We simply dread the moon

People sheltering at Aldwych Station, 1940
Photo: London Transport Museum

Hallie Eustace Miles was a writer and restaurateur who, along with her sportsman husband Eustace Hamilton Miles, opened a vegetarian restaurant in 1906, shortly after their marriage. The Eustace Miles Restaurant became an iconic meeting place in Edwardian London, drawing a wide range of political and social groups including the suffragettes. Miles wrote the following diary entry in September of 1917, at which point London was under the constant threat of air raids. In these tumultuous times, London’s Underground stations served a dual purpose, transforming into makeshift shelters where life’s daily routines continued in an extraordinary setting.

The Diary Entry

September 16th, 1917

So much seems to have happened since I last wrote in my records. We have just had a very awful “Moonlight Raid” over London, and have been very near the centre of danger. In the Zeppelin days we looked upon the moon as our great friend and protector. Now we simply dread the moon. Everything is reversed; we dread a fine, sunshiny day because again this brings the raids somewhere. We simply rejoice when there is a windy, rainy day! And we now welcome the moonless nights and the pitch darkness…

A friend who joined us had come back from his office by Tube; he told us that the sights in the Tube were the most extraordinary imaginable. People were there in all sorts of queer clothes. Some had rushed from their beds to the nearest Tube, carrying their wraps and even their boots in their hands; and the poor sleepy little children were wrapped up in the blankets off their beds, and were sleeping peacefully through it all. Women were dressing on the platforms, and pulling on their stockings. Babies were being given their bottles, and mothers nursing them. The staircases and platforms of the Tube Station were like a huge bedroom and ‘night nursery’ on that awful night. These Tube scenes take place whenever there is a raid.

Further Reading

Hallie Eustace Miles’ diary was published by Cecil Palmer in 1930 with the title, Untold Tales of War-time London: A Personal Diary. Long out of print, copies seem very scarce, and when they do pop up they are not cheap.


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