Monday, 19 September 2011

Tom Critchley to Mary Platt 14.9.1940

37 Lonsdale Drive

Letters, like many other things, are not delivered in the normal manner these days. We have just received yours of the 11th. I replied to your last letter at once, but it seems to be a long time in reaching you. Anyhow you'll have got it by now.
I think Harry is right, it would be a job to get a phone call through these evenings.
While these excitements are on I had better write you each weekend, but don't get wind up if a letter is a day or two late in arriving.
We are in a fairly safe area, the only danger is from some ass dropping his load too soon and that is a very remote one. Being of a mathematical turn of mind, I have worked out the odds as being about a million to one of our getting a packet and that is negligible, so we can carry on and forget it.
As for the raids themselves, familiarity is beginning to breed contempt; take last night, we lay on the beds partly dressed 10pm to 12.00pm, slept part of the time, then got undressed properly. At various times there was a terrific roar going on through which we couldn't sleep, but in the lulls we dozed off again and from 3.30 to 5.30 the all clear came and we slept soundly.
I thought in the last war I knew what an anti-aircraft barrage was , but it was playing at it compared with what they are putting up now. There is a battery of 4.5's near which nearly deafens one, but there is a monster somewhere in the vicinity (the tale goes it's a naval gun) that shakes the house and the burst reverberates in the sky for nearly half a minute after the discharge... just like a heavy peal of thunder. We don't mind the noise so long as they are giving Jerry a hell of a time. Just before bed last night we sat chatting with Tom and this uproar going on ... with each extra loud uproar one or other said, "give it to 'em!"
Yesterday's day raid... the long four hour one... was in rain & heavy cloud. All we heard was occasional burst of gunfire and a plane or two now and then. As I was at home I took Annie in the car to do her shopping. One cannot let this type of raid interfere with the normal course of life too much. A really heavy do, like some we have seen, is a different matter. I wouldn't like to go out while they are putting up a barrage at night, lots of houses have got missing tiles and there must be heaps of lumps of shell falling all over the place.
We are on the edge of the buildings in this part of London, so I suppose get a heavy barrage here. Anyhow it drops to a large extent after planes pass over us. It's surprising what you can get used to!
Annie is just getting dinner ready (or should I say lunch) She's just interrupted to say the sirens are sure to go, they usually seem to at meal times. We had four meals yesterday and the warning was out for every one. Is it just cussedness?
The other night (Thursday). Tom was on duty at the hospital (fire picket) when a bomb dropped alongside smashing up an ambulance and blowing over two men who were with him. They asked for volunteers to shift the wreck and clear up the petrol. While he was helping, a chunk of shell fell close to him. He has 24 hours on fire duty and 24 off. When off he leaves the hospital at 4.30pm and comes home. As there is usually a raid by 9pm of course he cannot get back, so stays here until 6am and returns then. What a wangle! It's a good bit safer here than at Westminster. We put a mattress down for him in the dining room with the head under the table. The other downstairs room is our bedroom, the windows are stuck up with tape... not paper, then there are lace curtains, the pre-war casement curtains and, over the bay, a heavy curtain, so we feel fairly safe there, or as safe as in our shelter, where you hear too much that is happening.
Don't worry about us, we'll be all right.

Love Tom

P S We've just got a letter from Ronald dated June 17. He asks his mother to go out to him by air... some hopes eh!
What are you going to do with Molly? Has she decided what she wants to do yet?
What do you think of these for air raid warnings?
Thursday Sept 12 9.10 to 5.45 am Friday
Friday September 13 7.30 am to 8.30 am, 9.45 am to 2.00 pm, 3.55 pm to 4.10 pm. 9.00 pm to 5.30 am on Saturday 14th, 11.05 am to 11.20 am... to be continued....

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