The Russians marched into Poland today as well, ‘to safeguard the interests of the Russian minority’. Poland’s now as far down on its knees as it can get, so they must be thinking of sending a negotiator to Germany.
There’s still not much action on the western front, but according to today’s paper Hitler’s planning a huge air offensive against Britain. We hear of very worrying developments at sea: countless ships torpedoed or blown up by mines. Supply routes to Germany must be more or less cut off, I think.
Our first air raid warning at 8.30 this morning. A warbling that gradually insinuates itself as I lay in bed. So dressed and walked on the terrace with L. Sky clear. All cottages shut. [Breakfast. All clear. During the interval a raid on Southwark. No news. The Hepworths came on Monday. Rather like a sea voyage. Forced conversation. Boredom.] All meaning has run out of everything. Scarcely worth reading papers. The B.B.C. gives any news the day before. Emptiness. Inefficiency. I may as well record these things. See more
My plan is to force my brain to work on Roger. But, Lord, this is the worst of all my life's experiences. It means feeling only bodily feelings: one gets cold and torpid. Endless interruptions. We have done the curtains. We have carried coal etc. into the cottage for the 8 Battersea women and children. The expectant mothers are all quarreling. Some went back yesterday. We took the car to be hooded, met Nessa, were driven to tea at Charleston. Yes, it's an empty meaningless world now.
Am I a coward? Physically I expect I am. Going to London tomorrow I expect frightens me. At a pinch enough adrenalin is secreted to keep one calm. But my brain stops. I took up my watch this morning and then put it down. Lost. That kind of thing annoys mc. No doubt one can conquer this. But my mind seems to curl up and become undecided. To cure this one had better read a solid book like Tawney. An exercise of the muscles. The Hepworths are travelling books in Brighton. Shall I walk? Yes. It's the gnats and flies that settle on non-combatants. This war has begun in cold blood. One merely feels that the killing machine has to be set in action.
I regret to inform the House that the disaster may prove to be of greater magnitude than was indicated by earlier reports. As far as can be ascertained there were on board 1,418 persons, of whom 315 were crew and 1,103 were passengers, some 800 of whom possessed British or European passports, and over 300 possessed passports of the United States of America.
It is now clearly established that the disaster was due to an attack, without warning, by a submarine. At 7.45 p.m. local time on the night of Sunday, 3rd September, a torpedo struck the ship abaft the engine room on the port side when she was 250 miles north-west of the coast of Ireland. Soon after the torpedo struck the ship the submarine came to the surface and fired a shell which exploded on "C" deck. The submarine cruised around the sinking ship and was seen by numerous persons, including American survivors, a considerable number of whom—I think 12 or more—have given affidavits to this effect.
I regret to inform the House that a signal was received in the Admiralty at about 11 p.m. last night giving the information that the steamship "Athenia" had been torpedoed in a position about 200 miles north-west of Ireland at 8.59 p.m. Orders had already been given by local Commanders for destroyers to proceed to her assistance, and by shortly after midnight four destroyers were proceeding at high speed towards the position. They should have been near the position by about 10 a.m. this morning. A further signal was received from the Master of the ''Athenia'' at about 1 a.m. this morning stating that there were 1,400 passengers, some of whom were still on board, and that the ship was sinking fast. See more
I need scarcely say that the utmost endeavours will be used to employ all our means of escorts to their fullest possible capacity, and to adopt such other methods as may be necessary for vessels which fall outside the class and cannot at this moment be convoyed. We have every belief that the convoy system will be brought into complete operation at a comparatively early date. In the meanwhile all that is possible is being done.