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2nd April 1944 6th April 1944 11th April 1944 14th April 1944
20th April 1944 27th April 1944 30th April 1944 2nd May 1944
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2nd April 1944

Well love it seems a long time since I heard from you and when I do I hope to hear you are keeping well and also the kiddies. You will see from the address that I should be settled here for a bit and my mail should arrive regularly once it does begin to arrive. I'm actually at the same place as 'ATT 557' so the letters you have sent to that place will be OK.

Well love we had a taste of the warmer weather today and it was more like the summer in England. The only trouble there is so much dust that it takes the pleasure off having a walk and within a minute of leaving our billets with clean boots they are white with dust. The convoy traffic doesn't help things either and after I'd been a walk this afternoon (it was my half day off) I could have enjoyed a nice pint shandy. Actually we drink very little water and it's a pint of tea at breakfast, tiffin and dinner.

Today is Palm Sunday and apparently the folks around here make a festival of it although the only thing I have seen is people walking around with bits of palm and I understand they present each other with them as a token of friendship. I think they will have to hold over the feast till after the war unless they have a feast of nuts and apples.

There is another queer thing they do on April Fools day which was yesterday. One of the local chaps told me that in peacetime they buy chocolate fishes form shops, more like we do Easter Eggs, and give them to friends as a joke. What they are doing now he says is cutting out a fish shape from cardboard and posting it to a friend as a joke.. I can't see it but there it is. I think our ways nust seem as strange to them as theirs to us.

I went to the pictures at the local cinema for the third or fourth time, I forget which, to see "My Sister Eileen" I shall soon know it off by heart but we took plenty of nuts with us so passed another evening. Tonight there is a Housey Housey going on in the canteen next door to the writing room where I am writing this and as that is popular there is more room in here for once.

The wireless has been out of order for two days so we are a bit behind with the news and for all we know the war might have ended or at least the second front opened. Each day it doesn't open now makes the next day the more likely and I pray for a quick conclusion so the constant worry we feel for each other while we are parted will be over.

While we were out this afternoon we saw the fruit trees just beginning to blossom and in another week or twos time they should look a picture as the orchards stretch for miles. It made me think of our plans to make a lawn instead of a garden at the back and if you can get hold of one or two apple trees I suggest you do so as after eating all this fruit abroad I shall be needing all my pocket money for buying fruit and I couldn't afford that as well as smoking. I don't mean to suggest love as I've suddenly thought it looks like from what I have written that the fruit will be on the trees before I get home. If I thought that I'd ask for my ticket and hitch hike a lift home now. As long as I don't look greasy to you from all the walnuts I am eating.

How's our family getting on?  Don't forget Keith to write me another nice letter. Did you like the card I sent you?  I bet you did and Sheila did as well didn't you love.  Michael has one as well this time and let me know if he liked it. I hear Keith you made a big snowman and hope you put in the eyes and nose with coal and made Sheila and Michael laugh. Don't forget to look after mammy for me and help her all you can. Mammy tells me what a good boy you can be and what a chatterbox that little minx Sheila is. The little boys and girls here don't wear stockings at all but they don't keep as clean as you do and they don't get as much to eat.  I'm expecting to see you all big strong children when I come home so eat up all your dinners and tell mammy to let me know how much you have grown and how much more you weigh.

Well love I hope you had a nice day today and still able to present that brave smile to the world. We are parted through no fault of our own but there must be thousands worse off than we are and some of the lads must have almost forgotten what England looks like. 

I've written to Jack Turvey as I think I have told you but if you have a more up to date address for him will you let me know it. I don't think he is around this area though you never know. Have you heard any more about Bob coming home. I think you told me he had mentioned it and hope to hear he has arrived by now or due to leave for home shortly. I only wish I was with him love but don't worry that day will come  although I shan't believe it until I'm actually back.

Well sweet dreams sweetheart and save me a part of your chair. We will only need one if it will stand us.

PS I'd love some fritters.

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6th April 1944

At last love I've had a letter after waiting nearly three weeks for them to catch me up and the letter I had yesterday was posted by you on March 28th and addressed to Report Centre. It meant I had a reply from you after 18 days of writing my letter to you and that is good going.

It was grand to hear all the news from you again love and to know you and the kiddies are keeping well. I wondered just what had been the matter with Keith as you say he is better now and keep mentioning that he likes to hear you about after he has gone to bed. I wondered if he had had another nervous spell or been imaging bees in his bedroom again. Still I expect I will hear what was the matter when I get your other letters in the next few days.

I guess you all miss me as I miss you and it's hard for the kiddies to understand why I must be away for so long. They need both of us with them at this part of their lives and I often think of the time slipping by which I can never make up for in a way. I had thought I would be able to teach Keith football and cricket and be a real pal to them all as they grow up and I pray it won't be long before I am able to be with you for good again to share all the happiness we shall have with them.

I had hoped to hear that Keith's boat had arrived by now and perhaps it will come as an Easter gift for him. It is now nearly two months since it was sent off so it should arrive any time.

I see you have been lucky for lemons and oranges and as I don't think there were any more lemons to come from me, I take it you have been able to get some at home. 

The flower garden sounds promising love and I had forgotten for the moment about the grass seed I had put in and as you say the tulips must have been in deep. I'm glad the lilac didn't pass out and it should be a nice tree in a couple of year's time. Let me know how many blooms it has on it. I bet Keith and John enjoyed running up and down with the roller and mower. Even if it is a bit patchy it will help to keep the grass down a bit and make Keith think he is helping Mammy. I bet Sheila and Michael enjoyed their little half hour in the shelter even if their mammy didn't.

I heard from mam a little time ago and she told me you were getting bonnier and so I am expecting when you get the photo's taken, to see a nice smile with no creases in your forehead and three bonny children so I know my family at least is well and when I get worried I can take it out of my pocket and buck myself up again.

I had a letter from your Glad at the same time as I had yours and she told me about coming round to see you. I bet she is wondering if Tom will be going across on the second front when it opens and if so I will have to meet him when the allied armies join up. 

Well love we had an ENSA show here on Monday evening. There were four people in it and when they announced the singer as "Nancy Gisbourne" of Leicester, I wondered where I had heard the name before until I remembered there were some Gisbournes lived at Brading Road corner. I couldn't remember the girls face and of course was not pushing through enough to ask at the back of the stage afterwards if that was her address. Perhaps Oliver would know if one of the family was in ENSA (she looked about 25-30) and if there was tell them I saw her here.

We saw a good film last night in the camp called "My favourite Wife" with Carry Grant and Irene Dunne and it was a good laugh.

I didn't know whether I told you in my last letter that the clocks had been put on an hour and it is now light till about 8pm.  We went a walk last Saturday afternoon to the "Mare Nostrum" as Musso called it and I had an hour's day dreaming, wondering how long it would be before I cross the water once more to you. We didn't have a bathe this time but may have a chance later on.

So Keith is good at poetry eh. I'd love to hear him recite and perhaps when he writes to me he'll tell me one or two tittles of the poems. Thank him for the lots of love he told you to send me and I know Sheila sends hers don't you love. She'll have such a lot to tell her daddy, how she spanks Keith when he is a nuisance, how she plays with Michael and gives mummy lots and lots of kisses and hugs for daddy and what a good girlie she has been. I hope she has been learning lots of songs to sing to daddy and teaching them to Michael.

 We'll all have lots of fun together and I can see me having a rare old time when we have our holiday at the beach. There's one thing love we won't be worried by air raids etc. like we were the last time we were there. Do you remember our struggle home in the black out with the little pushchair? I wonder if Keith will remember how he fell in the water as soon as we got there, when we go again. It won't be this year I am afraid but next year we should be there and Michael will be doing all the tricks I expect Keith did then.

I see your house painting will be about three months which makes it the end of June so it will be nice and new for my homecoming later on.

How is Harry getting on with the garden (allotment)? I should say Sapper Langdale I suppose and hope he doesn't have too many Home Guard duties to stop him doing it.

By the way love have you received the wallet I sent to you via Cpl Dickinson's wife as he has heard from his wife that the handbag it was enclosed in has arrived safely and she is sending the wallet on to you. It will make up for the necklace that I am afraid must have gone down in transit.

You ask if I was in any danger from the eruption of Vesuvius and although we had a good view of it as we passed by after leaving our old address it hasn't put me in any danger in any way and it was just one of those happenings that folks would in peacetime travel thousands of miles to see and it would happen the year the Allies invaded this country. Still I think it will behave itself for another 38 years and I won't be here to see it (I hope).

Will you tell mam I've written to her but it is in a green envelope and will take a week or two to arrive. Still I know she would rather have that than an airgraph. I hope she is a bit better and the nice weather is on the way to make her little outings even more enjoyable. If the weather is half as warm as it is here it must be nice and don't forget to give Michael plenty of sunshine and make another nigger boy of him. You'll have your hands full love keeping him out of trouble and they might try your patience (if you have any left) but keep your chin up love and one day it will all be over and we will soon be together again.

Give my regards to Mr. And Mrs. Saunders and John, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Woodcock and of course Harry Quinn and Ida and John. 

I often think of the ARP days and when you said you had had a siren I thought of the night we had about seven warnings in one night and we were getting in and out of bed till it was time to go to work. Those days are finished for you and I hope and believe this year will see the finish of the war.

Goodnight darling, pleasant dreams and all my love to you and the kiddies. God bless you all and keep you safe for me.

11th April 1944

Well love I had a packet of mail yesterday but I hoped there might be one from you written after the one I received on April 4th and sent by you on March 28th. still there was one from you dated March 13th and this one told me about you getting Keith a bottle of medicine for his nerves and I know now he is getting on OK again and hope you didn't have too worrying a time with him. You also mention the crocuses and they certainly seem to be spreading fast and would look grand with the grass around them. I can't remember putting the grass seed on the garden but it will give you something to do in your spare time (what's that you say love) and with such a willing family of helpers now I can see the flowers looking better than ever this year.

You describing the garden to me reminded me of the time when you had Keith and we put the mirror on the windowsill of the bedroom so you could see the flowers. It doesn't seem seven years ago to me although much has happened since then. We have had our share of trouble love but we have also had our good times and this war has taught me more than ever how much they mean to me

I had a letter from Mabel written on March 28th in which she told me Sheila had been showing everyone the broach she said daddy had sent from Italy. I think I had sent it with the shaving set I had sent to you with your watch and wondered if the parcel had arrived because you hadn't mentioned it in your letter dated the same day.

I am pleased you have got the wallet from Dick's wife and like it. I had wondered if it had arrived as his wife hadn't mentioned it in her letters to him.

The next letter I opened was an airmail from your mam and dad and I'll be writing to them in a day or two. They all tell me what bonny kiddies I have and how they are all growing up fast. Mabel gave me a nasty shock when she told me Keith had collared a comic as soon as he went in Glads on the Sunday she called in after going to the cemetery, "just like his dad" she said. I thought it was bad enough love to have you on to me and she was one who stuck up for me. Still I can stand it.

I then opened a letter from sent to me last December by Ernie Crookes written at Billesdon so you will have to apologise to him for me for not answering it as I don't know his present address.

Then there was a letter from Bob written just before he left Gibralter for home and I am pleased he arrived safely and I bet he was pleased. When you write to him at is new address thank him for the Rock Magazine he sent along to me and wish him all the best.

The last letter was one sent by you to me love on August 10th 1943 at the Mob centre and enclosing a letter from Bob dated July 7th and a note from Sid Baker. You told me in it a bee had stung you and I bet it made you say a few words when it happened, especially how you were feeling at the time.

Cpl Dickinson's wife has written him to say a parcel of fruit arrived which he had sent on December 1st has just arrived so there is still hope for that missing parcel I sent about the same time. I wish Keith's boat would arrive and that it has not gone down. Have they had the picture cards I sent them, which I hoped would arrive about Easter time. I have written Keith an airgraph and shall be sending Sheila one shortly as I know she will expect one to show around.

Well love the weather here is getting quite warm and I can see my knees getting brown when we have our KD shorts on again. They are shortly starting swimming parties again so I shall no doubt have a splash about before long.

We are still seeing our quota of films, mostly old ones but still enjoyable. I went to town with another chap on Saturday afternoon as it was my half day off and after a stroll around the town we had an ice cream and went to the garrison theatre to see the film "Miss London" with Arthur Askey in the lead but I thought it a poor show. We walked most of the way back to camp and arrived at 9pm. I worked on Easter Sunday and went to church at night. Unfortunately the piano wasn't there and we had to sing the hymns without. There were about 50 chaps there and a new padre who has just taken over took the service. We had a collection for the prisoners of war fund and collected about 750 lire (£1-17-6d). two of the chaps acted as sidesmen passing their hats around for the offerings. Afterwards I went into the writing room and wrote an airgraph to your Glad and one to Keith.

Yesterday was a normal working day as far as we were concerned and I wondered what you were all doing at home. If the fair was still on I expect the kiddies would want another trip there although I guess it would be packed out. Mabel said in her letter there were rare goings on with the girls and the Yanks and as one lad here said "When I get back after at least three years abroad folks will still say they didn't miss him and thought he was on leave again after a week or two away. I know you miss me love as I miss you but some of these young lads must wonder sometimes why they have to spend all this time abroad while England is full of Yanks who are giving the girls such a good time. They forget all about their own lads out here. 

There are girls out here but the chaps have very little to do with them on the whole and they don't compare with the girls at home. I can't see many English chaps settling down here after the war like they did in France after the last war. There is too much dust and dirt and I wouldn't want my family brought up in such conditions. The English climate has its faults and we could do with a bit better summer but if hot summers mean dust and disease I'll be content with it as it is. The kiddies get dirty enough at home but you would have a seven day a week job trying to keep them clean.

We are still getting oranges although they are looking a bit worse for wear now and the nuts are not so good as they were. I hear from your mam that they also had some lemons so there must have been an issue of them at home as well as the oranges. I've not bothered with lemons myself as we can't get the sugar to make lemon juice and I am too sweet toothed to eat them without.

They seem to have some different customs here at Easter and there was a picture in the "Stars and Stripes" of people taking lambs away from the church on Good Friday, which they said they kept for a week as a pet and then afterwards the lamb was killed for eating.

On Saturday afternoon while I was out a local priest came all through the building sprinkling holy water and the civvies working here followed him around. In peacetime the inhabitants give the priests little gifts such as an egg but they must have a thin time this year as eggs are at least 20 lire (1/-) each and the money they earn doesn't let them buy such luxuries for themselves let alone buying them to give away.

I had hoped to get a letter from you tonight love but it hasn't arrived so I will be waiting for it tomorrow.  The weather has changed a bit today and we have had a few showers but it is still warm and as it is light till 8pm we can usually get a stroll in before dark. As we were looking at our tents in the dark last night they looked like little bungalows as they have windows in the side and the lamp inside the tent shows them up. We had been to the local cinema to see Victor McUglen in "The Informer" but it was all in Italian and we had to guess what it was all about.

There is a film on tomorrow which is supposed to be good so I shall no doubt spend an evening there. The stage in camp has been made in quite a modern style with paintings (done by one of the soldiers) all on the curtains and there are footlights etc. just like a permanent  stage at home.

Well love it's time to close once more. Give the kiddies lots of hugs and kisses from Daddy. I am thinking of you all the time we are parted, waiting for that day to dawn.  Goodnight sweetheart don't forget to send a photo of you all when you can. 

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14th April 1944

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 want.

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 at 5pm.

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 one.

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 age.

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 suitable.

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 be lucky.

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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27th April 1944

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.

30th April 1944

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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2nd May 1944

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 is posted.

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 miles away.

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.

7th May 1944

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 trees.

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 cake.

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 kiddies.

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18th May 1944

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 effort.

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 netting.

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 other chap? 

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 an airgraph.

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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Taken from the Faire Brother's Magazine

22nd May 1944

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 news.

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.

4th June 1944

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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8th June 1944

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 many toes.
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 years time.
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 that
God bless and keep you safe.

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13th June 1944

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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June 16th 1944

 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 visit.

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.

21st June 1944

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 tight.

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 kiddies safe

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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 for me.

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 together.

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 home

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 bring victory.

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28th June 1944

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.

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