September. Arnheim family. Battle of Britain Day. Bader. Henry V censored in US. Mountjoy on Italy. Koestler. Bust up with Russians. Keynes in Washington. Italians at the V. & A.
Sunday, Sept 9th
Hilary had George Arnheim* to stay. Mr Arnheim, a Jewish lawyer who escaped through Danzig, now has a Secotine (glue) business. Mrs Arnheim came to England in a cargo boat a month before George was born then got knocked down by a car that skidded onto the pavement.
Meanwhile at school the staffing problem is more acute than ever. Neither the French nor the chemistry masters have been released under the priority schemes and the temporaries have left, so it is worse than the war terms. In fact we seem to be facing one of the most difficult winters so far in nearly every way. There is great dissatisfaction with the slow pace of demobilization, but in any case the shortages of consumer goods are not likely to ease up at all till the spring. Roll on the next six months I say.
*Letter from George Arnheim, September, 2008: Love your Father’s diary records. In the diary your Dad mentioned about my premature emergence into this world at 7.5 months. My Mother was knocked down on the pavement, by a contractor’s lorry where they were building shop/flats called ‘John Barnes’ in the Finchley Road. Apparently my Mother was taken to The London Clinic in Marylebone, where I was born, and she had multiple injuries to one arm and leg and finished up being there 2.5 years altogether with silver wire holding bones together as I had absorbed her calcium. I had to be looked after by others. Interestingly we could not pay for this and the insurance company didn’t want to pay when they discovered that she was an ‘enemy alien’ from Germany. However, unbeknownst to my Father, the solicitor briefed a barrister, F E Smith (later Lord Birkett) and the company coughed up £3000 immediately. This paid for the hospital and some fees to get into Long Dene at the Manor House, Stoke Poges.
Did he record anything about the time he caught us stealing honey from the ‘school safe’ or leaving the tap open on the separator? Also, letting the garden roller escape down the hill to the playing field below! I remember quite clearly how the handle swung until finally it tipped over, digging into the ground and the whole roller did sommersaults – spectacular, and all we could do was watch! We then had to push it back up with it’s broken off handle!
Also I recall that your Mother had very good ears and could hear from anywhere in the house when the glass biscuit barrel, on top of the piano, was lifted!
Sunday, Sept 15th
Thinking of this day five years ago. I turn up my Diary: ”We are in the midst of a real terrific, honest to god battle,” I wrote then..... But it was not simply another day, it was a turning point – unknown to us..... Against [our] 640 fighters with 130 coming forward weekly, the Germans had 1,550 bombers and 1,100 fighters. Of these, nearly 300 were put out of action on one day in August. When between August 24th and Sept 8th the Germans turned against our fighter stations, it was a case of which side would crack first. Out of 1000 pilots, 230 were killed or seriously wounded and these losses exceeded the replacements available. It was between Sept 7th and 30th that losses in men and machines declined and output was able to catch up once more. The Germans could not stand the pace and impatient of the delay they gave up the attack on aerodromes and turned against London.
The day was celebrated with a flight of fighters over London. They were led by [Douglas] Bader, the legless pilot who has become a symbol of courage and endurance, and other pilots of the battle, in some of the original spitfires.
Perhaps our grandchildren will celebrate and remember this day as we celebrate and remember Trafalgar – and their children after them.
Film of Henry V said to have been censored in America because S used word “bastard”. As some one said, evidently sensitive about it because they have left so many behind here.
Tuesday, Sept 18th
Mountjoy [Old boy of Grammar School] up this afternoon and I heard his adventures in the Italian campaign from Naples and Casino to Austria. He became company commander, a major, won the M.C; and went through battle after battle and never got a scratch in spite of many narrow escapes. Found he was a diarist and kept a daily record even in the fiercest fighting. Quite a nice person, but utterly without a sense of humour and no sense of fun.
Been reading The Yogi and the Commissar [Koestler], a scathing account of the failure of socialism in Stalin's imperialist, Bysantine state bureaucracy.
Saturday, Sept 22nd
Went to Oxford with Heath, head boy, and had a very pleasant day..... In Christ Church we met Tom Armstrong and he took us into the library and up on to the roof, where we got a good view. Tom was in a rather bolshy mood and told of the hardness and meanness of the Canons. Coming out we passed the marble bust of an eighteenth century dignitary – “A powerful bandit” said Tom.
The Sunday papers not cheerful reading; full of our poor economic situation and American stickiness over further exports to Europe. Then there has been a bust up in the Council of Foreign Ministers over the Russian puppet governments in S. E. Europe, which so far have not been recognised by the western democracies. J. M. Keynes is putting our case in Washington. His arguments are powerful. We did more in proportion to our size to mobilize resources than the U.S.A. To hold the fort in 1940 – 41 we stripped ourselves of all our assets abroad.
Tuesday, Sept 25th
A very pessimistic discussion on the first Brains Trust session on the atomic bomb and the future of mankind. The conquest of all the other powers by one power? The destruction of mankind recorded by future Martian historians, the futility of trying to keep it secret, the bad effect on the Russians of trying to keep it secret, the lack of any sign of attempts to place it under international control or even of any discussion of this.
Sunday, Sept 30th
A lovely day, went for lunch on the Ewelme downs and yesterday drove to Oxford in the car for the first time since 1941. Talked to Nora about the possibility of a small farm in the West Country when my spell of teaching ends for pension purposes in 1952. She would like to get some qualification in psychiatry, but none seems likely short of a medical degree, which doubt possible.
The Council of Foreign Ministers is ending. There is no inter-allied agreement, so each ally will have to deal with own sphere. Possession is nine points, or more, of the law. The basic disagreement at this London meeting has consolidated the division into spheres of interest..... the melancholy but inevitable result of total victory over Germany and unconditional surrender (although) from time to time, as at the Yalta conference with Roosevelt, an opposite idea of one world fashioned and ruled by a concert of powers has been put forward. It looks as if the United Nations may be still born...
Heard that Ginger Lane back as assistant keeper at the Victoria & Albert. Says Italian prisoners lent to V & A by army, in absence of female peasantry their energy sublimated or rather exasperated, and they have performed feats unknown in museum history. Also, coming from a fascist state and being unused to trade union methods, when they have finished a job they just lie down and sleep instead of pretending to work, until some days later some one finds them out.