28th April 1942

Vague news this morning of a raid on Norwich last night. “Many casualties feared”, “widespread damage”. It is obvious that comparatively few planes have been used in these raids, yet the press makes more fuss about them than it did of the heavy raids 18 months ago.

Went up to Poulter’s flat tonight, and heard the 9 p.m. news. To my surprise there was no mention of Norwich in the summary, and only a few words in the main news – fires, considerable damage, two churches and a hospital hit; and “fairly numerous casualties.”

It looks rather as if the papers are making the most of these raids, firstly on account of lack of news, and secondly to stimulate the population by fear, hatred, etc.

Some accounts of the Bath attacks say 150 bombers came over the first night and 50 came the second. Others say 50 the first night and 25 on the second. What is one to believe? The Pump Room, Roman Baths, Museum, and Cathedral seem to be untouched.

One thing noticeable is that all the press accounts seem to be derived from the same source, as they mention trivial incidents in exactly the same way – a woman killed who was about to be married, a shelter hit, a car buried and then blown up again, a sedan chair outside a burnt building.

Colchester now begins to wonder quite seriously whether or not it is an 'historic town'. Called at home tonight. The old people don't seem to be given to any forebodings. Only stayed 10 minutes. Robin looks very well. I don't like leaving him right against Paxmans but I don’t see what else I can do.

I moved my “Old Colchester” Photographs into the Castle tonight. I am almost determined to move all my papers, journals, etc to Boxted, just as a precaution.

All this dreadful carnage and destruction is a direct reprisal for the RAF raids on German towns. Who knows what frightful things have happened there? The English papers have gloated over the burning and smashing of towns such as Rostock and Lübeck, and have published photos to show the extent of this damage to shops, houses and churches. Yet they squeal madly when the Germans strike at “plutocratic Bath”, the ancient buildings of which they would not raise a finger to protect from vandals in peace time.

I am in a most depressed state in the Oven tonight. It is gone eleven, and the silence is so intense one can almost “hear” it. I am straining my ears to catch any friendly sounds a car, a lorry, a drunken soldier, or even a ghostly noise in this “crumbling ruin” would be better than a silence which presses all round you. I cannot forget our lack of sand and water. How much longer shall I stand these nights? I dream so much, and so strangely. There is a noise now, at last, - wind moaning under the Castle door.


Robin King said...

Was interested about Robin being left next to Paxman's. Do I remember rightly that EJR's parents lived in New Town (near to us!)? - From the Castle he would then have walked (or cycled) via St. Botolph's to visit his parents. So was the Paxman's he referred to the large warehouse opposite St. Giles' church? If so, his fears were well-founded, because that building was destroyed in an air raid later on in the war - which I will comment on when it turns up in time in the diary!

E J Rudsdale said...

Hello Robin, Many thanks for your comments. Yes - you are right - EJR's parents did live in New Town, in Winnock Road, just round the corner from where you lived. I believe you are right about Paxman's being at the St Botolph's site (the Britannia Works)and I will look forward to your comments on this air raid when we get to that point in the diary! However, I think that EJR was stabling Robin at the stables he used in Port Lane, in addition to the stable at Bourne Mill where he stabled Bob. I believe the Port Lane stables were beside the Paxman Diesel factory, hence EJR's fears for Robin's safety in an air raid. If anyone else can confirm these locations, please let me know. Many thanks, CP