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Harold Austin War Diary - 1940

When Harold Austin began this diary, the British Expeditionary Force had been evacuated from Dunkirk, France had fallen, and the Germans were in Paris. The Italians, scenting spoils, had declared war on France and England on June 10th. The Battle of Britain was about to begin. For the next three months the German Luftwaffe directed its attacks against airfields in the South of England, in an attempt to clear the skies over England for the planned invasion, Operation Sea Lion. They did not succeed and, towards the end of September, turned their attention to night bombing of London and other towns and cities in what became known as the "Blitz".

Friday 21 June

Went to the local police station to receive my Special Constable's kit. No tin hat, respirator, or mackintosh available. Told to report at Faversham. Railway Station for duty from 6 to 8:30 the following evening. Air raid siren sounded before midnight.

Saturday 22 June

All-clear about 2:30. Heard later bombs had been dropped at Warren Street and Rodmersham. Siren went again, just when the town was full of people doing their Saturday shopping. Streets cleared in less than five minutes. All-clear about ten minutes later. Did police duty at Railway Station, examining identity cards of passengers who were strangers and who had travelled by train into the prohibited area. Nothing suspicious. Few people travelling. A quiet night, no siren or planes.

Sunday 23 June

France has accepted German terms and her envoys are on the way to Italy to negotiate. What a tragedy! Went to "Colkins" with Hilda, by invitation of Mr Thomas Neame, Head Special Constable. Lovely lawns and flower beds, including a herb garden with some sweet smelling plants and a woad plant. Nearly all the 'Specials' and many of their wives seemed to be there and Astra Desmond[1] sang three lovely old English songs to us. Again, no siren.

Tuesday 25 June

Siren sounded (with planes passing overhead) about 00:30 and the all-clear went at 3:55. Put on a few clothes, had a stroll around the house, found everything quiet, so returned to bed and slept. Do wish the all-clear signal didn't last so long - it always wakes me up. Siren again at 8:35pm - all-clear three minutes later. Do wish they'd make up their minds.

Wednesday 26 June

Siren at 00:35. Did the usual prowl around, but as everything was quiet - bar an aeroplane or two hovering about - went back to bed and soon fell asleep. All-clear woke me at 3:45am, but not for long. Heard this morning that Faversham school children were to be evacuated within the next three weeks. (Rumour again - report denied later). A very busy day in the shop and had to serve customers with wool patterns and gas mask carriers[2] as Evelyn was suffering from neuralgia. Having volunteered to give services on the land, was asked to go cherry picking at Mr Thomas's farm, "Nouds", Norton

Thursday 27 June

Unable to go to Nouds as Evelyn still suffering with neuralgia and I had to serve in the shop. Golf in the afternoon and police duty in the evening at the Railway Station.

Saturday 29 June

Served in shop until 5:30 then on police duty at the Railway Station at 6. Uneventful days and nights these - planes over each night, but no sirens guns or bombs. The calm before the storm. Letter from "John"[3] saying she was returning with Clare to South Africa.

Sunday 30 July

Cycled with Hilda to Tankerton in afternoon. Saw concrete pillboxes at three or four places along the road and square holes made across the road for anti-tank traps. Met Mr & Mrs Ellis[4] at Tankerton and then had tea at the "Gay Adventure".

Monday 1 July

Collected tin hat and respirator (the former two sizes too small) from Police Station. Was  warned for air raid duties three nights each week - 11pm. to 1am. if siren sounds. Bruce  gave one month's notice at 14 The Mall[5].

Tuesday 2 July

Decided to get hair cut as thought tin hat might fit better.

Wednesday 3 July

Siren went at 3:55pm just at the busiest shopping hour, and the all-clear at 6:25. Heard later that German plane had dropped bombs in marshes near Harty Ferry and on [the] railway line between Birchington and Westgate. These daylight raids are going to play the deuce with business.

Thursday 4 July

Siren about 10:15am. but all-clear within about fifteen minutes. The usual golf four in the afternoon. Played rather badly but had some glorious wood shots. Stated on 6 o'clock news that steps had been taken to see that French Navy did not fall into German hands. One French Admiral at port on the North Coast of Africa[6] refused all British offers and had his fleet blown to Kingdom Come - except one cruiser which escaped to Toulon. Gloves off now, with a vengeance. Well, it's the only way when we're up against it, as we certainly are now.

Saturday 6 July

Rain at last. A busy day preparing for our summer sale. More people in the town during afternoon and evening than for months past. Went for a walk in evening and saw that military had made a barrier across road by Stonebridge Pond.

Sunday 7 July

Siren sounded at 1:05pm. just as dinner was being served. We carried on with dinner and the all-clear sounded about 1:20. First police patrol duty 8 - 10pm.

Thursday 11 July

Whole day without sirens, but air battles raged around Kent coast all day. Twenty-two German planes brought down and about twenty-five badly damaged. Golf with Jackman in afternoon, beat him one up. Pictures in evening with Hilda - saw Battle of River Plate.

Friday 12 July

Germans have lost 64 planes in last days in raids on England - our own losses total 6.

Saturday 13 July

German air raids have been carried out over S.E. Scotland, N.E. and N.W. England and Wales. Heard no enemy planes last night - the first time in weeks. Police duty 8 - 10pm Air raid warnings in excelsis! One about 5:45 all-clear 6:30pm. Second warning tress than five minutes later. These confounded warnings absolutely ruined our Saturday evening trade. we should have had a bumper day. All-clear finally sounded at 9:15.

Sunday 14 July

At least 12 more German planes shot down yesterday. ln all about 140 have been accounted for in the last 8 days. Many planes about last night, mostly our own, but I did think I heard one German. Siren at 3pm. (one hour) 11:45pm. (ten minutes) and 12 midnight (1 ¾ hours). At later period heard bomb drop and AA guns firing a few rounds. Down cellar for a few minutes. Pepper family came over[7], but went before all-clear sounded. Heard the welcome sound after I was in bed and slept soundly until 7 o'clock next morning.

Monday 15 July

Germans and Italians between them claim to have sunk more ships of the Royal Navy than we actually possessed at the outbreak of war. Italian Navy couldn't sink a rowing boat! German air claims equally absurd - a constant ratio of five of ours lost to one of theirs[8]. Don't they wish it was! No siren all day (or night).

Tuesday 16 July

Learnt that curfew had been imposed east of line Sheppey - Graveney Church and thence round Kent coast for 5 miles inland. No one allowed to enter this area between half hour after sunset and half hour before sunrise.

Wednesday 17 July

Reported in daily papers that German invasion is planned for Friday night. Anyhow it must be drawing very near now.

Thursday 18 July

Siren at 9:55am. all-clear half hour later. Feel very tired - too many broken nights. Golf in afternoon, Ward[9] and self, beat Jackman and Philpott 5 and 3.

Friday 19 July

Hectic day this. Siren sounded twice, morning and afternoon, for about an hour each time. A French plane, presumably manned by Germans dropped bombs at Harty and Oare about 9:35pm. Six cottages damaged at Oare and two or three casualties - young fellow by name of Gregory rather badly hurt. Went to Police Station 9:50 and heard that Sittingbourne siren had just gone. Saw searchlights over latter place and heard raiders return. Heard Sittingbourne all-clear about 10:30 but heard their siren again at 11:30 Saw Dr Porter’s car outside hospital and he and Dr Lawrence Porter left about 11:35. Nothing further that night.

Saturday 20 July

Two air raid warnings - first at 1:40 lasting about 15 minutes and one about 3:30 lasting for one hour. End of fortnight's summer sale, which was more successful than I anticipated.

Business is becoming more difficult. Some wholesalers will not grant credit unless all stock is fully covered by insurance against war Risks. Present premium 5/- (25p) percent per month. Some wholesalers will only supply wool on condition that 2/3rds of quantity ordered be in service colours.

Sunday 21 July

Heard that man injured at Oare on Friday evening by bomb had died in hospital. He was married and had one small baby. He was injured when he went outside his house to warn his wife of the aeroplane's approach. The baby was sleeping in a room in which the ceiling was fetched down by the explosion, but the baby was unhurt.

Tuesday 23 July

Decided to lie on the bed in my clothes as I expected to hear the siren any minute and was due to report for duty again. No siren sounded, but I soon heard Jerry approaching. Later heard a peculiar whistling sound together with anti-aircraft gunfire and we all descended to the cellar. Jerry & Co. hovered about for two hours, and it was 7am before got to bed. Heard later that bombs were dropped at Graveney Tin Bridge (later found that it was near Coastal Road) and Syndale - no casualties.

Sir Kingsley Wood introduced new budget today. Income tax was raised to 8/6d, (42½p) 1d pint of beer, 1½d per oz. on tobacco, increased surtax, death duties on estates over 810,000, wines, etc. etc.! Well, we should be much more heavily taxed under Nazi rule. Went to see bomb craters near Coastal Road – about eight or nine either side of the road, which must have been Jerry's target. He missed it only by inches with at least three of the bombs. Craters were not so big as that caused by Zeppelin bomb which we went to see at Milton during early part of the Great War.

Wednesday 24 July

Berlin continues to pour out dire threats about the impending fate of Britain, and the siren goes at 11:20 - all-clear 35 minutes later. Thought I heard a German plane - probably one of our own. First night since intensive aerial warfare against Britain that no German planes had appeared over some part or other.

Thursday 25 July

Siren at 12 midnight, all clear about 1:20. Heard that Whitstable had been visited. Golf in afternoon, Ward and I beaten by Johnson and Philpott (2 down). Heard Faversham. siren at 2:50 o'clock when we were playing the fourth hole. AII clear was not sounded until 8:20. Is this the start of the invasion? Heavy movement of the military all day - men and material. Much barbed wire carted from Goods Station through Town to unknown destination. Reported at Police Station at 8pm. for reserve. Free at 8:20.

Friday 26 July

During the 5 ½ hours 'warning' yesterday, there was a fierce aerial battle in the Straits; at least 23 German planes known to have been brought down. Extra duty imposed on Specials - I am now supposed to report at Police Station during daytime if siren goes. Short warning 4:25 to 5pm.

Saturday July 27

A day and a half this! Bombs dropped about 12:30am. at Eastling (4) and near Bysing Wood (2). No casualties and little damage. Five air raid warnings during day - one morning, two afternoon, one evening. No planes seen or heard. Did 3 duties at Police Station.

Sunday July 28

A lovely sunny day. Cool am. but warmer later. Church in morning. Siren at 3:20. Went for a walk with Hilda round Ospringe, saw large dump of coils of barbed wire beside old Congregational Chapel. Another anti-tank trap on the Mount Hill and one being constructed between the village and railway bridge. Jerry sure is in for a warm time if and when he comes.

What a night! Three "bumps" about 11:30, a big one about midnight accompanied by a vivid flash, and finally two more flashes and bumps about 2:30am. Siren again at 8:20 till 9:45pm.

Monday 29 July

Siren three times before 1pm Spent 2 ½ hours outside station. Seem to be doing more than my share - making up for lost time. Learned that bombs had been dropped previous night at Lynsted and Rodmershal. "Big bang" thought to have been magnetic mine which exploded on land. We have now had the sirens over 50 times - and still get no raid when it sounds.

Wednesday 31 July

Siren at 3:45 (for over 3 hours) at 7:20 (for 1 hour) and at 10:20 (5 minutes). Was overjoyed when last all-clear sounded just as I reached the police station.

Saturday 3 August

Weather a little better, but not like summer. Very busy day in shop. Siren 7 – 7:30pm. Duty 8 - 10pm Siren midnight – 1:30am. Saw light in Post Office window 11:10pm. and reported it to Police Station. Light extinguished 11:30pm.

Sunday 4 August

A bright warm sunny day. Paraded at Police Station 10am. Went to Electricity Works and passed through gas chamber. Returned to Police Station and was photographed for identity card. Despite the beautiful weather, the siren has not sounded all day up to 8:35pm. Does this mean that the German invasion is coming tonight? Tide is right, there is no moon, there is a distinctly misty atmosphere and no wind, ideal conditions for an invasion. Besides, Hitler is fond of anniversaries, and this is the 26th anniversary of Great Britain's entry into the Great War. yes, I think the Germans will try it tonight. If they do, may God in his mercy fight for us and give all of us courage to do our duty whatever comes. Nazi plane at 1:30 but no ack-ack gunfire, no bombs and no invasion.

Wednesday 7 August

A heavy stormy day. No siren again. I think this must be the calm before the storm. The invasion is spoken of in the daily papers as imminent. Germans have been saying that their air force has been re-organised and is now ready[10] and German troops have been massing during last few days in vicinity of Channel ports. One report mentioned August 8th as the probable date - and the dawn of that day is about 5 hours off. I feel distinctly uneasy about it, as I know that it will be pretty ghastly when it comes. However, here's for bed and some sleep first.

Thursday August 8th.

Siren wailed three times during day - twice in morning and once in afternoon' Stated on 9 o’clock news that 53 German planes have been brought down in Channel during day while attacking a convoy, 16 of our planes being accounted for at that time. Ward and I mopped up Jackman and Philpott in afternoon, winning by 5 and 3. Was in good form with an approximate round of 90, despite a 10 at the first. Went to Argosy with Hilda in evening and saw Leslie Howard in "Escape to Happiness" and Stanley Lupino in "Lucky to me"- the latter being a riot.

Friday 9 August

Italians advancing into British Somaliland[11], thanks to French collapse. Number of enemy planes shot down yesterday now stated to have been 60. Siren twice during day. Police duty 8 - 10, my opposite number not appearing, had to do that on my own. Jerry over about 11:30 for an hour. We watched his bombs dropping on the island (Sheppey), but none fell near us.

Sunday 11 August

German official communique stated that on Friday night their planes bombed "aircraft factories" at Rochester and Faversham, causing damage and starting fires! I wish there was an aircraft factory here - the town would be in a more flourishing condition. Reported on 9am news bulletin that revolt had broken out in Albania, but I am afraid the Albanians aren't sufficiently powerful to cause the Italians much trouble.

Siren twice more before 2 o'clock.

Monday 12 August

Reported that 60 German planes were brought down yesterday in air raids on Weymouth, Portland, Dover and convoy off East Coast - 26 of our aircraft missing, but 2 pilots of these were safe.

Altogether siren went 3 times before noon and again at 5:30. Little business done during morning. Heard explosion about 5:40 and learnt that a Jerry had dropped two bombs near mystery towers at Boughton[12]. Two houses were set alight and Faversham Fire Brigade were called to deal with them.

Police duty 10 - midnight. Siren 11:30, all-clear 11:50. Was kept awake part of the night by pain from abscess in bottom jaw.

Tuesday 13 August

‘Hail smiling morn', Nazi version: Siren at 6:50am decided to remain in bed, saw 12 Hurricanes fly over, heard bombs exploding, decided to get up. All-clear just before 8. Five bombs dropped other side of Beacon Hill and some at Whitstable, one smashing East Kent Road Car Co.'s depot.

Reported that 2 enemy planes had been shot down, both at Seasalter. Later in day about 4pm siren went again and innumerable planes were seen and heard among the heavy clouds. Saw one plane come down with smoke pouring from his tail and pilot bailed out. Was greatly bucked - until I learnt he was British. He landed near Seasalter, plane burnt out. Five bombs were dropped other side of Beacon Hill and reported that Detling aerodrome had "caught it . All-clear about 5:20 but another short warning at 5:50pm making eleventh in three days.

Thursday 15 August

The hottest day for air raids we have yet experienced. At least 1000 German planes engaged throughout the day in attacks from Plymouth to Newcastle, and at least 144 brought down. Our coastal districts will soon be cluttered up with wrecked planes. Was up at Belmont playing golf when the third alarm was sounded and saw numerous planes and puffs of smoke from bursting shells, but we went on playing and by the time we finished all was quiet again. Bombs were dropped at Sharsted, Lynsted, Uplees, Shorts (Rochester) and Croydon aerodrome among other places. The fourth and last warning of the day brought our local score up to 24 in 8 days. Police duty 10 - 12. A lovely still moonlight night, where every prospect pleases and only jerry is vile. 169 enemy planes destroyed today, 34 of ours down.

Friday 16 August

More pears stolen off tree at 14 The Mall which still remains unlet, worse luck. Another raid at 4pm, attacks on Thames Estuary and Southwest London. Stated on 9pm news that more than 50 enemy planes had been shot down during the day. Heard that eight bombs had been dropped around Mr. Carter's house at Uplees - one of these on the concrete path outside garage. Although the doors of the latter were open, the car was untouched and not a single piece of glass in the house smashed.

Sunday 18 August

Siren more times – 11:10, 12:45 and 5. And boy what a day! Nothing happened at 11:10 but after 12:45 siren sounded, we saw several exhaust trails, heard engines zooming and later a dense column of black smoke over the hills between Canterbury and Whitstable. Evidently a plane had crashed. But the 5 o'clock siren provided the real thrill. As the day was stiflingly hot, we decided to have tea in the back garden. When we had just finished the meal, Hilda got up and, pointing excitedly to the sky to the northeast called "Look! Look"! We sprang up and looked - and what a sight. Forty-seven bombers in formation of threes were flying along steadily and apparently unhurriedly (although they must have been moving at 200 miles an hour). Higher over them hovered a number of protecting fighters - we counted a dozen though there may have been more. Evidently Chatham was their objective, and when they had Ieft Faversham behind and appeared as small specks in the sky, we saw the puffs of the anti-aircraft shells bursting among them. They appeared to climb even higher and then we heard the bursting of bombs mingled with the noise of the shells. Evidently the formation was broken up for five minutes later we heard the noise made by some of them returning and heard our fighters going up to attack them. Then we heard the peculiar wailing sound which a falling plane makes and saw one crash to the southwest - apparently caused by the enemy fighter escort heading out to the Thames Estuary. It was one of the most exciting and awe-inspiring sights I have ever witnessed.

Tuesday 20 August

The siren went at 2:2O and the circus passed further N.E. to N.W about half an hour later. Once again the barrage Chatham way broke them up. We saw two come down and three men baled out. Spent all morning distempering at the Mall which I have let to a Mr. Paterson[13]. Letter from Dolly. They are having a hot time at ventnor[14], bombs having been dropped on the downs and around the station. Delayed action bombs have been used, and some parts of the district closed.

Wednesday 21 August

ln spite of clouds there were two warnings in the morning and a 6 minute one in the afternoon. Jean Taylor arrived at 5:30 and said that two bombs were dropped in Canterbury during the last warning. A house was hit, a man, woman and two children killed and many windows in the Telephone Exchange, where Jean works, were broken.

Friday 23 August

Weather still dull and cold. Long distance heavy guns from Calais bombarded the Dover area last night and the RAF retaliated by bombing the gun emplacements. Siren at 11:50, all-clear about 25 minutes later. We have had over 90 air raid warnings since outbreak war. On the whole a quiet day.

Saturday 24 August

Not so quiet. We had four raid warnings before 1pm the fourth lasting over four-and-half hours. In the first raids Dover caught a little, then Manston aerodrome, Ramsgate (including the gas works) and Portsmouth. One of our fighter planes was forced to land at Plumford and one German came down to the north of the town. ln all 47 German planes were shot down during the day to 11 of ours, but one pilot (the Plumford man presumably) was safe. He was slightly hurt and brought to Hospital in Faversham. The fifth alarm went at 6:50 and all-clear at 8:20. ln spite of the fact that we only had 2 or 3 hours free from warnings, we had a fairly good day in the shop. Police duty, Waterworks beat 8 - 10.

Sunday 25 August

Raiders dropped bombs on London and other places during the night but did not disturb us. I slept very soundly and did not wake until 8am Went with Hilda to the cemetery after breakfast and placed flowers on father's grave. It was the anniversary of his birthday. Went for cycle ride with Hilda and Mary round Sheldwich and Selling.

Monday 26 August

The blitzkrieg continues. There were three warnings today and during the first two we again heard planes but could not see them owing to clouds. Incendiary bombs were dropped in the country near Eastling without doing any damage and our fire brigade had a false alarm from Sharsted. Folkestone was rather badly knocked about today by dive-bombing planes. We were awakened during the night by the sound of exploding bombs and, as a plane appeared to be approaching, descended to the lower regions for a few minutes. Later on, looking out of our bedroom window we saw ack-ack gun flashes and a few shells bursting, apparently in the direction of Chatham.

Tuesday 27 August

One short warning just after 4pm and lasting for about 20 minutes. Jerry apparently is saving up for the night, Police duty, Waterworks beat 8 - 10pm. A hectic night, planes over, bombs and gunfire Chatham way and searchlights all around. Siren at 12:10 and all-clear at 1:40am but bombs were again dropped after all-clear had sounded. M.T.D. bus depot at Gillingham hit and over 100 buses destroyed.

Wednesday 28 August

Started well, with just the siren at 8:40am and four more before 7pm. Three air battles took place in the neighbourhood. One of our planes fell at Luddenham on a barn near the church. We heard but did not see the crash, but we did see the two occupants coming down by parachutes which gleamed very white in the bright sunshine.

There is a fresh east wind this evening and the clouds which gathered in the afternoon have nearly all cleared away and predict a sticky night. And it was! German planes in ones and twos came over pretty well every half-hour from 10pm to 4am, and we spent most of this period in descending and ascending the stairs! There was more gunfire on this occasion than ever before and it would seem that more guns have been brought into the district. There was a bright reflection in the sky for some time in the direction of Eastling and the local Fire Brigade was twice out. The road between Newnham and Doddington was damaged and communication cut.

Friday 30 August

Another hectic day. First warning at 8 o'clock and 3 subsequently, the fourth lasting practically all day. Consequently, business was badly interrupted, and we were down in the takings. One Messerschmitt brought down near Sole Street House and pilot taken prisoner.

Reported on 9pm news that at least 42 enemy planes had been destroyed and 10 of ours were down. (6 pilots safe). Other Jerrys over at 9:15 and 10 - retired twice to cellar as bombs were dropping. Have never seen so many searchlights around the town. We heard a number of explosions during the night and several enemy planes cruising around, so slept in our clothes ready to bolt downstairs at a moment’s notice.

Saturday 31 August

The last day of a turbulent month started well with a warning at 8am, Iasting until 11:25 and another at 12:30 till 2:50pm This non-stop performance is ruining business, as people will not come out shopping unless compelled to do so. This is reality only common sense, as we have so many dogfights, almost over the top of us, that we never feel certain as to whether bombs, aeroplanes or shrapnel will descend upon us from above. Aeroplanes have been going over in large numbers all day, but we could only hear the drone of their engines owing to their great height. It was stated on 9 o'clock news that 62 Jerrys were brought down yesterday to 19 of our own. This brings the total of enemy planes destroyed to over 1000 this month and to over 5000 since the outbreak of war.

Sunday 1 September

More daylight raids. My family and self spent a good part of the day hop picking for the Voluntary Land Club. All the money earned goes to Red Cross Fund. Hilda and I went to Macknade, Evelyn to Syndale and Mary to Redsells (at Boughton) where she is regularly employed in the Women's Land Army. Saw many smoke trails made by high-flying planes, heard much machine gun and AA fire, also heard one plane come down and some of our party saw a parachutist bale out from enormous height.

Tuesday 3 September

Still the air battles continue, the weather keeping gloriously fine. Warnings lasting nearly all day completely spoilt business for second day in succession. An uncannily calm day. First bomb on Faversham about 11pm an incendiary falling through the roof of Dr Porter’s chauffeur's cottage and landing on a wash handstand in the bedroom. Firemen extinguished it before fire got a hold. Chauffeur and his wife were in Dr Porter’s dugout at the time. I heard the bomb fall with a peculiar swishing noise - not unlike an engine blowing off steam.

Saturday 7 September

Still fine and warm - will it never rain again? After a short raid in the morning the Nazis came over in swarms in the afternoon and the air battles were terrific. Planes reported down at Eastling, Boughton and Goodnestone. At the latter place the plane fell on a thatched cottage, setting it on fire. Bombs were dropped in Homestall hop garden, although no one was injured, the pickers having fortunately just left. All-clear was sounded at 7pm and we then had a hectic hour in the shop with belated customers. A perfectly hellish night – German aeroplanes over from 9pm until 2am in a never-ceasing stream. As soon as the noise of one engine died away another was heard approaching. Several passed right over the town and some bombs were dropped in the surrounding country.

Sunday 8 September

No newspapers until 11 o'clock owing to dislocation of transport caused by yesterday's big raids. Stated on 9 o'clock news that 65 German planes were brought down yesterday. A big fire was started in the London Docks area, and a large number of smaller ones all over the Metropolis. Damage is mainly in the East End. Numbers killed estimated at about 300, with 1300 to 1400 seriously injured. Spent most of the day picking hops in Major Berry’s hop field at Brenley in aid of Mayor's "Spitfire"[15] fund. Police duty 10 12. More widespread raids on London during the night.

Monday 9 September

No trains from London all day owing to damage on railway line. Morning papers arrived just before 7pm. Last night's raids were more indiscriminate than previous ones and whole streets of houses in the East End were wrecked. No post all day. First air raid warning of the day at 4:45pm. Bombs dropped at Canterbury. Few planes passed over Faversham and a few dogfights occurred. All-clear about 6pm. Second warning at 7pm lasting only a few minutes. Third warning at 8:45pm. Expect this means another all-night raid on London.

Warning that gas-attacks are expected tonight. These German devils are capable of any beastliness. Frequent cases of the machine-gunning of our pilots while baling out are reported. Göring himself is directing these new attacks from a base in Northern France. Saturday marked the end of the first month of mass air attacks on Britain during which the enemy lost 1374 machines. RAF losses were 407 planes, the pilots of 217 being safe.

Thursday 12 September

Was disappointed that no one called for me to play golf; but later in the day was rather glad as I was feeling tired after my police duty. Heard that Canterbury mothers, children and aged people were to be evacuated. Wonder if it will ever be Faversham's fate? No daily papers today. There is only a single line working between here and London and the papers have to travel via Maidstone. Time bomb discovered in corner of garden of St. Paul's. Four people were slightly injured yesterday by one of our ack-ack shells which crashed through house in Walters Row. Many people rendered homeless by the raids on London have been sent down to Kent hop fields and are helping with the picking. ln response to an appeal we carted four large bundles of clothing and blankets to Newton House[16] for use of these poor refugees.

Saturday 14 September

Raids morning, afternoon and evening, with a fierce aerial battle overhead. Saw pieces of a plane fluttering down over the town and learnt that they were from a German bomber which had been in collision with one of our Spitfires. Both machines crashed at Stone, the German crew being killed, but our pilot, although injured, baling out. During the night a farm at Stalisfield was burnt out by an incendiary bomb.

Sunday 15 September

More violent air attacks, with London as the objective. Few enemy planes got through but their losses (as given on 9pm news) were 165 machines. Buckingham Palace again bombed, the Queen's private apartment being damaged. A bomb which had fallen in Dean's Yard close to St Paul's Cathedral four days previously safely removed to Hackney Marshes and there exploded. - a wonderful feat of courage by a squad of five men, whose work saved the whole of the west front of the Cathedral. I was greatly annoyed when, on reporting at the Police Station at 11:45pm for duty on Mount barrier, I was told the duty had been cancelled. A note was slipped into my shop letterbox between 8 and 8:30pm and the silly mutt who delivered it failed to ring the bell, consequently I was unaware of the cancellation.

Monday 16 September

Rain and drizzle most of the day. One warning in the morning at 7:30 and a second at 1:50pm the latter lasting until 6:30. ln spite of this we had quite a busy day in the shop. I am wondering how much longer we can go on like this, for we are selling our stock considerably faster than we can replenish it.

Wednesday 18 September

An exciting day. Was awakened about 4am, by the whistling of descending bombs followed by some explosions. Got no more sleep after that and at 6 o'clock was fetched by a Special Constable asking me to report for duty at 7am at St John's Road, where a bomb had fallen. Evelyn came in about 6:30 and said that bombs had fallen in Newton, St. Mary's and St. John's Roads. Washed and had breakfast and went on duty, calling first at Newton Road[17]. Bomb had fallen in middle of the road opposite Co-operative Garden, making large crater. The garden fence was smashed down for several yards and houses opposite suffered some damage, although the extent of this was small compared to the size of the bomb crater and was confined to windows and slates of 10 or 12 houses.

A second bomb had fallen at the end of a back garden in the same road, making another large crater and breaking many windows at the rear of several of the houses in this road, as well as a considerable number in St Mary's Road - just above the spot a time-bomb had buried itself about 13 feet deep in a yard adjoining a brick and wood building used as a garage containing several cars.

I was posted on duty outside the "Royal William" to prevent people and traffic going up St Mary's Road, while the regular police turned people out of their houses from this to the top of the road. One poor old lady was quite upset because I declined to allow her to return to her house to recover her false teeth, which she had forgotten in her hurry! The people had just been got clear when at 8am the time-bomb exploded, throwing up a huge column of debris and smoke, visible right above the tops of the houses. A number of quite large pieces fell about the spot where I was standing, and I went down nearly flat behind the shelter of a motor delivery van standing at one side of the road. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the garage was practically gutted, and the one car remaining was turned over on its side. A good deal of damage was done to houses in the vicinity, roofs and windows especially suffering. The fourth bomb - an oil one - fell in the middle of St John's Road, near the top, breaking many windows, and smothering the contents of the neighbouring houses with filthy oil.

Fortunately, the accompanying incendiary bomb failed to ignite and there was no fire. Once again Faversham's good fortune in this war was holding and not a single casualty of any description was caused by any of the bombs. Visited the scenes in the evening and wondered at the comparatively small amount of damage caused. About 8:45pm an explosion rattled our windows, another bomb presumably. A quiet night on the whole.

Thursday 19 September

Weather windy with some rain. One very short warning in the morning, then peace until 8:30pm. Golf in afternoon with Jackman and Ward. Pictures in evening - "Wings of the Morning", a very good Technicolor with excellent shots of the Derby. A restless night with planes and bangs and air raid warning from 8:30pm to 4am

Friday 20 September

One short warning in the morning and then no more all day, or stranger still, all night. There were many big bumps and bangs from dusk till dawn, but I slept soundly through most of them. Police duty 8 - 10 on barrier at foot of Newton Road. Found the bomb dropped on this road had made a hole in roof of No. 9 and rain was corning in on bedroom ceiling.

Saturday 21 September

No siren until 6pm lasting about one hour, and another shortly after 8pm. Had a very busy day in the shop, many Londoners coming in. It was reported that 1200 families have entered the district. Many of the food shops have had notices up stating that they had sold out of such foodstuffs as cheese, milk, etc. What with the influx of evacuees and the difficulties of transport, it looks as if we may suffer some temporary shortage of some commodities. All-clear was not sounded until about 5am but I heard nothing except this sound during the whole night - presumably because I was soundly sleeping.

Sunday 22 September

Spent a quiet day at home as Mary was leaving for Tunstall after tea for her new job. Her Boughton employer (Mr Redsell) has been ordered to give most of his farm over to corn[18] growing and has had to stand off about half his staff. Mary is going apple picking and grading for 6 weeks and will be home only for week-ends worse luck. Started off for church at 6:20pm but found that the service commenced at 6pm, owing to the black-out.

Monday 23 September

A fine day with three warnings during daylight. A big battle overhead in the morning during which four parachutists were seen coming down. Two landed in the Faversham area - one of our own in the Creek! Anyway, he fell in a soft spot. Saw one of our wrecked planes carried through the town on a lorry. Heard the King's speech broadcast at 6pm. His Majesty, whose delivery seems to improve with every fresh broadcast[19], announced the institution of the George Cross and the George Medal for civilians, to rank after the Victoria Cross.

Tuesday 24 September

Siren at 1:30am. We heard it, but turned over and went to sleep again, not even hearing the all-clear about 6 o'clock. Siren again at 7:10, all-clear about 7:40 and then it was on again nearly all morning. Many planes passed over but we could not see much of their movements owing to heavy overhead mist.

A quiet afternoon, but a busy one in the shop. Usual activity commenced about 8:30pm and kept on intermittently for several hours. Two or three violent explosions about 11pm shook the whole house.

Wednesday 25 September

Was awakened about 1:30am by the noise of explosions and at 1:50 the siren sounded. I dressed and went on duty at the Police Station. After the siren had sounded matters were quiet in the area, but the all-clear was not sounded until 5:40, so I had to remain on duty. I tried to get some sleep on a camp bed in the inspector’s office, but there was no pillow and no blanket, and I was too cold and uncomfortable to sleep. Evelyn had another day off, so I was tied up in the shop all day. Felt thoroughly fed up and weary in the evening, as things are getting serious in the shop. We can get very little wool apart from service colours and I myself lost the sale of three lots of wool for jumpers because I had practically nothing to offer.

Thursday 26 September

A peaceful morning. Golf in afternoon with Ward and Jackman. Wood shots rotten, putting feeble, iron shots fairly good. A big fight overhead, finishing with two heavy bangs and two columns of black smoke as we were going up the 17th. Pictures in evening – Will Fythe in "they came by night". So they did - meaning Jerry & Co., but there was no siren and I thus escaped police duty.

Friday 27 September

A day of fierce air battles lasting from about 10 o’clock until 5:30 with only one or two short breaks. Three or four planes came down in the district - one at Teynham, one at Brenley and one at Westwood and there may have been others. Saw the one crashing down over Westwood and the pilot bale out, the plane catching fire as it fell. Reported on 6pm news that over 90 enemy planes had been lost up to 5pm The air was positively lousy with planes all day. By 9pm the number of Jerries destroyed had risen to 120.

Saturday 28 September

Was awakened at 1:20am by sound of aeroplane's engines which sounded both low and loud. No bumps however, so I was soon asleep again. Siren just about 10am followed by usual dogfights, although not so much overhead as yesterday, when on one occasion machine gun bullets came spattering down in East Street. One plane came down at Syndale, one at Teynham and a third was reported to be down at Boughton., although there was no confirmation of this latter one. Siren again at 7:40pm but the warning lasted for about ten minutes only. Tremendously busy afternoon and evening in shop. Siren again at 10pm and all-clear just as I had dressed to go on duty at police Station.

Sunday 29 September

I was not to escape duty, however, as the warning sounded about 1:10am and I duly reported at the Station. Left again before 2am as Godfrey remained on duty but had scarcely got home when the all-clear went. Bicycle ride with Hilda round Hernhill and Dargate. Saw London lrish parade and march off as they Ieft matins at Hernhill Church, led by their mascot, a great lrish wolfhound, and their pipers.

Slept after lunch and had a bath before tea. Walk round Davington in evening, when I again, for the umpteenth time, expressed my opinion that we were foolish to continue to sleep at the top of the house where (among other things) we had no protection against flying glass splinters, when with a little inconvenience, we could sleep on the first floor where all the windows have stout wooden shutters. I have urged this until I am tired of doing so and shall say no more about it, but it seems folly to me to run so great a risk when it could be avoidable.

Mary left for Tunstall, where she is now working in the Land Army on a Kent Farm Institute farm.

Tuesday 1 October

The early morning was frequently disturbed by the sounds of enemy planes and friendly gunfire, some of which rattled our windows. Caught the 8:40am coach to London to try to get some goods for the shop. Saw some of the damage caused to property by bombs. On the whole it was less than I had anticipated. One does not see whole streets gutted, but the local damage is, in some cases, awe inspiring. The Lee district in Southeast London seems to have caught it badly, and it is mostly the poor properties which have suffered. Some of these properties ought to have been destroyed long ago - but not in this barbaric manner and at the expense of so much human suffering and loss of life. The biggest spectacle was caused by what was apparently a land mine[20] on the north side of the river just by London Bridge. The imposing block of buildings just beyond the bridge had been reduced to tottering shells. I found Cheapside closed to pedestrians and vehicular traffic, severe damage having been done to a whole row of buildings on the southern side.

I had to make a detour to reach Wood Street, which fortunately had escaped damaged. Whilst having lunch at the Beta Café in St Paul's churchyard, the warning was sounded and on going to Faudels, I found the whole staff was in an air raid shelter. Saw one or two planes high up, but heard no gunfire, although I found out later that a few bombs had been dropped on South-eastern and South Western suburbs. Took a bus from Fleet Street to Victoria Station, where I found the Brighton section alone functioning, the other part being closed. Walked to the Coach Station and caught the 3pm coach. At the top of Strood Hill we were greeted by "Wailing Winnie" and the all-clear saluted us as we came out of Gillingham. The journey took three hours, as we had to leave the coach at Gillingham and finish the journey by ordinary bus. Siren at 9:30pm all clear at 11pm, again at 11:30pm when I should have gone on duty. Was so dog tired, however, that I could not rouse up and slept like a log until 6am failing to hear the all-clear about 2am

Wednesday 2 October

Air raid warnings lasted practically all day, but although enemy activity was considerable, little of it for once came this way. Had two soldiers who are on mail duty at the Post Office in to tea. Big explosion during the night, but I was not awakened by it and slept soundly all night.

Thursday 3 October

Sky overcast and some rain and drizzle and no warning until 8 o'clock. We were in the Odeon at Sittingbourne at the time, having gone there with Evelyn and met Mary. We saw "The Swiss Family Robinson" quite a good film of its kind. Had just dropped off to sleep when the siren again sounded and I had to turn out on duty at Police Station.

Friday 4 October

Left Police Station just before 2am and was just getting into bed when all-clear sounded. Slept until 7:15am. Three more warnings during the day, at 9:30am just before 1pm (lasting about 5 hours) and again at 8:50pm, although the weather was very bad at the latter time. Another busy day in the shop despite the fact that no supplies have yet been received. I was sitting in the drawing room at 9:15pm and Hilda was downstairs preparing supper. Jean Taylor (daughter of Mr Taylor, gardener at Bensted House) was also down there. I heard two explosions which sounded near and shouting "Look out, bombs", and calling the dog, I hurried downstairs. I was about four steps from the bottom when there was a noise like a loud sharp snap, followed by a crash and rumble and I was pushed downstairs and propelled round the kitchen door. At the same moment the kitchen window blew in and my eyes and mouth were filled with dust. Picking myself up I made for the cellar stairs and fell over Jean who was full length on the floor inside the back door. I helped her up, found she was unhurt, and we joined Hilda who had made her way down the cellar stairs. She had opened the back door and seen a vivid flash, whereupon she slammed the door, called "bombs" and fled down the cellar.

When the din had stopped we went up to investigate. Every window in the house and shop had been blown in and a strong breeze rendered the house very unpleasant. Hilda decided to ask the Woods[21] to put us up for the night, but owing to the debris in the street was unable to get across. Later, alas, we found that the bomb had demolished their house and that Mr and Mrs. Wood, Pearl and the maid had all been killed. Their bodies were not recovered until the next day. Dr Porter's lovely old house opposite was ruined, as were the cottages on the opposite side of the road.

The three fins of the bomb each measuring 22" were found later and it was estimated that the bomb was over 6 feet long and weighed 1400 to 1500 lb. Shops up as far as the top of Preston Street felt the blast, many windows were blown in and the chaos was indescribable. Three bedroom ceilings in the top of the house were down and daylight was streaming in through the roof, which had many gaps. We had to spend the night in deckchairs down in the cellar owing to the draught whistling through every room. The same plane also dropped an incendiary bomb on a house in St. Mary's Road, and high explosive bombs on the Co-op shop in St. Mary's Road and in the school playing fields in London Road, many of the adjacent houses had broken windows.

Saturday 5 October

Spent all day clearing up the glass and dirt. People came into the shop for wool in the afternoon and at last we had to close the shop, as we could not clear up and serve them as well. We also found that the wool was full of small pieces of glass which had blown into it. We slept at Mrs JH Ward's, a cousin of Granny Lee-Smith.

Sunday 6 October

Another day of clearing up. The Council men put up felting in all the windows and we were completely blacked out, having to burn electricity all day. Again slept at Mrs Ward's.

Monday 7 October

Spent most of the day chasing solicitors in an endeavour to find out my position. Mr Arthur Smith told me that he was not prepared to advise his mother to spend a lot of money in putting the property right[22] that if anything were done it would be only the bare necessities and suggested that I might share the cost with Mrs Smith. He said that he was employing an architect from Canterbury to give us an idea of the state of the building and the probable cost of making it habitable. One more night - the last I hope - at Mrs Ward's, although she has been very good to us.

Tuesday 8 October

Another day of clearing up. Brought our beds down into the back of the shop. As it is impossible to sleep at the top of their house and, after Friday, we would no longer feel comfortable in doing so, even if we could. Many German planes passed over from 8 o'clock onwards. One Jerry dropped 3 bombs (two oil) at about 3:45pm between the Canning Factory at the top of Whitstable Road and Heaters down on the marshes beyond Chambers Wharf. Evelyn saw the bombs drop and yelled a warning. We all scooted down the cellar at the double.

Wednesday 9 October

We discussed future plans. I was in favour of leaving Faversham, but the others thought there was less risk if we tried to carry on. Tom Davis phoned me at 2:15pm offering No. 45 Court Street rent free if I cared to pay the rates. I inspected it with him and finding it quite suitable offered to pay a small weekly rent plus rates and this was agreed. A very hot time this night, the procession of aeroplanes being almost incessant.

Thursday 10 October

Arranged with Mr Roper to rent No. 9 Newton Road and went to see Partis about moving our furniture. Had just got beyond the subway when I heard a plane very low down, although he was not visible owing to heavy cloud. I thought it wise to wait beside the shelter and in a few seconds heard the whistle of a bomb. I was down the shelter[23] steps very quickly and by the time I was safely down below heard another whistle, followed by an explosion. Ongoing up I found a bomb had been dropped on the slow up line. Arranged with Mr Partis for removal of furniture on Saturday morning at 9 o'clock and the stock on Monday morning. More aerial activity at night and we slept in our clothes.

Friday 11 October

A fine cloudless day, with many aeroplanes about. ln the afternoon a Jerry dive bombed the town. One bomb feel on Bruce Mason's yard in Union Street, another on Black's Garage and a third in Forbes Road. The latter smashed many houses, and the glass at 14 The Mall was all blown out. Had the architect in at No. 5 inspecting the damage and later went up to No 14, but there was no one at home. A number of people were injured by the Forbes Road bomb and I later heard that the same plane had dropped an H.E. bomb on Mr. Barrie's[24] farm. One person died from shock and among the injured was Rene Jackman who was badly hurt.

Saturday 12 October

Started moving to 9 Newton Road, Partis's men took two pantechnicon loads, while we sorted out a lot of miscellaneous articles.

Monday 14 October

Another "moving" day. Two more pantechnicon loads of furniture in the morning, and one of shop stock to 45 Court Street in the afternoon, yet there still remains quite a lot of stuff to be shifted.

Wednesday 16 October

Another busy day erecting shelves and putting stock away. These are strenuous days and feel very tired.

Friday 18 October

Opened the shop and had a very busy day. Was quite pleased with the day's business.

Saturday 19 October

A hectic day in the shop. Big run on silk stockings by women who are "stocking up" prior to the new Purchase Tax on Monday. Also, it was announced yesterday that no more silk stockings were to be manufactured after December 1st.

Monday 21 to Saturday 26 October

Very busy days in our new shop. There seems so much to be done and so little time in which to do it all, that I sometimes despair of ever getting things straight again. We have not even had time to dress our shop window yet! I sent a formal notice stating that 5 East Street was rendered uninhabitable and had a reply from Mr Smith enclosing architect's specification of repairs and stating that the damage amounted to £165. We discussed this matter on Saturday evening. None of us wants to go back to No 5, especially in a patched-up condition, and I decided to see Mr. Smith and place our views before him.

Sunday 27 October

Siren sounded about 7:30am and aeroplanes were busy all morning. I had one more hunt for the copy of the lease of No. 5 and eventually found it in a drawer of Clare's dressing table. To my disappointment I found there was no clause giving the tenant the option of terminating the lease at the end of 7 years (which would have expired next October). This alters the position somewhat and it looks as if we shall be compelled to return to No. 5. An alternative possibility is to continue to live at No. 9 pro-tern and use No. 5 as a back-up shop only.

Monday 28 October to Saturday 2 November

I am so busy these days, that I find it impossible to keep up a day by day diary and have to be content with a weekly summary. I have resigned my position of special Constable as I cannot stand the work during the night time and put in a hard day's work as well. Also do not feel it right to leave Hilda alone at nights under present condition. I sent in a disclaimer of the lease of No. 5 East Street to Mr Arthur Smith, who wrote asking me to see him. This I did on Thursday afternoon (it being too wet for golf) and was much touched by his generosity. He expressed his willingness to release me, but suggested that I should decide nothing at present until after he had the shop and house repaired. I agreed to this course. Saturday night was very rough and wet, but a few German planes came over and one dropped a large number of incendiary bombs on Whitstable.

Monday 4 to Saturday 9 November

Another hectic week, at the end of which I felt very tired. Evelyn developed one of her bad colds on Monday. and by midday on Tuesday, it was so severe that she had to remain indoors. Hilda took her place in the shop, where we were again very busy. On Thursday morning I had a new assistant, Miss Davis, an evacuee from Bromley, and she promises well. Evelyn was back again on Saturday. Went to Belmont with Ward on Thursday. The golf was rather casual, and we played 15 holes in rather haphazard style, aeroplanes flitting overhead for part of the time.

Monday 11 November

A day of great air raids. Italians and Germans each lost 13 planes in raids over this country, our losses being two.

Wednesday 4 to Saturday 9 November

Great success in Mediterranean by Fleet Air Arm announced where three big Italian battleships were put out of action and four other warships damaged in Italian port[25]. Ships of the Navy also badly damaged four Italian supply ships between the Italian and Albanian coasts. Heroic action by armed merchant cruiser Jervis Bay, which steamed straight at [a] German pocket battleship, drawing the latter's fire and enabling a number of ships in convoy to escape.

Business is much slacker this week, mainly owing to the fact that we have very little wool to sell, none of our rations for November having thus far arrived.

Thursday 14 November

Another single at golf with Ward. It looks as if our old foursome is permanently done in as Jackman is now working an insurance book and Philpott seems inclined to take things more easily and prefers pictures to golf. Coventry received a terrible all-night raid. About 300 dead.

Friday 15 and Saturday 16 November

Business has fallen off a tremendous lot this week and there has been, for some reason or other, fewer people about the town. one or two "rations" of wool arrived but they were like drops in the ocean.

Sunday 17 November

Spent the morning working in the garden and went for a walk with Hilda in the afternoon. Mary Sprang a surprise by bringing home a sergeant of the "Queen’s", name of Tommy, for the weekend. Mary didn't return on Sunday night to Tunstall as she was suffering from a swollen and stiff neck.

Tuesday 19 November

Patons wool ration for the month arrived in the afternoon, having taken 7 days to come from Halifax. We had the siren 10 times on Monday and 9 today, and it has now sounded over 370 times.

Wednesday 20 November

Business which has slackened off considerably during the last few days, suddenly and quite unaccountably spurted again. Enemy planes active throughout Wednesday night.

Thursday 21 November

Heinkel bomber brought down at Buckland by a Spitfire which also crashed. Crew of bomber (4) and our pilot all killed. Fire engine summoned to blazing bomber, one of whose bombs exploded, killing 3rd Officer Beaumont[26] and injuring fireman Davy so badly that he died within a couple of hours.

Had 6 holes of golf with Ward against Philpott and a Canterbury jeweller named Day. We were one up when heavy rain put a stop to play.

Saturday 23 November

A fine, rather cold day, a welcome change from the long spell of rough, wet weather. Considerable activity up above. Eleven enemy planes destroyed without loss on ourside – 7 Italians being brought down in the Straits before reaching the coast. Mary informs me that she is being transferred to Tom Neame's on completion of her present job - probably about second week in December. Siren goes as I’m writing this - at 11:10pm followed by gunfire.

Monday 25 November

Still fine, mainly remarkable for a night of complete silence - no planes, no guns. Funeral of the two Faversham firemen killed by bomb.

Wednesday 27 November

Another fine day after slight morning drizzle. Gardening in afternoon on my new allotment at Queen's Hall, although ground still rather wet. Tremendous air fights going on most of the afternoon. Stated on 9pm news that 11 German planes had been shot down, 2 of ours lost, but both pilots safe - pretty good going. Enemy planes very active during evening.

Saturday 30 November

A quiet day in shop, followed by a quiet night in bed. Poor Southampton, however, sustained a vicious attack, comparable to that on Coventry some nights previously. Centre of City was pretty well destroyed.

Monday 2 December

Busy day in shop despite the fact that the siren was "on" practically all day. Evelyn was on duty at the Fire Station, and we had our hands full. Some of the smaller goods are going for Christmas presents, but we have very little wool except in service colours.

Thursday 5 December

Golf in afternoon with Ward and Jackman (who played our best ball and lost by 3 and 2). Won a shilling on the gambling machine.

Friday 6 December

Greek successes over Italians in Albania and resignation of Marshal Badoglio is announced[27].

Saturday 7 December

We had a busy day in the shop, articles for Christmas presents selling very well. But not many Christmas cards yet.

Sunday 8 December

Gardening at No. 9 all morning - cutting grass, putting out plants, trimming currant bush and a little digging. Waited indoor all afternoon for two soldiers who were supposed to be coming for tea, but who failed to arrive. Jerry activity in evening, one plane in particular hanging around the locality for a considerable time between 9:30pm and 10:15pm It was a hectic night with enemy planes passing over in one continuous stream and numerous explosions, some of which shook our front door violently. We learnt this morning that there had been a particularly heavy raid on London and bombs were also dropped in various parts of Kent.

Monday 9 December

A quiet day after yesterday's strafe. Three warnings sounded, but we heard no planes. Military activity has flared up in North Africa and it was reported that our forces were in contact with the enemy on a wide front and that we had captured 500 prisoners. First enemy plane heard passing over at 10:35pm. ls he alone raider or is he the forerunner of another big raid? No, aerial activity was much less.

Tuesday 10 December

Our forces in Egypt continue to advance and having reached the coast have cut off a big Italian force in Sidi Barani. Prisoners now total several thousands.

Friday 13 December

Two or three short alarms during the day, but these daylight raids are very small beer now and scarcely anyone takes much notice of them. British forces still advancing in Egypt.

Wednesday 11 December

Sidi Barani captured together with much booty and prisoners estimated at over 20,000. At 6am violent explosion blew open my shop door. This was followed by a second explosion and two others occurred when I was on my way home from the shop.

Monday 16 December

Our Army now reached the Libyan frontier. Prisoners captured last week totalled about 30,000.

Tuesday 17 December

Heard that the violent explosions, the previous Wednesday, were caused by land mines dropped at Whitstable. Many windows were broken there, but the only casualty was one person slightly cut by glass.

Had a letter from Harry Wellbeluff[28], the first since I left Thornton Heath, and was glad to know they were alright. Beckenham has had well over 1400 bombs on it, but casualties are not high in proportion to damage to property.

Wednesday 18 December

Inquired about price of turkeys and was told they would be 2/10 to 3/- per lb. (14 to 15p). Wrote to Harry Wellbeluff, inviting them to come for Christmas, but I doubt whether they will. Both days and nights have been wonderfully free from air raids lately. I wonder what dirty work is being hatched up.

Thursday 19 December

Again, no golf. Where have they all got to?

Sunday 22 December

A bitterly cold day greeting Hilda's and my birthday. We did not see a great deal of one another, as I went to golf in the morning, she to the Canteen[29] in the afternoon.

Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 December

Two quiet days in the shop, especially on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday 25 December

Christmas Day was rather cold but fine. We entertained two soldiers from Nash Court in the afternoon and evening, playing darts, etc. They seemed to enjoy themselves and so did we. No air raids, day or night.

Thursday 26 December

An hour's gardening in the morning, followed by a walk with Stanley Owen. We all went over to the Ward’s to tea and played "rummy". Evelyn went to a dance at the Queen's Hall. Siren once, about 12 o'clock.

Friday 27 December

Back to work. Had a fairly busy day in the shop, all things considered. One or two sirens during morning, when we heard and saw planes about. Can hear guns (or bombs) as I sit writing this (7:35pm). Hilda has gone out to a rehearsal and Mary and Evelyn are at the pictures. And there goes the siren, 7:40pm, the first night raid since Monday.

Sunday 29 December

Another morning's gardening at No. 9. Pruned pear tree and raspberry canes and did more digging. Stayed at house in afternoon and had a bath. A big procession enemy planes parsing over for 3 or 4 hours and made a cruel attack with incendiary bombs on the City of London. Buildings destroyed included the Guildhall, six Wren churches and several of the ancient halls of the city builds. Paternoster Row was wiped out, Fore Street is almost as bad, St Pauls was ringed by a circle of flames and the district of Aldermanbury suffered terribly. 10,000 incendiary bombs were rained on the city in the space of 3 hours.


[1] Mrs Thomas Neame, well-known contralto, awarded a CBE in 1949. NRM Astra Desmond was the stage name of Gwendolyn Neame (nee Thomson) 1893-1973. In 1920 she married Sir Thomas Neame, In 1949 she was awarded a CBE.

[2] The entire population had been issued with gas masks in cardboard boxes and were to carry them at all times. There was a brisk trade in more or less elegant carriers with shoulder straps. Civil Defence, Police and Fire personnel were issued with service respirators

[3] John Barrett' nee Inez Howard, wife of Arthur Barrett, Harold Austin's cousin and a professor at Graham's Town University, South Africa. Clare was their daughter.

[4] Mr Ellis was a draper at one time in partnership with Harry Child, Court Street, then known as Child & Ellis

[5] A house he owned.

[6] Units of the French Fleet were at anchor at Mers-el-Kebitr outside Oran. They were offered the choice of  joining the Free French or scuttling their ships. Both options were refused and Admiral Cunningham reluctantly  opened fire. The action resulted in the deaths of over 1100 French seamen - allies only a few weeks earlier.

[7] This was written when living at 5 East Street, Peppers were the Pork Butcher across the road. The family lived over the shop then and had no cellar. The cellar at No. 5 was also shared with Mr & Mrs Young from the Butcher's shop on the market.

[8] Both sides deliberately overstated enemy losses After the war it was revealed that, at the height of the battle in August, the BBC regularly announced incorrect figures, reducing RAF losses by 15% and increasing German losses by up to 60%.

[9] Ward was manager of Currys in West Street, where Harold Austin was born. F Austin started printing Faversham News there. Jackman had a Tailors shop on Market Street since pulled down for Woolworths. Philpott was Freddy Philpott, Jeweller in Preston Street'

[10] In fact, the so-called invasion fleet consisted mostly of river barges collected from all over the Continent. Many had no engines and would have to be towed across. Invasion remained a threat, until 1941, but Hitler was already planning 'Barbarossa', the invasion of Russia, His troops were short to be relocated on Germany's eastern borders.

[11] British and Dominion troops withdrew from Somaliland. The only recorded victory of the Italian Army over our troops

[12] Radar towers

[13] Mr. Paterson started the Better Brush Factory in Whitstable Road.

[14] Dorothy Lee Smith, Harold Austin's sister-in-law married Murrell Sharpe who was National Bank manager at Ventnor.

[15] £5000 brought a Spitfire. Funds were started by local authorities, factories, private individuals etc. Curiously there were no 'Hurricane' funds.

[16] Newton House, Newton Road, was the A.R.P. Centre. The Library now stands on this site.

[17] 9 Newton Road was the home of Mrs Lee Smith, Hilda Austin's mother, who died in 1939. The house stood empty until the Austins moved in after a bomb at the foot of Newton Road rendered 5 East Street uninhabitable.

[18] NRM. Corn, in this context meant the stapple cereal, so wheat I the case. I wonder what Mr Redsell usually grow.

[19] George VI was afflicted with a stammer.

[20] Land mines were dropped by parachute and exploded before hitting the ground, causing widespread horizontal damage.

[21] Pearl Wood the daughter of the house was a great school friend of Hilda and her sister. Her father owned Wood's garage opposite the Recreation ground.

[22] 5 East Street was rented from Mr A. Smith's mother. Mr A, Smith was an uncle of Leslie Smith, solicitor of Preston Street.

[23] The shelter was on the allotments at the corner of the Mall and Preston Lane.

[24] Brogdale Farm - now Fruit Trial Farm

[25] Torpedo-carrying planes from the carrier Illustrious sank three Italian warships in Taranto harbour.

[26] Arthur Beaumont worked for Harold Austin's father at the Faversham News.

[27] The Italians already occupying Albania attempted an invasion of Greece with little success. Badoglio was held responsible, Greece was not finally occupied until the Germans invaded through the Balkans and after a disastrous intervention by Anzac troops Sent from North Africa., without air Support.

[28] Harold Austin was lodged with Mrs Wellbeluff when he went as an apprentice to learn the paper trade in London, before the first World War.

[29] The Canteen was in Partridge Lane, an old timbered building since demolished. The Hall upstairs used by 'Toc H' was a canteen for the troops throughout the war.

Opening Times

VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE
12 Market Place
ME13 7AE
10am to 4pm - Monday to Saturday
10am to 1pm - Sunday (opening hours may vary)

FLEUR MUSEUM - FREE ENTRY
12-13 Preston Street
ME13 8NS
Open Fridays and Saturdays
Open Wednesdays from 3rd April
Special Easter Monday opening

SECOND-HAND BOOKSHOP
11 Preston Street
ME13 8NS

10am to 3.30pm - Monday to Saturday

CHART MILLS
Off Stonebridge Way
ME13 7SE

Open on Saturdays only 2pm to 5pm

Registered Charity  Number 1135262 - Company No 07112241
The Faversham Society - Registered Address: 10-13 Preston Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 8NS
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