- Contributed by
- Christine Cuss
- People in story:
- Alexander Pierce, Christine Pierce, Gwen
- Location of story:
- Hammersmith, London
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 14 September 2004
Extracts from a notebook written by Christine’s father, Alexander Pierce, which he started at the outbreak of WW2 through to the end of the War.
This notebook was discovered in 1980, a year after my father’s death. My father was not able to receive a good education, but it is to his credit that he realised the importance to record the events of the war years for me. It illustrates the devotion of a father to his only child and to his wife during those terrifying years. Only the spellings and punctuation have been changed by me. I am deeply proud of the record he kept, and extremely thankful to have been his daughter.
Monday, 14th March, 1938. Christine I am writing this page for you, to let you see the state of the World at this present time.
First Mussolini invaded and took Abyssinia. Now Hitler of Germany has invaded Austria. These two dictators are causing all the trouble that is going on. All I hope is that Germany will not interfere with Czechoslovakia because England has made a promise to go to her assistance, that would mean we would have to go to war which I do not want because I should have to leave you and mother. I love you both.
12th September, 1938.
Dear Christine. We are now passing through a most critical time. It looks as if Germany is going to invade Czechoslovakia, that would mean another World War which I spoke of further back in this book. The Prime Minister of England, Neville Chamberlain, has sent for the Prime Minister of France to come to England. You have been up to Downing Street to-day which is the 18th of September while the cabinet is sitting. We are waiting to hear what the news is going to be. We all hope it is not War. Love Daddy.
18th September, 1938.
Dear Christine. We have taken you this day to Westminster Abbey for the Church service. There were thousands of people there. Love Daddy.
Sunday, 25th Sept., 1938.
We all went to get fitted with gas masks. Christine, you cried a lot. It upset mother a lot, but it had to be done to save your life in case war was declared which is supposed to be Oct. 1st.
Thursday 29th Sept., 1938.
Mother went to get our gas masks. She got mine and hers, but she was told she would have to go to the Town Hall for Christine’s. It has upset mother because she thinks they will take you from her to send you away for safety.
Thursday, 29th Sept., 1938.
At this time of writing, things are very bad indeed. War is supposed to be declared on October 1st, 1938, but at the last moment, Hitler of Germany sent for Mr. Chamberlain, the Premier of England, to have a last talk to see if they can bring about a peaceful solution. This in my opinion about it, is that Hitler has got the wind up.
Frid. 30th Sept., 1938.
At the time of writing this note, there is great rejoicing all over the World, because the four Great Powers namely Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain have come to an agreement over the Czech problem, so at the last minute, War has been averted.
Wed., 15th March, 1939.
Dear Christine. I have made this entry in this book to let you see how things are going on in the World. Hitler of Germany has broken the agreement with this country and he is marching into Czechoslovakia. This man is causing a lot of trouble but he will get what he is asking for before long. Love Dad.
Friday, April 7th, Good Friday, 1939.
Mussolini, the dictator of Italy, invaded Albania. Things are in a terrible state. We do not know which way things are going to turn out. Love Dad.
Mon. 17th April, 1939.
We had a letter from school asking us if we would consent to Christine being evacuated in the event of war. We said “no”. We are going to keep you with us. Love Dad.
Aug. 24th, 1939.
Dear Christine. At the time of writing this, there is another crisis. This time it is between Poland and Germany. It looks very much as if there will be a war before the week is out; so if war does come, always remember that I will always love you and your mother to my last day of my life, so always stick to your mother and do as she tells you. Love Dad.
Tues. 29th Aug. 1939.
Mother took Christine away to Eastbourne to see if it would be all right for them there in case war came, but mother could not stand it and came home. All school children are being evacuated tomorrow, Friday, 1st Sept. 1939, but we are sending you and mother to Harold and Fay’s at Hounslow. Things look very bad. Love Dad.
Fri. 1st Sept. 1939.
Christine and mother went to Hanworth to Harold and Fay’s for safety.
Fri. 1st Sept., 1939.
Germany invaded Poland.
Sunday, Sept. 3rd, 1939.
Great Britain and France declared War on Germany at 11 o’clock in the morning.
Friday, 8th Sept., 1939.
Christine and mother came back from Hanworth to be home with me. Love Dad.
Sunday, 17th Sept., 1939.
Russia invaded Poland.
Monday, Sept. 25th, 1939.
The war has now been on for four weeks and Poland has been smashed to pieces but they are a gallant little country and are still fighting to the last man which they said they would do. God help them. Love Dad.
Thursday, 30th Nov., 1939.
Christine went to be examined by doctor for her to be evacuated and was passed fit. You are to go on Saturday, 2nd December, 1939. Love Dad.
Thursday, 30th Nov., 1939.
Russia has invaded Finland. They are bombing the women and children. Love Dad.
Friday, 1st Dec., 1939.
We have made up our minds not to send Christine away. We are going to keep her with us as we cannot part with her. The trouble is, we love her too much to let her go to be looked after by other people. With love from your Mother and Dad.
Sunday, 31st Dec., 1939.
We all went to Church this afternoon for Old Year Out and New Year In service. We had to go early this year on account of the blackout. We have had another good year Christine, and we hope it will be as good in 1940. At the time of writing, the country has called up all men to the age 27, so my time is not far off, but we hope it will be all over before then. If I do have to go, stick fast to your mother. She is a good one to you. Love Dad.
Tuesday, Feb. 20th, 1940.
Dear Christine. Many things have happened since I last wrote in this book in regards to the war. But the funniest was when Hitler made a speech in Germany and he said he was going to be King of England on April 20th. Love Dad.
March 13th, 1940.
The war ended with Russia and Finland after many lives had been lost. Finland gave in much to my regret.
Tuesday, 9th April, 1940.
Germany invaded Norway and Denmark. Denmark did not resist but Norway is fighting back and we are going to her aid.
May 10th, 1940.
Germany invaded Holland and Belgium.
Monday, 10th June, 1940.
Italy declared war on England and France.
Wednesday, 9th Oct., 1940.
Dear Christine. A lot has happened since I last wrote in this book. We had a time bomb at the back of our shelter. We had to be evacuated from our home, but we are back home again now. But all us people in London now do is to sleep in our shelters. The sirens have just gone which is 7 o’clock and we will be here until 6 o’clock next morning but you can take it from me, Christine, we are having a rough time. Love Dad.
Thursday, 7th Nov., 1940.
Dear Christine. A lot has happened since I wrote in this book last. You have been away to Doncaster for this last three weeks and I can tell you I have never missed you so much in all my life. I don’t think that I could stand another three weeks like it. It might sound funny coming from me, but you can take it from me you are everything in the world to me so God Bless you and I hope He will take you through this awful war. So good night my dear. Love Daddy.
Wed. 11th Dec. 1940.
Dear Christine. This is one of the saddest days of my life. Your Grandma Pierce died at 7.15 p.m. after four weeks illness. She died of cancer and I can say she was a grand old lady aged 74 years. So good night my dear and I hope that we can pull through this war together. Love Daddy.
Tuesday, 31st Dec., 1940
Dear Christine. This is the end of 1940, and I must say it has been a very bad year indeed in regards of the War. We were evacuated from our home on account of a time bomb. That night was the worst night we had. You slept all through it. Next time, we had all the windows of the house blown out and we have been sleeping in a shelter, but these lasts few nights it has been too cold. At this present, we are making the Italians run for their lives. Goodnight Daddy.
Sat. 11th Jan., 1941.
Dear Christine. I went Saturday, 11th Jan. to register for Military Service. I have asked to go in the R.A.F. Love Dad.
Wed. 12th March, 1941.
Dear Christine. I went up for my medical examination and was graded Grade III on account of my right eye, so it looks as if I shall be staying at home. I am very pleased in one way because I can stay with you and mother. At this present moment, we are going through bad raids and you are very good while they are on. Here’s hoping we can pull through to the end. Love Dad.
Thursday, 27th March, 1941.
Dear Christine. You have been unlucky and caught the scabies. It is a nasty complaint. It is picked up off other people. You see, owing to the life we have had to live through air raids, it could have been caught in the public shelter where we have been going to, or else at school. You can take it from me, it is no fault of your mother as she has always kept you so very clean, but mother is very worried about it. We have given you three sulphur baths and another one tomorrow, and we hope it will be all gone. Will close now as you are waiting for me to play with you. Goodnight my love. Dad.
Saturday, 29th March, 1941.
Dear Christine. I have just had my papers sent to me to fill in to go in the munition factory. Hope I can get out of it, so I can look after you and mother. Love Dad.
Wednesday, 16th April, 1941.
Dear Christine. Last night was the worst that we have had to go through in regards to air raids. It started at 9 a.m. and went on until 5 a.m. next morning and air planes were over all the time and they have done a lot of damage. Our house suffered quite a lot. It was done by a land mine. The whole of King Street Hammersmith shops were a proper wreck next morning. I hope that we do not have to go through another night like it. Our airmen went to Berlin last night and gave them a taste of their own medicine. With lots of love from Dad and Mother.
Tuesday, 14th Oct., 1941.
Dear Christine. The war at the very moment is raging in Russia where they are fighting for their very lives and the bloodshed there is unspeakable. The Jerrys are getting a bit more than they asked for. The fighting is raging around Moscow which is the capital and we are all praying that the Russians can keep them outside, so they will get the full blast of the winter. While this war has been on, old Jerry has left us alone in London, and we are all hoping that they don’t start again. Love Dad.
Wednesday, 31st Dec., 1941.
Uncle Alf came home on a 48 hours leave and had the Old Year Out and New Year in with us. Love Dad.
Dear Christine. This is the end of the year l941, and I must say that we have been through quite a lot together, and we must thank the Lord Almighty for our safety. We have had some near misses with bombs from Jerry, but the tide is turning and Jerry is getting a nasty hiding from the Russians and our men in Libya. I must say that all through these raids you have been a very brave girl. All my best love from Dad.
Thursday, March 19th, 1942.
Dear Christine. Uncle Harold went into the Army to-day in the R.A.C.S. He has got to go to Wiltshire. At this very moment, the Russians are fighting the Jerrys very hard and are driving them back. We have got a lot to thank them for. Love Dad.
Friday, 26th June, 1942.
Dear Christine. Things are not going very well with the war. We have lost a big battle in Libya and 23,000 of our men have been taken prisoners and now the battle of Egypt has just started. We are all hoping we can make a stand there and hold them. Will write more later. Love Daddy.
Friday, 17th July, 1942.
Dear Christine. To-day is your birthday and I must say you had a very good time indeed. Mother worked very hard and made cakes and mince pies and everything you could eat. You would not think there was a war on. As a matter of fact, Hitler sent his bombers over and the sirens went just as you were having your party that was 4.30 p.m. and it was the first time we’d had them in months. But since then, we have had them six times this week, but no bombs near us. We close now. Love Daddy.
Sunday, 15th November, 1942.
Dear Christine. To-day is a great day for rejoicing. The Church bells were rung all over the country to announce the Victory of our 8th Army in Egypt. Our boys are smashing the Germans back and they are on the run which is great news for us. More news later. Love Daddy.
Saturday, 16th Jan., 1943.
Dear Christine. Last night our boys went and bombed Berlin and started some big fires.
Sunday, 17th Jan., 1943.
So Jerry came over here to-night. Started at 8.20 until 10 o’clock. The gunfire was heavy. You have just gone to bed. Love Daddy.
Wednesday, 20th January, 1943.
Dear Christine. Some German raiders came over this morning and dropped bombs on a school. There were 45 children found dead up till now and 12 more still missing. The school was at Lewisham. Love Daddy.
Monday, 29th March, 1943.
Dear Christine. General Montgomery who is in charge of our 8th Army has smashed his way through the Mareth Line which the Germans held. This is a big victory for us. Love Daddy.
Tuesday, 6th April, l943.
Dear Christine. Your Uncle Alf came home on leave for 11 days before going overseas. We had a good time together. Uncle went back on Monday, 5th April. We all went up to the Station with him. The train left at 9.20 p.m. and it was very upsetting to see them go, so let us pray to God he will come back to us all safely. Love Daddy.
Wednesday, 12th May, 1943.
Dear Christine. At 8.15 last night, the fighting in North Africa has ended. The Germans and Italians have been bashed to bits. Up to now there are 150,000 prisoners, 250 tanks, 1000 guns and a lot more stuff to come in. Alexander was the General in charge of the men in the field with Montgomery and Anderson. Love Daddy.
Tuesday, 5th June, 1943.
Christine. A German aeroplane came over last night and dropped bombs and one was very close to us. We thought it was our last. It came so near, Mother and I dropped on the bedroom floor beside your bed thinking it was going to hit us, but we were lucky. So here’s hoping we remain lucky until it is all over. Love Daddy.
Friday, July 9th, 1943.
Dear Christine. The British troops and Canadian with American troops have invaded Sicily. It started at 10.15 on Friday with Air-bourne troops, but the real invasion started at 3 o’clock on the Saturday morning. Up till now, things are going well. Will let you know more later. Love Daddy. 2000 boats took part.
Dear Christine. The invasion of Sicily which I wrote about a little way back is all over. We have beaten the Germans again and it was another Dunkirk for them. There is another big move coming off. Will let you know as soon as it happens. Love Daddy.
Friday, 3rd September, 1943.
Dear Christine. British and 8th Army and Canadian troops invaded Italy this morning at 3.45 a.m. Everything is going well. Will let you know more later. Love Daddy.
Wednesday, 8th September, 1943.
Dear Christine. I have great news for you. The Italian Government has given in and accepted our terms of unconditional surrender, so Italy is now out of the War. Now for the Germans. Love Daddy.
Wednesday, 13th September, 1943.
Dear Christine. Italy has declared War on Germany. It seems strange as Italy and the Germans were dear old pals. Will let you know more later. Love Daddy.
Saturday, 1st January, 1944.
Dear Christine. The old year has gone and I must say that we had a very good year considering that the war is still on. But 1943 has left us with great victories and I might say the turning point of the war. Only last night, the R.A.F. dropped 1,000 tons of bombs on Berlin and our boys are waiting to invade and they are saying that this year will be the last of this war. I hope so. Our Christmas dinner was chicken, three lumps of pork, Christmas pudding, mince pies – not bad after nearly five years of war. Love Daddy.
Sunday, 20th February, 1944.
Dear Christine. We had a very bad air raid last night. It is one of the worst we have had round this District, high explosives and time bombs, but I prayed to God to take us safely through and He did. We wish this war would end as it is just as bad for the German people as it is for us. Love Daddy.
Wednesday, February, 23rd, 1944.
Dear Christine. Last night the Germans came over and raided London and we had a bad night. Bombs dropped all round us and I am sorry to say that your Great Aunt Ada was killed this night and her daughter was trapped for 22 hours and she was got out alive, but her husband was killed also. Love Daddy.
Thursday, 5th April, 1944.
Dear Christine. Your Uncle Geoff went into the Army to-day. He was 41 years sent to Bradford in Yorkshire. I do not know what regiment he is going into yet. Love Daddy.
Monday, 5th June, 1944.
Dear Christine. Our troops of the 8th Army and American 5th Army have entered Rome, the capital of Italy. It is a great victory for us. We have taken over 20,000 prisoners and we are still driving the Germans back. The General in charge is Alexander. Love Daddy.
Tuesday, 6th June, 1944.
Dear Christine. To-day is the biggest day in our history. Our Armies have landed in France. There were over 4,000 ships took part and over 11,000 aircraft. The landing took place at 6 o’clock this morning. The air-bourne troops landed first and I think you Uncle Alf is in it. Will let you know more as news comes in. Love Daddy.
Friday, 23rd June, 1944.
Dear Christine. Last night was the worst night we have been through. Jerry sent one of the pilotless planes over and bombed our home flat to the ground. We were very lucky that your mother and myself were not killed, but we must thank God he was watching over us and took us safely through. So we will have to make a new home after the war. I must say you were very brave right through. Good night love. God bless you. Love Daddy.
(My parents left the safety of the air-raid shelter whilst the air-raid was on so that my father could go to the toilet and my mother to make a hot drink. They returned to the shelter just as the doodlebug exploded).
Monday, 17th July, 1944.
Dear Christine. To-day is your 10th birthday and what a day you have had. We held your party on the old bomb site of our home and the Daily Mirror reporter came down and took photos of it. We are waiting for the paper to come out. Everybody had a wonderful time. You had 17 cards and lots of money presents. Also you were a very good girl and very helpful. The flybombs are still coming over. Good Bye. Love Daddy.
August 1st, 1944.
Dear Christine. This month has been the best we have had in this war. We have driven the Germans out of Normandy and France and are into Holland and Belgium and we are just about to start the Battle of Germany. Will let you know more later. Love Daddy.
Sat. 2nd September, 1944.
Uncle Harold went to France. Will let you know more later. Love Daddy.
Thursday, 7th Sept., 1944.
Dear Christine. Uncle Alf came back from France safe and sound. Love Daddy.
Friday, 8th September, 1944.
Dear Christine. The Germans are sending rockets over at us now as well as fly bombs. The first one dropped in Chiswick and the second one at Kew and we have had a lot more since. They are worse than the fly bombs because you can’t hear them coming. We still go to the shelter at night. Love Daddy.
8th January, 1945.
Dear Christine. At the time of writing this letter, there is a big battle going on. The Germans have broken through the American lines and the British have been rushed up to stop them. Well your Uncle Alf is in that battle. They are called Monty’s Red Devils. This cutting from the paper will tell you all. Love Daddy.
Monty’s Red Devils Are There
Played a Big Part
The British Sixth Airbourne Divisiion, the “Red Devils” are fighting in the Ardennes as part of the British force thrown in to plug the German breakthrough. They played a big part in the capture of Bure.
The men of the Sixth Division were about to eat their Christmas dinner when their orders came.
An officer told me, ‘We were simply told ‘You’ll be in the Ardennes tomorrow. Within three days of the first word we were at grips with the Germans”.
Wednesday, 14th February, 1945.
Dear Christine. To-day is a very sad day again for us. The Germans who are firing rockets at us dropped one very near us. It shook the life out of the place. You were in bed, mother sitting by the fire and the rocket came. It was at 10 o’clock at night. Well my love, it came and fell on your Uncle Fred’s home and killed him and your Auntie Mary, cousins Peter, Jean and the baby. It wiped the whole family out. We hope that we pull safely through as we have gone through enough already. Love Daddy.
Sat. 24th Feb. 1945.
Dear Christine. Your cousin Joan got married to-day to an American officer in the 8th Air Force. You were to have been her bridesmaid, but owing to your Uncle Fred’s family waiting to be buried, you could not be it, but we went to the party and had a nice time in a quiet way. Joan was only 18 years old. Love Daddy.
Sunday, 25th Feb. 1945.
Your Uncle Alf has just this minute come home from Holland from the battle front. He will be coming round here to-night. Love Daddy.
Monday, 26th February, 1945.
Your Uncle Fred’s family were buried to-day at Hammersmith Cemetary.
Tuesday, May 8th, 1945.
Dear Christine. This day is the greatest in our history. The War is over with Germany. We have beaten them to their knees and God has answered our prayers and taken us safely through. We have been to the Hammersmith Broadway singing and dancing. It is something you will not forget and that has gone on for all the week until one and two in the morning. Love Daddy.
Sunday, 13th May, 1945.
Dear Christine. We went to the Strand in London to see the King and Queen. You had a good view of the Princesses, King Peter and the King of Norway, King of Denmark, Queen Mary and Mr. Churchill. Love Daddy.
Thursday, 21st June, 1945.
Dear Christine. This cutting from the paper shows you what the Londoners went through during the bombing of London which you were in all the time.
(See next page).
Live Letters Daily Mirror
Letter from an American Gentleman
From Mr. J. R. Crane, an American now over here:
Your paper will, I know, assist me in paying tribute to the people of London – the world’s mightiest people. I am an American soldier, soon to leave this great city for another theatre of war, but I will take with me everlasting memories and pictures of an unconquerable race.
I shall remember, always, the faces of two little children in Stepney, who shepherded my panic stricken body into a shelter as a flying-bomb shattered houses and human flesh into a pulp not fifty yards away; of a pianist in a public-house, in a side street off your bomb-splattered Lambeth Walk, whose rhythm on the keys offered a challenge to the hate and fury of yet another savage Hitler onslaught to break the backbone of the tough London populace.
I shall remember Mr. And Mrs. X, of Brixton, who made me share the comforts of their modest house on my days of leave; and Edna, my London sweetheart, who, until unseen death in the form of a rocket took her from me was to become my wife.
If I survive the next episode in the quest for peace, and return home, I shall always say to myself – “The debt the world owes to you people of London will never be paid. It cannot be paid. The price is too high. God bless you all.”
To you, Mr. Crane, who, because of a London blitz, must now walk alone, we say only, “Thank you and God bless.”
As I close my father’s notebook, I am full of deep emotion. At the age of 70 years, I have to confess that I have broken down in tears many times whilst typing my father’s messages to me, written between 60 and 65 years ago. I was fortunate to have two loving parents, and I pay tribute to them both.
Christine S. Cuss nee Pierce 26th August, 2004.
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