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Monday 11 to Sunday 17 February 1918


WEEK 190: GOING DOWN WITH VERY FEW CLOTHES ON

Monday 11 to Sunday 17 February 1918

A series of German air raids over England was made on three consecutive nights in February 1918. On the 15th, at 1 am in the morning, seven German destroyers attacked a fleet of 58 naval drifters on routine duty in the Straits of Dover, sinking eight vessels, damaging four, and killing 91 men. On the 16th, four aircraft reached England with a view to bombing London. However, strong winds forced them to target Dover instead, and only one bomb was dropped over London. Aimed at Victoria Station, it missed its target by half a mile and fell instead on the north-east wing of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea. The 2,200 lb bomb was the largest dropped from the air during the First World War. It killed five, injured three and damaged some 200 buildings in the vicinity of the hospital. Finally, on the evening of the 17th, a single aircraft attacked the city dropping 19 bombs, causing extensive damage to St. Pancras station where 20 people were killed and 22 injured. The raids caused widespread panic among the already frightened crowds and on the night of 17 February some 300,000 citizens crammed into the Underground system to take shelter, filling it well beyond capacity. However, the February raids marked the gradual dwindling of the German bombing campaign over England. Improved British air defences had made daylight raids impossible, and subsequent night operations were at best limited in their success.

Monday 11 February

jess__diary_cameoRead some of the morning, & wrote letters, then Tom went in to the town, & later Muz & I went in, & met her coming out, so we all went in, & then went to see Mrs Welch. After tea we all read, & went to bed at about 10-30.

Letter from Leila de Lisle, 5 Queensberry Place, S. W., to Mrs Armstrong
Letter from Leila de Lisle

Letter from Leila de Lisle

My dear Rosalie

Thanks for yours. I begin to move next week – at least the furniture is to arrive but I expect to quit this house abt. March 5 th address 40 Beaufort Gardens SW Tel: Ken. 5590 make a note of both.

I wrote Beau about Pat’s star – but I am not sure if he is the person. Why not write Claud Perceval at the Home Forces & ask where you should apply or Sir Reginald Brade The Secretary War Office. This would be my advice but I am only giving you my own ideas & what I should do – I was very interested in your letter about Ireland. I am sure he did a lot of good.

I had a line from your Sister today & we may be able to get butter again soon but we don’t [know] when! Forgive haste but I am just off to a committee meeting.

Best love Yrs ever

Leila de L

Tuesday 12 February

jess__diary_cameoHeppie & I went to Bewdley by the nine train, & travelled some of the way with Mrs Robson; Rosie came to see us off. We had a good long walk to one cottage, & it was very pretty all round, but the cottage wasn’t furnished. Then we came down to the town, & then went to see another one, & the woman took us herself, it is a very nice little cottage, but has to have some alterations done & they would take too long. We had tea with her, & then caught the 5-30 train back, & walked out. We were rather tired, as we had done a lot of walking. Then we told Muz & Tom all about it.

Wednesday 13 February

jess__diary_cameoHeppie went to Malvern by the early train to look at cottages. Muz wrote letters & I read. After lunch Muz & Tom went in to the town, & I lay down till dinner time. Heppie didn’t get back till late, & she had dinner in the smoking room, & told us all about it, she was very tired, as she had walked miles.

Thursday 14 February

jess__diary_cameoMuz & I left by the nine train, & then took our luggage, to the Charing Cross Hotel, & then went round to the Curzon. Ione had only just got our wire, so wasn’t expecting us. We sat & talked, & had tea there. Lindsay & Ione were going to his sister for tea, but they stayed & talked to us, as they were dining out, so we went back to the hotel early, & went to bed at about ten.

Lindsay and Ione

Lindsay and Ione

Friday 15 February

jess__diary_cameoWe went down to Folkestone by the nine train, & left our box at Clodagh, & wet to see Miss Peters. “Wipers” is looking very well, & was so pleased to see us, & stayed with us all day. We had lunch, & then went down the town to do things, then came back & worked hard at our jobs, & left parcels etc. then we tried to catch the eight train, but missed it, so went to Miss Aldridge, which was a good thing. We were so tired we could hardly sleep. Then we heard them bombarding Dover, which was horrid, but we were too tired to get up.

Saturday 16 February

jess__diary_cameoWe were up early to catch the eight train, & when we got to the station, found our box was too heavy, so we had to go back, & pack two small ones, & then went down the town, & sent wires etc, then caught the 12 train back to London, & drove straight to Caton Place, then went back to Charing X Hotel, & changed & then wrote letters & went out for tea, then wrote letters again & had dinner. Muz & I had a bath, & went to bed at about nine, & at ten the maroon1 went, for the air raid. We heard the most awful screams coming from the street & I thought a bomb must have dropped! So I was going down with very few clothes on! But then we dressed & went down, & sat in the hall, & it wasn’t over till 12-30, but I believe only one bomb was dropped in London on the Chelsea old sanatorium. Dover got it badly.

Only one bomb was dropped in London

“Only one bomb was dropped in London”

Sunday 17 February

jess__diary_cameoWe stayed in bed rather late. Captain & Mrs Gee came to lunch with us. He gave us the most wonderful description of how he got his V.C.2 Afterwards we went to see Capt: Dearden but he had left the hospital, so then we took them to see Lady de Lisle, & had tea with her, & went back to the hotel, & found Ione, Mrs Everard & Lindsay waiting for tea. The Gees went soon afterwards & Ione & Lindsay stayed & dined with us, & went back early. We had just got out of our baths when the maroon went, so we dressed & sat in the hall & heard the guns quite plainly, but no bombs dropped near us, but we hear they did damage at Euston, King’s Cross, & St Pancras stations. We went to bed at about two.

Join the Royal Air Force

Join the Royal Air Force!


Footnotes

  1. A firework that makes a loud noise resembling that made by a cannon, used as a signal or warning
  2. Victoria Cross

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