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Harold Austin War Diary - 1941

Victories in North Africa in the early part of the year were reversed after the arrival of Rommel’s Afrika Korps and the war in the Western Desert see-sawed until late 1942. 1941, however, was the year the war became a global one, first with the German invasion of Russia in June and the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour in December, which brought the United States fully into the war.

Thursday 2 January

Woke to find the first snow of the winter and we had several small snow showers during the day – also several short alerts. Spent part of the afternoon clearing linoleum out of top bedroom and tidying up. Saw Convoy at the Odeon with Hilda and Mary and thought it an excellent film. Alert sounded just after we arrived.

Monday 6 January

Great news from North Africa. Bardia has fallen to General Wavell’s army and Italian prisoners already number several thousand.

Tuesday 7 January

Prisoners taken at Bardia number 30,000, making total of over 70,000 since 9 December and a total of about 94,000 put out of action since that date. The capture of Bardia was brilliantly conceived and executed, our total casualties being under 600. Revealed today that Broadcasting House had been hit during a recent raid and a number of casualties sustained by the staff there and also at Bristol. Our advanced mechanised units are near Tobruk. The town was almost deserted during the day and it was the slackest day we have in the shop since the summer of 1939. Our wool supplies are still dwindling and we have little to sell apart from Service colours and not much of that.

Wednesday 8 January

A thaw set in and we had a brisk afternoon in the shop. Fortunately our January ration of Secil wool arrived and we had a little something to offer. Death of Baden-Powell aged 83 years at his Kenya home. He was a fine man and did a tremendous amount of good with his Boy Scout Movement. What a contrast to Hitler with his German Youth Movement. Our mechanised forces, repeating the manoeuvre at Bardia have cut off Tobruk from the west. General Wavell evidently is determined to give the Italians no rest and is one of the ‘finds’ of the war[1]. The co-ordination of Navy, Army and Air Force is really great, and these successes gained at so small a cost are heartening us at home no end.

Sunday 12 January

Still fine and cold. Jerries over in never ending procession in evening for about four hours, their main objective again being London. Bombs were also dropped on towns in the Thames Estuary and a few at Keycol Hill at Sittingbourne, the railway line being the target apparently. It was not hit, however.

Monday 13 January

I started to make preparations for half-a-dozen fowls which I have ordered. They are very expensive to buy, four months old crossbreds costing me 10/9 each. I do not know whether such an outlay is wise in view of the uncertainty of bombs and invasion. But, on the other hand, we can’t hold everything up on the chance that the blitz will come, or, if it comes, that it will smash us up completely.

Sunday 19 January

Spent much time in erecting poultry hut, the weather turning much warmer. But, oh the mud! First night raid for some time. Two bombs dropped up Throwley way just before 7:30pm. Heavy barrage Chatham way. Firebombs all around the area – including a Molotov breadbasket in hop garden behind Ospringe church, others at Boughton, two landmines at Dargate and Teynham church damaged by high explosives. What a night!

Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 January

Still no night raids and only one short alert by day, on Tuesday morning. Tobruk has fallen to our army in North Africa and Italian prisoners now number over 100,000.

Thursday 23 January

Chickens arrived unexpectedly. The chicken house was not quite finished and the run not even started. I set to work on the run and worked hard all morning but played golf with Ward in afternoon. Form not good, I was very much out of practice.

Saturday 26 January

We have had a very slack week in the shop, the quietest since we moved into 45 Court Street. Bad news from Engwools, they have completed their quota and can supply no wool for month of February.

Tuesday 28 January

Wrote to Mr Smith informing him that I should be grateful if he would relieve me of the lease of 5 East Street, as, not only did we feel averse to returning there to live, but there was a question as to how long we should be able to continue carrying on the business owing to shortage of supplies. This latter question is becoming more and more serious – ‘Wolsey’ have shut down their wool department for several months past and Secil, having exhausted their 3 month ‘quota’ can supply no more wool until March; also Hollins can now supply only ‘ViyeIla’ and ‘Ramada’ in Service colours.

Saturday 1 February

The talk nowadays is all about Hitler’s invasion attempt, which everyone agrees is bound to come within the next few weeks[2]. Well, he’s got to beat the RAF first, then our Navy and finally our Army. No doubt the ordeal will be pretty nerve-racking for a few days and nights, but after the attempt has been smashed – as it must and will be – I think the tide will flow in our favour very rapidly.

Sunday 2 February

Again, no sign of Ward, although it was an ideal day for golf. Agordat in Eritrea has fallen to our troops, who are advancing all along the line in that country as well as Abyssinia[3] and Somaliland. Mary’s friend Gwen Taylor[4] came to tea. Evelyn in bed all day with influenza.

Wednesday 5 February

Bitterly cold day. Had to run the shop myself in the morning, as the apprentice failed to turn up. Hilda came down and helped me from 3 to 5 and we had a fairly busy afternoon. Jerry was busy in the neighbourhood during the evening, dropping flares, incendiaries, high explosives and a landmine or two on Canterbury, Whitstable, Throwley, Sheppey areas.

Thursday 6 February

Had to turn out at 10pm to do a night of fire watching in Court Street. The tradesmen of the district have joined together to do duty in turn, this coming round once a fortnight. We have taken a room at the Willow Café[5] and four persons are on duty each night.

Wednesday 12 February

Siren sounded at 1:45am. I turned out, as I was on fire watching duty in Newton Road to 6am. Strolled about for a little while, as I heard a plane passing over, but there were no developments. Came back indoors and amused myself with the Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle. Got about halfway through when the all-clear sounded, so I returned to bed.

Thursday 13 February

Caught the 8:42am train to London in an endeavour to buy some wool. All I got was some cheap rug wool from Cook’s, some knitting needles from Faudel’s and some not very good wool from Foster Porters. All three firms suffered from the German fire blitz on 30 December. Cook’s had a portion of their warehouse destroyed but the other two were completely wiped out and are now in Little Britain and Tottenham Court Road respectively. The City is in a sorry mess, even now. Aldersgate, and Newgate Street, Cheapside, Wood Street, Paternoster Row all appear for a good portion of each to be nothing but piles of fallen bricks and twisted steel girders, and the two latter thoroughfares are completely wiped out. High Holborn and a good part of Tottenham Court Road are also in ruins. It was a very sorry spectacle and I felt very saddened by it.

Monday 17 to Saturday 22 February

The usual sequence of events nowadays – business (a little), 3 or 4 air raid warnings every day and blacked-out evenings. Thursday night was a particularly sticky one. Jerry attacked Chatham among other places and planes were over incessantly until 5:30 on Friday morning. I was on fire watching duty all night and spent nearly all the time patrolling Court Street. It was very cold, how I longed for my nice warm bed. Had a game of golf on Thursday afternoon with Jackman and Ward and went all to pieces after a good start.

Friday 28 February

First day of sale – quite nice to have a busy day after so many slack ones.

Sunday 1 March

Another fairly good day in shop. We have cleared out a quantity of old stock, some of it must have been bought 8 or 10 years ago.

Sunday 2 March

Went to Argosy cinema to hear two ARP lectures and see two short films: Britain Can Take It and another. Rather a poor attendance considering the importance of the occasion, but only to be expected from the lackadaisical Faversham people.

Tuesday 4 March

Spent the morning digging at my allotment. The ground still rather heavy after the wet weather and I found it hard work. Attended a lecture on poison gases given by Mr Hurn at the Queen’s Hall. It was quite interesting, but ought to be unnecessary in this era of so-called civilisation.

Wednesday 5 March

More digging for Victory[6] in the morning and another lecture – this time on fire-fighting by Chief Officer S Holmes[7]. I feel much more confident now that I know how to deal with incendiary bombs and also what to do in the event of a poison gas attack. I think the former is a much more likely contingency in our area than is poison gas, although the latter might be used in the event of an attempted invasion.

Friday 7 March

Had two replies to my advertisement for a gas cooker for 14 The Mall, which I have had converted into two flats.

Saturday 8 March

Spent much of the morning inspecting gas cookers and bought one large one for £2 and a smaller one for £3. As new cookers with 3 burners now cost £18 to £20 each, I was well satisfied. Last day of sale in our shop – a fairly busy week-end.

Tuesday 11 March

Had gas mask tested in gas chamber in afternoon, and then returned to the shop, where we were busy until 5pm. Attended annual meeting of Golf Club in evening. Matters are not too rosy, club has lost over £300 in last financial year and it is obvious that this state of affairs cannot continue for long. Faversham members are not supporting the Club as they should.

Monday 17 March

Went up to Sittingbourne by bus in evening to inspect wool and tobacco business which Captain Abery (of Christopher & Co.) had written informing me was for disposal for £50 (plus stock and fixtures at valuation). Was not impressed by exterior of shop, nor position, but was agreeably surprised on going inside to find a high-class trade being done in wools and art needlework. The amount of trade done was quite good there were accountants’ figures. Decided to think it over carefully.

Saturday 22 March

Talked the Sittingbourne business over with my Bank Manager and showed him the figures and he agreed that it looked to be a good thing. Decided to write to Abery offering to take business over for price of stock and fixtures at valuation.

Sunday 23 March

Went to special service of intercession at Parish Church. Nave was filled with soldiers and civilians and the Vicar gave a short address. Golf in afternoon with Jackman, and Philpott, and was glad that my game, although not good, was a distinct improvement on recent displays. Have started taking out books again from the County Library, for the first time since we were bombed. Have made a good start with two excellent books – one an account of an Englishman’s stay at a small village in the hills of North Portugal. The one I am now reading is a fascinating book – In the Steps of the Master by H V Morton.

Tuesday 12 March

Cycled to Belmont in morning for golf lesson. Pro showed me what was wrong – everything apparently – but trying to get it right wasn’t so easy.

Wednesday 26 March

Four hours digging morning and afternoon. Bad news from the Balkans, the Yugoslav premier having signed the Axis pact[8]. Went to concert in Brents schoolroom in evening given by the Fire Services. Room crowded.

Thursday 27 March

A great day. The Yugoslavs have revolted, overthrown the government and placed the boy King Peter[9] on the throne. Prince Paul the Regent has fled. In Abyssinia Keren has been captured by our troops and Harrar has also fallen. The brightest day for a long while – perhaps the real turning point of the war, who knows?

Saturday 29 March

Captain Abery called at 2pm and I signed contract for Sittingbourne business.

Sunday 30 March

Snow showers in morning, but weather cleared in afternoon, when I played a single with Jackman and was again hopelessly off form. News of a naval engagement in the Mediterranean[10], enemy ships reported damaged. Went to the Parish Church in evening to hear Stainer’s Crucifixion. Chorus work not bad, but time they got some new soloists.

Monday 31 March

Great news of the naval engagement in the Mediterranean last week. Three Italian cruisers sunk and two destroyers were sunk by our RAF, Fleet Air Arm and Navy, our sole loss being 2 aeroplanes, the paintwork of our ships was not even scratched.

Tuesday 1 April

Am fed up with serving, or trying to serve, old women with wool. Wish I’d never seen the business. Very slack day in the shop and a soaking wet one outside it.

Thursday 3 April

No one came for golf – weather was very unsettled until late afternoon. Put in an hour or two in packing and despatching War Weapons Week literature after tea. Fire watching at 10pm. Reported that three Italian destroyers endeavouring to escape from Massawa, Italian Eritrea, have been sunk. A bumpy night, with German planes going over at intervals. The last occasion was at 5:30am, when there was a heavy explosion in the distance and the electric lighting in the town and district failed for some 4 or 5 minutes.

Saturday 5 April

News not so good. Our forces withdrew in the East of Benghazi owing to pressure by German troops, who had been transported by unknown means via Italy to Northern Africa[11]. Later advice said that they were being held.

Sunday 6 April

Germany attacked Greece crossing the frontier at 5:30am and also carried out 2 air attacks on Belgrade, despite the fact that it had been declared an open city. Weather again turned bitterly cold and although we had a foursome at Belmont, we did not enjoy it, and packed up at the end of 13 holes. I was very annoyed that the pro had lent out my clubs, but was mollified somewhat when he lent me his son’s clubs, much better than my own. Addis Ababa was occupied by our troops today.

Tuesday 8 April

Germans furiously attacking the two Balkan states[12] while Turkey stands by and watches. A BEF[13] is now in Greece but not yet in action. Massawa captured.

Friday 11 April

The wind has backed to SW, thank goodness. Spent the morning digging and the afternoon at golf, where I played better than for some months past, Joy and myself defeating Jackman and Philpott by 8 and 6, and winning the bye 2 up. Went to an excellent local concert in Parish Church in the evening with Hilda, and thoroughly enjoyed much of it, notably the choruses for which I think the choir has been trained by Mr Pilcher (organist and choirmaster), and also the singing of Mrs Robert Barnes (of Hythe), a BBC artiste. Officially stated that 38 German bombers had been brought down in night raids on this country during last four (30 by our fighters and 8 by ack-ack).

Wednesday 16 April

A momentous day. I took over a business at Sittingbourne at a total cost of just over £600. It is a gamble under existing conditions, when all stock is difficult to obtain. If, however, I can hang on till the end of the war I believe I am on a good thing. Anyway, it’s done, so no use crying over spilt milk. A terrible blitz on London this night.

Thursday 17 April

Found the confectionery and tobacco side up to expectations, but the wool trade rather slow. I must bide my time and try to work this side up gradually.

Friday 18 and Saturday 19 April

Spent most of each day at Sittingbourne. There was another blitz on Saturday night. Incendiaries and a HE bomb were dropped near “Heaters” and a high explosive behind Davington School, fortunately without causing any damage. The sky out Sheerness and Chatham way was a blaze of light from incendiaries.

Monday 21 April

A slow day in both shops. At Sittingbourne we were unable to obtain any ices, had no sweets to sell and few cigarettes. Came home early and put in 4 hours on the allotment, during which I saw a dogfight in the air, an unusual spectacle these days.

Tuesday 22 April

Spent all day at Sittingbourne. A little better day, as a fresh supply of ices arrived. I had a choc-ice, the first of the year, but the weather wasn’t warm enough for them. It is marvellous how many we sell considering the cold, but people go for them because there are so few sweets obtainable.

Wednesday 23 April

The news from Greece grows daily more serious. The German hordes are pressing back our handful of troops and the Greek army in Albania has been cut off and has surrendered.

Weather getting still colder.

Sunday 27 April

Weather a little better. Wind neither so cold nor so strong and some sunshine. Did a little hoeing on the allotment in the morning. Had a 3-ball with Jackman and Philpott in afternoon. The Prime Minister broadcast on the war situation at 9pm and, as usual, gave us a stimulating and tonic utterance. He revealed that at no time could General Wavell place more than two divisions (about 30,000 men) in the field at one time and that although we had suffered an unexpected reverse in Libya, we had a strong concentration of troops in Egypt. We were compelled in honour to give Greece what aid we could, and there would have been a different tale to tell if Greece’s neighbours had presented a united front against the aggressor. Hitler could not win, however, unless he invaded and crushed Britain or cut her lines in the Atlantic. We were immensely stronger than last summer and America was giving us aid by patrolling the Atlantic outside the combat zone, thus relieving our escorting ships and enabling them to concentrate in a much smaller area.

Wednesday 30 April

Caught the 8am bus to Sittingbourne to open the shop, returned by the 9:10am bus. Phoned Larking and Larking arranging to meet them at Canterbury on Thursday morning. Went up to the allotment and sowed 5 rows of beetroot seed. Dinner at 12. Caught the 12:30 bus to Sittingbourne, but shut the shop at 6:30 owing to shortage of stock. Had a letter from Nell saying that Clare was getting very slow and shaky at times I am afraid she is going downhill rapidly[14].

Thursday 1 May

Two rounds of golf – afternoon and evening – preceded by visit to Canterbury to see Larking and Larking and followed by a night’s fire watching. Thank goodness it was a quiet night and I managed to get 4 hours sleep. I wanted it.

Sunday 4 May

Church parade in morning, but I did not go as I do not like the ceremonies. Golf in afternoon.

Monday 5 May to Wednesday 7 May

Air activity during the day and night raids being delivered by both ourselves and Germany on increasing scale. Mr J R Ward died on Tuesday[15].

Thursday 8 May

Two more rounds of golf today. Our night fighters are fetching more and more German bombers down these moonlight nights[16].

Sunday 10 May

Gardening in morning. Attended Mr Ward’s funeral at the Cemetery with Hilda in the afternoon. A large number of wreaths, and a good number of friends present. Caught the 5pm bus to Sittingbourne, home at 8:15. A very heavy night raid on London. Planes passing over in large numbers and heavy ack-ack at times. One piece of shrapnel fell through roof of District Infants’ School. Later this proved to be an unexploded shell.

Sunday 11 May

Reported that the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the British Museum were among the buildings damaged the previous night. Thirty-three German bombers reported down, making the total 124 for the first 10 nights of the month. Another round of golf in afternoon, my play is improving again and I hope soon to break 90. Walk around Davington in evening with Hilda. Newton Road fire watching at night. And what a night! Between one and two a.m. bombs (incendiary and HE) were dropped at Syndale and Davington.

Tuesday 13 May

Weather very gloomy, but news very exciting, for it is reported that Rudolf Hess, Deputy Fuhrer of Germany, has baled out of a Messerschmitt 110 near Glasgow, and is in our hands. There is much speculation as to the meaning of his flight, which seems to have completely mystified everyone, including the Prime Minister[17]. My own feeling without knowing much about the facts, is that it is another dirty trick of those murderous gangsters in Germany, and that Hess is no more to be trusted than any of them. A big explosion rattled the windows of our Sittingbourne shop and also shook Faversham in the early evening. It was apparently caused by the firing of an unexploded bomb at either Syndale or lwade.

Thursday 15 May

Spent 2 hours digging on allotment in the morning, played 12 holes at Belmont in the afternoon, went for a short walk with Hilda in the evening and finished up with a night’s fire watching at the Odeon, our new HQ. A quiet night, got in 4 hours sleep in a deckchair in the vestibule which is much more comfortable than the bare uncarpeted room we used at the Willow Café.

Friday 16 May

A quiet day generally although business was fair at Faversham, and I had £40 worth of cigarettes and tobacco from Players, quite a big consignment in these days of ‘no this and out of that’.

Saturday 17 May

A glorious warming sunny day, the first real spring day this year. I had 50/- worth of Wall’s ice creams in my Sittingbourne shop (the week’s ration) and sold the lot in about 3 hours.

Sunday 18 May

Still warm, but not so warm as yesterday. Had a round of 92 in the morning – better than for months past, and playing with Fred Philpott beat Jackman and Ward by 3 and 2. Wind veered to north again in afternoon. Went for a bicycle ride round Perry Wood, South Street and Brenley with Hilda. The country was looking delightful. The apple blossom was a picture and the hedgerows and woods were full of spring flowers, primroses, bluebells, cuckoo pint and a lot of others. Just before 8pm it commenced to rain, the first, save for one or two cold showers, for weeks past. There seems to be a distinct lull in the fighting at present although our troops have surrounded Umba Alagi and the Duke of Aosta[18] has asked for terms. German and Italian aeroplanes are arriving at the French aerodromes in Syria, and it looks as if we shall soon be at war with the Vichy government, and that the United States Fleet will soon be taking part in the Battle of the Atlantic[19]. Casualties in air raids on Britain during April were over 6,000 killed and 6,900 injured.

Monday 19 May

Duke of Aosta accepts our terms, about 17,000 prisoners taken.

Wednesday 21 May

The war has burst out again in the East, where the Germans have commenced a desperate onslaught on Crete by means of airborne troops[20] I spent the evening gardening and the afternoon and evening as usual on Wednesdays in the Sittingbourne shop.

Friday 23 May

Rain at last, heavy showers falling at intervals all day. Home at 4:20. HMS Hood sunk.

Saturday 24 May

The tale of the Hood was given in full on the wireless. She intercepted and engaged the German battleship Bismarck, but an unlucky shot from the latter, at a range of 13 miles, hit the Hood’s magazine and she blew up. Our forces in Crete have been compelled to give ground and it begins to look as if the Germans, by a constant stream of airborne reinforcements and dive-bombing, will gain possession of the island. But our boys are putting up a brave show.

Sunday 25 May

The Bismarck is being hunted by our Navy and RAF. Fred and I beat John and Alf 1 up in the morning. Hilda’s Sunday at Canteen, so I spent the afternoon gardening, and went for a walk in the evening.

Monday 26 May

The Bismarck has been found, and sunk[21]. Weather cold and wet.

Wednesday 28 May

A very ‘dirty’ night. Gunfire and planes about 1am, and another dose shortly after 2am. On the latter occasion Jerry unloaded about 14 high explosives and a shower of incendiaries at Ham, ruining a barn and blowing out some windows at Gregory’s farm. The incendiaries lit up the whole town.

Thursday 29 May

Cycled over to Ham in the evening to see the bomb craters. Firemen were still collecting souvenirs. Fire watching at Odeon during the night. The siren was not sounded all day and as it has been going regularly every day for some time past, up to pretty well a dozen times a day, it makes one wonder what the silence portends.

Sunday 1 June

Clothes rationing announced.

Tuesday 3 June

All day at Sittingbourne. Our forces have evacuated Crete.

Saturday 7 June

Put in another lot of dwarf beans to replace many eaten by birds. Sittingbourne after dinner, but closed the shop at 6pm as had nothing left to sell. On the whole business in wool shops has been better than expected considering rationing of wool, one coupon for 2ozs.

Sunday 8 June

Our Silver Wedding Day. Only Hilda and Stanley Owen and Herbert Dane[22] remembered it. Mary and Evelyn gave us a very nice fire screen. Hilda gave me a Parker fountain pen and I gave her a silver cream jug. Our forces and the Free French entered Syria this morning. It looks as if the next clash will be there[23] but I have an idea that the Germans will make their biggest effort to invade here before many weeks have passed. Went to the Parish Church with Hilda in the morning. What memories of 25 years it recalled. It seems incredible that it should be so long ago, it seems much less. Went for a walk with Hilda in the afternoon and a cycle ride round Fisher Street and Perry Wood in the evening. It was a very quiet way in which to celebrate the 25th anniversary of one’s wedding day, but it was impossible to arrange any celebration, we could not get even a bottle of port to toast each other’s health.

Monday 9 June

The war drags drearily on, the only news today being of our forces occupying Tyre and two other small towns in Syria. Shortages at home are becoming more pronounced and today not a tobacconist shop in the town has any cigarettes or tobacco. I have decided that we must all of us have a week’s holiday this year, and I have written to ask if Nellie can have me at Worcester for a week in about a fortnight’s time. A very nice Bakelite and chrome tray arrived as a present from Clare today.

Friday 13 June

Nothing unusual during day, but what a night. The alert was sounded shortly after midnight and planes passed over in procession until about 4:15am. Two bombs were dropped beside the bank of Oare Creek and although they fail in soft mud considerable damage was done to many houses in Oare, where windows and frames were blown out and ceilings brought down. A number of shop windows in Faversham were smashed. We had a lucky escape, a big plate glass window at 46 Court Street being smashed, while our big plate glass ones at 45 escaped. Other shop windows were smashed in West Street, Market Place and Preston Street. Two other bombs were dropped at Plumford and at least one house in St Ann’s Road had its windows broken. Further bombs were dropped at Milton and Newington. At the former place considerable damage was done and several shop windows in the main street at Sittingbourne were smashed. At Newington two bungalows were wrecked and two people killed. A German bomber exploded in mid-air near Sittingbourne. We heard one bomb whistling down and got up for a short time, but saw nothing, but our windows rattled on two or three occasions, as if they were coming in.

Sunday 15 June

A nice bright, warm and sunny day. Felt very languid and lazed around all morning. Struggled round Belmont with the usual foursome, but we all of us felt very lazy and the golf was very poor. Fred and I were leading 3 up when the game was given up at the end of 15 holes. Announced that our forces had taken Sidon.

Friday 20 June

Found the people who have taken the rooms over my shop in Sittingbourne were moving in. This extra 12/- per week will be a help at the present lean time. They seem very decent people.

Sunday 22 June

Phew! A heat wave. Tried to play golf in the morning, but the heat was terrific even when we commenced to play at 9:45am (7:45am GMT[24]). The thermometer in our hall, a comparatively cool spot, stood at 81° at 4:45pm. Hitler at 5:30 this morning announced that the German Armies had been ordered to move against Russia. Stalin is now to be punished for his double-dealing, shifty tactics, is it a case of when thieves fall out? Frontier fighting and air raids are reported by both sides. Rumanian troops are also reported to have crossed into Bessarabia, and Finland is also implicated[25]. Italians are still being mopped up in Abyssinia and Free French troops have occupied Damascus. Sharp attack by German bombers on South Coast town during the night, four of them being shot down.

Monday 23 June

We are having a real heat wave at last. Our Air Force is carrying out heavy raids by day on Northern France and by night on N. W. Germany. Had an attack of deafness owing to wax in my ears. Tried syringing with warm water but only made it worse. Rather a ‘bumpy’ night but I heard only the heaviest of the gunfire, and that somewhat indistinctly.

Wednesday 25 June

Still feeling miserable owing to the deafness. Tried syringing again for half-hour periods, without effect. Went to doctor’s in evening and was back home again in under 15 minutes, with head as clear as a bell. Felt much better, but had my suspicions confirmed that I am permanently partially deaf in left ear.

Sunday 29 June

Church in morning with Hilda. The Vicar mumbled the prayers, practically every word being inaudible, and his sermon was bilge. Golf in evening, played badly again.

Tuesday 2 July

Having no sweets. Cigarettes, tobacco or ices to sell, did not open Sittingbourne shop in afternoon. Attended meetings in evening re salvage scheme if town is blitzed.

Thursday 3 July

Spent the morning making out a few bills for the Faversham shop. People ought not to have wool on credit, conversely traders ought not to give it.

Friday 4 July

Every day now, at least once and sometimes twice, we have dozens of our bombers and fighters passing overhead on their way to carry out ‘offensive sweeps’ over France. The Germans are busily engaged on the Eastern Front with the Russians and our RAF is taking full advantage of it. This is quite a reversal of last summer’s events and, I hope, a foretaste of much bigger punishment in store for the filthy Huns. I wish we were in a position to take more advantage of the situation and invade France, Belgium or Norway, but I am afraid we cannot hope for that for some months to come

Sunday 6 July

No golf today, thank goodness, as the heat is intense.

Thursday 10 July

Saw Hilda off by the 8:40 bus to Victoria from whence she goes on to the Isle of Wight and Parkstone for a much-needed holiday. Went back to prepare and cook the dinner. We had new potatoes, spring cabbage and broad beans from our garden, but as the wretched butcher failed to send the liver until after 1 o’clock I had to fall back on grilled rashers of bacon. Had a cup of tea and a sleep after dinner, and found on awakening that Evelyn had washed up, to my joy. Took Joe[26] for a short walk and returned to prepare tea. Golf in evening with John. Fire watching from 10pm to 5am.

Sunday 13 July

Disaster overtook my catering, for we found that blowflies, of which there seem to be swarms this hot summer, had got under the cover and blown the meat. We were forced to fall back on the remains of the boiled sausage meat left from breakfast. Golf with John in evening. Siren about 11:30pm to 3:45am.

Monday 14 July

Went to Sittingbourne after dinner and found business quite brisk, owing to the arrival of some sweets and Players’ monthly ration, nearly £40 of cigarettes and tobacco. Home to tea and working on allotment after tea. Gathered a pint of raspberries. Bed at 10:30, thoroughly tired.

Saturday 19 July

Joined the sausage queue at Peppers and bumped into Dr Terence Porter, who was also lining up, as I came out. Went to Mrs Creech’s and was just in time to buy her last cake, beating Admiral Penny on the post. Cooked the dinner and after eating it went to Sittingbourne, where I found we had had a good week, our takings being between £70 and £80. Returned home to tea and then up to my allotment to do some badly needed thinning-out. Came home, washed up tea things, cooked beetroot and raspberries, laid supper table, had supper and went to bed. I shall be very thankful when Hilda returns, I miss her terribly.

Monday 21 July

Trimmed front hedge in morning and while doing so postman brought letter from Hilda saying she was returning that day. Met her bus in the evening.

Tuesday 22 July

Wrote to Hallow[27] to see if I could stay with the Reynolds for a few days.

Friday 25 July

Telegram from Hallow saying ‘Come on Saturday’

Saturday 26 July

Set off by 8:40am train. Had to change into electric train at Chatham and was taken round the North Kent loop to Charing Cross. Taxi to Paddington, caught 11:17 to Oxford, where I could get nothing but a station bun and cup of tea for lunch. Resumed journey at 2:30 and it took over 2 ½ hours to reach Worcester by which time I was ravenous. Betty[28] met me at Worcester and we had tea and scones at a Co–op Café. I caught the bus to Hallow, where I arrived at 6pm and had a much-needed tea.

Tuesday 29 July

Bus to Malvern. Inspected Priory Church and then climbed the hills to be greeted with a fine view on either side, the Welsh hills to the West, and those around Birmingham to the East. Back into Malvern, where I failed to get any lunch, so back to Worcester where I had two sandwiches and a cup of coffee in a milk bar but made up for it by taking fish home for tea.

Thursday 31 July

Went to Birmingham with Nellie, but it rained heavily, and we came back at 3 o’clock. We passed the old broadcasting station at Droitwich and the huge Austin motor works near Birmingham. Saw some of the damage caused during air raids.

Friday 1 August

Breakfast at 7am. Caught the 7:30 bus from Hallow and the 8:55 train from Worcester, arriving Paddington at noon. Taxi to Victoria, 12:35 from there, home at 2:15, not bad going.

Tuesday 5 August

Sittingbourne in morning. Back to lunch. How I hate hanging about for these wretched buses. I wish I could run my car again, but there is no hope of that at present, indeed, I shall be lucky if I do not have to sell it before the war is over.

Thursday 7 August

No golf today. Fire watching at night. All quiet, thank goodness. Had the best night since undertaking this job, as the girls also have hitherto been on with me did not turn up.

Friday 8 August

Went to Sittingbourne in afternoon, when Players’ ration arrived. There was a terrific scramble and by the time we had shut the shop at 6pm we had taken £21.

Sunday 10 August

Golf in morning and Herne Bay with Hilda by bus in afternoon. It is very depressing along the sea front, where anti-tank barricades have been erected all the way along. Returned home in time to hear the Queen’s broadcast at 9pm to the woman of America and Quentin Reynolds[29] Postscript[30] to Hitler, whom he addressed as Herr Schickelgruber, a truly biting performance.

Monday 11 August

Went to Sittingbourne in the morning and to the Faversham shop in the afternoon. Evelyn is having a few days off prior to sending in her papers for the WAAF.

Saturday 16 August

Sittingbourne in morning, Faversham shop in afternoon, when we finished the best week we have had for some months. Today is the last day for obtaining khaki wool coupon free, but we have been sold out of 3 and 4-ply for the past three days.

Monday 18 August

Day in Faversham shop. In evening went up to allotment, picked some beans, one 13 inches long – and cut a marrow weighing 7lb. Feel quite proud of my amateur gardening efforts.

Tuesday 19 August

Sittingbourne in morning, Faversham shop in afternoon – the daily round, the common touch, and unfortunately the task is not a congenial one. From the point of view of interest, serving ounces of wool to women knitters can scarcely be expected to compare with the craft of printing. Do I regret leaving the printing trade? I scarcely know, there are so many pros and cons.

Wednesday 20 August

Went to London with Hilda to buy stock for the 2 shops. Poor old London is knocked about even worse than when I was up in March and I am afraid there is still more to come. We found a good supply of wools and coupon free yarn in the warehouses, but little else. No traced needlework before 1 October, as the wholesalers have all sold their quota. Had lunch in Gamages and tea at a nice little Scottish tea-shop in the Strand. We walked all day and were very footsore and tired when we reached Cannon Street Station. Newgate Street has nearly disappeared, Wood Street and Paternoster Row are down, parts of High Holborn, New Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road are in ruins. Coming back, we saw the big damage caused at the back of Fleet Street. Poor Ludgate Hill is more than half wiped out and St Paul’s stands out in solemn grandeur amidst its desolated surroundings. I was glad to leave all this orgy of destruction because it saddened me a lot.

Monday 25 to Saturday 30 August

There is little to report. We seem to have reached a lull so far as affairs go in this part of the world. Most of the corn is now cut, but much of it remains to be carried. The hops are looking well and picking will commence next week. Fierce fighting is reported daily on the Russian front, where the Germans claim more territorial gains. British and Russian forces continue their march into Iran to put a stop to German intrigues in that country. Our bombers and lighters continue to pass overhead in large numbers on their way to bear up the Germans in Northern France. Evelyn went to Chatham for her WAAF medical examination and passed grade 1. Mrs Ronald Wise[31] commenced in the Court Street shop. I am hoping she will prove just the person I want. Three-ball at Belmont with Jackman and Ward in the evening, when I showed better form than for some time past and won with a substantial lead of points.

Monday 1 to Saturday 13 September

I am getting rather slack over my diary – partly, I think, on account of war weariness and partly because one day is so much like another in this part of the world at the present time. I have been suffering from sciatica or neuritis for several weeks past and am now taking some of Dr Cannon’s physic, apparently without much effect. Some days the pain is much worse than others and travels about from my toes to my head. On other days the pain is almost wholly confined to the muscles in the back of my thighs and I can bend forward only with considerable difficulty. The complaint, as may be imagined, does not improve my golf and I have played several putrid games of late.

Went down to Whitstable with Hilda on Thursday to have a new tooth put on my dental plate, but to my disgust the new tooth broke away on Friday morning.

Mr Brown (who purchased my newspaper and printing business some 3 or 4 years ago) called on me at Court Street on the afternoon of Friday, 12 September, and took me to the Willow Café for a cup of tea. He told me much about his Sheerness business and said he wanted help at Faversham, suggesting I might consider returning there either part or whole time. I do not know whether he was serious or just pulling my leg, probably the latter. Nevertheless, it is a possibility which I must bear in mind.

The fighting on the Russian front continues with unabated fierceness. The Russians are making desperate efforts to hold Leningrad[32] and the Germans equally desperate attempts to capture it, hurling their Luftwaffe against it and masses of tanks, guns and men, regardless of losses.

Sunday 14 September

There were 3 alerts on Sunday evening and night, and during the first two there were several loud explosions, which made the house shake. Heard later that a Hun had dropped a landmine at Teynham while he was being chased by one of our Beaufighters.

Tuesday 16 September

Went to Sittingbourne in the morning, where I found my tenant had had trouble with an Air Raid Warden owing to a light showing through a ventilator. The old fool of a shoemaker next door had plastered the shop window with brown paper and then covered it with ink! Spent part of afternoon and evening digging and carrying potatoes, some of which, I am afraid, have caught the blight, of which there seems to be a good deal this season. Siren during evening, all clear about 10:30pm.

Wednesday 17 September

Our siren sounded about 8:30pm. We heard one explosion in the distance just after the siren went. Dover and Folkestone bombed, about 20 people being killed in former town.

Friday 19 September

Not feeling too good. Sciatica or neuritis still troublesome and very ‘heady’ with catarrh. Tried to buy some Kilner jars but there were none to be had. Faversham Town Council has been instructed by the Ministry of Supply to make a survey of all railings in the Town. These are to be requisitioned for munitions, and a good thing too. They are ugly relics of the Victorian age and the town will look vastly better without them.

Monday 22 to Wednesday 24 September

A little gardening, a little work and a few short sirens, mostly at night.

Friday 26 September

Had a letter from my cousin (AJ Barratt) in S Africa, telling how he is becoming ‘venerable’, he is several years my junior, and that he will probably never set foot on board ship again. He suggests I shall pay him a visit. How gladly would I go if I could raise the wherewithal.

Sunday 28 September

Caught the 8:40am bus to Lewisham, and thence to Beckenham to visit the Wellbeluffs, whom we had not seen since January 1940. Hilda, Mary and Evelyn also came. Harry took us to Lewisham in his car at 6 o’clock, but our coach, which was due at 6:26pm failed to arrive until just after 7:30 and only then when a bus inspector had got through two phone calls to the Coach Office at Victoria and induced them to send a special coach. We arrived at Gillingham shortly after 9pm, caught a service bus to Sittingbourne and there had to change into the 10:07 to Faversham, reaching home 1 ½ late! Won £1 on the ‘4 aways’ in Football Pools.

Monday 29 September

Went to Sittingbourne in afternoon and found that Miss Cook had failed to arrive. Met Mrs Gransden there and arranged with her to come from 1–6pm daily. She volunteered to stay that afternoon, which I thought was very good of her. Went to Odeon in evening and saw ‘Target for Tonight’, a thrilling RAF film and ‘The Invisible Woman’, a really funny picture.

Tuesday 30 September

Had a bath in the evening and soon after I got into it the siren sounded. I refused to be done out of my bath, however, and finished it unhurriedly without incident. The Premier has reviewed the war situation in Parliament and although he gave us encouraging news, especially concerning the Battle of the Atlantic and the relative strength of the Luftwaffe, he refused to indulge in wishful thinking and stressed that there were still some heavy months ahead of us before we began to see the tide of Victory flow.

Thursday 2 October

Another afternoon of vegetable carrying, the weather being very warm and sunny. Fire watching at night with 3 sirens but no planes here. Heard in the morning, however, that the Huns had dive-bombed Dover three times, their worst ever raid of the war[33].

Saturday 4 October

Evelyn came off AFS duty at 7am and said that the Chief Officer had offered her a job as car driver if she could obtain her release from the WAAF. She is eager to do so if possible, as she is tired of waiting for her call-up papers and also as she would be able still to live at home. Wellbeluffs arrived about 3:45pm for a short weekend.

Sunday 5 October

Another of my chickens died, apparently from the same disease as the last one. While I was burying it in the back garden in the morning, my dog returned home with a gaping wound in his shoulder, which I bathed and bandaged. W’s left at 4:20 and Hilda and I went for a walk round Macknade after tea. We were struck with the large number of apples on Mr Neame’s trees, making one wonder whether poor crops of this fruit are all due to the weather, or it they are not in some degree the result of indifferent farming.

Wednesday 8 October

Went to Sittingbourne in morning and saw Mrs Gransden for the first time since she came to help. She says she can remain until Christmas which seems to fit in quite well. Hilda had a letter from Mrs Challis who is very fed up with living in indifferent diggings at Maidenhead and enquiring whether it is safe to come to Faversham. The children have a week’s holiday shortly and Hilda has written her to bring them here and talk things over. I suggested to Hilda that they might come and live with us, at any rate for a time and that Mrs Challis could help with the house and shop.

Saturday 11 October

Was rather perturbed on hearing a conversation in my Sittingbourne shop between Miss Hawkins and a customer, from which it seemed that the shop had been closed when this customer had called, and Miss Hawkins explained that she had had to go to tea. As Mrs Gransden should have been there when Miss Hawkins left, it would seem that they have been calmly closing the shop and going off to tea together.

Sunday 12 October

I’ve done it again – got four away matches correct in the Football Pools. Wonder how much I shall win this time? Golf in morning, form not too good after fortnight’s rest. Ward and I lost to Jackman and Philpott by 1 hole. Heard that a big explosion we had heard about 8:20 the previous evening was a magnetic mine which had fallen on Whitstable instead of in the sea as intended. Four or five people were killed, about 40 injured and some 400 homes damaged – Whitstable’s worst dose of the war thus far. Another mine or large bomb was dropped near Mid-Kent Waterworks along Newnham Bottoms, narrowly missing an encampment of gypsies, but doing no damage.

Tuesday 14 October

Evelyn had a notice from the Air Ministry to the effect that they could not release her, but that she would not be called up until the latter part of the month. I hate the thought of her going away, but honestly think it will be the best for her sake. Challis came up from Ramsgate to talk over the proposal for Mrs Challis and the children to come to Faversham and live with us and we all agreed to try it.

Saturday 18 October

Evelyn received calling-up notice for Saturday 1 November, when she has to report at Gloucester.

Monday 20 to Friday 24 October

An uneventful period. Paid another visit to Dr Cannon on Tuesday and had another bottle of physic. Went to the Odeon on Monday by myself and saw Lady Hamilton and to the Argosy on Thursday with Hilda to see Kipps, both moderately good films. Business has fallen off a lot, shortage of clothing coupons being, I suspect, the main reason.

Monday 27 to Friday 31  October

Am spending an increasing amount of time at Faversham business each day, as Evelyn is getting ready for her departure. How I wish she was not going. Spent Thursday afternoon digging in garden and planting bulbs. Weather fine, but cold. Sciatica worse again and I missed my turn of fire watching for the second time since the commencement in February.

Saturday 1 November

Evelyn has gone and left a big blank in our home. She came down to Court Street to say goodbye, and after she had gone I went down to the basement and blubbed. Felt miserable all day and fortunately we had a very busy afternoon in the shop, and this kept my mind off the subject a bit. I wonder when I shall see her again. It is the first real break in our home life and I hope Eve isn’t going to feel homesick. Hope she gets plenty to eat anyway, as nothing is worse than feeling blue with an empty belly. A much busier week.

Tuesday 4 November

Had a letter from Eve telling us that her train was an hour late and that she and other girls were met at Gloucester station by a van resembling a black maria. The camp is a large one of wooden huts. She expects to be there only a few days.

Thursday 6November

An unquiet day and evening. Heard from Eve that she is off to Morecambe for about 10 days and then to Blackpool for about 3 weeks for training. Went to London by the 8:09am train and bought a lot of ‘Bestway’ knitting leaflets and botany wool. Home by the 3:35 from Victoria. German planes busy around us for about 1 ½ hours. Heavy gunfire at times and bombs at intervals, too close for comfort on one or two occasions. All clear about 8:45pm. This is the most disturbing raid we have had for some time.

Monday 10 to Thursday 13 November

Much rain and little else. Fire watching at 10pm. Received the huge sum of 8/- for 9 results pool previous Saturday. Have won 4 pools in 8 weeks and received a total of 38/-. Wish I could win the Penny Points Pool, which this week paid out a first dividend of £8,020, some hopes!

Tuesday 18 November

Am having to spend more time in Sittingbourne shop, as Mrs Gransden’s husband is very ill and she is unable to come and help. I forgot to state that when I got to Sittingbourne on Monday, Miss Hawkins informed me that the police had to break into the shop on Sunday morning to extinguish a light, which had mysteriously come on, apparently owing to a defective switch. She had not pushed the switch quite home and it had dropped back, causing the light to come on, and she had also left the blackout curtains partly drawn, so that the light shone into the street. Looks like a court case[34]. There had been a raid earlier on Saturday evening, with gunfire in the Estuary. There was another raid on Tuesday evening about 7 o’clock. Two bombs were dropped at Sturry and I saw the flashes. There was also one very loud explosion later on.

Wednesday 19 November

Heard that one of the bombs dropped at Sturry the previous night had fallen on a butcher’s shop opposite a public house kept by Mr Castle (formerly with Tett & Co. of Faversham). The public house was wrecked, killing Mrs Castle and some other people and injuring others, including Mr Castle. The loud explosion was stated to have been caused by a bomber exploding in mid-air and falling into the sea off Herne Bay, but I don’t know whether there is any truth in it. Had another letter from Eve. She has finished her course of lectures at Morecambe and has had her passing out exam, after which she is expecting to be drafted to Blackpool, or some RAF Station.

Thursday 20 to Saturday 22 November

A period of comparative quiet. Engaged a fresh assistant in place of Mrs Gransden for my Sittingbourne shop and won yet another 9 results pool on Saturday – another 6/- I expect! Had a hectic Saturday at Sittingbourne, where I had to spend the whole day. Player’s ration had arrived the previous afternoon, and we took over £21 in the tobacco shop.

Monday 24 November

A short raid in evening, the imminent danger signal being on for about half-an-hour. No gunfire or searchlights, only the sound of a plane hovering around for some minutes. All-clear sounded at 8pm. Another letter from Evelyn, who is still at Morecambe. Also letter from brother Fred at Lynton, who reports that business is quiet, but that he and Edith are well.

Thursday 27 November

Digging in allotment in afternoon and fire-watching at night. All clear at 10:45pm. Was much annoyed because the two girls woke me up at 1:30am and I got about 2 hours sleep only.

Monday 8 to Thursday 11 December

A black time personally and internationally. Personally, my neuritis was more troublesome than ever and I had to cry off fire watching on Thursday. Japan declared war on Great Britain and the USA at the beginning of the week and launched heavy attacks against the Philippines and Malaya. On Wednesday we lost the Prince of Wales and Repulse by torpedo carrying aircraft. Some 2,000 of the two crews were saved but Admiral Tom Phillips was lost. A heavy blow for our Navy. On Thursday Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

Friday 12 and Saturday 13 December

Things quiet locally with very little Christmas trade about. Restrictions in manufacture have made most goods very scarce, and those which need coupons are selling more slowly than last year. Eve came home on 48 hours leave at 7am on Saturday. It was good to see her.

Sunday 14 December

Following a fine week Sunday was a thoroughly wet day – no gardening, no golf. Hilda was down at the canteen from 6:30 to 10:30, so I took Mary to the Argosy, where we saw Jack Buchanan in Brewster’s Millions, a hilarious farce at which I laughed heartily.

Monday 15 December

Went round to Dr Cannon’s again in evening, as my neuritis had given me a bad week-end, but he was out for the evening.

Tuesday 16 December

Again, went to Dr Cannon’s and he told me to carry on regularly with infra-red ray treatment.

Wednesday 17 December

Conceived the idea of making a little enclosure around the gas fire in the dining room, in order to keep warm while undergoing my treatment. Fixed up the draught screen in front of fire and rugs hung over backs of chairs at side. Found the arrangement worked admirably and I kept quite warm.  The heat of the tire was wonderfully soothing and I retired to bed feeling very refreshed.

Thursday 18 December

Woke up to find neuritis nearly as bad as ever, but managed to put in a little digging on the allotment in the afternoon. The Japs are making progress in Northern Malaya and Penang is seriously threatened. Hong Kong is besieged, but holding out gallantly. Rommel is on the run in Libya where the Buffs have taken a prominent part in the fighting.

Monday 22 December

Reached the ripe old age of 53! Soon be drawing old age pension now.

Tuesday 23 December Tuesday

No Christmas shopping rush this year, although jewellers and stationers seemed to be doing well – no coupons required for their goods – lucky beggars!

Wednesday 24 December

Christmas Eve and precious little sign of Christmas.

Thursday 25 December

Christmas Day a sad one for millions all over the world. Felt very iffy without Eve and was constantly wondering what she was doing. Had a 3 ball with Jackman and Philpott in morning, former playing our best ball and winning 2 up. Goose and plum pudding, both excellent for dinner. Heard King’s speech broadcast in afternoon and then went short walk with Hilda. Alert sounded around 6:30 but only lasted for about half-hour and there were no sounds of planes or gunfire. Fire watching at 10pm but only ‘signed on’ and was then dismissed, to my infinite content!

Wednesday 31 December

Decided to sleep the New Year in, as having to turn out at 7 o’clock in the morning there is not much inducement to sit up late, especially as the wireless programme was very unexciting.


[1] Although he was soon to lose favour with Churchill and was dispatched to India as viceroy

[2] After a number of postponements, plans for a German invasion across the Channel had been abandoned in the autumn of 1940. Preparations for the invasion of Russia now had top priority – even air raids were lessening as bombers and fighters were moved to the east.

[3] The Emperor Halle Selassie had been driven out by the Italians in 1935. The campaign restored him to his throne.

[4] Gwen Taylor, daughter of Mr Taylor, gardener at Bensted House.

[5] On the corner of Market Square.

[6] ‘Dig for Victory’ was the slogan encouraging owners of gardens to plant vegetables in preference to flowers and lawns. Some London squares were turned into vegetable plots.

[7] Stuart Holmes, son of W Holmes the Court Street grocer.

[8] Hitler needed the roads and railways through Yugoslavia to coma to the aid of the Italians in Greece.

[9] Providing Hitler with the excuse to bomb Belgrade and invade Yugoslavia.

[10] Naval engagement off Cape Matapan.

[11]This was RommeI’s Afrika Korps.

[12] Yugoslavia and Greece.

[13] NRM British Expeditionary force.

[14] Clare and Nell, his two sisters, lived in Worcester. Clare, the eldest was suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

[15] Mr Ward kept a baker’s shop at the top of St Mary’s Road, his wife was a cousin of Hilda. Austin’s mother.

[16] Airborne radar installed in night fighters was increasingly effective. To conceal its existence, it was put about that pilots night vision was improved by the inclusion of carrots in their diet.

[17]Hess genuinely believed he could negotiate a compromise peace once Churchill was forced to resign. His error probably saved his life. Unlike other Nazi leaders he was not condemned to death at the Nuremberg trials but died at 92 the sole inmate of Berlin’s Spandau prison.

[18] Commander of the Italian forces in Abyssinia.

[19] This is the first diary mention of a battle which German submarines had been waging against supply convoys in the Atlantic almost since the first days of the war. In the first year of the war British losses of Naval and merchant ships totalled 452. In May 1941 nearly 360,000 tons of shipping were sunk.

[20] The first major use of parachute troops as an invasion force. In spite of heavy casualties, the Germans captured Crete in 11 days.

[21] The Bismarck was scuttled by its crew, after its steering gear had been disabled by gunfire.

[22] Herbert Dane, long time editor of the Faversham News and compiler of Faversham paper No.5 ‘1000 years of Faversham History’.

[23] The fighting in Syria resulted in French fighting French, Arab against Arab. It ended with the British in control of the Lebanon.

[24] Double summertime had been introduced as an energy-saving measure.

[25] Finland had been defeated by Russia in the Winter War, which lasted from November 1939 to March 1940.

[26] His dog.

[27] Where his youngest sister Nellie Reynolds lived.

[28] His niece, Nellie’s daughter

[29] American Radio correspondent in London. He claimed to have discovered that Hitler’s real name was Schickelgruber.

[30] ‘Postscripts’ were a regular five-minute feature at the end of the main evening news at 9pm.

[31] Before her marriage Mrs Wise was Miss Fuller of Fullers Builders in Faversham.

[32] The siege of Leningrad (now St Petersburg) the longest in modern history, lasted 880 days.

[33] Dover was also on the receiving end of shellfire from the French coast.

[34] The exaggerated fear that even the smallest beam of light was visible, and might even be a signal, to enemy planes made for some very officious behaviour by Civil Defence personnel, and others.

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