Thomas Graham’s Diary – 28th August 1939

This is an understandably rather gloomy diary entry as Thomas considers what the costs of war will be both to the people and the fabric of the nation. He again compares the time he is living through with the run up to war in 1914 and laments that the famous quote about the First World War as ‘the war to end wars’ is going to be so evidently untrue. The phrase originated with the writer H.G. Wells but is also associated with Woodrow Wilson, US President in 1917, when he used this argument to justify the United States’ entry into the Great War.

Thomas’ comments on the reaction of both Italy and Japan to the signing of the Molotov-Ribbontrop Pact are interesting. Neither Japan nor Italy were aware of Hitler’s plan to ally himself with Soviet Russia and relations with both deteriorated in the days immediately after the signing. This was relatively short-lived, however and both were signatories with Germany to the Tripartite Pact in September 1940, creating the so-called ‘Axis Powers’.

It is interesting to read Thomas’ description of the British preparations for war at this time, with his friend William guarding the Forth Rail Bridge with the Scottish Horse Regiment, watching for bombing raids down the Forth to the Rosyth Naval Base. Interestingly, the first air raid of the Second World War was directed at the Rosyth Base and flew over the Forth Bridge on the night of 16th October 1939.