Henley Headmaster's Diary, 1945
New Year’s Day, 1945
Train to Exmouth, a cup of coffee and a bun, then bus to Otterton, whence I walked to Ladram Bay.
Made on up the cliff path to High Peak. The ground was still frozen and not muddy. I sat on the
south-west slope of the hill in dried bracken at 300ft and looked down into the bay and across to
Woodbury Common and the faint outline of Haldon beyond, both appearing from the valley mist
like the hills in a Japanese print. I thought how in September 1940 during the Battle of Britain Mary
and I had crouched in the bracken here as fighters came over, not very certain whether they were
English or German. I made my way down hill again, getting more muddy for the frost on the
surface had begun to melt in the sunshine and onto the beach. Here I found a sun trap under a
semicicular overhang of a cliff. After lunch (sanwiches) I started back to Otterton. There was no one
on the beach, but saw two coastguards. From High Peak I could see cormorants sitting on the rocks
and while I was eating my lunch a rock pipit appeared hunting flies and walked almost up to my
feet. Caught bus to Exton in time for tea party. This was the least satisfactory part of the day. There
was no interest whatsoever in the conversation, which never got beyond local gossip, and I was very
Little news from the western front…. Budapest is going up in flames as the Russians fight there
way from street to street.
Tuesday, Jan 2nd
Yesterday the air battle over Belgium and Holland was the biggest since the day in September 1940
when the Germans lost 195 fighter and bombers. Yesterday they lost 188. It was a low level attack
on our fighters when they were believed to be grounded and followed a no surrender speech of
Hitler’s which he gave on the Swedish wave length after their broadcasting has stopped for the day.
Here only the penny papers, no Times. The New Chronicle and Daily Mail mainly devoted to the
arrival of the first men on leave from France…. Interviews by reporters who ap