At home in Britain there was no escaping the war, which impinged on every aspect of life. The harvest of 1942 was especially important as the U-boat war continued – a reduction in the quantity of imported food was essential to Britain’s war effort.
Vere Hodgson continued to keep a record of all manner of incidents in her diary:
Just back from a week at home. Have mastered the art of boarding the Birmingham train at Paddington, and getting a seat. Travelled with the Army, Navy and Air Force. A sailor sat beside me. There was a Home Guard in the compartment who had been nourished in the school of thought that the Germans were badly treated after the last war, and let Hitler in. He was allowed to talk a bit – then the sailor gave his opinion of the Germans. The Home Guard dried up.
The sailor divulged that he had been convoying in the Mediterranean for two and a half years. It was Hell, he said, to take a Convoy to Alexandria and Malta. He had had two ships sunk under him. Had witnessed too many men drown, and allowed to drown by the Germans, to have any feelings but of horror for the whole business.
The sailor concluded by saying he had been invalided out, and never wished to go forward again. He mentioned the Upholder, and said he had been on the sister ship. Commander Wanklyn was due to go home on leave and then take anew command; but he volunteered for another patrol – and none of them returned.
Cath and I purchased at an enormous price some fresh black-out for the bathroom. She had been fined one pound. She was recovering from a wasp sting on her foot, and forgot the window when she switched on the light. The beam had hit an officer of the law full in the face. We decided this must not happen again.
We went to a lecture by Admiral Larsen of the Norwegian Navy. He was in Copenhagen with his wife when he heard that German ships had sailed for Norway. Summoned home immediately, and witnessed the Invasion. For 120 years the Norwegians had had no war, and it was difficult for them to start killing. However, the Blucher was sunk, with 300 Germans on board.
He gets a constant flow of information from Norway. They have wireless sets in their forests, which they move every night. They ask that, though they will be glad to have law and order re-established in the world, they want 48 hours to themselves – to settle some accounts, before the United Nations get busy. The Quislings are ours, they say. After the war Norway would enter under the protection of the two great English-speaking powers.