Sunday 2nd April, 1944

Alec’s diary continues:

Home Guard in morning. Gordon brought back trumpet so we had some music before I went out. Did not bother to change for Home Guard. Did not go out in afternoon. Doug came round sharp on 2.0 p.m. and Johnny failed to put in an appearance. Both turned up Sunday night so went along to Salthouse. Changed for the occasion but it was not worth it.


Sunday 12th March, 1944

Alec’s diary continues:

Got up at 9.30 a.m. Went to Home Guard. Understand Brian Wise now in Navy. Chad Jones promoted Corporal. Home at 1.30 p.m. with Clarinet, Jack Bentley lending same. To Portishead with John and his people in afternoon. Home at 5.0 p.m. Tea then John came round at 6.30 p.m. Demonstrated Clarry for his benefit. Seem to get on OK with this one. To Salthouse in evening then for a walk with John and Margaret. Home at 9.30 p.m. Read then bed.

Sunday 13th February, 1944

Alec’s diary continues:

Home Guard at 9.0 a.m. had a sitting down job at HQ nothing to do but chat with Wilf Hammond and Jack Gooding till 12.30 p.m. then packed up. John came down in afternoon but had to go away again to attend to a horse with a broken leg. Came again at 4.0 p.m. till 5.0 p.m. had some music. Called again at 6.0 p.m. so we took back his double bass. Walked up to the Pier* but not open yet so went back to local. Met Mrs Hobb [?] and Pat also our Yankee friend and one other. Stayed till 8.30 p.m. then went home too crowded. Read till 10.30 p.m. and bed.

*The Wikipedia article about the Pier Hotel could do with updating; it is now flats/apartments and the Pier itself has had an expensive face-lift which includes a new restaurant ingeniously placed half above and half below the deck. The paddle steamers Balmoral and Waverley still call at Clevedon Pier occasionally, and there is (or at any rate was) a plaque there commemorating Alec and his parents. Last time we looked, we couldn’t find it.

Meet Alec

Alec in 1944

This is where we start, with Alec Donald William Atkins, born on 28 June 1922 in Keynsham. We meet him here as a young man of 22, skinny and bespectacled, kept out of military service by colour-blindness. He was an only child, and at the time of the first diary entry he was working at the Traffic Analysis Department, Traffic (E), Superintendent of the Line’s Division, Paddington, W2. He seems to have been lodging somewhere in London with a Mrs Stone – she turns up in later entries – during the week, and going home to his parents at Clevedon, near Bristol, at weekends. His diary isn’t very exciting, for the most part, but here and there he includes some fascinating details and insights into his life.

[I intend to retain his punctuation, or lack of it, unless I find it annoys me too much!]

February 6th 1944 – Sunday

Gordon called before I got up returning trumpet. Went to Home Guard in morning. Did not change or go out in afternoon. John called round at 2.30 p.m. and again at 7.00 p.m. Went to Salthouse and met our Yankee friend. Packed up at 9.30 p.m. place getting too crowded.

Since heard goods broke away in Box Tunnel.