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Parade Antiques Blog

Southgate’s Diary, Part 10 – 6th September – 26th September 1941

6th September 1941

Midday news: bulk of Italians taking another pounding in the Med.

Wing Commander Wells is back. At present in meeting with Squadron leader Green and F/O Gardner. I’ve managed to catch up on my work.

24th September 1941

This morning we had a visit from General Vallin, Chief of Staff of the Free French Air Force. He has just come back from an inspection tour in Africa and Syria.

The Syria-Lebanon campaign or Operation Export, was the allied invasion of the Vichy-French-controlled Syria and Lebanon in June and July of 1941. The conflict was a curious one, because it was one of the few where British and Free French forces were fighting Vichy French forces.

The Russian front is still holding and becoming tough. In France disorder and sabotage are becoming reasonably well organised.

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Southgate’s Diary, Part 11 – 26th September – 28th September 1941

26th September 1941

“What is this Nation of shopkeepers which have not forgotten that to remain free, you must know how to be a soldier?”

I cannot stop myself writing about the ardour in the ‘Battle of Britain’.

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Southgate’s Diary, Part 12 – 8th October – 10th October 1941

8th October 1941

Wed morning, loads of work from morning to evening. I am now in a large office with Squadron Leader Green, Petit Officer Hardy, Miss Sherwood and myself (still Sergeant.). A lot more room and my work has been simplified. Wing Commander Wells and Biles are in the next office. Had lunch with Jean. I am now part of the Free French Clique and can eat at their club/mess. You can eat very well for 2 shillings and a litre of wine costs 1 shilling instead of 4 or 5 shillings in the shops. The atmosphere is very nice and you can eat with the Officers. General Valin, Admiral Muselier, Capt. Bouderie, Charles, Muselier and others.

9th October 1941

It was raining a bit this morning, but the visibility has improved these last days and our aerial activity should resume. The Germans seem to be making a big push and I am fearful for the Russians.

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Southgate’s Diary, Part 13 – 28th October – 23rd November 1941

28th October 1941

18 days since I wrote to you. I am now in a new building. Turnstill House, High Holborn. The building was damaged last winter, but has been repaired. I am on the 6th floor with long views. All around us are ruins, houses destroyed by fire and bombs.

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Southgate’s Diary, Part 14 – 6th December – 7th December 1941

6th December 1941

How I would like to disembark in France with the boys and to go and hug you. But courage and patience, that day will come – I have received via the Red Cross, an answer to one of my messages. You tell me that you have given notice on our flat and that Gerard has slip up with Robert. Both bits of news are hard. I wonder, were you able to save any of the furniture.

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Southgate’s Diary, Part 15 – 7th December – 31st December 1941

8th December 1941

It is 18 months since I arrived in England, in London and hugged my parents. On the 20 June 1942 I must be in the Celle St Cloud, Seine & Oise, France

Wife’s Note

You were nearly a year late, my dear love. The 31/5/43. I was in your arms very briefly. When will I be again?

10th December 1941

Wednesday: Bad news these last few days and even worse today. The Japs have sunk the Prince of Wales. It’s a bad knock for the Navy. The Americans have a sleeping pill and the Japanese are nearly in Alaska.

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Southgate’s Diary, Part 16 – 2nd January – 2nd February 1942

2nd January 1942

Friday: Headache since yesterday. Took 2 aspirins earlier on, but not much change in my box of tricks. Not overloaded, but quite a lot of work. I saw Jack at the Regent Palace Hotel at 19:45 with Pearl. Had a good dinner in a small French restaurant. Then after a glass or two at ‘Chez Yvonne’, Pearl left us. Jack and I wandered the streets. Light evening and rather mild. Impossible to have a drink in a pub, absolutely packed – singing and drinking. We tried several pubs. Finally a pub, but we couldn’t reach the bar and when we did, time was called at 23:00 hours. We went back out: Oxford Street, Picadilly, Trafalgar Square. All the people spill out of the Bistros, 25% are drunk. The women more than the men. A little WAAF, not more than 18, pretty as a picture, falls at my feet

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Southgate’s Diary, Part 17 – 16th February – 7th March 1942

16th February 1942

Monday Morning: Just had a wonderful weekend with Pearl, or more exactly at Pearl’s. Her sister Doudon (Jacqueline) was on leave and in the afternoon, 2 young women (Czech) and 2 other English came round and joined us for tea. We had lots of fun and this was a welcome change considering the current climate. We have let 3 German ships take the piss out of us and we have lost Singapore.

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Southgate’s Diary, Part 18 – 25th February – 3rd March 1942

25th February 1942

The YMCA, Torquay: My dearest love, I left London yesterday for a holiday in Exeter. I visited a half-cousin who is in the army in Honiton and then returned to Exeter, went to the cinema in the evening and slept in the YMCA. This morning I caught the bus to Crediton to see a friend of my mother and had lunch with her and then took the train to Torquay. Empty town this afternoon. Had tea, cinema and a beer, no, 2 beers and then sandwiches and a very good coffee at the YMCA, where I now write. Will have to finish now as they are closing at 10pm. Off to bed.

26th February 1942

Thursday: Very cold this morning. Got up early and went on an excursion by bus. Beautiful countryside. The county of Devon is splendid. Back at the YMCA had a hot chocolate and a piece of cake, which warmed me up. Later I’ll take the 11:55 train to London. Feeling a bit better this morning, after a reasonably good night. But problems tend to be in the evenings.

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Southgate’s Diary, Part 19 – 5th March – 13th March 1942

5th March 1942

Thursday, 17:35: My poor Dear, you cannot have slept much the night before last. I was thinking of you. But we couldn’t allow a factory like that to build tanks and planes to bomb us without trying to defend ourselves. I hope and believe that only the factory was bombed and that very little civilian damage occurred. You must have heard the noise of our bombs exploding and the anti-aircraft fire. How war is a strange and cruel thing. It has been a longtime without news of you and I am feeling pretty low.

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