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
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
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
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.
Back to top of page.
Next letter from Olive
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
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
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.
Back to top of page.
Next letter from 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Back to top of page.
Next letter from Olive
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
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
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
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
Goodnight sweetheart and God Bless you
.Back to top of page.
Next letter from Olive
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.
Back to top of page.
Next letter from Olive
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Back to top of page
Next letter from Olive
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
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
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
.Back to top of page.
Next letter from Olive
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
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
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.
Back to top of page.
Next letter from Olive
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.
Back to top of page.
Next letter from Olive
Army, Abroad !
Back to top of page.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Back to top of page.
Next letter from 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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Next letter from Olive
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
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
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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
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
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
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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