Sunday, 23 January 2011

Tom Critchley to his sister Mary Platt January 23rd 1941


My Dear Mary,

Ever since we started fire spotters I have been seedy and Tom has been doing my duty. He is one of the lucky ones & he's never had to turn out. In some mysterious way the all clear goes just before he is due to turn out & the warning doesn't go until his turn is over.
My cold (or flu) is just about better & so is that part of it I passed on to Annie. How are your colds? I can assure you I didn't give you my cold, that I gave to Annie, so you must have pinched yours from some other body.
I doubt if you would have coal fires in every room if you lived here. We can't get the stuff now. We have had it on order for about a month & only had a little to put us on.
We weren't short, but like to keep well supplied these days. What our electricity bill will be like goodness knows as we have had a fire on all night for some time now & Tom has one in his room to warm it up before he goes to bed.
We had some onions once, it was about a fortnight before Christmas when by some strange accident we got a pound. They were used on the chickens, so I am afraid I cannot send any along. As for meat, well that has been scarce too. You should have seen me the other Sunday when Tom was in for dinner, hacking recklessly at a 2/4 (about 12p in today's currency BC) joint.
Now he is billeted out his coupons help as he gets more than we two together.
I wanted to buy a cow when war broke out. My idea was to operate on the beast now & then – a leg one week & cut off the rump later. When she had got used to her wooden leg, then off could come another. (This is Tom's sense of humour BC)
I was overuled. The objection was the shocking state the grass would he in by the time the animal was hobbling about on 4 stumps. In wet weather she'd make holes every time she moved.
I have got L Goldings books out of the local library. They are very interesting but not so good as Morton's. Mollie must try and get his "In the Steps of the Master". The chap who showed him some of the special sights in Jerusalem & later showed the Princess Royal, still later, took Ronald round.
As Mollie evidently enjoyed Ronald's letters I am sending one or two more for her perusal, also some photos, all of which please return.
Your letter came early this week, perhaps because your old man posted it in Edinburgh.
This letter never got finished, so I'll have a go now. anyhow you'll know we haven't been bombed because there have been no night raids since last Sunday. What Jerry is preparing for goodness knows: one of two things I think, either an intensive attack on ports & shipping in which case Glasgow will get a dose or a big attack in the South leading to an attempted invasion. If the latter, it wouldn't surprise me if he uses gas. We went to have our gas masks re-fitted today. Gas is no good except in concentrated areas such as city centres & even then, I think it is more of a nuisance than a danger. Harry should know all about that.
The weather has been pretty foul lately, fog snow rain, & Scotch mist, so that may be partly the reason for the quiet nights, but he has been in bad weather lots of times so it's not the sole reason. We don't lie awake wondering &, as we see it, the worst thing will be once more having to get used to being raided. We've had a nice rest thankyou (or Goering) so ought to be ready for the next dose.
Love to you all from us all


Saturday, 15 January 2011

Letter from Tom Critchley to Mary Platt 15.1.1941

 37 Lonsdale Drive, Enfield

My dear Mary and Harry,

Thank you very much for the bottle which has just reached us safe & sound. I expect it will keep us going for the next three years or so.
I have somehow managed to get a lovely cold; folks at the works have all been having one, so I suppose I must have caught it from there. It started on Sunday & I was ass enough to go to work Monday & yesterday & now have nearly lost my voice, so I am having a day off.
It's no wonder you couldn't get through on Saturday night. Until two o'clock things were happening all over the show & the row would have been quite interesting to hear if you had managed to connect before it was all over. There were a few more fires, but nothing like the big ones a fortnight earlier. Either the guns or fighters, the former I think judging by the noise, scattered the Jerries so they dropped a few on the outskirts. You & Mollie saw the new Grammar School at Barnet, didn't you? That night one dropped on the junior school & another in the playing fields. I hear the laboratories & refectory are in a bit of a mess & the new swimming bath damaged.
Another lot dropped at the back of our old house in Bosworth Road – 7 people were killed there.
Saturday night Tom's Margaret was here with us & he was just getting back from taking her home, when the phone rang. We were in bed & I heard a bell & suppose, being half asleep. thought for a moment it was Tom on his bicycle & he had forgotten his key. I must have been dopey because I heard the car as well.
It was very nice to hear your voices; on some quiet night I must try again to get through. We look on Sunday night as booked as a general rule – it's Jerry's night – Saturday night he does let us off, now & then, but very rarely on Sunday.
During a raid the exchanges have a skeleton staff only that makes calls rather hard to get, even local ones & Saturday night was quite a nasty bit of work while it lasted. We sat it out round the fire, chatting.

Bye bye. Love to all three of you from us both

PS Your weather has come south, it's snowing hard today.

As it is snowing hard nobody has been out to post your letter, & as yours has just arrived I can answer it now. The parcel was here the here in the post before the letter.
Ronald said that he had sent a number of cards & letters off: it's just like him to leave them late & for them to arrive after Christmas. He sent us a calendar which arrived last week.
When Ronald went away, he invented a game for his do. To see who was the first male to knit so many stitches, the female first teaching him the art & then:- She had to undo his tie & see who was first to retie it properly.
Another of Ronald's games, but this is a bit messy this time & wants sheets of paper spread over the carpet. A couple hold hands (one hand each) Each couple is given an orange with the 2 free hands here to peel & eat the orange to see who wins. It's a bit difficult with only one hand from each of two, & is usually followed by a run to the bathroom. I suppose Mollie's pals are much too genteel for our games. One thing about our parties, everybody seems to enjoy them & they never seem ready to go home. Some day you'll have to come when R J gets back.
Perhaps the enclosed may be of some use.


PS I hear that the subway hit was the one between the Bank–Mansion House & Exchange. There was a wonderful underground place there with shops etc, all of which has been smashed up, making a tremendous crater.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Tom Critchley to his sister Mary Platt January 7th 1941

My Dear Mary,

Millom rang us up on Saturday night, so I thought I would have a bob's worth & give you a ring last night. I tried for 3 hours but had no luck, I expect it was because we had a lively, noisy, evening. There certainly was plenty of noise, but around here very little after effects to show for it. Snow doesn't keep Jerry away; it has been snowing today & off & on all day he has been hovering about. It's a strange thing but at night we hear him & the guns bang overhead & we go to bed. In the day time for less we go in shelters, or are supposed to; it was too cold today & one preferred to be bombed in comfort. Some of the planes were very low today, so low the gunners outside the works rigged up a Lewis gun but had no luck.
What a pity you can't get somebody to deliver one of your bottles of whisky to this address. Not that I drink the stuff except as medicine, but I do find that a tot in some hot milk on the first signs of a cold will often do more good than the ordinary remedies. I bought half a bottle just before Christmas as our supply, bought about 18 months ago (a half bottle), had all been boozed. We hadn't a drop of wine in the house, this Christmas save for some Raisin wine left from Tom's 21st Birthday do. As neither of us wanted it, I didn't see the fun of buying it for other folks in these days of economy.
We have just had a letter from Ronald, he has been enjoying a visit to an ancient Samaritan & amongst other interesting things was shown this chief treasure – a roll of scriptures 3.000 years old. It was the Pentateuch, the only part of the Bible they use. There are very few true Samaritans left now.
A week last night Jerry made a mess, but then I remember I told you about that do last week, so I won't inflict it on you again.
Tell Mollie I'll read "The Moses books" & see what they have to say about the places Ronald has been to.
Love to you all from us both,