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Alwyne Diary
©2011 Heather Johnson
July 1944
26th Lovely sunny warm day. Mother sat out until 10.15. Two warnings in night and one today 11.25 - 11.50 p.m., 3.20 - 3.35 a.m., 2.15 - 2.30 p.m. Heard a lot of bangs in night but no doodles over here. Saw a barrage balloon adrift in the searchlights after first warning. Also another one this evening. The Russians have reached the Vistula. (River Vistula - longest and one of the most important rivers in Poland). Our attack south of Caen has been held after an advance of only 1 mile. The Americans have broken through and advanced 4 miles. Another big raid on Stuttgart by R.A.F. Only 13 lost.
25th Nice day but came over dull in evening with a few spots of rain. New British and American attacks launched in Normandy. Vera got a bad pain. 2 raids in night 11.50 - 12. 25 a.m. and 3.35 - 3.50 a.m. Heard 2 doodle bugs rush over low together in first raid. Hitler has issued a decree ordering total war throughout Europe. Heavy R.A.F. raid on Stuttgart last night, 30,000 heavy incendiaries dropped. 23 missing. Nearly 3,000 tons on Kiel the night before and only 6 lost.
24th Very dull again but still and mild 70 degrees. Sat out in evening. Had news that Marjorie died last evening. Had two warnings in night 12.20 - 12.55 a.m. and 3.35 - 3.55 a.m. Both times a doodle bug came over very low and very mean, loudest we have heard. Made windows vibrate as it went along. Great advances by Russians. Now only 50 miles from Warsaw.
23rd Dull day but a little better than yesterday just managed to sit out all afternoon with coats and rugs on. 68 degrees. Nice, quiet night. Blanch came up at 10 o/c while we were out for a walk with bad tiding that Marjorie had had a bad accident yesterday. (Alwyne's cousin Blanch Garling, daughter of Lexden baker Edgar. Marjorie was mutual cousin, sister of aforementioned Clifford Garling. Marjorie was travelling on a bus when, whilst travelling up Gunn Hill Dedham, the driver fainted. As the bus started to roll backwards, Marjorie jumped off and was run over by the wheels. All other passengers remained on the bus and survived. Marjorie died later this day in Essex County Hospital - of "shock due to a compound fracture of the right femur associated with extensive laceration of the muscles and skin. Accidental Death".
22nd Dull and cold. Strong N. wind. Could not sit out or anything. Cut branches off the trees in the front. Had a good time playing with 'Mole' a little grey kitten which came into back garden. George getting better at last. His hair is growing. Not much more news from Germany except rumours of mutinies and shootings. Bad weather stopping all operations in Normandy. Had a warning 2.20 - 3.10 a.m. Came scrambling down. Heard a lot of doodle bugs go along, more than we have heard before, two of them rather near, One came down at Kelvedon, we heard the engines stop. About 10 went along altogether.
21st "There is sensational news. The German high command has revolted against Hitler". That is how the 8 a.m. news began this morning. Hitler and Goering have made speeches appealing to the Germans not the support the rebels. There have been rumours of Civil War but these are not confirmed. All telephones are cut. Nazis still control Radio stations. Confusion and crisis are reported this evening from Germany. 36 hours heavy rain in Normandy has held up operations. R.A.F. dropped 4500 tons last night and lost 31. More than 1000 U.S. heavies have been to Germany today for 3rd day running.
20th Nice day. Exciting news. Attempt has been made to assassinate Hitler. Bomb has exploded at his H.Q. injuring some of his staff. Hitler is slightly burned and bruised. (At H.Q. in Rastenberg, East Prussia - had it succeeded, a military coup d'etat was to follow. The failure led to at least 5000 people being arrested by the Gestapo). Warning 12.20 - 1.10 a.m. Heard several bangs. Then at 5 a.m. I could hear several doodle bugs going along the front and blowing up but we did not have a siren.
19th Glorious warm sunny day. No news of battle in Normandy except that it is going well. Good news from Italy. Leghorn and Ancona captured. (Archaic English 'Leghorn' = Livorno, on the west coast/western edge of Tuscany in Northern Italy. Ancona, on the east/Adriatic coast of Northern Italy. On a line with each other). Warning in night 3.20 - 4.5 a.m. We heard several bangs in distance. 4 doodle bugs passed over Chelmsford. Seem to be on a different course. Had 3 warnings at Chelmsford today. Heard doodle bug bang a dew miles out. Warning here 11.40 a.m. - 12. (Lexden). Sang a duet this evening at Chapel.
18th Another nice day. Great news this evening. Monty has launched a big offensive and broken through into the open country. Attack began with record air bombardment. Over 1000 R.A.F. heavies dropped 5000 tons. Warning 2.15 - 2.30 a.m. and 10.15 - 10.25 p.m.
17th Nice day but not so good as yesterday. Went back to office. Fanny came home from Braintree. Warning 2 - 2.30 a.m. Not much happening in the war.
16th Glorious day. Sunny and warm and still all day 78 degrees. Not much news.
15th This morning was a great disappointment, dull and windy with a little spitting rain. Put shelter up but it was too cold for comfort. At to 12 Dad and I bravely set off to Dedham fishing. When we got there it began to improve and the sun gradually broke and it turned lovely and warm. We had a lovely time. Caught one good one each, totalling 6 oz. Glass going up this evening, looks like being nice weather now my holiday is done. Picked a few French Beans.
14th Still and close and warm 72 degrees. Sunny in morning but dull for rest of day. Lovely fishing day but could not go because we had got a rabbit for dinner. Vera and I went to Bures in afternoon. Raid in night 2 - 2.10 a.m. All quiet but got up. Russians take Vilna and Pinsk (Volna and Pinsk - in Belarus now), only 50 (?miles) from E. Prussia. Things slow in Normandy.
13th Another poor day. Dull with a little rain early, then improved until to 3 when it has come on to rain and we have had to pack up and come in. Raid this morning 10.15 - 10.25 a.m. No flying bombs over last night for first time. Rained until 6 when it cleared up a bit so Vera and I went out for a little walk. Then the sun came out so we came home and put the shelter up for hour. Cur 2nd marrow.
The wartime diary of
Alwyne Garling
93 London Road

brought to us by
Heather Johnson

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