Can’t write much of the insanities of the last few days.  It is not so much that the bombing is worrying in itself as that the disorganisation of traffic, frequent difficulty of telephoning, shutting of shops whenever there is a raid on, etc., etc., combined with the necessity of getting on with one’s ordinary work, wear one out and turn life into a constant scramble to catch up lost time.  Herewith a few notes on bombs, etc.:-

I have seen no bomb crater deeper than about 12 feet.  One opposite the house at Greenwich was only (interrupted by air raid: continued 11.9.40) about the size of those made in Spain by 15 c.m. shells.  In general the noises are formidable but not absolutely shattering like those of the huge bombs I saw dropped at Huesca[1].  Putting “screaming” bombs aside, I have frequently heard the whistle of a bomb – to hear which one must I assume be within at most a mile of it – and then a not overwhelmingly loud explosion.  On the whole I conclude that they are using small bombs.  Those which did most of the damage in the Old Kent Road had a curiously limited effect.  Often a small house would be reduced to a pile of bricks and the house next door to it barely chipped.  Ditto with the incendiary bombs, which will sometimes burn the inner part of a house completely out while leaving the front almost intact.

The delayed-action bombs are a great nuisance, but they appear to be successful in locating most of them and getting all the neighbouring people out until the bomb shall have exploded.  All over South London, little groups of disconsolate-looking people wandering about with suitcases and bundles, either people who have been rendered homeless, or, in most cases, who have been turned out by the authorities because of an unexploded bomb.

Notable bits of damage so far:  Tremendous fires in the docks on 7 and 8.9.40, Cheapside on 9.9.40.  Bank of England just chipped (bomb crater about 15 feet from wall).  Naval college at Greenwich also chipped.  Much damage in Holborn.  Bomb in Marylebone goods yard. Cinema at Madame Tussauds destroyed.  Several other large fires, many gas mains and electric cables burst, much diversion of road traffic, London Bridge and Westminster Bridge being out of use for several days, and enough damage to railway lines to slow down rail traffic for a day or two.  Power station somewhere in South London hit, stopping trams for about half a day.  Said to be very heavy damage in Woolwich, and, to judge by the column of flame and smoke, one or more of the big oil drums in the estuary of the Thames was hit on 7.9.40.  Deliveries of milk and letters delayed to some extent, newspapers mostly coming out a few hours late, all theatres (except the Criterion[2], which is underground) closed on 10.9.40, and I think all cinemas as well.

Most of last night in the public shelter, having been driven there by recurrent whistle and crash of bombs not very far away at intervals of about a quarter of an hour.  Frightful discomfort owing to overcrowding, though the place was well-appointed, with electric light and fans.  People, mostly elderly working class, grousing bitterly about the hardness of the seats and the longness of the night, but no defeatist talk. . . . . . People are now to be seen every night about dusk queuing up at the doors of the Shelters with their bedding.  Those who come in first grab places on the floor and probably pass a reasonably good night.  Day raids apart, the raiding hours are pretty regularly 8 p.m. to 4.30 a.m., i.e. dusk to just before dawn.

I should think 3 months of continuous raids at the same intensity as the last 4 nights would break down everyone’s morale.  But it is doubtful whether anyone could keep up the attack on such a scale for 3 months, especially when he is suffering much the same himself.

[1] See ‘My Country Right or Left,’ 694.

[2] In Piccadilly Circus.  The Windmill Theatre, as it proudly boasted, also ‘never closed’; it was a little to the northeast of Piccadilly Circus. Peter Davison

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12 Responses to 10.9.40

  1. Pingback: Orwell’s Diary Entry For September 10th, 1940 « Orwell's Dreams

  2. Barry Larking says:

    “The delayed-action bombs are a great nuisance, but they appear to be successful in locating most of them and getting all the neighbouring people out until the bomb shall have exploded.”

    “shall”. Shows how much of an advantage it was to have learned English at a time when the Authorised Bible and Book of Common Prayer were part of knowledge.

  3. Pingback: Airminded · Post-blogging 1940

  4. George~~
    Thank you for your proper spelling of theatre. You have no idea how “theater” annoys me. Aargh!

  5. Michael L says:

    “In general the noises are formidable but not absolutely shattering like those of the huge bombs I saw dropped at Huesca”

    George must have been pretty annoying to friends spooked by the Blitz. Whatever they go through, he seems to always belittle it in comparison to how much worse he says it was in Spain. One gets the impression that if the Germans had invaded, and shot him together with all his acquaintances, his last breath would be to tell them how much nastier the Fascists were in their execution methods.

  6. “Why, oh, why must the nights be so long?” whimpered the grandmother as she switched from one aching buttock to the other.

    “Oh, I don’t mind the bombing,” someone said from their pallet on the floor, “but I do mind not being able to drive my car to the telephone to order some fish & chips.”

    “Oi, and what small bombs they have!” exclaimed the homeowner, recounting that three of his four walls were still standing.

  7. Tuesday

    The British War Cabinet instructs RAF bombers over Germany not to return home with their bombs if they failed to locate their original targets. Instead, they were to drop their bombs “anywhere” if unable to reach their targets. This order was given in light of the destruction and terror inflicted on Londoners during the last two nights by a succession of Luftwaffe bombing raids.

    Daily Keynote from the Reich Press Chief:
    The British air raids on Berlin and Hamburg should be played up, magnifying all the details as much as possible, in such a way as to further validate our retaliatory measures in the eyes of the world. Furthermore material from the last few months should be exploited more than it has been so far, to make plain the justification of our measures.

  8. 11th September, 1940 – 12.30 p.m.

    The War Cabinet had before them a Memorandum by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, setting out an exchange of telegrams from His Majesty’s Minister in Stockholm in regard to certain advances made by Dr. Weissauer, said to be a secret emissary of Hitler, together with a draft reply to the last telegram from Stockholm.

    The War Cabinet approved the reply proposed by the Foreign Secretary. The only question which arose was whether there was anything to be gained by playing for time before sending off the reply.

    The War Cabinet decided that the reply should be despatched that evening. There was nothing new in the proposed offer, which, in substance, was the same as previous offers, namely, that Hitler was prepared to call it off provided he could keep what he had got. It was also felt that it would be very damning to have it on record that we had sent a temporizing reply to an offer of this kind.

    THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS said that the Prime Minister proposed that the contents of these offers should be made known to President Roosevelt, who should be informed that we had sent a refusal to an offer of peace, made to us at a time when the threat of invasion was imminent.

    It was agreed that the Minister without Portfolio, acting for the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, should inform the Dominion High Commissioners of the sense of this offer and of the reply sent thereto.

    The War Cabinet:­
    (1) Approved the despatch of the draft reply prepared by the Foreign Secretary.
    (2) Authorised the Foreign Secretary to inform President Roosevelt of the sense of the telegrams which had been received, and of the reply sent thereto.

  9. 09.11.2010 : 1618CDT
    I’m not very good at understanding the passive-aggressive argumentum ad hominem conversational tactic because–on a 1-10 scale– it’s 8.5 (yes, the toward the aggressive [Who’s Next comes to mind]). Scientists have proven that anything >7.5 is unaffected by even the maximum passive of 0 and, therefore, has no need to use argumentum ad hominem and logical fallacy is cute, like a child’s toy.

    It’s less than nine years until my parents meet in Shanghai, until they are married there. My father is two years out of a Toledo high school, my mother (Galina) still has a year or two before she and Evdoxie hauled-ass for freaking China.

    Though I met them once or twice, I never knew them. This blog has been therapy; it’s non-coincidental that I was practically the first person here. I know my words here, ever since then, are going to be there reaching for the edge of The Universe in perpetuity. I’m just filling the unknown–My Unknown–imagining my parents views through the gelatinous portholes at opposite ends of The Wormhole.

    My father didn’t join The Army until he was 23[?]. My mother went to high school in Shanghai; her grade cards were printed in Russian, but the grades were filled with the Chinese version of A, B, C or whatever [she showed them to me once].

    I know my father is reading about World Affairs, I know my mother is living it. This is why I have resisted the urge to read ahead of the current context, even though it may seem that I have jumped ahead a bit to The Lion and the Unicorn. While this may be true of the publication date, it is concurrent–practically in real-time, nevertheless, and a direct result of hanging out in The Wormhole.

    I employ a Van Gogh filter which is set at 90%, as is the Stravinski soundtrack. There is a Braque at 80%. The Cezanne filter is set to 70%. The only way to be sure that the subliminal Contrabass Balalaika is broadcasting is by looking at the dial which should read DEFAULT which is 10%. Oh, I can’t forget Hitchcock, Hercule Poirot, EAP…..Alas! I digress.

    Lest anyone get the impression that I am schizophrenic, I hereby admit that “political George Orwell“‘s blatant narcissism is a difficult prism to look through. I poke fun at it because it is so familiar. For example; I have said this before [I think], Eric Blair does not care if Hitler takes over the world so long as all of the Blimps get gone so that he [Blair] can retake the world and name it England.

  10. §1…..tactic because–on a 1-10 scale– it’s <-5; whereas, I am >8.5 (yes, toward…..

  11. jhameac says:

    “§1…..tactic because–on a 1-10 scale– it’s 8.5 (yes, toward…..”

    JL3 – this note only further muddles your prior post, at least to me. I am afraid I cannot make heads or tails of it. Is it possible that we are going to have to get you a breathalyzer activated laptop in order to continue? ;)

  12. Pingback: 8.4.41 « THE ORWELL PRIZE

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