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Extracts from Winifred Basham's diary 1939-1945 Chapter 5

by Tearooms

Contributed by 
Tearooms
Location of story: 
Ipswich
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A2854569
Contributed on: 
21 July 2004

Fri 8th Jan 1943 - Gillian was very alarmed to find all the barrage balloons collapsed. "They've taken the bloons away and only left the skins" she said.
Sat 30th Jan - If this new Education Bill goes through it will solve a lot of problems for us; in fact there is no reason why we should limit our family to two if their education is to cost us nothing.
We have bombed Berlin twice today - the tenth anniversary of Hitler's coming to power.
Sat 6th Feb - The milk girl informed me yesterday that I couldn't have my priority pint of milk after today unless I got my permit renewed so down I had to go on my bike. I got some herrings and cakes so getting wet through had its
Compensations! This evening there are exercises going on up aloft again. It's fascinating to watch the searchlights picking up planes, though they never seem to be able to when Jerries are concerned.
Wed 3rd Mar - Tonight we had just settled to sending out NUT voting papers when at 8.16 the sirens sounded. Five minutes later the crash went but we carried on for a bit till things began to get noisy. The sky was lit up over F elixstowe and Wattisham but Percy said nothing was near us, so we carried on for a bit but presently there was such a din that we really couldn't ignore it, so he put on his tin hat and went out and I divided my time between the shelter and the back door. The crash release didn't come till 9.45 and the all-clear at 9.53. I think by the guns that London got most of it. After all this we were working till midnight, thanks to Adolf.
Thurs 4th Mar - We had the cheering news this morning that our aircraft have sunk a whole Japanese convoy - 22 ships, 15000 men and 55 aircraft destroyed for the loss of one bomber and three fighters.
Fri 12th Mar - Once more it was a lovely day and we went down town on the tram. There was very little doing as usual but my main business was at the Food Office, renewing milk and poultry permits.
Thurs 18th Mar - Tonight the moon was very bright and all was quiet till 10.26 when the sirens wailed once more. Then at 10.37 came the crash, followed by heavy gunfire and the sound of a plane or planes. They dropped incendiaries in the Martlesham direction and started a huge fire which glowed for nearly an hour.
Fri 19th Mar - Reports say that last night's fire was at a farm at Tuddenham. The Germans say they bombed Yarmouth and Norwich.
Percy and Mr Worsnop went to a lecture for wardens on unexploded bombs and were gone the whole evening.
Sun 28th Mar - The siren went at 9.43. We were not surprised at this as our bombers made a heavy raid on Berlin last night. However, 1 don't think it was a London raid. The sky was all lit up out Yarmouth way and swarms of our fighters were up, but we didn't get a crash. The all-clear went at 11 pm.
Tues 30th Mar - It has been very windy and tonight it is blowing so hard that we can scarcely keep the blackout up.
Muriel sent us a box of apples for which we are more than grateful as they are now unobtainable in the shops.
Sat 3rd Apr - It was such a lovely morning that we decided to go to Felixstowe. We rushed round and did the essential jobs and caught the 10.35 bus from Barrack Corner. The place is much the same, only swarming with Wrens, Waafs and Scottish soldiers. You can't get near the beach because of the defences but we did at least see the sea. Now we have to put the clocks on as Double Summer Time starts tomorrow.
Thurs 8th Apr - The news from Tunisia continues to be good. The Eighth Army has joined hands with the Americans in the central sector and Rommel is once more on the run.
Tues 20th Apr - At 11.35 the sirens sounded and soon we heard gunfire over the coast and at 11.42 the crash went. Then we had a good view of a Jerry being killed. It was so cold that it was leaving a white trail behind it, as were two of our fighters in pursuit. Presently it turned to go out to sea and we watched them close in on it and shoot it into the sea in flames. All this took place 7 miles high off Clacton but we could see marvellously. The crash release came at 11.52 and the all-clear at 12.01. The rest of the day has been uneventful
Thurs 22nd Apr - We had a warning from 7.10 to 7.14 but Percy was so long going on duty that the all-clear went and he lost his nine pence.
Tues 11 th May - I queued up at Macfisheries and got some skate and a crab, our first this year, for the price has only just become reasonable - 1/- as against 2/3 a few weeks ago.
Tues 18th May - The news is quite jubilant tonight because our bombers have busted up two dams in Germany but it seems an awful thing to have done - so cruel, when you think of all the people who must have been drowned.
Wed 19th May - We had a warning from 2.59 to 3.10am but didn't get up. Jerry has developed a new technique whereby he sends over a succession of fighter-bombers carrying one bomb, singly, at intervals through the night. London gets about three "alerts' a night.
Roger Paul Basham was born on 27 May.
Fri 28th May - Percy arrived tonight looking very tired. He had Roger's ration books, identity card, birth certificate and a bank book with 5/- because he was born in "Wings for Victory" week.
Wed 2nd June - I was just feeding Roger this morning when the cuckoo sounded at 5.25am followed by the siren, and the sound oflow-flying planes, machine-gunning and bombs. Without any thought of my leg (thrombosis) I picked up Roger and dashed for the ground floor. Sister Fidoe met me on the stairs and nearly threw a fit.
They carried me into a spare room and dumped me on a bed. Sister Kerry says I might have dropped dead in 5 mins.
Thurs 3rd June - Everyone who comes in talks of the raid. There were 11 killed, 7 seriously injured. A gasometer was hit and people are asked to economise with gas. There was thousands of pounds worth of damage at Ransome's. The whole raid was over in 3 minutes.
Mon 14th June - Roger began to yell before 2am and at 2.16 the sirens sounded and Percy had to go on duty. He took Gillian down to the shelter for I couldn't cope with them both if anything happened. Luckily the all-clear went at 2.23.
Tues 22nd June - Another hot day and the sky has been alive with planes all the time. I counted 115 Fortresses coming back from the continent together this morning.
Fri 25th June - What a night! We had scarcely gone to sleep when we were awakened by a huge force of our bombers going out. At 1.45 Gillian had nightmares and at the same time the siren went but only for ten minutes. At 3.30 Roger began and the bombers came back at roof top height.
Wed 14th Jul - I had just got into a really sound sleep when at 12.5 the sirens sounded. Presently the guns began so we got the children downstairs only to find that the plane they had been firing at had a light on and was one of our fighters. The all-clear went at 12.55 and at 3.40 we were awakened once more by the cuckoo. A Jerry was practically overhead but Percy wouldn't get up. The all-clear went at 4.13.
Fri 16th Jul - The siren went at 12.20. It was cloudy and raining. Percy had to go on duty till 1.11. We got the children upstairs and soon heard bombs dropping. The cuckoo went at 1.37 and down we went again till 2.0. At 2.37 a third warning sounded and once more a Jerry appeared over the town and all the guns opened up. The all clear went at 3.3. Of course after such a night we have felt fit for nothing.
Wed 28th Jul- At 8.35 there was a warning for ten minutes. Percy says he was just passing under the Norwich Road Bridge siren at the time and the noise nearly blew him off his bike.
Sun 15t Aug - At 12.30 the sirens wailed and Percy had to go on duty till 12.45. It was rather alarming for the lightning and thunder still continued and Jerry was dropping flares or incendiaries in the Harwich/Clacton direction. Also some barrage balloons caught fire.
Fri 6th Aug - I took the two of them down to the clinic in spite of the rain. Unfortunately Gillian's Wellingtons, irreplaceable because of the rubber shortage, have got too small and blistered her heels rather badly. Luckily, we met Percy outside Footman’s, so he brought her home on the bike.
Mon 9th Aug - We went down town to get Gillian a new hat, coat and leggings for winter. We got a very nice set, but the price - 61/7 for a child of three!
Sun 15th Aug - Percy arrived home just as I was blacking out - Double Summer Time ended last night.
Fri 6th Aug - I took the two of them down to the clinic in spite of the rain. Unfortunately Gillian's Wellingtons, irreplaceable because of the rubber shortage, have got too small and blistered her heels rather badly. Luckily, we met Percy outside Footman’s, so he brought her home on the bike.
Mon 9th Aug - We went down town to get Gillian a new hat, coat and leggings for winter. We got a very nice set, but the price - 61/7 for a child of three!
Sun 15th Aug - Percy arrived home just as I was blacking out - Double Summer Time ended last night.
Fri 6th Aug - I took the two of them down to the clinic in spite of the rain. Unfortunately Gillian's Wellingtons, irreplaceable because of the rubber shortage, have got too small and blistered her heels rather badly. Luckily, we met Percy outside Footman’s, so he brought her home on the bike.
Mon 9th Aug - We went down town to get Gillian a new hat, coat and leggings for winter. We got a very nice set, but the price - 61/7 for a child of three!
Sun 15th Aug - Percy arrived home just as I was blacking out - Double Summer Time ended last night.
Wed 1st Sep - We have an absolute plague of flies. No sooner do I Flit one lot than another company arrives.
Fri 3rd Sep - Great news this morning. We have invaded Italy. It has also been a day of Prayer, being the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of war. I guess all our prayers will be needed if this thing is to be seen through quickly. Gillian and I listened to the wireless service.
Mon 6th Sep - I was able to get an early start with my washing. In any case, it would be difficult to oversleep, as American heavy bombers go out to bomb the Continent in their hundreds directly after daybreak.
Wed 8th Aug - On the six o'clock news came the best news of the war yet. The Italian army has surrendered unconditionally. There has been a great deal of victory music and national anthems ever since.
However at 9.10 the sirens sounded and planes began to dither about. After a particularly loud crurnp which set all the dogs in the neighbourhood barking, the crash went at 10.2.
Thurs 9th Sep - Just as we were going to have our dinner a man arrived from the Public Health Department to spray our flies. It has been heaven without them ever since but I daren't open the windows for fear of a fresh lot.
Sat 11th Sep - The Italian fleet arrived at Malta today. I wish I could have been at Valetta as it sailed in. It would be some consolation to the Maltese people for all they have suffered.
Sun 21st Sep - The news from Italy doesn't seem quite as good as at first appeared. The Germans have occupied most of the North where our prisoners of war are.
Fri 27th Sep - We went down town with Mrs Holgate this afternoon. Roger is about twice the size of her baby. She calls him Carnera and Mr Saunders says he looks like Mussolini
Sat 25th Dec - We have had a very pleasant though quiet Christmas. Gillian was quite mad with excitement although her presents were a very mild affair. But as she has never known any but wartime Christmases, she was more than satisfied.

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