3.9.40

Yesterday talking with Mrs. C., [1] who had recently come back from Cardiff.  Raids there have been almost continuous, and finally it was decided that work in the docks must continue, raids or no raids.  Almost immediately afterwards a German plane managed to drop a bomb straight into the hold of a ship, and according to Mrs. C. the remains of seven men working there “had to be brought up in pails”.  Immediately there was a dock strike, after which they had to go back to the practice of taking cover.  This is the sort of thing that does not get into the papers.  It is now stated on all sides that the casualties in the most recent raids, e.g. at Ramsgate, have been officially minimised, which greatly incenses the locals, who do not like to read about “negligible damage” when 100 people have been killed, etc., etc.  Shall be interested to see the figures for casualties for this month, i.e. August.  I should say that up to about 2000 a month they would tell the truth, but would cover it up for figures over that.[2]

Michael[3] estimates that in his clothing factory, evidently a small individually-owned affair, time lost in air-raids cost £50 last week.

[1] Unidentified.

[2] The number killed in air raids in September was 6,954; 10,615 were seriously injured.  In the devastation of Coventry on 16 November (code-named ‘Moonlight Sonata’ by the Germans), 554 people were killed of a population of a quarter of a million; only one German plane was shot down.  Throughout the war, 60,595 civilians were killed by enemy action.  This stands in contrast to 30,248 members of the Merchant Marine; 50,758 Royal Navy; 69,606 RAF; and 144,079 Army.  Of some 36,500 civilians killed in air raids to the end of 1941, more than 20,000 died in London, more than 4,000 in Liverpool, more than 2,000 in Birmingham, and nearly 2,000 in Glasgow.

[3] Probably the ‘M’ mentioned in diary entry of 16.6.40, see 639.  £50 would be about a week’s wages for a total of 10-12 people. Peter Davison

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12 Responses to 3.9.40

  1. Stephen says:

    The ratio of civilian deaths to press censorship: Only Orwell could come up with that.

  2. Pingback: George Orwell’s Diary ENtry For 3.9.40 « Orwell's Dreams

  3. George~~
    Perhaps you could give Adolf a call and let him know what is really going on.

  4. Pingback: Airminded · Post-blogging 1940

  5. From the CONCLUSIONS of a Meeting of the War Cabinet held at 10 Downing S.W. 1, on Tuesday, September 3, 1940, at 12 NOON:

    A short preliminary discussion took place about the proposal that compensation up to, say, £2,000, should be granted to persons who had lost their household effects or the stock-in-trade of their businesses in air raids. Up to the beginning of August about 8,000 houses had been hit, of which very few had been totally destroyed. The local authorities were doing admirable work in arranging for the repair of damaged, as opposed to destroyed, houses. This was far less than the forecasts of damage made before the war. From this point of view the problem was of manageable dimensions.

    On the other hand it was by no means certain that a scheme which was limited to damage resulting from air raids, and excluded other forms of distress due to the war (for example businesses in evacuated areas) would meet with general support from all political parties. There was the further consideration that i t would be difficult to finance the compensation by a fiat rate levy on the value of all property, if the compensation payable was limited in all cases to, say, £2,000.

  6. At the same meeting: The Prime Minister suggested that, if a red warning was in operation when a Meeting of the War Cabinet was about to begin, there should be a standing arrangement that the Meeting should take place in the Cabinet War Room. If a red warning was given after a Meeting had begun at 10 Downing Street, he hoped that they would be able to continue their business without interruption. The War Cabinet agreed to the standing arrangement proposed by the Prime Minister.

  7. Barry Larking says:

    Before the war estimates of probable civilian casualties were far higher than the total figures given here. Moreover, these would accumulate very quickly, in weeks it was felt. That this did not happen was partly due to evacuation and civil defence and counter measures, but also the primitive means then at the disposal of night bombers.

    I was shown once a set of railings outside a post-war built block of flats. These were curious. They had wheel-barrow like bent frames between which was welded a stiff wire mesh. These were, I was told, stretchers on which the bodies of people killed in raids would be have been removed. I was sceptical until many years after I saw newsreel film from the war of one being used to remove someone who was, thankfully, still alive from a bombed house.

    At this time (the Blitz) the distinguished American writer Theodore Drieser said [Britain] was getting what it deserved since it was “a nation of horse riding snobs”.

  8. Memorandum by the Prime Minister.
    I VENTURE to submit to my colleagues the following points which suggest themselves to me in reading the deeply interesting survey of the Minister of Supply:
    1. The Navy can lose us the war, but only the Air Force can win it.

  9. A German bomber shot down in World War II has been found 50 feet below the sea off the coast of England. The twin-engined Dornier 17, buried in a sandbank, is the last of its kind in the world. The plane, known as a Flying Pencil, was blasted out of the sky during Nazi attacks on Britain in August 1940.

  10. Wednesday, September 4, 1940:
    THE War Cabinet had before them the Conclusions of an Informal Meeting held that afternoon under the Chairmanship of the Lord Privy Seal (WP.(40)357).

    The principal recommenda­tion of the Meeting, was that an authoritative statement should be made to the effect that everybody engaged on useful work, and not in a position of special danger, should continue his or her work on receipt of the “red” warning, and should not seek shelter until specific instructions were received (or until guns or bombs were heard).

  11. Since it is Friday the 6th, I thought I would share this recently uncovered color footage of the London Blitz.

  12. Pingback: Class war in the blitz « Shiraz Socialist

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