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7th January 1944 10th January 1944 13th/19th January 1944 20th January 1944
25th January 1944 28th January 1944 1st February 1944 February 2nd 1944
7th February 1044 9th February 1944 15th February 1944* 19th February 1944
24th February 1944 29th February 1944 6th March 1944 11th March 1944
16th March 1944 20th March 1944 24th March 1944 29th March 1944
7th January 1944

I've just received your airmail letter which was posted on the 30th December and I am pleased you managed to have a good time at Christmas although you sound as if you were tired out by Monday night when you dropped asleep in the chair. I wish I had been sitting the other side of the fireplace with you dear. It would be a nice change for you to go out for an hour with Les and Peggy and it's a wonder Sheila and Keith didn't pull your leg about going to the Blackbird. 

I'm glad the lights on the tree were in action as they do please the kiddies and make the place more Christmassy.

I should think the money from the paymaster should be with you anytime now as I put it through on the 22nd November and if it doesn't arrive by say the 20th January I should write to the paymaster giving all the particulars and seeing if the form reached them safely.

The lemons seem to be lucky in reaching you and I'm not sure if 16 was the right number but I didn't think there would be as many as that. I hope the other boxes reach you safely and at the end of the month I think the gift parcels I mentioned to you I had sent to Durban should reach you.

You don't mention what sort of weather you had over Christmas but hope it was better than New Years Eve and New Years day here. I thought I wouldn't need a pullover here but the last two days I've been thankful to put it on. I had a moonlight trot last night about 3am and my tummy seems rather unsettled today and I have before me two tangerines which I daredn't eat tonight although we had some sweets with our NAAFI ration this week, Canadian made called Jelly Beans and I keep dipping my hand into the bag like you used to do on a Saturday night before falling asleep. I expect they will all be gone before I go to bed tonight.

In the next hut is the canteen and one of the blokes who has a good voice is singing "Jerusalem" and the chaps are joining in now and again. There's one thing it is hard to get tight on one bottle of beer which is the weekly ration and I should think it's about two months since I had a drink. It will be funny when I get home love and we go out and you have a bottle of stout and I have a lemonade. Still I think I could still manage a couple in special circumstances. I know I shall have to cut my smoking down as I seem to smoke about 25 a day and that would mean about £1 a week in England. Of course with the cigs cheap and weekly free issue of 50 they cost me about 4/- a week.

I've not been able to get into town and see if the shops have anything but may have a chance at the weekend. I hope the pantomine was good and can imagine the kiddies getting excited.

Keith, mummy tells me you've had some lovely presents for Christmas and look real smart in your new pullover. I'm glad you are being a good boy and looking after mummy by helping her and playing with Michael and Sheila and teaching them to draw and be good kiddies. Did you like Bernice sleeping with you on Christmas Eve. I bet you kicked her in your sleep. Does Michael still knock the bricks down. Write to daddy love won't you and Sheila darling how are you? Are you still a nice little girlie who helps mummy and plays with Michael to keep him good. Tell mummy to tell me how you liked the pantomine and what songs you and Keith sing. Don't forget to give mummy lots of kisses for me and Keith as well. I bet I have lots to come from mummy and you all. Goodnight little sweethearts and help mummy all you can.

Well love I will carry on talking to you.. I've written to Bill Chambers and have sent an airgraph to Nora and Bernice. I have also sent one to Bill Parker congratulating Dorothy and him on being the proud parents of a bouncing boy. He should be about 6'6" and 20 stone when he grows up.

I'm glad to say the weather is a little better than it has been during the past week and as it is a north wind I bet it has been cold at home. I expect Keith is praying for snow for his snowman. Well love it's difficult to concentrate at the moment Cpl Dickinson and another chap are singing (?) nearly in my ear, the choir in the canteen have now reached "Nelly Dean" and "Loves old sweet song" and I keep getting interrupted .

There is very little in the way of news except that tonight we saw for the second time George Formby in "Get Cracking" and it's now 9.05pm. the other two are doing a few PT exercises to keep warm and making a good job of it although it doesn't give me much peace writing this.

I shall be writing again on Monday love, till then goodnight sweetheart and God bless you and the kiddies. Keep your chin up love for this is the year it will all end

10th January 1944

Well love it's now Monday and since I had your last airmail which you started on Boxing day I haven't received any correspondence at all so I expect in the next day or two I will receive a bunch from home.  I did manage to get into town on Saturday and bought a box of lemons and a box of dates which I sent on to you yesterday. When you get them love give the dates a good washing and open each one before you eat them as one or two of them may be bad although they look OK. I hope you like them as I don't think I will be able to send anymore from here.

I am pleased to say I am keeping well and the weather has improved again during the last few days. It gets cold at night but as long as it's fine in the daytime that's the main thing. We saw a film on Friday night which I had already seen here called "Get Cracking" with George Formby and it wasn't to bad. 

While in town I went with another bloke to see some French people he knew and it was surprising how comfortable and spotless the flat was. It was situated about three floors up in a building that looked nothing from the outside. Although the rooms were small they had very nice furniture and a lovely radiogram. They were Jews which the chap I was with had met at a festival there. I don't think you would have had all the patriotic slogans on the wall that they had. 

There were pictures of De Gaulle, Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt and a big poster about freedom. The man who was about 60-70 didn't look like a Jew as he had grey hair but his wife looked a typical Jewess. They were very pleasant and as the chap I went with spoke French, I had to do make the best I could out of the conversation as I daredn't try the little French I knew on them. We stayed about half an hour and while we were there we listened to the 3pm news bulletin from London and Victor Sylvester's ballroom orchestra. I wondered if you were listening to the same programme love although at that time I think of you getting the kiddies ready to go out.

We haven't heard any news for the last day or two although it seems pretty good alround and as long as we can keep smiling and make the best of things with as good a heart as possible we will get through OK. You know love although the family must mean a lot of work for you and at times you must feel you have too big a burden on your shoulders, I think afterwards we shall thankful we were blessed with such a family and a lot of chaps out here that are married without a family envy me mine. 

Of course I tell them that mine are exceptional and they can't expect such an array of loveliness as I show them on my photos. You know love I am terribly proud of you all and sometimes I get a bit morbid thinking how long it will be before I can take my place beside you once again. I guess we all feel the same way sometimes but thank God the end of Germany is in sight and once she is finished we shall all feel it won't be much longer

I don't know if you have had any more boxes of fruit yet but the boxes of oranges I sent shouldn't be long now and then the box with the beads and Sheila's bracelet in. I expect she will make a fuss of it and although the beads I bought you are a bit vivid they were the only ones available and will be a memento of N. Africa anyway. Tell your mum and dad I am sorry I've not written to them for a little while but I will do so in the next few days. I hope they are both well and you still enjoy your weekly bottle of stout your mum brings. I am still tee-total by the way but that can be modified for a night when I come home.

I see Mrs. Woodcock has something to look forward too and I can see there is a chance of a baby Woodcock on my birthday. I am afraid I have also neglected Harry Quinn and Ida but hope they are both well and John also. I don't think I have written to Mr and Mrs Saunders since I have been out here but I know you see a lot of each other and they get the news I have to give.

I expect Keith and John are getting plenty of fun at present (if you have had any snow) and they are still both in the same class. 

I think I had told you I had written to Winnie and also Bill Parker congratulating him on his offspring. We have been rather busy lately so I have not had a lot of spare time at night.

Well love I have not asked yet how you are and yet it is a thing always on my mind. I expect you have now taken down the Christmas decorations and with the kiddies having more toys to play with you have a bigger job than ever cleaning up at night after they have gone to bed. We were talking the other night about scallops and fritters and it made me think of the nights I'd say I'd like a few for my supper and the full up feeling a always had afterwards. We often talk about the meals we would like, generally when it is corned beef and rice pudding and you would think we were used to dining at the Ritz at the meals we say we would like. One of the chaps has sent some garlic home and his wife likes it but I guess if you don't like onions you wouldn't like them.

I seem to have lost my lighter since coming here but you needn't send another as we get plenty of matches and we can't get petrol for a lighter anyway. I think it can be the first present you can buy me when I get back.

Well love it doesn't look if there is any mail for me today, it seems to come in fits and starts nowadays so I'll say goodnight sweetheart, sweet dreams and look after yourself for me.

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13th January 1944

I've just received your airmail letter dated January 5th and am pleased to hear your arm feeling better. At the moment I am sitting on some sandbags in the sunshine after dinner in my shirt sleeves with about five other chaps and I think you would enjoy the sunshine. It is more like England in May with a little breeze and over the valley in front of me the hills stretch away to a good height. Of course I don't expect this weather will last long as there is I understand a lot of rain between Christmas and April.

We had some fresh meat yesterday for dinner and I think half the camp were making hurried  visits to the 'lav' in the valley during the night. The ground round about looked like Hampstead Heath after Bank Holiday Monday with the paper lying around. I was lucky as it happened this time although I have had my share.

I see you have met Mrs. Silver and I will let you know if I run across Albert again. I have met one or two chaps from my old place in England, some of who have been out here some time and others recently moved over. Everyone seems cheery an I believe convinced this year will be the year.

I don't know whether I told you but when I was buying the lemons and dates last Saturday I weighed myself on the machine in the shop and my weight was 85 Kilograms which is about 13 stone 5 lbs. You remember my trousers were tight around the waist when I was home. I've had about three inches let in the back but they are tight now and if I get much fatter I will need a new pair.

I should like to get a snap of myself but don't look like doing so while I am here at any rate. Still I don't think I have altered much love since you saw me, maybe a few more grey hairs in my head and a few more lines on my forehead. I see you haven't had that £6 yet and I should write tom the Payments R.A.O.C. telling them the form was put through from here on November 12th and if he hasn't received it I shall have to pit another one through as it means it was lost in transit.

Don't forget to let me know as you get the boxes of fruit, also the parcel from South Africa which I guess should reach you (I hope) by the end of January.  We have had quite a few sweets ourselves and I put a few in the last box I sent you. I hope the kiddies like them.

We had a bit of a picnic last night as we had a ton of fruit and cream and a pudding and I felt blow up when I went to bed. Still it's very rare we get a treat like that and I'd much more prefer a few fritters. I've not had an egg since I've been here and shall make a big fuss of one when I do.

By the way I had your 'Mercuries' OK and wondered who had sent me the Wizard. The chaps had a laugh when I opened them. Still it all makes reading and if Keith sent it thank him very much. I've not had his letter yet he sent by sea mail but shall get it in due course. Did you get that Union Jack I sent to you via a letter to mam  about 2 months ago. I believe I did mention to you at the time I sent it  but I never heard if you had it.

I bet I looked a duckie with the green trimming round my photo at Christmas. I see you have all gone Yo-Yo and can see the kiddies having a rare time with them.

I've not heard from Dick yet but I expect they will be getting the letter I sent them any day now. I bet Lillian will be glad when the next baby arrives. If It's a boy I can see Sheila wanting to mother it for Lillian the same as Keith made a fuss of Shirley. I hope Keith's gland is better now, as a matter of fact I've got a pimple just inside my ear which I have managed to burst a time or two without getting the core out and it is a nuisance when I have a wash and catch it accidentally.

I've been spending this evening showing a Sheffield lad all my snaps and seeing his. There was one of me watching Keith on the sand at Mablethorpe, several of us at camp and the family group we had taken when Sheila was a baby and he said I didn't seem to have altered much, so just picture me as usual love and you won't be far wrong.

Well love this letter is short but there isn't much to add since my airmail on the 11th so I'll say goodnight sweetheart and all my love to the kiddies. 

19th January 1944

Well love as you will see I've made a move at last and I hope the delay in the receiving of my letters doesn't make you worry too much. I think I am allowed to say I'm in Italy but we are OK where we are. I don't know how long I shall stay here as the Cpl and I are only attached and may go to a depot. Still use the above address until I have more definite news.

I am well and hoping that later on I shall be able to take a train journey across France and only have a 20 mile trip across the Channel to home and peace. I can't hardly realise it's 51/2 months since I left home and all it means to me and I only hope dear we shall all be allowed to resume our married life with all it means before next winter.

I know there are some things I have missed which I can't pick up again, the absence for nearly two years with all it means, seeing you and being with you and watching the kiddies grow. I've had some grand pen pictures from you love which has helped a lot but I get very homesick sometimes and I suppose you have the same sort of feeling when either the day is dull or wet and the kiddies take a bit more looking after than usual.

 It is difficult here to realise It's mid winter and I guess when I come home I shall feel the cold and hope the moths haven't got at my overcoat and I still have a good pullover I can wear. I saw some suits advertised in one of the Sunday papers at £10 and I shall be grieved to pay such a price. 

By the way love I haven't heard from you recently how much we have in the bank. Don't think I am trying to check up on anything but I just wondered. If I get as much from Faire Brothers this year as I did last there should be about £100 in the kitty anyway without the credits I can save up from my pay. I'm hoping to buy something out here to send home to you and should think the boxes of fruit I sent from North Africa have about reached you by now. I'm also hoping the sweets from South Africa arrive soon to give you all a nice little treat. Don't forget to let me know when you do get them will you as now I've moved I don't suppose I shall hear from the firm just yet that they have sent the gods on.

We were talking the other day that we haven't had an apple since leaving England but I am hoping to get one or two over here. In any case I should think the Italians are a bit more civilised that the Arabs and we should get a few more comforts than over there.

Well love this is written in a hurry and I'll write an airmail tomorrow, so goodnight love, God bless you and the kiddies. Don't worry about me, I'm OK and just looking torwards the day of Victory.

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20th January 1944

Dear Olive

I had a shock today love when I had your airmail about 10 minutes after I had arrived at my new quarters and I can hardly believe that Glad has gone. I know of course that she hadn't been grand for some while but never thought for a moment that she would have a stroke and coming at a time when she might have been able to take things a bit more quietly. It must have been a big shock to everyone at home and I feel grieved for Oliver after losing his mother so recently. I shall be writing to Oliver an a day or two but he will know how I feel losing a loved sister who has been such a good wife and mother. I hope the shock doesn't break mam up and she is able to bear the strain. I hope to have another letter from you or the family soon to tell me how she is and I feel so far away and everything so unreal as I want to be there with al to help to share the troubles.

I had a letter from Gladys Wells also and she told me Kath had been away from work for a fortnight but she thought she would be back the next Monday. I only hope her mothers death will not cause her to become ill and Oliver must be worried to death about it all.

I guess this letter coming from my new address over the water will make you worried love but there is no need as I am quite fit and except for a change of scenery and a bit colder weather and of course different people who are much cleaner on first impressions than the Arabs. I think we will get more fresh vegetables here and I have already tasted my first apple since leaving home.

I am hoping to be able to buy something for you and the kiddies while I am here as there seems more things to be had although I expect the prices will be high.

By the way I wrote to the H.O.R. attention of nurse Meadows after I came out here about the end of October as I knew they would be interested to hear I had come over and of course I'd heard from Jack Richardson about the happenings there. I have also had an airmail from Mabel which was dated January 5th and she mentioned nothing about Glad. It will make it worse for  Kath and Ron with Jack and Oliver away and I hope they managed to get in touch with Oliver in time.

I'm sorry to hear Ernie's wound isn't responding to treatment and only hope he will get back to normal health in time as he's such a nice lad with a good wife and they deserve a happy married life.

Well love it's lights out now and I'll have to finish this tomorrow. Goodnight sweetheart, think of me always thinking of you. I'll be with you and our family tonight.

Well love I'll try to finish this letter today as I know you will be wondering where the mail has gone for the past week. You seem to be having a bit of trouble with Michael but as you have always said, boys are always more trouble than girls and you can't expect to have three perfect children like Sheila and I guess we aught to thank our lucky stars we were blessed with one daughter or I don't know what you would have done with three boys on your hands.

I didn't think I should see snow this winter but it can be seen miles away in the hills. There's one thing the weather is colder in the CMF than North Africa and should get me a bit acclimatised to English weather a bit for that time when I catch the train to Leicester.

I see you haven't had any more boxes of fruit yet and hope you will soon receive the gift box I sent which had the beads for you and Sheila's bracelet. Keith might find the ABC book interesting for the pictures at least but I will try to send him and baby Michael something as soon as I get a chance.

You don't seem to have had any snow yet or I would have heard how the kiddies have been enjoying themselves. Mabel has told me about taking Keith to the pictures and him asking her questions al the way home. I can see him wanting to go out with us when we have a night out there.

I expect you will be seeing Ernie's wife if she is transferred to Leicester as she will no doubt be coming up to see you in the evenings. I hope your mam and dad are keeping well and your dad is able to do a bit of work. Mabel told me Harry had a fortnights leave from the Home Guard and it's more than we get so he is lucky. Still I'm only waiting for one leave now and that's the one when they say I can leave the army for good.

I guess I had better close now love. Keep your chin up and we will be together again soon. You know you are my only love and always will be. God bless you sweetheart and the kiddies. Give them big kisses from me and tell them to give you plenty for me.

23rd January 1944

Well love I am writing this little note to you on a Sunday evening after going to the church service in the temporary chapel we have here.

We heard this morning that the Allies had made a new landing near Rome but don't worry love I am nowhere near there and I thought I had better mention it in case you got the thought in your head.

I am quite well and now that we can get apples for about 6d a pound we do well as oranges are also plentiful and walnuts also are about the same price and we can get plenty when we can get into town. I had a short visit there last night and there is a lot more to be bought than in North Africa and the prices don't seem at all bad. I managed to get Keith a destroyer which only cost 5/-, a bottle of scent for Sheila 2/- and two little brooches which may come in handy for dress ornaments. I can't send them on at the moment as I have no paper for wrapping but will do so as soon as possible when I have got one or two more little things. I shouldn't mention anything to Keith and Sheila as there is always the chance of parcels getting lost in transit and they would be disappointed if they looked forward to them and they didn't arrive.

There seem quite a display of aluminium but of course it's rather awkward trying to send such things as saucepans etc. home as we can't get the boxes to put them in. I may be able to get Peggy a wedding present when I have saved up a week or two's wages.

I have not had any more mail since those that were waiting for me when I arrived here and hope to have one any day now to tell me how Mam, Keith and everybody is after the shock of Glady's death. I can't still realise that she has passed away and I only hope the shock will not cause mum to break up. She has had her share of sorrow and I pray she will get over this. I have written to her and also to Oliver and tell Mabel I will reply to her airmail I had the same day as yours.

I think I heard before I came overseas that Jack Turvey was out here and if you could let me have his last known address there is always the possibility I might find he's in the same area. The world is a small place and you never know. If you hear from Mrs. Silver that Albert has moved over will you send his address also.

After all this about myself I had better ask how you are love. I was thinking about you when I was in the shop last night showing the assistant the family photo's to explain who I wanted the things for. You will never guess how much they have been shown around by their proud father and husband. I don't think I have come across any children to compare with ours and I certainly haven't found a woman to compare with my wife. All I ask of this war is a safe return to you love and the kiddies. You are much more of my life than I dreamed of before I was called up and it took a parting to realise how much I need you and love you.

I had a letter from Gladys Wells in which she said Arthur Hull's wife's sister, Mrs. George Frost, who I think was the sister Eva and you went dancing with that Saturday night in Kibworth asked how we all were. Glady's told her I was OK and understood all were at home as well. She (Glady's) said she saw in the paper the next week that Eva's sister had had a daughter and you may have seen it.

How's our family going on love. January is nearly over and if you don't get any snow soon I can see the kiddies being disappointed. Tell Keith I am expecting a letter from him and a lot of kisses from  him, Sheila and Michael if they can make some for him. Can he walk yet? If not I shall apply for a 36 hour pass to come home and teach him. I guess that is all they would allow me out here as leave doesn't seem to be on the agenda.

Well love I will finish there as I want to get this off by tomorrow's post so I will say goodnight sweetheart, keep smiling and chins up. Don't worry about me 
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25th January 1944

I was very pleased to get your airmail dated January 12th although it made me worry a bit about your arm I'm not quite sure just what you meant love by saying nothing could be done about it. Do you mean because you are only able to go the Infirmary once a week and the only way to get it cured is to stay in there on a course of treatment over two or three months or that there is no hope of a cure. I know that in either case it must be worrying to you after all the years of constant looking after it and the hope of a successful cure at the end of it. Look after yourself all you can won't you love and when the time comes for me to start helping you again and give you a break, we will see what can be done.

I'm glad mam seems to be getting over the shock of Glad's death and Kath also is bearing up well. As you say she has a rough time ahead of her and she's not too strong at the best of times besides the added worry of Oliver (Junior) being in the paratroopers which is never an easy life and Jack being away also.

I had two letters today, a sea mail from Harry Quinn dated December 2oth and a letter from Jack Richardson which was written at the beginning of August and has followed me from the mob centre via an APO number in North Africa and just caught up with me. Of course I have heard from him since being out here so his news is a bit out of date.

Well love there's nothing much in the way of news to report since my last airmail of the 22nd and the green envelope I sent you the next day. I've written to your mam, Mabel, Bill, Mam, Oliver and Aunt Beck in the last few days since being here and am now about up to date with my correspondence. I hope to visit the nearest town soon to see what I can buy to make up a parcel as soon as possible. When I saw the walnuts here it reminded me of the lot I brought you home when I was at the depot and what a fuss you made of them. If I can get a box sometime I will see if I can send you a few along. 

I am pleased to hear the £6 has arrived safely and I guess the dress you are saving it for is for Peggy's wedding. I hope your mam and mam will be able to get a little enjoyment out of the little gifts. I have been checking up on my credits and find I now have about £4 in hand which I might leave in for a bit until I find something worth buying.

By the way love the lads who returned to England from North Africa haven't finished with the war yet and I think a lot of them will no doubt take part in the second front when it starts and I think when I do get back to you I want to do so with the war with Germany at least a thing of the past, so there is no more parting. They tell me this is the year of Victory and I think spring will see big moves towards it. Just keep your chin up a little longer love and that smile on your lips as you have done so far and all will be well. There's one thing once it is all over there should be plenty of crowded trains across France on the way to Calais, Dover, London and on to Leicester and I will be on the first I can.

I hope Keith's gland is OK again and your little bundle of trouble, Michael has decided to be a good boy in future and go to sleep when he goes to bed. Still I seem to remember sitting on the stairs and shushing to Keith when he was about the same age don't you love.

Did Keith and Sheila get their letters in the one I sent to you. I've not had a letter from Keith for a little while now and I understand he had been writing one with his new ink set. Don't worry him about it though love as I guess it's a job for him to concentrate for long as yet. So long as I know you are all keeping well that's the main thing. I'm hoping by the time you receive the gift parcel I sent you with the beads in and the parcel via Capetown will be about home to you. They seem to take a long while but so long as they reach you eventually in good condition it's OK.

I shall be writing to Bob in a day or two to tell him my new address. I think in a way he will be envious of me as he gets a bit fed up with being at Gibralter all the while. Still it doesn't matter where you are if you can't get home anyway.

We heard from the Union Jack the new Allied landing near Rome is going well and I hope before long that they finish the Jerries off south of there. There's one thing I think the Allies have got air supremacy for good now and Germany will one day realise there's only one possible end to the war and pack in suddenly. I've been teetotal now for about three months at least but I think I will have to have a drink then somehow to celebrate it.

Well love I am finishing this letter after a walk round the town where the only thing I could see before the backout was a tie which I think I will send to Les as a wedding present. It is a bit gaudy but he is a pretty modern sort of lad and might like it on a navy suit. I also got a small box of coloured pencils which Keith and Sheila I hope will like and also a couple of pencil sharpeners. I shall make up a parcel in due course love. The only thing is I can't see much more building up in my credits but I don't let that bother me.

Well love it's getting near bedtime and I can't have fritters tonight and a cup of coffee so I'll go to bed and dream of you dear..

Goodnight sweetheart and God Bless you

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 28th January 1944

Well love you will see I have another new address but I only moved a few yards to get it and there shouldn't be any delay in the mail coming from you to the old address. Will you pass it on to mam and the others at home in case it's a few days before I write to them as I'd got pretty well straight with my correspondence and for the past few days I've been waiting for letters to come in so I can answer them.

I hope you are keeping well and also the kiddies as I have been worrying a bit since your letter about your arm and how it is affecting you. I've not packed the boat for Keith yet as I have not had a chance but will do so as soon as possible.

I think I forgot to tell you I had put my watch in for repair and hope to collect it in the next few days. I understand it will cost about 7/6d so if it goes OK it will be worth it.

We are still able to get nuts and apples when we get a chance to go out and I guess your mouth is watering already. I've not had mams letter yet but like it has been before I expect to get a bunch of letters in due course.

We don't seem to have so much porridge lately and Mrs. Conacies's stew seems the favourite dish at dinner with rice to follow so I think you had better make a note not to include either in my first meal back at home. I think I would prefer steak and chips and a big slice of custard pie. Do Keith and Sheila still eat their dinners like they said they would. Tell them daddy is still watching them from the shelf and expects them to be big and strong when he comes home.

You know love we used to call Keith a dirty little scamp sometimes when he got a bit of mud mixed up in his clothing but I think he would look an angel compared with some of the kiddies I've seen and I hope he has been able to keep out of the water in the gutters. I guess if you have had any snow he's been busy sweeping the paths for you with Sheila's assistance no doubt.

By the way you may have noticed I have used a few green envelopes recently and as I'd one or two in hand I just put one letter in each and they seem to get home pretty quick, generally quicker than airgraphs which seem to be about a 16 day job.

Well love it's about bedtime now so I shall have to close. Goodnight sweetheart I'll be with you in dreams and God bless you and keep you safe till I return.

Well love another day has passed and here I am sitting in the usual place to complete this letter. I had no mail today and as one day is much like another there is little in the way of news. The weather is sunny in the day but turns very cold at night, or we feel it more after the summer in North Africa. I can see me wanting an extra blanket on the bed when I get home and you complaining about being too hot instead of how it used to be. You had better get an eiderdown after all although I expect they are one of the luxury articles which have gone up a lot in price.

I'm expecting to hear from you any day that Michael has started to walk a step or two by himself and Sheila will then be wanting to I suppose to take him out for a walk and he will have a few accidents one way or another until he gets toughened to their ways. Does Keith still make a fuss of him or is he too big now to bother and prefers to be out playing with John Saunders.

I am still working with Cpl Dickinson and wondered if you had written to his wife at all.   I sent  a small wallet to you enclosed in a handbag he has sent to his wife although I expect it will be two or three weeks before it arrives home. I hope by now further boxes of fruit have reached you and I spend a few pleasant hours trying to picture you and the kiddies opening the boxes packed with such care and seeing the kiddies faces when they see the contents. I hope the box with your beads etc. arrives OK and also the fruits and sweets from South Africa. If these don't arrive by  the middle of February drop the firm a note by airmail asking why as if they were unable to forward the goods they were to send  the money home on to you.

Have you seen mam lately love as I am hoping to hear the shock of Glads death hasn't made her ill. I shall no doubt be hearing from mam herself shortly when she is able to write but tell her not to worry if she doesn't feel up to it.

I couldn't get into town today after all so one of the chaps is seeing about my watch for me. I'm hoping to do a spot of washing somehow tomorrow if the weather keeps nice and water is available so while you are taking your ease imagine me doing my chores and scrubbing away. I'd love to be at home doing the same thing but it won't be now love so chins up till that day dawns. Think of me always thinking of you and give the kiddies lots of kisses for me. Don't forget to save all the kisses they give to you for me, I'll take them all. Don't worry over me love, I'm OK and put that brave smile on a bit longer. All my love night and day. 

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1st February 1944

Well love I've had a stack of letters and I can see I am for a couple of busy nights work answering them all. First there were your letters then a letter from keith enclosing his drawings which tell him were very lovely, then airmails from mam, Mabel and Bernice and letters from your sister Gladys, Agnes and Harold Simons which he enclosed in two copies of the Leicester chronicle which Gladys Winn had sent for me. 

The other was from that firm, Chas Wholesalers of Durban dated December 28th to advise me they had sent my gift parcels I told you about and I had to laugh when I saw they were unable to send glazed fruits your mouth must be watering for and had sent instead two packets of Xmas pudding mixture. They are only allowed apparently to send 2lbs of sweets and chocolates in one parcel so instead of fudge they have sent 8 1 pint jellies. Still you will get 2 lbs of barley sugars and 2lbs of chocolate to feed your tummies and I hope you will also enjoy the jellies and Xmas pudding when you have time to make them.

Don't forget that I sent one to Mabel for you and by the time you get this I expect they will have arrived.. Well love, I guess I'll now read your letters again and see what replies are needed. I see you had a feeling that I would be coming home but I think you would be worried if I did come home on leave and then had to go away again to take part in the second front which will come.. Where I am I feel pretty safe so there is no need to worry about me.

I'm anxious to get home dear as you know but I want to come home for good to stay with you where I belong and not have to start all over again through Europe on another invasion

By the way Harold Simons tells me that Arthur Hall is not at Donnington and is having a hard time with bags of work so he is not at Waden as I thought unless he has been transferred.

I myself often think of the little trips I used to make on my old bike home to you for the day and know how you must feel. Don't worry about it. When I'm home, it will only be a 10 minute bike ride home from work twice a day. We have stuck it out so far and the worst of the war is behind us thank goodness.

As regards the garden I should think two stones of potatoes will be enough but don't get King Edward's. I should also get half a stone of earlies and if the ground where the shelter was is clear try them there and I think the raspberry canes will be OK for this year. I hope I will be home to look after them after that. I should put the usual row of carrots and beans in and see what space you have for green stuff. 

Mam tells me she is getting over the shock of Glad's death although I hope they can do something about Sheldon as it must worry everyone about him now Gladys has gone. It's not fair to Kath anyway and Mr. Gill should be told by Oliver so.

I'm glad you had such a good time at the Panto and your sister Gladys and Mam keep on telling me about it. Keep on telling me all the little things about the kiddies love as it brings their faces in front of me as though I was there to see them.

Michael seems a lazy lad not walking yet but boys are always a little backward, aren't they. Keith certainly tried his best to make a snowman didn't he ? Don't spoil Keith by letting him read like his dad or we shan't be able to make him speak to us. Let him have the plates of my shoes if he wants to slide on the ice. I'd love a pair of shoes myself with rubber tips. As regards the drink question I think you must have missed my letter about Christmas as although we did have a bottle of beer each at dinner time on Christmas day I actually gave mine away so I'm still teetotal except for a small drink of Italian wine which cost 6d and they said was cherry brandy. There was about as much as what you would get of Whiskey  in England and it was much better than the port in England. Still I don't think I will take to wine on a regular basis and beer is unobtainable here by all accounts.

I see I've forgotten the kisses again so here a few to be going on with while you give your eyes a rest from my scribbling. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx If Keith can count all of them tell him and Sheila to have an extra piece of barley sugar when it arrives and then give you a sticky kiss from me.

I see I've got Bill Parker's offspring mixed as usual but never mind, they'll understand. Don't worry how the house looks when I come home, I know you keep it OK and I'll only have eyes for you and the kids not bricks and mortar. It might even be a pleasure to do some spring cleaning.

Talking of tiddlers I believe Keith asked where Sheila's tiddler was when she was a baby and I can imagine the laughs that went off about it all.

Well love I'm doing well so far so I'll carry on with the news I have about myself. I went into town last night and of course made my way to the NAAFI for cakes and tea. We are allowed three cakes each and there is a small Italian orchestra playing. There are actually table cloths on the tables so it's a posh place for a NAAFI. We went to the pictures afterwards and bought some nuts and apples to eat inside. It was an American picture with Italian words superimposed along the bottom but it wasn't much good. It was funny to hear all the walnut shells cracking as the audience got up to leave at the end. We were back in camp by 8.0pm and in bed by 9.30.

I've not been able to pack Keith's boat up yet as I can't get any paper or string. I hope the parcel with your beads and Sheila's arrives soon or I shall think it has been lost. By the way I think I told you had managed to get my watch repaired here. It cost 7/6 and is going well so now I have two watches. It was a good idea of yours to send it along.

We don't seem to be getting as many fresh vegetables as we hoped except for carrots and I never went much on them at the best of times. Rice pudding made army style is also a big favourite (?)but I eat everything and I seem to thrive so I can't grumble.

I thought you might mention more about your arm as you said you were worried about it and I know you had a rough time with it for so long . Never mind, love, life does have it's sorrows as well a pleasure but I always bless the day we came together to share it and I thank god for your love and the children we have been blessed with. All my love to you sweetheart and the children. Give them big kisses for me.
Your ever loving husband

Next letter from Olive

February 2nd 1944 Dear Keith

What a lovely letter I've just had from you. You are getting really clever and I can see that
you are learning a lot at school and mummy tells me what a good boy you are.

You were lucky getting all those nice things for Christmas. Can you slide yet in your new
boots. Some of the kiddies here don't wear shoes and socks so they can't slide. I bet their feet
get cold sometimes, don't you ?

I don't suppose that your teeny weeny snow man lasted long but you would have some fun
with it with Sheila.

It's a lovely picture you have drawn for me and I am saving all you letters love. Tell Sheila to
learn how to write as nice as you and look after her and Michael for Mammy.

I bet you are a load of rascals sometimes and have a lot of fun. Here's a lot of kisses for you
all. Lots of love, Daddy.


4th February 1944

I was pleased to get your airmail dated January 26th and I hope it was a bit of warning to you and by now you will know I am OK and in my new place. Actually we are not settled where we are and I shall no doubt be sending you a new address before long, no doubt from an R.A.O.C. address as of course I have had no depot work since I came out and we seem to be splitting apart from GRTD. Don't worry about it love though as I can say I'm not likely to be anywhere near the danger area and although I guess until I come home to you we will both have our little worries about each other there's no necessity to lose more weight than you have done.

I wish I could have a nice hot bath as showers are the best we can get and they don't compare with a good soak.

I see you are still able to get a little outing to the pictures now and again and I bet keith feels real grown up going at night. Do you remember our first night at the pictures when Keith was young. Didn't we worry.

I have managed to get Keith's boat off and also a box of coloured crayons and two pencil sharpeners besides a tie which I thought Les might like. I guess it will take about four weeks to get home love but I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping it arrives OK as I am sure he will like the boat if it doesn't get knocked around too much.

I don't think I had heard about Keith wearing shirts although I guess he is growing up fast and from all accounts is being a real good lad and a credit to his mum and dad. I miss you all so much love and the little things you tell me about the daily life and incidents in it make a picture I can carry around in my mind all the time. I guess I haven't changed much although we had a bet the other day as to who could grow the best moustache and I have grown a few whiskers which are beginning to show. I know I dare not come home with one but if I do manage to let it carry on for a week or two I shall try to get two photo's taken, one with and one without. I'm thinking if I can look about 50 when peace is declared they might give me my ticket in double quick time. 

By the way love I don't think Tom's new address is a mob centre although there is always a chance and in any case a lot of the lads in England will have to take part in the second front and I think everyone is keyed up for it. I think I am as well off up here love as somewhere in England where I can't get home to you as I am sure it won't be long now.

As regards the wood, why don't you ask Peggy to have a word with Jack Mansfield for me and I am sure he will see about it. I hope you don't run out of coal as it is not like you to run short and keep on to the Co-Op all the time as you must get some more bad weather yet.

Well love I have been for a walk around the block and it's almost 10pm and as our reveille is at 6.30am I shall have to say goodnight sweetheart, sweet dreams and I hope I shall be dreaming of you and it won't be long before I can dream with you.

Give Keith, Sheila and Michael , bless their little hearts, big kisses from me and keep smiling love.

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7th February  1944

Well love as you see I have changed my address once more and the only consolation is I still get my mail regularly without delay although it's a few days since I heard from you. I shall be glad when I get settled down to a place where only the R.A.O.C. are catered for and I expect this to happen in the next week or two. I don't think there will be a delay in letters to you but there may be a day or two delay from your end.

I had a letter this morning from Edith Evans dated February 1st so it's good going, only six days to get here.

The weather is more like England every day and it must be quite as cold as it is back home. The only thing is I don't have a nice sprung bed and it's rather cold in the mornings at 6.30am.  I had a shower bath today and talk about shiver as I stood in the nude trying to dry myself quickly before the icicles froze on me. We used to grumble at the heat last summer but I'm afraid I could do with a bit of it just now.

I believe I did tell you I had sent Keith's boat along and hope it arrives OK as the packing wasn't too good as it's hard to get it. I'm gradually getting up to date with my correspondence although I still have Bob, Edith Evans and Arthur's wife to write to. I hear Arthur is on 7 days leave and wonder whether you will see him.

I was talking to a chap who is sleeping next to me last night and he said he was stationed near Loughborough. Of course we talked about Leicester and he said he was in the Infirmary last May. He said my face was familiar and when we sorted things out he was about four beds away from me and I had shaved him after his operation and after he left there for the Frith he palled up with Arthur and they went to the Con. Depot and Halifax together. His name is LEYSHON and I shall be writing to Arthur to tell him I had come across him.

By the way I am still working with Cpl Dickinson and hope to continue to do so when we move.

I forgot as usual to ask how you were love and I hope you are not worrying at all about me and feeling disappointed I haven't come home. I think you would feel more worried about me if I had come home for a few days and then had to go away to an unknown destination. I feel the second front will come this spring sometime and it will no doubt be the biggest war and a lot of wives and sweethearts will be anxious for their loved ones. Of course we all take a risk wherever we are but it's small compared to a lot of the lads.

Has Keith been able to make a better snowman than he did before for Sheila. I would love to see them having the time of their lives in the snow and mammy and baby Michael watching them through the window.

I hope you have been able to get the coal situation in hand and don't forget to ask Peggy to see Jack Mansfield about the wood. I don't want to hear you had a job making the fire go as you have enough on your hands as it is and I'll always love you love in my awkward way. I know I have been guilty of not showing my love openly and I can only say I do love you dear all the time night and day and when the time comes for me to take my place besides you, where I belong, I know we shall both know what we mean to each other and with our lovely little family it will be a lucky couple who can touch us for happiness. Just keep your chin up a little longer love and all will be well. I know we all feel sometimes that this war will go on for years and years but at heart we know it is going our way and Jerry must know there's only one way it can finish for them.

I hope you don't get any disturbed nights with sirens now and I always look to see if Jerry has been anywhere near home. I thankfull I wasn't away early in the war as some lads were.

Well love I'll say goodnight sweetheart sweet dreams and God bless you and the kiddies. All my love to you and keep smiling

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9th February 1944

I sent an airmail to you yesterday and last night there was an airmail from you dated the 2nd February waiting on my bed together with an airgraph from Peggy and so I decided to send you a little letter tonight now work is done before I go across to my billet and make my bed.

I hope my other letters reach you as I told you in one of them that we had heard of the invasion south of Rome soon after we landed and we were nowhere near that so there is no need to worry about me. As I said I expect my address to change again soon when we go to a depot but don't stop writing on that account as the mail will be forwarded on and so far there has been no delay in getting them as you will see from this letter of yours love which has only taken 6 days to reach me.

It has taken a bit of worry off my mind to hear you have been able to continue the treatment to your arm as although it will make a rush for you each time I know you would sooner keep on with the treatment.

 Don't worry about next winter love big things will have happened by then and if the Russians continue to progress as they are doing at present I can see anything happening when the second front starts. I know the waiting must get on everybody's nerves at home but I guess they don't want to leave anything to chance and we cannot afford another Dunkirk. I think there will be such air supremacy on the Allied side it will finish Jerries air force and when that's gone he might as well give up. In the meantime, I just think before I go to sleep that it is one day nearer to the time when I shall be with you dearest and the kiddies. I love you all so much.

We went to the pictures last night and saw the picture of the lads who were repatriated to England and a bump came into my throat as I saw a chap meet his wife again and I started dreaming of the time we would meet again. I feel full up at the thought of it and I keep a picture in my heart of you all night and day which always keeps me going as I know I have such love to come home to.

You are certainly doing well in the banking line and I can see when we tot it up all together we shall have somewhere in the region of £150 - £200 to play with. The only thing is love don't stint yourself of anything you want will you.

Thank the wardens for me for Harry Quinn will you and they are certainly a good lot of pals.

Mam has written to thank me for the 10/- and I will try to write to her tomorrow. I guess Michael will make up for lost time when he does walk and I know from what everyone tells me in their letters what a lovely boy he is. 

I see Keith is seeing his bees again but hope he soon gets over it.

As I came out of the NAAFI in town yesterday there was a group of little kiddies and as I had a bar of chocolate I gave each kiddie a piece. Before 5 seconds had gone I thought I would be swamped as there were about 50 kiddies all clamouring for some and I wished I had a few bars with me. I had a job to convince them I had none left and you would have laughed to hear me keep saying 'Fini' time and time again and waving my arms around as some of them were trying to feel in my pockets. They must have a hard time with food etc. and I thank god England has been saved the horrors of invasion.

I see you are making Bernice do all the work and tell Sheila daddy will see that Bernice gets a prize for helping mummy so much. By the way love what did we buy Bernice for Christmas. She told me what a game she had trying to make you tell her what it was and said it was a lovely present.

Mrs. Saunders is a good friend to us and I bet Michael looks grand in his new suit. I shall have a job to row you all around the lake and I think we will have to have a little motor at the back of the boat to help me out. I certainly believe I shall be eating some of the shallots you are setting unless you eat them all up about a week after you have pickled them and from what I know of you love that might happen.

The weather at home doesn't seem too great and her is just the same with cold winds, rain and bits of snow and it's more like English weather than in North Africa.

Have you had your glazed fruits yet love (?) and where are the other boxes of fruit I sent you, one with the beads in for you and Sheila's bracelet. I should have thought they would have landed by now but keep on hoping and I hope that Keith's boat arrives soon to give him a lovely surprise

Well love it's near my bedtime so I'll say goodnight sweetheart, God bless you and the kiddies.

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15th February 1944

Well love I have not had a letter from you since the one dated Jan 31st and posted 2nd Feb which I had on Feb 8th so I'm hoping for another bunch from home in the next day or two.

Well love I hope you and the kiddies are well and the wood and coal situation is now in hand. I think I will get you to send a free gift parcel of coal out here as I am sure it is as cold here as it is in England. I know I never used to bother about pulling my sleeves down at home but I keep my sleeves down and wear a pullover so I will be needing a chair near the fire when I get home. You will have to be prepared to sit back a bit from your usual position unless you like to sit on my knee and keep me warm. I shall be able to take a lot of love I can assure you.

I have a sniffy cold at present but I've been pretty free from one for some time so can't grumble. We had a blood test today for volunteers to give a pint of blood but my blood group was A and I was not wanted.

Well love while walking around the town yesterday we came across an old chap sitting across a form filing away at seashells and making some quite nice little cameos. I bought two little ones for 3/- and 2/- as a memento and will post them to you sometime. They don't look a lot but mounted on frames would no doubt make a nice broach. I guess stamped out cameos would look much better but these are done by hand and I hope you will keep them. We went to the pictures at night and saw "Tom Eddyson Junior" with Mickey Rooney taking the part and it wasn't too bad.

The weather today seems to have cleared up and the sun is shining quite strongly although being inside I don't see a lot of it. Still Spring is not far away and then we shall all feel nearer peace and home again when the winter's over. I can't wait for the day to come love and know I shall see a change in the kiddies and I expect you will have one or two creases across your forehead but we'll straighten them out love don't worry. Keith will have grown up more and I can tell from the letters I have had from you, mam and the others he's been a really good lad and loveable in every way. I hope Sheila hasn't lost the cute little ways she had and I'm longing to hear her singing the songs she has been taught by all her relatives and of which I shall never tire of hearing. Baby Michael I don't suppose will know his daddy but he will soon get used to me. 

I do know one thing love and that is they are in good hands and although when I married you dear I never thought you would have to bear for so long the bringing up and the responsibility of the kiddies. You can be proud of the job you are doing and all at home agree what a grand mother you are, I remember before we married you used to talk about not thinking we ought to have children but although we might have had more time for Pictures and dancing without them we could never have the pleasure and comfort we have had through them. I thank God daily that I have been blessed with such a partner in life and a family any man would be proud of. I know at times you must get a bit low and depressed and it' only natural but I know you are keeping your chin up and smiling bravely and I'll always remember it love and try to make up in years to come for this parting.

I expect the Spring flowers will soon be on sale and with the 10/- from the warden's post I would like you to buy yourself some flowers or a plant of some description which will remind you of me and my love for you.

I see London still gets a few bombs but hope the sirens are not worrying you at home. There's one thing we'll never have to spend night after night in the shelter and I'm beginning to think that Jerry wishes he had never started this war.

I hope Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Saunders and Mrs. Woodcock are all OK especially the last in her condition and when this lot's over I think the three 3's as the Brown's, the Woodcock's and the Mason's will be  should have a little celebration on their own, preferably at the 'Blackbird'.  We can easily have two or three tables outside on the lawn for the kiddies to eat biscuits and drink their tummy full of pop. See what Percy and Len (or is it Harry) think about it next time they are home as I am sure the mother's will be agreeable.

Has Harry started putting the allotment in order yet or is he taking over in March. We seem to be doing better for cauliflower in the last day or so but I generally give carrots a miss when they are served. Rice pudding is the usual sweet for dinner although we had jam roll today and I could have eaten twice as much as I had. We still get plenty of Bully Beef but as long as it keeps me going and I keep healthy that's the main thing.

I'm having a game of football tomorrow afternoon so will no doubt be stiff afterwards as I have not had a game for a couple of months. Still it all helps to pass the time. And although I am not so young as I was I guess I can still have a go. There's one thing it won't be as hard as playing on sand in North Africa.

Well love there's not much of interest to report but I know you like these little letters. Keep smiling and chins up till that day dawns. Goodnight sweetheart and God bless.

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  Dad's Army, Abroad !
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19th February 1944

Dear Olive

Well love I received your letter, dated Feb. 6th and posted on Feb 8th, yesterday after about ten days without news of you except for a bunch of Leicester Mercuries which you sent off before Christmas. These I passed on,  after reading them to a chap I found out lived in Evington Valley Road but as he had seen them before leaving England I had a chat with him about how Leicester was looking.

I have had two airmails today, one from Bill and Madge and the other from Janet and as these were dated February 13th I expect there will be others coming shortly from home.

Well love it's nice to see Sheila thinks her daddy has a nice voice and I should have loved to have seen her when the chap on the wireless said "Hello Sheila darling". I'm glad they enjoyed their letters and tell them I am looking forward to their replies.

You know love you make my mouth water at the thought of eggs and cakes etc. as I have not seen an egg since leaving home and don't suppose I will until I get back home.

I'm sorry I didn't tell you before I was in Italy as we are allowed to say so but you needn't worry where I am as I am a long way from the front although I expect to leave my present location soon for a depot but when I do I expect I will be farther from the fighting than I am now. So as long as I know you and the kiddies are keeping well I can carry on OK and I am longing to see our wonderfull baby Michael who will be trotting about by now. Everyone seems to make a fuss of him including Keith and Sheila and I've certainly a lot of love to come home to. 

I'm surprised you haven't had any more parcels yet and am beginning to wonder if they have gone astray. I do hope the parcel from S.Africa gets there safely as it should be home by now.

I find we can send telegrams from here now but I haven't sent one yet as I thought you would get a shock if you saw the telegraph boy coming to the door. If I move and there is a delay getting an airmail letter I might try sending one so don't get a shock if you do get one from me.

I feel sorry for Oliver as he must miss Gladys terribly, she had looked after them so well.

I'm glad Keith has managed to get a slide in at any rate although I guess his mother will be watching his shoes carefully eh love. Yes, Cpl Dickinson is still with me and I hope we can manage to keep together although you know the army. By the way don't bother to send me any papers if they are needed for the fire as I only like to see little bits about local lads in the forces. I hope Faire Brother's have managed  to send you the wood along by now. I guess when I get back it will take a while for me to get my feet warm again but I don't expect you would object to me touching you with them in bed and I can always snuggle close to keep us both warm.

We saw a good ENSA show in the town last night called "Double Scotch" and it was the best I have seen here so far. I hear one of the Lennox sisters is entertaining the troops about 15 miles or so away but wouldn't expect to see anything of her where we are.

I will be sending my shaving kit home for I don't need it here and it gets knocked about a bit in my pack but I am also expecting to send one or two extras as well so it won't be for a few days. I'll let you know when I do send it. I put my washing out this week and it only cost 50 lire or 2/6d so it wasn't bad. It's difficult to wash and dry it by yourself and they certainly make a good job of it.

I see by the news that London is still getting air raids and hope you don't get any stray planes coming near home. By the way did I tell you I had my first game of football on Italian soil on Thursday. We played in gym kit with gym shoes and I feel rather stiff today. Still I don't suppose I am as young as I try to kid myself I am and the old bones creak a bit. Still the next game should put me right.

Well love it's getting towards my bedtime and in another hour I shall be laying in my bed, or rather between the blankets on the ground sheet with my thoughts, coming home to you to be with you until the bugle brings me back to reality in the morning. I can see you now love about 9.30pm just sitting before the fire with the kiddies sound asleep, reading the Mercury whilst drinking a cup of cocoa or milk with a nice slice of cheese and sauce on the table and maybe a piece of apple tart there which I shouldn't leave there long if I were home with you. Never mind love the days are passing, the war will end this year I'm sure and we can take up our proper places again in peace. Just keep your chin up a little longer love and all will be well. God bless you dear and keep you and the kiddies safe. Give them big hugs and kisses for me and don't forget to save for me all the kisses Keith, Sheila and Michael are giving you to keep for me.

Goodnight love, all my love to you. 

24th  February 1944

I'm afraid it's been about five days since I last wrote to you as we have been rather bust and as you see from the above address I have changed companies again. I had your airmail dated February 16th tonight just when I thought the P.O. had forgotten where I was. Yes love I am in Italy (which was scrubbed out by the censor) but not near the fighting area so don't worry about me.

You sound a little fed up love and I know it must seem to you as well as us sometimes that the war might go on for ever especially when the news isn't as good as usual although I'm afraid with so much being said about the war ending this year we kind of expect exciting news everyday. Still love I think it will be over this summer and we won't believe it's over for days afterwards. Until then try and keep your chin up love. You've made such a grand job of it so far and I know the strain of looking after three kiddies by yourself must make you feel tired. Still love think what the German people must feel like being bombed as heavily and knowing it must continue until they are defeated.

Tell Keith I have not had his letter yet but I'll certainly send him one back when I do get it. I'm sorry the other parcels haven't landed yet as they should have done by now and I am afraid there is little we can do but hope for the best although you could write to the Capetown firm if they don't arrive this month and find out when they sent them off.

Michael seems a long while doing his stuff in walking by himself and he must be a heavy hump for you to look after. Still once he does start I can see Sheila having a rare old time with him and no doubt he will stop a few bumps in the next month or two.

I have not sent my shaving kit back yet but will do so when I have the chance. As regards getting a settled job I think in a week or two I will be moving to a depot but I have said that ever since I came over from North Africa so can't bank on it. Were still on the same kind of job we have been on all along and I hope when we move I keep with Cpl Dickinson as I have now worked with him for the last seven months and we get along pretty well together.

I missed church for the first time last Sunday night as we were busy and have not had a chance since then of getting down to the shops in town. I wish I could send you some nuts love but it's the boxes that are a trouble to get. Still I envy you more the bread, cheese and sauce about this time (8.40pm) and I could just see me putting some bread in the grill to spread with cheese after.

I have not seen Albert Silver or Arthur Hull but I shouldn't be surprised at meeting anybody out here. I wrote a note to Mr. Coates in a green envelope which I forgot to sign and when the orderly Cpl was shouting around the billets to see whose letter it was a chap told him he lived in Evington Road  and I had a chat with him afterwards. He didn't come out till Christmas so the Mercuries I passed on to him which you had sent me he had seen at home before coming out. We had a talk on what Leicester looked like and it made me feel I had another little brick from home.

Mail seems very slow coming to hand but as long as I hear from you love and you're  all right I shan't mind. I was sorry to hear about Winnies little girl and hope she is getting over her operation now. I guess Wal and Nora are beginning to realise how much love there is in a child and what they missed for so long.

I am pleased to hear Bob may be coming home as he's had a good spell abroad and am waiting for my time to come. What a day that wil be love when I can come home to you. I live for that day and it keeps me going when things don't seem to be just right.

We get plenty of Bully out here but I can generally eat anything they give us and don't seem to do to bad on it. Still as you say love I never notice what I eat but I could do with a nice slice of apple tart for a change. It seems years since I last tasted a bit of good home cooking. I know one thing love this war has taught us all what home life means to us and just to come back in good health iis all I ask for. To be with you each night, to see the kiddies growing up and to help where I can to make us a happy family. I guess Keith and Sheila miss their daddy a bit and Mammy too but it won't be long now sweetheart.

I seem to have had a runny nose for the last day or two but I'm not the only one and in a months time the weather will be much warmer I expect. Tell mam I'll be writing to her in a day or two but I know she will understand and as long as she hears I'm Ok through you that's the main thing. Every time she writes she tells me how well the kiddies are getting on and you would blush at the compliments I get about you. I guess you will look a bit older to people like Agnes but you'll always look and be as dear to me and that's all that matters.

I'm going to bed now love, so goodnight and God bless you and the kiddies. sweet dreams until the day I come home.

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29th February 1944

Dear Olive

Well love we are on leap year day the end of the winter is in sight and the promise of Spring and Summer we hope and we hope and pray a final victory and a return home to you dear and the kiddies.

Although it is only a few months since I last saw our dear face, I feel sometimes as if I have been away for years and then I get a letter from you with all the little happenings at home, out come the family photo's and once again it seems only like yesterday that I left and I can see you all as you are, baby Michael just staggering around a few steps, Sheila playing make believe with her dolls and singing to the wireless in her saucy way and having a rare old time with Michael. She's a loveable imp of mischief  and I can still hear the way she says "Daddy" in my ears and the saucy way she has of getting out of trouble. I think Keith will be thrilled to see his daddy again though I won't be surprised if he's still as interested in the trams like he was when you brought him to see me at Wellingborough.

I expect dear you have one or two little lines of worry across your forehead but don't put another one there worrying about me. I'm OK and can look after myself. You have plenty on your hands with three kiddies besides your arm and I want to see a big smile from you with all the lines wiped away when that day dawns.

Here it is more like October in England, grey skies plenty of rain and generally depressing weather all round. No of course we don't live in nice house's with warm fires to sit around so we are bound to notice the weather more.

I had a nice surprise the other day as I walked across to dinner when I bumped into Frank Needles fro Faire Brother's. It was a bit of a surprise to both of us as he didn't know I was abroad and although I couldn't spend much time with him I hope to have a longer talk with him when I bump into him again. The second surprise was yesterday when I got a parcel of cigarettes from the office. There were 200 gold flake and they had followed me from N. Africa. I am pretty well off for them actually but if a chap comes in and hasn't any fags I pass a packet on to him to help him out until he gets his free issue. The packet was signed Edith, Gladys, Harold, Alec and No. 5 which is Mr. Coates travellers number so I knew it was him. It's nice to know I am not forgotten by my friends there. I sent off a parcel for you yesterday marked personal effects, beads and ashtray. I have also sent my shaving set in it as I don't use it and we don't have room for surplus kit and have also included your watch so hope it arrives safely.

The ashtray and little beads are things I have picked up here and the beads might give Sheila something to swank with that her daddy has sent her. Clean out the soap container for me love will you as it's old stuff and no good. Perhaps in the next two or three weeks Keith's boat will arrive but don't mention it to him as he would be disappointed if it didn't turn up. The tie in the parcel would do for Les as a little wedding gift. I'm still looking for something for Peggy but so far can't see anything that I could make a parcel of so I'm just keeping my eyes open. I'm still hoping to hear from you that the other parcels have reached you since the first two you had. 

I'm hoping to have a letter from you or mam anytime now as the last I had was dated February 16th. And reached me on the 24th. I know it's only five days ago but like you I like to have a letter from home as often as possible.

I've been thinking today that my brother Tom would have been 40 today if he had lived and I expect mam is thinking of him at this time. She has more than her share of sorrow in her lifetime and I am hope she is looking after herself at this time of the year especially when the weather is generally so cold.

By the way love I mentioned to mam the other day in a letter of the predicament I was in the other morning so she will no doubt tell you about it when she gets it. You will imagine how I felt and I shall never and I will never feel angry with anyone else in the same position.

I missed church on Sunday night as we had some work in that had to be done but I'm hoping to get there next week as I feel nearer to home there especially if there is a decent padre giving the address.

How did Keith get in about his board that broke. I hope he told his teacher about it as he would be worrying for days until she found out. I expect he will have altered more than anybody and before long will be wanting a two wheel bike. If you do come across one reasonable I should get it even if it is a little on the big side as he will no doubt be able to ride it in a month or two. You know love I can hardly credit it that he will be 7 in June. It doesn't seem so long since I took you down to the home on Mabel's advice. We never thought our family would expand to three then and if we had known some years ago all that was to happen, I can see us worrying ourselves to death as to how we were going to pull through. You have had the thick end of the stick for the last two years but we'll look back on it all later on and marvel just how you managed it all. I know it worries me sometimes when you are not so well yourself or the kiddies have colds or something.

That reminds me love I have about five hankies to wash out and as the sun seems to be making an appearance for a little while I think I'll have a go at them and make believe I am standing at the old sink ding a bit of washing for you at home. 

6th March 1944

I received your airmail today dated February 24th and they seem to be taking a little longer to get here at the moment. I sent you an airgraph yesterday and of course as soon as I posted it I got your airmail so you will no doubt get it after you get this.

Well love I am sorry the chocolate was not all that could be wished for and I guess that as it was two months in transit I'm not surprised at it looking a bit soiled. Anyway the other box should have arrived by now and lets hope the barley sugars and jellies are OK.

I have received quite a few letters in the last day or two, including sea letters from Wal & Nora,  Dick & Lillian and Agnes. Dick spent most of his letter giving me a description of you all and when they came to visit you at Christmas and it was so realistic that I could see you all as if I was there. The only thing love, it made me realise all the home life I am missing and I will never be able to pick up all the little cute things that Sheila says at her present age and Michael's antics now that he is at that mischievous stage. I fell afraid love that they will be too grown up, instead of seeing them as I left them more or less. 

Sheila will have lost her old fashioned sayings and actions and I will see a nice tidy little miss who will say "hello daddy" and I will feel somehow cheated of what would have been the happiest time of our married life. You know what I mean love. How folks can have children in peacetime and not see them for years beats me. Still I thank God I have such a wonderful wife and mother. You would blush at the compliments I get about you and how well you are keeping your chin up and looking after the family. I feel envious of the times when someone meets you with the kiddies and says how well they look and I'm not there to take a share of the praise. Still I know they are a wonderful comfort to you love in my absence and I don't mind how much you spoil them. I shall no doubt be quite as bad when I come home and we will shall both spoil each other and them. When I think of the nice little suppers I had at home, fritters or chips with a bit of cheese and a nice mug of cocoa or ovaltine I feel browned off with army feeding. 

Last night I went to church where I am afraid I don't take much notice of the sermon as my thoughts turn to home and  I picture all the things I've heard from you  and for about 20 minutes I am out of the army. Afterwards I went across for supper as it is cold here just now and plenty of rain about and thunder and lightning. A nice drop of soup would have done me good. Just my luck that the soup ran out just before it was my turn to served so I had a half mug of warm cocoa. After a bit of an argument they brought out some salmon that had been left over from tea and we had a big spoon of that each. There was no bread to go with it so I just gulped it down. They then managed to fetch out some cold duff left over from dinnertime and I had a piece of that. I went to bed cold and I am still cold today as the wind is keen and we can see the tops of the hills covered with snow. The rain has eased for a short time though and that's something.

I keep telling you that I'm expecting a move but time marches on and nothing happens so I really don't know when it will be. I'm not bothering about it as I get my mail regularly and each day is one day nearer the end of the war so I just carry on.

I am pleased to see your mums box of lemons has arrived but that one was posted at the same time as a box of figs so that should arrive shortly. It seems the duty free parcel with the beads in might have got lost in transit but you never know and all we can do is hope for the best. I'd like to get Bernice something but don't know quite what to get her which I can send easily. Still I will have a good look around the shops there are and let you know what I have sent. I have a registered letter besides me which I can use for something small.

By the way love you talk about me sleeping in the cot. Don't worry love I could sleep comfortably on the floor nowadays and shouldn't need any cushions either. I don't suppose my table manners will have improved either and I can see myself eating with a spoon and putting my plate straight under the tap to wash it and lining up at the stove for my pudding. How I'd love a good home cooked dinner. I think in future in war time the only thing is for a chaps family to join up with him so that he can get home cooked food and see that his wife and kiddies are billeted with him so that he can enjoy thir love and companionship. You had better suggest it to our local MP love although by the time they had settled such things I'd be hoping to out of it and home to forget all about the war except to have a laugh at the things we have been and still are worried about.

The watch I had mended is going great guns and is a godsend. I only hope your watch I've sent back gets home OK.

I bet it gave Mabel a shock when the gas exploded.

I can just see Sheila chattering away and I bet she told everyone her daddy had sent her some lemons for her cold. I can see Keith being too dear for daddy, he seems to be getting on well and I hope he didn't get into any trouble about his stand breaking at schools.

I have just had a rather dry dinner of cold meat, carrots and potatoes, with rice pudding to follow and it reminded me of a Monday washday when there was no chance of cooking anything and we made shift except here there is no sauce or butter to put on the spuds. I bought a pound of apples so I'll have a couple of those to make up as the breakfast wasn't so good as my soya link was burned and the margarine we got had to be sliced into shreds and put on the bread as it is impossible to spread it. Still on the whole the food is not too bad and we have to grumble about something.

I hope the sirens don't start the old game with you although I expect you will be getting the odd one or two

Well love I guess it's about the end of this letter. I wrote to Wal, Dick and Mabel in reply to their letters but still have to answer Agnes and Gladys Wills so I'll say goodnight sweetheart

11th March 1944

I'm pleased to say your letter dated February 27th and posted the next day came to hand about two days ago and I am hoping that the letters I have sent recently to you have arrived by now. I don't know why you should have been so long without a letter from me as I write two a week although I have been busy since last Monday and have only just managed to answer your letter

Well love you seem to have had a bit of goodness out of the parcels and I wish I could have been sitting down to tea with you all eating jelly and a few tarts and home made cakes to follow. I'm glad I shall be remembered on Peggy's wedding day if only for the jellies on the table. I hope you washed the dates well and that they made up for the glazed fruits that never arrived.

As regards getting an Italian Miss don't you think I have got enough love on my hands without messing about with foreigners. I don't think there is anyone out here to worry either of us.

I guess the snow wasn't very popular with you but I'm glad it gave Keith the chance to show what he could do for a snowman.

Since starting this I have received your airmail dated 2nd March and see you have heard from me and also had another box which had the sweets in. I think that clears all the boxes up from North Africa except the one I wanted you to get with the beads in. that one was sent as a duty free one and should have been home a month ago. Still you never know love it might turn up.

I'm sorry your arm has been bothering you but wouldn't Mrs. B or Mrs. W be able to bandage it up for you. I only wish I was at home to help with these little jobs for you. I sometimes think that if we hadn't had Michael you would have been able to go into the Infirmary months ago and got the arm cured and I blame myself but I know he has proved such a little lump of loveliness that you wouldn't part with him for worlds and now he is able to toddle about I can see Sheila leading him into all kinds of mischief. 

I bet they all had a bit of fun with the snow and I hope their colds improved with the lemon juice. I think the old man deserves a medal don't you love for providing the lemons just when they were needed.

I am glad the pram is OK again and you can get around with the kiddies. I have been down town twice in the last week but still can't find anything for Bernice suitable for posting. Still I think the only thing is to buy her some beads or a wristband and hope she will like it.

Our conditions have improved in the last few days and it's more like my three week stay in Leicester in July 42 in Demontfort Street and it's a funny thing the weather has improved now we have moved and it's quite pleasant in the sun during the day.

I'm pleased to say I am keeping well and looking forward to the day of victory and all it will mean for us dear. I know you must get down in the mouth now and again and everything seems to get on top of you. It's a heavy burden you are carrying love with three kiddies to look after alone. I am amazed and proud of the way you are looking after things for me. 

I hope Keith remembered to put the pieces of coal in the snowman's face as he said he would in the lovely letter he sent to me with the book of Bradgate Park. I am writing him a letter in reply but thank him very much for me and tell him daddy is ever so pleased with it, also to hear he is doing very well at school and going up at Easter. 

I expect Sheila will be wanting to start school in August and I guess when she is four in December she will be itching to start. Anyway by that time I hope the world will be normal again and I shall be home with you love.

I had a letter from mam just after I had written to her so tell her I've had her airmail and airgraph and will be writing to her in a day or two.

I'm still eating my quota of apples, oranges and nuts and they seem to keep me OK. 

I've not heard anything of Albert Silver across here but of course when I do drop across him again which I may do sometime I will let you know. 

I didn't lose any personal kit on the way over here but I had very little anyway. By the way Cpl Dickinson has had news from his wife that she has had the handbag he sent to her and in it is the wallet I won at the whist drive in North Africa. I guess she has sent it along to you by now and I hope you will like it. By the way don't forget to take out the soap from my shaving kit when it does arrive. That reminds me, I sent a parcel to you about a month ago with Keith's boat in and I've just thought it should be about due now so I'm hoping to hear from you soon that it has arrived and what Keith thinks of it. Don't tell him it's on the way in case he is disappointed  and it doesn't turn up.

I hope Keith takes an interest in football. I wish I had been able to play earlier and although I know it makes a mucky mess of our clothes I'd willingly wash him down when he came in all dirty (I never did take up football). It must be different while I am away of course but wait until I get back home and you'll see me taking him in the park with the ball and both of us wanting a spring clean when we come home. I can hear you calling out "Wipe your feet before you come in" and a hard look, as with guilty faces we show our muddy boots.

I bought a few picture cards in town today which I am sending to the kiddies and tell them I will want to know if the kiddies on them are like our family. I couldn't get one with a lad on and wouldn't insult you by sending a picture of an Italian beauty as none of them are in thesame street by my way of thinking.

Well love I hope you can read the scribble. It's now 10.30pm so I'll say goodnight sweetheart, pleasant dreams and God bless and keep you safe. Bye bye darling look after yourself and chins up.

16th March 1944

I was pleased to have you airmail dated 6th March and posted on the 9th and though as you say you feel a bit glum sometimes I'm glad you do let off steam in your letters and get it off your chest. If I heard just a bright story from you each time I should be wondering what trouble you were hiding from me. I know, and you know even if we do kid each other about it, that all our love is for each other and there is no room for anybody else and I know we can trust each other in any circumstances. I'm not demonstrative by nature as a rule and I guess when I return home love there will be times when I don't show my affections but they are there all of the time.

I can just picture the kiddies drinking their milk and I always think they looked their best then, so fresh and sleepy eyed and although it makes me feel how much I am missing till I get back, keep on telling me little bits about home life love so I can keep my picture up to date.

I bet Michael is a young gluten now and when the weather's better see if you can get another photo of you all to send me. I wish I could get a photo of myself taken but where I am at present there is no chance but I can tell you love I have not altered much and if you think of me as I left home with a bit of a wistfull look in my eyes you'll not be far wrong. I still have a bit of brown on my knees from last summer and I might look a bit rougher but when I step off that train, to you I'll look just the same as I left but with the happiest look on my face I've ever had in my life.

I'm glad to see Percy is still stationed near enough home to work a pass now and again and if he was to come over here I should most likely see him as we see a lot of the same trade here. I shouldn't save the Christmas pudding love as I will want some of my own cooking when I come home, plenty of pies, tarts and puddings so don't forget to get some ready for me. Rice pudding and duff are not to be cooked for at least a month after I return. I will say though that the food I am getting at the moment in this Coy is about the best I've had in the army and with sitting down working most of the day I expect I shall be putting on weight.

Did mam tell you about my dilemma about a fortnight ago. I didn't dare tell you in an airmail and I guess you will have a laugh about it but it didn't seem funny to me at the time.

I see May has been to see you and I know what Keith will want when you go up there. It's funny about the bees he keeps on about and I hope it doesn't prey on his mind too much or we will find him always nervous of them. If he does feel the same way about them in the summer I should cut down the bush at the side of the lavatory as I thinks that's where the trouble started. 

You seem to have done well in letters from me lately but I guess it's because the mail arrives in batches although I hope you will not have a wait of a fortnight again as I know how you would worry if you didn't hear from me.

I missed church last Sunday as I was too busy but I hope to go next Sunday evening if I can.

Have you had the wallet I sent via Cpl Dickinson's wife yet. It should come in handy and provide you with a little memento of North Africa. It looks a if the other parcel has been lost in transit and its funny just the one I wanted to get to you specially and sent under a duty free label doesn't arrive. It's about four weeks since I sent Keith's boat off and I hope it arrives safely soon. I bought a few picture cards of kiddies when I was in town last week and have sent them to the family so let me know what they think of them and if Sheila shows hers all around the neighbourhood as usual with that air of pride "from Eila's Daddy". I still take out the photo's of you all to show anybody that I start talking to, to prove how happy a man can be with a family like mine. I tell them they can't expect such luck themselves and I can say everybody who has seen them tells me I must be very proud of such a lovely lot of responsibility and hope I can soon get back to you. 

Well love I won't be finishing this letter tonight as it is now bedtime so pleasant dreams sweetheart and I'll be talking again to you in the morning.

Well love it's evening instead of morning and as you will see I have changed my location again but can't say how long I shall be here. I shall be writing to you again as soon as I know how we stand but in any case you can use this address and letters will be forwarded to me in due course. I shall keep writing regularly and I know that is the main thing you want to know is that I am OK.

I had a letter from jack Richardson yesterday and he tells me that art his camp he met a chap from Leicester named Fred Shilton. The only Shilton I know was Faire Brother's goalie and I bet it is the same chap. He wasn't in the army the last I knew  but I guess he's in by now and if so it was him. Perhaps you will tell Peggy to mention it to Jack Mansfield as I know they would be interested. Well love March is half way over and I expect to hear any day of big happenings from the English side.

Don't forget to let me know if Dick and Lillian have been lucky and their second is a son and heir as I know they would both like a son. I think Mrs. Woodcock will be getting their third offspring anytime now and when she does you and Mrs. Brown and Mrs. W will all be level again. There's one thing love we've got a nice family to bring up and we won't be having anymore but when the time comes I'm only too ready to do my part and see they have a happy life with us. Till that day dawns love we can only grin and bear it and make the best of things. Don't be afraid to tell me of your troubles love will you so I can talk to you about them. I wish your arm was not causing so much trouble and with all you have on at the present it must be hard for you to keep up with the treatment. Don't give up though love. It won't be long now and one morning we shall wake up to peace and normal conditions again.

God bless and keep the kiddies safe and all my love to you and the kiddies.Goodnight sweetheart.

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20th March 1944

Well love here is my latest address and I don't know yet if I will stay here long or not but although no doubt my mail from you will be suffering in consequence I hope you will get my letters regularly to say I am OK and well with nothing for you to worry about regards me.

I have not had a chance in the last four days to write to anyone at home except for the letter I sent you last Friday, which I sent from my last address and I hope this letter arrives in time to save you using that address. I expect your mail to me will be following on and I am hoping there will not be much delay or I will be wondering what to write about as there is so much we can't talk about.

I'm pleased to say I have a bed to sleep in again. I made such a fuss of it I was in bed by 8.45 until 6am and I didn't feel like getting up then. When I get in a really decent bed again I don't think I shall get up for at all for the first  week although I can't see you bringing any meals up for me love after you have done so much on your own.

I read in the papers that there had been heavy snowfalls in England at the end of February and as you had told me about Keith making his snowman, I wondered if you had had any snow since. I've seen quite a bit of snow but at a distance and although the weather is cool at nights it is quite warm in the day and in another months time I expect it will be as warm as England in June. By the way love will you tell Keith that I have not forgotten that I owe him a letter thanking him for the book on Bradgate Park but I have not been able to settle down to writing these last few days and I hope the picture cards I sent them about a week ago will let them forgive me. If his boat has arrived I expect he would forgive me anything.

Has the last parcel from North Africa with the beads in turned up yet love. I hope it has although I shouldn't entertain much hope if it hasn't come home yet. Where I am at the moment there is little opportunity to buy much in the way of gifts and I am not able send Bernice anything yet but my money is accumulating and I may be able to pick you both something worth while in due course.

I find this place is good in the way of food and for breakfast there is porridge followed by powdered egg mixture on toast and jam to follow. We have a light lunch of corned beef and a cheese and onion mixture and bread and jam and at dinner at 6pm after work, chops, mashed potatoes and carrots with jam pastry to follow so we can't grumble.

Cpl Dickinson is still with me and I am hoping our luck will last and we stay together as there is no one else here I know from my old depot. There is a decent canteen where I am sitting writing this at the moment and when we came in last night there was an organised tombola in progress. We went a walk to the church army canteen but it was rather bare and a lukewarm cup of tea the only thing they had to offer when we got there.

Well love I write this as usual before asking how you are. A bit tired of it all I guess love and like myself longing for it all to end and peace reign again. I sometimes think of when that day will dawn and feel afraid to dwell on it too much, it means so much to both of us.

I see the Russians are doing well on the Eastern Front, the promised second front is possible any time from now on and I can't see how Jerry can stand up for long to all the forces that will be hurled against him and as the days go by I think all the while of how you and the kiddies are keeping at home and now I have changed address it will be another week or so before the mail catches up with me again I suppose. Still we have been pretty lucky with mail since I have come abroad haven't we love and I should get the letter you sent to the other address in a few days.

I've learnt very little of the native lingo yet and explain what I want mostly by signs. If anyone asks me the time I just show them my watch and let them work it out for themselves. 

I have not seen so much fruit about since I came here except what is still hanging on the trees and it would make your mouth water at the sight of them. I think when the trees break out in blossom it must be a glorious sight but the glorious sight I am most looking forward to most is when the train rolls into the station and I can see your dear face again, all smiles with Keith and Sheila holding a hand each, Michael watching from your arms at the strange man who mammy tells him is his daddy coming home for good to play with him and make up for time lost.

How's the kiddies keeping love. I hear Michael is toddling around like a two year old and Keith and Sheila are growing up fast. I can see you all busy raking the garden and setting the different seeds. It will be a job for you but I guess Mr. Saunders and of course our old friend Harry Quinn will be there to give you a helping hand. I've not written to Harry yet but tell him I have not forgotten him and will be dropping him a line as soon as I can find time.  I know he hears from you about how I am getting on and ask him to remind me to all the wardens at the post.

Look after yourself for me love until I can get home to look after you myself again and don't let the war get you down now the end is in sight. Give the kiddies big kisses for me and lots of hugs and tell them I am counting how many they give you to pass on to me. I am expecting to have a busy time collecting them all so hold on tight to them.

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24th March 1944

Well love here I am again on a mild evening in March, sitting in the writing room next to the canteen having just heard the end of the 7pm news. I'm settling down to have my little talk with you and the kiddies. Someone on the piano in the canteen is jazzing away up to date tunes so far as we know them and the wireless is also giving out the fixtures for tomorrow. I heard Leicester's name but couldn't catch who they were playing. It's only a few seconds distance by wireless to you at home dear and I often wonder if we are listening to the same programme.

I'm enjoying my stay here and I have to pull myself out of bed each morning. I feel so comfy. Reveille is at 5.45am so we are generally in bed for 9.30pm to get our eight hours rest.

We saw two good films in the dining room last night, one called "Great American Broadcast" and the other "Maizie was no Lady" or something similar and it was about a 21/2 hour show altogether.

I am still working with Cpl Dickinson and hope our luck continues and we keep together although I have met one or two lads here I knew in North Africa. I guess now we are entirely with RAOC chaps I shall be coming across quite a lot of familiar faces.

I hope love you are keeping well and also the kiddies. I've not had any letters forwarded yet from my old address but have a good look at the mail list each evening to see if there is any luck. I guess when it does start it will come in a rush and it will take weeks to get straight with my replies to the many letters I am hoping to get. I wrote to Mabel last night via sea mail and if there is anything I have missed out here love I know you will be seeing my letter to her.

You remember that fellow who while in North Africa traced those pictures of you all on an airgraph for me and you were going to send it back to me for him to see. Well I have bumped into him here and about the first thing he asked was " How did that airgraph turn out". I told him it was a big success but hadn't had it back form you yet. Don't bother to send it now love, but if you do have it save it for me to see when I come home.

The weather has been mixed for the last week due to all sorts of things and I'll tell you all about it someday. We've been a walk tonight before it got dark to stretch our legs but the amount of dust coming up from the roads has to be seen to believed.  They tell me it gets worse as the summer gets nearer, so instead of sand in my shoes I will be getting dust in my eyes.

I am spending very little here outside the NAAFI ration as there are not the shops here that there were near my last abode. Still, I will be getting a bit in hand for when I do get somewhere where I can buy one or two little gifts to send home to you. Perhaps by now Keith has received his boat and I can imagine his delight if it has arrived safely without being knocked about too much. I daredn't ask again if that one parcel which should have arrived two months ago has arrived yet but stranger things have happened and you might still be lucky.

How's Michael getting on with his walking now. I can see you ordering a load of sand from Stan so Sheila and Michael can pretend they are at the seaside and she can make him plenty of sandcastles to knock down. It's a wonder she hasn't got him on the rocking horse for a ride and no doubt will be doing so before the summer's over.

I think sometimes love we feel the same about the second front as we did those few months before the war, when we knew it was coming sooner or later and knew where we stood. Germany is no doubt in a bad way and after the invasion has started properly I don't think somehow that it will last so long before she suddenly cracks up for good. In the meantime we must both try to do our share to make sure this absence from each other in such circumstances doesn't affect our life together afterwards, but only to draw us closer together. My only wish is a safe return to you and the kiddies who mean so much to me, more than I realised I guess and I pray God will keep you all safe for me till I return.
 I can see you love looking out of the window at the garden, wondering if I will be home in time to see the fruits of your labour this autumn. You'll find a lot of work on your hands love looking after it in addition to keeping three kiddies out of mischief but with Mr. Saunders to do a bit and Mr. Middleton and Mr. Quinn popping across to give a helping hand you will no doubt be entering for the warden's post fruit and vegetable show and showing me up when I get back.

I'm still tee-total as the wine is too expensive for the amount you get to suit me and one bottle of bear a week is only irritating and I don't bother with it. I make up on fags though and when we get back to normal I'm going to have a job to sit down to work at Faire Brother's without a smoke for three or four hours. I think I will have a special permit for the first month or two until I gradually get back to my pre war balance again and I can last the morning out without having a smoke.

Well love I'll be writing again in a day or two so just look after yourself for me till that day dawns.
Goodnight sweetheart all my love to you and the kiddies. Give them, Keith 'Eila' and baby Mike lots of hugs and kisses from me.

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29th March 1944

Well love a few more days have passed since I wrote my last airmail letter to you and although no letters have reached me yet I should be getting some any day now and in another weeks time if I am still here I shall no doubt hear from you direct to this address. I've gone back to 'Swithland' style again except that I'm sleeping on a double tier bed and as the weather is good it is not so bad except that it turns rather cold at nights still. There is plenty of dust about but I understand that is the normal thing to be expected.

We had a visit from the R.A.C. band and it was a really good show. They played a selection of old popular songs which included of course 'Tipperary' etc and the one the lads sang best was ' Take me back to dear old Blighty '. I think everyone put there hearts into that one.

We hear the news every night at 7pm and on Sunday night we heard Winston Churchill. Did you listen to him love. I was thinking as I was listening in the canteen that you and perhaps Mabel and Bernice would be sitting at home, thinking of me and wondering if I was listening too. I had attended the evening service first and as I had missed one or two Sundays recently it was nice to have my hour in quiet with you. 

How are you keeping love?  Does your arm still worry you and give you as much trouble? I know you must have a job to get to the Infirmary and it's a good job we have some good friends who can look after Sheila and Michael. There's one thing love by all accounts they are not much trouble to their minder's and everyone seems to get a lot of fun out of them. I expect Keith is getting excited at the thought of going up at Easter and I am expecting him to write me another nice letter before long. Have they had their coloured postcards yet? I thought when I sent them that they should get them about Easter, which is a week on Sunday I believe. 

You know love I sometimes forget which day of the week it is and I can hardly realise how long it is since I came out here. The days are pretty well all alike but we do get one half day a week off and I had Saturday afternoon last week. I went with another chap to the nearest place of any size and after a walk round went to the pictures there. I have not come across a picture house that compares with the 'Fosse' and we generally only see one picture with sometimes a newsreel thrown in.

I'm afraid the Latin I learnt at school hasn't helped me much yet but am picking a few words up here and there. 

We had some butter beans for lunch today and they tasted like orange pips and for once I had to leave them. One of the chaps sitting near said "not quite like Heinz beans eh" and I could just have fancied a nice helping on toast. We seem to drink pints of tea a day and I can see you having to mash a pot every dinnertime when I get back. You had better keep a bit of tea in hand for the time when I'm home to ask for it.

I have noticed the women here don't wear ordinary shoes but a kind of high healed sandal and I expect it's so they can get them off easily if they get grit or dust in them or in the summer I think they wear them without any socks at all. I don't think you could wear them in England love as you would get cramp in your feet to often and shouldn't want to stop in the middle of town to rub your foot for you. 

I have just remembered the parcel I sent to you from 6BN 6RTD about a month ago with my shaving kit in. Don't forget to take the soap out love and tell Sheila not to spill all the scent in one go.

I guess it's still cold and squally at home and you can't get about a lot but another month or so will see the warmer weather arrive and the kiddies will be playing outside again.

I saw my first swallow today since coming here and plenty of lizards basking in the sun. Some of them are about as big as newts and others bigger but they are harmless and shoot away before you can get near them. The only other wildlife in this country is Jerry and I'm hoping he gets exterminated this year. What the chaps feel like who have been out two or three years I don't know. 

I was talking to Cpl Dickinson today and he was describing the journey from London to our homes. He painted a good picture and I could imagine myself all excited waiting for the train to steam into Leicester Station.  I think I will I will get you to get a taxi that day so I can see you as early as possible in Leicester and to have you all to myself until we get home. That day is not here yet love but I live for that day and although we have had some happy days in our lives I know it will be the happiest of the lot for both of us and I am sure the kiddies will think so. 

Michael might not as he doesn't know his daddy properly but we will soon get acquainted. Mam said the other day he aught to have been named Eric Mason as he was likely to have really curly hair just like his daddy had when he was a baby. Remember? You'll have to get an up to date photo of you all  and if you went to the same place and showed them our previous photo and told them I want another one taken they would give you the same priority as before.

We have just been to see the picture show in camp and one of the films "Caught on a Draft" I had seen before in North Africa but I enjoyed seeing it again and it was a good laugh. It's a good job they give us these film shows as it keeps our minds occupied so we can't dwell too much on our style of living.

Tell keith to send me one or two sums and drawings he's done at school so I can see how he is getting on and what songs he and Sheila sing now. Are you letting him have his bit of garden again so he can pick a few flowers of his own for school and to give his mummy as a present. 

Well I guess that's about all for now love and when I hear from you I shall no doubt have plenty to write about. Look after yourself for me darling and keep your chin up a bit longer this year will be the year I'm sure and all will be well.

Goodnight sweetheart and all my love to the kiddies. Give them big kisses for me and don't forget to keep a note of how many they give you for me. I must have hundreds to come by now.

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