Notes to my Daughter: A Father’s Blitz Diary Book Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
NOTES TO MY DAUGHTER - A Father's Blitz Diary
Alexander Pierce, edited by Christine Cuss
 
 

Review Information

Reviewer: David Murcott
Review Date: Jan 2010

Book Information

Publisher: The History Press
RRP: $19.95

6

out of 10

 

 

In July 1934, Londoner Alexander Pierce began a journal addressed to his newborn daughter Christina, who has edited the published diaries.  The initial entries concern the usual childhood milestones, family holidays and the like, but as the 1930s progressed and war with Germany loomed ever closer the journal took on a markedly less innocent tone.  Several family members served in the British forces, and a number were killed during the Blitz.   

Pierce is perhaps not an ideal choice of diarist.  Having left school to enlist in the army (lying about his age to do so), his entries contain numerous idiosyncrasies of spelling and grammar, and as both an historical and a familial document are far from comprehensive.  The entry for 1 September 1939 reads, in toto, ‘Germany invaded Poland,’ and of his daughter’s birth he writes simply ‘Christine born at 4:15pm,’ mentioning nothing of his hopes and aspirations for his only daughter, his initial thoughts of fatherhood, and the like.  

This diminutive book does contain several passages of great poignancy, as on 14 February 1945 when ‘the rocket came… well my love, it fell on your Uncle Fred’s home & killed him & your Auntie Mary, Cousin Peter, Jean & the baby, it wiped the whole family out.’  As the journal progresses it also becomes clear that Pierce is a loving and attentive father, dutifully noting the appearance of his daughter’s baby teeth, her trips to the doctor and the first sum he deposits on her behalf (‘Put 8.13.0 in the Bank for Christine.  I hope she will kiss her Daddy someday for it.’).   

Contemporary letters, mimeographed journal pages and newspaper clippings round out the slender entries to good effect, and the later diaries end on a jovial note: ‘God has answered our prayers & taken us safely through. We have been to the Hammersmith Broadway singing & dancing, it is something you will not forget…’  Pierce, though, is no Pepys, and the work ultimately contains little insight into daily life at the time or anything much beyond stiff upper lip factoids: ’26 February 1945.  Your Uncle Fred’s family was buried today at Hammersmith Cemetery.  Love Daddy.’ 

All royalties from this well-intentioned yet frequently frustrating book are being donated to the Royal British Legion for the support of troops wounded in Afghanistan, and the families of those killed in action.  It is impossible to fault the intentions behind the project, and its deep personal significance to the editor is clear.  As a war diary, and an encapsulation of the wartime British psyche, however, it leaves much to be desired.   






 
 



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