Air-raid alarms during the last 3 nights have totalled about 16-18 hours for the three nights. . . . . . It is perfectly clear that these night raids are intended chiefly as a nuisance, and as long as it is taken for granted that at the sound of the siren everyone must dive for the shelter, Hitler only needs to send his planes over half-a-dozen at a time to hold up work and rob people of sleep to an indefinite extent.  However, this idea is already wearing off. . . . . . For the first time in 20 years I have overheard bus conductors losing their tempers and being rude to passengers.  E.g. the other night, a voice out of the darkness: “’Oo’s conducting this bus, lady, me or you?”  It took me straight back to the end of the last war.

. . . . . ..  E. and I have paid the minimum of attention to raids and I was honestly under the impression that they did not worry me at all except because of the disorganisation, etc., that they cause[1].  This morning, however, putting in a couple of hours’ sleep as I always do when returning from guard duty, I had a very disagreeable dream of a bomb dropping near me and frightening me out of my wits.  Cf. the dream I used to have towards the end of our time in Spain, of being on a grass bank with no cover and mortar shells dropping round me.

[1] See Orwell’s ‘London Letter,’ Partisan Review, March-April 1941, 740. Peter Davison

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4 Responses to 29.8.40

  1. Pingback: Airminded · Post-blogging 1940

  2. Gilles Mioni says:

    During the war was it only that feeling for any civilian not involved directly in fights:
    Just annoyed by noises of propelled engines ?

    The strange thought with a little bit of fear that the next bomb launched could be the one which will able to kill you ?

    But the real terror was for the children only ?

    Even today, just look on an old photography their anxious glimpses towards the sky.

  3. Barry Larking says:

    My own elder brother and sisters were of an age at this time. They gazed sky wards in order to watch air battles the better. The great danger (later perhaps) came from shrapnel produced by anti-aircraft guns. One tells of hearing this hitting roof slates. Anxiety amongst the civilian population seems to have been less than expected. Mental breakdown which had been a real fear on the authorities part failed to materialise though post war who knows? My memory tells me there were no more or less cases of mental illness met with then than today.

  4. itwasntme says:

    New war, old dreams.

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