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30 June 2014

30th June 1944: bombs and warnings all day and night

30 Fri. Very mild to rather warm, some sunny periods later. From 12.15 a.m. to 6.0 a.m. 8 machines came during the night; some sounded near. From 7.15 to 7.40 a.m.: one went N.W. and exploded. From 8.13 to 8.28 a.m. one passed right overhead and to N.W. out of hearing. From 8.50 a.m. to 1.12 p.m. One to N. right out of hearing. Also one to N.W. and exploded. From 1.23 p.m. one near in Morden direction, also one right over London. All clear 2.28 p.m. 2.50 p.m. Saw one dive headlong. I should say on Wimbledon Common also another I could not locate, one well over to the west, and another very near in N.W. direction; it would be about Christ Church, Copse Hill. All clear 6.25 p.m. During the warning between 8.50 a.m. and 1.12 p.m. a bomb fell at the junction of Richmond Road and Cambridge Road. From 6.0 to 6.45 p.m. one to westward. From 7.10 to 7.23 p.m. no incident. From 7.50 p.m. One fairly near to eastward, probably Merton, on near to N. probably Wimbledon Hill on Common. One right through to northward; one more not located. All clear at 9.0 p.m. - to see if Dixons were all right in Durham Road, also to Richmond to see if Miss Wheals, Madge and Margaret were all right. House damaged but no one hurt. St Matthews Church is utterly destroyed and eight houses opposite in Spencer Road are down. From 9.40 to 10.10 p.m. 1 down in Putney direction. Warning at 11.50 p.m. continuing until 1.45 p.m. on 1 July Sat.  

29 June 2014

29th June 1944: all-night alert, flying-bombs night and day

29 Thur. Very mild to rather warm, cloudy, showers; a little sun in between. From 10.27 p.m. on 28th till 7.37 a.m. on 29th; 16 flying bombs; some exploded to S. some to n. and some local; I hear one fell near Nelson Gardens, Merton, another must have fallen in the Combe Lane district. From 7.48 a.m. to 8.20 a.m. one in S.E. From 8.40 to 9.25 a.m. one S.E. one S. From 10.30 to 11.35 a.m. one close to N. I thought this one must have been near Ciss in the office so I phoned her and found she was all right. From 12 noon to 12.15 p.m. one distant S. From 1.15 to 1.50 p.m. no incident. Put finishing touches to cycle adjustment - perfect; I like it to be exact. Cycled to Morden to buy fish in afternoon; returned via Merton and saw where the bomb fell beside the church in Nelson Gardens; blast effects are widespread. Warning from 5.10 to 6.30 p.m. One in Wimbledon Park direction; one in Morden direction. From 7.40 to 7.55 p.m. one distant in the east. At 8.55 p.m. machine came very low; the engine stopped and it dived with a loud report very near' A column of smoke indicated it was in the Cottenham park area. Cycled to Len Garrod's in Lamton Road; he has his windows smashed; he said he thought the bomb was in Durham Road and that St. Matthew's Church was damaged; I will see tomorrow; all clear at 9.15 p.m. From 10.25 to 10.40 p.m. no incident. The bomb at 10.30 this morning fell on the railway near Wimbledon Station, near the concrete "flyover".

28 June 2014

28th June 1944: air-raid warnings continue

28 Wed. Very mild, slight showers, very windy. To the butchers also got the groceries in morning. To station to buy a paper; met Mrs Conrade with a shade over her eye - iritis. From 10.35 a.m. to 12.0 noon, one flew right over to northwards; did not hear it go off. From 12.30 p.m. to 2.55 p.m. another right through to the north, and a second a long way to N.E. they flew right out of hearing. From 5.35 to 5.55 p.m. no incident. From 9.35 to 9.45 p.m.; no incident. Cleaned bicycle; looks quite nice.

27 June 2014

27th June 1944: night-long warning... a wonderful rainbow

Tues 27. Very mild after a night of rain; alternate sun and showers. From 11.40 p.m. on 26th to 6.0 a.m. on 27th. Nine machines, only three being within a few miles. From 6.25 to 7.5 a.m. no incident. From 7.14 to 7.58 a.m. no incident. From 10.45 to 11.30 a.m. one bomb to the south. From 12.00 noon to 12.25 p.m. no incidents. Heavy rain and thunder. To Wimbledon in afternoon; bought fish. From 3.15 to 3.35 p.m. no incident. From 6.20 to 7.55 p.m. three down fairly near; one probably on Common extension. From 7.57 to 8.58 p.m. One near to S.E. another near to N.E. Wonderfully bright double rainbow. From 9.20 to 9.45 p.m. no incident.

26 June 2014

26th June 1944: over-flying flying bombs

Mon 26. Mild, very dull, rain most of the day. Warning from 12.40 p.m. to 1.16 p.m. One flying bomb Croydonwards and one in Wandsworth direction. then from 1.28 to 4.25 p.m. Three distant bombs also four went from over very close making a terrible din, but they continued to northward and out of hearing.

25 June 2014

25th June 1944: quiet Sunday... distant bombs

25 Sun. Rather warm, some pleasant sunshine; cloudy and cool later. Warning from 12.10 to 6.45 a.m. only one machine in the distance. Cycled round the houses in the evening to take the air. Alf and Lily called. Warning at 8.37 p.m.; one bomb a long way off to southward; all clear at 10.10 p.m. Warning at 11.15 p.m. Only four distant flying bombs; all clear at 6.30 a.m. on Mon 26.

24 June 2014

24th June 1944: bombs and bikes

24 Sat. Very mild, some pleasant sunshine. From 12.15 a.m. to 5.50 a.m.. A smaller number of flying bombs arrived than of late and none of them were very near; got some sleep. From 6.o a.m. to 7.5 a.m. Ten machines this time and some of them not far away. From 7.50 to 8.40 a.m. Two very loud bomb explosions which sounded near. I don't know what they were because they were unheralded by the great noise made by Hitler's jet-propelled flying bomb. Cycled to Merton in afternoon; bought fish. Cleaned upstairs front windows. Took back wheel of cycle out to clean the free-wheel of the 3-speed gear; it has not worked well for some time. Rode round the houses on it in the evening and found it perfect. Going through Bronson saw Mrs. Collis at her gate so went through to see the garden.

On this day: Cherbourg. Allies drop more than 1,000 tons of bombs at start of battle to re-take the city. In the USA, Roosevelt signs the 'GI Bill' to give returning servicemen a range of benefits.

23 June 2014

23rd June 1944: flying bombs in droves... make night hellish

23 Fri. From 2.35 to 6.0 a.m. just horrible. The flying bombs came in droves and spread all over London and suburbs, making the night hellish with their heavy droning and burst of their two ton dynamite bombs. I managed to get a few minutes of sleep. From 7.0 to 7.35 a.m. three machines. From 8.0 to 9.5 a.m. five down. From 930 to 10.0 a.m. a few more. From 2.55 to 3.17 p.m. two more down. Did the usual Friday morning shopping without interference from the enemy. Saw the devastation in Northway and district - very bad.
23 Fri. con. Very cool and dull, but improving later. 4.45 to 612 p.m. eight or nine machines, a few miles to E. and N.E. From 6.30 to 7.15 p.m. three in the east. 8.55 to 9.30 p.m. one over London. From 10.25 p.m. a fighter plane opened fire on a flying bomb and fired two bursts but I don't know with what result; another passed over very close making a terrific noise; it exploded to the north. All clear 11.45 p.m.

22 June 2014

22nd June 1944: many 'machines' (V-1 flying-bombs) land nearby - they shake plaster from our ceilings & crack walls

22 Thur. Rather warm in the sun but a very high N.E. wind persists. Warning from 12.5 to 1.0 a.m. one machine. From 1.35 to 3.30 a.m. three machines. From 4.45 a.m. 26 machines came at almost regular interval;s. Nearly all of them exploded within a few miles of here and a few so near as to shake bits of plaster from the ceilings and walls; the walls are cracking again where they were repaired after the bombing of Nov 1940. A good sleep would be very welcome. A''clear at 10.35 a.m. From 10.55 to 11.30 a.m. one down in S.E. Cycled to Morden to buy fish and sardines, returned via Merton. From 6.45 to 7.30 p.m. two down to eastward.

"A good sleep would be very welcome."

21 June 2014

21st June 1944: "a most terrible night" - ten hours' air-raid - and acts as bicycle repair man

21 Wed. Rather cold, very dull, cloudy, Cold N.E.wind. Warning at 12.25 a.m. A most terrible night. I did not count the number of machines but there must have been 50 or 60 come down within hearing. One or two were so close as to jolt the ground. One machine had its engine stop just short of here, I then heard it swish down and explode. No details as to where others came down; there are rumours but I must wait; all clear at 10.37 a.m. Did the shopping in the morning - groceries and butchers. Warning at 11.20 a.m. All clear at 1.10 p.m. no incident. To churchyard to water Dear Mother's grave, while there warning at 2.50 p.m. heard three come down; all clear at 3.0 p.m. Took message to Jean Child in evening and found Audrey trying to repair a leaking cycle tube, the rubber valve seating was split. Wheeled bike home and fitted a new valve in another part of the tube and put a patch on the hole where the faulty valve was taken from - a good job. Saw where one (doodlebug) came down in Holland Avenue. Another came down on Wimbledon Common near the Rushmere.

20th June 1944: doodle-bugs, one right overhead

20th Tues. Weather same as yesterday. From 7.40 to 7.50 a.m. one machine - the R.A.F. call them doodle-bugs landed with a loud bang a little east of here; Southfields I am told. 3.5 p.m. - 3.17 p.m. one machine right overhead which came down so I hear in Durham Road; it would be just about there, no it was at the Coombe Lane end of Copse Hill.* 6.10 to 6.35 p.m. two down, some way to the S.E. From 9.28 to 9.43 p.m. one down S.E. From 10.35 to 11.17 p.m. one over S. London

*Holland Avenue.   (That's Fred's own asterisk and footnote.)

Link to BBC news and very informative video

Note: 2,419 doodlebugs came down on London. Small propellers on the front went round a set number of times, calculating distance flown, and then dived (cutting off remaining fuel supply, thus making it sound as if the engine had run out of fuel). UK information deliberately 'leaked' back to Germany encouraged them to think the bombs were over-flying London, and thus to shorten range, making for more falling in open countryside - but also more deaths in Kent and Sussex.

20 June 2014

19th June 1944: repeated air-raid warnings - siren sounds as 'machines' (flying-bombs) approach

19 Mon. con(tinued). Very mild, bright, sunny; high wind. Cycled to Morden to buy fish. An infernal machine fell in Hadfields Park, Morden in soft ground, but glass was splintered for 1/2 mile around. Warning from 12.36 to 1.10 p.m.; a few machines. 5.5 to 5.20 p.m. one machine over London. 6.28 to 6.40 p.m. two machines in the distance. 7.5 to 7.30 p.m. mo incident. 7.55 to 9.15 p.m. one machine to the north. From 10 p.m. to 11.25 p.m. six machines flew over London and came down to explode. 11.50 p.m. About six machines throughout the night; they are being fired at after a time when they were only attacked at the coast. They are being directed a little east of here now, that is more over West central London instead of south-west and west, so there is a little less to fear, but it is worse for others unfortunately. All clear at 5.55 a.m. on 20th...

19 June 2014

18th June 1944: infernal flying bombs... Ciss lays in road... I hear buildings tumbling

18 Sun. Very mild day, rather rough, much sunshine. The machine I saw last night dived into a cornfield at Combe, Common Extension; no one hurt. From 6.56 a.m. to 71.15 a.m. just a few shots heard. From 7.23 a.m. to 10.52 a.m. several more machines came, with the usual heavy cannonade, and many heavy concussions of bombs. Most machines seem to come this way and there will be heaving damage and casualties, I fear. From 11.50 a.m. to 7.50 p.m. Machines at infrequent intervals. Jean Child and Eileen Boxall called; gave Jean some roses. Eileen had some already. Warning at 8.35 p.m. Infernal machines at frequent intervals, but the guns do not fire at them. I believe the guns are formed up in rows around the coast to stop them there. Many machines fell quite near; there seemed to be two time bombs; all clear at 6.15 a.m. on 19 Mon. Warning at 6.30 a.m. machines at intervals. Ciss had only just started for the office when one came. Its engine stopped and it dived and exploded in Dennis Park Crescent quite near to her. She lay down in the road while broken glass flew about her. I went to see if she was all right and found she was only shaken. Another bomb so near I heard the buildings tumbling down. Still more machines but none near; all clear at 10.55 a.m.

17 June 2014

17th June 1944: ran for shelter with tin hat on - intense flying bomb raids - friends killed & injured

17 Sat. Very mild, rather rough, some sunny periods. Warning at 12.50 a.m. Several robot planes came, three or four together; some fell fairly near, the gunfire, including rockets and tracer bullets, was terrific. All clear at 2.25 a.m. Further warning at 2.35 a.m. A lot more machines, some flying high other only a little above the roof tops. I had to run for the shelter with my tin hat on, a machine under concentrated fire was just overhead with shrapnel falling like hail. It fell locally.* You can hear these things which give out an angry stuttering note. When they are only a little way up, the engine stops and the plane with a bomb in its nose explodes as it dives into the ground. Maud stayed the night; she is used to unbroken quietness in Preston, she did not like the experience. All clear at 6.15 a.m. Bombs have fallen on the Dundonald estate and elsewhere near at hand but no details yet. Cousin Len was married to Doris Farr today; she stays the night here sometimes. Warning at 3.55 p.m. Four or five robot planes and gunfire. Went to see young people's sports on Joseph Hood but came home when the sirens went. All clear at 4.20 p.m. Also from 4.50 to 5.0 p.m. two machines to eastwards. From 5.15 to 6.0 p.m. Two robot planes and a large twin bomber, the latter was heavily shelled. From 6.12 to 6.40 p.m. a few more robots. 7.40 to 8.15 p.m. still more robots and gunfire. 9.35 p.m. actually saw a robot plane from S.E. to N.W. the gunfire was about two miles behind it. It dived vertically not far to N.W. then I heard the explosion. I saw the fire issuing from a jet in the tail; it was quite low; all clear at 9.58 p.m. In afternoon went to see the appalling ruin caused in the night by a robot plane; the worst I have seen. Enquired and found to my regret that Mrs. Dean was seriously injured and Mrs Brice who Ciss knew was killed; Mrs. Dean and Mrs. Brice lived together in Cliveden Road. Warning at 11.25 p.m. The raid was made by jet-propelled machines which came in droves all the night; many bombs were quite near and caused some nasty jolts. The guns fired at nearly every machine, the din was awful, the most dreadful raid I have experienced; all clear at 6.30 a.m. on 18 Sun.
*Cliveden Rd. 16 people killed.

(The asterisk and footnote is Fred's, added at the foot of a page.)

And note the comment added below...

16th June 1944: "Hitler's fastest delivery"

16 Fri. Was on my way to butchers when the sirens went at 9.46 a.m. and a machine came over, the Raynes Park guns firing rapidly the shells going overhead towards London, making a terrifying din. Several others came and were fired at, many people saw one of them, it left a trail of fire behind it being jet-propelled; some saw it fall at Ealing; all clear at 11.15 a.m. Warning at 1.5 p.m. some firing to the south; all clear at 1.15 p.m. Also from 1.52 p.m. I cycled to Morden to buy fish during this alert and the all clear went at 2.45 while I was there. Like last night a great number of these crewless machines have been sent, they are jet propelled and are automatic; they crash with their bomb load and blow up when they get somewhere over London. Hitler's fastest delivery. 

16 June 2014

15th June 1944: first V-1 flying bombs launched at London; all-night warning; I saw red glow as they crashed

15 Thur. Very mild to rather warm, some pleasant sunshine. Gwennie and Laurie called. Showed Gwennie how to draw a geometric design which she painted with watercolour. Did some shopping locally. Finished the re-laid side-path of garden attended the tomato plants and marrows and some watering. The German plane that was destroyed in the early hours of  Tuesday morning fell on the railway at Coburn Rd., Bow, E.; it was a jet propelled crewless machine.** Warning at 11.36 p.m. A J.P crewless machine approached from the south making a loud noise; the engine stopped, it dived and blew up at Ewell, I am told, several came to |London where they were fired at, and I saw the red glow of two of them as they crashed. All clear at 9.25 a.m. on 16 Fri.

**Note: we now know that this must have been the very first V-1 flying bomb launched at London. As Fred's entry shows, this was quickly followed in succeeding days by many more. Link here...  See Wikipedia for details of the V-1, mentioning the first launch at London being on 13th June, when Uncle Fred records the fall of a 'German plane'. 


15 June 2014

14th June 1944: Beethoven then fire duty

14 Wed. Very mild, very rough, a few periods of weak sunshine. Got the groceries, also got liver again this week. Saw Agnes Williams in the fish shop in Martin Way. Cycled to Morden to buy a paper. Aunt Liza called in evening. Played Beethoven on the piano. On fire-duty to-night.

14 June 2014

13th June 1944: heavy ground shock

13 Tues. Very mild, some nice periods of sunshine after a rainy start. very rough S.S. wind Warning from 3.50 to 4.6 a.m., no incident. Also from 4.20 a.m. A few red shell-bursts over London of the sort that spread and hang in the air for a short time, followed by a sudden red flare up from the ground; this was a German plane** crashing to the earth in flames in East London; all clear at 4.40 a.m. Also from 5.10 a.m. to 5.55 a.m.; a heavy ground shock was felt from the south as if a heavy bomb had fallen some distance away. Bought post-cards and envelopes at the post-office and posted a card to Dad. Aunt Hannah called; gave her some flowers. To the Church Anniversary to hear a lecture by Dr Ryder-Smith on the Te Deum.

**see entry for 15th June. This was the first V-1 'flying bomb' to hit London.

12th June 1944: rhubarb pudding

12 Mon. Very mild; a lot of pleasant sunshine; the clouds are white to-day. Along rail path to Wimbledon bought fish, lentils and a paper. Gwennie and Laurie called and made a stay. Gave Laurie a rose and he went home but Gwennie stayed another hour and had rhubarb pudding with us. She finds any excuse to remain; you can't help laughing. Mr. Lucock the minister called. Paid the Slate Club.

12 June 2014

11th June 1944: tea with the family

11 Sun. Mild, cloudy, some weak sunshine. The young children called including Colin White who lives with his mother with Mrs. Crawford opposite. Dad, Alb, Lily* and Anthony came to tea. Anthony has barely got over whooping cough but is well enough in himself and is very playful.

* Fred's father, brother and sister-in-law from Largewood Ave., Tolworth.


11 June 2014

10th June 1944: bombs and fudge

10 Sat. Very mild, heavy black clouds, but a little weak sunshine. In afternoon cycled  to Tooting to buy fish. Round round some of the Tooting roads damaged in the raids earlier this year. Sellingcourt Rd., Mellison Rd. and Nutwell St. have a great many houses right down and hundreds damaged; things obviously were very serious here. Gwennie and Laurie called. Amused them and myself too, I think; I do love them. Offered them some chocolate fudge, Laurie taking a very large piece. I said it was too large, but he said, "Oh no, it's not too big," and he said it in a tone suggesting it would be no hardship. Re-made the unrepaired side-path of garden having previously weeded it; shall finish it Monday.

10 June 2014

9th June 1944: chocolate fudge

9 Fri. Very mild, becoming cool. Very dull, rain all day. Got the usual Fri. morning shopping; the joint is pork as I expected. Gwennie and Laurie called in afternoon and had a happy time with them; gave them some chocolate fudge.; they asked for more; dear, dear, these children, oh bless their hearts, they did like it, oh, all right, you can have some more; of course it is so nice. Polished the cleaned paint-work in living room with an oil polish; it looks bright and glossy.

8 June 2014

8th June 1944: no fish...due to invasion?

8 Thur. Very mild, very dull and cloudy, light rain in evening. The sweep cleaned the living room chimney; he charged 3/-. Ordered him for Aunt Liza for next Wed. morning. Cycled to Merton, Tooting, etc., but all the fish shops have nothing to sell to-day; bought a few things locally; also to the butchers. Swept the walls of the living room, washed the paint-work, put up curtains, blackout and the pictures. Alan Spooner called.

7 June 2014

7th June 1944: queue for a newspaper

Fred's diary for 4th (Sunday) - 7th (Wed) June 1944.
His entry for the 7th was written in pencil and he went over it in pen.
7th June. Rather cool; very dull, stiff N. wind. Got the groceries also liver at the butcher's and a few things locally. Newspapers are very scarce and are in great demand. Cycled to Morden but eventually queued up for a paper at Wimbledon Station. Weeded a side-path of garden and did some watering; the ground is parched.

6th June 1944: "a landing has been made..." D-Day.

6 Tues. Mild - cool for the season; dull, cloudy, light showers. The invasion of the coast of France between Cherbourg and le Havre by Allied air, land and naval forces began in the early hours this morning. A landing has been made and has progressed a few miles inland. Cycled to Morden to buy fish, also bought a few things locally. Joan Storey (Conrade) with Eddie Conrade's boy - like his father. Laurie called. Aunt Liza called.

5th June 1944: Chanson de Nuit

5 Mon. Very mild, some sun early but mostly cloudy and dull. Cycled to Wimbledon in afternoon to buy fish. To Len Garrod's in evening to practise Elgar's Chanson de Nuit.

5 June 2014

4th June 1944: the pianist lodger... & Allies enter Rome

4 Sun. Very mild, some sunny periods but mostly cloudy. Very boisterous and raw at night. Only the young children call now. Mrs. Akroyd to tea. To Church in evening; Mr. Townsend preached. Was invited by Alf & Lily to Doris Bridges to see her new piano. A very fine instrument which I played but Mr. Davison her lodger played far better than I could. On fire-duty to-night; no incident. It was announced at midnight that Allied armies had entered Rome; the first of Nazi occupied capitals to be liberated.

3rd June 1944: note to a sweep

3 Sat. Very mild to rather warm, a fair amount of moderate sunshine; boisterous west wind. Bought cabbage in morning. Cycled to Morden in afternoon; bought fish and a few other things. Got accumulator at Whitbourn's. Saw Woodley with whom I used to fire-watch at Duff's. Cycled along Grand Drive to find where Malpress, the sweep, lives. I eventually saw his board displayed on 196 Bigon (?) Villas. I dropped a note through his door to say we wanted a chimney swept. Two little girls said "hullo" to me as if they knew me. They were all smiles but I couldn't understand much that they said. God bless them. Doris stayed the night. Gave her and Len a wall mirror from the family as a wedding present.

3 June 2014

2nd June 1944: got beef AND some liver!

2 Fri. Very mild, becoming rather warm. Much moderate sun but S.W. breeze. Did the usual Fri. morning shopping. Got beef this week also some liver! Did some more "snailing" in the garden; it is well nigh impossible to grow lettuces here. To Mrs. Child; took some fabric. They gave me a paper pattern to take to Lily. I took it by cycle to Tolworth in evening. Saw a toy garden roller that Dad has made for Anthony.

2 June 2014

1st June 1944: naughty little girl from next door... and snails

1 Jun. Thur. Rather warm, some moderate sun but mostly dull; a few light showers. Laurie brought some fish pieces. To buy some cement to relay the mosaic tiles of front path dug up by the little girl next door - very naughty of her. Re-laid the tiles in evening. Aunt Liza called and had a long gossip with Ciss. Did some "snailing" in the garden. The lettuces are being eaten also the young bean seedlings.

1 June 2014

31st May 1944: children bring meat for cat

31 Wed. Rather warm; pleasant sunny day with a freshening wind. Got the groceries in morning, also to the butchers and fishmongers. Gwennie and Laurie brought some meat for Dinky. Weeded part of garden and planted a few beans to fill up gap in line. To water Dear Mother's grave in evening.

Question: I wonder if any local Merton-area reader of this blog could locate the often-mentioned 'Dear Mother's grave'? If you are interested, please do post a comment and I can get in touch with whatever details I can find.