E.J. Rudsdale’s Journals of Wartime Colchester

By Catherine Pearson


To be published 25th September 2010

At £12.99, paperback

ISBN: 978-0-7524-5821-2




An eye-witness account of wartime from the air-raid shelter superintendent at Colchester Castle


E.J. Rudsdale’s role as a museum curator and air-raid shelter superintendent at Colchester Castle during the Second World War gave him the perfect opportunity to record life on the Home Front in his journals. Seventy years later, the selected extracts gathered here provide a remarkable insight into wartime life. Rudsdale’s writing is characterised throughout by his wry observations of wartime officialdom and his lack of conformity with the prevailing views of the time. However, even as a civilian he could not escape the conflict, living in a garrison town threatened by invasion and regular bombing raids. His journals, therefore, record anxious and tragic events, but throughout it all his sense of humour is never diminished.


This absorbing collection demonstrates Rudsdale’s ability to bring a scene vividly to life and each account highlights the daily pressures that people endured as they valiantly tried to carry on with normal life in spite of the war.


·        An evocative social record of life on the home front in wartime.

·        Vivid accounts of air raids and the work of the Royal Observer Corps during the V1 and V2 attacks.

·        A unique insider’s account of the controversial work of the War Agricultural Committees.

·        Published to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the 150th anniversary of Colchester Castle Museum.

·        Rudsdale was a pacifist and this gives his journals an unusual perspective, highlighting the diversity of opinions that existed.

·        A blog of extracts from Rudsdale’s diaries is at: http://wwar2homefront.blogspot.com.


Catherine Pearson has a BA in Medieval and Modern History from King’s College, London, and an MA in Museum Studies from University College London. She recently completed a PhD at UCL on the history of Britain’s museums during the Second World War, which was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. She lives in Chelmsford.  Now deceased, E.J. Rudsdale was born in 1910 in Colchester. He left the Royal Grammar School in 1928 to become Curator’s Assistant at Colchester Castle Museum.



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[23oct10 23:16]