January 28th, Monday
I experienced this day my first Raid but first I must begin at the beginning of the day. I received a letter from the Jackdaw by the first post saying he was coming up to Town and would be staying the night. He has lately got engaged to a girl in Bournemouth and I wanted to hear all about her. I accordingly went down to Waterloo to meet him at 10.35 and having done so we preceded to the club where I fed him and then we shopped and went to Cox and back to the flat for tea and an early dinner for I took him to the 13th Chair. Arriving somewhat early we went into the lounge to have a cigarette. Hardly were we seated than two loud reports sounded and the barmaid languidly remarked “another raid, those are the warning guns”. This was followed by the police calling “Take cover, take cover” and then the show began. We went down into the theatre and took our seats and then all through the guns banged and the barrage rattled and everyone was perfectly calm and quiet. I wondered at times what it would feel like if a bomb came crashing through the roof for the noise was so loud that at times we could scarcely hear what the people were saying. At the end of the performance the Manager came forward and said that as the “All clear” had not sounded all who wished to stay were at liberty to do so, and that the orchestra would play to them so we sat and waited for half an hour and then I phoned home saying all was well and as it seemed useless staying any longer we set forth. A glance into the exit of the Trafalgar Square tube was quite enough to put us off taking cover there and coming to the Piccadilly entrance we found the gates closed so there was no chance of going back by that. No taxis would look at us and though a few buses were running all were full to overflowing. Therefore there was nothing to do but to walk and this we did all the way. The moon was nearly full and it was as light as day. I left the Jackdaw at High St (Kensington) as he had to go out to Turnham Green and hardly had I got in but it all began again. I watched the strange scene from my bedroom window. It was like a Drury Lane spectacle, the great gun flashes across the sky, the tremendous noise and the bursting shrapnel in the air. Alas I was dragged away too soon and made to beat a retreat downstairs to Mrs Haby’s flat where Mother and Ell had been spending the evening. I was much bored. I did so want to watch it, it was such a curious experience walking home, the streets were crowded with people doing the same and occasionally a taxi would rush past one, its bonnet being placarded with a large notice “Take Cover”. And another strange thing I did and that was to smoke a cigarette all down Piccadilly! Never did I think I should commit such a queer breach of etiquette! But on raid nights one does do queer things, and no wonder.
This day at 11.0 I met DW (aka Jackdaw) at the club. I was very glad to see him and to hear that he had got home last night without misadventure. We had some tea and then went down to the Abbey. It is very interesting being in Town with someone who has seldom been here before. Everything is new to him and I was so glad to show him a little of the Abbey though we were hurried to do more than rush round then we took the top of a bus to Waterloo Bridge from where we walked to the station. It was a perfect day and the river looked lovely, the sun shone through a faint mist casting a pink glow on all the lovely buildings. Somerset House, the Savoy, Houses of Parliament etc. In the middle of the river were a lot of green and red barges. Dear old place, how I love it all. I saw him off, then returned to Oxford Street to do some shopping at Evans. I tried to get some tea there but they had no milk! Various things I wanted I failed to get. We planned to go to bed early, but at 10 the warning sounded and downstairs we had to go as once again we realised our friends were with us. This time the All Clear sounded at 1.30 but the special constables declared for safety at 1.0 so up we went to bed. This time the windows rattled and banged and shook and I think the raiders came nearer our side of Town.
I have nothing to relate of yesterday as I spent the day in bed. I was entirely happy with my books and writing. This morning I ventured forth to shop but came home to lunch. I went to tea with Gertie and coming home the fog was so dense that I literally had to feel my way home. It was really frantic and the crowds in the tube were appalling as all above ground traffic was stopped.