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A gift for Remembrance Day

So the Entling has a project for me if I want it.

He looked a bit sheepish in the telling; turns out that years ago someone came to him with their relative's diary, a gentleman who had lived through the blitz in the immediate area. While the family wanted to retain copyright, they were happy for some of it to be seen by visitors to the wood. To this end, they sent a CD, which has now been lost/corrupted, an email with a file which we have, and a letter - thankfully as it is the only paper provenance. I would love to have a look at the diary itself, but it sounds like the family were not up for that at all.

So in terms of material, what we actually possess is a document which incorporates copies of newspaper cuttings. The diarist is meticulous, and the details are often very ordinary...he spends a morning darning a sock, he has a 'cig', he plays cards, they have a little sherry - then interspersed with this, details of the bombings, the drone of 'Jerries' overhead and anti-aircraft fire, people sleeping in the hall, someone hiding under the table, the refugees next door... When the Entling first mentioned it, I envisioned a map/collage of the area marking the streets where the bomb drops were cited, and quotes from the diary at each point. But it feels to me like a waste, plucking out the 'exciting' bits to make a picture. There's so much more to it as a piece of local history. I honestly don't know what form it should take to do it justice. My head is full of questions, and if chums can offer ideas,I would be very grateful!

1) The diarist is a TB sufferer; he describes going to St Giles Hospital for injections. I know nothing of how TB would have been treated then. Does anyone know where I could find out? And where I might be able to find records of St Giles? I do not think such a hospital exists now, and the intartubes are not helping much.

2) The diarist refers to 'Time bombs.' larians suggests these may be V1s/bombs primed to go off later rather than on impact. Has anyone heard this term refer to anything else?

3)The diarist talks about the refugees next door. If I can find this place, I can at least work out where he lived in relation to the streets/bomb drops around him, bearing in mind I have neither his surname nor his address. There's the library of course, and time was you could go to the Town Hall and check out the electoral roll, but I don't know if it is still the case, or if it goes back far enough. Can anyone suggest ways I could find out about WW2 refugee houses/hostels in an area?

Thanks for any help you can give!


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 9th, 2013 02:08 pm (UTC)
Sounds like an amazing project. I have no knowledge to help, but I wish you well.
Nov. 9th, 2013 11:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you for those wishes. Fingers crossed!
Nov. 10th, 2013 12:49 am (UTC)
There weren't any electoral registers for 1940-1944 but a good place to start might be your public library's online genealogical resources. Ancestry.co.uk might have a version available through your library (to be used in the library). They do here. They have electoral registers and information about where to look. Also, the Newspaper Library in Colindale might be useful.

St Giles Hospital in Camberwell? I'm not sure if it was referred to as St Giles during the war but it might have been locally. That could help you to pinpoint the location of your diarist. The National Archives will give the location of records. They have a hospital records database.
Nov. 11th, 2013 11:49 am (UTC)
Thank you for this, Semyaza, it is indeed St Giles in Camberwell. I will check it - and the National Archives - out asap.
Nov. 10th, 2013 12:51 am (UTC)
This looks very interesting.
Nov. 11th, 2013 11:50 am (UTC)
It's gold dust! Thank you so much!
Nov. 10th, 2013 09:34 pm (UTC)
Does that sounds plausible?
Nov. 11th, 2013 11:52 am (UTC)
Thank you for checking this for me! I think it may well be the one, only thing is, it talks about being renamed St Giles in 48, the diarist calls it that in 40/41. But maybe they always called it that colloquially.
Nov. 11th, 2013 11:53 am (UTC)
Yes, I have been using bombsight - very interesting, especially for the idea of a bomb landing collage with quotes. Thank you for digging it out for me :-) such a fascinating site!
Nov. 11th, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
My grans war diaries are all about the back door being blown off and then in the next breath her contemplating getting a "glamour girl perm". The mundane is always part of life.

How to make the mundane special, especially that at such a time of import and history. Uh. That's hard. It really is. There's such a swell of stories to be told, many of them dashing and heroic.

Creative Non Fiction is a burgeoning literary form - finding ways to meld journalism with magic basically. As opposed to "A History Of My Irish Dad's Career in the Fridge Industry" it's more "Travelling Around Ireland With A Fridge".
Nov. 14th, 2013 08:47 am (UTC)
You're right, it is hard. I think the collage idea is favoured by the Entling, who perhaps is seeing it more as an aid to education, but I don't think it would be visually that interesting. It's a puzzle for sure.

Edited at 2013-11-14 08:47 am (UTC)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )



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