19th October 1942: Daytime Air Raid on Colchester

Just going into the café for breakfast when the sirens blew.  Rose was quite unconcerned.  As Chapman has now left the Museum, I thought I had better go down to the Castle to see what was happening. Felt I wanted to move about.  

Only Butcher was at the Castle, and the vaults were locked.  It seemed wrong to me, but I did not feel like interfering.  No planes came over.   Back to breakfast.  

Another alarm at 10 o'clock.  Wilcocke made the girls go downstairs to the basement but they soon came back as nothing happened.  Capt. Folkard and I stayed in the office, listening to every car and lorry which came up East Hill all of them sounding exactly like planes.  Suddenly, soon after 11, we heard guns and five tremendous bomb crashes.  A man on the doorstep said that something had fallen in the road outside Dr. Butt’s, but I looked and saw nothing.  Before I could get across the lawn I heard the plane returning, and another burst of machine gun fire.  I ran back round the side of the house, where two old men stood talking.  One said “My potatoes aren't what I hoped they’d be.”  I called “Look out!  He’s coming back.”  One old man said “Who is?” looking at me dully.

Went into the Holly Trees field.  Taylor was there, just coming out of the Warden’s Post.  A warden ran by, towards Roman Road.  Taylor called “Where is it?”  He replied “Somewhere near Mason’s” [a local printing firm].  “My God,” said Taylor, “I’ve got a daughter down there.”  I said No, I thought they were more to the east.   

All-clear came at 11.30.  Wilcocke said he actually saw the bombs explode, as he happened to look out at that time.
To my great joy the sky cleared [at lunchtime], and by three o’clock the sun was shining.

Went round by the North when I came out at 6.  Nothing much to see but broken windows and tarpaulins over roofs.  A bomb hole in the road, near the path next to the Rat Ditch.  Little groups of people coming away with suitcases and bundles, bedding and bits of furniture.  There are no houses down, although bombs fell within a few yards of them.  It must be admitted that [these modern houses] stood up to blast much better than the 100 year old houses in Essex Street.  Nothing to be seen at Masons from the outside.  They say a man had his hand blown off.

The Executive Officer and Chairman of the Executive [War Agricultural] Committee came this afternoon to see our Committee on cattle business.  The Executive Officer said there was an attack at Chelmsford this morning, two or three people killed, and Nott said there was another at Tiptree, I suppose on the jam factory, and a number of houses were badly knocked about.  

At last to Lawford – such a change of atmosphere, warmth, food, laughter.  Praying for a fine day tomorrow.

No comments: