ID WW2_1940

Title1940 War Diary Mersea Island
AbstractWorld War 2 - 1940 on Mersea Island and beyond, from diaries and other sources:
HR - Harold Rudlin 1940 personal diary
MF - Mary French diaries
RB - Community at War by Roger Bullen
ECS - Essex County Standard cuttings
EW - "Essex at War", 1945, by Hervey Benham

1 Jan 1940The weather was already very cold and got much colder on 10 Jan. Creeks were frozen and there was heavy snow. It did not get warmer until 20 Feb.
8 January 1940 Rationing commenced :- 12 ozs sugar, 4 ozs of butter, 4 oz bacon & ham per person per week [HR]
11 Jan 1940Much air activity over whole East Coast. Balloon barrage for Reservoir. [HR]
13 Jan 1940Barrage Balloon fixed down E. Mersea [HR]
1 Feb 1940Milk price fixed at 6d per quart. Paper rationing[HR]
2 Feb 1940Heavy explosion 11.30am 2 mines [HR]
1 Mar 1940Nazi air attack on British East Coast watercraft. 30 footer COURAGE attacked - smallest yet [HR]
8 Mar 1940'Fir Cottage' to be changed to D.T. (is this Daylight Time ?) [HR]
21 Mar 1940ARP Exercise - fell flat [HR]
25 Mar 1940Butter rashion doubled [HR]
30 Mar 1940Red Cross Concert at Legion tonight [HR]
4 May 1940Sugar rationing reduced from 12 ozs to 8ozs per head. [HR]
5 May 194020 - 36 years age to be called up [HR]
10 May 1940 Fine - sunny - very warm.
What a day! Germans invaded Holland and Belgium - Chamberlain resigned, and Churchill became Prime Minister. Nobody could do any work at school - everyone thinks we may get air raids at any minute. They have dropped lots of troops by parachute, and they may do it over here. Already 70 German planes have been brought down in the fighting. [MF]
11 May 1940Counted 20 - 21 barrage balloons south of Bradwell on walk on beach in afernoon.[HR]
14 May 1940Local Defence Volunteer (LDV) organisation set up. Volunteers wanted - 17 to 65. Churchill was not keen on the name and 23 July 1940 it was renamed Home Guard
18 May 1940Evacuation of some of E. Coast tomorrow [HR]
21 May 19401st LDV patrols. Petrol up 1½d [HR]
26 May -
4 Jun 1940
Evacuation at Dunkirk. 338,000 allied soldiers evacuated by an armada of ships of all sizes. From Mersea, local men including Jack Hoy were rescued, but others were captured and became Prisoners of War. From Tollesbury, Major Gerald Tatchell from Lincolnshire Regiment and Chief Cook Frederick Frost on HMS GRIVE were both killed.
27 May 1940 We were stopped going over the Strood [to school] and made to show our identity cards. [MF]
28 May 1940Fine - quite warm. Gave my little talk on Shakespearean music, and got on quite nicely. We were stopped again by a soldier with a fixed bayonet. There is barbed wire ready to roll across the Strood, and they are digging up the pavement to lay explosives. The King of Belgium has given up the fight, but his government consider him a traitor, and intend to go on fighting. Things look very serious - there are rumours that the school will be evacuated. [MF]
28 May 1940The remaining evacuees on the Island told they should leave as it was safer further inland (but this was not enforced and some remained with their parents' permission)
1 Jun 1940West Ham evacuees left Mersea for Cinderford in Gloucestershire. There were 117 children and 16 adults
1 Jun 1940All holidays off for time being. British Expeditionary Forces continue to be evacuated. Serveral Mersea boys back. [HR]
2 June 1940One bomb fell on the Golf Course and another on East Mersea beach.
2 June 1940 Went to Chapel in morning. Sunday School seemed very empty, as all the evacuees have either gone home or been re-evacuated today - we lost 46 from our Sunday School alone. [MF]
9 Jun 1940Much troop activity on Island. About 1,000 here. [HR]
10 Jun 1940Invasion considered imminent and Island occupied by troops from 7th Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borderers. They set demolition charges at the Strood.
(All this time, there were guards at the Strood checking every vehicle.)
14 Jun 1940Brightlingsea Beach Huts removal ordered by W.D. Mersea beach trenched [HR]
18 Jun 1940All Mersea huts to be removed by 12 midnight on Thursday 20th. [HR]
All the huts on the beach are being pulled down to make room for troops and fortifications. [MF]
19 Jun 1940Military authorities confirmed (secretly) that in the event of invasion, the Strood would be blown up and the inhabitants of Mersea Island would NOT be evacuated. [ RBN_WW2_050 ]
19 Jun 1940Went for walk in evening - chaos & confusion & barbed wire all along beach. [HR]
20 Jun 1940Went for walk - saw demolished or demolishing of beach huts
Air raid 0.59am till 3.52am [HR]
21 Jun 1940Four bombs dropped near the Strood causeway. [RB]
22 Jun 1940Two bombs dropped on searchlight position at East Mersea. No damage but soldier slightly injured. [RB]
22 Jun 1940Bombs about 12.30am at Wigboro, East Mersea, Peldon. Bombs on Golf Course at E. Emersea & near Pill Box. Killed 50 sheep at Wigborough (Calverleys). I Heard 'em! [HR]
24 Jun 1940Bombs dropped at 23.47 - no further details.
July 1940WMUDC suspended restrictions on their tenants - they could now keep poultry, pigs and rabbits
July 1940373 Coastal battery Royal Artillery came to West Mersea and 372 Coastal Battery to East Mersea
2 July 1940Some LDV's training, others sandbagging near Fountain [HR]
3 Jul 1940Several High explosive bombs dropped at 22.33 in vicinity of Prince Albert Road. No casualties or damage. [RB]
3 Jul 19405 H.E. bombs dropped near top of Hillybrooms about 1030pm [HR]
July 1940Pillboxes and coastal batteries constructed at West and East Mersea. Beach huts removed and beach mined
8 Jul 1940Air Raid - 4 or 4 bombs dropped south of Mersea. Tea, margarine & cooking fats to be rationed [HR]
28 Jul 1940Bombs dropped midnight at Rose, Peldon [HR]
29 Jul 19403.40pm mine explodes on beach killing 1 soldier. Air Raid 5.30 - 5.55pm [HR]
31 Jul 1940Army want Haywards bungalow [HR]
10 Aug 1940Mersea 4.7in guns in action 10am - noon [HR]
10 Aug 1940Mersea has enjoyed wonderful days of sunshine over the holidays. Bus loads of visitors arrived, unaware that the beach was not available. [ DM1_AB3_008_002 ]
15 Aug 1940Air Raid 3 -12. 4.7 heard. M/C gunning overhead & saw Jerries' Air Raid
9.40 - 2.10am lots of planes etc. Tremendous attacks on the country today.[HR]
18 Aug 1940Air Raid 5.30 - 6.35pm Saw 47 Nazi bombers all in formation and many fighters [HR]
19 Aug 1940Air Raid 5.30 - 6.50pm. 10 bombs near and in Colchester in afternoon and evening [HR]
20 to 31 Aug 1940School closed pending completion of the Air Raid Shelter (behind the Legion Hall)
24 Aug 1940Heinkel 111 shot down and crashed into Abberton Reservoir. The crew of 4 were all killed
30 Aug 1940Incendiary and High Explosive bombs dropped at Waldegraves Farm at 01.10. No damage or casualties - small grass fire. Eight High Explosive bombs fell at 01.25.
2 to 5 SepSchool closed for window protection
6 Sep 1940Serious threat of invasion. Home Guard brought to Action Stations, each equipped with 5 rounds of ammunition
Overhead, the Battle of Britain was taking place. By the end of the month, the threat of invasion had receded and the Luftwaffe had transferred much of its attention to bombing London.
8 Sep 1940Air Raid. Slept downstairs. Largest Air Raid on London [HR]
9 Sep 1940Air Raid 5.40 - 6.25 and 8.30 - 3am. London heavily bombed. 1 shot down near here [HR]
10 Sep 1940Colchester County High School to close as Colchester is being evacuated to make room for troops. [A number of Mersea pupils went to the School] [MF]
17 Sep 1940Electric light failed 4.55am. Lines fouled by Barrage Balloon. No supply all day or tonight. Went and saw remains of balloon which had cut adrift and come down at Creek Hall. Air Raid 0.55 - 2.45am [HR]
18 Sep 1940No electricity supply till 6.30pm Air Raid. Whistles and hand bells (no siren) 4.20 - 4.59pm [HR]
25 Sept 1940Twenty incendiary bombs and nine High Explosive dropped on West Mersea at 13.35 - no further details. [RB]
25 Sep 19409 H.E. bombs & many incendiary bombs dropped near C. White's Yard 13.35 by lone Nazi raider. Saw bomb holes in evening. Went on duty [ARP] 8.40 - 1am [HR]
26 Sep 1940Air Raid 2.20 - 3.35am on duty. 9 incendiary, 2 H.E. bombs and 1 parachute mine dropped on island about 1.35am. [HR]
2 Oct 1940Air Raid 3.15 - 4.15am. Bombs & M/C gunning in Colchester this morning. 4 casualties. Bomber shot down by a 4f 3in pilot and one landed at Brightlingsea [HR, EW P28]
3 Oct 1940Old Heath Laundry in Colchester bombed, killing 3 girls and a lady who were having lunch [EW]
5 Oct 1940Rough night. Air Raid 2.45 - 3.15am. Soldiers (R.A.) beat Mersea Reserves 10-1 in afternoon. Eric [French] came to say goodbye. Air Raid 9.10pm - 4.05am. [HR]
6 Oct 1940High Explosive and oil bomb dropped at 01.23. Slight damage to bungalow and garage. [RB]
6 Oct 1940Air Raid 3.15pm - 3.45pm. 1.30am 2 H.E. bombs & 2 oil bombs this AM near Seaview Aven. RAF have made about 780 mass raids on Germany since May 10th [HR]
12 Oct 1940Went up Glebe after messing about with part of an incendiary bomb. Air Raid 6.55pm - 11.20pm. [HR]
15 Oct 1940Bombs on E. Mersea & in River dinnertime & fighting in south in afternoon. Air Raid 11.10 - 11.25 and 7.03 - 10.40pm. [HR]
16 Oct 1940On duty 7.10am - 1.15am. Air Raid 7.10pm - 1.55apm & 5.0pm - 5.40pm. Played game of chess won at it at HQ. Had 35-45 min sleep on camp bed.
Heaviest raid ever on london last night. 4 bombers shot down by A.A. Guns [HR]
17 Oct 1940Opening week of Canteen cum Games Hall at our S.S. Room. Air Raid 3.45 - 4.10pm. [HR]
21 Oct 1940British Hampden crashed at Friday Wood today [HR]
24 Oct 1940Soldiers Evening at Sunday School. No siren tonight [HR]
29 Oct 1940Ten High Explosive, incendiary and fifty anti-personnel bombs dropped on Square, West Mersea. Damage and casualties. None fatal. [RB]
29 Oct 1940Two German planes came in low over the saltings, one after the other. The sun had just set behind them. A moment later the village was rocked by the noise of the bombs and of the racing engines as the planes roared off eastward.
The bombs fell straight across one corner of the Island, along Coast Road and Victory Road and dropping in The Square. [EW]
29 Oct 1940 Saw dog-fight and one plane drop. After tea, series of heavy explosions sent us all under the table. Heard machine-gunning. Went out - everywhere smoky. Heard that bombs dropped in the Square - destroyed one house - two people dug out - taken to hospital. Water main burst. Dozens of windows broken - several in our road. Lots of excitement - narrow escape. [MF]
29 Oct 1940Air Raid 4.15-4.30 & 4.40 - 5.25pm & 6.33 - 10.50pm. 10 - 15 bombs dropped on Coast by two raiders. 1 serious casualty. 5 families homeless [HR]
30 Oct 1940Mr Skinner came to inspect damage etc. Air Raids 12.15 - 12.35pm, 4.35 - 5.10pm. On duty 8pm. Air Raid 7.20p - 10.40pm. Dismissed 12.05am. [HR]
1 Nov 1940 Went to [ARP] HQ at 8. Heard all the news about bombs - one 100lb only left to go off - behind the Waverly. Dismiss at 10:15 [MF]
3 Nov 1940 Harold, Gordon and I walked down the coast in the pouring rain to see the damaged houses (last bomb has been removed). About four of five will never be lived in again - one is completely flattened. All along the road, broken windows. [MF]
3 Nov 1940One High Explosive fell at East Mersea in open field at 06.35.
4 Nov 1940King George VI visited Tollesbury to inspect the guns protecting the River Blackwater
4 Nov 1940One parachutist dropped from German plane seen falling over Mersea [HR]
7 Nov 1940Troops Social 40 soldiers present. Many Yorks & Lancs. [HR]
11 Nov 1940Six High Explosive bombs fell in open fields at East Mersea at 16.06.
20 Nov 1940Parachute mine dropped on road between West and East Mersea at 03.35. Large crater in road. One slight casualty and two cottages damaged. Road impassable for four days.
21 Nov 1940Nine High Explosive bombs dropped along Mersea Avenue and St Peters Road Two houses demolished and others damaged. No casualties. [RB]
21 Nov 1940Air Raid 12.45 - 8.20AM. Slept at HQ. 10am Dorner 17 dive bombs Mersea. Ernie Woolf's & Percy Mussett's houses demolished almost. 10 H.E. bombs in all.
130 at Soldier's evening
Air Raid 11.0am - 11.20am. [ the time the Mersea Ave bombs were dropped ]. Land mine at East Mersea last night. Air Raid 7.40pm. [HR]
[The houses demolished - almost were 11 and 13 Mersea Avenue. They had the front sucked out leaving the rooms exposed to the street. A plaque on the houses says they were reconstructed in 1946.]
21 Nov 1940 When I came home from school, discovered that bombs were dropped here this morning - one in the road about 50 yards from our house. We had one broken window and a small hole in the roof - so did the Stones. Moles and Cooks had lots of broken windows. In Mersea Avenue, all the front of one house was destroyed. [MF]
23 Nov 1940 Harold called after dinner, and we biked to East Mersea to see crater caused by parachute mine. It was huge - 120 feet across and 45 feet deep. About 50 men all working to fill in hole, but it seems hopeless - great boulders of clay and heaps of sand strewn all round. Supposed to be biggest hole in Essex and second-biggest in England. [MF]
23 Nov 1940Six High Explosive and some incendiary bombs dropped on West Mersea at 23.50. No further details.
24 Nov 1940Incendiary bombs dropped on West Mersea at 23.58. No damage reported.
9 Dec 1940Air Raid 12.20am - 5.10am. A large number of H.E. bombs dropped around but not on the Island [HR]
16 Dec 1940Bruce Wray blown up by mine on Sunday morning and is no longer. Air Raid 8.10 - 8.35pm [HR]
19 Dec 1940Went to soldiers evening. Jack returned to Barrackss by 1.30pm. Air Raid 7.15 - 7.55pm [HR]
20 Dec 1940Went round to Grandad Rudlin's & we sang to them. Jack's last night with us at Church Rd Billett. Air Raid 6.50 - 7.25pm [HR]
25 Dec 1940Went over to Aunt Nan's & coalyard in morning. A. Nan & Co. to dinner. No one here for tea. Went over to Laurel Villa (alone) in evening.
Heard King's Speech in afternoon. No air activity over Europe or by RAF today. [HR]
26 Dec 1940Decorated Schoolroom for Soldier's Xmas Party [HR]
27 Dec 1940Curly to be called up 6-1-41 [HR]

Read more
Evacuees come to Mersea

Preparations for a German invasion

Mary French Dairies   (not all are available online yet)

SourceMersea Museum