Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Letter from Tom Critchley to Mary Platt 23.3.41

37 Lonsdale Drive


My dear Mary,

Mea culpa! If Annie didn't object I would pour ashes over my head. I did receive the P.O. & I did forget to thank you for it & Harry did post it in Dumfries for that was the post mark on the letter. I'll bet he has done things for which he hasn't got the blame so now that's one off the score.
I am glad you didn't get too scared over the Clydeside raids. You, like we, are out of the danger zone, that is real great danger. Where there are lots of open spaces around the danger is not nearly so bad as in enclosed property, especially with fire bombs, as witness those we have had all around us and the little damage done. The worst one near us, when the roof was on fire, the inhabtiants were sat in front of the fireplace & didn't know their house was ablaze until neighbours told them.
We had your lot of raiders over our way on their journey to you & gave them a good pasting, then, when they went to Hull on Tuesday, they came here again & some didn't get to Hull, but left their loads in East Barnet, once again near where we used to live. The next night , Wednesday, was our real turn, & a good & proper old fashioned do it was too, Fortunately they left Enfield alone and concentrated on East London. There was one big fire we could see at Edmonton & at one time I thought Brimsdown was involved, but they didn't get quite as far as that. Tom was out, as usual & rang up to say it was too hot to come home as a piece of shrapnel had already hit his car. We went to bed but only slept by fits and starts. It needs a sound sleeper not to rouse when the house rocks & it feels as if somebody was trying to push you out of bed. Besides we are not as used to it as we were & somehow don't take it as calmly. It now seems astounding how we managed during all those 15 weeks without a night off & averaging 10 – 13 hours a night. It's surprising what you can get used to. I have kept a record of raids, someday I must show you & point out the records 17.5 hours in one day out of 24 & the days the raids started I was coming home from work & the same raid was still on when we had our breakfast next morning.
Tom hasn't had his photo taken in uniform. He isn't at all proud of it, the first thing he does when he gets home is to change into civvies. He is very restless young man & has now come to the conclusion that his work in the Dental Corps is not enough & he thinks he ought to do more. He wondered about volunteering as an ARP worker in the East End, but being in the army I don't see how that could be wangled. Today he has the bright idea of volunteerring for the air force as a fighter pilot. He seems to think it would be humane to shoot bombers down in flames. The only objection is his eyes; he wonders if they take fighter pilots with glasses. He doesn't want a bomber, I think for that one needs to be a bit cold blooded, but I can understand anybody being willing & eager to have a go at Jerry  bombers. They are a lot of dirty tykes.
You are lucky to get 2 glasses of tongue, neither glasses nor tins are available here, but we have quite a nice stock of iron rations for use if an emergency should arise.
We haven't had a letter from Ronald for about a month; I suppose some must be lying at the bottom of the sea, but as Tom had the cable, we know Ronald is all right, so aren't worried. Neverthless letters are always welcome.
We still haven't yet made up our minds about St Helens, it's full moon then & anything might happen; we think they are safer than we, but there is always a sort of feeling that one would rather be bombed in one's own home. Like a place I pass everyday where they sell seats for dug outs, advertise "Be bombed in Comfort"
Now, we both wish you many returns of the 26th may they be much better than this one.

Love from us both Tom

P S Do you fill all your kettles at night? It's a wise precaution twice we have been without water

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