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31 December 2014

31st Dec 1944: end of year reflections... and prayer

"a year of hardship, of great trial and danger...
when the bombs have come screaming down I thought my time had come"

31 Sun. Frost very severe and white, clearer with some sun in afternoon. Mrs. Akroyd to tea: poor dear, she had a dreadful cold: gave her some aspirins. To have a look at Mrs. Veale’s wireless. She has bought a new H.T. battery and the set works all right but the new battery makes all manner of background noises. There is nothing I can do about it. If the noises do not subside, I advised her to take it back to the shop. So ends another year. It has been a year of hardship, of great trial and danger and the uncertainty which it brings. Many times when the bombs have come screaming down I thought my time had come. But God has blessed us and brought us to another year. Great advances have been made on the battlefields of Europe and it does seem that the New Year may bring us nearer to our goal or even to Victory and Peace. Pray God it may be so. Amen.


Rocket in NW at 1.45 p.m. followed by a very long drawn out rumble

30 December 2014

30th Dec 1944: ...life goes on... more bombs

30 Sat. Frost very severe to begin with but a slow thaw during the day but freezing again later: much clearer. Cycled to Merton to buy Dinky’s meat and other things as well. Bought scrubbing brush locally and took accumulator. Mrs. Veale said Dennis was unwell with bronchitis: hope he will soon be well again. Mrs. Veale borrowed the clothes horse: she is a dear. Rocket at 9.0 a.m. Rocket at 10.40 p.m.

29 December 2014

29th Dec 1944: frost, fog, flying bombs and a premature death

29 Fri. Six degrees of frost midday: have never seen thicker hoar frost. Fog exceedingly thick especially at night. To butchers, got beef for a change, also to grocers, bakers and paper shop in morning. In afternoon on foot to Merton in the bitter weather but no meat there. Thence to Wimbledon: bought fish and a cycle lamp battery there. Rocket at 6.45 p.m. distant in NE. Rocket at 10.40 p.m. in SE. Heard today of the death of Edie Burton on Boxing Day at the age of 46. She never had good health and had been in failing health for a long time. She was the same age as Connie Bradley and Edie Hopkins and they all attended Ciss’ class together. May heaven give to her what she lacked in this life – R.I.P.

28 December 2014

28th Dec 1944: thick fog; very cold. Advice on model aircraft.

28 Thur. Intense cold; the frost is thicker than ever; misty, becoming thick at night. Have not a thermometer, having lost it in the bombing but we had 20 degrees of frost recently and to-night it seems colder still. Out to local shops only. To Conley’s to give the boys some advice on building model aeroplanes: Victor and Leonard have a kit each.

27 December 2014

27th Dec 1944: crystals of frost & fairy cakes

27 Wed. Colder still but less fog still. The hoar-frost is so thick it is falling from the trees making patches of white crystals on the ground beneath: fortunately there is little wind or it would be beyond my endurance at any rate. Got the groceries locally also bought some herrings. Mrs. Veale brought me a piece of her Xmas cake and two fairy cakes of her own make: both were first class, the Xmas cake was exceptionally good. Fitted a cross-bar and zinc cap to a clothes post I am putting in for her.

26 December 2014

26th Dec 1944: played dirty hearts with neighbours

26 Tues. Boxing Day. Severe frost continues all day but fog not so thick. Ciss returned from Tolworth this morning with some presents. Went into next door 68 to see if they would like Ciss and I to go in this evening: they would. Little Dennis was charming. I built him a house of wooden bricks and knocked it down with a ball. Mrs. Hockney and Mrs. Veale were on their own and were pleased of our company, making a change for us as well. In evening we played “Auctioneer”, the spelling game and dirty hearts*. Also showed them some card tricks. A very happy evening. A rocket during the evening.

*Rickety Kate in Australia - 'Rickety Kate' is the Queen of Spades. Various descriptions online. Here's a clear one: go to game description & illustrations

25 December 2014

Christmas Day, 1944: landscape 'like Fairyland'

25 Christmas Day. Severe hoar frost; the ground is frozen hard, thick fog all day. Had a splendid roast pork dinner and the pudding was excellent considering wartime limitations. Ciss went to Tolworth taking some parcels; she stayed the night. Took a bunch of holly to Dear Mother’s grave in afternoon: the trees are thick with frost making the landscape look like fairyland – all but the fog. Arthur and John Child called.
Another 'fairyland' - a 1908 Christmas postcard from Fred's family

And hearty Christmas Greetings to all Fred's readers in the year 2014. 

24 December 2014

24th Dec 1944: German rocket rattles Christmas Eve window

24 Sun. Cold, overhead haze but clear below: freezing hard by early evening. Took a post-card to Pontifex’s at Worcester Park in afternoon: it was addressed to 68 next door where they lived until the bombing in Nov. 1940. They were pleased and made a fuss of me as they always do. Took a truck of bricks and a soft ball – toys for little Dennis next door. Had some ginger wine with Mrs. Hockney and Mrs. Veale; they are nice people too. Rocket which rattled the windows at 7.30 a.m. Mrs. Akroyd called with a present to be taken to Anthony. Saw dear Gladys in Grand Drive and wished her a happy Christmas: she is very nice too.

23 December 2014

23rd Dec 1944: a few bombs, friends and Xmas shopping

Harold Marshall, Hong Kong, 1924
23 Sat. Less cold, a little clearer. To Cheam in morning to buy cats’ meat, including some for Tibby Veale. A very pleasant surprise visit from Capt. Harold Marshall. An old friend who although he has got on has never forgotten me. Thence to Wimbledon to collect my new shoes also bought sweets and other things, eventually finishing my Xmas shopping – not an easy task in wartime. Mrs. Akroyd called bringing my brown suit which she had been minding since the bombing. Warning at 7.43 a.m. one down very distant N and one very distant NE: all clear at 7.55 a.m. A rocket at 6.50 p.m. also another at 7.40 p.m.

22 December 2014

22nd Dec 1944: shoes 27s 2d. Addie cleans our house for Xmas

22 Fri. Raw cold, dismal brown light, misty, drizzle: most unpleasant. To butchers in morning also bakers, the newsagents and confectioners, and post-office. Bought nice spray of holly for 2/-. Dear Addie Veale called in afternoon and did some house-cleaning out of the goodness of her heart – without being asked, saying it was her Xmas present to us. To Wimbledon in afternoon bought pair of shoes 27/2. To chemists. Bought a bottle of sauce. Bought toys for Dennis Veale – a truck with some coloured bricks in it and a pretty soft cloth ball for him to play with.

21 December 2014

21st Dec 1944: making marzipan... presents... fixing radio

An R&A Challenger loudspeaker - these were manufactured
by Reproducers & Amplifiers Ltd, Wolverhampton
21 Thur. Very cold, very dismal; misty, damp: everywhere running with water. Ugh! Got the groceries as usual. Got some ginger nut biscuits to-day and some soya bean flour from the latter makes almond marzipan for covering the Xmas cake. To post-office and other shops. In afternoon to buy a tie for Dad also bought sprats at Merton. Addie Veale called in evening: I like her company. Put up a little longer indoor aerial as I could not tune in properly; I can now, and the wireless is performing well, the reproduction being nearly perfect. The Magnavox speaker unit has some slight core (cone?) resonance and is hardly as good as the R & A.

20 Dec 1944: ceiling+window+gas light+loudspeaker=comfort

20 Wed. Very cold, dismal; a wet fog all day. The men came to cover seams in plaster-board ceilings with paper strips. The joiners put in two more windows upstairs which completes the upstairs front windows. The gas man fitted four lights for us which were damaged by the bomb: so now we are well on the way to comfort again. To buy tin of salmon locally in morning. Aunt Hannah called with invitation to go there Sunday afternoon. Took ginger wine essence to Mrs. Child in afternoon and brought away wireless set I lent to her some while back. Fitted it up temporarily in evening and got it going. First time we have had a loudspeaker set since the bombing in July. Gave the younger Child children a shilling each for Xmas and sixpence to Victor Conley as it is his birthday. Boiled the Xmas puddings today.

19th Dec 1944: ginger wine... & Welsh influence on evacuee

19 Tues. Raw cold, dull; misty later. The men finished boarding passage ceiling and walls. As they are not allowed to give a finishing coat of plaster, their work is done until the ban on finishing is lifted. Gas man called: says he will do our job tomorrow. On foot to Merton to buy Dinky’s meat; also bought ginger wine essence and tapers.

Put the clothes airer up again in scullery having had to take it down while the new ceiling was put up. Ann Conley came back from N. Wales to-day where she has been since the flying bombs began. I saw her: she has grown taller and speaks like a little Welsh girl – most charming. Bought a new book for writing my 1945 diary.
Fred's 1944 diary ended with a few spare pages. Inside the back cover he has diagrams
of his rhubarb bed and his methodical pattern of replanting. Also, on the left,
 is next door's young widow's address while she was away after the bombing.
At the top of the right hand page (inside back cover) is the telephone number of
Holloway Bros - the major construction company - where his sister, his lifelong
companion, worked - Theresa, always known as 'Ciss',

20 December 2014

18th Dec 1944: Slate Club Xmas share-out: 17 shillings

18 Mon. Rather cold but fine bright sunny day with a clear blue sky. Warning at 4.0 a.m. Saw 11 clusters of searchlights following the courses of flying bombs. The sky was very clear and I saw one with its tail of flame but they were all a great way off. I saw the flashes as they went off but did not hear the bang except in one case to N. All clear 4.50 a.m. Further warning at 5.50 a.m. One very distant E, one very distant S: all clear 6.20 a.m. The men stripped the plaster from walls and ceiling of passage, then covered in with plaster board. They erected a staging in the passage and getting in and out was awkward and messy, the place being heaped up with chunks of plaster. When Mrs. Veale saw it she called it crazy paving. Did a lot of shopping locally morning and afternoon, buying among other things Xmas cards and also posting some. Got the Slate Club share-out in evening – 17/-. Visited Mrs. Child.

17th Dec 1944: good workmanship in scullery

17 Sun. Milder than for a long time; never bright: some slight rain. The men took down damaged ceiling and walls of scullery and repaired same with good workmanship: I was pleased. Dear Connie Freeman in a new rig out with which she was obviously pleased also Clifford Gover called previous to going to Sunday School. Started work on a clothes post for Mrs Veale.

16th Dec 1944: £1 present from Captain - & light at last!

16 Sat. Less cold than of late; a little fairer. The workmen are repairing the walls of the scullery. Cycled to Cheam to buy cats’ meat also some for Mrs. Veale’s animals. Difficult job cooking dinner with workmen about. Posted letter and a novel in French to Roy Cooper in R.A.F. in Belgium. Posted picture book and letter to Anthony. Various shopping locally. Letter, card and a £1 note from Harold Marshall, now promoted Staff Captain: something like a friend. Letter from Alb enclosing Anthony’s photo. Little Dennis Veale came in; he is charming – so is his mother. Took gas bracket from front bedroom and put it up in sitting room in place of bombed one, so we have a light at last.

15 December 2014

15th Dec 1944: lamb again... and Christmas stuff

15 Fri. Very cold, dull but calm. Did the Fri. morning shopping: the meat is half-shoulder of lamb again. To post-office, paper shop etc. Wrote letter to Anthony to post with a picture book I bought for his Xmas present. Little Dennis came in to-day. Bought calendar with a lovely picture of a wheat field on it.

14 December 2014

14th Dec 1944: messy, dusty & noisy. Tricky cooking!

14 Thur. Morning frost, but clearer and not quite so cold. Finished moving into the front room. The men started work on the dining room and scullery taking down damaged plaster from ceiling and walls and started covering with plaster-board: very messy and dusty – and noisy. To Morden to buy fish. Very difficult cooking dinner to-day. The rocket that fell on Tuesday at 10.45 p.m. landed at Shepherd’s Bush.

13 December 2014

13th Dec 1944: extra rations for Christmas... repairs continue

13 Wed. Thick white frost, very cold day; thick fog later. Got the groceries including extra sugar and margarine rations for Xmas. Bought paraffin also almond and vanilla essence at Smaldon’s. Bought Xmas cards and a nice railway picture book for Anthony. Also to butchers. The workmen will repair the dining room tomorrow so had to move everything into the sitting room. A hard day’s work.

12 December 2014

12th dec 1944: "red ball of fire" over Bethlem Hospital, Lambeth

12 Tues. Raw cold; very dismal. At 4.25 a.m. I saw a rocket like a red ball of fire fall through the clouds to NE: it went off with a loud report and a long rumble like thunder. Subject to correction it blew up in the air over *Bethlem Hospital, Lambeth. Ciss had the morning off so we started to move contents of back room to the front room. Cooked a midday dinner and had tea at 5.30 p.m. for a change: we had sardines! Good! To Merton in afternoon to buy liver and sprats – half for Mrs. Veale’s animals. She brought me a cup of tea and some biscuits – a dear girl! Warning from 7.17 to 8.0 p.m. no incident save numbers of our own heavy machines going N to S. Rocket at 10.45 p.m. same direction as last night and about as loud: - NE.

*Founded in 1247 - yes, 1247. Europe's oldest extant psychiatric hospital - popularly known at times as 'Bedlam'. The location and building, not to mention attitudes towards mental illness, have much changed. A fascinating history at: Bethlem Royal Hospital.

*Our reader 'greyfox' adds: 'The Bethlem Hospital had moved from the Lambeth site before the War and in 1936 the central part of the building had become the Imperial War Museum.'

11 December 2014

11th dec 1944: routine decorating & bombing

11 Mon. Slight morning frost, raw cold day. To Morden in afternoon to buy cream paint. Also bought glasspaper, jam and mincemeat locally. Warning from 11.5 to 11.45 p.m: one about 8 miles to SE. Heard since it fell at Wallington.

10 December 2014

10th Dec 1944: flying bombs & searchlights

10 Sun. Severe white frost till midday, then raw dismal day with fine rain. Started painting wainscot of sitting room. Took distemper brush back to Chas. Mrs. Veale brought in a document she wanted signed by the minister. Warning at 6.55 p.m. Two groups of searchlights indicated that two flying bombs were travelling from NE to N. Saw two flashes as the bombs went off and the searchlights then went out. All clear at 7.42 p.m.

9 December 2014

9th Dec 1944: I love the young widow

9 Sat. Most severe frost this winter; bitter day, light hazy clouds for the most part. Letter and Xmas Card from Uncle Tom & Aunt Nellie. Cycled to Cheam in the bitter weather to buy cats meat, got some for Mrs. Veale’s animals. Shopping locally in morning. Mrs. Veale came in evening. Gave her some glass paper to smooth a draining board she has cut to fit. Oh, she is a dear girl: I love her ever so much: gave her a sweet.

8 December 2014

8th Dec 1944: nice life... but P.O. & pub destroyed

8 Fri. Raw cold, dismal, rain most of day. To Wimbledon in morning to buy two more yards of wall border which I put up at once: the room looks nice now but I intend to finish the paintwork. Did all the usual shopping locally; got a nice half shoulder of lamb. Cleaned the windows. More shopping in afternoon. The rocket on Wed. night fell in Duke St. W.C. off Oxford St. destroying a public house and a post office. Rocket at 10.10 p.m. distant E.

7 December 2014

7th Dec 1944: Dennis the cherub

7 Thur. Raw cold, dismal; rain all day. To Wimbledon to buy a pretty wall-border for the sitting room. Put it up but found I had not bought enough. Met Willie Willmot in Wimbledon. To Morden to buy sprats in the rain. Little Dennis Veale called Ee-oh! and let himself in: he asked for a “bisc-hole”. He remembers I gave him a ring biscuit and the hole in the centre amused him. Later I saw him asleep in his cot looking like a cherub with rosy apple face. Rocket at 8.10 p.m. between S and SW.

6 December 2014

6th Dec 1944: buff distemper

6 Wed. Very severe frost lasting till mid-day, clear sunny morning, dull, rain later. Got the groceries at Eyle’s as usual: also to the butchers. Mrs. Child called. Distempered the sitting room a nice buff shade. First time I have attempted such a thing but it looks all right. Posted letter to Uncle Tom. Rocket at 11.10 p.m.

5 December 2014

5th Dec 1944: V-2 rocket went into River Thames

5 Tues. Sharp morning frost: bright, clear, sunny day. To Cheam to buy meat for Dear Dinky in morning. The rocket we heard Sun. morning fell in the Thames at Blackfriars with three explosions. Gave sitting room walls a coat of size. Cleaned the new windows in living room. Cleaned rubble from corner from where the gas copper was taken away. Warning from 8.20 to 8.50 p.m. no incident.

4 December 2014

4th Dec 1944: Dennis the stray

4 Mon. Rather cold but clear fine sunny day. Bought candles and torch batteries and a birthday card locally in morning. Little Dennis Veale keeps straying out of his garden so I finished putting the fence up. He keeps coming in to me so I gave him a biscuit or two. One biscuit had a hole in the centre so he went to the cupboard to ask for the “bisc hole”: I do love him.

3 December 2014

3rd Dec 1944: you can call me Addie, says neighbour

3 Sun. Rather mild, dull, but colder and very rough later. Mrs. Veale brought some apples: she said we could call her Addie, her name being Adelaide. Short walk along rail path in afternoon, saw a Pacific loco. with its electric headlights on. Mrs. McAinsh and little Jeanette called. Jeanette pretended there was a ghost in the scullery and I had to shoo it away. She thought it was fine fun. Mrs. Akroyd to tea

2 December 2014

2nd Dec 1944: roast lamb for mid-day dinner

2 Sat. Rather cold but fine sunny day. Cycled to the Cheam meat shop in morning. Cooked a nice roast lamb dinner with baked potatoes etc. Did some shopping locally in afternoon. Did some more work on Mrs. Veale’s fence; only two sections remain to be done. Dennis Veale came and called “ee-oh, door”, at the back door to come in: I mended his toy engine. Plastered up the holes in the sitting room walls prior to sizing. Rocket at 8.30 p.m. in E direction.

1 December 2014

1st Dec 1944: evacuated boy back from Coventry

1 Dec. Fri. Rather cold: dull. Did all the usual Friday morning shopping locally. In afternoon a short visit to Mrs. Child thence to Merton and Morden to buy a few things. Mrs. Veale brought little Dennis home from Coventry to-day: he has been there since the bombing. Saw him and had biscuits and tea in their home. Dennis is a friendly little chap. Small amount of work on their fence. Finished stripping the paper off the sitting room.