Friday, 17 June 2011

Letter from Tom Critchley to the Platt family 19.5.41

37, Lonsdale Drive,


My dear Mary, Harry & the little one,

We thought Hess must have landed somewhere near you; What a bit of excitement it was for you! Even now one can hardly believe the news is true – too good to be true.
He wasn't so daft as they try to make out, he knew that in landing amongst the Scots he was amonst his own sort – snorts of indignation from one member of the family!!
If Molly wants some bits of shrapnel, I can send her a few odd pieces, as after a Blitz there are lots of odd things in the works.
Now about the watch, our bloke who visits the jewellers says Clerkenwell is a mess & those watches that are being made now are much advanced in price as well as suffering from purchase tax' as the selection is very poor & limited. He said you would do far better to purchase locally (Glasgow) as you would get a better selection & the price ought to be as low if not lower than the new market prices. So I have done nothing further in the matter.
Furthermore, also anything else you like I did not forget the Ostocalcium, but have ordered 599 every week, since I came back & each delivery day they have failed to turn up. One must conclude that our suppliers cannot get them for which I am truly sorry.
I bought some fruit jars from Woolworth's the other day, they they were UGB stuff I thought they must be the best obtainable.
I think I wrote to you before our latest Blitz, the  day Hitler sent out his Hess-O-Hess, if I didn't you must excuse the following.
We had just got into bed when at 11pm wailing Willie started & as it was a cloudless moonlight night I guessed it was our turn. We didn't have long to wait before we knew for certain. We slept on and off as the row permitted but after some extra big noises about 1.30, I got up to see how the war was getting on. There was long row of fires from East London to Westminster & one could see bombs bursting in amongst them & planes galore up above. Our local guns were not so active as usual, probably because of the numbers of fighters which one could hear having a beano day (night?) When I got back into bed this was the conversation.
"Are there many planes about?
Yes, lots, but a number are our fighters.
Isn't it a bad raid?
Yes, pretty bad by the sound of things.
Any fires?
Yes, from the docks to Westminster.
Ah well perhaps they will let us have some oranges now."
Soon after she was aleep, but only slept in spells.
The fires were bad. Fortunately nothing much dropped with in half a mile of us, though Enfield had plenty of incendiaries, one of which, praise Allah, burnt out the Income Tax Office.
It's our war weapons week this week & London expects to get £100,000,000 of which Enfield aims for £300,000, the first day this latter place got £209,000 & my contribution hasn't yet been made, so we should get more than our little bit!!
Have you heard of the song Hess sang to Hitler?
"You take the high road & I'll take the low road & I'll be in Scotland before you"
I didn't attempt to put it into Scots, lest my Scottish neice should correct me.
The latest one is that Hess is spending his second imprisonment in writing. The first one was spend with Hitler on "Mein Kampf" The second one is spent in wriiting the sequel, "Mein DeKampf."
There's still another theory about Hess. Hitler told him to go to Moscow & Hess thought he said Glasgow believing they were the same place.– they are much of a muchness aren't they? Or is Glasgow not just so nice?
I hope Molly did well in her history exam, they (exams) are like bombs, inventions of the devil.
Oh, by the way, if we had wanted to go in our shelter the night of our last Blitz we would have been mighty uncomfortable. Tom has discovered it can be made into a dark room & he had spread out his home made  enlarger in there. These childer!
It looks as if Ronald is going to feel the effects of war, thought Jerry has a worse job out there than have we. If he gets to the oil, he cannot cart it into Germany.
What with the Hess affair & one thing and another, it does look as if things were the opposite of "not just as nice" whatever the expression ought to be. Certainly he (Jerry) doesn't or cannot keep up the night after night bombing on us. We aren't in as bad a mess as Jerry is,

Love to you all three from us both,


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Letter to the Platt family from Tom Critchley 9.5.1941


37 Lonsdale Drive

My dear Mary, Harry & Molly,

Such a long start helps to fill up!  I hope you are all right after your new lot of Hunnish attentions. You & St Helens folk will have to come & see us & enjoy peace & quietness; since we came back there has been nothing to worry about a few warnings, but only once or twice have we been wakened by gunfire. It does begin to look as if London is to be spared until we do some bomb damage (or should it be damn bommage) to Berlin again & then there will be a so-called reprisal raid. Since they seem to feel like that about it, it shows where they feel it most & that is where we want to hit them. From what Seth says, Liverpool seems to be in a sad mess, I hope Glasgow is not too bad, especially the vital ship building yards. Like you we are "enjoying" rotten cold weather & begin to wonder if it will ever get warm again, though this week we have quite a reasonable amount of sunshine with clear frosty nights. Tom thoroughly enjoyed his holiday & found the old car averaged 42 miles to the gallon of petrol. I say petrol in case you may think I meant oil – the oil consumption is somewhat high after 40,000 miles or more. He tried to get up Newlands Pass with it & came to a full stop, so reversed & amused onlookers by going up backwards. Fancy, he let Seth beat him at bowls, letting down the senior branch of the family.   I suppose Seth learned a lot from Harry & me& so will have improved. If Jerry comes to see us to-night, he can't; Tom has discovered that our shelter makes a first rate dark room & so has his home-made enlarger therein installed & is busy on his recent photographs. Oh, by the way, can't Molly sort this weather for us, not that it is broken weather, but it sure wants mending. Another by the way (I have to fill up somehow) do the Scots refer to "broken" weather as "sorted" weather or "wants sorting", or only assorted weather? Some time she must come & see us and teach us its proper and improper uses. Love to you all from us both,


(There is one more letter on the Blitz to come from this set. Then I have obtained permission from a Hogg family descendent, who is a historian and writer, to reproduce his account of how one May raid described by Tom Critchley was experienced by his family living at that time in Salmon Lane, East London. BC)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

More to come!

I am a little late with the last few letters to go on this blog as our modem was no longer linking us into the net and Virgin has just replaced it with an up-to-date one. I have one a couple of letters to post from the Blitz and from the 1950s, Annie's letter about going to see Westminster Abbey, where her son was appointed to officiate at the Queen's coronation as a gold staff officer. BC