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Well love I was very pleased to get your airmail which was stamped
April 3rd and to hear you are all keeping well.
Yes love, I'm quite satisfied with the description you gave me
of Keith and Sheila's delight when the parcel with the boat etc.
arrived. I could picture it all so clearly and I hope he doesn't
pester the life out of you to take him down to the Abbey Park
to sail it before the weather gets decent.
You seemed to have a mixed time at the fair with Keith and I
wonder sometimes how much that night in the shelter affected his
nerves. I had an airmail from mam today dated April 5th and she
said Keith seemed to be getting over it and I hope his holiday
at Easter has helped him.
There is only one parcel you've left to receive, besides the
one from North Africa which still may arrive, and that's the one
with my shaving kit in and I hope the scent in the soap container
stands the journey OK. I hear you have been having a chat with
the new vicar and mam tells me he is a very decent sort.
I couldn't carry on with this letter love on the same day as
I started it (in the bosses time) and am now in the writing room
on a Tuesday evening to carry on our chat after attending the
evening service in the canteen. There were about 40 chaps there
and the doors and windows were all open as it is quite warm until
about 8pm. Outside the lorries were racing past every minute or
so and now and again kiddies would come to the door to listen.
We had a volunteer pianist to play the hymns and he didn't know
them very well but we managed OK and the padre gave quite a good
talk in his sermon. I was gazing out of a window and I wondered
if you felt as close to me as I always do at these services to
you. We always have them from 6.30pm to 7.30pm each Sunday evening
and when you are perhaps sitting down love about that time have
your little inward chat with me. I shall be close to you love
and I always feel more peace of mind afterwards. I know sometimes
the war seems never ending and we feel down and these little services
do help a lot.
I guess you have put Michael and Sheila to bed by now and Keith
is about ready for bed also. I can always picture them since you
told me about them sitting there drinking their milk or Ovaltine
and I thank God for giving me such a pal for a wife and mother.
I may not be good at expressing my feelings love but my love is
there just the same and I feel we can see this war through and
come back together again knowing we love each other. We'll have
lots of happy times together love. I know I will still have my
faults which may make us bicker at each other now and again but
the love will be there all the time.
I told Mabel I thought she was on my side until she said
in her letter " Keith had picked up a comic in Olivers as soon
as he went in and started to read it , just like his dad". I think
it a nasty dig love don't you although I think she will still
stand up for her brother when he needs it.
We went to see "Seven Sisters" the other night which I had already
seen once but it is a good film. It's funny to hear the lads whistling
etc. when they see a handsome film star on the screen and when
a girl and a chap have a few kisses on the screen it's more like
a cowboy film showing on a Saturday afternoon with the shouts
and sounds the chaps make. It will seem like a dream come true
to the lads when they get back to England and see and talk to
English girls again. It will be alright as long as the girls haven't
all turned Yankee as most of the lads think they will have done
with all the handsome and free spending lads from there in their
midst for so long.
I'm glad Les liked the tie and wondered if Peggy has had her
little gift yet. I sent it about five or six weeks ago and it
should arrive about now. Mam told me in her airmail about the
new babies being born and also about George and Vera losing their
baby. I know how much it must have hurt after them losing Mavis. I have not heard about Dick and Lillian yet but know you will
let me know when the event happens I hope they get the son they
I'm waiting to see the Faire Brother's magazine to see if there
is any news of interest but don't think there will be anything
from me in the next edition unless I write by airmail and I like
to save them to write to you.
I had my half day today and after lunch I went across to the
bath house and had a cold shower as on Sundays the hot water isn't
on and then after getting back to the tent I put on a pair of
KD shorts I have and had a read and a doze on the bed until dinner
A little Italian girl about as big as Sheila came to the tent
opening and said "Chocolate". I had two pieces left from a ration
bar and I gave them to her, she looked so pleased and surprised.
Although there are sweets and chocolate in the shops they are
too expensive for them to buy as a bar cost 20 lire which is about
half a days work.
You tell me Michael is sleeping with you love and I wish that
by crying a little I could do the same or do you think that with
me sleeping for as long with the blankets round me on a narrow
bed I shan't be able to enjoy a double bed again - try to stop
me if you can love. I may not sleep for the first few nights but
who wants to anyway.
We hear all sorts of rumours etc. about the second front and
I can see it is going to be a big bang when it does start. I only
hope you will not get anymore air raids at home as I know even
if there is not much activity it must be worrying for you. Never
mind though love the winter is over and it is now lighter at nights.
I have now been here for four weeks and getting used to the improved
conditions. It's a palace compared to the macaroni factory we
were in before.
Well love it's time to say goodnight once more. I live for the
day when I can bolt the back gate, lock the back door and say
goodnight to you.
All my love to you sweetheart and the kiddies.
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20th April 1944
I was pleased to get your airmail dated April 14th and the record
has been beaten by a day as it was in reply to my letter of the
6th so it's only 14 days now. You seem to have had a rush of them.
The only trouble is, love, you may then go a week without getting
I see you are in trouble with chicken pox this time and hope
the kiddies will soon get over it. I shouldn't think there is
much more in the way of children's complaints that they can have
especially Keith, he seems to have had the lot now.
I'm glad you still read him little stories at night although
it must be a tiring job for you sometimes. I see you have been
busy with the garden and I can picture you all including Keith
and Sheila doing their bit to try and help and Michael trying
to use the wheel barrow.
I should get Keith the bike you mention as it may be some time
after the war before they are available again. If you are in doubt
as to whether it is serviceable, Harry Quinn would look at it
for you. I hope his throat trouble hasn't knocked him up too much
and by now he is OK again. I bet he will be worried if he cannot
get onto his garden
When you mentioned about the beads being threaded I thought for
a moment you had had my other parcel but you must mean some beads
you already had.
Tom seems to be having a spot of trouble and I hope his ducking
hasn't done him any harm. It must be safer where we are as the
last move was away from and not towards the danger zone. Don't
worry too much about me as I'm O.K. and it's just the worry I
feel about you and the kiddies at home that's the trouble as I
know how much you have on your hands.
I'd love to hear Sheila singing as I've not heard her yet and
I keep hearing about the different songs she sings to you and
the others. When the day dawns that I am home, I will be just
too full up to do anything except sit and watch you all for hours
while I see for myself what a lovely family I have got
You say you won't get a photograph of yourself, love, but I hope
that you do as I want to see you love every night before I turn
in and see how many lines have developed across your forehead
since your last photograph was take. From all accounts, Michael
will never get into the same picture as everyone else as he is
growing so fast. I take Keith's photo out which was taken when
he was the same age to try to visualise what he is like now but
Mam tells me he is bigger than either of them was at the same
I had written a letter to Mam two days before got her Airmail
of April 6th so tell her I have received it and will send an airgraph
to her in a day or so.
I had more old mail in the last couple of days. I had one from
you dated March 21st and an airmail from Mam with the same date.
There was also a letter from Elsie Burnham from Palestine and
one from Arthur Hull and my pockets are now bulging with letters.
I owe Mabel and your Gladys a reply but I've not had time to write
in the last couple of days.
Well love, the weather is getting warmer and the lads who have
outside jobs are already getting brown. We shall no doubt get
Kid's ( Khaki drill) shorts early in May and I shall see what
I can do to get you a photograph taken in them. By the way you
will see from my address what C&E stands for but you need
not use the full address when writing to me.
I know it sound as if I'm in the money here but I only get my
usual 15/- a week (75p),but don't spend all of it.
We have been hearing very little news for the last few days and
the wireless just keeps telling us of the heavy bombing of France
and Germany. I guess you must hear lot's of the bombers going
over the house at night on are not too disturbed at night by sirens
as the wireless said a stray force of German Bombers had been
over Eastern and South East England but 15 had been destroyed.
We had another ENSA show on Monday which was fairly good although
there was a bit of smut in parts and it takes some of the enjoyment
off it. I've not managed to get a game of football yet but if
it gets much hotter I don't think I will miss it. It's my half
day off on Saturday and I may hitch hike into town to see if I
can buy any little gifts to send home. I would have liked to get
something for Mam for her birthday but I couldn't find anything
Well love I don't think I will finish this letter tonight. I
am writing it in the tent with a bowl on my knee and only a hurricane
lamp for illumination. It's now 9.50 and the lads are coming back
from a concert in the dining hall so I will have to put the lamp
out soon. Good night sweetheart, pleasant dreams and God bless
and keep you all safe. I'll be dreaming about you all tonight
and the time when I will be home.
Well, love, it's now Friday and I've had a long letter from Arthur
Hull giving me the low-down on the draft he was on. Apparently
he mention the trouble with his feet to the M.D. and was taken
off the draft pending a specialist's report. He has now seen the
specialist and while he waits for the report he is back to work
as usual. It's funny he played cricket etc OK for years but there
it is love and he may find himself in something worse later on.
It's only delaying the inevitable I think and he won't always
I've just had a letter from Winnie and Arthur and am pleased
to hear Anne is OK again It must be nice to come home to your
own family every night and it more than compensates for the extra
hours the chap has to work.
By the way, I hear Dick has been presented with another daughter
but I tell them perhaps they will be lucky next time with a boy.
That is of course if there is a next time. Talking of babies,
Arthur Hull tells me Bill Parker is going to become a proud father
anytime and mentioned that he was on my draft so I don't know
if he will be taken off until after the event.
I've not been to the pictures for a few nights but may go during
the weekend. I understand from Mam that Bill has sent me some
books but it may take some time before they arrive.
Well love it's taken two days to write this but I've written
small so we can have a long chat as I know you prefer that. I'll
have to close now so. Look after yourself, I love you all so much.
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Well love your airmail posted on the 21st April only took 5 days
to reach me and as I am out of airmails at the moment (This weeks
issue hasn't come through yet) I thought I'd send these few lines
to say I am fit and well and trying to catch up with mail that
seems to be accumulating. Don't worry about me love for the next
Jerry I see will be the first.
I've written an airgraph to Keith and am hoping the holiday and
the better weather will soon put him right again after his bout
of chickenpox. I see Sheila and Michael had to follow suit but
I would be worrying more if they had had whooping cough this year
instead of last.
I see you have been busy all round with gardening, mending and
cleaning bikes etc. and I think at times love you do more than
is good for you especially when you are not well. I know how you
were with me at home and I know you must have a lot more on your
hands with three kiddies to keep out of mischief besides keeping
them tidy and your normal work.
I bet Keith was proud pushing Michael along and I can just imagine
the party of you all, with Sheila trotting along like a little
lady and chattering along all the while. I'm a very lucky chap
love having such a family and I can't count the number of times
I have brought out the family album to prove to somebody or other
what married life can bring to a man.
Keep smiling love and chin up, that day will soon dawn and I
will try and bring you some really nice beads home to wear. God
bless you and the kiddies and keep safe for me.
Well love I expect you will get this about the same time as the
airgraph I sent last Thursday but I have had your letter dated
the 19th and as I have now received my quota of airmails I'm spending
an hour sitting in peace outside our tent on a pleasant Sunday
afternoon writing to you. The wind is a bit cool today but I can
feel the heat of the sun on my arms as I sit here. Opposite on
the other side of the path is a field of wheat and to the right
an orchard which isn't much use to us as far as we are concerned
for another three months or so.
It is difficult to realise there is a war on as we sometimes
go two or three days without hearing the news. I guess when the
second front opens the news will spread around quickly. I'm pleased
to say love I'm keeping well and so far since coming abroad I
have not had to report sick at all. I've just had a nice warm
shower, changed my clothes, made my bed and here I am at 2.50pm
sitting on a box with a 15" square pieces of plywood across my
knee as a writing desk. If it were only possible you and the kiddies
were here with me we could have a nice time.
I had a letter from Bernice yesterday in her true newspaper reporter
style and am pleased to hear Peggy received her present OK and
you liked the cameos. They are a bit rough but are a memento of
Italy. I picked one or two stones from the beach a week or two
ago to keep as souveniers and as long as I don't have to fill
my kit bag with bits and pieces from various countries I shall
be OK. A little memento from Paris on the way to the channel ports
will suit me. I also had a letter from Jack Turvey which only
took nine days to reach me here from the M.E.F. I can see it's
not much good looking out for him at the moment. He is fit and
well he tells me and is waiting for the time when he can drop
in home for a game of darts or cards and a bit of supper.
I know Keith will be interested in the next item of news. Before
you tell him, ask him who came to the camp to entertain us in
an ENSA show. Tell him the man he likes to hear on a gramophone.
Got it love ? Yes, Sandy Powell and it was a real tip top show.
The place was packed and everybody enjoyed it. I hadn't seen him
before and wondered whether he would be much good but he has a
comical way of talking and as Billy Scott Cromber was also in
the cast we were well satisfied. It is now a garrison theatre
here now so I expect we will be getting plenty of shows in the
future. There were several during the week but I only went out
one night and that was to the local pictures to see "In which
I serve" with Noel Coward in the chief role.
I don't think I mentioned in my last letter that I had seen an
opera here a week ago. We managed to book seats (5/-) and you
know love what continental opera houses look like in the pictures.
It was just like that, just stalls on the ground floor and eight
tiers of boxes stretching round in a half circle from one side
of the stage to the other. Each box held about six people and
there were about 20 boxes on each tier with scroll work, gold
paint and electric lights everywhere. The roof was dome shaped
with a big painting of an opera scene and it was worth the money
to go there. The attendants were male and dressed up like little
Napolians with cocked hats and gold braid with knee length breeches
and stockings and the two operas were grand. It was 11.30 by the
time the show was over and it was a good job there was a lorry
to take us back to camp. As I mentioned before we are normally
in bed for 10pm so it was a real late night for us.
By the way love don't forget if Peggy had to pay any duty on
her bracelet, to give it to her and the 10/- you had from the
ARP will come in handy to straighten the account. If she hasn't
had to pay you could perhaps get something for mam for me for
her birthday as I don't seem able to get anything suitable here.
I can't even get a birthday card and the best I could do was send
an airgraph which I hope she has in time.
Bernice tells me the weather is nice at home and with Butlins
fair nearby I guess you are all having a good time although I
hear Sheila and Michael have caught chickenpox from Keith so there
will be a bit more trouble for you. They seem to be growing into
grand kiddies love and they are a big comfort to you I'm sure
in these times even if they do try your patience at times. They
have done mine when we have both been at home so you must have
some hidden reserves if you've still some patience left.
As I am writing this some little Italian kiddies are passing
and they always say what sounds like "Allor" which I think they
mean for Hello. Most of them are very pleasant and all of them
bare footed. Not many of the women or girls here wear stockings
but walk with a kind of high heeled sandal over their feet. One
of the chaps in the office has two kiddies, the younger one aged
seven and I gave the chap a bar of chocolate to give to him last
week. He told me the next day how delighted the kiddie had been
with it. I often think how much England has to be thankful for
that the kiddies at home haven't had to go through the experiences
and hard times some of these youngsters have been through and
the conditions they live in at present until the war is over.
Sometimes they wait outside the dining room with tins asking for
the bits of food chaps have left on their plates which would have
gone into the swill bin. They eat plenty of nuts and fruit and
I guess they must thrive on them as they don't look so bad.
I hope when you get the figs you make sure there are no grubs
in them as they were a long while in transit. I can't remember
if you told me you had received the little bottle of scent I had
sent in the soap container but I may have overlooked it when you
did tell me. You know what a mwemory I have.
Well love it's getting near time to close for a few more days.
I shall be at church tonight at the usual time and shall be near
you sweetheart. Just carry on love as you are doing with your
chin up and a smile on your face even when things are not going
right and each day brings that day nearer when I can tell you
how much you mean to me.
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I'm starting this letter tonight love although no doubt I shall
be a day or so finishing it as we write when we have a few moments
to spare and no doubt I shall be hearing from you before this
Well love we went to a show last night at the Garrison theatre
in camp called "Double Scotch" and I was sitting next to a chap
who I found out came from Leicester. Of course we started to find
out all we could about each other and I found out he lived in
Highway Road opposite Mr Coates. He knew him of course and was
fire watching at the same time in November 1940. He came out on
the draft I should have in July. We started talking about who
we knew and when I mentioned where we live he said he knew Mr
Taylor in Barton Road. Of course we carried on about football
and he knew several of the Faire Brothers team and I happened
to mention where you lived and he said he went to school around
there. I told hem who you were and he said he knew you. I pulled
out the family photo and he said you might remember him. His name
is George Clarke and he lived next door to George Baron in Gwendolin
Road who had a bit of a dance band at the Victoria Hall about
15 years ago and this chap took the tickets at the door. You see
how your dark past comes out love even when it is told a thousand
Well love it is now Wednesday night and I have just received
your airmail dated the 27th April. Before I forget I see in your
letter you have already received the shaving set but I can't remember
you saying you had received the little bottle of scent I enclosed
in the soap container and that's why I mentioned it again.
I think I told you about receiving some more APO letters and
I shouldn't be surprised at more catching up with me. As regards
Bob I must have thought from one of your letters that he had been
home on leave and was now near Dover but it must have been Percy
I got mixed up with. I see Tom is under an APO number and I can
understand Gladys being worried. I think you would be more worried
if I was in his place although he might be lucky and not run into
any trouble at all. As you say love things are likely to start
over there any day now and I should think the tension is more
like 1938 before Munich.
I'm pleased to see the kiddies are getting over the spots and
I bet Sheila looked sorry for herself, bless her. I can imagine
the rough time they give you in bed in the morning.
By the way love your reference to the Yankee sergeant and the
Quinn's produced an argument in the tent as one chap said it was
quads and another chap backed you up. Apparently it was in the
'Union Jack' a day or two ago but I didn't see it.
I've just had the parcel from Bill with the books and if mam
is writing to him will you ask her to thank him for me and say
I will be writing in a few days time. I see from his letter I
sent one or two to 100 Bushmore Road Birmingham instead of number
75 but I will try to remember in future.
I'm looking forward to the photo love but I wish you were on
it even if you have put on two or three stones which I hear from
all accounts you have. You'll still be as dear to me love though
and I shall have to remember my P's and Q's or I can see myself
being a horizontal champion. You must be eating too many chocolates
and nuts and when there is plenty of everything about again you
will be getting the heavyweight of the family. You wouldn't find
much change in me love although I don't think I weigh as much
as I did in North Africa. I suppose the hot weather coming will
also make me sweat a bit.
I noticed when we are walking down to work this morning
how big the clover grows, the flowers are about 2" long and the
plant about 2ft high. The field looks a grand sight and if it
grew as high in England it would worth having some in the garden.
I see we are getting pictures before you do at home and tell
Bernice I've also seen her favourite star 'Dianna Durbin in "It's
a Date" have you seen that one yet love. I am sorry there are
so many alterations in this letter love but I am trying to write
it sitting on the side of the bed while the other chaps are chatting
and arguing about their various mobs and we have a lot of laughs.
The only thing is love it is difficult to concentrate when so
much is going on but I am doing my best. There is a corporal from
London, two from Manchester and the others from various parts
of the country so there is always something to argue about.
I see the garden seems to be progressing well and you seem to
be much in front of Alf as mum tells me he hasn't done much at
his yet. I can see you winning a prize in the ARP vegetable show
if your not careful.
I hope Harry Quinn's throat is better and he is OK again. Well
love this letter is a bit rambling I know but there is little
in the way of news to write about. I think I told you in the airgraph
I had seen Sand Powell and tell Keith he is just as funny on the
stage as he sounds on his records. I hope Keith is now OK again
and has received the airgraph I sent him recently. I am hoping
to get a few lines from him when he has time although I guess
when he comes home from school he is wanting to be out playing
until it's time for bed so I wouldn't bother him about it. I hear
he has sailed the boat in the bath and expect he will be wanting
to try it on the lake next.
Thank little Miss Sheila for the lovely spotty kiss she gave
you for me and tell her it tasted grand. I can see her growing
up to be a real little flirt and some boys are going to have a
few heartaches over her. I can see her getting her own way like
her mother, all through life especially if she marries some lucky
fellow like her dad. Then there's tubby, the darling baby of the
family who seems to be eating more of his rations than he should
by the weight he's putting on. We couldn't ask for more could
we love and our happiness will be complete when that day dawns.
Until then night and day I am with you in thoughts all the while
and we'll carry on doing our part with as brave a smile as possible.
Keep your chin up love and God Bless you all and keep you safe.
All my love to you sweetheart and give the kiddies big hugs and
kisses for me. We shall look back on this lot as an experience
which at least shows us how much we mean to each other.
Well love here I am again to spend a little time with you after
going to my usual church service in the canteen but somehow it
is not the same as it was at the GRTD. I suppose that is because
there is no piano or harmonium to help with the singing and with
the warm weather, all the doors and windows are open so it is
often difficult to follow the service with the noise of the traffic
going past outside. Every time a lorry passes a cloud of dust
come in through the windows and the ashes which the Vesuvius eruption
left all over the countryside don't help much either.
The padre is a decent sort but instead of the lovely service
we used to have it's all a bit like a school lesson turning to
the page he says etc and it sounds funny although it had a bearing
on his address to sing 'Oh Come all Ye Faithful' on the hottest
day of the year so far. Perhaps I had set too high a standard
from the last place and perhaps I will get used to it.
If not I shall write this at the time I should have been in church
and I shall be with you just the same.
The chaps have just left the tent to go to the canteen (Church
Army) and all is now quiet again They have been singing 'You never
miss the old faces' which two chaps sang in the show 'Double Scotch'
the other night and it was difficult to write with so much going
on. However it s now quite except for two Itie chaps who came
to the door of the tent calling 'Aqua Johnny' which is their
way of asking if we want any water fetching from the brook. They
earn quite a few lira this way but they were unlucky tonight.
We had out first mefacine tablet tonight as a safeguard against
malaria and we have also been issued with mosquito nets again
but it's quite a job getting into bed at night with them.
Still I faithfully followed the instruction laid down as I don't
want a dose of it and need to walk around with an overcoat on
in the middle of summer when I get back to England. We have not
been issued with KD shorts yet but expect to get them on Wednesday
so after that I shall look like a young boy again for a few months.
I hope I shall be able to get a photo taken in them this year.
An old Italian woman who does washing for us says she will introduce
us to a good photographer.
I was showing her the family photographs and when she saw the
one of Mam in the back garden holding Sheila she said 'like me'
and pointed to her Gary hair. She enjoyed looking at the wedding
photographs as well and told me that life in England must be much
like life in Italy
Well love it's getting too dark to write properly so I'll say
goodnight and I'll be back with you tomorrow to finish it. Perhaps
there will be a letter from you.
Sorry love, no letter so here I am again on a lovely warm evening
in the Church Army canteen to continue our little chat. I think
I told you about the cornfield opposite the tent. I looked at
it again tonight and all the ears of corn are full and I expect
that in another months time it will be ready for reaping. Potatoes
also seem to grow like wildfire and those which only just poked
through the ground a week or two ago are now about a foot high.
We re very tempted to help ourselves to a meal of new potatoes.
The thing I do miss here is water as we are told the local water
here is no good so we drink very little and tea makes you every
hot. We drink about four pints a day of it so you had better get
a stock in for when I return
I'll still not had my first real egg since I left home. We only
get dried eggs which cooked the Army way doesn't taste too great.
I prefer fried spam for breakfast and save my jam ration to put
into my porridge.. Yes even here we still get porridge every day
with watered down milk on it but it's not too bad.
I told you we get a light lunch at mid day and dinner at night
but lately we seem to be getting more than out share of tinned
fish at lunch and with the warmer weather most of us just don't
fancy it that much. Oranges seem to have died out and nuts are
difficult to get except at a high price. The almond trees already
have small fruits forming on tem as do the apple trees.
On Sunday I went a walk with another chap into the countryside
and it was good to get away from all the khaki for a few hours.
we sat at the side of a stream and if it had been grass instead
of volcanic ash we should have felt content and we could imagine
we were back at home. I wondered what we would be doing,
going for a walk perhaps or just relaxing in the deck chairs on
the lawn. It seems ages since I saw some real grass, they cultivate
every inch of ground here so even if it wasn't covered in cinders,
there wouldn't be much green to be seen.
They are starting bathing parties and I'm hoping to spend one
or two of my half days off dipping into Musso's Ocean
I'm going to do my best tonight to catch up with replies to all
the letters I have had. Well love I've just rambled on in this
letter not saying much about Keith, Sheila and Michael. I hope
they are being a comfort and tell them Daddy is always looking
at their pictures and knows they are being really good and helping
mummy all they can. Give then lots of kisses for me and take plenty
for yourself. Goodnight sweetheart, sweet dreams.
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13th May 1944
As usual love your airmail dated May 1st and posted on May 4th
arrived at night after I had posted my last airmail to you on
May 9th but here I sit on a nice warm Saturday evening time 7.30pm,
place, above address to write a few more lines and hope with luck
to finish it off tonight at one go.
Tomorrow means I shall have been in the army for two years and
we were talking last night about our experiences. Do you remember
love the phone conversations we had when I was at Chepstow and
keith wanting to talk to daddy while Sheila made funny noises
on your knee and cried when you tried to get her to speak into
the phone. Also how excited I was when I knew I was coming on
that course to Leicester for three weeks. Although the army has
broken our home life together for so long, we were luckier than
a lot of others when I was posted only thirty miles from home.
We were taught by our parting just how much we love and mean to
each other and we shall never forget. The two years have passed
slowly at times and yet at times it doesn't seem too long since
I first donned my army clothes.
At the moment we are wearing our KD again and this time should
be the last. If the war's not over this year I can see half the
lads hitch hiking home. Still I hear today they have started a
push at Casino and the second front can't be so far away.
I should have liked to have seen the gliders that came over home
and I think when it is all over and we sit down together to talk,
or read, after the kiddies have gone to bed you will know more
about the war than I shall.
I don't know if I mentioned in my last letter about the fireflies
we saw the other night but I should turn it up in the dictionary
and tell Keith and Sheila how they make these little lights from
their bodies, or is it their wings, and how nice they look when
it is dark and these little lights are dancing away amongst the
I didn't mention in my letter that as far as I know Elsie Burnham
hadn't any family of her own except of course the husbands boy
but there's no telling.
I wrote to Dick and Lillian the other night to congratulate them
on their second offspring and also a green envelope to Bob which
may find him at the address given by you.
I am pleased to hear Dr. Airie's report on your arm love and
if anybody deserves to get well you do. It's no doubt through
me in a way that it had to be left when it was getting on
so well and I hope your lovely little bunch of mischief (Michael
John) will allow you to forgive me a bit.
I can imagine what Sheila looked like with her spots on and her
little face but I always like to think of her as you picture her
to be, being saucy and sweet and singing in her way the latest
songs. She's going to be a real gel when she grows up and lead
the lads a dance (like her mother).
Keith I think will be a woman hater. Wanting to know all about
how things work and too busy to bother with them. I don't know
what to make of Michael yet, he's got me guessing so far and I
can see him being a bit of the 'lad about town' later on with
plenty of girls after him and getting his own way with Keith and
Sheila. I still wonder how I came to be blessed with such a loveable
family and my ambition in life is to see you and the kiddies have
as happy a time as I can possibly give you.
I hope Keith takes to sport in due course but there's plenty
of time for that as you say when I get back to show him what little
I know. I should like Sheila to play the piano and sing as I think
she is cut out for it and we'll see about using a bit of our savings
on a piano when the time comes. We shall have all sorts of wonderful
ideas I guess love to spend our money on including transforming
the back into a flower garden and lawn, not forgetting the fruit
trees. You say I shan't have any time to sit back and admire you
but I hope you will let me have just one day at least just sitting
back in the chair and making myself realise it is not a dream
and I am home again. I bet love if I wanted to start washing up
on my first day home you would push me back into the chair, where
Sheila and Michael would be clambering all over me. Keith would
I think be more interested in telling John and the other kids
I was home and asking when I was going back.
According to the papers they are going to fit us all up wonderfully
well in nice lounge suits of very smart designs and if I don't
lose some weight in this heat I may have a basinful.
I'm itching to see the photos of the family love although those
I have will take some beating. As regards the grey hairs, you
will see in my last letter they are honoured and respected and
you can't always stop one or two mixing in with the others. What
beats me is the fact that with all the time you've had on your
own these last two years you have not gone grey all over. It's
been a tough time for you I know love and when you have been worried
and a bit down in your letters I've felt the same way too. I think
we will need a few nights out together on our own to put us right
again don't you think so love?
Tell mam I was thinking of her yesterday on her birthday and
hope she didn't make herself ill eating too much trifle and iced
Peggy's wedding won't be long now and I bet you will all look
well in your new rigouts. When you write again love tell me just
how your dress is in style so I've got a picture of you in my
gift dress. I'm glad Kath is going to be a bridesmaid and hope
she is getting over the shock of Glad's death and that the weather
will put her right again.
Well love there is little in the way of news in this letter but
I can tell you it is sports day tomorrow and I shall be writing
you again in a few days.
Goodnight sweetheart, pleasant dreams and God bless you and the
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As usual love the day after posting my airmail of the 13th I
received your welcome one dated May 9th and it seems yore letters
take only 5 days to reach me and 9-10 days to get from me to you.
I have had a quiet spell this week in receiving mail and so I
have managed to wipe off a few more of the replies although I
still have Aunt Beck, Win and Arthur, and Mabel to reply to. Still
if I get down to the Church Canteen about 8.30pm tonight I may
be able to get a couple of airgraphs in before they close down.
I have sent Sheila an airgraph, as I wouldn't like her to think
her daddy had forgotten her. Thank her for the kisses on your
letter love. I lick them all off one by one. I bet she looks a
sweet kiddie in her new dress and you will swell with pride when
folks say so. Mind you love don't burst your brassiere in the
I am sorry the tulips have had a tough time and I expect in a
way it was a god job your washing line broke one. I guess if I
had been home and playing with the football about all the lot
would have gone. The roses here are all out in bloom and the ramblers
are as big as ordinary roses at home. The cornfield opposite is
gradually changing colour and the fruit can be seen on the trees.
I was thinking tonight while I washed my knees how Keith would
laugh to see me and I think at times it's like being a kid again
and holding our knees out for inspection by mam before going to
school. Does Keith wash his own yet? I bet they are no browner
than mine at the moment love and as we work indoors we don't get
a lot of sun during the day.
At the moment it is about 6.45pm, I've made my bed, put my slippers
on, taken my shirt off for a wash and am sitting here in my singlet
and shorts with my back propped against the back of the bed. The
sun is shining outside and both ends of the tent are open. I can
hear several chaps singing from various tents but our favourite
lately has been "There seems a hopefull feeling in the air nowadays" and I think it's with the lads doing well in Italy and the expectation
of the second front opening soon. The war in a way seems far away
from us as you hear more planes than we do. I wondered if you
had a siren the other night when 15 German bombers were brought
down. If you did I hope they didn't upset you.
We seemed to have had a lot of tinned fish lately and the spuds
are dehydrated but there is plenty of duff about. We are taking
our Neparines regularly and of course sleeping under our mosquito
As you know love last Sunday was my second anniversary in the
army and it was funny they had fried egg and bacon for breakfast.
They must have known. It's the first real egg I have had since
landing in North Africa. it was also Sports day and Dick and I
set off about 2pm to walk there, a distance of about 3 miles as
we thought. Unfortunately we lost our way and after a cross country
hike we eventually arrived there just in time for tea at 4.15pm,
we had a good tea, watched the remainder of the races and came
back to camp by lorry, changed into our long pants and watched
a concert party in the garrison theatre on camp. Quite a good
anniversary eh love.
I think my pay increases by 3d a day but this may be put on your
wages and deducted from the hardship allowance.
I have just had to stop as a lad has just come in and is sleeping
on the bed above me for the night. He is from Stratford and as
he knows one or two Leicester lads at his unit I am giving him
my address in case I know them. One of them lives near where Judy
Shirley used to live in Leicester which I think is your way love
isn't it, so if I find out just where he lives and his name I
will let you know in case you do know him. As long as he is not
another old flame from your secret past. Did you remember the
We saw a film in the camp last night called "Nice Girl" with
Dianna Durbin in but it wasn't so good as some of her pictures.
Still it cost nothing so we couldn't grumble.
Well love we have just arrived at the Church Canteen for tea
and cakes and here I am in the writing room at 9.15pm to finish
my little note.
The army ink I've used so far I have replaced with some from
a bottle here, which I think, is better. By the way love I am
sorry to say I lost your revolving pencil about a week ago and
so will have to get you a new one before I get back as I know
you like it to make out the Co-op order, with I hope before long
40 players for me. It's a good job fags are cheaper in the army
as we smoke at least 20 a day and it would cost me about a pound
a week which I couldn't afford. I draw 15/- each week so there
is about 6/6d a week going into credits so I shall be reckoning
up soon to see what I can send home. I hoped mam liked the brooch
and I know she will understand I can't get anything here. I do
hope to get Keith a card somehow but if not I will have to send
Well love it's time to say goodnight again. Are you thinking
of me love at this moment I wonder. I hope the supper you are
having is nice and I'd love a cup of cocoa with you just now love
and say goodnight love. Still as you say we will smile together
one of these days so goodnight sweetheart.
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the Faire Brother's Magazine
I was very pleased to get your letter dated 12th on Friday 19th.
I had already written to you the day before giving you the weekend
We heard about the push in Italy and the lads seem to be doing
very well. Once they get passed Rome, I think things will move
faster. I feel very sorry for Glad and Tom as they must both be
worried to death as for two or three weeks after the landings
in France they will be unable to keep in touch with each other.
We all of us run a risk of some sort or another I suppose although
I'm not in a danger spot here
When you see Glad give her my regards and tell her to keep her
chin up. Most of the lads here who have been through all the campaigns
don't seem to worry about the risks but just want to get the whole
thing over with and get back to their loved ones.
I have about eight letters to answer at present including one
from Keith and one from Coalville. I also had a letter from Bill
and Madge enclosing a snap of them on holiday. tell Mam to thank
them if they come over for the wedding.
I'm pleased my family is showing a brave face to the world and
you are all in good health. Michael must be getting a bonny lad
and I'm looking forward to seeing him doing his little tricks
and helping to do my bit in bringing him up. One of the chaps
here brought some Leicester Mercury's for me to see so I've a
pretty good idea of what is happening in Leicester.
Can you send me a copy of Peggy's wedding photo. I'm always swanking
about my family and of course Peggy, and Bernice, is one of us
too. I think during the next week I will get my photo taken (six
postcards for 35/- so I'm drawing a little extra money this week
to cover it.. I will let you know if I succeed as the photos will
have to be sent by sea. I have sent a birthday card for Keith
and if it gets there before time tell him the boat must have been
a fast one.
I've sent Sheila one at the same time as I know she loves to
get pictures from her Daddy and I enjoy imagining her face when
she gets them.
Keith seems to enjoy building things all the time and I should
let him have as much time and opportunity as you can love, in
that direction. he may find a lifetime job in it later on
Note May 2001. I didn't but I have just retiled a bathroom !
We'l love I'll carry on with what news I have about myself. As
usual I am fit and well, perhaps smoking more than I should but
drinking very little. we had another trip to the opera in town
on Sunday evening to see Carmen and it must have been our unlucky
night. We started off well getting a lift into town a jeep and
after having tea and cakes in the NAAFI we arrived at the Opera
House at about 8.0pm when the show should have commenced. Unfortunately
the lorry with the costumes did not arrive until nearly 9.0pm
and we knew it would be late finishing. It was a good show but
didn't have the right atmosphere as chaps had to leave to get
back to their camps.. We decided to stick it out to the end and
it was after 1.0am when it was over and we had about seven miles
to walk home.. We managed about three miles before getting a lift
and we rolled into bed about 2.15 am. Then my stomach started
to roll and I had to make a quick dash for the lav. We should
have got up about 6 am but it ten minutes to seven before we woke
up and we had a quick dash to get some breakfast, a shave at dinner
time instead of morning and arrived at work ten minutes late..
I shan't be late in bed tonight as there is an ENSA show on tomorrow
in the camp I expect it will be 10.30pm before that is over. On
Saturday I went to cinema show in camp called 'Babes in Arms'
which I had already seem once before but it wasn't a bad picture.
I spent my half day on Sunday having a bath, and then carried
my bed outside the tent and did a spot of sun bathing until too
many ants started getting in my pants. I took the bed inside the
tent and lay reading for a while dreaming of my darling and what
you are all doing at home. I did doze off once or twice so tea
time came quickly.
I hear Billy had a narrow squeak at Abbey Park and hope he hasn't
suffered too much from his experience.. The first fruits (cherries)
have appeared on the markets although I haven't had any yet. We
have started to get fresh greens and peas although I can't tell
much difference in them. We haven't had any new potatoes yet.
The weather is still rather cool at night and we had some rain
on Saturday but that was the first for a week and most of the
time the sky is clear.
Give Peggy and Les my best wishes and don't drink too much at
the wedding | expect Harry will do his best to turn it into a
real celebration. I'd love to be going with you but will do my
best to try and write what I feel.. I can't always write in words
how much I love you but I pray to God that we will have many years
of happiness when we are all back home together
27th May 1944
It still seems that we are still receiving letters just after
posting one and the same thing happened on Saturday as I received
yours after posting mine in the morning. I thought I would leave
this for a few days in case another one came. I'm in the Church
Army canteen as usual to have my little chat with you.
I've been thinking about you all day and wondering how the weather
was for peggy's big day and what sort of time you are having.
I hope all the kiddies are well and nothing stopped you from going
to the wedding.
I asked Harry to have one for me and get he had no problem obliging.
Did he sing as his throat got loosened. I'm sure Mabel had a rare
old time cleaning up the day after.
It has been my half day today and I went to town to find the
photographers. While I was on the way I wondered if you would
like my photograph with the bit of dirt I've acquired on my upper
lip recently so I had some snaps taken at another place (they
were only four for five shillings) and I'll be shaving it off
before I get the other photographs take. You can let me know which
you prefer. I want to come home looking as good as possible but
I do remember you saying that you didn't care for them. Still
I think you will still recognise me. I'll be sending them in a
green envelope if Dick will lend me one
I'm longing to see the new family photo you have already sent
but I wish you had been on it. I don't seem to be smiling much
on my snaps but you will have to blame the sun. It's a bit of
a job to stop squinting let alone trying to smile.
I should like Mam and your Mam to have one of the photos, whichever
they prefer. Now I'll make your mouth water, love. Cherries are
on sale now and although I haven't bought any yet I've been given
quite a few by the lads who have. they are not very sweet but
they are very nice and I bet you would like a taste of them, wouldn't
you ;love ?
Well it's closing time here so it's goodnight until tomorrow.
Well it's now Whit Sunday I heard on the news that there
had been an air attack on a town in the South East and I hope
no stray aircraft bothered you.. We went to the local cinema on
Thursday night to see 'Sgt. Yorke' which seemed a bit far fetched
and made all the lads laugh. Only in America could he have done
what he did. Last night after I had written to you in the canteen,
I walked back to camp and there were hundreds of fireflies dancing
around the stream. I had not seen so many before and its surprising
how much light they give..
The almonds on the trees are now as big as big as plums although
the almonds inside are still only small and it will be another
month before they are ready for picking. We are still being fed
on dehydrated potatoes and guess the army will carry on feeding
them to us while they have stocks left and leave the
new potatoes for the civvies who I must say cannot afford to buy
very much. The potatoes are about one shilling a pound in the
shops (5p) which is about half a days pay for most of the locals..
They seem to have difficulty buying anything other than the bare
necessities and it's not suprising how many seem to get sores
on their lips and on their legs.
I've just received your letters of the 22nd and I bet you looked
good in your new outfit at the wedding. I hope you get a photo
soon so I can bring my alum up to date. I reckon you have been
waiting for the new outfit so you will come out looking good !
I hope mama was well enough to get to the wedding which I can
see from your description of the dresses was a swell affair.
With regard to the garden, I would put some pepper down where
the cat jumps over or couldn't you accidentally push it in a tub
of water. I know it must annoy you. What about getting a dog to
chase it away. What's that you have enough mischief makers already.
I can just see Sheila saying 'isn't me beautiful. I guess Keith
is just as old fashioned.. I only wish I was at home with you
as his little mind must wonder at times why his daddy has to be
away when other boys daddies are at home. Still that's just the
luck of a war and there is nothing we can do about it. I thank
god that so far I haven't been in one of the battle areas. and
I can understand how Glad must feel about Tom wishing it was all
over and yet knowing that the second front has to come first and
dreading every minute of it
Well all my love to you and the kiddies. I'm a lucky guy to have
such a family. Lots of kisses to you all.
Well love it's already June and it's been a nice day here although
I have not been out in the sun a lot. I don't think it will get
as hot here as it did in North Africa where we did sweat and no
mistake 1. I hear that there has been a heat wave in England and
hope Peggy's wedding was included in it and everything went off
OK. I have had my snap taken and hope you are not too disappointed
with it. I've not had the moustache shaved off yet and haven't
had time to get into town as our hours of work have been extended
and we don't get much time off in the evening.
By the time we have made our beds, changed into our long trousers,
had a wash and a meal and written letters it's time to come back
to camp. I started a letter to Mam a week ago and only finished
it tonight before I started this one to you.
I had two letters today from Bill Chambers who you remember was
a pal of mine from Nottingham you saw at Leicester Station when
we came home on leave. He went overseas a year last March and
is now a corporal in South Asia which I guess means India or Burma.
I only hope I don't go that way to meet him. we keep looking at
the moon and wondering if it is an invasion moon. It's a bit like
the feeling in August 1938 before Munich when everyone was wondering
what was going to happen
Well love it's now Friday and I've just finished off a couple
of cakes and a cup of tea in the Church Army canteen where I'm
now writing this letter to you. The piano is playing in the next
room and I expect a few of the chaps will start singing soon.
The weather has been fine and warm again today. We had cherries
after our lunch of mince, bread and cheese today. usually we get
oranges but they are about finished.
We saw a film the other night in camp 'Girl Crazy' with Micky
Roony but it was poor do. 'Tom Dick and Harry' is on at the local
cinema on Saturday so I may go and see that.
I've just been speaking to a chap who came over with us and he
was saying that on the way from the mob centre to the port of
embarkation the train passed the end of his garden but his family
did not know how close he was to them
It's Saturday no and we have just had a scorcher of a day and
we were on regimental training this morning on our very dusty
and very hot parade ground. Although it was a nice change from
work we were all covered in dust and fortunately it was my half
day so I could have a nice cold shower afterwards.. At least we
don't have to wash our clothes as the Army uses some Italian women
to do the job for us. I will say this for them, they do a good
job and it takes a lot of work off us.
We have just returned from a show at the garrison theatre and
they announced that the Allied forced had entered Rome and everyone
gave a big cheer. Heaven knows how loud the cheers will be when
we here we have entered Berlin.
I have just had a letter from you and I'm glad it was a nice
day for the wedding. and everyone had a good time. I can see the
kiddies got all excited and I would love to have been there. I
can imagine Keith and Sheila's reaction but it's hard for me to
imagine Michael. although I know he is getting a beauty by the
descriptions I get of him with his curly hair, he sounds just
like his dad was.
Well a storm is brewing up outside after all out hot weather
so I think we are in for a disturbed night. I've shaved off my
moustache today so I will try hard to get a photo taken for you
over the next few days. Good nights and all my love to you. keep
your chin up a bit longer and keep smiling.
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I though I'd start this letter now love and hope it will not
take me too long this time. You may have noticed in my last four
letters that we can now sign the back of the letters and they
need not be censored here but may be at the base.
Well love I hope you don't think I've broken a promise to you
but I went to a dance in the camp last night. It was held in the
dining room and all the chaps in the tent went. it was a change
from the monotonous sort of life we have as a rule and although
there were about five chaps to every girl there was a bar and
refreshments so it passed an evening.
I know how you feel about dancing, love, but you know no one else
means as much to me and I can be trusted to looking after myself.
It was hard trying to get round on a concrete floor with army
boots and what dances I did have I tried not to step onto too
I was thinking all day on Tuesday about your Glad and wondering
how she was carrying on with Tom somewhere on the second front
and I had just written to her before the news came through.
tell her to keep he chin up and smile. God willing we will all
be back safely and it had to come before Jerry could build up
his defences and the war could have gone on and on and everyone
would wonder if there was anything in life worth living for.
I heard from Mam a lot of details about the wedding and how nice
and smart everyone was and the good behaviour of our family.
I can't believe Michael is now trotting around so much and am
hoping the photos come soon. Did you get my snaps in the letters.
If not the others are in the green envelope I sent to Keith with
his birthday card in. Airframes seem to be speeding up lately
and some even get here in seven or eight days instead of 15 days
at least. I don't know whether the new offensive in France has
held up the mail to you love but I'm not expecting any move from
here so don't worry if the mail is held up and you don't get a
letter for a week or two
I met a Leicester chap today called Stan Oldham and I didn't
know him but his wife is the daughter of Mr and Mrs Cave who used
to live in Culver road. I think they live now in Buckminster Road.
he has been out here some time. If you do see them tell them we
met and had a good chat about mutual friend s in the neighbourhood..
he thinks his brother in Law who ran the post office in Slater
street is out here somewhere but has not met him.
We all crowd into the canteen no every night to hear the news
on the wireless and out lads seem to be doing very well everywhere.
I bet you get your sleep disturbed with all the planes going over
and you must have seen a lot of troops of all sorts moving through.
The lads here say it will clear England of a few of the Yanks
anyway. I think a lot of them have heard so many tales of the
carrying on of some of them they wonder if there will be any welcome
left for them when the day comes when they return home.
I hear Bernice looked really grown up with her hair forward and
I can see her causing a few heartaches among the lads in a few
The Ities here are very pleased with the capture of Rome and I
can see that when the war is over they will think that they won
it ! The students here also amaze me. A lot of lads about
20 who perhaps have been to secondary school for the past three
or four years don't think they should soil their hands doing any
kind of manual work and look really insulted if it offered to
them. I think they would prefer to lounge about at home and let
their parents look after them. I'd like to see lads in England
trying the same game.
We gave some of them a test to see how well they could add up
or do multiplication and even Keith could probably do better.
They always complain about being short of food but won't work
to earn the money to buy it. I do give a bar of chocolate occasionally
to a chap here who has a boy about Keith's age and most of my
ration goes to other young kiddies who I know don't have any except
what we give them
I've just had my credits made up and I have about £12 in
hand so I shall be sending you a bit more shortly. I will try
to get my photo taken tomorrow as it is my half day. I've shaved
my moustache off in readiness.
Well love, time to close again . I believe this year will see
the end of erry and Japan will have a job to keep going after
God bless and keep you safe.
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Well love I am here on a warm Tuesday evening in the office at
8.0pm with flies all around me to have my little chat with
you. I had a letter from you on Sunday but I've left it in my
shorts at the camp so if there is anything I have forgotten to
mention in reply you will have to wait until m next letter.
I've not received the photos yet but they should be here any
day now. I shall then be waiting for yours to come then I shall
have all the family circle complete. I've not had my photo taken
yet and cannot get there at the moment before the shop shuts.
I don't know if you can get and enlargement made of snap I sent
but in any case I shall be getting another done minus the dirt
on my lip.
I see my friend Harry Quinn has been helping again and he certainly
is a good pal. You mention the names of the rosaes love. As a
matter of fact I can never remwember such things excpet whether
on is yellow or one is red. I'm afraid the garden will need a
lot of manure before it will grow good stuff again but perhaps
by next year we will be able to turn it back to all lawn. Who
knows by the way things are going this year may see the end of
Jerry and he is the main danger.
So Sheila saw Italy in the pictures and I hope it looked nice.
She didn't say what part did she love ? I can see her as she told
you in her quaint way beaming all over her face and so excited..
it does grieve me that that part of our life is missing and I
can never brinbg it back. I suppose they say it is an experience
for us to be out here which would not have been possible in normal
times but I and most of the chaps would be glad to have missed
it and spent the time instead with our families..
There are some great sights here and plenty of fruit but some
of the smells would disgrace a country farmyard in England.
We saw aand ENSA show in the camp last night and one of the performers
named Ida or Ivy Ball came from Leicester.
I had a pleasant suprise today when who should walk in but Frank
Hull who had recently come over from the middle east via
north Africa. He is now a SQMS which entitles him to be addressed
as Sir but we didn't stand on ceremony and just started a long
chat. I gave him as much dope as possible about happenings in
Leicester and of course out came all the family snaps. he has
been abroad since 1941 and has travelled thousands of miles. he
told me Arthur was now on an APO number and it would be strange
if he turned up here unless of course he gets moved across the
channell. He told me one of the chaps in his gang told them when
they were in the Middle East he was looking forr a chap called
Eric Mason when he came over here. His name is Rees and he comes
from Rugby and I think for what Frank says he married one of Uncle
Charle's girls or Edie Mitchell (one of Molly's daughters) from
Long Buckby. I hope to be seeing him in a day or two and will
let you know what I find out. I bet he is a relation as he knows
Long Buckby well.
To cap it all their is a Fire Sergeant here who I have known
for three or four weeks who happened to mention that he comes
from Leicester and I found he lived in Kingsway Road and played
a few years back for S>Leicester at Rugger. he knew Big Bill Parker
of course and I told him he was now a father. If you should come
across him and Dorothy tell them this sergeant wishes to be remembered
to them I passed on the Leicester Chronicles Glady's wain sent
to me a week or two agao and passed them to Frank after. I think
Frank will be here for a few weeks anyway.
I had my first taste of new fruit last week which is called a
neopole and I've never seen anything like it in England although
one of the chaps who lives in South says they grow a ver similar
fruit around his home called melias. They are very sweet but I
have nor seen any in the shops yet
I've not had a dip in the sea yet but may do soon as they run
a regular lorry there
They have added 3d to my pay for completing teo years service
but it is stopped for allowances so I don't expect to be any better
off. Still you new 16/9 should help and I can see the old bank
balance growing. If Faire Borthers put as much in the bank for
me as they did last year, I can see us starting to look for a
bigger house before we have finished or perhaps you would like
a motor car. So long as we can keep clear of income tax and they
don't find out what we are worth.
There's one thing ceratin, we will have the best holiday possible
when I come home and before we settle down to a normal life again.
I hope Mam has been able to spend a few weeks with you. I know
she loves it especially the fresh air and rest. Mrs Bowmar may
also take her to Thurmaston for a few weeks which will be a good
rest for her.
Thank the kiddies for me for their letters. tell Keith I hope
he got a lot of cards for his birthday. If you are getting that
bike for him perhaps the money I am sending you will help you
buying it. There isn't anyhting here suitable I could send him.
It doesn't seem possible he is seven years old now as it only
seems yesterday that he was in his pram
Well love, it's time to say goodnight.All my love to you.
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I was please to get your letter of the 9th and hear that
your arm is getting better and you and the kiddies are keeping
well.. The snaps certainly got home in record time and I'm glad
you liked them. I wish I could send you views of Italy so you
could get a better idea of the country but in any case the picture
cards flatter it and they don't show the smells and the poverty.
Well love, you'd never guess who I met here on Monday and who
is likely to be staying for a few weeks, Frank Hull who is now
in the SQMS in the RAOC training establishment. He is a very nice
chap and of course I gave him all the news about Long Buckby and
the family at home. I'm seeing a lot of him at present and hope
to get a snap taken together to send you
The Leicester mercuries you sent arrived today together with
the Wyggestonian and I'll pass them over to Frank when I have
read them. He told me his brother Arthur is now in France with
the second front.
I'm glad to hear Gladys is keeping her chin up but she will feel
better as you say when she gets a letter from Tom if he does get
sent over there. So Bob got home at last and I only wish I could
have been there to help him celebrate. I can see a few headaches
the morning after the night before and I would like to know Bob's
feeling when he realized he had landed in Leicester once more..
Until the train actually stopped in London Road station, I bet
he was still wondering if something would go wrong to spoil things.
Well love, its now Sunday and the weather is more like Manchester
with rain every half an hour. It's not worth planning a trip into
town as we should be soaked within five minutes.
Dick and I had an invitation to the house of one of the Italian
civvies who works for us and I should have liked to have gone
but I'll have to wait until next week. He has two children including
a lad about Keith's age and it would have made an interesting
We had a General visit here yesterday and our squad had the honour
of doing a bit of football in front of him and his many junior
cronies.. Luckily we didn't make any mistakes so it was OK.
I had a letter from Mabel and the photos she enclosed of Peggy
and Les were very good especially of Peggy . I had my first taste
of Rhubarb this year at dinnertime, stewed with custard so now
I've had new potatoes, beans and rhubarb.
By the way with luck this will arrive on Keith's birthday next
Saturday so if it does wish him many happy returns of the day
from Daddy. tell him I'm sitting on the side of my bed with a
towel slung over my shoulders as I only have on a singlet and
shorts and the flies are twice as biting as the ones back home,
and there are ten times more.. On Saturday and Sunday dinner is
at Midday and we have tea at 6.0.
Arthur Rees has just been in to see me and I found out he came
out from Blighty last November and met Frank Hull in North Africa.
Well love if the weather at home is the same as here it should
be doing the garden some good. Have you bought any fruit trees
yet for the garden. There is a big apple tree just outside our
tent but the apples so far look more like the size of crab apples.
Well love, the day is coming when I will see all your happy faces
again at Leicester station. Your loving husband.
I was very pleased to get your letter posted on the 14th yesterday
and I can see the family are giving you lots of fun besides a
few heartaches. It was a good job I wasn't at home when Michael
swallowed the capsules or I can see myself saying to you " Why
did you let him have the bottle to play with". There's one thing
it shows he can take it anyway. He must have enough strength to
last him for 12 months and I hope you take your share so that
you can give me a big hug when I come back home.
I haven't received the photo's yet so cannot quite picture him
as he is although your description of him pulling his cot clothes
over his feet made me laugh and I told the other chaps about it.
I already bask in the reflected glory of such a grand family with
the photo's I already have and you won't be able to find a hat
big enough for me when the other photo's arrive.
We have today been issued with our new shorter hats instead of
the forage caps and it makes an excuse to have another photo taken.
I went into town on Sunday and had one taken, minus the bit of
dirt and I think you will like it and I am sure Agnes can have
no objection to this one as I've managed to smile. We also had
one taken of three of us, Dick, George Irving, a Salford lad who
is our tent and myself and as we got the negatives I'm sending
those as well so you can get an enlargement done. Just put a bit
of transparent paper over the snap before Sheila starts giving
it her smackers or I'm sure she will lick al the print off.
Well love we had a taste of another fruit, apricots and we often
get about three of these with our midday meal. They don't seem
all that ripe yet but will do until the peaches come along in
a week or twos time. I hope I am not making your mouth water too
much love and I'd send you some home if I thought they would stand
the journey. I thought the new potatoes were too good to be true
for were now back to the mashed dehydrated spuds and the flies
must have had a good meal from the meat as last night I had to
make a hurried to the lav about 11.30pm and only just made it
in time. Still I was saying to Dick tonight that I had seemed
to be free from colds for months now and it is going to be strange
wearing a collar and tie again. I think I will need 16" collars
instead of the usual 15 1/2 and can see I will be wearing
an army issue suit as the one I have at home will be a bit
We have seen one or two pictures lately including ' It started
with Eve' 'Air Force' both were worth seeing. The opera house
has a play on this week for the forces only and I might possibly
try to get in tomorrow night as it is my half day tomorrow.
We had a surprise today when there was a fried egg for breakfast
(the second I have had overseas) so I can see the third coming
about on my birthday. I am thinking of Keith as he will be seven
on Sunday and he must have quite grown up ways by now. When I
was a bit older than he is I joined the choir and I hope Keith
will do his stuff when he has learnt how to read quickly. I've
not heard from him lately so tell him I want to see how he does
his sums and drawings. With all the brains he has handed down
from his mother and father he should be good. Sheila is certainly
not backward at getting things and I bet you and Mrs Keeting had
a good laugh about the cup of tea.
I haven't heard through Frank Hull yet whether Arthur has gone
abroad but if he is on the south coast I bet they are getting
plenty of fireworks and the radio controlled aeroplane must be
a bit of a nuisance to the people on the coastal areas. I breathed
a sigh of relief when I heard its range is only 150 miles which
should mean you won't get any around home.
|This refers to the German Flying bombs which inflicted
so much damage on the South Coast of England. They did not
have the range to reach Leicester
I have had mams letter dated the 15th and it was funny
she mentioned about Ivy's husband and wondered if I should meet
him. I saw him again this morning and told him what mam had said
and no doubt the news will travel to Ling Buckby via Rugby very
quickly. I also see the fire sergeant who came from Leicester
quite a lot and of course Frank is here most days for a short
while especially about 10am when we make tea. We usually send
up to the canteen each morning for cakes and they seem to make
much better ones than those we used to get in the NAAFI
at home. I could just manage though love a big slice of apple
tart with some cold custard on and hope my stomach hasn't got
so used to the stuff the army turns out that decent food will
be too rich for me.
We have had a spot of rain now and again lately but on the whole
the weather is settled and we never feel cold at nights when we
go out with just our singlet and jacket on. Our tent is wide open
at night so we get plenty of fresh air anyway.
There are still plenty of lizards climbing about but they are
very shy and we don't need to worry about them.
I was thinking of buying a pair of swimming shorts but the cheapest
are 22/6d which is a bit much for me.
I hope Tom is lucky and doesn't have to make the journey across
the channel after all but I am hoping to hear in another months
time the Allies are well into France and the end is in sight.
What with Russia do so well and the Yanks putting paid to a lot
of the Jap fleet, besides the lads going strong in Italy and India
you never know what will happen next.
Well love our talk is coming to an end once again for a few days.
I am sending the photo's in a green envelope hoping they will
be lucky and go by air. Just look after yourself and keep the
.Go to next letter from Olive....
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25th June 1944
I was pleased to get your letter yesterday dated the 17th but
it was rather a shock to read how upset you were about the dance.
Maybe i could have worded my letter differently but it hurt me
love when you said about your wishes coming last as usual. I don't
crack myself up to be a saint but I don't think you can accuse
me of that and you know in your heart that my thoughts are only
for you and the kiddies.
I know too that you have had a hard time since I have been away
and I've only been able to help in a small way by sending small
gifts or writing cheery letters. I'm sorry that it happened that
you refused to go dancing with Bernice on my account as if I say
now I don't mind and want you to get what pleasure you can you
may think that it is because I have been to a dance myself but
I do mean it and if you had said to me you wanted to go, I would
not have minded after the way you care for the children and yourself
The dances in the camp are arranged for us like the film shows
and the concerts to stop the chaps thinking too much about the
war. Take it from me it does not do any good just having to sit
round every evening just thinking about how long it is since we
have been home and how long it still might be.
I spend a lot of time writing to you, and friends but a lot of
the life we lead each day consists of just talking with the other
lads about all the things we miss and sometimes we need a change.
I didn't go to the dance for any reason other than to have a break
from routine and if I thought I was not playing the game with
you I would not have gone. You have seen at home what some soldiers
can be like when they are away from their homes and if it was
a case of doing what the same sort do out here do, you would be
able to say that I could not think for myself.
Well love I hate to write like this especially on keith's Birthday
and when I want to be thinking of the time seven years ago when
the world was at peace and we had out first bundle of happiness.
We've had our joys and our troubles since then and a few words,
but just when we needed to be together with our children the world
decided otherwise and we can only go forward with trust in each
other and faith in God. Many families are breaking up because
of this war any many have troubles. So long as I return and can
say to you dear that I have kept faith with you ewe shall be happy
We went to see a film in Town last night so one of the local
chaps in the office who lives with his wife and 2 children there
invited Dick and myself to his home. Of course I took a bar of
chocolate for his son who is seven. In England you would have
taken him for about 5 as although he was as tall as keith he wasn't
as well made and did not look half as healthy.
I think it's partly because he lives in a flat and they have
no gardens to play in and the roads are too busy with traffic
so they are not safe for children. I don't expect that they get
enough good food to eat either and it will be years before things
get back to normal here. I can't sympathize with the adults as
they supported Mussolini but the kiddies could not help it and
they have to suffer most.
Afterwards we went to the cinema and before the film was
a sing a long with the words and music . I now know all the words
to coming in on a wing and a prayer which seems to be an American
Air Force song.They also had 'For me and my girl' which must be
one of the most popular songs of the war. It was funny as some
of the words had the heading telling the girls only to sing and
as there were only chaps in the cinema they sang the girls parts
and everyone ended up having a good laugh. The big picture was
'Bambi' and I think you mentioned you had seen it at home with
the kiddies. If Sheila saw it I am sure she would have talked
about it for days afterwards.
I was on training yesterday so had an extra our in bed. Dick
has gone bathing today and I tried his shorts on but they were
too small so I will either have to find a quiet beach where I
can bathe in the nude or spend about 22/6 on a pair of shorts
in town. The weather is quite hot at present.
We get quite a few apricots now and today I had a couple of pears.
I had a letter from Edith Evans today giving me all the gossip
from the firm and telling me how she like the picture of the children
I guess she will be suprised to hear that I met Frank Hull out
here and it would be a small world if Arthur also turned up. Dick
go the camera he ordered from Africa and now we are trying to
find a couple of rolls of film so we can take some snaps to send
We are having a small memorial church built here to commemorate
the lads who fell in the first landings. For 15/- we can buy a
chair for the church with the name of our home church on it. I
think I will put my name down to give one. I'll let you know if
I do and I'm sure St. Augustines would appreciate the church being
represented in this permanent memorial.
I hope the kiddies have got over their bout of sickness and if
Keith is having a birthday party I hope they all have a good time.
Were you able to get a bike for him. I expect he will have a few
bruised knees at first but he will get used to it. Sheila will
soon be wanting to ride it as well.
I hope Gladys has now had news from Tom and know how she must
be worrying until she does hear something.
Well love time to say goodnight again. Please God this year will
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The weather has turned more like Africa in the last few days.
At night with both sides of the tent open, one blanket makes us
sweat and we only wear our vest !.
I see tomatoes appearing in the shops but being 'scotch'
I'm waiting till they appear on the dining room tables in the
camp. Today there were plums and cucumber salad for tea and we
have had plenty of plums, apricots and a few peaches so we are
doing very well. The apples are only as big as crab apples but
another month should see them ready. We have an apple tree overhanging
our billet so it will come in handy if we are still here although
with the Allies advancing so far up Italy we may have to move
up one of these days.
This afternoon I had a wash and then came down to the canteen
where I am writing this. The place is pretty full and it's a bit
of a job to concentrate. We are having to write at the table where
we eat and you can imagine what a row about 200 chaps can make
especially when the piano starts.
As we came through the village there was a procession from
the church of about all the adult' aity' population and they all
walked two by two with all the women and girls wearing black veils.
As they passed the houses people in the upper stories threw rose
petals. They seem to have religious feasts every two or three
weeks. Behind the procession came standard bearers carrying a
life size figure of Christ and a big cushion on which were pinned
50, 100 and 500 lire notes which I suppose were some kind of offering.
The choir and clergy came afterwards and as they walk along
various parts of the procession sing hymns. There seems to be
a lot of show and pomp about the Roman Catholic religion but I'd
rather have a quiet Church of England service. It doesn't seem
to stop them trying to scrounge, beg borrow or steal during the
week and as there are not many fags for the civvies here, they
seem to think that English soldiers should give them one every
time they ask !. It's a good job fags are cheap to us.
Well love I expect the first few potatoes are now ready
in our garden if Mrs S's cat hasn't finished them off altogether.
God bless you. I pray for a swift return to all who I love so
much Cheer up dear and keep your thoughts on that day.
Your loving husband.