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  Paul  Rowntree 

Communiqué No. 24 by Paul Rowntree
sent from London during the first WW2 blitz

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Communiqué No.24

25 Mary’s Ward Barts, E.C.1

Th 13 March 41

Dear Parents

Thanks for your letter (and pants.) I’m glad you had such a nice holiday and rest.

I had paid in Bradley’s money order into you account on Tuesday. I have acknowledged it to him and said that you will probably send him an official receipt. (when it goes through) – he doesn’t ask for one but he’d better have one don’t you think? I suggested he should have £3 instead of pinning him down to £2-10-00 ( 10% because of letters etc) and as he is only charging garage to Dec. it is naturally less “rake off” than I was calculating. (so please find enclosed letter, a/c and receipt from bank)

Monday 10 March 41

Just after Gow’s round had finished the Delayed Action Bomb outside the P.O. ( in which I nearly put my foot) exploded and carried with it onto Barts roof etc bits of road and bits of three B.D.S. and injured severely two others. My gastric patient was very upset by the noise and the crashing. I didn’t rush to see the damage and didn’t imagine that people would be injured. Chief surgical assistants Tuckwell and Hunt broke the chain closing the back gate and dealt with the casualties. An ambulance arrived quickly (but too late) ( it wouldn’t of course be of any use)

I examined, too, the damage to theatre “A”, the pre-war gaene [Gynaecology] theatre. It is easy to reconstruct this remarkable incident.

The bomb made a round hole though a glass roof before hitting the brick wall on one side of the bomb.

In this way the point of the bomb avoided being struck. The bomb was thrown sideways by the bomb which landing on its side, broke through the floor with its weight and was burst open itself and may then have exploded but there was no compression and no blast. The striking pin of the bomb is seen to be undamaged and the casing is split right open. It is a 11,000 lbs bomb.

A bomb (which did go off ) and may have been from the same stick landed on the post office just thro’ the main Smithfield arch from Barts.

All of course vital secrets.

I see that Buckingham Palace was being raided ( as the car driver said ) [communiqué 23]

The bomb which exploded in the Café de Paris ( which still looks the same from the outside) apparently killed Ken Johnson before exploding in front of the band. It was a Gala night with more than the usual number of dancers (- 400) there were about 80 killed and 135 casualties. Lambert, a very black West Indian, who has published two books of poems and who is doing a month’s locum at the post, knew most of Ken Johnson’s band. He has been to see some of them in Charing Cross. Ken Johnson was the son of a West Indian Dr. and was a medical student in London before bringing his band over to England.

Tues 11-Th 13 March

Official raids ( mostly silent) each night so that we have had to sleep at the post regularly. Joan had written saying she was on leave but she made a 3 look like and 8 so that when I rung up today she had gone back.

It was good getting the 9 raiders down last night. The ach – ach tactics now seem to be to wait for a plane to move into a certain volume of sky when suddenly there is a terrific roar from all the guns ready aimed. Apparently they did this about 3 times last night but without seeming to hit anything. It was a perfect night for fighters.

Emu has entered Scotton and has determined to do everything she is told to get well quickly. The other patients don’t and she hasn’t met anyone intelligent to talk to yet. Otherwise she doesn’t dislike it.

I think my account needs about £18 to make it up to the cost of the fees. This is less the amount you paid in towards rugger and the clothes and books account when I was home (£5). This still seems an awful lot but the clothes a/c is low. The U.H.S.C. has come out of this but I think I will be able to pay it back later. The amount to bring it up to £82 may be less, but I missed filling in details of one cheque which I think is £4-10-0 but may be less. I’ll ask for my pass book if you like. It still looks as though I have been living above my income unless the clothes a/c is really down as low as all that. I have just bought a pair of flannels today the cheapest at Hope Bros. 21/-. They haven’t much choice of sizes now. I asked about unit hats for the RE’s [ Royal Engineers] and they have rankers at 8/6 ( used to be 5/- but the officers is 38/6 or there about ) [ 38 shillings and six pence].

After a lot of research I could probably salvage the clothes a/c which lost itself at the outbreak of war after which I didn’t bother about it but paid for everything except the very expensive, out of weekly income. Before I had taken stamps, books etc etc out of it but at Finchley I did without it. So that when I went to St.Alban’s I had nothing to work on as the balance but recorded the expensive things in my diary for later reference.

It is because of this that there is not a proper clothes a/c to give you.

I haven’t been counting the laundry in the clothes account – that has been more that I calculated about 3-4 shillings a week. After March there will be the cost of digs and so living expenses will go up. I’m sorry it is in such a muddle especially as it looks as if I haven’t been earning my keep as much as I had hoped. The trouble about meals in, is you have to buy chocolate or buns or coffee at night as extra to make up the day’s diet and that any meal s away from the hospital, isn’t a saving but costs the fare /and (if not free) the meal.

F 14 March41

(to bed with a headache and 2 veganin)

I hope the N.E. town raided last night wasn’t York. We had nothing hear really – only sirens but I was off duty. Colder later but sunny now.

Much Love Paul