England expects invasion this spring

Another uncomfortable night in the shelter, which had now become a routine for most people, leaving so many Londoners tired from lack of sleep.

There was a short break in the the nightly blitz, with no bombs falling on the nights of the 18th, 19th and 20th as snow storms bought a halt to German operations. Vere Hodgson’s diary, which she later published as ‘Few Eggs and No Oranges’ provides one of the most consistent accounts of living in central London during the war. Her experience of the Blitz is the constant theme for this time, being disturbed night after night with friends and acquaintances falling casualty all the time. But she also includes much incidental detail that gives a picture of what people were thinking about the war generally:

Saturday, 18th

We have snow. Been blowing a blizzard today. The poor people who have no windows must feel the cold terribly.

Mrs Johnson [hostess of our own Night Shelter in Lambeth] was telling me what they felt like last Saturday night when the blast struck the place. They crouched on the floor, and could hear bricks hurtling through the air and bunging up the doorway. However, the wood partition that had been made for the front door black-out saved them from injury. The blast lasted two minutes, but it felt like two hours! They are still digging the poor men out from the flats.

It seems we are enjoying a little respite now, so that we may be prepared for the spring. About March, it seems, the Americans think the assault will come. If they think of lending us some of their Navy things must be pretty grim. I don’t like the look of it. We have got to put up with a lot more bombing of our towns, Mr Churchill says. As soon as the weather improves, I suppose, those horrible all-night raids will start again.

I was talking with Mr Murray, the cobbler. He is quite a character in his way and well worth talking to. I was saying that he might invade us from Ireland – and had we guns at Liverpool and Bristol? Mr Murray thought it would be just as difficult on that side, and that if Hitler had failed in the autumn when we were not ready, there was no question of his succeeding when we were more prepared. However, he also thought we were in for another two years of war.

See Vere Hodgson: Few Eggs and No Oranges

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