Well love I have at last received my airmail form but couldn't
get last weeks so you will just have to make twice the fuss of
this. I think I told you in my Airgramme that I had had your seventh
letter also one from Mam. I'm glad you give me all the titbits
about you all and I would love to see our baby Michael progressing
and Sheila with Scottie. I bet Sheila and David have a lot of
fun together like Keith and Colin did. I hope Keith will soon
receive the letter I sent him although I think it will take about
three weeks to get home to you each week.
I'm sorry to hear about Ernie and have sent a letter to
the address you gave me in the hope that he will get it before
he leaves. He is about 200 miles from me so there is no chance
of getting to see him. In any case by now I'm hoping he is well
again and there is nothing serious about his illness.
I see Mabel has written to me but I have not had it yet.
I've had Mam's airmail dated September 15th and if Mabel's was
an airmail I should have had it by now. Airgraphs seem to take
about 14 days to come.
Well love I'm still seeing films and on Thursday night
I saw 'Holiday Inn' for the third time. It was better watching
it this time as the weather was better. I don't mind how many
times I see a film if is good and it certainly passes the time.
I went last night and saw Abbot and Costello in 'In the Navy'.
It was a good laugh and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
There was a new moon and I turned over my little wad of
francs. I didn't bother to draw my money this week and am going
to see how long I can manage without it and then I may be able
to send some home for Christmas from Daddy to the family. I don't
think I shall be able to get anything out here to send home for
your birthday, love, unless that chap turns up by then with that
little present I bought on the boat.
Still you know, love, even if I can't send you a gift,
all my love is for you and I think of you night and day until
we take up our partnership again in peace. I don't think I shall
hate sand enough not to ever go to the seaside again. In fact
one of our happiest holidays was spent at Mablethorpe with Keith
and I want to see Sheila and Michael playing about the same way
as Keith did with him as the older brother building the same castles
and trains for them to sit in.
We both will get as much enjoyment as they will in helping
and sitting back in pride at the antics of out lovely little family.
I often dream about it and I know that you do too. We will both
have our worries and trouble to go through until then and I am
proud of you making such a good job and putting on such a brave
smile at home to keep it ready for me to share.
I guess Keith will wear out the toes of his shoes many
times yet but I expect that in England the weather will be too
unsettled for playing outside on the lawn. He's a good kid and
tell him and Sheila daddy will need the longest stories they have
to make up for the time he didn't read to them. I see he has made
a mess of his knee again and hope that nature has cured it as
he won't let anyone else.
Well love I managed to get half a day off yesterday after
about three weeks without one and I went for a bathe with the
corporal but the sea was rather rough and we just played about
near the edge and had a good soak and lay on the sand afterwards
for about an hour watching the waves and daydreaming. I can never
realise the distance between us and I'm glad as I never feel lonely
and alone especially as receiving you airmails brings us together.
I'm fit and well and looking after myself. I am not in need of
much except I would like a writing pad if you can send one sometime
as writing paper and envelopes are almost non existent out here.
I'm sorry to hear Mrs Gill is bad and hope she will get
over her operation successfully. If I hear from Ernie I will let
you know at once. I guess I had better close now. Keep smiling
sweetheart and chin up until that day dawns. God bless you all
and keep you safe.
10th October 1943
Well love how are you after your cold. I spent an hour last night
reading your airmail dated September 25th which I received on
the 8th October picturing the family group around the fire after
sipping the milk while you read the bedtime story. It brings it
home to me how much I'm missing while I am away from you all and
which I will never be able to catch up with. But for all that
the next best thing is to get your letters telling me all the
little things which I can base my picture on.
I bet you and Keith laughed when Sheila threatened to smack
his bottom. I feel more than thankful every day that we had her.
She is so loveable and sweet and tell her and Keith that daddy
will expect to get all the hundreds of kisses they are saving
up for him when he gets home besides all those they have given
you on your left cheek to pass on.
Baby Michael seems to be showing signs of beating them
in weight and we are a lucky pair to be blessed with such a grand
little family. I should love to hear Keith reading his book and
hope by now he has the letter which I sent to him and he is able
to read it all by himself. I am looking forward to getting his
letter which I am sure will be worth reading.
I am please to hear that Ernie is getting on well and I'll
let you know if I hear from him.
Well love I'm sorry you didn't get any airmail one week
but you'll know from letters I've sent since the reason. I went
into town yesterday but the only thing I could get was a hair
cut. presents were almost unobtainable and it wasn't worth buying
the things they did have as a handbag cost about 1500 francs (£7.10.0)
and my credits haven't reached that yet. Still I'm hoping to get
you some little presents before long although I'm afraid it won't
be in time for your birthday. We did see a few lemons but they
are hardly ready for sending yet.
I saw two films this week 'The Glass Key' and George Formby
in 'Much Too Shy'. I guess I am just as up to date on films as
I have now replied to all the letter which I have had including
Mabel's and Mam's. Airmails get here much quicker than Airgraphs
so when they write again I would rather have airmails than Airgraphs
as they can tell me more news.
I only got one or two shells so far and can see I'll have
to start collecting them in earnest if Keith is to get a boxful
and Sheila won't think much of her daddy. I'd love to see her
on Keith's bike and am sure that we will soon have to look around
for one for her and pass the little one on to Michael.
I've done my washing for the week but they have now arrange
to get it done for us so we won't be scrubbing away with a bucket
of cold water in future.
Well sweetheart it is now Sunday morning after the quietest
Saturday nights I've ever had here and that's saying something.
We dashed around after tea and getting washed and making our beds
and 7 pm went to see a film show. It started to rain a bit so
I went back for the gas capes and nearly got back to the show
a I saw everyone coming away as the film show had been cancelled..
We then walked back to the quiet tent but there were no seats
and from there we walked to the YMCA tent. As it happened this
was also shut and so we sat on the sand just feeling sorry for
ourselves watching the lamp. Then they took the lamp away so we
walked back to the tent, got into bed about 8 pm and talked for
an hour or so before going to sleep.
While we were waiting outside the canteen in town yesterday
we watched twenty Arab kiddies playing about and one little lad
about as big as Sheila was making us laugh as he was trying to
fight the older lads, None of them wear shoes and their feet are
as tough as anything. They did a bit of pilfering of lemons from
a tree inside a garden near by until one of then was nabbed by
the owner and taken to the police. Soon after the policeman came
round clearing them all way and some of them he caught had a smacked
bottom. A few of them escaped by dodging amongst the queue of
soldiers and we had a lot of fun about it all.
Well love I hope to attend my usual church service tonight
and I'll be close in my thoughts to you there. Loads of kisses
for you all
Go to next letter from Olive....
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12th October 1943
Well love here's our midweek little chat. Have you got over your
cold yet. I wish I could have been at home to make the fuss of
you you deserve. I had quite a postbag yesterday, an airmail each
from Mabel and Mr Plaskett and a letter from Bob. He told me Walter
was about to join the navy and said he was keeping a good look
out for me when some of the boats from the convoy put into Gib.
Mabel told me how thrilled Keith was with his letter and Mr Plaskett
mentioned the fruit and vegetable show the ARP held. Did you show
my onions ?
It is quite English weather here at the moment with showers and
sunshine. I went to the church service on Sunday and I like it
more each time I go. We joined the library on Monday night and
later in the writing room there was a Brains Trust. We had a few
good laughs and it was a change. There was a film show last night " The Invisible Agent " but the sound track was nearly worn out
and we had to imagine most of what was said.
Well love I hope you get my birthday greeting. I know it is a
poor effort but you know all my love is in it and that's the chief
thing. The gift will have to come later.
Well love I am still well and walking around in my boy scout
outfit. I wish I could get a snap taken but am afraid it's hopeless.
Keep smiling sweetheart, time marches on. Chins up till we are
all together again. God Bless.
Go to next letter from Olive....
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Well love here's my weekly airmail and I held it over until today
in case I heard from you, I am pleased to say I had your airmail
which you had marked AM1 and thoroughly enjoyed reading about
your games with the kiddies. I would have loved to see Keith and
Sheila looking for the bobbin and Michael knocking over Keith's
bricks. Tell Keith I hope he carries on helping you by being good
to Sheila and Michael and I bet he is a proud lad when he takes
the register to Miss Bamford.
I'm expecting to have a letter from Keith before long and tell
him I'll read all his John Bull stories for him when I get home
although I expect he will be reading them himself to Sheila. By
the way love will you note my amended address for future letters.
I have not been able to get into town for the last week or so
but will let you know when I send a few lemons home. I've not
tasted any yet nor even an orange but should be doing so any time
I hope you got my little birthday card but if not let me wish
you sweetheart a very happy birthday and lots of love to you and
pray god I'll be home well before your next birthday to give you
my love myself.
I shall be glad to hear how Ernie is getting on and I expect
his wound must be rather serious for him to be sent back to the
UK. I only hope he is on the upgrade and the wound isn't as serious
as it sounds. How did Harry like his Home Guard duties? I can
just imagine him getting ready on a Sunday morning and Mabel making
sure he's as smart as a husband of a Mason should be. Tell Harry
to laugh that off.
I'm glad your cold is a little better and hope the weather at
home is not too bad. We are getting plenty of sunshine still here
and although it gets cold in the night it is more like early September
I went to my usual church service last evening and I always feel
close to you there as the hymns are always suitable also the prayers
and as the clocks here are an hour in advance of English
time it would be just after 6pm at home when the service begins
so I can visualize you and the kiddies after tea clearing up for
I am still fit and well and I forgot to mention a delicacy we
get in abundance. Onion Sauce. We gt it on corn beef pasties,
sausage rolls and on meat so you can tell I'm enjoying quite a
lot of food which wouldn't taste half as nice without it. We get
porridge nearly every money besides powdered egg and fried bread
or bacon and beans, a light lunch about 12.15pmand a good dinner
at 5.15pm. The jam roll they serve here with custard is quite
as good if not better than the ones we had at Weedon and altogether
I think the cooks do us very well.
Last night we heard jackals howling somewhere in the distance.
Apparently they hear them a lot around here at nights. They are
I believe about as big as a fox but they are so frightened at
anything not many chaps I know have ever seen one.
I am still working on the same job with Corporal Dickinson from
Birmingham and we go out together when there is a picture show
on or we have a quiet read in the rest tent. We have just seen
Kay Kyiser and his band in a film which wasn't too bad and in
any case it passes the time away.
I see you are sending a parcel which I think will take 5-6 weeks
to get here. Of course if I move in the meantime it will take
a little longer. I try to get your air letter done at the weekend
love but sometimes when we are busy it is Monday before I can
get going on it like tonight.
I've written to Bob and hope to write a few more letters to the
others during the week.
Have you heard where Arthur Hull is. Perhaps Peggy could get
to know. Well sweetheart I guess that's all I can put in this
letter. Keep smiling love and god bless you and the kiddies till
we are together again.
All my love and thoughts are with you.
Well love I've started this letter a bit early this week as it
has to be done on bits and pieces when I have the time. I know,
dear, that this letter will not reach you before your birthday
but I will be thinking of you especially next Saturday when you
have all your cards and good wishes and reach your prime old age
of 33. It doesn't seem over seven years since we were married
and so much has happened since then. We have had a happy time
together even if I did appear to take things for granted and you've
not had much time to spare with bringing up three kiddies besides
looking after me.
Don't let this war get on your nerves too much, love. I know
sometimes you must think that it is never going to end but it
has taught me one thing at least, how much you mean to me. I'll
try when we get back to peacetime conditions to show you just
how much I do care even if I'm not give much to making a fuss
in the usual way. I would just like the chance of running round
the pantry to see if there was a bit of custard pie or jam tart
left which I could clear up. I guess Keith sees to it that food
like that doesn't get left.
I had had your air mail last Saturday in which you told
me about Ernie arriving from Sheffield. I'm hoping to get another
before this is finished so I can reply to it. I don't expect your
parcel will be here for two of three weeks but I am looking forward
it it. I still haven't been able to get into town to get the lemons
but I'll get them somehow.
Well I hope you are all well and getting a bit of decent
weather. here it has been fine all week with the sun still hotter
than summer at home but as I am working inside I don't feel the
heat much. It gets rather cold in the evening especially if the
flap of the tent is open.
We have been to see two films this week and on Thursday there
was a talent competition in the open air and it was a grand night
for it with a clear sky and most of the lads were very good. I
never realised that there was so much talent in the army. There
was also a small ENSA party here yesterday but I was only able
to see a bit of the show. Still these things help to make life
easier and they are very popular. I've not tried to sing 'The
farmer's boy' to them as for one thing I should need about four
pints of beer to give me the necessary courage. Also after hearing
some of the others I know that |I am not in the same street.
Well, love, how is our family. Keith, love, I know how
clever you are and how you like school. I'm expecting to have
a long letter from you with one or two drawings. Do you still
go down on your bike to watch the tram points ? Mammy tells me
Sheila can ride your bike now and Michael sits up and knocks your
bricks down and makes you all laugh. I bet your John Bull book
is a beauty. Keep it nice and clean so I can read some of the
stories to you when I come home again.
Sheila, darling do you still give mummy lots of kisses for daddy.
Smack Keith's bottom for him if he doesn't eat his dinner and
look after baby Michael. You must be a big girlie now and I hope
you help mammy all you can. Daddy will send you a letter all to
I should like to send Harry Quin a line but I can't think
of his number Perhaps you will let me know it. Have you had any
alterations done to the house yet ? I know you thought about having
it repainted but didn't hear whether you had had it done.
How's your mum and dad these days ? I hope his neuritis is better
and he can do his shoe mending again. Does your Mam still bring
you the half pint bottle of medicine for you each Wednesday. I
have not had a drink for about five weeks and I don't miss it.
I am promising myself a good evening out with you when I come
back and I hope you don't get tiddly on a couple of halves. I
only hope beer is not rationed on that night.
Sunday. Well love I had Keith's Airgraph and it's lovely.
I showed it around to all the lads in to tent and they all asked
how old he was and thought he was very clever to write such a
neat letter to his daddy. I'll be answering it in a day of two.
Mail seems to be very slow in arriving at present. I suspect that
I shall get a bunch of them. By the way, love, I've had two oranges
this week both rather green a not very big but I'm hoping to improve
on the quality and the quantity in the next few days. Don't let
the war get you down too much. W e shan't be long now. God bless
you and keep you safe.
28th October 1943
Well, love I'm writing this today instead of an airgraph. As
you say they get home in 14 days so we will see how this one gets
on. As far as I know, I will not be moving from here just yet
although it is not possible to say definitely. I know how this
separation is hitting us both hard and making us lose our good
looks a bit but who cares about little things like that when we
get back to each other again. I myself don't feel half so young
and handsome as I did but we will quickly get younger again and
I don't suppose you will need the powder on your face to make
it 'Dopey'92 as Sheila says. I can imagine Keith wanting to take
her breakfast to her in bed. I bet she would be a grand sight
sitting up like a little lady and eating it all daintily. You
know, love, she is going to make a grand daughter in years to
come and it's one of the things which I miss taking them out and
being congratulated on their well being especially when someone
says that they look like me ( I always was vain).
I see that you are becoming a regular Mrs. Middleton and
I'm glad that the cabbages which are a combined affair ( don't
forget that I planted them out and weeded them) are doing as well.
It's one thing I haven't had out here as beans and peas are the
only second veg we get except carrots now and then and most days
onion gravy. We get dried egg powder and no fresh eggs but it
goes down O.K
Tell Keith Daddy has fried bread and egg powder for breakfast
sometimes and he is eating his dinner so well. Does he have any
gravy on it yet or does he still want it dry.
I went to the pictures yesterday. It was called Pittsburgh
with Marlene Deitrich in it and wasn'tt bad at all except it hasn't
been as warm in the evenings lately and we have had showers so
we have to put our battledress blouses on in the evening.
There have also been a few quizzes and spelling matches
between various side in the quiet tent on some nights and we have
some good laughs. I have not been in a team yet, thank heavens,
as I might show myself up but I'm quite content to sit and watch.
I've not go the box of lemons yet to send you but I've not had
a chance yet to go into town for nearly three weeks. I haven't
received your parcel or any papers yet but they will arrive in
time, never fear.
I will have to write and than Mrs Plaskett for the 10/-
note you have and suggest you keep it towards the kiddies Christmas
presents. I'm hoping to send some money along myself later on
but at present I'm drawing my wages in case I see something I
can buy to send you as a souvenir of this joint. I don't know
how you manage to save so much money and the bank balance after
the war including my little investments from Faire Brothers and
savings certificates should help as well I see that you were thinking
of having the house painted. I expect Keith will have plenty of
ideas about the colour.
By the way, love, have you given the allotment up as you said
you would. I you do I would let Len know as he will have to give
up the other half unless he wants to take up the whole lot as
the plot is in my name. If he does we will have a chance of getting
it back after the war as we will need one when all out back garden
is lawn, rockery and fruit trees.
I'm glad to hear that Ernie is making such good progress
and hope he gets back his health and strength as before. Jack
Richardson told me that the nurse at HQR married. Nurse Greenborough
from Dunton Basset married her soldier sweetheart and has now
left the hospital and is having a baby. There was also a romance
between the chap named Jack Rowan who you remember was there in
the spinal carriage and Nurse Meadows who was the nurse you saw
most when you came to visit me there and a quiet girl but he says
her family stepped in and stopped it. I have his address to write
future letters to and they will forward them as he shifts about
from time to time.
I see that Keith has had a day out at Bradgate park and
I bet Nora had a time looking after them all. Still it doesn't
seem to worry her and I guess she is used to noise by now. I will
have to thank everybody when I get home for all the things they
have done to help us. I've not heard from anyone at Faire Brothers
yet and I thought that I might write a letter to stir them up.
I see that you are getting your quota of Guinness. . By the way
love, don't send any cigs to me as we can get plenty. Writing
paper and envelopes are hard to get but I don't thing there is
much else I need. You can't very well send over any jam tarts
or apple pies which I could just manage nicely.
All my love.
1st November 1943
Well, love I had a shower of mail after about 10 days without
any. I know how you feel sometimes, love, and I guess it has been
my fault in the past not showing how much you do mean to me. I
saw a film the other evening where the man was I suppose like
me and it wasn't until a woman told him wives didn't like being
loved in silence but liked being told just what they meant to
their husbands. I certainly made me think and although I can only
tell you in letters you are the only one I love and will always
be. I will try when we are together again to tell you what I can
only tell you now in a letter.
I don't expect you find life with the kiddies to manage
on your own a bed of roses and they must present problems sometimes
especially when you are tired after washing and don't feel too
Well sweetheart, I was thinking about you on Saturday and
wished you Happy Birthday in my heart. I went to town in the afternoon
but all I could get was a box of lemons to send home. I know it
will sound comical but I didn't mean to send them as a birthday
present. I'm saving up to buy you something worthwhile for that.
I sent a box home early last week and have sent a second box today.
I hope they will arrive in good condition but I think it would
be best the burn the packing and wash them well before using them
in case stray mosquitoes should be inside the box. I've not sent
any oranges as I thought you can easily get these in England.
Perhaps you will have one or two to spare to give to the family
and maybe one or two for the ARP post to raffle off for funds
as they have been very good to me since I joined up.
I had a letter from Harold Simons enclosing a couple of writing
pads from Graham Evans so perhaps you will ask Peggy to thank
them and I've written a sea mail in reply.
He told me that Bill Parker (Big Bill from Stuart Street)
is expecting to become a father in December so watch the Mercury
and let me know when it comes off.. He also tells me that Arthur
Hall is at Bradford, Les Kenn at Brinston, Norman White in Sicily,
George Henderson in India and Peter Rooke near Cairo. I'm bound
to meet a Faire Brothers lad before I've finished ! Walter Kirk
is coming abroad with the NAAFI and I guess that will shake him.
I went to the evening service in the church tent last night
and there was a Scottish padre who gave the address. The tent
was full and it's funny how each hymn seems to fit in with each
ones feelings. We have 'Sun of my soul' and 'From Greenland's
Icy mountains' among others and afterwards I went to the quiet
tent and wrote to Harold.
The weather is still quite good and we are still in shorts.
I'm looking forward to the photos you are sending. I only wish
I could get one done of myself but there doesn't seem to be any
chance here. I'll have to tell you what I look like or get one
of the chaps to sketch me. One of the chaps had an airgraph from
his wife with half of it taken up by her photograph. I don't know
how it was done but it came out very well.
I'm often wondering how long it will be before baby Michael
starts trotting along and it must be a job for you at present
watching him. I expect you will soon be getting the playpen out
and then Sheila will love paying in it with him.
I see you have had a siren although nothing happened. You've
not told me yet how the onions are progressing but expect you
have them picked and stored by now. Did Mr. S dig your garden
up. Perhaps it is not clear yet but when he does tell him to give
it a good dose of lime if you have any left. I did my washing
yesterday dinnertime and it's all drying nicely although it's
not quite Persil white.
Well Love., I've not mentioned Sheila and Keith. Tell them Daddy
loves them and all the kisses you have sent on from them have
been taken off the letter by him. I'm longing to get back to you
all again and enjoy home life once again
It seems a miserable day here for Guy Fawkes day with a proper
bit of English weather with
showers every little while and much colder than normally. Still
I prayed for this weather a
short time ago but I'm in the wrong country to enjoy it. Well,
love I will just have to make
the best of it as I know you do in your job.
How are you, love, are you finding the kiddies too much of a
handful now and again. I guess
you must be and the whole job must get on your nerves sometimes.
Don't let yourself get
rundown will you without getting a tonic from Dr. Mann. You know
love that I'm looking
after myself and hoping that the grey hairs on my head don't develop
any more and although
you have a lot more worries on your shoulders just keep faith
and chin up. Sometimes when I
am laying down at night in my hard bed I wonder how long it will
be before I can slip into
the bed at home and feel really content. I don't think I will
want to go camping out ever again
and I shall fee like spending a week in bed to get acclimatised
again and make up for the time
lost. I guess with the three kiddies we shan't be able to toss
up to see who gets up first in the
morning to make the breakfast.
I saw another film last night called 'The Pied Piper' and it
was a good show. I expect most of
the films we see have already been shown in England but as you
know I didn't go much
while I was in England so they are all new to me
How is the family progressing. I am looking forward to the photos
you are sending as I've
just received the first batch of papers and John Bull's. I see
from the Mercury that a chap
named Arthur Mitchell who worked as a postman at Faire Brothers
for years has died. He
had been ill for a long time, I know.
I bet the weather here would just suit Keith as he could paddle
in his Wellingtons very
messily through the stream which is running outside on the road.
I'm wondering how I will
get down to dinner if it doesn't stop soon. Did Sheila get her
Airgraph. I expect Keith will
want another now. and I shall have to send him one.
I see in the news today that their was a 1000 bomber raid on
Willhemshaven. Did you see
many planes going over ? By the way I have just over £4
in credits and £2.10.0 in my pocket
which I accumulated since I have been here so if you have any
money handy at home (I know
you are rolling in it) will you get yourself a Christmas box from
me and also the kiddies and I
will send along about £5 in two or three week's time. I
know Keith is saving for his electric
train but I guess he will be pleased with a present from Santa
Klaus until he can get one. I
leave it to you, love, as I hear that the authorities are allowing
more toys to be made the
Will you be able to get the fairy lights mended as I think they
went wrong last year. Of course
we had other things on our minds then didn't we love. I'll never
forget sitting in the kitchen
that night with Mrs. Brown waiting to know when the new baby would
be born. I hope he
doesn't cry at the sight of the strange man when I come home but
in any case I can quickly
change that, I think. Do you remember Sheila looking frightened
the first time I came home,
Go to next letter from Olive....
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I had three letters today love and spent quite an enjoyable half
hour reading them. First was you airmail dated October 25th and
an airmail letter from our Glad and an airmail from Mam.
I'm glad you enjoyed my birthday greeting love even if it was
a bit early. I hope you got many more greetings and had an exciting
time with Keith and Sheila opening them.
I guess you had a shock with the open front door and the A.R.P.
comes in handy.
Mabel has been a real good pal to us and am glad you are able
to enjoy the little treats you do get through her and Bernice.
We'll have to look after Harry for them now and again when they
go out after the war.
I've heard from Glad about Mrs. Gill and mam tells me Glad doesn't
look very grand herself. It's funny you mentioning about the playpen
for Michael as I mentioned it in one of my letters about the same
time you were writing the letter I've just had. I hope the lemons
arrive in good condition.
You are right I am proud of our family and even more so the mother.
You deserve a break after it's all over and I'll do my best sweetheart
to see you get it.
As regards leave I've not had any yet and it seems to be given
as circumstances permit. If I get any leave I'll see that I am
not ashamed of anything I do. You know you can trust me dear in
One of the chaps has given me a birthday card for Sheila which
I shall post in a few days time, let me know what she thinks of
I've written to Aggie so she might get it while Ernie's on leave.
Goodnight sweetheart all my love to you and the kiddies.
Go to next letter from Olive....
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12th November 1943
Well love, it's Friday, pay-day and I had hoped to have had an
airmail from you so I can find
inspiration. Have you sent me the photos along yet. I'm longing
to see them so I can show
them around to the other chaps and have a good look at them when
I feel a bit homesick.
I have one of my sniffy colds at the moment which make smoking
less of a pleasure than
usual but I had a couple of aspirins last night, put everything
I could over me in bed and feel
much better today.
Did I tell you that we have an EFI canteen here now. It's somewhere
to go and sit in the day
even if it is a long job to get a cup of tea and we generally
just sit down and have a game of
solo. Although we put the scores down on paper we're not paid
out as there is so little in it so
we don't bother.
I had a letter from Bob the other day and I should like you to
clear up one thing. I had his
wife's name down as Hilda instead of Elsie. He had told me in
a previous letter that I think it
was Walter who had been called up for the Navy but now he says
they haven't heard anything
at home about it by October 11th. So Walter, Bob's boy and Dennis
(Who he's given me the
address of in the navy) Harolds lad ? I always did get mixed up
a bit between their families. I
hope you saw Ernie on his leave and he is OK.
I've been sending off as many Christmas Airgraphs as I can get
hold of and have also written
an airmail to Glad in reply to hers, Mam and the birthday card
to Sheila. The nights are
drawing in quickly now as they are at home and we have little
to do in the evening.
By the way, Edie in her letter said that you might teach Michael
better manners as he did a
fire extinguisher act in Winnie's eyes when she came up to see
you. I should like to have
been there to have heard you all singing even if the Mason well
known choir voice was
With regards to staying here, we never know if or when we are
moving but if you don't get
my usual weekly letter you will know that I may have moved to
Still your letters should be forwarded to me. I haven't heard
a report yet about the home
guard since Harry joined but I bet he raised a few laughs over
it. Have you given your notice
to quit the allotment yet ? I expect you are already looking
round the shops to see what you
can get for Christmas. That is if you have the time.
Does Keith still enjoy his school. I can just see him coming
in with his boots dirty after
splashing his way from school and can hardly realise yet that
I have had two winters away
from home. I guess I shall miss you more than ever after this
winter being out here but I feel
it will be the last one and next Christmas I will be helping you
to put your feet up in front of
the decorations as usual.
I heard them give the football fixtures on the wireless last
night and the City are playing
Derby County. I think they lost at home last week and I wonder
if Harry Quinn went to see
them. I've not heard much news of him lately but with night school,
and ARP you don't get
him popping round as often.
Well Keith, how is your schooling going. Do you still take the
register to the Headmistress ?
We have not had any snow here yet. Are you teaching Sheila to
draw on the blackboard ? I
bet she draws some funny things like you did when you were a little
boy. Can she draw
engines yet. I'd like to see Sheila playing with baby Michael
in the play pen and I guess you
have lots of fun. Wait until Michael wants to play with your railway
lines. Still by then I
would think you would have an electric train. Just be a good boy
and look after mummy for
me till I come home and then we can all have a real big holiday
at the seaside altogether and
we will teach Sheila and Michael to make engines and castles in
the sand.. Don't forget to
give mummy lots of kisses for me.
All my love to you and all our family.
What a pleasant surprise when I received your parcel dated October
3rd. It was like opening my xmas stocking and when I saw the pen
you have sent me for Christmas I can't tell you how thrilled I
was. I am sorry I couldn't tell you I had received it in my airmail
letter I sent yesterday but it only arrived this morning and I
posted my airmail yesterday.
This letter is the first effort with the pen and thanks sweetheart
for it. I am certainly a lucky guy and I'll always love you dear
night and day.
I've not heard it on the wireless yet but one or two chaps who
have sang it on stage at camp concerts and it always gives me
an excuse for a daydream.
With the weather cooler and more like England I can't think I'm
so far away from you all and as there is some good scenery in
these parts I can easily imagine myself somewhere in England.
As regards staying here, I really don't know how long it will
be before I shift but I am definitely not attached to HQ for a
posting. I hope to stay on this job for some time as it does mean
I get your mail more or less regularly.
Thanks a lot for the watches you've sent love. I'm absolutely
set up now with the right time on me and a pen to write letters
in comfort in the quiet tent. There is a watch repairers in the
town I shall take my watch to and as one of the chaps has given
me an old watch which may prove useful to bribe the chap to repair
I hope you will soon receive my boxes of lemons and I thought
of getting a packet or two of figs to send along. If I do I don't
forget to give them a rinse before using them although they look
Well love after sending your airmail off last night I also had
your airmail dated November 1st. and I am pleased you had a nice
birthday. I can see Keith saying his card was the best and don't
knock his bowl of flowers off the wall, as I will expect to see
it when I come home to you.
Can you remember the trouble we had with Keith when he was about
the same age as Michael is now. How I used to sit on the stairs
and as soon as he heard the stair creak he'd start shouting again.
It doesn't seem 5 minutes since he was a baby and now Michael
is carrying on the good work. I'm glad I've helped with both him
and Sheila since birth and I shall have to put it down to the
old man's patient ways when 'the old lady' had gone and bumped
her head or tried to produce a Christmas baby that they have turned
out such good kiddies.
I see I am to be the lucky recipient of a family Xmas parcel
and I am looking forward to it already although it will be another
month yet as least before I can hope to receive it. By the way
love, to make your mouth water, I have just eaten three nice little
tangerines and only hope they don't make me loose in my stomach,
as it is awkward in the middle of the night trying to find the
I see you have given me Harry Quinn's address and I shall be
able to drop him a line in a day or so. I'm sorry to hear about
Harry Langdale and I hope to hear either from you or Mabel soon
that he is getting on OK. I hope he's not had to do any Home Guard
stunts already as he may easily knock himself up not being in
form for such rigorous exercises.
They had a gramophone on in the canteen last night and it made
me think of Keith and the gramophone at home. I don't suppose
there is any chance of him getting it mended is there love.
Do you ever see Win Skipper now ? I don't suppose she has been
up lately or you would have mentioned it. I should think Ann is
becoming a nice big girl by now. I bet when you see Wal and Nora
there will be some comparisons of children. Their kiddie must
be getting on now, but I'd back our family against the lot wouldn't
you love. They no doubt mean a lot of extra work and worry especially
for you now on your own, but we'll reap the benefit later on love
and wait till Sheila wants her first dance frock and tries to
show us the latest foxtrot with her boyfriend. He'll have to be
a good lad to get her and I guess I shall be a critical sort of
father when these things start to happen.
Well love I want to get this letter off in the green envelope
and hope it will get home as quickly as an airgraph would.
All my love to you sweetheart. Every word I write with this pen
is full of love for you.
Go to next letter from Olive....
Go to top of page
19th November 1943
Well love as I forgot to number one or two of my last airmails
I have numbered this the number I think it should be and in any
case I can only send one a week as that is all that is allowed.
I'm getting into stride with my pen now and it's working well.
I seem to be having a job getting rid of the last of my cold
and have taken one of the Carr's powders hoping that would put
it right. Most of the lads in the tent seem to have a cold also
and I think the weather has a lot to do with it as in England.
We managed to se a film on Tuesday night called 'Kiss the boys
goodbye' but it wasn't as good as other films I have seen. I had
a seamail letter from mam on Monday and also a letter from Billy
and yesterday I had quite an effort from the Langdale family -
an airgraph each from Mabel, Bernice and Peggy and I've written
a letter to Mabel and will write and airgraph to Bernice and Peggy.
They all tell me how good the photo's are of the family
even if you do think you look fed up on it and I'm hoping to get
it soon myself so I can judge for myself.
Well love I have written all this before asking how you are although
that is the main thought in my mind all the while. I expect you
find the darker nights lonely after the family has gone to bed
and Bernice tells me she has not been up for a week or so and
expects a telling off from you when she does come up. Peggy told
me about Les walking around the room with Michael and enjoyed
it the night they looked after them while you went out. I told
her they had wakened him on purpose.
I've not been able to get into town since I received the watch
but did get a walk down to the sea yesterday. We met some Arab
lads on the way and bought 10 tangerines for 10 francs (1/-) which
we divided up among the chaps when we got back. It was a nice
break for an hour or two and although we were warm by the time
we got back the change certainly made us sleep better last night.
I introduced two of the chaps into the card game we used to play
at home you know the one which three play and have 17 cards each,
6 faced downwards, 6 faced upwards and 5 in the hand. They quite
enjoyed it for a change from solo which we generally play although
we never pay out what little we owe each other at the end of the
evening as the smallest note here is 5 francs (6d), everyone says
' oh let it slide'.
I backed a loser last night as we were going to the film show
and as there wasn't one on we went to the whist drive and as soon
as I got into the tent where it was being held they asked for
a volunteer to fetch the big lamp from the padre's tent. Of course
Billy Muggins Mason went and when I got back with it the drive
had started without me and I didn't get a game. Just my luck eh.
Still I had an early night and got into bed about 8.15pm.
It's surprising what little things we argue about when in bed.
We were talking about the population of various places and one
of the chaps said Birmingham has a population of 3,000,000
or thereabouts and a lad from Manchester he didn't think it was
much over a million. Perhaps you will settle it for us by checking
in our encyclopedia and let me know the population of Birmingham,
Manchester and Liverpool.
We are as good as a Brains Trust when we get going and as there
is a lad from Birmingham, one from Leeds, two from London and
one from down south somewhere and topics include Russia and if
we are helping her enough, music and football. One of the chaps
mimics Churchill very well and when he's made a speech in London
we get this chap to give us the dope and he gives a good entertaining
I don't know if you have had the lemons yet but you should get
them anytime now.
I should think Sheila will soon be getting excited about her
birthday and I hope my card doesn't arrive a lot too soon. Still
you might be able to hang onto it till her birthday and slip it
through he door then. I hear Keith is being a good boy and Sheila
is a rascal, it used to be just the opposite. Mam told me about
him laying the table for tea when she came up with Mabel and it
reminds me of his previous efforts when he poked the fire as well.
I guess the garden is looking rather bare at the moment except
for the cabbages. I've not had any since I came here and our second
veg is generally beans or peas with carrots as a luxury (for some)
now and again. Don't forget to plant the bulbs we dug out and I'm expecting to see a good show when I come home next June.
Won't there be a lot of kisses in hand. Are you still receiving
them ? Don't forget it includes Michael's and let me know when
he starts walking
Goodnight sweetheart and sweet dreams All my love to you and
Go to next letter from Olive....
Go to top of page
20th November 1943
Well love it generally happens that as soon as I've sealed and
sent off a letter to you, one arrives from you soon afterwards
and so I'm answering yours dated 9th November which I received
You seem to have had a bit of trouble with the family one way
or another and I hope that the bout of sickness has gone and you
are all OK again. I should have loved to have seen Sheila's face
when the airgrammes arrived and to see her cuddling it and showing
it around. Unfortunately we cannot get as many airgraphs as we
would like or I would send them to the Kiddies more often.
I'm pleased that you have at least received my little gift
and like it. I think you will need it to make yourself pretty
when the train pulls into the station but you may want to touch
your lips up a bit afterwards and your cheeks also. I guess you
had a nice long chat with Mr. prendergast and his wife when he
came to see you and it was good of them to make a special journey.
I did receive your letter about the garden now I come to
think back and hope if you don't fancy onions for a few months,
I can help you out with them. I'm sorry that I've not sent any
oranges home as I thought you would have plenty but if I can get
any during next week at that 'nice place' which may look nice
in the picture postcards but smells too much for me of Arabs and
sewage odours. I will try to send a box off.
I've only seen a few miles of North African scenery since I came
here and although at times it looks grand, especially around sunset,
I'd rather see the sun setting over the back of Brading Road.
I bet you had a shock when Keith met you with his face
all covered in blood I guess that it must have been a good bang.
He certainly comes out with some old fashioned expressions.
I had three airgraphs from the Langdale family yesterday.
One each from Bernice, Peggy and Mabel. Also a sea letter and
an airmail from Mam. I've replied to Bernice by Airgraph and Mabel
by Seamail and I'd written to Mam just before I received hers.
I hope by now you will have had the lemons and if you haven't
perhaps you could write to Mrs Dickinson, 85 Pamela Road, Northfields,
Birmingham to see if she has had hers from her husband who I'm
working with and to swop notes with each other as to how we are
enjoying this life(?) etc according to each point of view. I know
that she would be interested to hear from you and as they have
two children so we are both old family men, I guess we both have
a lot in common.
I thought I told you that e best thing to do with the 10/-
is to put it with the money I told you to spend and which I'd
send on soon through the paymaster.
I guess the lads have been taking Sheila to play at 'Halt
who goes there' and it's a good job that she is not on guard here
as she would soon shoot the whole crowd.
Bernice tells me that she expects a telling off for not
coming to see you for a week since Les and Peggy have had a taste
of married life waltzing Michael around. Still I think it would
be a novelty for them and I guess that they enjoyed it.
I don't think I will send the photographs by airgraph as
the forms are folded before they are delivered and rather spoil
it. Of course if you had a spare one it would be OK. I guess Michael
will have changed a lot and it won't be long now before he is
toddling around. Mabel said that Keith thought at first that Harry
in his Home Guard uniform was me and I bet it was a big disappointment
for him. I also here from Mam that Alf has joined the Home Guard
and it should do him a lot of good if he can stand up to the training.
My old pal, Agnes, seems to have let me down as I have
not heard from her since I came out here. Still I guess when she
does write it will be a long epistle with lots of news about Faire
Brothers and I'll give her another week or so before wiping her
off my mailing list.
I held this letter back last night in case I had a letter from
you and I am pleased I did for I've just had your airmail from
the 17th. As you say it's easy for me to picture you all at home
especially with you giving me all the little details and I wish
I could say as much myself.
Life here follows a daily routine which doesn't vary much. We
now get reveille at 7am and soon after roll out of our blankets
from our beds on Mother Earth. We now have an extra blanket and
keep quite warm with the tent locked up a wash and a shave at
the open air wash stand and we are ready for breakfast at 7.45am.
we always have porridge, sometimes made with oats and other times
with crushed biscuits. We sometimes get bacon and beans or bacon
and fried bread which keeps us going until about 10am when we
get half a mug of tea. As I am working in a decent hut with matting
on the floor we are pretty comfortable and there are about 6 of
us in the office so I have plenty of company.
We knock off for dinner at 12.30pm and get the usual dinner of
stew and dehydrated potatoes and peas or beans, and follow on
with rice pudding or duff or sometimes stewed fruit and custard.
We start our letter writing in the dinner hour usually and after
our afternoon work we have tea at 4.45pm when we have finished
for the day unless there is something and we have to work late.
After tea we read any letters which may have come and as the
battalion post office is at the back of our hut we always get
them quickly. We watch the bags of mail with interest and hope
for the best each day when there is some in.
On Sundays I always go to church at night and then into the quiet
tent for a read about 7.45pm. Mondays there is sometimes a show
or a quiz which we attend and get quite a bit of fun out of. If
there is no show we usually go to the canteen to see if we can
get a bar of chocolate before having a game of solo and listening
to the news at 9pm. We are generally in bed for 10.pm and sometimes
have a chat for about half an hour before dropping off to sleep.
The scenery is pretty good with hills covered with trees and
there are some lovely dawns and sunsets. I always feel closer
to you sweetheart in the evening especially when I go to bed as
I can picture you straightening up for the night, putting the
kiddies clothes away and sitting down for half an hours relaxation.
Keith seems to be doing well at school and although I know the
snow is a nuisance I hope he manages to get one snowman during
the winter. I can see Sheila helping him a bit this winter. I
have sent Keith an airgraph which I hope by now he will have received.
Sheila certainly is making a fuss of hers and I'm longing to hear
what she thought to her birthday card.
I have sent Christmas greetings to all of the family I could
remember, if I missed anyone out wish them the best from me love.
I've just had an airgraph from Mr. Coates and he tells me Mr.
Fawkes is seriously ill. I'd write him a line if I knew his address.
Perhaps Peggy could get it for you to pass it on. Agnes has also
sent me a letter and a xmas card, also enclosing a 2/6d postal
order which I doubt if I will be able to change out here in any
case I'm not short of money in this dump.
I'm sorry to hear about Mrs. Brown and hope to hear in your next
letter she is now getting better. She's been a good pal to us
and I'll always remember last Christmas night when she sat in
the kitchen with me waiting for Michael to arrive and how good
she was to us.
So Mrs. Woodcock is trying to catch us up eh. I guess with Christine
being taken away it must have been a shock to her and if she does
find the baby can't be avoided tell her it will make her even
with the Browns and the Masons and we'll all be in the same boat
together. I think I shall have to arrange a communal celebration
of the three families when we all get home again.
I hope you are looking after yourself love and don't let the
war give you that ' What's the use' feeling. I know your making
a grand job with the family but don't forget that to me you are the most important member and I'm looking after myself to
be worthy of you when that day dawns
It seems funny out here with the weather more like April than
nearly December. I hope to have my first game of football tomorrow
and guess I shall feel stiff afterwards as I've not had a game
We saw part of the film' 100 men and a girl' the other night
but the film broke down before it had finished. We also saw 'Rookies'
with Abbott and Costello last night and it had some good laughs
in it. When '100 men and a girl' broke down one of the chaps shouted "never mind about the 100 men give us the girl" and there was
a big laugh from everyone.
I don't know the song ' Coming in on a wing and a song' that
Sheila sings and I hope she remembers all of them to sing to me.
You know love it's a grand thing I can picture all the little
doings at home. I miss you all so much love and there's so much
I can never get back in watching the kiddies change. Still we'll
just carry on to the best of our ability and keep our chins up
and I believe it will be the only Xmas I shan't be with you in
the flesh but I'm always with you in thoughts love wherever I
Goodnight love and god bless you and the kiddies.
Well love December is here, more like September here with the
weather and I guess this month we shall feel the parting more
than ever with Christmas away from each other for the first time
and Sheila's and Michael's birthdays this month also.
I hope Sheila's card has arrived or arrives in time and I can
see her making a big fuss of it.
One of the lads managed to get a box of oranges and a box of
figs which I am sending off at once although I don't know if the
oranges will keep as they are not so green as I would have liked.
I've just had a batch of papers from you and an airgraph from
Arthur Hall who has been posted to my old depot where he understands
Bill Parker now is. There was a big bag of mail in yesterday and
I wondered if I should get one from you or if the photo's would
arrive but was unlucky. The last letter from you was dated November
17th which I had last Thursday.
I hope you are keeping well love and finding comfort in the family
during my absence. I hope your arm isn't troubling you too much
and the kiddies keeping well to allow you to get down for treatment.
I couldn't get my watch repaired but yours is keeping pretty
good time so I am OK. The pen is doing good work and I'm still
wondering how you managed to get hold of it.
I am hoping to do a spot of washing later as the sun is quite
warm. We saw a film 'Love Crazy' last night with William Powell.
It was a good laugh and well worth watching.
Well love I guess I will have to close. Goodnight sweetheart
and God bless you and the kiddies.
Well love how are you this morning. I can imagine you about this
time getting the dinner ready
with Michael in his pram asleep and maybe Sheila having an hour
also or does she leave it until
the afternoon. I expect you are feeling it a bit out the
back but hope you still get a bit of
sunshine even if it is cold.
I have suddenly realised it is Sheila's birthday on Sunday and
she will be getting her cards
tomorrow. Is she getting excited as you told me you had promised
to put up the trimmings which Mrs Sutton had given her on
the Christmas tree. It is nice and sunny here and not too warm
but the sky is clear and although it gets cold at night we don't
need a top coat yet.
One of the chaps went into town yesterday and bought me a box
of oranges and a box of figs. I have sent off both to you, a small
bracelet for Sheila and a little book of pictures which I though
Keith might like before passing on the Sheila. I can't find anything
suitable for him yet but I'm still hoping to later on. I expect
they will take at least six weeks to get home and as the oranges
are riper than I would have liked they might be going bad by the
time they land.
lso the beads for you have the cotton broken so mind when you
take them out of the tobacco tin. Also don't forget to give the
figs a good washing before using although they should be OK it
is always advisable.
We are still finding tinned stuff but I think fresh vegetables
will be coming in and if it's cooked
OK it will make a pleasant change to beans and tinned carrots.
We went to t film shown in the
NAFFI canteen last night and saw George Formby in 'Get cracking'.
There is always a full house at these shows and it is a work of
art getting a good seat. We were out at 7.45pm and went from there
to a whist drive which is run in one of the mess tents. They have
one each week for the Red Cross and we pay 5 franc which includes
a good game, a cake, tea and a chance of winning a prize which
are given a value of about 10/-, 7/6 and 5/-.
I've heard about a south African firm which we can send a postal
order to and they will send
direct to any address a parcel of fruit or chocolate and sweets
so I might be getting in touch with them soon when I've drawn
my next week's wages.
I seem to be short of mail this week as it's eight days since
I heard from you and all I've had is an airgraph from Arthur Hall.
Still we often find the mail patchy and I expect you do the same.
One of the runners who works here traced four pictures from books
which I chose and I hope you'll like it as my idea of how the
family is looking. I should like to see how it comes out on an
airgraph and if you don't find the kiddies want to keep it or
you don't want to frame it I would
like to see how it comes out so you could perhaps send it along
in a sea letter or in any case keep it so I can see it when I
return to you.
I just had a letter and a Christmas card with a slip on to take
me back when the time comes. I'm keeping all I receive till after
Christmas and then I'll send them on to you so you can see them.
She tells me both Sid's wife (Gertie) and Jack's wife (Pat) are
expecting a happy event at the end of February.
They have just passed over some airmails but the only one for
me was from Keith. I was sorry to hear of the death of Mr.
Fawkes as although I had heard he was ill, I hadn't realised he
was so bad. He has been a good sort to me ever since I went to
Faires and it has come as rather a shock. I think I shall send
a few lines to Mrs. Fawkes in the next day or so.
Well love, how's the family ? Have you had enough snow yet for
Keith's snowman. I hope he will find time to send me another letter
soon. Is he teaching Sheila how to draw and can she draw engines
yet ? I expect you are all getting a lot of fun out of baby Michael
these days and I guess she will soon be toddling about by himself
and you will need about four pairs of eyes to watch them all.
Shan't we have a good time with them all at the seaside. I keep
on as you do sweetheart with one thing in mind, the return to
you and all that it means and I believe and pray that day is not
too far away. This December it will be a case of I'm dreaming
of a white Christmas and when I'm at communion on Christmas morning
I'll feel very close to you. I know that a few hundred miles separates
us according to the map but I never feel as far away as that and
I'm glad that your letters give me so many glimpses of you all
to carry me on.
LETTER WRITTEN SAME DATE TO HIS MOTHER AND FATHER
3rd December 1943
Dear Mother and Dad
I'm sitting writing this on a pleasant Sunday afternoon somewhere
in N. Africa where the sun is as powerful today as in June in
England. I am fit and well and settling down to the new conditions
which are entirely different to home and take a bit of getting
used to. I expect you would like to be able to buy grapes as cheaply
as we do but I should like many of the things you have in England.
I have managed to get two bathes in the Med since I came
here and I must say it was grand. However I don't have much time
for such luxuries at the moment. I heard from Olive that Ernie
was in hospital and I have written to him. I have also written
to Bob in Gibralter. I guess he has heard from home that I am
out here now.
I should have liked a snap of me in shorts to send home but so
far have not had a chance of one being taken.I hope you are both
well and that the weather at home has allowed you to get about
I guess I'd better close. Love Eric.
I have just received your airmail dated Nov 24th and am sorry
to hear you have had tonsillitis
and hope by now you and the kiddies are all about OK again. It
was funny you saying about the letter arriving on Sheila's birthday.
As a matter of fact I got it last night after getting in bed and
I lit the candle to read it over. I had felt a bit more homesick
than usual all day. I suppose it was with it being Sheila's birthday
and at church on Sunday I didn't seem able to keep my mind on
the service as my thoughts kept drifting home to you and picturing
her birthday with the
Christmas tree decorated for the first time with it's new trimmings
and all the excitement of
getting her birthday cards,(including mine, I hope) and hearing
what she had to say about it all. I can just picture her dressing
up as a nurse and she understates the case when she says 'Eila's
nice'. She's grand and a lovely lump of loveliness and I'll always
thank God we were blessed with her especially after us being so
concerned about having her.
I'm glad Keith seems to be doing so well at school and I guess
he will alter his mind about a
scholarship in a couple of years time. You will have to get John
to tell him about all the good
times he has at the Wyggeston. I have had letters and Christmas
cards from Billy, John and Eric and a letter from Mam and I can
see I've got a busy time ahead of me replying to them all.
They all tell me how much Sheila enjoyed her Airgraph and mam
says when she is told about
doing anything wrong she just says 'Eila's sorry' and that's the
finish of it. I had heard about Mr
Fawkes from Kath.
I saw two good films this week one with James Cagney 'City
for Conquest' in the open air on
Saturday night and Rosalind Russell in 'My sister Eileen' last
night. I don't know if this last film
has been shown in Leicester but if it does come it's worth seeing
as a change from war stuff. I
found myself rather stiff sitting down for an hour and a half
as I had had a game of football in
the afternoon. I'm sorry to say we lost again 5 - 2 but I did
manage to get one. I find myself very much out of puff and playing
on sand is much harder than on grass. Still it's good exercise
after sitting around all week. The last week has been really nice
weather and today I have washed out a shirt, towel and socks besides
two handkerchiefs and hope they will be dry before sun down.
By the way love, I shouldn't bother to send John Bulls and Sunday
Expresses out but I should
like a Leicester Mercury now and again. Will you tell mam sea
mail takes 4 - 5 weeks airgraphs about 15 days and airmail 7 -10
days. Parcels seem to take anything from 5 weeks to three months.
Well love, the news is good if not sensational and I expect
as the allies get moved out of Italy
we may get moved. I shall send each week as usual one airmail
and at least one airgraph and if I do move I'll send the new address
as soon as possible. I've been lucky so far in staying at the
same address and shall have forgotten what I know about depot
work when I get in one again. I think Keith must be doing a lot
of thinking on the quiet and his message to me 'Isn't god good
letting us win the war' just about fits in with my thoughts. We
certainly are winning now and if it
seems that the end is further off than ever don't lose faith and
let it get you down. We have so
much to look forward to together to let that happen when the end
is in sight.Well love, it's
getting dark in the office now and I'm getting to the end of my
little talk with you so I'll have to
close. I expect it will be Christmas when you get this and I shall
be with you all the time dear
9th December 1943
Well love I've had my Christmas parcels and I felt like I was
opening my Christmas stocking
when I brought out the different gifts. Of course the photographs
were the first items to be
studies and while I can see the hint of sadness in your face you
also seem to tell me to come
home quickly and the smile will break through. They were lovely
photos and I've shown
them round to all the chaps who say what a grand family I have
got. Baby Michael certainly
looks bonny with his chubby lips and I guess he will be the biggest
of the lot. Sheila still
looks a wee bit serious the same as the last photo but it's just
her and it's lovely. Keith they
say takes after me and he seems to have grown quite a bit since
the other photo last June. He
seems really grown up and takes a good photo. He always seems
to have that little smile and
with these before me I shall never be lonely.
After checking all the gifts I can see that I will have no excuse
for going unshaven or not
having my hair nicely parted, no excuse for not writing to you
all at home and even a pencil
to use when the ink runs dry in my pen. You know, love, that pencil
and Keith's comb case
makes me feel a bit homesick as I've seen you writing so many
grocery lists with it and can
see Keith sewing the comb case so diligently. Thank him very much
for it, it is just what I
wanted with the comb as I lost one and only had about six prongs
on the other.
The Christmas card is lovely and you should see the row of them
I have on the wall behind
me. I bet I have more than you do by the time I finish. I've all
ready had plenty of chaps
wanting to borrow the books but I'm not parting with them until
I've read them all and have
put my name in so I shall not lose sight of them. Thank Mam and
Mabel for them for me will
you love until I can write to them myself and also Mrs Quinn for
the writing pad which I am
very glad to have.
I can see that I can afford to have at least two washes and shave
each day with so much soap
and shaving materials to hand. Please also thank Peggy and Les
for their gift. It was a good
thought of Peggy to send refills for the pencil as I was wondering
how I should manage
without. Faire Brothers still comes in useful after all. Altogether
the parcel was a grand gift
from you all love and although it will be the first Christmas
I have spent abroad, I shall feel
near to you all the while. I've replied to Mam, Billy, Eric and
John in reply to their letters and
Christmas cards and at the moment I'm up to date with my correspondence.
We went for a walk last night as it was a lovely night with nearly
a full moon and some of the
scenery is grand. One of the chaps says it reminds him a little
of the Lake District or the
Yorkshire Moors and it was pleasant change after sitting down
most of the day. We saw a
cowboy picture on Thursday which I am sure would have suited Keith.
It was 'Wild Bill
Hickock Rides Again' and never have so many villains been shot
with so few bullets by one
hero. Still it was not too bad and passed an evening away.
The weather has been grand this last week and I guess you thin
that I'm lucky but I'd much
sooner be sitting with you, dear, helping you to get the supper
with a few fritters or some
cheese and sauce even if it was raining hard and it wasn't fit
to turn a dog out.You would
have laughed to see me making a hurried exit from the tent the
other night about 4.30a.m. to
visit the lav. as we had had fresh meat for dinner and our stomachs
don't seem used to it after
all the tinned stuff. It seemed that half the camp was on the
same errand. It was a good job it
was moonlight so we could see our way. I'm hoping by now that
the first box of lemons have
arrived in good condition and will come in handy as much as the
throat sweets you have sent
to me and which I forgot to thank you for. Well love I've had
two airmail letters issued this
week so I'm hoping to send the other one about Monday. Until then,
god bless you and the kiddies. A happy Christmas love and all
my love to you. Keep your
chin up and we'll win through.
12th December 1943
I am writing this letter to you to tell you of a way we have
found to send a few sweets etc
home to you. You will see from the enclosed that I have sent a
postal order for 25/- with the
order to a South Africa firm who will arrange to dispatch the
articles required to the address
As only one parcel is allowed to one address of a total overall
weight of 5lbs I had to have
two parcels made and have asked them to send the other to Mabel's.
Of course it is for you
too and I don't think Mabel will mind it being sent to her address.
Perhaps you will be able to
let the family have a little bit out of the parcels and I thought
that barley sugar would be
handy for our kiddies and hope you will enjoy the glazed fruits.
perhaps your Mam would
like a bit of the chocolate and the boiled sweets would come in
handy all round.
I expect it will take about 6 - 7 weeks before you get them and
if they should be unable to
supply and send you the Postal Order, buy something for yourself
out of it from me.
I hope you soon receive the money from the paymaster £6.0.0.
which I sent through and will
let me know when you do. Also when the box of lemons (2) and the
other box free of duty I
sent along recently. Of course anything might happen to them in
transit but I'm hoping for
Well love it's only 12 days to Christmas day and I think tonight
I will go to carol practice
which is being held in the church tent. I went to the evening
service last night as usual and
the corporal I am working with went with me. It was crowded as
usual and I think he was
surprised at the number as it was his first attendance. Afterwards
we had a read and for some
time watched the moon which was a full one and I've never seen
such a lovelier sight out
here. The light from it was tingeing the clouds near it with a
sort of orangy brown I have not
seen at home and I can only thing that it is a reflection of the
sand in the clouds which does
it. I was thinking of you all and wondered whether it was as nice
a night at home.
We went a walk the other evening and passed quite a few Arab
huts which were rather
primitive but they do do their best to cultivate what land they
have. It seemed so peaceful
with the hills all around us and trees covering the slopes and
it was hard to realise that this is
On Sunday afternoon I had my third game of football for
H>Q> and we managed to win by
2-1. I did manage to score the winning goal about two minutes
from the end although it was a
gift and I'm hoping the exercise will do me good as I don't get
much during the day in this
I've read two of the books which you sent along to me from Mam
and Mabel and am using
the Shavex for a change from the ordinary soap besides using the
propelling pencil you sent.
Tell Keith how much daddy likes the Christmas card from him and
Sheila and Mike and I'll
be sending them an Airgraph soon. The mail at the moment from
England is very slow. I'm
hoping a big batch of letters the Post Office have just had will
contain one from you which I
can reply to
15th December 1943
Well love, only nine more shopping days for Christmas and I guess
you won't get this before
then so I'll start with a Happy Christmas to you darling and I
hope you have lots of fun with
the kiddies and you all keep well so you can enjoy it properly.
I'd willingly go through the
same lot as we had last Christmas and we never expected, love,
the little baby you presented
me with after so much pain would turn out to be such a fine big
youngster. Wish him many
happy returns of the day for me love and of course let me know
if he walks by then.
I can see that you have been very busy buying presents for them
all but don't forget yourself.
I hope that the money which is on the way to you will cover a
Christmas box to you as well. I
have taken a note of Aggies address and have cheered up about
Bob and Percy's wives and
families. I had a letter from Bob yesterday and he is very well
although we are all longing to
be back home again. I also had an airmail from Bill part of which
was written by Janet and I
hear that they will be coming to Leicester at Christmas..
I had hoped that by Christmas you would have received Sheila's
birthday card. I also sent one
box of lemons but I know that the Christmas rush has held up a
lot of the stuff at both ends.
Your airmail which I had yesterday, too 14 days which is a lot
longer than usual and I haven't
had any more until yesterday for about 10 days. I did receive
you Xmas parcel and have
written back to you. The photos are the best Christmas box I could
have received. Everyone
says what a lucky chap I am to have such a nice looking and healthy
family and am certainly
proud of you all especially you love so you have had the job on
your own of bringing them up
and a grand job you have made of it.
I often dream about all of you love and sometimes it is
so real. I feel real homesick when I
wake up to find I am not at home with you.
I guess our dreams will come true before so very long and I almost
feel afraid sometimes to
look forward too much as I am sure we shan't realise everything
is peaceful and normal again
until we've been together again for a few weeks and shall have
the feeling that the leave is up
and I shall be going back to the army.
We had our first carol practice on Monday night and there were
about 18 of us there. After
deciding which parts we were to sing, we practised 'O come all
ye faithful' 'Good King
Wenceleslas' and 'Hark the Herald angels sing' and then finished
for the evening. We have
another practice tonight and it is certainly a change which I
am enjoying. If this gets to you
before Christmas, think of us singing them to you. Tell Keith,
daddy will see that he doesn't
get cramp again when he comes home and teach him how to rub himself
to get better without
calling you. He seems to be growing up so fast and I'm glad he's
teaching Sheila. I guess he
will be a proud lad when he takes her to school for the first
time and I'll be then to see him
by then. I'm sorry to hear about Mrs Gill's death although after
so much suffering it is for the
best. I shall always remember the good times we had up there when
I was a kid pea picking.
I've not been into town for three weeks but one of the chaps
who went yesterday said that
there was very little display of Christmas gifts and what there
was was not very good and not
suitable to stand up to a sea voyage back to England.
The weather is still pretty good on the whole although it's rather
cold at night. We still have
some grand displays of lightening at night and some really
strong winds. I've settle the
argument about the population of Birmingham and it's peaceful
here again in that direction. I
went to see and outside show last night called 'Brother Orchid'
with Edward G Robinson and
one of the chaps had brought oranges back from the town so we
sat there and enjoyed them
thinking how you would have enjoyed one or two yourself.
Well look after yourself for me and keep you safe until I'm with
19th December 1943
I was very pleased to get your airmail dated December 8th and I
can see Sheila had a wonderful time at her birthday party and the
description of all the good things you had for tea makes my mouth
water. As John said I'd loved to have been there. They are certainly
being well looked after by you love and I hope that by now you are
all free from colds and looking forward to your Christmas. I'm sorry
Sheila didn't get my birthday card in time and hope by now she has
I've forgotten to send baby Michael a birthday greeting for boxing
day but you know I love him just as much and will be with you
in thoughts all of the holiday. I shall have to make believe the
Christmas dinner we have is the same as I had last year and I
should just love it to be true. How is Mrs. Woodcock by the way.
The weather today is as much like English weather as anyone could
wish for. Driving rain, a mist which hangs about 30ft above the
ground and everywhere wet and chilly. Our football match for this
afternoon was cancelled so I had a good hot shower and feel nice
and clean again.
There was a grand film on at the camp last night. 'Random Harvest',
remember it love? The only thing that made it different out here
was that every time anything approaching a love scene came along
some of the blokes had to pass one or two remarks which took a
bit of attention off the picture. Still it was very enjoyable.
We had our usual carol practise on Friday night and from 8pm
until 9.30pm about eighteen of us were singing the usual carols
which everyone knows. Of course we let our enthusiasm get the
better of us now and again and sing too loud in the soft parts
but I think we shall make a grand show on Christmas eve.
We have started to get porridge again for breakfast after about
a fortnight without and for dinner today we had fresh meat, tinned
potatoes, chopped turnip, onions and peas with some very nice
thick gravy, and a bit of steamed pudding and sauce for sweet.
We are getting more oranges, mostly tangerines, and we average
about two a day as sometimes we buy them from the NAAFI canteen.
By the way love I think most of the APO letters must have been
lost or destroyed as I never had any and Cpl Dickinson who I work
with hasn't had any also. I expect in years to come when the war
is just a memory they will catch up with me at 2 Culver Road and
we'll have some fun reading them out together. I forgot to mention
I had your airgraph Christmas greetings love also Keith's and
although yours came through very faint I could just make out your
message and I pray that next year I can send you one which I can
write at home when your not looking.
Keith seems to have turned poet in his and tell him I think it's
very nice and thank him very much. I notice he still prints his
d's as b's but I can understand what he means and I expect
he'll correct it in time. I've just had airgraph greetings from
Mabel and family, your Glad and Gladys Wells at Faire Brothers.
I also had a letter and a Gibralter Rock magazine from Bob which
I shall have to answer in the next day or so.
So Bill Parker has a daughter. I think all the old gang are now
daddies and I bet he will be every bit as fussy about it
as Wal and Nora were about theirs and if we only knew we were
about Keith. I know one thing they will have to do well to get
together such a swell family as we have.
We haven't seen Churchill out here and doubt very much if we
shall. I'm pleased to hear he seems to be getting on and it would
be a great loss if anything happened to him. I think the man to
take his place when the time comes would be Anthony Eden.
Well love its now Monday and I'm trying to get this finished
early before I start the daily routine. We had another good service
last night in the church tent and followed with the usual carol
practise. We had all the old ones and one I think I remember Keith
learning at school ' O little Town of Bethlehem'. I didn't know it but soon learnt the tune and words and it is
very nice. We also had ' Gloria in Exceliss' and we could do with
a few voices like Peggy's to help us as there doesn't seem to
be any natural alto's in the camp.
Well love I guess I shall have to close. Look after yourself
sweetheart and the kiddies for me. All my love night and day and
it won't be long now.
Go to next letter from Olive....
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24th December 1943
Well love, here I am on Christmas Eve sitting before a flickering
light about 6 p.m. with the
night slowly closing in writing these few words of love and cheer
to you as we approach the
first Christmas day when we won't see each other. I can hardly
realise it is Christmas with
the tree green all round and although it is a little cold at night
still warm enough in the day
for English April weather.
I feel a bit homesick, love, as I think about you at this time
getting Michael ready for bed
soon to be followed by Sheila and then by Keith. I guess they
are all excited at the thought of
what will be in their pillow slips when they wake up in the morning
and I thin it is one of the
loveliest days of the year.
We have had some experiences at Christmas, dear, and I pray with
all my heart that next year
will be spent with you and the kiddies. You know love, I've missed
a lot of Sheila's lovely
ways since she was small and Keith's progress at school. I know
how hard it has been for you
sweetheart on your own and you will always be able to look back
in the years of peace ahead
at the grand job you have made. God give you the strength to carry
on till I return to share it
with you. I know you will also feel lonely this holiday and I
will be thinking of you all the
Our Christmas arrangements are simple and I'm afraid that it
is no good hanging up our
stockings. We have a carol service tonight at 8.0pm and have several
carols to sing which
take me back to St. Augustines about 25 years ago. I think the
one I shall enjoy most is 'Holy
Night which I have always liked. I hear that we are due for a
good dinner tomorrow but I
shall be working in the morning at least after communion at 9.0a.m.
There are concerts,
Housey, Housey and a whist drive on in the evening and Sunday
will no doubt be like any
We have spent three evenings this week practising for the carol
service tonight and as there
has not been any film shows this week I have spent a lot of time
reading a book called 'O
Absalom' which is a good story and all the chaps here have read
it in turn. I have not finished
it yet but hope to do so in the next few evenings.
The weather is pretty decent at the moment and I can see no likelihood
of snow to make it a
white Christmas. I don't seem to have had any mail lately and
guess there is a hold up again
somewhere. I did have a Christmas Airgram from your Gladys on
Monday but nothing since.
Still I expect I will get a pile of letters when they do come.
I don't think we are sending any
mail off from here on Christmas day so I thing I will leave the
rest of this letter until
tomorrow and tell you how our carol service went off.
Just think of me love the Christmas Eve at home with you in thought
whatever you are doing
clearing the tea table, making up the fire, filling the stockings
and later on having a few
minutes rest before supper. Goodnight darling, I love you always.
Happy Christmas, love. I've just had a grand dinner of Turkey,
Chicken, Pork, peas, stuffing
and apple sauce with Christmas pudding to follow and I enjoyed
every bit of it. We were also
given a bottle of beer each by the C.O. which I shall drink tonight.
I must say it's the best
Christmas dinner I have ever had and the cooks certainly did their
stuff. I don't think there
will be much work done this afternoon and I think I shall
take a walk to settle the food down
We had our carol service last night and I think everyone enjoyed
it. The new church hut had
been completed in time and is a nissen type hut like those at
the top of Anstey Lane. The altar
coverings had been made by women who are at the YMCA and the Padre
and some helpers
had transformed the place into a regular cosy church. There were
about eighteen of u in the
choir and about 100 or so troops turned up. We sang the carols
with great vigour for over an
hour and then came back to our beds. I was in bed before 10.0pm
and lay for a log time
thinking of you all. I guess the kiddies will be busy sorting
out their presents and you won't
have much peace but I know you'll be as happy watching them as
the little arguments crop up
when Keith tries to show Sheila how one of her toys works.
Well dear I will have to close. Just look after yourselves for
me and God bless you and the
kiddies and keep you safe. Let me know what you have all been
doing this Christmas.
28th December 1943
Well love how are you. I guess you are feeling rather tired by
today after all the Christmas excitement and I'm longing to have
your letter which you might be writing at the same time as I am
writing this (about 8.45pm.) to tell me how the kiddies enjoyed
it all and what they had. I hope you have managed to shake off
your cold as it is hard enough work for you in good health and
I can see from your airmails had on Christmas day you hadn't been
up to scratch. I think I told you that I had six airmails altogether
and so far I've managed to send replies to Edith Evans, Sid and
Gertie and an Airgraph to Bernie in case her other one got lost.
I've also had a letter from Sid Baker at Weedon. I have sent an
airmail to Winnie and Arthur.
Well love we have settled into our routine. On Sunday I
had another game of football and felt rather stiff in my springless
bed at night. Of course love I still kid myself that I can still
do my share and don't want to come home looking like a seedy old
man. You know, love, I will want to have a might out each week
with you and make up for the lonely time you are spending on your
We went as walk up the road from here towards the hills
and there are several Arab dwellings scattered about. You would
feel sorry for the kiddies as although it is not as cold here
as it is at home, they wear little good clothing and are always
barefooted. They have nice eyes and are very friendly. When we
had walked two miles we had a rest at the side of the road and
watched the Arabs ploughing the fields with ancient ploughs drawn
by two or more Oxon. An Arab lad who was not much bigger than
Sheila came and squatted down near us and we tried to get him
to talk. He knew several words of English and proud dad thought
he would show him his family photographs so he could seen what
kiddies in England looked like.
He was delighted and repeated 'boy' after me for Keith
and 'Girlee' for Sheila and ' mummy and baby' for you and Michael.
I would love you to have seen us, four chaps just sitting
watching over a valley about five or six miles wide with the hills
stretching all around. It reminds me more of England at this time
of year as grass in growing in some parts and plant similar to
buttercups and daisies are growing and there are a lot of birds
which look like Wagtails.
We heard yesterday about the Scharnhorst being sunk and
it's thing like that which help. |I feel big things are going
to happen early in 1944 especially from England and I shouldn't
be surprised any time to hear that the second front has started.
I guess in due course the temporary job here will finish and we
may go to the same place as the other RAOC who came here with
us. I have enjoyed it here although there is so little to do at
night except go to bed and as we were only going to stay here
two or three weeks in the first place we haven't done so bad and
knowing the army methods we never know how long it will be before
they suddenly remember that we are still here.
By the way let me know how long it takes this letter takes
as I'm sending it in a green envelope by itself. I write the weekly
airmail letter and one or two Airgraphs in the week so when I
put three letters in a green envelope they seem to take about
a month to arrive. The only thing about an airgraph, I can't say
much on it. I've often wondered if you can read the small writing
when you do get one.
I'm hoping you have the lemons any time now and you should
soon be having the oranges as well I sent. There is one box of
them and since then I sent a box of figs which should keep anyway.
I guess it will be about the end of January before you receive
the sweets which I hope will arrive from that firm in Cape Town.
I don't want you to worry about me on top of your other worries.
I'm quite OK and just carry on knowing that each day that passes
is one day near. I lay on my bed after making it up on Christmas
day and just day dreamed about what was happening at home about
the same time.
I haven't been into town in ages and despair of getting
anything in the way of gifts to send home. I did win a small wallet
at whist which I shall be sending you but I would like to send
Keith something. Tell him I will do so when I can find something
which he would like. I can see him writing his Airgraphs to me
and not asking how words or spelled. That's what I love about
them as I know they are all his own work.
Have you had the Airgraph which I sent with your family
pictures on. The one with Sheila in Daddy's boots and Mammy in
nurses cap on. I hope you like it and it turns out good
. Well love it's time for bed so goodnight darling. Pleasant
dreams and look after yourself.
31st December 1943
A happy new year to you dear. I believe that 1944 will be the
deciding year and next Christmas, love, I shall be home with you
to share all the joys and excitement and troubles with you.
I have had your airmail and Bernice's yesterday and I am pleased
to see that you are all recovering from the flu and colds in time
to enjoy your Christmas as much as possible. I know that you don't
feel like bothering a lot and I guess you would find my absence
for the first time at Christmas the same as I did over here.
It made me laugh to read Bernices description of the scene
at home about 6.30 p.m.. I should imagine the night Winnie came
up to see you with Edie. I see you are still getting your nip
of stout and hope it has done you good.
I can't imaging how you came to receive a box of mixed
oranges and lemons as I think I sent two boxes of lemons in the
first case and my third box was oranges only. I think one of the
first two boxes must have landed and I was sold mixed fruit instead
of lemons only. The fourth box I sent I think had some figs in,
a few oranges and the beads and had a label attached. I have since
sent to the South African firm to send those sweets etc direct
and yesterday I sent another box of lemons which I hope arrive
safely,. I see there were only two bad in the box of fruit which
you had and I'm glad that the lemons came in handy for the colds.
I am writing this letter on New Years day which is rather
cold after a day and night of really mixed weather. It started
blowing and raining yesterday afternoon and soon it was raining
heavily. Later at night we had a hail storm and even thunder and
lightening and several tents were blown down. We were lucky as
ours stood up to it.
I had a letter from Nurse Meadows at Wellington hospital
and she told me that chap Jack Rowan who you remember was in the
spinal carriage had got his ticket from the army and is walking
about although his back will always be weak. I told you that Jack
Robinson told me that there was romance in the air between Nurse
Meadows and Jack Rowan but her people stopped it.
I also had an airgram Christmas greeting from Mam and also
a sea letter. Agnes has sent me an airgraph. Last night we had
a game of solo after our tea and it was the first game I had had
for weeks. I started having a game or two of table tennis as they
have one in the recreation room and it's good exercise. I am glad
you are putting 'from daddy' on a present for Keith and Sheila.
It will make them feel that I am not far away and from the list
you have written down they seem to be doing pretty well. I was
suprised to hear of the death of Mr. Roberts. I had a letter the
other day from Mrs Chambers the mother of that pal of mine at
Weedon and I think he must now be in India. He's now a corporal
and doing well.
We've not seen any picture shows this week but Nat Gonella
and his band are here although I've not been able to get to hear
them.. I'm glad the family airgraph turned out well and shall
be glad to get a chance to look at it later on. I think it is
about time that I sent another airgraph to Keith and Sheila and
will try to do so during the week. The mail seems to be getting
through better now the Christmas rush is over and I'm hoping soon
to hear how you got on over Christmas with all the excitement
and folks dropping in. I guess you would be glad to go to Mabel's
for Christmas dinner to save you a bit of cooking. Did I tell
you that I had a parcel of books from Bill and Madge and Janet
?. The only thing is I don't seem to find a lot of time to read
as if the weather is fine at night we go out for a walk. I don't
think I shall be playing football this week as the weather is
I'm glad Michael is taking after his father but can't think
where his sandy hair comes from. I think, love, I shall find him
the most spoilt of the lot as I know that his mum has always kissed
him and also everyone else for that matter. I only wish I was
home with you to get a lot of fuss myself. Still the news is good
and I expect you hear plenty of our planes going over on their
raids on Germany. I think the crack up will come suddenly when
it does come so we won't believe it for a few days.
All my love keep your chin up a bit longer and all will
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