Improved British air defences forced Germany to change its strategic bombing campaign. Daytime air raids on English targets were abandoned and replaced by night raids carried out by Gotha bombers. The first of these raids took place on 3 September 1917, and was carried out by just five aircraft with a view to testing the effectiveness of British night defence. The results could not have been more devastating. Targeting Chatham, the planes dropped 46 bombs, two of which hit a glass-roofed drill hall temporarily used as a dormitory by Royal Navy personnel. Of the 900 men sleeping in the building, 90 were killed instantly from the blast and flying shards of glass, and another 46 died later from their wounds. It was to be the worst single bombing incident of the First World War. Fortified by the experiment, eleven German aircraft attacked London the following night but caused only slight damage.
Monday 3 September
I came down early to help Elizabeth1 with breakfast, then gave out things2 etc, & cleared away & laid luncheon. Mr Wall came, while we were at breakfast; & then he & Ione went out, & Zooie & Jimmy went out. Muz came down & helped me, & then went down the town to get a tray for Zooie. Mr Wall came for lunch, & then they both went off to the boat, but it didn’t go, so Jimmy came back again! Mr Colville came for tea, & Mrs Thurburn came in later. I left things ready for dinner, & put Dus: to bed etc, & then we went off for a motor drive, Jimmy hired a car – first we left Mr C, at the Dover Barrier, & then went to Ashford to see “Wipers”. She is an awfully nice dog, but it is awful to see her shut up like that for four months.3 We didn’t get back till after nine. Muz heard bombs while we were at dinner & afterwards Z & J. saw it all on the front, & there was a raid on Dover & Chatham. After dinner I cleared away & washed up etc, & gave out things, & went to bed at about 11-30. Got a wire to say Kitty Winstanley has got a son.
Tuesday 4 September
We had breakfast earlier, & I was down before, to do Dus’s back, & give out things etc. Jimmy went off by the ten boat & Zooie went down to see him off. I cleared away, & laid lunch, & gave out things etc & settled about dinner & got tea. Muz sat in the smoking room with Zooie. After lunch we all sat out in the garden & worked, it was lovely & hot. After tea Muz took Zooie, to show her the damage the bombs did, & they didn’t come in till late, as they sat on the front. I mended, out in the gardens, & Miss Walters came & sat with me, & then I did some washing & changed for dinner, & afterwards gave out things etc, & cleared away, & then did some darning. We heard some firing, & thought it was another raid, but when we went out, the Military Police told us it was practice.
Wednesday 5 September
The moonlight air raid
There was a raid after all last night, we thought there must be, as the firing went on for so long. They were over Dover. Muz, Zooie, Ione & I went down the town in a taxi, we left Ione in the town, & we went down to the Harbour, to meet General Montgomery (Hugo), but he didn’t come. Did shopping on the way home. Then left out things etc, & got things ready for dinner. After lunch wrote a lot of letters, & tidied some papers. Muz & Zooie went down to the Harbour again, but he is not coming till tomorrow, six boats are going out today, as some of them were stopped on Monday. Mrs Barrett & Mrs Brinkley came to call. Ione saw them. After tea Mrs Cleghorn & her son came & stayed till late. Zooie taught me how to crochet a babies coat, so I worked at it. Ione worked in the garden in the evening.
Air raid damage in London
Thursday 6 September
Cleared away etc, & left out things, then Muz wrote letters, & Ione scuffled the front, & Zooie & I went down to shop, she gave me a lovely blouse, & got things for the others too, & got some shrubs for the front of the house, they look lovely. We went down to the timber yard, to order firewood. After lunch we all worked, & Zooie went on showing me how to make the wee coat. She & Muz went down to the Harbour to meet Hugo Montgomery, & had tea in the town. I got a cold supper ready, as Elizabeth was going out, then I crocheted. Cleared away & washed up after dinner, & left out breakfast things etc. & then we all worked, then we had a lovely hot bath, & went to bed at about 10-30.
Friday 7 September
Gave out things etc, then cleared away, & got things ready for luncheon. Muz wrote letters, & Ione went to the dentist. Zooie & I went down the town to shop. After lunch I worked at the wee coat, & then began making a wee pair of boots. Muz & Ione went to tea with Mrs Barrett, Monica & Dick Proby were there, then Muz wrote letters & worked in the garden, Ione planted. Zooie went to call on Mrs Parsons & then sat on the front. I got things ready for dinner etc, & then worked again. After dinner Ione went to bed, & we worked, Muz darning linen. I left the other wee shoe to finish later, & Zooie is teaching me a new coat.
Saturday 8 September
Gave out things for the day etc, & got things ready for lunch etc. Then I went out & sat in the garden with Zooie, & we worked, she is showing me a new babie’s [sic] coat. Muz wrote letters, & then, went down to the post, but went on to Nelson’s to try & get a cake, we went to meet her & she got one! After lunch we went in to Hythe in the bus, & sat near the Canal, & then had tea, & went to another shop for another cup of coffee! You are not allowed to have more than 6d worth, at tea now, so we couldn’t have second cups! Then we came home in the bus, & Muz came in & read, & Zooie & I went for a walk on the front. After dinner we all worked, & went to bed at about 10-30. Ione went up to London by the early train this morning, & doesn’t come back till tomorrow.
Sunday 9 September
Zooie went to church in Sandgate by herself. I left out things, & got lunch ready etc. Muz wrote letters. Ione came back from London at about 11-30, & Mr Hamilton was coming for lunch, so we had to go & get things ready for him. After lunch I worked, & Muz & Zooie went down to the Harbour to meet General Snow. At about 3-30 the raid siren went, so I went down to Ione & Mr H. & Ione telephoned to Muz to tell her where we were, then I waited about for her, but she never got the message. Ione & Mr H. went up to the hotel, & at about five Muz & Zooie came back, they hadn’t heard the siren at all. Nothing happened here, but they say there was a 35 minutes raid in London. I got supper ready etc as E. was out. Ione dined at the hotel. We worked afterwards, & when Ione & Mr H. came back, we went out on the front as we heard a lot of firing, but couldn’t see anything. I had a pain all day.