28th February 1943

Cloudy in the morning, but warm.  I lay in bed much too long.  Intended to do so much today, but really did so little.  All the morning firing heavy guns in the distance – Home Guards at Harwich, I believe.  Felt very tired, and hated the idea of going in tonight [for duty].

Writing, and mounting photos all morning.  A peacock butterfly flew in at the open window, and there were sheep on the meadow just behind the house.  The sun came out.

This afternoon more writing, and then in to Colchester.  Took eggs and butter to Mrs. Green.  Had tea at home.  Mother seemed rather unwell.

Long talks with Poulter tonight.  We talked over museum affairs.  I said that in my opinion, the Committee would try to get rid of Hull on health grounds, as this was their only chance.  I believe he will fight hard.  Poulter wanted to know what I really intended to do?  Did I want the Museum for myself?  I said, yes, I very definitely did, and nothing would please me more.  He said he would do his best to hang on until such a time as I could take over.

Saw the “Museums Journal” in the office.  My cousin Underhill is recorded under “War Service” as being in the RAF Intelligence.  My own work was recorded under the same heading two years ago, which made me feel rather annoyed.

27th February 1943

Another glorious fine day.  Got in by 8 o’clock this morning.  An alarm at 9.30, which surprised me, but it lasted only 10 minutes.  Perhaps an observation plane over.  No doubt it returned, unharmed.

Chairman and members of Committee in all morning, and could not get very much done.  A Mrs. Voake arrived, having been appointed by Writtle as Womens Labour Officer.  She is quite unsuitable, lives at Capel St Mary, has no car, and expects to work from 10 till 4.  She says Writtle agreed to let her have petrol to travel from Capel to Wigborough (40 miles!) every day.  To do this she would need at least 80 gallons a month, four times the District Officer’s allowance.  Her appointment is already settled, in fact her first salary cheque arrived an hour before she did. 

This afternoon to Bourne Mill, then cycled out by Boxted, called at the Rose’s for half an hour.  The baby seemed rather sickly.  Boxted looked very bright, crops coming on well, many men out on their smallholdings, others coming back with their pony carts from their rounds.  Lovely spring weather, birds singing like May. 

This evening sorting photographs.  Few planes about. 

26th February 1943

Lovely day, warm and sunny.  

Very busy all day.  Called at Dedham tonight.  Mrs. Sisson said she had been down to Cheltenham, which is full of Americans.  Lent me a very nice book, “Coming down the Wye,” by Robert Gibbings.

Few planes about tonight, but I heard an “All Clear,” I believe from Colchester, about 9 o’clock.

25th February 1943

Fog, but the sun rose and it cleared, leaving a cloudless sky. 
Chief Inspector Clear came in this morning, about the scheme to release policemen for farm work this summer.  He said “We shall have to take a chance now.  Jerry seems like being busy somewhere else for a time.”  Do they really know something, or is this just a guess?  I believe the whole scheme for police labour is simply another of [Chief Constable] Stockwell’s plans to make himself useful in case there is any more talk of abolishing the Borough Police Force.

Mr. Craig came in this afternoon.  We got talking about the need for new offices.  The D’Arcy House was mentioned, and he said outright that the Corporation would not undertake repairs as they had only bought it to pull it down.  I rang up Banell, and he told me exactly the same thing.  Nobody has ever admitted this before, but I knew it all the time.  What I did not know was that it belongs to the Electricity Committee.  Possibly they intend to build a new show room on the site.  I see no point in our fighting this.  They are all determined to destroy it.  Even Mr. Craig said, waving his hand towards Queen St., “we must have a clean sweep round here.”

[Luckily D'Arcy House did survive and is now a cafe and art gallery CP].

Home at 5 to tea.  Ella [Eric's cousin] had been in this morning, with a story that the police are now going to question all men of military age whenever they see them in the streets.  Expect this is another lie. 

Slight rain on the way back to Lawford.

24th February 1943

Joy said it would be fine today, and it was.  The moon was shining at 5 o’clock, and the sun rose at 8, ruddy in the fog, and then blazed all day in a clear blue sky.  Very busy all day, and got a good deal done, in spite of continual interruptions.  Wind moved to S.W., and became warm again.

Home to tea, and then down to the mill for half an hour.  Cycled out in the dusk, people beginning to dig their gardens.  A lot of children at Ardleigh playing marbles in the road.  Tractor at work behind the settlement, although nearly 7 o’clock.

Parry quite better now.  Writing letters etc. tonight.

This week is the hundredth anniversary of the opening of the railway to Colchester.  The “coaching age” is now receding further and further into the past.

Councillor Blomfield in again today, and borrowed William Wire’s “Journal”, which he had never read before.  We had further talk about the Museum, and he asked me to outline a scheme for the reorganisation of the place.  No sign or news of Hull.

23rd February 1943

Grey, overcast, foggy.  Went in by bus.  Rather nervous, but emboldened by the fact that there have been no attacks since Friday.  Got a certain amount done today.

Councillor Blomfield came in.  More talk about Museum.  He tells me there is definitely something moving.  Whatever is done during the next few weeks will settle the management of the Museum for the next 25 years.  A cheering thought that Hull is due to retire at October, 1966.

Blomfield was not prepared to give any hint of what the Committee intend to do.  Perhaps he is not yet sure himself what they can do.

Extraordinary phone message today from Writtle, to say that Mr. Hogg had been appointed, and had he begun work?  We had never heard of any such man, but later messages told us that he had been appointed by Sadler [of the Executive Committee at Writtle], quite without Captain Folkard’s knowledge.  Nobody has any idea what he is supposed to do if he does come.

Cold and foggy tonight, and very dark.

22nd February 1943

Got up later than I intended.  Mist, and grey sky, no sign of a break.  
War Agricultural Committee Meeting this afternoon.  Rather a touchy scene towards the end about the management of Mrs. Green’s farm.  The shortage of all sorts of implements makes things very difficult there.

Came back all the way with Moorhouse.  He mentioned [the artist] A.J. Munnings, [who owned a house in Dedham] and seemed to dislike him a good deal.  He said that he was quite the rudest man he had ever met.  I said “Well, I suppose he is the greatest man of his style since Stubbs, and perhaps the last man who can paint horses and dogs which really look like horses and dogs.”  Moorhouse replied very coldly “Maybe, but that is no excuse for his rudeness.”

Parry rather better today, and was up when I got back.  There has not been a gleam of sun since Saturday afternoon.

21st February 1943

Thick fog, did not get up until half past 9.  Raw and cold.  Helped Joy all I could.  Parry stayed in bed.  Fed stock, took some meat up to Mrs Belfield at Birchett’s Wood.  Penelope expected from Harwich this afternoon, bringing a sailor to tea. 
Went down to Dedham and called on Sissons, to talk about Poulter.  Mrs. Sisson could not understand why the hospital authorities took such a gloomy view.  She agreed that his voice was better than it was last week.  Back by Pond Lane.  Thick fog, shapes of trees and sheds looming out.  Complete silence everywhere, not a plane in the sky, not a car moving.

After lunch, up to the watercress beds.  Most complex system of canal and little lakes, water running in all directions at different levels.  Don't understand it at all.  Back by the buildings.  Saw Robin.  His feet need trimming.  Fred Nunn’s little cottage in the fields silent and deserted.  All the family gone to Severalls to see Dorothy.  What an inexplicable affair.  The meadows next the cottage are both ploughed now, one just broke up from grass, the other set with oats for the second time.

Caught and fed Roger, fed hens, collected eggs.  Moorhouse’s field, where the bombs fell, now being very liberally mucked, the steam from the muck heaps mingling with the mist.  A fast train went by, going towards London, then silence except for wheeling sea gulls and the distant barking of Mrs. Belfield’s dog.

After tea, sawing wood.  Then writing letters, etc. 

20th February 1943

Got up at 6, - lovely clear moonlight.  At 7 – thick cloud, which remained all day.  Went in by bus.  

Went out after doing post to trace a man named Hayes, whose small holding we had not got on the records.  Found him near Brickwall Farm.  On the way back, called at Magazine Farm, and saw Blake.  I mentioned I had met his Irish milk girl.  He said he had three girls on rounds now, one only 15.  Saw the Irish girl in Park Road. 
Back to Holly Trees, and heard that Poulter was back, and was in the Castle with the Committee.  Very rushed with work, and was so busy I forgot to be scared when the siren sounded soon after 12.  It was ideal conditions for an attack, but nothing happened, and all-clear came in 10 minutes.

The Committee were in the Castle for an hour and a half, everybody trying to make the old Chairman see how bad things were.  He is determined that there shall be no public scandal.  He asked Poulter if Hull drank?  Poulter was very embarrassed, and said he did, rather.  The cool impudence of the Chairman to ask such a thing, when Hull has gone to Committee time after time, three parts drunk.

Poulter's voice is better than last week, and he spent the whole morning talking to the Committee, quite clear and distinct.  He said they found Hull’s office comparatively tidy, as indeed it ought to be, considering that Mrs. Hull and two of the men spent all Thursday on it.  Smallwood gave the show away, by telling Harding there was to be an inspection.  Harding told Mrs. Hull, when she called for letters.  Poor little man, how scared he must be, fast in bed, and all the time wondering if he is going to lose his job.  

This afternoon carting hay – got a quarter ton from Pulford.  Poor old Bob is getting very thin.  It will be touch and go if he lasts until the spring.  Home to tea.  Mother said that news had reached Mr. Cox that Jimmie Cox is alive and well in Singapore.  He was not heard of for a year and a week.  He is ten years older than me, but I remember him well when the Coxes lived in Old Heath Road.  His mother Nellie Cox, who died of cancer many years ago, was the daughter of old Mr. North, the first headteacher of Barrack St. School, when my Father went there in 1898.  [The Barrack Street School is now the Wilson Marriage Centre for Adult Education in Colchester]

Cycled out to Lawford, got there at 7.  Quite light, clouds clearing, and the moon beginning to show.  Dorothy Nunn was taken to Severalls last night.
Several stupid confusions this week about various kinds of permits.  Applications are received, approved, forwarded to Writtle, and the permits issued, only to be returned by the merchants as being out of date, the wrong kind, or as being issued in an irregular way.  There is no doubt that production is seriously interfered with by these absurd muddles.

19th February 1943

Suddenly woke at 2a.m. and realised I had not put the week's wages (over £600) in the Muniment Room.  Consequently had to get up at 6.30 and catch the first bus, so as to be able to get them out of sight before any of the others arrived. 

Lovely morning.  Not a cloud, the sun rising orange and warm through a mist.

Very busy all day, people in and out.  Halsall and his son from Dedham came in this morning, very annoyed at the compulsory removal of one of their men to work for the Committee.  The wild insanities of the Man Power Board are becoming worse.  There is no doubt that they do actually hinder production by depressing and infuriating both employers and workers.

Then Mr. Page and Mr. Sturgeon came in, to make a report on a stallholder from Boxted, about whom anonymous letters have been sent to Writtle, insinuating that one of his sons was retailing vegetables and was therefore not a bona-fide smallholder.  It seems that they are out to prevent the smallholders from retailing their own produce in Colchester, as any man who does so will not be considered to be a bona-fide smallholder, and will be re-registered as a greengrocer, even if he is only in the town three half-days a week.  This is a scandalous thing, and would not only put these men out of business but would prevent Colchester people from getting fresh vegetables.  If these men did not come in, almost the whole of the green stuff grown in this district would go straight to London.
Heard today that there was a collision between one of the sand lorries and a big petrol tanker at the corner of Brook St. and Barrack St. yesterday afternoon.  A woman and child who were travelling in the sand lorry, were killed.  They were the wife and son of the driver.

Parry still in bed.  Joy rather better.  She told me tonight that Dorothy Nunn, Fred Nunn’s wife, is very ill.  She is a great, strong looking country girl, yet I am told she worries incessantly.  How curious people are.  She has a husband over 30, securely reserved as a farm labourer, a nice little cottage, milk and cream from the farm, eggs from her own hens, no family, no need to fear air raids, yet she worries herself to the verge of insanity.

Doing chores tonight for Joy, and then writing. 

18th February 1943

High clouds, cold N.W. wind.  The “Times” this morning states that 2 planes raided Clacton, and 4 raided a “South coast town”.  This is rather a reduction from the original 12.
Went into the Castle to see Shenstone’s photos of the Norman building in Foundry Yard, which still hang most inappropriately in the Crypt.  As I came out I met Councillor Blomfield, who had come over to see if Hull’s office still remains locked.  It does.  We talked for a few minutes, but nothing special, then I went back to the office.  Butcher tells me that the Chairman, Councillor Blomfield, and Councillor Smallwood, are coming down to the Castle on Saturday to make a thorough inspection.  Funny that Blomfield did not say anything about it.

As we went through Parsons Heath tonight I heard sirens, and wonder if there would be an attack in the sunset but nothing happened, and Joy said all-clear went in 10 minutes, so it was probably another mistake. 

Glorious evening.  Walked down slowly from the blacksmith’s, past Lawford Park, the last rays of the sun red in the west, and a great yellow moon rising behind me.  There was an endless cawing of rooks settling to rest in the trees round the Hall.

Parry in bed, and Joy not at all well.  Dorothy, Fred Nunn’s wife, has rheumatic fever, and Rosemary Parrington has measles.  There is a lot of illness about now.

Bed at 11.30, very tired.

17th February 1943

Lovely morning, with the sun rising gold among thin clouds.  As I cycled down the Long Road I heard the sirens at Manningtree and Brantham, wailing in the still morning air.  Children were coming out of their cottages to go to school, taking no notice of it whatever.  I heard a woman in a garden calling out to somebody in the house “There’s a warning.”  I went along slowly, watching the sky and listening carefully, but nothing came.  I thought how curious that on a lovely calm morning like this somebody was being killed, perhaps not very far away.  There was no sound of bombs or guns.  The all-clear came as I went up Johnny Bois Hill.  I could hear both Manningtree and Colchester. 

Boutflower came in from Wivenhoe this afternoon, and said twelve planes had attacked Clacton, but he did not think much harm was done.  I went out for an evening paper, which said 4 planes, and that a little boy was killed in bed, and several people hurt.  It gives one a feeling of impotence, frustration, to think that after 3 and a half years of war, and at least a year's preparation for it, German planes can come over in broad daylight, not even waiting for the cover of clouds, shoot up a town, and fly away without loss, no doubt ready to come back next day.
Joy and Parry both have very bad colds, probably influenza.

Clouds rolling up tonight.

16th February 1943

Lovely day.  Heard there was a short alarm last night, but the evening papers say that no enemy aircraft were over the country and that it was a mistake.  I have never known them to admit that mistakes of that sort were even possible.

Telephone from Banell today, suggesting that we might take D’Arcy House, Culver St., for offices.  It belongs to the Corporation, who bought it a few years ago to destroy it, and would have done so had not the war begun.  The Fire Brigade have used it until recently, but they are now gone, as the number of stations in the town has been very much reduced.  I went over this afternoon and had a look at the place.  It is a very fine building, and without doubt dates from the time of William & Mary.  The interior is in a dreadful state, not only on account of damage done by the firemen, but because of crude alterations and additions done by Mrs. Peck when she had it for a boarding house.  I explored the whole place, very eerie with loose doors swinging in the wind, and I like it.  From the attic there is a good view across All Saints Church to the Holly Trees, which looks remarkably fine from that point.

This afternoon a man came down from Writtle to discuss the case of Young, of Blackbrook Farm, Dedham, who has appealed to the Central Tribunal about our treatment of him.  He is an awful rogue, and has no grounds for complaint, but it is feared that we shall have a lot of trouble with him.  We have the case of Mortimer of Abbot’s Hall, Wigborough, coming up on Thursday, - another rascal.

Tonight reading the “Life of Carson” by Colvin.  Interesting to think what Ulster has gained by its long stand against a United Ireland – war, misery, dreadful air raids, while the Irish Free State basks in peace and poverty, with lights on in the streets and shops.

Still very mild for the time of year.  If this weather holds, it will make a great difference to the harvest.

15th February 1943

Got up at 6 and washed and shaved.  Poulter came down at 7, on his way to the station.  He looked ill.  Put in an hour’s office work, waiting for the post.  It was a dull morning, with slight drizzle, which became worse.  Felt I could not bear it, so left a note to say I had gone off to inspect houses and went off on my cycle, along Maldon Road and Irvine Road to Bluebottle Grove.  A very heavy shower came down, and the sky effects were extraordinary and wonderful.  The rain cloud rolled away like an immense column of smoke, mounting up and up, thousands of feet into the sky.  Above was a lovely layer of mother-of-pearl coloured cloud.  Then that too moved, split, and drifted away, so that the old adage
                                    “Rain before seven
                                      Fine before eleven”

came true again.  Back down Lexden Road I met a most charming girl, Irish, driving one of Blake’s milk carts.  We had a pleasant chat about horses.  It was so unusual to find a woman who really understands the use of a horse.

Had a look at Capt. Lockhart’s house in Sussex Road, which is now empty.  It would be a fine office, remote, in a lovely position, yet only a few hundred yards from a main road.  I am afraid it would be too large, but I shall do what I can to get it.

Went down to Sheepen Farm, and saw last year's barley in a shed there, not yet threshed.  I could hear rats rustling among it.  As I walked back up the hill, a swan flew over at a great height.

Home to tea at 5.  Lovely evening, so light, though colder.  Children playing in the streets, some shooting marbles, the season for which is just begun.

14th February 1943

Valentine’s Day.  My birthday, 33 years old.  It is curious that I never gave the day a thought all morning, until at lunchtime Mrs. Sisson rang up, and wished me “many happy returns.”

Cleaned Robin today.  His feet want attention, as they are getting very long.

Left at half past 4, and went home to tea.  Found a birthday card from the Rallings.  Took butter and eggs for Mrs. Green and Mrs. Fletcher, and left them at the Grammar School.  Then to the office, doing letters.  

Supper at Culver St., and then down to the Muniment Room, going through prints, photos, etc, refreshing my memory.  Felt very depressed, about Poulter and the Museum, and because the papers today were talking about another great “comb-out”, although only men under 30 were specially mentioned.  How nice to be 33!  How much nicer to be 43!

Stayed in the Muniment Room longer than I intended and came up to find it nearly 3 o’clock.  Went to the Castle, hoping to get some rest, only to find the door bolted on the inside, and no shouting or knocking would attract the attention of the men upstairs.  At last I went back to Holly Trees, and lay in great discomfort on a sofa in the Drawing Room, with my head on a cushion, waiting for the morning.

13th February 1943

Lovely morning.  Fat, smooth clouds sailing in a blue sky.  Came in by bus. 

Capt. Folkard was annoyed about various matters brought up at Writtle yesterday.  He complains that I do not send forward information required.  To an extent this is so, but I can't get Nott and the others to give the necessary data, so what can I do?

Went to Gunton’s in Crouch Street to buy coffee-beans for Joy.  A very good grocer’s.  The youngest brother served me, a very nice young fellow.  Extraordinary how all the sons voices are so much alike.

On an impulse, called at Beckett’s, Balkerne Lane, to see if he had any old photographs, but there were none.  Bought 3 or 4 prints.

The usual Saturday crowds in the town, and huge queues for the cinemas, some 300 yards long.  Big crowds at the Bus Park, and very little chance to get a seat on Beeston’s, so I went on a Dedham bus as far as Ardleigh.  Had to wait half an hour, and felt very nervous, sitting there under a lowering sky, quaking lest the sirens should sound.  A newspaper van drove up, and there was a tremendous scramble for papers, so much so that I thought there must be some important news published, but when I bought one, I found that it was only the football results which were attracting so many buyers.
Changed at Ardleigh to a Harwich bus.  A lot of soldiers got on, going to a dance at Lawford.  There were three Czech officers on the bus, from Harwich I believe.

12th February 1943

Warm S.W. wind.  Got out this morning to meet Matheson [Secretary of the National Trust to discuss Bourne Mill, a National Trust property].  Before I went, two American Officers came in to talk about aerodrome sites. 

Went down to Bourne Mill in a taxi.  Made Matheson walk all over the property, showed him the state of the brook and the waterlogged condition of the field.  He was really quite horrified.

Took him to lunch at Rose’s.  After lunch showed him the Balkerne Gate, which he had never seen before, and the old houses in Stockwell Streets.  Told him how much had gone from there in the last 20 years.  Then we went to see Kenn in the Town Planning Office, and had a long talk.  He was very rude, and accused me of neglecting the Town Planning Committee entirely in my efforts to persuade the Corporation to take over Bourne Mill.  Actually of course I wrote to the Town Clerk, some two years ago, and although nothing whatever was achieved I was perfectly right to do so.  Kenn considers that I ought to have approached the Borough Engineer, but this would have been quite incorrect.  The Town Clerk is the responsible official.  Matheson was anxious to keep the peace, and agreed to adopt this course at once, and ask the Borough Engineer to put before the Town Planning Committee a scheme for them to take over the mill property.  The whole thing is quite absurd, as the Town Planning Committee has no authority to do such a thing, nor any machinery to carry it out in any case.

At another point Kenn suggested that if the Bourne Mill property was taken over the pond could be used for little paddle-boats, while teas could be served in the mill itself.  The machinery of course would have to be removed.

This man’s ideas are exactly in line with those of A.G. Andrews, [a former Deputy Borough Engineer] who once showed me a scheme to “terrace” the Castle Ramparts, and build glass sided shelters on each terrace.

As far as I could make out in the welter of talk, the Town Plan is not yet approved finally, even after 10 years.

Matheson left on the 3.45 train, and I went back to the office.  Fortunately the District Officer was at Writtle today.  I am in a mood of disliking the office work intensely.  I would give anything to get out, away into the country.

Left at 5, and went to Lawford by way of Dedham.  Mrs. Sisson is very perturbed about Poulter, and thinks there is very little hope.

Moonlight tonight, and a few planes about.

11th February 1943

Cloudy but fine, with many intervals of sun and blue sky.  From the papers I see there were more attacks yesterday, doing a lot of damage in the southern counties.  Some bombs were dropped right up to the edge of London.

Lovely evening.  Winter seems to have gone, although the trees are bare and black.  Snowdrops and crocuses on the Castle Ramparts.  Light at half past 6, and as I cycled through Wignall Street I could see a tractor at work in one of the settlement fields, well after 6 o’clock.

The land looks very well.  A lot of hedging has been done since Christmas.

10th February 1943

Lovely sunny morning.  Cycled in by 10 to 9, very pleasant ride. 

Went up to Wellesley Rd to see an empty house there, having got the key from Daniel.  Not really large enough for our purpose. 

Before we [ie - the Rudsdale family] moved to 66 Winnock Road early in 1918 I remember we came to see a house about three doors away from this one.  We went in with the agent, who had a little Yorkshire terrier with him, and I shut the little thing out in the garden.  I can see its pathetic little face now, and it was on my conscience for years.  All the time I was at school I wished we had taken the Wellesley Road house, as it was considered to be very common to live right down in the East end of the town.  I used to feel that sort of thing very keenly.

This afternoon Mr. Craig came in, and wanted me to go out with him to find two or three people whose names were on a list sent from the Ministry of Labour to Writtle.  This list consists of men of military age who have registered as farmers, smallholders or poultry farmers, and we are asked to check those in our area.  The bulk of them are of course well known, but a good many are doubtful, and these have to be seen by a Committee member.

First we went to see a man named Fisher in Brook St., registered as a market-gardener.  He lived in a decent new house by the footpath down to the Moors, but the whole place looked very untidy.  His wife came to the door, a dark woman, about 35.  She seemed to be only half dressed, and was clasping a kimono round herself.  When Craig questioned her, she said her husband’s land was in Ipswich Road.  No, she had no idea how large it was.  No, he wasn’t at home and he wasn’t on the ground, she didn’t know where he was.  Yes, he was out all day, every day, “dodging about.”  Better come after 6 to catch him.  It was horrible to see her startled expression – so obviously trying to gauge what we had come for, so determined not to give anything away where her man’s business was concerned.

Next we went down to Port Lane, to a piece of land, originally part of Scarlets, at the back of the Gas Works.  Two brothers named Smith have some poultry and vegetables there.  Only one of them was there when we arrived, feeding hens.  He was rather tall, weather beaten, with a sly look.  He was very suspicious at first, and Mr. Craig tried to worm out of him exactly what he did and as to where his brother was, but he would not say.  There was not a rod of the ground dug, and Smith admitted that the brother “sometimes” did work for other people.

I stood waiting, very cold, and rain just beginning, and felt more sorry than I can say for this poor fellow.  He was so obviously making a little living and nothing more, and will stand no chance whatever against the Ministry of Labour.  It is such a shame.

Back to office, rain becoming heavy.  Left at 5.30, and got rather wet cycling back.

Daphne told me today that she had been to the Ministry of Labour to see about another job, as she fears that after this month she may be conscripted.  She saw Miss May, with whom we had such trouble over Joanna last year, and without any hesitancy Miss May told her the whole story of what she regarded as a perfect scandal, and an example of “one law for the rich and one for the poor”.  There is no doubt that that case caused great annoyance and I believe it will be held against all of us if an opportunity offers.  The Ministry of Labour officials are remarkable for their small mindedness and their spite.

This evening writing, and mounting photographs.  I hope to get another dozen which Gale has been copying this week.  Still raining, and the wind is rising, howling through the leafless trees on the hill.

Today, the “Daily Express” publishes a garbled and unintelligible account of the attacks in Kent yesterday, making much of the machine-gunning of a passenger train.  On the next page they publish a photograph taken from an RAF machine in the act of doing exactly the same thing to a Dutch passenger train, while some private houses just on the other side of the railway are obviously about to be hit.  This of course is an act of extreme heroism.  Yesterday's events in Kent were German atrocities.  Is it possible that the British public swallow this sort of thing?

9th February 1943

Howling gale and heavy rain all night.  Went in by bus, thinking all the way that this was just the day for a raid.  Went into the office, everybody rushing about, settled down to letters, when Harding came in and said that a Warden was downstairs, and insisted that we put out our lights “while the warning was on.”  I said “what warning?” And he said “The siren went at a quarter to 9, didn’t you hear it?” 
Fortunately I had to see Lu Marden this morning, so I went out as soon as I had finished the post, and walked down through the Park in drizzling rain.  There was not a sound about anywhere.  Faintly, I heard the sound of the Town Hall clock striking ten, drifting through the fine rain.  A train came rushing down from Ipswich, and a stock train moved up the grade, puffing out great clouds of white smoke.  I thought of the spring days, so many years ago, when I used to come here to see the engines.  Crossed the bottom of the Hanging Field, and reached the By-Pass.  Called at Mason’s to see Gall.

The place was so busy and full of life it was difficult to believe that it may have only just escaped destruction.  How these young girls of 15 and 16 years old can work there under raid conditions I cannot think.

Gall asked after Poulter.  I don’t know how he knew the old man was ill.

Then called at the “Albert.”  Councillor Lu Marden, J.P. was not yet up, so I had to wait 10 minutes.  “Come in old chap,” he said, “I have to be at the Court at 11 o’clock.”  We had a long talk, and I fear it will be quite impossible to do any business over Payne’s house.  He seems to be quite uncertain as to when Payne will really be able to get out, and I dare not take over while both the doctor and the housekeeper are still sleeping there.  In any case, I am sure Writtle would not agree. 
Walked back through the Park.  Capt Folkard not very pleased at my having gone out on this business.  Like many chief officers, he wants results but the actual work involved in achieving them irritates him.

Weather improved a little.  Then another alarm at a quarter to 12 but it only lasted 10 minutes and nothing happened.  

Had to walk all the way down to Bourne Mill, and went through the Alleys.  The bomb holes are still not filled in behind Portugal Terrace, but all the houses are repaired, and it is impossible to see where any damage has been done. 

Had lunch at home.  Old people not in the least alarmed.  Mother said “I wonder where they were this morning?” (meaning the Germans).  She had a letter from Uncle Frank, in which he mentioned walking along Port Lane to fetch milk from Winsley’s Farm, nearly 60 years ago.  There were then no houses between Cannock Mill and New Town Villas, except Winsley’s.  How lovely it must have been. 

Got a little work done this afternoon, but felt all the time that another alarm might be given.  Caught the 5.15 bus.  The evening papers spoke of attacks all over Kent and Sussex, and right up to the southern edge of London.  About 20 people killed, and a lot of damage done.

Joy had been to Ipswich today, and said that in alarms there all shops closed and everybody goes under cover, as they used to at the beginning of the war. 

Sky cleared by 9, and the crescent moon came out.  If only it had been fine and clear this morning, about 20 people now dead would be alive and well.

8th February 1943

Overslept.  Wakened at a quarter to 8 by Parry shouting.  Lovely morning, sharp white frost.  Felt better.  Got in at 9.30.

War Agricultural Committee at Birch.  At tea-time, Col. Furneaux said how glad he was to see that Churchill was home again.  He said “You know, I can hardly sleep with worry when he’s away on these trips,” and went on to say a lot about Churchill having been sent by Providence to protect England, and that he was the reason why everybody was able to keep sane at the time of Dunkirk.  The Colonel said, “You know, I lost two stone during the week when France fell.” 
The meeting was over at 5.  Came back with Mr. Craig, and talked about Dr. Payne’s house.  I am afraid these negotiations are likely to fall through.

Cycled out to Lawford, the sky becoming cloudy and looking like snow.  Spent the evening writing. 

7th February 1943

Slept a little from 1am to 6am, then had a meat pie.  Up at 8, and worked in office for an hour.  Fine, the sun coming up reddy gold.  Went home to breakfast, then had a hot bath, exactly like a pre-war Sunday.  Lay in hot water listening to people walking past to church.  The sound of bands in the camp, sun shining, not an aeroplane in the sky, everything just as it used to be except that there were no church-bells.

Had a “Sunday dinner”, then down to Bourne Mill.  Cycled out by way of Boxted.  Some of the wheat looks very well indeed.  Saw the Roses.  He has been promoted, and is now an assistant to Mr. Harris.  I am very glad of this, as he seems so satisfied.  We harnessed the little donkey stallion, for the first time for 6 months, and he went very well and quietly. 

6th February 1943

Howling wind, driving rain, and low clouds, but somehow I knew it would not last.  Weather cleared gradually, and by lunch the sun came out.  Just as I felt ready to do an afternoon’s work I became ill, with bad headache, and much sickness.  However, carted hay from Pulford’s.  Only bales available, one quite rotten, for which he will want 12/-.

Had tea at Rallings, in honour of the cat’s first “birthday” – it is just a year since I took him there, thin, starved and nervous.  [See 7th February 1942Now he is sleek and fat, and rolls on his back to have his stomach rubbed.

Felt a little better, and had supper in the little café, as I was on duty tonight.  Very good sausages.  Spent the evening in the Holly Trees workshop, searching for spare photographs.  Among others, found a very good one of the wooden effigies in Lt. Horkesley Church, taken by A.G. Wright 40 years ago.  This has been there all the time, quite unknown to me.  Poulter’s negatives are in an awful state.  It is a terrible scandal, because they almost all show excavations or houses now destroyed, and they will be quite useless in a year or two.  Poulter has always refused to take any interest in his negatives, once the photo is taken.  Many are ruined by having chemicals spilled on them.

Authority came today to buy ten horses for the Committee farms at £100 each.  When we get them we shall have in all 22 horses.

On a time-sheet recently one of the men said he had worked at “Norland Farm, East Mersea”.  I had never heard of the place, but on asking Baldwin I hear it is an “old name” for Reeves Hall, which was always known by that name when he was a boy.  There is no reference to it in Reaney's 'Place Names'.

The Chairman was in this morning, and mentioned that it was now widely rumoured that the aerodrome at Birch was to be abandoned.  There have been 800 Americans there, but they have now left.  It is apparently believed that the whole strategy of the war has been altered by Churchill’s visit to Casablanca, and that the allies will now invade Italy or Greece.  I sincerely hope it is true that these landing grounds will not be used, as I fear their presence so near to Colchester may lead to very great damage being done to the town when the enemy attacks them.

5th February 1943

Cloudy and raining.  Heard this morning that bombs fell near Weeley last night, during the short alarm, and that all the lights were put out, so I suppose the cables were damaged.  When I saw Sisson this evening he told me that a land-mine had fallen at Thorpe, damaging shops, houses, and the church, but I am not sure if this is true or not.

Left early this afternoon, and cycled out by the Ipswich Road.  Saw Everett’s horses, tandem, hauling timber, and just behind another tandem team going into the yard at Roverstye, the carter sitting on one horse and driving the leader.  The aerodrome advances more and more.  Called on Sissons, and gave them the news about Poulter. 

Frank Girling called in this evening for coffee, after a “Discussion Group” meeting.  Talk about War Agricultural Committee work.  It seems that while in Essex we forbid farmers to grow oats over and above their actual needs for their own stock, across the river in Suffolk farmers are ordered to set oats on 15% of their arable land!  What lunacy.  How can any farmer respect the organisation that can do this?

Thankful to hear the wind getting stronger.  Hope the clouds will all be gone by tomorrow.

Mice running about above the ceiling tonight, squeaking and fighting.

4th February 1943

Another lovely day, bright sun, and only a few cloudy intervals.  Mr. Fletcher, the Managing Clerk from Writtle, came down this morning, and made an inspection of Dr. Payne’s house.  He is a very pleasant man, not much older than myself, and I got on very well with him.  He fully agreed that we must have further accommodation as soon as possible, and was quite favourably impressed by Payne’s house.  We spoke of staff problems, and he warned me that we might shortly expect a visit from a Mr. Hill, of the Man Power Board, who would be investigating the work of all persons, male and female, of military age.  This does not sound very good, especially as Mr. Hill is described as being a “bit of a swine”.  Well, if the worst comes, I’ve had a very long run, nearly 3 and a half years, and I have a lot to be grateful for.

Had lunch with Fletcher at Rose’s café, a very good lunch, too.  It seems he has recently come from Spain, where he lived for several years.

Cycled home by way of Crockleford and Ardleigh Park, in what might have been a Spring evening.  Land looking very well.  This evening started reading the Torrington Diaries.  Much noise under my window where Joy and Snip were rat-hunting in the dark.
A short alarm, just before nine, and I heard a plane come over, but nothing happened.  There was no gunfire. 

Wind raging now, and rain beginning.  Not very cold, however.

3rd February 1943

Cloudy, then a lovely fine day.  A little cooler than yesterday, but wonderfully mild for the time of year.  This morning met Councillor Lu Marden, the landlord of the “Albert”, a sad, depressed looking man, and inspected Dr. Payne’s house with him.  I cannot quite understand why he should want to buy this enormous house and then immediately let it for offices, but that seems to be his idea.  We went all over the place, a huge late Victorian barrack, on the corner of Queen’s Road and Victoria Road.  It is built of yellow brick, two storeys and attics, and has no architectural interest.  Dr. Payne will keep the surgery etc, and we shall have about 10 rooms for our use.  There is a large basement – I was most amused when Marden said “You’d better see the basement” and I said “Well, I don't know, I suppose I might as well …” both of us knowing that the other was thinking of air raids.  Somebody had apparently been sleeping down there, for in a narrow passage was a bed, with a tin “jerry” standing on it.  Nearby was a tiny cupboard, no windows or ventilation, quite black and airless, containing a canvas garden chair.  On the inside of the door was a pencil written list, headed “Air Raids, 1940”, giving the times of every alarm from the summer of 1940 all through the following winter.  Some poor thing must have gone down to this tiny “dugout” every time the alarm sounded, and sat there all alone, waiting for the all-clear.  A pencil hung from a nail on the door.

I believe this place will be a very suitable office.  There is plenty of room for cars, but unfortunately no stable; however I think I can find one nearby.  If we take the place, it will mean that I have to sever another link with the Museum, at a bad time, too.

This afternoon there was a phone call from the Royal Free Hospital, London, to say that Poulter must come at once.  It came on our phone, and I took it.  We had a long talk with London as to whether he could have a private ward.  The charming female voice at the other end regretted that he couldn’t, but urged that he should come without delay.  He said he would.  Poulter then told me that Hull was ill in bed and would not be in for some time.  What on earth is to happen to the Museum?

Councillor Blomfield phoned, and said he was very angry with Hull, and that he had been to the Chairman about it.  The Chairman was sufficiently roused from the apathy of age to write Hull a strong letter, asking (in effect) when the devil he was going to attend to his duties at the Museum.  Hull replied he was ill.  He was certainly well enough to be in the Cross Keys on Sunday.  

I feel everything has come upon us at once.  I never thought that a time would come when we should be without Poulter and yet still have Hull.  I always felt in my heart that at last Hull would be dismissed, and that Poulter and I would run the Museum between us.  Now, Poulter and I are both gone, and it is Hull who remains supreme, undisputed ruler of the whole Museum.  What can the future be?

All this made me very late, and it was 6 o’clock when I cycled away.  Even so, I managed to reach Lawford without using my lamps.  The evenings have suddenly begun to get quite light.  A rain shower passed over as I went through Parson’s Heath and Fox Street.  The falling streaks of rain looked very pretty against an orange sunset.  Called at Spring Gate, but Molly Blomfield was not there.  She is still ill in bed at Trinity St.  How saddening is all this illness and disease.

2nd February 1943

Up at 7.  Heavy rain and high wind, but some signs that the sky was clearing.  Cycled in, got rather wet.  Clear blue sky by 10 o’clock. 
Lovely light evening – hardly dark at 7 o’clock.  Went home, fed Bob, and then round by way of Dedham to tell the Sissons about Poulter.  They were very disturbed, and think that the future looks very bad for him.  He came up into the office this afternoon, very bright and cheerful.  Hull has not been seen today.

1st February 1943

The first month of the New Year gone almost before we are accustomed to writing “1943”.

Awake almost all night by the violence of the wind.  Up at 6.30, and caught the 7.30 bus.  It was pitch dark, and the wind so strong I could hardly stand.  To my surprise, the clouds cleared, and by 8 o’clock the sun was coming up in a yellow haze.  Went to Holly Trees, but could not find the Castle keys.  Noticed that one of the front windows of the Castle had been left open all night, so that there was a pool of water in the Pre-historic Room.  Went on the roof, but could see no sign of any damage.  Went to office and opened mail.  Told Poulter that keys were missing; he expressed no surprise, but said that Attendant Rising had been unable to get in yesterday afternoon.  Hull apparently opened the door at 5a.m. yesterday, when he came off Observer Duty, and neither he nor the keys have been seen since.  He was doing Harding’s morning duty, and should have remained until 2 o’clock, but he was not there when Rising came, and was seen by Draycott drinking in the Cross Keys sometime after midday.  Draycott happened to meet Poulter, and told him.
Came out on the 5.15 bus.  It was a very old type, much more comfortable than modern buses, with fine, large windows, which gave a fine view.  The seats were not sprung and were flat, like carriage seats, so that there was none of the awful discomfort by vibration.  Also, the rear seats were made slightly higher than those in front, so that all the passengers had a view.  In modern buses the seat backs are so high that it is impossible to see over them, and the windows are so tiny that one can see nothing out of them.  Public-vehicle designs have got steadily worse every year since horse-buses were given up.

There were three or four Poles on the bus, one reading a Polish paper.  

Lovely clear night until 10, then heavy rain and high wind again.  The winter corn will begin to go off very soon.  Spent some while this evening on the hill behind the house, looking for the comet which is now near the Plough, but could see no sign of it.