Sunday, 6 March 2011

Tom Critchley to his sister Mary Platt 7th March 1941


My dear Mary,

I have just had the bill for your capsules or whatever they are 8/9 so there is quite a respectable saving – 7.6 + 1/3 tax. If you want any more, give me plenty of time because we only order periodically & sometimes it takes some days before we get the goods. We get most things like that at discount rates, for instance we get Bovril for 5/6 a 1lb bottle.
Last Sunday Annie and I took advantage of a fine day & went for a trip round London. It's far worse than I imagined & gave me quite a shock.
Tottenham Court Rd is not so bad except where it meets Oxford Street, there there is quite a bit of damage,  Charing Cross Rd, opposite is shut to traffic.
Hoborn shows quite a lot of damage, but doesn't look too bad now it has been cleared up and patched. We couldn't go along Newgate St, so had to go round Smithfield into Aldersgate St. That end of Aldersgate is a mess with half-demolished buildings & twisted girders on both sides. Then we made for St Pauls. What a mess! Paternoster Row is – in fact it's gone with all its book shops, so you won't be able to take Mollie there to gaze longingly at the books. Cheapside is bad – I should say over half the buildings are in ruins, but the north side of Cheapside is awful. Viewed from Moorgate Street from either London Wall or Fore Street one gazes across a wide expense of waste with not even a wall standing up. Perhaps it looked worse to me as I used to know this district so well with it's narrow streets of the days of old London & congested area. Gazing down London wall is like looking at a picture of ruined Ypres.
We went to have a look at Johnson's place in Paul St. By some strange chance it escaped the worst & stands up like a lighthouse amongst a sea of ruins. It has been chipped and seared but other places are flat or burned out.
That busy crossing ar the Bank, where stand the mansion House & Exchange is one huge crater with temporary wood bridges across. A big bomb dropped there and tore through the subways.
I should say that the real bad destruction is well nigh a mile square, really bad that is, not just a house or building here & there, flat.
The one bright spot in it all, is that the damage is not the kind that hampers the war effort. It's a good job the Germans are Hunnish minded & try to frighten folks instead of concentrating on works that matter.
I sent you a book early in the week. "Jonathan North", as you will see it is second hand but well worth, reading, at least we think so. I sent a copy to our Jim at Christmas & Phoebe and Jim M, I hear both think it not nice in parts. It didn't strike us so, we thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope you both do too.I don't want it back as I have a copy at home.
Goodness knows what we are doing at Easter. I would like very much to go to St Helens and may manage it, but it is early days to make arrangements at present.
Last week when I was writing to you I think I mentioned doors & windows rattling. It wasn't guns only that caused it, it was bomb s between us & Potter's Bar. You never can tell one from t'other properly, so the only sensible thing to do, is to pretend it's always guns. Annie said she looked at me & as I took no notice she thought it was all right. We have had comparative little raiding this year & what there has been has been mild & nothing to trouble about. February was the slackest month since August, it has been as good a s holiday & judging by the present weather, with its pouring rain the aerodromes will be waterlogged for some days yet.

Love to you three from us both


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