Monday, July 07, 2008

Saturday 16th September 1939

Strange how I awoke as usual, at 6:30 this morning – on this occasion without an alarm or watch and in complete darkness owing to the thickly blanketetted window. Washed in a bucket in the kitchen – managed to obtain some hot water for shaving and used a jam jar for the shaving mug.

On duty again today, this time as NCO in charge of meals. First man to have this job, which is newly invented. One has to “maintain discipline” etc in the dining hall, but otherwise carries on with work as usual.

Leave for 25% from noon today until 10p.m tomorrow! I applied for a pass as from 6p.m this evening – after tea, that meant. I obtained a pass, praise be! During the afternoon I changed into breeches, puttees and spurs (only a very few army units are permitted that dress now) and had a haircut. Once the blokes had started their tea I considered my duty as NCO i/c meals ended and left hastily.

Drove rapidly to London, Ealing Common and home. My Mother did not arrive immediately. The flat seemed weird and dark. I lit a candle in the once-gay lounge, switched on the wireless. Gloomy strains of music. Eerie feeling of unreality.
I felt the war depression here – a sort of “little and lone and frightened” atmosphere – as at BHQ. I switched off the wireless, went into the kitchen – there was a shaded electric light there – and washed a shirt, two pairs of socks and four handkerchiefs.

Mother came at 8 o’clock, Father (from his grim canteen) at 12:30. Richard is away in the Thames – PAD with the Sea Scouts – and Robin is in Devon until things are more settled.

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