DIARY ENTRY OF EVENTS
Diary of Edie Benson, London 1940-1941
Exchange of letters between husband and wife...
Elizabeth Belsey was living in the family home in Keston, Kent, while her husband, Lieutenant John Belsey, served with the Royal Artillery at Thames Ditton in Surrey. Here is an exchange of letters between them.
Sunday 8 September 1940
My darling girl,
It was terrible last night. We were up for nine hours and the sky was lit by the most lurid glow from the tremendous fires in London. I watched the flames and the planes and the guns and I thought of you and had a terrible feeling that you were in danger. Please, my darling, do not get hurt. Please keep alive for me to come back to you, to love you and look after you and see my beautiful baby again. I am now living without sleep and I suppose you are too, and that is much worse. A peaceful night now seems too remote to be considered.
All my love, John
My darling boy,
You must not worry about me, sweetheart. We are all right. We had four warnings yesterday, but heard nothing. It is dreadful to think of what is happening in London. You too must take care of yourself for me and our precious baby for I do not know how I could endure your loss. I pray that all or none of us survives this war.
With all my love, Elizabeth
Written diary entry
This letter from Will, an ARP (Air-Raid Precautions) warden and schoolteacher in Leytonstone, to his brother in Wales describes the first weeks of the Blitz.
18 September 1940
I can’t possibly tell you of the number of bombs which have fallen, say, within one mile of this house. Stratford, Bow and Plaistow are terribly smashed up. Bombs fell on a number of shops in Leytonstone High Road and smashed four of them to mere rubble. Last Saturday night was the worst.
An aerial torpedo landed directly on houses in Forest Drive West. Five were blown to pieces – not a stick of furniture could be seen – only piles of earth, bricks and beams of timber. Eleven bodies have been recovered and they think there are more to be found. Forty houses have been rendered uninhabitable and scores more in the street behind have had windows, doors, etc, destroyed.
I must confess that the long weary hours of waiting and listening through the night, quite alone in the house with not a soul to talk to, are very trying, but I am profoundly glad that Rube and the kiddies are away. This is no place for women and children. Many folk have packed up and left here recently and I don’t blame them. Nearly all the main-line and suburban stations are closed.
However, the biggest nuisance is the inability to shop, get a bath, haircut or go to church without being disturbed by the raids.