Jess and her mother spent the last few days of January in London accompanying Ione Armstrong and Lindsay Everard on their quest for the perfect engagement ring. Their stay in the capital coincided with the first German air raids of the year on 28 and 29 January. On the first of these nights, three Gotha bombers attacked the city, killing 66 and injuring 167. The attack was preceded by air raid warnings by means of maroons or exploding fireworks which many mistook for German bombs. In the inner city district of Shoreditch, the warning explosions caused chaos among people queuing outside two music halls and a cinema. In their rush to get to the nearby air raid shelter located at Bishopsgate railway goods yard, 14 people were crushed and trampled to death and 12 seriously injured. Two of the Gothas returned to Germany intact but the third was shot down by Captain Hackwill and Lieutenant Banks. Its crew of three burnt to death as the aircraft fell down in a ball of flames. It was one of the rare successes of the British air defence, which in the entire course of the war only managed to bring down 24 Gothas over England.
Monday 28 January
We had breakfast in bed, & then went out for lunch. We came in at 3-30, to see Mrs Everard, as she arrived this morning, but she didn’t come in till after 4. Lindsay came at 4-30, & we sat & talked, then Lindsay & Ione went out. Then we all dined at Claridge’s, & just as we arrived a raid began – 8-15 – so when we had done dinner we sat in a safe place in the Lounge! There was an awful lot of firing. We sat there talking all the time, & when the firing stopped for a bit we walked home, & then it began again, & the “all clear” didn’t go till after two. Some of the people in the hotel were awfully frightened, & some came down in nighties etc! Tuesday 29 January
We had breakfast in bed, & then went out for lunch, & afterwards Ione went off with Mrs Everard to look for rings. While they were away, Zooie came, & sat & talked to us, then Lindsay arrived, & they went & looked for more rings, & then went to the Carleton for tea, & we followed them there & Zooie walked there with us. Cosie1 came for tea too. It is a lovely ring, two diamonds & a sapphire. Then we walked back, & changed, & went to dine at Claridge’s. Mr Potchen was dining at the next table. Then we went to the theatre “cheap”, & in the middle they told us there was a raid on, but after the theatre there was no firing, so we walked back, & only got in in time, when the guns began. The “all clear” didn’t go till nearly two. Last night there was a lot of damage done. “John Bull’s” office2 & Covent Gardens [sic] smashed.
“John Bull’s office smashed”
Wednesday 30 January
Last night the raid didn’t do much damage, & didn’t get properly in to London. But on Monday night we brought down a machine. We had breakfast in bed, but got up early, & I packed & Muz went to talk to Mrs Everard, she goes this morning. Then we wrote letters, & Ione went out to shop, & we caught the 1-40 train to Bridgnorth. Zooie came to see us off, & we had a long time with her, as the train was very late because of the fog. Zooie will cross over in the day time when she does go as it is not safe at night now. After dinner we talked, & told Tom & Heppie all about it. I went up at about 11 & unpacked, & Heppie put Muz to bed later.
Thursday 31 January
Muz & Heppie went in to the town, & Tom read, & I lay on the sofa! After lunch Muz wrote letters, & all the afternoon, & I slept again, on the sofa, as I was so sleepy after last night! I went to bed at about ten, & Heppie brought Muz up later.
Friday 1 February
I mended all morning, & Muz wrote letters. In the afternoon Muz wrote again, & Heppie went in to the town, Tom read, & I cut out bits for my jumper, & then Muz & I packed & then we wrote letters again. Then we started off by the six train. We had a good long wait at Shrewsbury, & had to change at Chester too, but hadn’t long to wait. When we got to Holyhead we found that the day boat wasn’t in, for us to sleep on, so we settled to go by the night boat. It was awfully rough all the time.
The pier at Kingstown Harbour
Saturday 2 February
We got in to Dublin at about eight, & had breakfast, & walked about, & then wrote letters at the Shelbourne! Then we went down to Thurles by the three train. Moynan met us with the car. It was pelting rain, & everything flooded. Poppy met us, & after tea we talked, & he told us about the men coming for the guns etc. & we talked about Ione. We went to bed at about 9-30, as we were very sleepy.
Sunday 3 February
We had breakfast in bed, & didn’t get up till about 11-30, we walked about with Poppy, & the place looks lovely, covered with snowdrops etc. After lunch we walked about, & went to see them putting on the [—]. There were policemen about all day. We went down the woods again in the afternoon. After dinner we sat in the smoking room & talked.
The smoking room at Moyaliffe
Possibly a nickname for Kathleen Kirwan who worked in the same hospital where Ione was starting as a volunteer ⇑
The office of the popular periodical John Bull (published between 1892 and 1960) at 93-94 Long Acre, City of Westminster, Central London. The building doubled as an air raid shelter and suffered a direct hit on 28 January which killed 38 and injured 85 ⇑