December 2nd 1940
Monday December 2nd
There have been heavy raids on Birmingham, Liverpool, Southampton, and Bristol during the last week, but nothing but a general account of the casualties is given. What good could it possibly serve but to gratify the enemy and discourage our own people?
Dawn* came home on Saturday for her usual three nights off from night duty at the QEH**. She looks older. They had 91 casualties in one night after a big raid and the place looked, according to her, like a slaughter house.
The centre of Bristol*** is reported to be gone in and around Wine Street and Bristol Bridge. St Mary Redcliffe roof was damaged, Holy Nativity Knowle**** razed to the ground, but the University Tower still stands and I believe the Cathedral is still intact.
I can’t sleep lately. I don’t know whether it is weakness or warfare – it seems very difficult to get started, and once having got started to “keep at it”.
Being ill gives one such an awful gnawing sense of uselessness. There is so much that one could do, but the very first requisite is health and the second endurance, neither of which I can supply.
For interest I am going to try and sort out my feelings, since they seem to coincide with those of most people. First of all I do not think any of us are functioning normally. One feels quite detached as though one is seeing this frightful war like a phantasmagoria, from a long way off. We hear of the total destruction of places that are dear sentimentally, but the news makes no real mark on the brain. Habit quickly reconstructs the lost object and one easily ceases to believe that it is gone.
One lives in a curious stupid faith that all of a sudden it will stop – quite abruptly. Then we shall have leisure for mourning – but we don’t mourn now. I don’t think we will even feel.
* Lorna's step-cousin. Dawn's parents were Lorna's Uncle Percy W and his second wife Madge. Uncle Percy's first wife, who died aged 30, was Lorna's Aunt Beatrice (the sister of Lorna's father). To see a picture of Dawn, her parents, and siblings (including Dennis, who was killed during the war) check the blip of 27th May 2020.
** Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.
*** This damage was covered in A house through time, series 3 episode 4 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000k4cz). See this BBC2 clip for more details: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08gh6v6
**** There is an account of this at https://holynativity.org.uk/the-history-of-holy-nativity which reads 'during the first heavy air raid on Bristol on 24th November 1940, Holy Nativity became the first church to be destroyed in the city. The raid began at around 6 pm and the first hour of the attack marked the destruction of the church. Due to the blackout regulations introduced some months earlier Evensong had been brought forward to 3:30 pm and this undoubtedly saved lives. By chance the Tower, Clock and Bells survived the destruction and it was said that as the flames consumed the church the clock continued to chime.' For pictures of the damage and the rebuilding of the church see the short video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RPkn1FSzUk