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  Paul  Rowntree 

Communiqué No. 10 by Paul Rowntree
sent from London during the first WW2 blitz

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Communiqué No.10

Barts EC 1    6 Oct 1940

Saturday 5 Oct 40

I took a patient in MOPs – one of the many peptic ulcers. He had had pains for ten years – they got worse last January (he said time were worrying them ). Then again it got worse three weeks ago when the blitzkrieg started. He was an engineer at day and doing wardens duty at night and getting little sleep. After Spence had finished my patient, the siren called me away to the post.

The A lost against De Haviland. Coming back from Edgware at 6.30 I passed the sheltering crowds in all the stations.

If you come and spend a day in London walking about and seeing all the inordinate damage and seeing Londoners during the alert and the all clear ( I doubt if you’d tell the difference ) then you would think the damage although great by peacetime standards, yet smaller then you had imagined from the news and the gossip.

People who have visited London have been less impressed than I by the damage visible in every other big street in the bombed areas. Somehow damage to property leaves you fairly cold.

But it is impossible to pass through stations filled with Londoners without being rather moved. It seems to mean more than any other evidence of air raids.

It is difficult to know why because what would impress and possibly surprise you still more is the cheerfulness and ease of these underground communities.

At dinner time the platforms were filled with cheerful chattering reminiscent of a cheery indoor swimming bath or holiday crowd.

Although there are officials, policemen, porters and women porters ( who always chat to the male porters) I have yet to see one of them ordering, telling or even asking the people to do anything. They and the travellers that they impede, have infinite patience and good tempers. Bossy officials would have and golden chance of bossing people here but no one does ( and it is not necessary).

Groups of people chat to their neighbours, a baby crying is an event to catch everyone’s attention. Children playing or children fast asleep under the feet of passengers are common sights. No, the people look happy enough but they are not in their own homes.

Fights cannot be unknown but I’ve never yet seen anyone arguing or even forming groups to complain about politics. I think the only hint of ill feeling is against young able bodied men.

You see a bore chatting on to a group of people but not one of the family group shows boredom or irritation.

I saw the first underground newspaper seller. I have also seen fibre sentry huts marked “Men” or “Women” but not enough.

When I came out at St Paul’s into the darkness, there was the sound of anti aircraft fire thundering and flashing above. It is just like an enormous thunderstorm, but without the rain.

A man had heard shrapnel falling in the road but I wanted my dinner and stepped out into the dark empty street far removed from the bright tubes below.

It seemed better to keep close to the walls. Passing by the GPO I heard ( for the first time ) the pretty tinkling of shrapnel falling, one or two bits fell lightly it seemed and bounced once in the road others hit the roofs sounding like bits of glass.

I sheltered alone in a doorway of the Post Office and waited two minutes for the storm to pass before going underground and along to the dining room in Barts.

I thought that I would have liked a tin hat, but the chances of being hit by a piece of shrapnel without previous warning are smaller than the chances of your trousers falling off in the street. It does not come down as a shower but 5 pieces might fall on the area the size of a rugger pitch in half a minute.

After dinner the barrage was still roaring and I did not risk the slight chance of being hit by shrapnel on my off duty – not that I would do when on duty actually. Not being able easily to borrow a tin hat, I waited. After ten minutes absolute silence reigned and I was able to cycle to the post in perfect peace.

The illustrated London News this week is very good and contains excellent photos of typical underground scenes.

Sunday 6 Oct 40

At 11 O’clock I went along to 16 Gt Ormond and Joan arrives as I was still at the door. She ordered me to give her the usual Wynn kiss on the cheek.

[Joan Wynn was the sister of Paul’s brother’s, wife Sybil.]

Mrs Wynn was still in bed where she had slept the last two nights. She had some binoculars on the dressing table and she said she could watch dog fights from the bed. There had been another bomb near Frascati’s and as they had to black over the roof which was all glass, and generally clear up the place which would take a week to a month she was on holiday.

She wasn’t going to look for another job because she didn’t think she would get a better one.

[Frascati was an Italian Restaurant in London]

She had got a standing invitation to visit a friend in the country but she didn’t think would go. Dorothy, who is nearly completely cured and who is rigidly carrying on with treatment, had begged her to go and stay with them this winter but she did not feel at home in the country. She had got friends around her and although it would be nice with Dorothy she couldn’t really feel quite the same as being in her own place.

The woman who runs 16 Great Ormond St, looks upon her as her last friend. She is of German birth and won’t go to a public shelter because she is so sensitive about it. She is torn between two loyalties and when she hears the German “boys” coming over she says she keeping wishing they would go away before they get hurt. She was born in Germany but spent most of her life in Bloomsbury. Mrs Wynn said that people in shelters did complain about the “bloody foreigners” (refugees) but she thought it was silly of Mrs Hawarth when everybody in the neighbourhood had known her.

Joan was cheerier that she usually was and just full of talk. She looked quite smart in her uniform – she had specially made the skirt herself. I had not seen them since the “Athlone Castle” and Joan laughed to think of what she would have said if someone had told her she would be in the King’s Uniform.

The reference to the Athlone Castle is to Michael and Sybil’s departure to South Africa in August 1939, just before war was declared.

She is doing all the messing for the other girls at Reigate and enjoying the work. She shares a room with quite an intelligent dress designer who has lost her fiancée in the war. The other girls are apparently quite pretty but rather gormless. Joan is rather the life and soul and is jealously envied for the way she manages to get away with “pranks”. They all go out in bundles, man hunting and get given drinks freely by all the men. She had been to three dances in the week and had been out with a different man each night.

She is apparently engaged to a London Irish (or is it Scottish) but I don’t know if Mrs Wynn knows. We had assumed they were engaged when she was still after John whom she say, she hasn’t forgotten yet. He is a plain man, a stockbroker but he’s now in hospital and she had a difficult time tracing where he had got to. He has motored from Hertfordshire several times just to have dinner with her. ( These are of course vital secrets).

She has also being playing Hitler’s mother in camp concerts. From April for some time she was just near Aldershott and often was taken to the “Victoria” to drink in the “Officers and Cadets” bar. When she had meals, she had not gone through the lounge, even so, it seemed rather amazing you didn’t run into her. It was at a time when she hadn’t been writing to you or knew where you were.

[Mary at this time may have been visiting Colin, on training, at Aldershott, and will have stayed at the Victoria Hotel.]

There were both very cheery ( in case, they write because I think I wasn’t ) I had a stomach ache after a late night.

Mrs Wynn had received a letter from Sybil and this really did cause them worry.

It was more because of what she didn’t write and because there was no usual joke that Mrs Wynn was so sure that Sybil was not “herself” and was worried about something.

I worked it out. It had been written a week after the blitzkrieg when they would have received only wireless and newspaper news about air raids. It might have been that, I had to point out.

Joan is going on leave to Dorothy soon and would like to stay the night at Stonegate if she can. She will be writing to you.

Monday 7th Oct 1940

Another student felt the need of a tin hat ( strongly ) for the first time. A piece of shrapnel fell ( he says ) within four feet of him. He was rather a fool to be out in it actually, but even so I think we should chance them. There is a shortage. Collier is making renewed efforts and in writing this time and I think we should get them soon now.

The funeral of “Mutty” was held today. One or two of the ARP ( as opposed to student ARPs ) went to it and Collier had hurriedly got some flowers for which we have contributed a few pennies in spite of his discouragement.

Collier and Commandant were “on heat” tonight. She had pinched his handkerchief and he was fighting for it. We were all very amused to hear the sounds of the chase and to see her flushed excited face. This afternoon I went to the flicks. Twice the manager apologetically went through the ceremony of announcing the raid. “Ladies and Gentlemen of audience they’re here again” and advised people to stay. Nobody went.

I saw “Saloon Bar” with Gordon Harker, Anna Konstan and Elizabeth Allen. The story is nothing much but all the central characters are very good. Most of the action takes place in the saloon bar and the film is treated in the manner of a French film.

With it was a film called Fear and ---- ( some persons name ) . It was not an M of I film, [Ministry of Information] it was very much better. It traces fear from childhood and ends with wartime. The moral points to parents – the treatment of children’s fears. I don’t know whether the point is explained very well but the photography and direction is extraordinarily good.
[The film was Fear and Peter Brown – a Central Council for Health Education Film] It is well worth seeing.

Tum Tum recognised the school scenes of Dulwich where they were filming two months ago.

There was also an American domestic comedy which amused us ( Pop pays All ) which isn’t worth going to see.

I was looking at the Illustrated London News which gives information about the bombs.

If as I was told our bomb was 15” diameter ( measured from nose cap which is the same diameter ) then it was a ¼ ton bomb, but if as Collier has since said and he’s been dealing with the experts, it was 18” then it was a half tonner ( as I previously wrote )

It looked more to me like a 18” but I haven’t measured it yet. It is probably 1½ inches thick which would be about right as far as I can remember.

To continue these technicalities, a Junkers 87 K would carry one such bomb (ton) and Dornier 215 ( Flying Pencil – like our Hampdens ) would carry 1 ½ such bombs. Whereas the Junkers 86 K could carry two. Our Armstrong-Whitworth “Whitley” could carry three.

Information by kind permission of “ILN” (1/0) and “spot then in the air” (Daily Mirror ) 3rd.

Tuesday 8 Oct 1940

This morning we all got up very early (soon after seven) I changed into my suit to test its cash value and went collecting for the second Hospital’s Day of the Year. I developed, for most people, a more subtle psychological approach, (which was also less tiring).

Making sure that they could see me in time to get their money out, instead of looking hopefully or accosting each in turn, which rather makes them try and get past successfully without paying up.

I give them an all seeing rather soulful look, so that even if they pretended to look for enemy planes they could see by my slight cynical sorrowful smile that their little evasions did not convince me in the least.

After a time, I was looking so pitiful and was so conscious pricking that quite a few with flowers seemed to be dying to get another. This psychological accosting, with no attempt to ask them, is of course highly skilled and is to be varied with individual cases. I got far more than usual, a lot of pennies, but quite a lot of silver, so that in the end no more coins would go in the tin. ( PS I collected £4-1-10)

I heard later that everybody else had done as well. There were fewer collectors and as there were two raids people took more of a vested interest in hospitals.

A bomb hit a bus in Grays Inn Road. There were 4 B.I.D.s at Barts and several (14) casualties. The most severe of which had one leg amputated and the other fractured. Apparently the collectors near, cashed in from the startled spectators.

1 leg taken off, 1 arm taken off, 1 eye out, 2 abdominal wounds, cuts and fractures – and I did not see them. The man whose arm was amputated walked to the hospital himself and his hand was hanging from his elbow by skin and nothing else. He had no tourniquets – the arteries must have contracted up spontaneously.

The barrage started about seven. After about 1½ pints at the Vicarage I set out alone to the post. ( I’m afraid, you will think I drink a lot, if you judge from the number of times I mention beer – actually I don’t.)

The moon is getting bigger and there is very little cloud nowadays. So that when I set out ( after hearing some bombs drop ) I could see the track of a plane across the moon.

I could also see a glow from a big fire somewhere in the south. The blitz has started again.

Well to keep this commentary quite honest, I didn’t particularly like it. I was by myself, my imagination was more flowery and less reasonable, I hadn’t a tin hat and also I had had some beer. As I was cycling I could hear the barrage clapping loudly above, there were some searchlight beams, pointing pretty well above and you could hear the plane droning, very clearly and it is the drone, without the noise of bombs that have actually dropped as well as the possibility now of shrapnel ( which however you would get a warning of ) that made me feel uncomfortable and unreasonable.

Actually I think tiredness that makes you most liable to this. I was wondering whether to slow up – go to a doorway or find a shelter but decided it better to step on it rather than prolong the uncertainty. I heard a swish – swish – swish – swish landmine but no bang. I did not feel any acute fright ( such as you get when a mouse runs out ) nor did I feel any fear that you would normally admit to a friend even discussing it pretty frankly but I did feel the beginnings of thoughts and apprehensions starting to go unreasonable.

[At can be stated that even later in life Paul was unreasonably terrified of mice]

But the most interesting thing of all which convinced me that I must be being slightly upset, was the feeling, on walking downstairs to the post, of my legs starting (uncontrollable) as if they might fail to support me.

Now having written this I am terribly afraid that you will think ah! At last his morale is going he is in a state of nerves, the war is having its effect. – Well I am not and nor is there any cause for the slightest worry on your part. But not wanting to be at all dishonest in my reactions, I have rather exaggerated them.

I can say however that as a result, I suppose, of some tiredness and continued destruction, by myself I don’t think that I am quite so completely carefree or scornful of everything as before.

I also feel that it is unwise now that the blitz is starting again, to make a habit of cycling through the barrage as that seems to be rather courting the possibility of a bit of shrapnel – or even a bomb, not that that is really at all likely – but it is, I think, a possibility.

Well there you are – honest scientific introspection without any hesitation that it might worry you.

Wednesday 9 Oct 40

Maxwell took MOP’s for my first time. He is quite a pleasant man, fair and not tall, but he talks like Ralph [ Ralph Thorp, an architect uncle] which seems all wrong.

Again the barrage went before we had finished dinner. I don’t think I would ever miss any dinner because of the siren.

There were quite a lot of bombs during the night but I was not wakened until 6.00am when I heard about 5 incendiaries making louder bangs as each fell. We did not think they had hit the building.

Thurday 10 Oct 40

Coming out of the post into Leadenhall Street in the miserable wetness of an October morning, it was a warming sight to see a large 6ft. flame burning quietly from a gas main in a crater, 150 yards to the left. The direct route back was barred by another similar “brazier” with people round staring.

During the night the Mobile Unit from Unilever House went out to Fetters Lane where a semi-surface shelter was hit. They got out two patients which were treated – 30 were killed.

There are several surface shelters near a mainline Southern Station. The station was out of use but did not seem damaged except for a layer of glass on the ground. One of the surface shelters was “flat” – it did not seem as if anyone had been inside. Although, of course, they are some shelter and provide companionship, these shelters are no better for sleeping in than a house. I know I would rather sleep in my own comfortable bed and I can understand well why people have gone to the tubes – where they do get real sleep – and although they can be quite cheery without any sleep at night, it is bound to tell.

Geffrey Bourne ( the physician – and artist) thinks that the only reason why the government were against deep shelters was because the labour party were for them.

It is of course of the utmost importance that people doing work of value to the war ( and most is ) should not expect anything more than the minimum safety; it is quite different when their wives and children are facing the same or greater danger at the same time. No one wants to go down in a deep shelter and do nothing ( none of the ordinary public that is ) but the government couldn’t get away from the idea that deep shelters meant “safety first” and no carrying on with business.

I saw a busy bus stop at about six today. People were queuing up. The buses were nearly full and would stop to take one or two shepherded on by L.P.T.B officials. Taxis coasted hopefully by but no one stopped them.

One after another a car would stop and people would lean out to hear where the driver was going. Often the L.P.T.B. man would enquire and call out the destination so that people in the queue who were going there could bundle in there. Then another car would draw up. The taxis went by.

Friday 11 Oct 40

A quiet night last night. I had got down to the post before the siren. Had a riotous game of ping pong – half the post rushing around the table picking up and dropping the bat and trying to hit the ball.

There was a slight fog on the river today which made everything extraordinarily picturesque and even hid “ARANDORA STAR” paint in huge letters on the South Bank.

Although, especially at the rush hour people queue for buses and the trams already full, the river buses which everyone welcomed in the press, run with only about six passengers and they are probably sightseers. You can travel from Westminster to Woolwich and back for 9d.

There are some very beautiful bits of camouflage in London. Although covered with painted canvas some of them you can pass and think they are something quite different. Most of them a spy would recognise but I suppose that does not really matter.

Your letter and the ties arrived on Wednesday evening. I like the ties very much indeed especially the fancy one ( rather like one of Mike’s ) which suits the suit. Thank you very much for sending them. I haven’t bought any shirts yet but should before the purchase tax. I think the plain blue Vantellas we looked at are rather too hackneyed and civil servant.

Saturday 12 Oct 40

One patient in MOPs today – suffering from diarrhoea 10 –15 times a day, a solder.

I was going to play rugger but the 1st XV match was cancelled so some of us were replaced from the A.

This afternoon I was on duty at the post. After a raid, Commandant went to lunch and as Collier was away for the day I was the only medico in charge – but nothing came in.

Collier this morning managed to collect 8 tin hats from White – the Dr. in charge of the city posts who had rung him up specially to say we had some. The A.R.P. people here are a bit bitter that they haven’t been given any and the nurses who travel either “backwards” or forward every morning ( and sometimes on buses during raids) think that they should have some too. But we don’t really feel bad about our brains being considered a more valuable military objective. Mine fits perfectly and they all look very chic and rather

exclusive being a light blue grey.

I was rather surprised to find a role of lavatory paper different from the usual plain hospital sheets. On it were written mottoes intended I suppose to encourage our “morale” ( “Moral Re-armament” please copy).
They were

1. “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today”

2. “If at first you don’t succeed Try Try Again !”

3. “May your efforts never be denied”

4. “Whatever you do at home do here, we want you to feel at home.”

5. “It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all”

6. “DON’T WORRY” Everything will come alright in the end”

I heard a recording of a talk after the six o’clock news by a Yorkshireman in London I wonder if you heard it.
He had based his ideas of London on newspapers and news photos ( where the greatest destruction is the greatest news) and when he came up to London to see it for himself although he saw all the worst damage as well as what had amazed him and what he couldn’t stop talking about ( to the surprise of Londoners ) was how very normal everything was. He saw the damage which is fairly extensive now, but it was a fraction of what he had expected but what had really impressed him was how much of London there was still undamaged and how normal life was. I wonder if you heard it - because it is what I have tried to say myself. Living here all the time, one forgets that side of it until you are reminded by newcomers to London. It remains the same all the time and most of our interest goes rather to new damage (when there is any) because it is new. But really, the important side of life in London is taken for granted and forgotten.

The last two nights have been very quiet. Last night the all clear went at 1 o’clock. There was no fog or mist last night either. The night before some of the suburbs were bombed.
It is now Tuesday as I write and it has seemed rather an effort to keep up to date. Without the long waits at the post at each raid, every day and with the ping-pong and more chatting and discussions among the present crowd who are not so quiet and dignified as we were the last 3 months – There seems to be less time with nothing to do but be inspired and write.
Our original route to the post is now cleared again and some of the alternative ways we had been using are blocked. The moon is full, the nights are clear and raids are almost reaching the original tempo.

Sunday 13 Oct 40

After lunch I was wandering about, proudly wearing my new hat and looking, I imagined, like a news commentator in the front line! Suddenly there was a single and loud report. Kennedy ( a permanent student who was in charge of the West Wing) started getting away excited and hurried us down below the West Wing. As he wouldn’t go first and as he didn’t seem happy in the open, I went down. He thought it was a bomb. Later someone said it was a bomb in the Balls Pond Road – though how they knew so soon, was not clear.
Another student was reported to have seen a landmine shot in mid air – but I found no one who had heard this from him.
We lay reclining on the beds down in basement and soon visitors from the wards started trooping in. This shelter, where the 20 Barts students and the housemen sleep is like a wine vault with whitewashed arches. It has supporting girders and below the roof run whitewashed insulated hot water pipes. The ward visitors didn’t seem able to easily relax or sit down on the forms, until it was suggested and I suppose they didn’t like leaving their relatives in the ward. We on the other hand were resting easily on the beds and making ourselves as comfortable as we liked. They seemed a bit surprised seeing us so at home. Then the wireless was put on and we listened to a gardening talk. After that the London Symphony Orchestra played lively overture, inspired by the Hebrides. The wireless was a good one and the symphonies came through very well. The students lay back or sat up quiet and still. The unusual setting would havemade rather a good film scene.After the all clear I rushed to catch the firemen who had been on the roof and got him to open the clinical photography ( Art Studio INC. ) dept.

He was sure the very loud report was the single warning shot the barrage fires, but this time, they had used a big naval gun from a destroyer in the river. So I had been right. He was in the navy in the last war and the Boer War. I got down to a batch of developing as I hadn’t done any since the small incendiary fell on the studio roof.

The barrage had started before the end of dinner Bartlett and I chatted on merrily, then I took plates out of the wash and we defaecated in comfort. By the time we set out it was later than usual. As we approached the entrance to the post we could see that a plane was overhead in approximate line with the narrow street by the bursting of ach-ach shells.
I was in front and as I came under the archway 30 yards from the post, I saw 4-6 flashes of brilliant light on the roadway and building at the entrance. Bartlett saw two. We couldn’t understand it. It dawned on me that it was coming from the entrance and Bartlett distinctly remembers it coming through the window at the side of the post.

The light was very bright indeed and as if from a bulb and roughly was on a second, off a second, and so on.

It stopped and we waited. Then I jumped on the pedal and rushed down to the entrance. Inside was the old doorkeeper who was relieved on an air raid warning by the first aid men. He said good evening and seemed slightly ( but distinctly ) embarrassed. He shone a torch ( not bright) to show us the steps.

Bartlett mentioned the light to the people chatting in the hall and they assumed that he was lighting his pipe. We were not convinced. We have told Collier and I don’t think he’s done much. We have tested it, before a raid, with a torch which doesn’t give the same result. There is an empty bulb holder which, if it is not alive, is at least on the same fuse as the black out bulb. Although the man is short, we can reach the holder and a bulb, put in and out of there, would not be seen by the men in the hall and would, it appears, produce the effect we saw. But the bright light would not easily be seen by aircraft, but the light shining from the windows up and along the narrow street might be visible and might even point a direction. We have not tested to see if a pipe being light and flaring up would account for it and it might well. The man has been with the firm for many years, we don’t know if he has been to the firm’s offices in Germany, he talks to the directors as if they know him well. He drinks often, his wife has gone off with another man and he is very bitter, he has done extra jobs and extra hours for the directors. Lights have been seen from the building before and the police have been in when a light was visible from one of the upper storeys at night. He was extremely agitated when we were treating jock after he was trapped on the roof. This doesn’t necessarily mean a guilty conscience of course but he is far more wrought up than the others I noted then. The street outside the entrance is out of the way and not often seen by policemen. I doubt if the roof watchers would see the light ( as they are over the parapet ) but anyway they usually come down when flames are overhead and go up every so often and this doorkeeper would know their movements.

So we don’t quite know what to make of it. It is just possible that he could be a fifth columnist, it could all fit in. But it may be nothing. But we students have taken it on ourselves to keep quiet and to keep our eyes open and maybe take watches to see if it happens again. Please don’t chat about this to anyone else.

It is difficult nowadays to understand the concern over this type of event but in wartime one light out of place was seen as a serious issue. It is reminiscent of a similar event reported from Hammersmith Terrace by the Rowntree family during World War 1.

Monday 14 Oct 40

Did some more developing today. At night Hewitt and I were going later to snoop. When the barrage started hotter than usual he did not see keen to go then ( he is 32 ). The others also were waiting as it was rather hot. So to fill in time we went to the “Vicarage”. There we saw the unusual sight of two old bulky Barts sisters drinking half pints of beer imperturbably in their uniform.

I am afraid the camera probably wobbled. We waited a bit longer and as most of us had not gone down earlier, we gave up our snooping idea.

The moon was very bright and we could see the glow of fires which light a balloon above.

I followed Hewitt and Bartlett and we saw from Aldersgate St a gas main burning brilliantly in the roadway by St. Paul’s (St Paul’s Graveyard ?). There were other less visible fires on buildings all around.

Pedalling at full speed in bottom gear I couldn’t reach up with the 2 figures in the front, their tin hat reflecting the full moon as they sped along the moonlight streets.

Our tin hats differ from others in that they have three little holes in the brim in front of the straps on either side. They ( intentionally or not) produce a whistling by the ears in any wind. Personally I prefer to hear freely and have filled them with durafix.

[Durafix was an cellulose acetate based glue, good for most jobs, particularly mending china.]

Perkins had been home and he produced 8 cigars which had been presented to his father who doesn’t smoke. We created a mild sensation and a considerable atmosphere as we all smoked them.

Perkins had to get out of bed, as we were going to sleep, to a case of shock (but with a BP of 160). [BP usually drops below the normal of 140 with shock]. A woman who had been under some debris. She came from “Spillers” shelter. We have had several cases from there. We (or Collier) seem to have built up quite a 1st Aid Practice – none of the other posts get anything like the number of cases or the variety.

We had a miscarriage on a previous night ( did I mention it ?).


Tuesday 15 Oct 40

Nothing on or near Barts in spite of gas beacon. I did casualty outpatients this morning. I put 2 stitches in a man’s finger. He said it was the first time he had had any stitches. I refrained from mentioning it was the first time I had done any. (He may have guessed).

This afternoon I went to the flicks with Merryfield ( He is Jim now as we all use Christian names since the war). He, Dennis (Bartlett) and I have the same day off. We saw “Foreign Correspondent” which is a good film, worth seeing. It is an adventure thing but is full of very amusing little bits. Joel McCrea in the end broadcasts from the BBC during and amazing studio air raid. It is a very impressive finish however and made one want to send help to Londoners at once. I think most of the audiences feel a little embarrassed when Bombed London comes onto the screen – especially when the commentator’s usually impressive “blah” falls on knowing unbelieving ears.

This film should bring the USA into the war sooner.

It is “Slotty’s” ( Perkins) 21st birthday today and I eat his superb birthday cake ( like a wedding cake) and drank his sherry and beer. I haven’t done anything in return.

We have heard a few bombs tonight ( incendiaries I think ) but it is not as hot as last night. Mike Phillips was doing a locum and was spotting from the Barts roof last night when it was “hot” . He saw Molotov Breadbaskets and fires. He is rather subdued and untalkative this evening. The others are going off to sleep. He is reading until I turn off the light.

I am hoping to get a holiday soon. I may get a locum from Sat 2nd November – Would this be alright.

I am sorry I have been such a time with this letter – I have been meaning to make up a parcel.

Wednesday 16th Oct 40

Last night was the hottest night we have had round us. As we cycled back to breakfast this morning, the route was lined with heaps of broken glass.

At 2.30 am this morning we were woken by a series of explosions and waves of aeroplane engines. But things had been happening since midnight. The 1st Aider on the door heard about a dozen ( or more ) landmines explode in their characteristic drawn out manner and without a previous whistling. The firemen watching on the roof saw a landmine dropping on it parachute and they moved rapidly. It fell on a nearby police station ( ¼ mile away ) and didn’t explode. The policemen came to one of our air shelters.

Another was caught by its parachute on the same building near Jim Merryfields parents flat where he was staying the night and where an Indian student has a flat. The place was cleared and they’ve been going for the fuses. I heard of yet another that didn’t explode.

One did explode on a building near our route and on the opposite side of a military objective which did not seem damaged sufficiently to put it out of action.

Even so none of the other posts received casualties, though I think Barts must have done.

We had four and three of us had to get up and treats cuts with flying glass. They were caught by bomb blasts while in a building treating a fire. The most severe case had a cut ear lobe (1/2”) and a skin cut ( 2”) behind the ear.

Mine had a bruise and a small flap of skin cut from his eye lid. Collier didn’t consider a stitch necessary – (I am glad as he wasn’t a very good patient). The eye was washed after examination then a pad applied and I bandaged it up and then the Commandant bandaged it up ( I know a bit more about eye bandaging now.)

Even though we lost only an hours sleep we all seemed rather shagged this morning.

This afternoon we are busy evacuating patients – a lot of them from the Royal Free I believe.

I am afraid there are stories of looting by people in the A.R.P. The only direct stories I have heard of this sort of thing was from a student at Barts detailed off to identify BID’s ( Brought in Dead) from their possessions. They are brought in an ambulance with an attendant. Then a Barts porter laid out the body and emptied the pocket contents. The student was not informed until about ½ hours after the body came in. He found about 8/6 in silver in the pockets. The body went off to the city mortuary or something.

Later relatives came up enquiring about the money. There was not even the silver in the pockets but they were certain there had been £20 in notes in a pocket book. They were quite reasonable and weren’t demanding it nor did they suspect the student. He was quite convinced they were speaking the truth and that they were certain he had the money as they know how much he had been paid and paid out etc. They allowed for cost of petrol and oil and this tallied with the receipt which the student had found. But it will be impossible to trace who had taken it. Unless there is some more watertight scheme, there is going to be unhappiness and ill feeling. Valuables might be put in a bag at once and go to a central depot.

I have two journals, I will send them or bring them later.

Sorry I’ve been such a time

Much Love


2pm Wed 16th Oct 40

Found on a scrap of paper

I am afraid that Sunday 6 Oct. – Mon 7 Oct - all about seeing Joan ans Mrs Winn are mislaid or have I sent them out of order - ( came with No. 11 but inserted after page 8 of 10) - I can definitely get a locum Nov 2nd – 18th travelling those days Love Paul Wed 16 Oct