long heavy shower in afternoon. Letter from Rev. Chas. Staden. To do shopping locally and at Merton in afternoon. A writing pad and two packets of envelopes cost 1/11d. Bought a packet of wallflower seeds 3d. Dug up and divided another large fern and planted it out to finish the fernery near the house. Have now to plant out the ferns on other side of garden. Cousin Maud called and brought some China tea. Mr. Conley called to tell me to go to a demonstration at Joseph Hoods ground to-morrow morning on how to deal with phosphorus bombs now being dropped by the Germans. Midday saw a very fast small fighter plane fly over; it had six cannon - three in each wing. A new type presumably - should shoot Jerry out of the sky. On fire duty tonight.

14 April 2014

14th April 1944: army tank... and tale of the cat's fur

14 Fri. Very mild, some nice sunshine in morning, cloudy & rain later; still breeze. Did all the usual Friday morning shopping locally and in afternoon bought fish at Morden. Saw a large tank coming along Martin Way. Ginger Emery a Persian cat came to see me. He had some long loose fur on his chest so I took it off and threw it into the air in the garden. A gust of wind took it up and it sailed away up and up. A sparrow saw and chased it, caught it in his beak while on the wing. Sat on the gutter of a house very pleased with his find and then flew off with it presumably to show his wife and to line the nest. Remade the side path of the garden. Dug over a small bed at house end of garden and planted some ferns in it.

13 April 2014

13th April 1944: the bleeding heart in front garden

13 Thur. Mild, very dull, some light showers. To Wimbledon to buy fish. Cherry trees are in bloom, the ornamental ones are lovely. The  very deep prunus is at its best; it is one of the loveliest of all flowering trees. Planted dieltra* in front garden. More repairs to the lawn. Weeded a side path with a view to re-making. Aunt Liza called.

Note: dieltra... the bleeding heat, also known at times as dicentra, diclya, eucapno. See this link to 'The Duchess of Dirt' for a good description, photos and the changing names.

Also this link to BBC plant finder entry (BBC photo left)

12 April 2014

12th April 1944: Morse from searchlights; flares on Kingston

12 Wed. Very mild, some lovely sunny periods; a nice day. Got the groceries as usual, also to butchers to buy 1 lb of pork sausage meat, price 11 1/2d. Short cycle ride in morning. Trimmed edges of lawn. Sowed two sorts of lettuce seeds. Made a new border in front garden and planted peones in it. First time it has been cultivated. Warning at 10.55 p.m. A few machines circling about in S.W., S, and S.E. directions but very little gunfire as our night fighters were about judging by the Morse signals given by the searchlights. All clear at 11.35 p.m.. Flares were dropped over Kingston but there were no bombs in the London area.

11 April 2014

11th April 1944: lawns not war

11 Tues. Mild, cloudy, but some pleasant sunny intervals. Cleaned the upstairs back windows. To Morden to buy fish. Trimmed up both the yellow and the white jasmines. Tied up the new shoots with great improvement. Started repairing the bare patches on the lawn but transplanting grass from parts of the garden where it did not ought to be.

10 April 2014

10th April 1944: so, this was my 'holiday'!

 (Photo credit: Woodland Trust)

10 Easter Monday. Mild, rather heavy clouds but some nice peeps of sunshine in between; still a rather rough, chilly wind. Went out to buy some sweets in afternoon. Sawed up a lot of the ash* branches for firewood. Mrs. Akroyd came to tea. Did some general work in the garden in evening. Short cycle ride to finish up the day. Not much like a holiday.

Note: ash is seen as one of the best hardwoods to burn in domestic fires,  giving a good red glow, lasting longer, not sparking or smoking too much (so cleaner chimneys) and leaving little ash. The third most common tree in Britain. Read about ash trees here, with the Woodland Trust

9th April 1944: the health of children and adults.

9 Easter Sunday. Very mild, cloudy but some nice intense intervals of sunshine; rather windy. Monica, Gwen, Laurie and Connie* who has just recovered from bronchitis called. Mrs Conley who lives opposite is in hospital with pneumonia; the children took some flowers to her. Walk in evening to see dear Mother's grave.

Note 1: these would all be children, including Connie Freeman, the girl recovered from bronchitis.
Note 2: members of the Conley family from across the road, now from across the world, have read past entries in this diary 70 years later...

8 April 2014

8th April 1944: Easter planting

8 Sat. Rather cold, becoming milder; cloudy, chilly wind. In morning to shop locally; met Mrs. Akroyd. To Morden in afternoon to buy fish and a few other things. Short visit to Len Garrod. Dug up and divided lychnis* roots and planted them in deeply dug and prepared bed.

*silene coronaria, from the carnation family.... or rose campion, dusty miller, or here in the UK, lychnis coronaria. (Photo: J J Harrison - New South Wales, Australia - via Wikipedia.) 

7 the April 1944: Good Friday... pork again.

7 Good Friday. Cold, dull, cheerless; bitter wind. In morning to the butchers; got pork again this week; we have to take what is available. Bought cod fillets in Martin Way; served by a girl named Ivy. Saw Gladys on her cycle. Len Garrod called; he has been away from work three weeks with influenza. The new oil-cloth in hall has stretched so I trimmed off the edges so as to level it out.

7 April 2014

6th April 1944: routine...

6 Thur. Very cool, very dull and cheerless. To butchers, bakers etc. in morning. Also along rail-path. To Morden in afternoon to buy fish. Finished tidying the front garden, removing the weeds. Many small buds on the climbing rose at the front door.

6 April 2014

5th April 1944: Worcester Park bomb 'must have been a monster'

5 Wed. Very mild, cloudy. Got the groceries, also bought some fish in Martin Way. Trimmed the privet hedges and bush in front garden. Took a letter to Pontifaxes in Worcester Park in evening. They were pleased to see me; we are such old friends. Saw the bomb damage in Lynwood Avenue,* Worcester Park. There was only one bomb but it must have been a monster. A great many houses are destroyed on both sides of the road, five people were killed. On fire duty to-night; no incident.

*Note: Fred said Lynwood Avenue, but I can only find Lynwood Drive on a 2014 map - and it's parallel to a railway. Perhaps he named it incorrectly, and perhaps a bomber had aimed at the railway. 

5 April 2014

4th April 1944: betrayed by BBC... a blogger's personal note

4 Tues. Mild day after heavy rain; fitful sky & showers. Renewed the wireless licence price 10/-. Letter from Uncle Tom. Repaired the black-out blinds at the front door.

A personal note from blogger: a ten shilling wireless licence! Cheap at the price - so is our present TV licence, until yesterday, when I sat down for dinner expecting an innocuous quiz programme (naff but entertaining) and found it replaced without notice with a tennis match! I phoned the BBC and protested. Someone promised a personal e-mail response. I now feel I should deduct a few pence from my annual 'tv' licence - it felt like a slap in the face from an erstwhile reliable institution. I had left my dinner to protest and didn't feel like going back to it - I left it all to be thrown away, went without a meal, and went out for a drive. I still feel betrayed by the BBC (with whom I have worked on many occasions). How can anyone dare to change listed programmes without notice, short of a national emergency?

3rd April 1944: back from the dead

3 Mon. Mild day after a night of rain; very dull, heavy rain commencing in evening. To Wimbledon in morning; bought fish, lentils and haricot beans. Shopping locally in afternoon, met the Mc'Ainsh family and little Jeanette. To Mrs. Hippel's where Mrs. Page her cousin met me to hand to me a wireless set and a loudspeaker I lent to her. Mrs. Hippel will be buried at Wimbledon Cemetery on Wednesday. Gwennie and Laurie called

4 April 2014

2nd April 1944: Cannon Hill was a wheat field

2 Sun. Rather cold to begin the day after rain in the night; becoming milder, very dull. Monica, Gwen and Laurie called. Walk on the Cannon Hill Estate in evening - once a large wheat-field. Saw where houses were down in Shaldon drive and Leamington Avenue. Have never been through these road before. Doris stayed the night also last night.

1 April 2014

1st April 1944: unexpected death of a friend

Mr & Mrs Hippel lived here, at 37 Amity Grove , London SW20 
1 April. Sat. Cold, dull, grey day, bitter wind. Bought potatoes in morning. To Morden to buy fish etc. Also to the local grocers to buy a few commodities. Mrs Dean called in evening to say that Mrs. Hippel was dead. I was surprised; I saw her last on 2nd Feb when she seemed fairly well. I have been visiting her for many years and have kept her wireless in repair. I am to call on Monday at 3. to take away the wireless set & loudspeaker I loaned to her for an indefinite period.... The long awaited rain came at night.

Note: Mrs Hippel had recently been in Kingston hospital for six weeks, suffering 'congestion of the lungs'. Mr Hippel had died in July 1942. Aside from looking after her radio, on one visit, Fred records having played Mrs Hippel's harmonium. Mr & Mrs Hippel lived at 37 Amity Grove.