Monday, 8 November 2010

Tom Critchley to Mary Platt posted Saturday November 9th 1940

37, Lonsdale Drive,

7th November 1940

My dear Mary,
I wonder how your neighbours would be here in London. I'll bet they wouldn't sing through an air raid. Jerry  let us off on Sunday Night, the first clear night for about 2 months, but he is making up for it now. Tuesday night's raid was 6.15 pm to 8.20 am & the gun fire practically all the time. Raiders overhead when I got home & ditto while we were having our breakfast.
11 bombs came down on our estate, but the only danger was to houses which had already been bombed, the others plough up the fields. I heard them coming, sat up in bed & didn't wake Annie as they didn't sound dangerously near. She slept on & didn't hear them.
Last night we had visitors from 6.10 pm to 7.45 pm & they were a rowdy lot. Even St Lukes old choir couldn't have drowned them. Let's see, Monday was 6.30 pm - 7.00 am & tonight's kick off was a bit later 6.50 pm.
Wouldn't it be a scream to hear your neighbours after 12 or 13 hours singing... a scream in more sense than one perhaps!
Annie has just remarked "wouldn't it be nice if they could shoot them down & give us a night off." The one we had seems to have spoiled us cause we want some more now. If folks are a nervous wreck after 2 hours, what would they be after all night, night after night. I'm, afraid we go to bed whether he is overhead or not, anyhow he comes when we get into bed so it makes no odds where he is when we go. We haven't been in the shelter for over a fortnight, thinking it better to risk the bombs that might come rather than the colds, and perhaps worse, that would be sure to come.
Tonight things are most lively.
I must say the Londoners do take it wonderfully well. On a morning I go round & see my men & ask how things were with them. The tales they tell of crouching by walls & lying down in the road, on their way from work, as bombs drop near. As far as we are concerned, our lot is light compared with many of them. I've come home in the dark, with the roads lit by gun flashes, but I'm on the outskirts where some of the men have to get to the real danger zones.
Yesterday I had to go to Sutton Surrey for the firm. The folks I went to see used to have an acid works at Silvertown & supplied us. I said used to, it's been totally wiped out as has much of that district. Annie went with me for an outing & it poured nearly the whole time. Everywhere we went houses were down & in several places the road blocked & we had to make a detour.
We saw a strange decrepit looking dirty old bus in South London & Annie said" Look at that old thing," when we passed it, we read on the side "Glasgow Corporation!!"
I was surprised at the amount of damage I saw, even Kew and Richmond showed plenty of scars. Jerry certainly spreads his attentions well.
Friday 8th November
Yes I was right, it was a ghastly night last night. The worst for a long time. Round about mid-night things began to drop, when I don't know, but once more we had no water today. It was pretty hectic for 6 or 7 hours, then cooled off somewhat.
Now they are at it again to-night as if they mean business, I think we have better start singing. If anything would chase them away I think my voice would, don't you agree?
We were talking about raids this afternoon & what a fool Jerry is to keep on at London, when in came one of my men, a chap of 65 who said that Jerry would never break the moral of London, when he goes home at night, between 7 & 8, he meets lots of folks, women as well as men, walking home as if the bombs & gunfire were miles away. He added "you get so used to it you don't care"
On the other hand, there was another old fellow there at the time, a sampler from an outside firm; now he is badly shaken. The firm he works for has been badly bombed, his own home has been destroyed & his son, daughter-in-law & their children killed. He says he crouches under the table at night straining his ears to see if one is coming for him. But he carries on.
The first man I mentioned hasn't escaped scot free. He had to evacuate his home for a time bomb once, once again for a land mine that didn't go off & has had windows broken from some that did. It's all a matter of use I suppose, still some things take a lot of getting used to.
Another lousy night last night, especially early & round about midnight, but nothing dropped in our district so far as I know... not large lumps.
The Smethhursts send their kind regards to the Wilsons & thank them for their kind inquiries. He (Smethurst) goes up to the Finsbury Park district every night, he is something connected with L.P.Transport, trams & buses, I think.
One of our directors is connected in an official capacity with the cloth workers company. You know the old London Livery Companies. This lot own 1,200 houses in Islington district & of them 800 have been destroyed or made unfit for use.
Pretty awful isn't it, but what's much more awful is that we've put Krupps out of commission, & visited Adolf in his own beloved Munich.
The destruction in London is enormous, but it's doing Germany no good, the moral is still high & as long at it is Germany wasting time & effort which could be spent on much more important things.
they daren't leave London alone now, it would be an admission of defeat so they are tied down to destroying houses instead of factories. Not a bright outlook for London, but if it helps to win the war, London can go to ruin.
Love to you all

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