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5th July 1944 11th July 1944 16th July 1944 17th July 1944
21st July 1944 25th July 1944 31st July 1944 7th August 1944
11th August 1944 16th August 1944 21st August 1944 26th August 1944
29th August 1944 3rd September 1944 8th September 1944 12th September 1944
16th September 1944 26th September 1944 29th September 1944 30th September 1944
5th July1944 

I was pleased to get your letter dated 25th June and posted on the 28th today although I was sorry to hear about Tom getting wounded. It must be very painful but I've also had an airmail from Glad saying that he is keeping very cheerful. I hope he will be OK and get moved a bit nearer home so she can go and visit him a bit more often. I also received yesterday a parcel of Leicester Mercurys with dates about May 12th, sea mail lately seems to take a long time to get here.

Well love, I'm pleased to hear that Keith had a nice birthday party and I bet you felt tired when it was all over. It was funny you telling me about using the last jelly for his party as the day before  Cpl Dickinson had a letter from his wife telling him she was using her last jelly for their lad's birthday.

I'm sorry about the bike, it seems a bit off of Mrs. Quinn after promising Keith should have it. But never mind love, you will come across another one before long and if he has to wait until I get back I will see that he gets a good one to make up for him. You say he can take disappointments in the right spirit and it reminds me of the time we went to the cattle market with him to see the circus and couldn't get in. He was just the same then and I'm glad he's not the sort to kick up a fuss.

I see that Sheila is still Daddy's little sweetheart, bless her, and I feel homesick love when I think of all the love and the little family joys ( and troubles) I am not able to share with you. I wish I could send  you a bit of this summer weather we are getting now as it is so hot and close and I think it must have put me off colour a bit as last night after dinner I knew that I should be sick before long and I had a good do in the washbasin about 7.0pm. I took a couple of aspirins and lay down on the bed and before I went to sleep about 10.0pm I had a dose of Andrews which made me get up about 4.15am to make a dive for the lav. I didn't have any breakfast and very little lunch or dinner but I feel better now.

Tomatoes are now on sale at about 6d a pound so I will be buying a few to eat with the breakfast Spam and sausage. The food hasn't been too good lately unless the hot weather makes us feel we don't fancy it very much. We went for a swim on Monday night and afterwards went to the garrison theatre to see Icecapades but we were on the balcony right back about 6ft from the roof and the heat was awful. Most of the chaps sat with their shirts off and we sweated so much we gave it up after half an hour and came out. We had to wait for the lorry back to camp but it was better than being indoors.

By the way love, I had a letter from Faire Bros telling me that a further £48 had been put to my credits and there is now £92 in the bank for when I get back, quite a little nest egg, eh love. It will all help to allow us to get those things we can do with to make our home complete. They say it is liable to income tax if I have to pay tax they will deduct it from the sum if I let them know. I don't think our income will come above the income tax margin though and so unless I have a form to fill in for income tax, I shan't say anything. I should think that all told including the savings certificates and the bit you have in the bank we should be worth about £200 and it should cover a good holiday for us all, a nice garage, and several other improvements you will no doubt want. I think I shall have to learn to drive in case we find we should like a motor car. I think  a piano would be a good investment and a new radio when things get a bit normal after the war.

I see Sid's brother, Harold, has been wounded and if you hear any more details later will you let me know. I guess a lot of lads on the second front have had a rough time and hope that the next two months will see the war carried into Germany itself. The Reds seem to be doing their stuff again and the lads in Italy are doing well also. I can't for the life of me see Jerry holding out till the end of the year. I'm hoping to be home by Christmas. It's surprising how some of the lads who have been here for three or four years stick it so well and they mostly seemed resigned to wait until they can go home for good. I suppose we should have had more worry if we had had to go o the invasion of France and so although it has meant being separated for a longer time, I think we shall be glad afterwards it happened like this.

Does Barry Brown get home nowadays like he used to. I guess Colin is growing up into a nice lad now and he and Sheila have plenty of fun together. Now Mrs. Woodcock has three I can see that we will need a chara when we all go on holiday together. There will certainly be a nice party to pay for when Percy and Mr.W and myself take the family out on Sunday to the park and have to buy lemonades etc.

I'm sending my latest photos by green envelope tonight. The snap with the three on  includes Les Mead the Leicester chap I mentioned who ran a dance band and I shouldn't be surprised if you recognised the face as he used to play at several of the Leicester dance places a few years ago. 
Well it's getting to half past nine and I'm hoping by tomorrow I shall be eating normally again. I've just had half a juicy big peach and I shall not have anything else to eat until morning. 

Goodnight sweetheart. All my love to you and the kiddies

  At rest in North Africa

11th July 1944

I was very pleased to get your letter dated the 4th and posted on the 6th and I can tell by the way you write that thiswar and separation and everything is proving a big strain to you and I pray God that the whole affair will be oversoon so I can come home to you and relieve the heavy burden you have to carry alone. I know the kiddies must tryyou a lot sometimes and make you think nothing is worthwhile and the war seems endless.

As I sit in the tent about 8pm writing this letter to you love the day has began to cool off but the heat here isn't likeNorth Africa and I expect it is due to the irrigation system they have here to soak the ground that the heat is stickyand close, more like a hot summer day before a thunderstorm and it seems to take more out of me than NorthAfrica.

I don't know if it is the apricots or plums I've had recently that's made me a bit loose, but I had to make a dash at4am and again at 6.30am.

I went for a swim last week but my bathing shorts are a pair of P.T. shorts. Still I don't think you need send anyalong love and I am sure if it was left to an Italian senorita to knit me a pair, it would take a few months to be able to find enough wool. Those in the shops are not a patch on M & S at about 4/11d. Here they cost 22/6d to 25/-. Still the amount of swimming I do doesn't make much difference to what costume I have.

Yes love you made a good guess and I hope before long to have St. Augustine's name on a chair. I went to the service last night, as it had just opened though not officially. It is a real good effort on the part of those who have had the cleaning, altering and fixing up of it. I cannot get used to the service like I did at my old address but I think that is because the padre here takes the army service and the responses etc. are all spoken and it makes it a bit

I am well over my vaccinations etc. now and I hope the second snap arrived or arrives soon so you can see me without the bit of fluff on my lip. You haven't said anymore of the photo you are having taken of yourself and hope you have had one to send to me. Don't say it doesn't matter love, as it is the next best thing I can have until I don't need photographs to picture you any longer.

I expect the flying bombs have upset a lot of people at home and they cause a lot of concern amongst all the lads out here especially those with families in the London area. It must make you think the war has started again with the evacuees coming back but I believe it's not for long this time and when It's over we shall now everyone at home we love is safe for good. We don't know how long it will take to get us home after afterwards but I think family men
will be well up the list and they realise what a tough job the wives have had for so long on their own keeping the kiddies well and healthy and doing those jobs that should be shared with their husbands.

I saw Frank Hull a day or two ago and asked about Arthur but he had nothing so far. He has received his copy of the FB House Magazine and is going to pass it on to me, as mine seems a long while coming.

I wrote Glad an airgraph on Friday and am pleased to hear Tom seems to be getting on well and I guess he feels lucky in a way he hasn't had a worse wound and will not have to go through the horrors of war such a lot of the lads are meeting in France, Italy and Burma.

I guess Sheila is getting to the saucy age and she has always been a bit of a madam (like her mam) at getting her own way. I expect she looked real sorry for herself love with a smacked bottom and she looks so forlorn and cries so pitifully.

I hope you have not strained your side sifting the slack. You say you must be getting an old woman but you know that's not true and with the work you already have, you aught to ask one of the Harry's or Mr. S to do such things. It's not a woman's job and with your arm also, don't get thinking you can't be bothered to look after yourself as you know any worry and illness you have makes me worry just as much, often more as I always feared the worst and
cannot see how you are getting on. 

I heard a service just before 1pm on Sunday dinnertime in the information room and it was from a congregational church. They were singing "Bread of Heaven" and it sounded grand. I think a lot of their hymns are better than the C of E.

I have had little mail lately and so am about up to date with my correspondence. I have not received Elsie Burnhams address yet so the reply I wrote to her letter is still waiting until someone sends it. 

I am pleased to hear Mrs. Woodcock's infant is such a little beauty and his birth makes me think of Christmas 1942 when our little midget arrived. I never thought he would grow up into such a lovely little chap and I hope he doesn't get frightened when Daddy lifts him up for a big kiss. I guess we are all longing for our comforts love and a world where we don't have to write our thoughts in letters. I's so hard to say how much you mean to me dear and you

Goodnight sweetheart.

16th July 1944

I've just received with great pleasure your letter dated July 9th and postmarked July 11th and am sorry you have had to wait for my airmail. I send them off regularly every 5 days or so as we get 3 each fortnight and I always reserve them for you unless I'm lucky and someone gives me one or two when I give mam a treat with one.

As you will have heard by now love, I think the photo is grand even it it does make me homesick each time I look at it and when I get yours in due course I think I will do as you say and catch the next boat or plane home. The war seems to go on and on and I can't see it ending before my birthday anyway.

I was looking at my diary yesterday and this time twelve months ago I was just ready to come home on my privilege leave after missing the first draft. I believe this will be the last year away from love and all that you and it means to me. Don't worry about me wanting to kiss any of these Itie females love, there's only one girl I've kissed since we were married and that's the one I'm saving all my love and kisses for when I get home.

I shouldn't take on any evacuees love however much you feel sorry for them as you have more than enough of your own responsibilities to manage and there are thousands round about with their husbands at home who should be capable and willing to have the kiddies as a thank offering for having been spared the parting from their husbands and the worry of bringing up the kiddies alone.

I can just see Sheila's face as she watches the planes, bless her, and looking as if she would burst into tears. She's got such a heartbreaking sob, I can always picture her like that. She's a lovely kiddies now love and will be a grand daughter we shall be proud of.

I went to the pictures last night to see 'This Happy Breed' a new movie from England I understand and think it is really good and true to life. If you haven't seen it yet don't miss it when it comes to the 'Fosse'. 

I am still learning bits of the lingo and can speak several words together to make myself understood but I don't suppose my grammar is very hot.

It was my half day today and I had been invited to the house of one of the civvies who works with us and lives in town. I had no dinner so I could get changed quick and get a lift but had to wait about forty minutes before a lorry stopped and when I arrived at the meeting place he was not there. I was to have dinner there and then gone on to watch him play football but it no doubt saved me the tummy ache which I should have had with macaroni and olive oil flavouring so it perhaps as well. The only thing I didn't do was take my costume down as it was a grand day and I should have loved a swim. I had a read and a doze in the NAAFI here and had tea and cakes when they opened at 4pm. Afterwards I went on the front and watched a chap fishing until I began to feel a headache coming on from the sun so I came back to the writing room here and here I am about 6.35pm, wondering love if you are thinking of me just now love and if your ears are burning.

I hope you enjoyed 'Old Mother Riley' and all the party was able to go. I expect mam is with you now, as I understand she would be coming.

Well love one of the chaps I work with came in when I'd got so far and we started talking and in the end your letter did not get finished. I know you will say love ' your wife's' letter comes first' but I am glad now I didn't finish it as today I had a pleasant surprise in the form of birthday cards from you, Sheila, Michael and Keith. I guess like mine to Keith they must have come over by air and although a bit early they are more than welcome and I thank you all very much. They are just what I want and the pictures of the cottages let me show these Ities what a home should be  like and not these ugly flats most of them live in here.

I'm sending Keith and Sheila replies to their lovely letters and I think Keith is getting on wonderfully with his writing and his sums - 2/9d +1/4d - is further advanced than I could do at his age. I can see from his picture what a lovely cake he had for his birthday. It made me laugh when he wrote you said Sheila was a 'Nowsans' and he said 'and I'm acwood'.

I hope the weather has now improved and you sciatica has gone, as I know it can pull you down and make life even harder to face with that chin up you've got to show a little longer yet.

I see the government has quickly taken the money with the other hand it gave you and I hope you are able to manage love. Don't try to put money in the bank while you need things for yourself and the Kiddies. We have a tidy nest egg to look forward to and I don't expect you to add to it and go short yourself.

I have just killed about 50 flies and you wouldn't believe how they get on your nerves. They sting quite a bit and while I am writing to you they are all over my hand.

We are still getting plenty of fruit, plums, apricots and peaches and there is a plum here about as big as a large Victoria, which has a pear flavour, and it's grand. I wish I could send you some love.

It is still hot and sticky hear and guess it will be for a month or two yet. Still the war is going well love and the end can't be far away. I only live for the time to come to end all this unnatural existence and begin home life anew with you dear. It's been a long parting and I only pray the peace after the war will be a lasting one and our children will be spared the worry and anxieties our generation have had.

Goodnight sweetheart, keep smiling and I will be at Leicester station one of these days.

17th July 1944 








21st July 1944

Well love you will see from the above they now call this a base ordinance depot and future letters from you should be marked B.O.D. instead of A.O.D. This week has been very quiet with the weather keeping fine and sticky most days and the best news is the statement today that Hitler had had a near squeak from being assassinated. It's a pity they didn't do the job properly but it's a good sign and it shows the way the wind is blowing. It only needs a thing like that to start other things off and who knows it may all be over by the end of September with a bit of luck.

 I can see the Russians being in Berlin before then the way they are advancing. When it does all end we shall all be worked up and impatient to get home and I cannot see Japan standing up to the whole allied might when Germany is defeated. Roll on that day and let me see your dear face again. We may look a bit older love, to others but we will still be as close to each other and it will take a few days for me to realise that I am back with you for good and the Army won't send me a note to come back off leave. I guess the kiddies won't realise it either and will be asking me every day when I've got to go back.

 No more queuing up for meals, pay, cakes at the canteen, concerts etc. I will be able to sit down in a comfortable chair and know that I am free at last from all the discipline, orders and the little petty things you have to do. Don't blame me love if I start folding the blankets when I get out of bed from force of habit and line up with my plate, knife fork and spoon for my breakfast. I hope I won't get too much into the habit of waking up at six am although from your point of view it could have advantages as I could always get the breakfast while you had another hour or so in bed.

 I've sent Keith and Sheila a little letter each and Michael an Airgraph which I expect he will have before they get theirs which I sent with another letter to Sid Banyard by Green envelope and I expect they will travel by sea. 

I've had very little mail this week except for the birthday cards and I'm hoping I may be lucky and get an airmail from you tomorrow. It is my half day after footslogging in the square in the morning and I think I will take it easy and have a nice shower and a change of clothes and have a relax on the bed for the half day although I may get cracking after tea and run into town.

 You remember I told you we were getting plenty of fruit here, now there is more about than we can manage and apricots are brought to us by some of the civvies who work here each morning and there is a basket in front of me at this moment with about three pounds in and I couldn't eat any more, we had so many.

 Peaches cost about 9d for a kilo or 4d a pound so they are about 1½d each and these we get as gifts also, although we generally look after them by giving them cigarettes now and again. Tomatoes, the plum type, are about 10 liras a kilo or about 2½d a pound and as one of the chaps who is an interpreter knows a farmer so we always do well for them. I've not bought any fruit for over a month now and yet I've always got more than I want to eat. I think that I shall be that fed up with them, I shan't want any when I come back home. I know you'd like some love but they taste much better tinned. 

I am surprised the folks here, the civvies I mean, have so many sores on their legs and feet as I should have thought that eating so much fruit they would have clear blood. I think there must be a lot of malaria among them and the army sees that the lads are kept free as far as possible from it by tablets and mosquito nets etc. We are on a charge if we don't sleep under them and we always have to roll our sleeves down and wear long trousers after sunset.

 I see Mrs Minerver is on at the garrison theatre in town this week so I may go tomorrow to see what it is like. They are opening the church on Sunday but I guess the seats will be booked by the big noises for the consecration and we shan't be able to get in. 

I saw the pay clerk today about sending that £10 home but have to wait until Tuesday and hope that it will arrive on our wedding anniversary so you can get yourself a little gift and also part of it may pay for Keith's bike if you have managed to get him one yet. I see that the Army have given you money with one hand and taken more away with the other. I think you said love that you now got £3-12-6, is that right ? I don't know how the Army work it out, if you can explain it to me love, I wish you would sometime.I know that I draw 15/- a week and there is about 6/6 a week goes into credits so that I've accumulated about £12 in the last eight months or so.

 Well love I've rambled on as usual but it seems more of a chat that way and there is still little in the way of news to send. I hope to hear that you sciatica is better and Sheila also is better. Is mam still with you ? I hope the weather is nice so you can all enjoy it and mam finds the change a pick up which she needs to help her in the winter months. 

I expect that the garden is now paying a few dividends with peas and new potatoes, spring onions and lettuce and I'd just love a bit of shoulder of lamb, new potatoes peas and mint sauce instead of the usual stew which is hot going in this climate. Still love we can't have everything and I just thank god for such a loving wife and mother and that I have been spared some of the horrors of war some of our lads have had to endure and are still enduring. Here's to peace in 1944 love, and a safe return to you.

25th July 1944

Well love I'm starting this letter tonight as I've just received yours fated the 16th am am pleased you are keeping cheerful although I expect Sheila must be worrying you a bit. I  wish I could think of some way to help her get over her nervousness each tome she told you there was a plane and took you outside to see it. Perhaps when she comes running in, pick her up and give her a bit of a fuss and take her out to show here there is no danger. I hope we can put her right when the war is over as I think she has lost her nerve with them at the moment. I wouldn't force her though and I expect she will gradually forget about the crash.

iI am pleased you got the photos but don't remember yo mentioning the second lot with the forage cap on. I sent two of myself and a group of three of us with Cpl Dickenson, George Irving and myself. perhaps they went by sea mail and have not arrived yet.

I didn't know I put more kisses on Sheila's letter than on Keith's and I expect he also thought hers was better because I put one or two small drawings on it. Still I won't make the same mistake next time and I'll be writing to them again in a few days time. keith seems to be picking up a few jokes and Dick and I both had a good laugh about the pancake.

I'm glad Tom is getting on well and with all the rumours about what is happening in Germany I don't think he will be called back to serve over the water. Mr. S may be in time for the final parade down the Unter Der Linden in berlin if he is quick but in any case he has had a good run and he always said if he is called up he wants to be in the front line to help finish it off. let me know how he got on with his medical.

I see you are likely to be busy for the holidays and when I told Dick you may put up his wife and two children for a few days he said my word she will have a job with five children. Still I guess the two of you will manage OK

I see Mam is coming up later on and I hope the weather is settle by then as you don't seem to have had much of a summer so far this year. I think I had better send a bit of the weather home from here as we could do with a break from the heat now and again. It did thunder a little last night but after just a few spots of rain, it cleared up

we have moved our billets now its about a mile and a half walk to and from work so we have to get up earlier than we did before. I don't think we will get into town as much as we will have to try to get lifts and by the time we have walked back to the camp, had a shower, changed had a meal it will be quite late.

I saw the paymaster yesterday and arrange to send you £10 from my credits and hope it will reach you on our anniversary. A lot has happened in the eight years since we got married and there will be only one happier day in my life and that is when I see you again and know our parting is at an end. I also popped in to see the Padre about a chair for the church but he wasn't in so I may nip in after work tomorrow. They had a big parade for the consecration but I was at work so missed it. 

We heard about the King having been to Naples and if he had been there about four months ago I might have seen him. it doesn't say if he has returned to England yet but apparently he has left Italy. What with Churchill going to France as well everyone must feel things are going well.

It's funny you saying in your last letter that it is time someone shot Hitler, they certainly had a good try and there is bound to be other efforts  later and it would save a lot of trouble and I bet he is worried now even his own people want to kill him.

I had a letter from Mabel telling me about Peggy. It came as a bit of a suprise and I know it must have been a bit of a shock and worry to Mabel but Les and Peggy have known and loved each other long enough to be sure that it will not hurt their lives and I wish the war was over so I could get home to be a god father. I hope Peggy keeps well and I can see there will be a few knitting parties in session from now on and even keith and Sheila ask if they will have another little sister to keep them company.

It's a pity you were not able to get the piano but it's not urgent and we can probably get a better bargain later on.

I went to see and Italian wedding on Sunday with some of the chaps I work with. A girl who works in the office was getting married and after seeing the wedding which I thought would be full of pomp and ceremony I thought it was a bit flat and nothing like as moving as a wedding at St Augustines. The priest's collar came undone and there were kiddies running everywhere in and out of the church even during the ceremony. there was a procession back to the house which was very small and about forty people were trying to get inside so we sat outside had two glasses of wine to drink the couple's health and a few small cakes.

The church was full of electric candles, statues and plaques of all the saints they could think of and it all looked all show and no substance. Still they like it that way I suppose but I prefer the simplicity of an English church.

Well love it's time to say goodbye, God bless and keep you safe.

Go to next letter from Olive.... Go to top of page

31st July 1944

I was glad to receive you letter dated the 22nd and please that you sound a lot more like you old cheerful self again. I guess the news about Hitler and the other war news all round has been good and a better tonic than any medicine from the doctor. We may be together again soon if things carry on as they are going. The latest rumour we heard today is that Rommell had been injured and may even be dead by now. Things are certainly going wrong for Adolf and before long he will be wishing that the bomb had finished him off.

I had two airmails from Les and Peggy and they both say how their family is getting on and what great kiddies they are. I do envy you love although although you do have such a lot on your wheel and I can see that Sheila is going to be such an old fashioned little minx and will split on her Daddy when he takes her for a Sunday walk and happens to drop in at the Blackbird. I could just do with a nice cool English shandy no love as we have had no beer for at least a month and we can only drink the water after it has been chlorinated

You mentioned about my pal disgracing himself at the dance but it was because his stomach was bit off before and a couple of glasses of Vermouth turned it over. he has turned teetotal since. The trouble is vermouth is the only drink they sell around here except for the local vino which is vile and only fit to be drunk by the natives. It's very sweet and syrupy and tastes a bit like elderberry wine. it doesn't affect you much except for making you sleepy and what I have had of it hasn't affected me much although at 1/6 a glass we can't afford very much..

I don't know if I mentioned in my last letter I had sent you £10 and it's up to you to get what you can to help make life a bit more comfortable. I'm please to hear that the 10/- did so much good and any other little gifts which come along just treat yourself. I feel I am a little closer to you when something like that happens even if I am not there to see you enjoy yourself..

I see keith has some up t date ways of doing his sums and will suprise me later on when I try to help him with his homework.. I can see les has made a good job of his boat for him. I'm glad to hear Tom is getting on so well and Glad must feel a lot better about things now. . let me know if you hear anything about Percy and any news through Mrs. Brown of Harry. I guess you still have your little gossips over the fence to her and Mrs. Woodcock. Do you remember love six years ago when we had to dig the trench at the end of the garden for the shelter and we had the electric light on an extension to give us light. It's been such a long time and I hope the world will think twice before having another similar or worse experience.

I ate an orange the night before last and I think it must have been a bit over ripe and I've had a tummy ache all day today. Of course we eat fruit at any old time and now there are tons of melons about and pears and apples are coming in so we have changed our diet from plums and apricots. I have just about had my whack of tomatoes though, we have them with everything but I still enjoy the peaches.

I still could do with some egg and bacon and a few fritters for supper. They dot heir best to disguise the bully beef and it's not too bad. I tried a new fruit this morning which the americans call and egg plant (aubergine) It is purple in colour and about the size of a black pudding when ripe. We had it fried with tomatoes and seasoning and is supposed to be very good. Perhaps because it was served cold, I couldn't eat much of it. Someone said it tasted like mushrooms but all I can say is they have never tasted mushrooms.

Mabel told me Michael is the spitting image of me when I was a baby. Still he's a beauty whoever he looks like and it shows his mother must be a good looker however much she says she is getting old and haggard and Sheila who everyone agrees looks like her mother  goes to show how lucky I am to have you as a partner. We have a lot of time in front of us and we will make up for all the time we have lost when this war finally comes to an end.

Goodnight sweetheart.

August 7th 1944

I had a letter from mam today which like your nearly arrived on my birthday and as I have just sent an airgraph to her will you thank her. Tomorrow on my birthday, all my thoughts will be with all my loved ones at home. I am please keith and Sheila's letters came so quickly and they enjoyed them. I get a lot of nice dreams of Sheila showing her letter around and hope you cam stick them reading them out loud to you over and over again.

It made me laugh what you said about Sheila with Uncle harry in the high Street and I can just imagine it. There is one thing I cannot see harry being embarrassed. mabel tells me he is going to have his teeth out and it's going to be a bit sore on the gums at the front with a cold glass against them. Still he should get a bigger swallow of beer with no teeth in the way.

You say you don't have a lot of patience sometimes and I wonder you do as well as you do. I know the kiddies would not part with you for a minute and when they are a bit off colour mummy always comes first as a comforter.

I see the garden is getting on well and you have had a good crop of raspberries. I can't see the shallots lasting long and if Peggy likes them she can help you polish them off. Thank the good friends at the ARP for the 10/- you had for me. I often wonder if they still do their spot of arms drill in the school playground.

I'm sorry to hear about Edie's husband and hopes he pulls through OK. let me know how he gets on and what news you have about Tom who I hope is feeling his old self by now..

I see you have not had much summer yet but the little outings to the fair and the pictures should help. Mabel and family have been so good to us helping with the children and I guess the kiddies enjoy it too. I see you get 72/6 (£3.60)  from the Army now plus Faire Brothers so if you have got no hardship it must be a bit of a drop for you. Still it won't be long before I am able to put the old wage packet on the table and we can start reckoning the household bills up for the week and you will find that we have a few more shillings than we need and you will want to treat me. happy days.

I am longing to come home again and carry the kiddies downstairs after their bath to wrap them in towels and dry them in front of the fire. and then read them a bedtime story while they have their bedtime Ovaltine. If Michael wants to come on Daddy's knees then I can see there will be a few arguments. I will love every minute of it so don't worry about me being able to get back into the old routine.. With two of us we will still have plenty of time for ourselves in the evening.

Myself and a couple of chaps went to church this evening. There were not many present but we enjoyed it. There was an Italian family with his wife, the only civvies and it was strange to hear them singing Italian words to the hymns. Of course all the churches here are Roman Catholic so this pair mist have bee in England at some time or excommunicated from their own church.

We tried to get a lift back later but gave it up as a bad job so went to the pictures and got back to camp about 10.30. I showed one of the civvies keith's letters and he like them so tell him to keep sending me more. tell him when I get back we will all go on a nice seaside holiday again even better than last time although I hope Michael doesn't fall in the sea like keith did last time as soon as he sees it..

Well love it's getting time for me to say goodnight again. I think of you at this time tidying up the home after a busy day especially when it has been a monday washday. Look after yourself for me

 Your loving Husband.

11th August 1944

Well love its now Friday evening and I'm sitting on my bed in my shorts trying to concentrate while one of the lads is doing a lifelike impression of a London newspaper lad just coming out of Fleet street the evening papers and the other lads are singings 'Jealousy' and 'Nelly Dean' and lots of other songs so its all a bit mixed up and lively.

I had a quiet birthday on Tuesday and the only celebration I had was a trip to town at night where after our usual tea and cakes in the NAAFI we sat on the balcony watching the sea and though about my birthday last year when I was waiting to move off.

We went to the cinema at night to see 'The adventures of Tarzan' and it wasn't too bad.

I had a parcel of books from Madge and Bill on my birthday so I did get a present. Thank them for me love and tell them I'll write soon. I went to the RAOC traing establishment with Dick and saw Frank and Arthur and watched a football match between the lads and some local Italians. The English lads won 4-0. I should get a game next week. Afterwards we went into their mess and I had my first taste of Whisky abroad. After one nice drink we went to the cinema   and saw 'Captain Blood' which I hadn't seen before.

I had an upset tummy last night. I had drunk some of the local water which we are not allowed to do unless it is chlorinated. The trouble is with lads coming into the billet late, and needing to get up in the night and having to go to work at 6.0am, I'm really tired today. I've got letters to reply to from Sid baker, Agnes and also Arthur Ree's wife and cousin Ivy. 

She told me that Uncle Osbornes lad from Northampton has been badly burned in France and is now in hospital in Carlisle.. She says his face and arms are badly burned but he is still cheerful. It must have been a shock to his mum and dad as he is the only lad and was married, I think only about two years ago and had a baby. A lot of lads have had a very rough time out there. Although I've been away longer than some of those lads, I know you are glad I didn't get caught up in it.

I've had to leave the billet as it was getting too dark to see and I'm now on the barrack square waiting for he picture to start. It is called the beautiful cheat with Rosalind Russell and they say it is a recent release from England and is very good.

By the way there was a big article in the Union Jack this week about the memorial church which has a chair dedicated to St. Augustines in it. It is St Martins and St George and is being dedicated on August 19th by the Bishop of Lichfield. I will send a copy of the paper if I can get one.

Mam asked if they could accept subscriptions from home and I asked the Padre and he said they were glad of any help as they hoped to raise enough money for an organ costing £50, a silk Union Jack costing about £12 and many other things to make the church as beautiful as possible.. It will certainly be a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives and will be visited by a lot of people after the war.. If the church do want to send a subscription direct to the Padre I am sure he would welcome it and it would be the first from another Church back home.

Well love, the film that should have been on wasn't and we saw Gary Cooper instead in 'Pride of the Yankees'. It was very good although the film broke down several times and towards the end a huge storm cloud built up but it didn't rain until the film ended and we have got back to our billets

It's very hot today and I've just returned from my midday tiffin of mince and potatoes with tomato salad and stewed pears and cream to follow. I hope you are getting your share of sunshine and making the most of it. I can picture you at this moment telling the kiddies to get on with their dinner if they want to go out this afternoon and wonder if you are getting all the company you expected. If so you will be a busy woman but I know you thrive on hard work don't you love.  You've not had much else recently and I hope you do get out now and then. It does you good..

Tell Keith Daddy will teach him to swim when he gets back.Tell Sheila daddy is sorry she has been poorly but knows she is a big girlie now and doesn't cry when things hurt.

Well time to close so goodnight sweetheart. Give the kiddies lots of hugs and kisses.

16th August 1944

Well love the day after I sent my letter to you, I had yours dated August 7th. Like the absent minded person I am I got two letters I wrote crossed and sent Aunt Beckie a letter I had written to Jack Turvey and sent her letter to him. I don't know what Beckie will thin when she gets a letter starting Dear Jack ! I've sent another letter off now to both of them.

I've sent a copy of the Union Jack to you with a big article in it about the memorial church. Will you show it to Mam and the vicar at St Augustines. 

I'm pleased the other photos arrived but see you prefer the beret one. If you have a spare one of any sort will you let Bill have a copy unless you are able to get a print from the negatives.. I see my suggestion for Sheila was not practical but if it made you laugh it did do some good. I am glad she is getting over her nervous spell now. keith must be really grown up bt now and I can see he will be teaching me all the up to date ways of mathematics when I come home. Tell him I want to see some more of his drawings and another lovely letter from him and Sheila.

Well love, I hope this letter arrives on our Wedding anniversary and although I have no gift to send you I hope the £10 I sent through the Paymaster comes about the same time and you will use it to have a little celebration.

We heard yesterday about the new allied landings in France and that's another nail in Jerry's coffin and just as at home all the boys here think this year will see the end of the war and them heading for home again.

I hope mrs. Dickenson and the kiddies were able to come as arranged and although I expect it was a bit of tight squeeze you all had a good time and the kiddies got on well together. I bet Sheila made a fuss of the baby.

I hope you are not overdoing things and keeping well. I am OK myself although the weather is very hot and sticky and I was please to be able to get a cool shower this evening. I'm writing this as it gets dark and they are playing 'Alice Blue Gown' over the loudspeaker system, one of the many records before the next cinema show.. On sunday we had a grand swim and  went to the cinema in the evening. Monday there was another picture in the camp but I had already seen it so I went to the camp and had that drink you told me to have with you, vermouth costing about 1/6 for a cup full and started to write a letter to Sid Baker.

Last night the picture was 'Northern Pursuit' which came on after a Mickey Mouse but the sound was lousy and it was more like watching a silent film. It spoilt the whole show and was a waste of a whole evening.

The landings in France have seemed to make everyone busy and the evening trucks to the cinema in town have been cancelled for the time being. We are still having a lot of trouble with flies, they are the biggest nuisance we have and as I write they are crawling over my knees and arms and I'm hot and sticky with sweat.

I've not heard you say anything about Lonny Crookes lately and hope he is getting about again OK and Tom also. I hope Harry Noon is now out of danger and all the rest of the family, your Mam, dad, Glad and all the rest are well.

As regards what fruit we get here, I don't want to tell you just to make your mouth water but just to let you know what we have.. I had two apples yesterday and two pears today but they grow too fast and don't really have the same flavour as the ones we get back home. All the fruit is a little on the watery side somehow.

I see you are going to be busy when the painter comes. Do you remember the week we had after our honeymoon scrubbing and cleaning the place before the furniture arrived. I still doesn't see eight years ago and so much has happened since that time has flown by. I only wish this war would end but I think we all have the feeling that it won't be too long now.

Is les still looking after my bike for me. Tell him to make sure he has new batteries for the lights as I will need them if I come home next winter. Do you think we will need a safe at home to keep all the money we have accumulated ? Still money never did mean a lot to me so long as I had enough to keep the family happy and we have enough love for each other which money cannot buy.

Look after yourself love and give the kiddies big hugs for me. Happy anniversary.

August 21st 1944

I was pleased to get your letter this morning and now I have four to reply to. I hope love the knock on the leg you didn't tell me all about is getting better and you are not avoiding things in the way of entertainment. I'm glad you and Mrs. Dickenson had a nice week together  and we have been talking about it here so your ears might be burning now. I would have likes to have seen Michael with Jane and I can see he is real tough one and can hold his own with the best. I expect he causes you a lot of work washing his clothes and trying to keep him tidy besides cleaning his messes up five or six times a day. but I can see from your letters that you wouldn't want to be without him for a moment.

I'm sorry keith wanted another letter but I have written one each for him and Sheila and will be posting them in a few days so tell him to write me another one as good as the last one and tell me all about school and how he is looking after all of you. And how Sheila and Michael behave..

Well love the chief items this week were the consecration of the memorial church by the Bishop of Lichfield and my visit to the home of the Italian or rather Albanian interpreter who works here to have dinner.

I could not attend the service in the church as only a percentage were allowed there by after early rain the skies cleared and the movie pictures of it should be good.. Don't look for me on them though as I wasn't there. On Sunday, as I had promised I went for dinner at the Interpreters house. I met him in town  just after 1.0pm and we walked there. His house stands back high above the town and we got there about 1.30. His fiancé, her mother and sister were there also her mother's brother and an Italian Policeman..

I first had a glass of Massalla very much like Port and we sat down to eat about 2.0. Dick had gone to the camp first and said he would come along during the afternoon. They first filled my glass with vino and then put a big dinner plate in front of me and filled it up with macaroni cooked in butter with tomatoes. Well you would have laughed to see me try to do justice to it. It was the first time I had tasted  it cooked this way and I tried at first with a knife and fork but realized how hopeless that was but then I found you just use your fork and lift a good amount, have your spoon in the other hand and twist the fork around, then put it in your mouth.

It sounds easy but you should try it sometime. I had macaroni round my mouth and hanging six inches out over the plate and I would need a lot of practice to eat it properly. Still I managed most of it before I gave in.

The next course was fried egg plants with tomatoes and meat.They tasted very nice especially the meat after the macaroni. After that they brought in chipped potatoes and of course that was just the job !. I though that was the end of the meal but then they bought in some other kind of meat, cold this time. I had eaten some bread as I went along so I shouldn't feel sick as most of the food is rather sweet but when I had finished that they brought in a kind of milk cheese similar to our home made soft cheese you used to make.
I soon finished that but to my suprise they then brought in a big bowl of fruit full of pears, peaches.grapes, water melon and figs I wondered how I would manage to keep it all down.

I had another glass of vino and some fruits and thought that was it bu they then brought in cakes, the flaky sort with cream and of course I had to sample them. We actually finished eating at about four, over two hours after we started.. I felt bloated. Dick turned up at 3.30 and they made him sample the egg plants. By the way they usually cook with Olive oil but for our benefit use butter instead.

Afterwards we had another glass of massalla. I could speak Italian fluently by then. Dick had managed to get a film for his camera and took a snap of me with the family and then I took one of him.. It was then time for the family to have their afternoon sleep so Dick and I went to the Rest room in the Naafi and we both dozed for an hour or so. 

When we woke we went for a walk along the prom. we had seen the film at the cinema but didn't mind seeing it again. Dick managed to get a lift back to camp about 10.30 in a lorry with about fifty others but the driver said there were another six lorries laid on so I decided to wait but they didn't turn. We sat about on the pavement until about 1.30 and nothing turned up so we went to the CMP and asked what was wrong and eventually a lorry turned up about 3.15 and we eventually got back to camp about 3.45. I only got about two hours sleep before I had to go to work.

While we were waiting for the lorries we saw about six families doing moonlight flits with all their possessions on handcarts. Apparently it's a pretty regular game.

Well it's time to close once again. It was back to normal army food today but I'll soon be home to good english home cooking.

All my love.

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August 26th 1944

Well love 12 months yesterday I first set foot on foreign soil and am now on my second year abroad. It has been a year of longing and sometimes although I look back it doesn't seem that long as I can picture you so clearly as we waved goodbye to each other on that Bank Holiday Monday.

I guess the news the last week or two has cheered everyone up and now it's a question of will it all end this year after all and nine out of ten say yes. The lads here do anyway and for Germany to carry on is just delaying what is inevitable.

I can't help thinking that when Romania and Bulgaria are out of it, Finland and the others will soon follow suit and germany will be on her own with no friends to help her like England had in 1940.

I hope you are getting the best out of the nice weather  although I had a airgraph from Mabel yesterday and she told me Mam had been ill and you had to call out the doctor. I expect in your next letter you will tell me about it and I hope by now she is feeling better and getting out a bit. I know these spells make her feel rotten for some little time afterwards and hope the weather will continue to be kind while she is with you. Give her my best love and if I could I would send her a few pounds of grapes.

You have never told me about your leg and I guess you think I will worry so don't mention it.  Mabel mentioned it and I know it must have been very painful. What happened, was it a knock or was it with just being run down. I know you have so much on your hands to cope with but you have made such a good job of things so far I often wonder where you manage to get the strength from.

On Wednesday I went to town with Frank Hull and Arthur Rees to see 'Coney Island'. Betty Grable was in it but although she has a good figure her voice wasn't in the same street as Deanna Durbin. Still the special effects were very good. When we got back to camp there was a picture on there so I went straight to see that, so we had a really long picture show.

On Thursday evening I went to watch the lads from the training establishment play the local Ities at football. Frank was playing and said afterwards he may be able to fix me up with a game next week. I don't know how I will get on but I didn't do too badly when I had my last game about five months ago.

Dick is taking his camera with him today when we go into town so I may get some more snaps for you. The weather is still fine and it doesn't look as if it will rain for another month. Tomatoes are still plentiful also grapes although they are not as nice as the ones we had in North Africa, not as big and not as sweet. While you are drinking my health in Guinness, I will be toasting you by eating grapes.

We are having our office painted at the moment and you should see the way they do it. I am sure you would make a better job of it.

You know it is very difficult to make my letters to you interesting as one day is very much like another and only occasionally something happens outside the normal routine. We had a shock the other morning as they made us sign out when we left camp with the time and our name and number. I think they thought we were trying to get out of morning parades. Still we haven't been on a parade for twelve months so we may carry on being lucky. Parading with rifles and full equipment in the heat is not my idea of a good time.

I'm going to the memorial church tonight. They now have three new silk flags, RAOC, Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes all blessed by the Bishop of Lichfield and I should not be suprised if articles haven't appeared in English newspapers as contributions came from all over the place.

Monday.  Well love things didn't go quite as planned as we went swimming in the afternoon and the sand was so hot that it blistered our feet as we walked over it. We did make it to the water and had a swim and a lark about before going back to camp for tea. I walked to church in the evening and thought the service would be over by 7.30 but it went on until after 8 and it was 8.30 before we got back to camp. The canteen was shut as the cinema show was on so we couldn't get anything to eat nor sit down to finish this letter.

I'm pleased to say your letter arrived this morning and I'm glad you arm is feeling a little better. It has gone on a long time, hasn't it but thanks to your patience you have kept going. I'm pleased to hear Mam is getting over her illness and hope the good weather continues. I see you have sent a cable but it hasn't arrived yet. I'm glad Bernice likes working in Adderlys but hope she doesn't start talking too posh so no one can understand what she is saying.

All my love

29th August 1944

Well love I'm making and early start on this letter as I received yours just before I posted the last one

In your letter you mention about the job we are doing. When we first came in this job the civvies were sent from the outside but it was decided that all the labour should be tested here and so the school opened. At first we had an officer grading them for the various jobs but then it became Dick and the interpreter ( the one I went to dine with a few days ago) giving the test and I kept the records and called them when there was a job going. they all have a test of writing and printing, a few general knowledge questions and four simple sums. and it is suprising how some of them with diplomas for all sorts of things can't get a simple addition sum correct which any lad of ten in England could do in his head.

With our other work thrown in we are kept busy and as the Italians are a very persistent race ( as regards employment anyway) we have to watch them carefully as often they have been graded as labourers only they try to take another test under another name a few weeks later. Some days we test as many as sixty in batches of twelve and we have to keep all the papers filed away so we can check up later on if necessary.

With working with the Ities we pick up quite a bit of their lingo and it's funny sometimes when folks that have been tested and are awaiting a call stop us on the way to dinner and start jabbering away. still we know enough to know what they want to know. If the war goes on as it is at present I can see that there will be no need for much more of it and if I come home through France, I shall have a job speaking the little French I do know with having used Italian for so long.

I bet if Keith saw our school he'd say it's just like his except we have desks for two but we have pads and pens and a blackboard so we can show the class English printing. I haven't got any stripes out of it but that isn't something that has ever worried me. All I want is a one way ticket home and find you in good health, the army can keep it's ribbons and decorations.

I have a kick around with a football last night with Frank Hull until it was dark and then saw a film 'Thank your lucky stars' but it wasn't much good so I wouldn't queue up at home to see it.. Tonight we got a lift in a lorry into town and went to the NAAFI for tea and cakes but they had run out of cakes. so now we are in the writing room industriously writing away. 

It's now 8.0pm and getting dark. we can hear the kiddies outside shouting and playing but in the next half hour they will have cleared off. I hope to have a kick around with Arthur tomorrow night but I think I'm getting a bit old to play for the team, don't you love ? Is Keith interested in Football. I wondered if he would like me to take him to the City on a Saturday afternoon. What do you say love ? Not one of those swear word you tell me you use when the kiddies are not quite as perfect as usual

We have not finished the roll of film Dick managed to get hold of but with luck may do so next Sunday. I've managed to find a nice frame for the kiddies photo and you should hear the flattering remarks I get about them. I'm still waiting for your photo to complete it. Have you forgotten or just haven't had time? I know, joking apart, you have had and are still having a tough time on your own and I'm glad Mabel and Bernice have been able to help to break to monotony for you a little and now keith has grown a little and is able to go to the pictures and other amusements it takes a bit of the burden off you. Is Sheila starting school after the holidays ? 

I can see her coming home all wide eyed and excited and lots of old fashioned remarks about what she has been doing. My heart aches every time I think of all the joys of home life I am missing and hope when I come home life gets back to normal as quickly as possible.. It no doubt sounds very exciting out here but you know it's just a waiting period until I can get home and all my thoughts are on that day when I am back with you all for good.. It's been a long war but the end is in sight and once that day dawns we shall be worrying the life out of the army authorities for a ticket home. 

Just keep your chin up and enjoy what is left of the English summer. I only wish there were more green fields here but then I suppose that would make me even more homesick. 

From you ever-loving husband.

3rd September 1944

Well love today is the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of war and it hardly seems yesterday since we hurried home from Mablethorpe. I had you cable yesterday and thank you very much for it. As the war is going at the moment I can see this month bringing victory and all the lads here seem in good spirits and we have a good sing song in the billets after dinner. I certainly think Gerry has had it this time and once he has given in I hope they will realize that I have a family at home who need me. I expect you are all as excited at home as we are and listen eagerly to the news every night as we do.  here we rely mostly on the Union Jack and rumours except tonight as the wireless is on full blast. Some of the lads like me are writing and some playing billiards or table tennis.

Keith certainly seems to be growing up fast going for tram rides all over the place and I guess I would be worried to death at the thought of him going so far around the city on his own. It made me laugh when he said he was mad because e he had had a smack when he had done nothing wrong and as I told him he often misses smacks when he has done something wrong so it balances out.

I am sorry your leg is still giving trouble and hope you have seen the doctor about it. You have enough to worry about without that and I want you in good form for a few nights dancing soon

Thank Sheila for her two sloppy kisses and tell her daddy will send her an airgraph in a few days time.

I got a game of football last weeks and went with Dick to see the film 'Song of bernadette' a really good picture. We also saw our old friend Bing Crosby in 'Holiday Inn' on the camp but the projector broke down so we only saw half of it.

We had a heavy thunderstorm this afternoon and it still looks very heavy but I don't think it will rain anymore. As regards teaching the kiddies to swim, I would have a try as I wish I could swim well and if I had stuck at it when I was young I would have been a lot better.

A dance band on the wireless is playing 'Who'se taking you home tonight' . I hope my dance pumps fit when I get home as I don't think the shoes I have at home are much good are they. I want our first dance together again to be perfect.

I hear Peggy is finishing work this week so I guess you will be seeing more of her and all the talk from now on will be about babies. between you, Mam, Mabel and bernice she won't go far wrong. I can see the old rocking horse coming in useful for a lot longer

I've just celebrated the good news about the war with a glass of vermouth so here is health to you and a quick return home.

God Bless you all.

September 8th 1944

Well love I hope you have got my airgraph sent on Tuesday and Sheila also has hers from daddy. I had a letter from Keith yesterday and tell him it's lovely and I'll be sending the answers to the sums in a little letter to him tomorrow night.

Well, I hope you holiday has done you good and you knee has responded to treatment and you no longer look like an old witch hobbling along as Keith described you. I know it must be painful and no laughing matter but I expect his description did raise a few smiles from you.

We had a night in camp on Wednesday as a film was on. It was our old favourite 'Holiday inn' Tonight there is a new British film called 'The Phantom Lady' and I hope it's good. Dick has gone in the supper queue while I keep the seats. It's gets cooler in the evening now and it's much better although I had a shower and change of clothes this evening.

Saturday. The films was a bit weak but enjoyable. On Thursday evening Dick and I went into town to try to get some more prints off the snaps he had taken. While we were there we collected another snap I had taken with Tom Mansfield and I'm sending this in a green envelope with Keith's letter and hope it goes by air. I don't think much of myself in it but you can see how I look in September 1944, Victory month I hope..

I took a half day today and went for a swim although the sea was a bit too rough for non swimmers such as myself. Still I had a nice lay down on the sand and I amused myself by building a railway engine out of the sand like a kiddie. It took me back to Mablethorpe in 1939 when I had to make so many for Keith. I talked to Tom about it and then about cricket and football until we went back to camp about 5.0pm

I may go to church tomorrow evening but hope they have an organist as last time we had to sing without one. I saved a bottle of ale last week in case the war finished this weekend but no such luck so I finished it off anyway and if the war does finish in the next few days, I have to drink a toast to you in Vermouth instead of ale. There is a lot of secrecy about the allies in France so the war may actually end before they even tell us about it. I still think this is the month it will happen though so get the flags ready. Keith tells me they will be all over the street. It shows how you must all be feeling at home after all the great news of the last few weeks. Everyone must be dreaming of that day we dream of when we will all return to our loved ones and everything we long for.

I often think of home compared with the conditions here when I'm walking to work about 7.0am. I have to walk through villages and the slums in the worst part of London would be palaces compared with some of the places here. The children are all barefooted generally dirty and lots of the house are three stories high full of crowded flats with just a curtain sometimes to divide the sleeping areas and there is dirt and dust everywhere.

All the water has to be carried from one tap and it is suprising how youngsters can carry a bucket or jug full on their heads without spilling it.

There is very little schooling for the poorer children and I would hate to see our children have to live in such circumstances

In the towns they seem better clothed but the boys on the whole don't look very strong and I don't think the war is to blame for it. They are good swimmers though but there are no tram rides round town for them and what schools there are are very shabby. There are some fine looking buildings in town but mostly they were fascist office or municipal buildings and that's where most of the money must have gone. The kiddies get a small ration of chocolate once a week only.

Well love there is little to add this week of interest although we did get an egg for breakfast this week, the first for a month but as they cost about 9d each (4p approx) we can't expect many.

All my love

P.s. have heard from Frank Hull that Arthur is in France.

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September 12th 1944

I was very pleased to get you airmail dated the 5th today love and am sorry you were held up for mine. I didn't think there had been eight days between my letters to you and I'll see it doesn't happen again. I know you like as many letters as possible like I do and think lately I have made amends a little.

I am glad to hear your leg is getting better but it has been a nasty job hasn't it love. It's a wonder how you have managed to get about at all with it and I bet you have longed for an hour in bed while I got the family up and ready for breakfast. Still I'll see you haven't seen the last of those days love and by the look of the news it won't be long.

We heard today that Le Havre had fallen and British troops had crossed into Germany. I can see the old song 'Were going to hang out the washing on the Seigfried line' coming true any day now.

I am glad to hear Tom has got on so well and I bet the kiddies enjoyed the shells that Peggy sent. Here they are only stones. I hope Edie's husband gets on all right, it must be worrying for her.

I suppose I ought to be flattered by Edith Foulds saying those nice things about me but I don't think I ever thought about her, certainly not as a future wife, she is much too fond of Edith Foulds and having a good time while she can. I don't envy Cliff and their life together after the war.

Please apologize to Sheila about her letter not being as long as Keith's. Tell her daddy is very sorry and will send her a lovely big long letter next time. I've already sent another I think and if hers is shorter than Keith's again I can see her saying she is not daddy's little sweetheart any longer. You know love I have been getting mixed up with Sheila's age. I think the photo must be partially responsible as I have been telling every admirer of it that she is four and a half and that is why I mentioned about her going to school. She looks so grown up on the photo I've been thinking she will be five in December and of course she won't be ready for school yet. I'll perhaps be home in time to see her start at Easter.

Well love I have been keeping well and enjoyed another dip on Saturday. We saw another film in camp on Monday night called 'A Chip off the Old Block' and although I forget the actors' names it was a good laugh. I had hoped to go to town tonight to see 'Dixie' but was unable to get a lorry ticket so will have to leave it until Thursday.

The weather is still warm and although we have been issued with another blanket we still only use the one. We are getting plenty of grapes, they cost 20 lire (1/-) a kilo or about 5d a pound, not bad eh love. I only wish I could send you some. Cob nuts are in season and I hope to send you some shortly. I am sending to Durban at the weekend for another parcel of Chocolates and jellies if they still supply them. I've got to wait for my pay before I can buy a postal order.

I am sorry to hear your mum hasn't been too grand and hope she and your dad are now OK again.

I went to the canteen with Dick and had a couple of cakes, a mug of tea and also 20 cigarettes. We went round to the local cinema to see what was on but it was closed so we came round here to the office to write and have a cup of tea with the lads who are sleeping here.

I have had three Leicester Chronicles and see Tom has got his photo in the paper. There seems a lot of chaps names just being published who were captured at Singapore and it must be a big shock to their relatives.

I couldn't finish this last night as it was nearly 10pm so we had a quiet stroll back to the camp. 

I got stopped yesterday as I booked out of camp and the S/Sgt. CMP asked why I didn't parade. I gave him what excuse I could but he said we would have to have written permission and so we had to get Capt. Withers (our officer) to sign a letter for the adjutant. This morning the parade was at 6.50 and I understand there were all sorts of officers on parade but we managed to miss it thank goodness. 

Well love the scene of writing has changed, I couldn't finish this at dinnertime so now about 6.30pm I am writing this in the billet, having made my bed, had a wash and put on my long pants and am sitting in my vest writing and waiting for the weekly NAAFI rations to arrive.

We had stew for dinner with fried tomatoes served with it and it tasted real grand. There was 'duff' to follow and that wasn't bad either. While I am on about eating we had sausage and tomatoes for breakfast, onion and tomato salad with cheese and a potato mixture and a piece of date tart for lunch. We will soon be sprouting tomatoes. I have had a few more fresh figs but am not to keen on them as they are very watery. I see Sheila likes pickles so you have a rival love and I can see we will have to grow a lot more next year.

By the way love has Harry been looking after the allotment? I have not had any reports about it and wondered if he had had to give it up. When we get lawns all over the back we will need an allotment, that is if I have the time to look after it. Still Keith by the look of things should be able to do a bit of mowing and Michael should be good at pulling up the weeds.

I bet Jack was pleased to get home and found a change in his baby. I shall be great uncle to four or five budding Churchill's or Diana Durban's. I hope Kath gets on well with hers and I bet Aggies is excited at the though of being a grandmother.

Well love it is time to say goodnight once more. The news sounds more promising every day and lets hope Japan will soon realise she has had it. Chins up love and god bless. 

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16th September 1944

Well love I'm pleased to see you are still cheerful despite of your leg which seems a long time healing.. Was it a knock which started it off ?
It's almost five or six weeks since it started and the doctor should have got it right for you by now. Still I expect it's the fact that you have to carry on working that makes healing such a long job and it's just one more little thing to add to our score against Adolf.

I though Mabel would be a worry guts over Keith like I am but he's certainly got his wits about him. I can just imagine Harry trying to change Michael's dirty pants and I remember when I tried to change a nappy once and what a job I made of it. Bernice is quite expert at it after all her experience.

Well the last few days have been much like all the other days. we got our Naafi rations and I'm trying to keep my throat from getting sore from the Ardath cigarettes we had in out issue this week. I prefer Silk Cut to them any day. We had a beer ration of half a bottle each and as Dick did not want his I have the bottle saved for the weekend in case the war ends then

On Thursday there was a truck into town and we went to see 'Dixie' and they also showed newsreels of the Normandy landings so it was about 11.10 pm when we got back. Friday was also cinema night in camp so we had a nice shower (although it doesn't beat a bath which I haven't had since we left North Africa) and I changed all my clothes for washing today and then about 7.30 joined the supper queue. the film was 'Jack London' who I always remember for his book 'White Fang'. It's funny another Jack London was fighting Freddie Mills at the same time and I wondered if Harry had come up to listen to it on the wireless..

They started a football sweep in the billets this week and I've drawn Burnley and Dick drew Hull City so we shall be watching for the results in the Union Jack 

We had Ham and beans for breakfast this morning for a change and didn't get tomatoes until lunch but they were served again or dinner with a stew so we got our usual two portions.. They don't taste as good as home grown ones and the bacon is tinned just warmed up not fried. We do get fresh potatoes though not dried but the meat we get is like bits of rubber.

I'm still doing a twenty minute walk to work in the mornings and enjoy it as there are some beautiful views of the local countryside. The locals are pulling down their tomato plants now ready for the next crop of fruit or vegetables. as I understand they get three crops a year off their land.

To return to the family which I have not mentioned much I see little Sheila is still progressing and enjoying her share of Auntie Mabel's chips. Wouldn't I love a bit of fish and a pennyworth. It just makes my mouth water to think about it. I haven't had fish and chips since I landed here and I hope my bikes still in good order so I can nip down to Woodgate now and again.

Well love it's bedtime. Give the kiddies lots of hugs and kisses from me

September 20th 1944

Well love here we are again starting off on a Wednesday dinnertime for 20 minutes or so and I hope finishing tonight. My last letter was written the same night as I received yours so I hope it made a record crossing.

Well love I hope you are well and the leg is about better. Keith should be settling down to school againby now and I am longing to hear what they say about the blackout being lifted, I bet it makes you feel thewar is about finished.

I hope the weather is better at home than it is here today as it has been raining cats and dogs and as we got to work this morning before it started we are going to get a soaking going back to the barracks tonight as we have our shorts on and no gas capes with us. 

On Sunday Dick and I went with a lorry load to see some of the local beauty spots and we arrived at a very nice spot for a swim about 10.am. We spent the morning swimming and sun bathing and as Dick had taken his camera with a new role of film (did I tell you he had spoiled the last lot) we had a couple of snaps of the group. We managed to get tea mashed for dinner and sat in the sun with our spam sandwiches, you know army style and size and afterwards we had ca look around and I saw some handkerchiefs with boats on and bought one each for Keith, Sheila and Michael and also a silk one besides some views of the district. 

In the afternoon we set off again in the lorry following a wandering road up and up the hill a few miles further on and I have never seen such scenery in all of my life. Deep gorges, houses dotted all along the side of the hills around and they had made grape vineries everywhere
they could. I was thankful our driver was a good one.

Well love when we arrived at the top a guide came forward to show us around the village and I had a really pleasant surprise. The first house, or more like a small palace, was owned by an Englishman and we paid 5 lire for the privilege of looking it over. There were statues and curiso's everywhere and the garden was a masterpiece. In one of the gardens which was called "The Garden of Meditation" famous musicians had got inspirations for their music and the view from the edge of the balcony, about 1200ft above the sea was marvellous. We could see right across the valley and the sea with boats looking like toy ones and it was worth the trip just to see that alone. One of the plants was called the "sensitive plant2 and when
you touched it the leaves closed straight away and if you turned the name up in the encyclopaedia you would no doubt find out all about it.

 About 50 yards away was the residence of the King of Italy for some time. When we left that place we were guided to another owned by Lord Grimshaw or some name similar and here had stayed Greta Garbo (who the guide said had actually stayed alone), Mrs. S and the Prince of Wales and Anthony Eden. There were wonderfull views all round from the various balconies and it was about 4pm by when we had viewed these two places.

We also inspected a church and then the guide took us to the Monastery of Santa Clare where we just entered into a little room and beyond was an iron grille through which the sister passed pieces of lace and embroidery to be bought by anyone interested. I liked a little afternoon tray set which I bought for you and have sent it by registered letter with the hankies for the kiddies and the silk one for mam as a little birthday gift. They are I suppose expensive for what they look but I thought you would like a little souvenier and the sewing is certainly good. Anyway they are sent with all my love sweetheart and I know that is the main thing.

When we had looked over the other places we were taken to a café where we waited on a balcony where the roof was made of grape vines across lattice work and lovely black bunches of  grapes hanging down. We were told we could help ourselves and had a few, afterwards we had fresh lemon water. We left on the lorry at 5pm as we had arranged to have an egg and chip tea at the lace where we had bathed and we carefully returned from the hill road and got to the café for tea about 5.30pm. it was rather expensive, 2eggs and chips for 90 lire or 4/6d but we didn't mind and afterwards we started off back to camp.

As they have put the clock back an hour from last Saturday it gets dark by 6.45pm but we arrived back about 7.30pm and decided to have a bit of supper. I was glad to get to bed by 9.30pm as I felt tired but it was the most enjoyable day I have had over here and I only wished you could have been here with me love to see it all.

I sent the hankies etc. home on Tuesday but expect it will be about 4 weeks until you get them. I am afraid the nuts will have to wait until next pay day as I'm down to 28 lire to last me until the 27th and next weeks NAAFI to pay so I shall have to borrow before then anyway.

I had three sea letters yesterday, one from your mum and dad, one from Sid Baker and the other from Harry Quinn. I think the boat bringing them must have travelled via Australia as Harry's was posted on July 27th.  Still I am very pleased to get them and as I am sitting in the office tonight I hope to make a good job of answering them all.

I couldn't finish this letter to you last night as I hoped love as the lights failed for some time and as the weather was poor (it is similar today only worse) the writing room was full so I'd had it.

Sid Baker tells me he is still in South Wales andBill Chambers has just had his first leave abroad at Darjeeling in Burma or India, (near the Himalayan mountains) and is keeping fine.

I haven't heard the news today but it is going to finish before long I'm sure. We went into town on Tuesday night to see "George and Margaret" a very good play at the ENSA cinema.

Well love it's time to say goodnight once more so sweet dreams love, all my love to you and the kiddies

26th September 1944

I don't know just what this letter will sound like love but I'm trying to write it in the reading and writing room of the barracks while a debate is going on in the next room on whether England is a democracy or not. They have just decided by 25 votes to 2 that it is not so I'll perhaps get a bit of peace now.

Well love I see that your leg is still trying your patience and it is proving a longer job than you thought. I don't know whether you take halibut capsules or not now but do so love if they help to keep your strength up. I know it's easy for me to talk without being there to see how much you have to put up with on your own and I only wish to god I could be, you love that don't you. It's nice I suppose for people to say ' if it wasn't for the war you'd never have seen the world' but they don't realize how much we want to see our loved ones.

I see kiddies here poorly fed and poorly dressed, being in conditions worse than any slums in England but despite that they are happy because for the most part they are with their parents. Some of the Italian chaps who work here say 'Bad Life' for them at present with food rationed etc. but they are with their families and can have their fun and love together with the knowledge  they will not be separated.

We saw in the paper the other day the government scheme for demobilization and I think I am a fair way up the list. I was never as glad of my age before. We have all had our particulars taken I suppose for when the time comes and I put every reason forward to get on an earliest boat as possible.

I have seen today the scheme on the Beveridge lines and it certainly seems a bit of  an advancement although why they miss out the first child I don't know.

The  Beveridge report led to the setting up of the National Health Serrvice.

I had a Leicester Chronicle from Gladys Wain yesterday and was sorry to see that Neville Hassall, who played football and cricket for Faire Brothers is missing. A Robert Burnham also is missing and I wondered if it is Tom and Elsie's brother.

I had three airmails yesterday from Sid Banyard, Edith Evans and Mam. I've sent a letter to Mam this time as airgraphs seem so short and a letter to Billy. Sid told me in his letter Gertie had presented him with a beautiful bouncing daughter on June 20th who they have named Pauline Elizabeth so they are following us nicely. 

Sid said they want one of each only but you never know love do you. That's what we said once. I bet you can't imagine what it was like with just Keith and Sheila although I can't imagine it yet the way it is. I can see me getting into some hopeless muddles trying to sort out three lots of clothes on a Sunday morning when it's your turn to have a lie in. I hope you have trained them to do all the little jobs that take the time so I can just relax.(what did you say love - 'I come first at that after all this is over'- you will be love don't fear). So long as I can have three nights at the Blackbird, two at peacetime ARP and one at the boxing, I'll let you go out all the other nights of the week so long as your back at 8.30pm to get my supper. 

Don't shoot yourself at the prospect of such a life, we all talk like that love when it's a full moon. I only want love to be able to sit down in our own kitchen (and living room) with peace I'm my heart and love all around me. It's funny love how I always think of our happy moments in the kitchen and not in the front room. I don't know whether it's because we use it a lot more, but it always seems to hold all the memories, some of happiness when we are bathing the youngsters or drying them before the fire, some worrying when I was waiting that Christmas night when you brought Michael into our lives, and when you were in Westcoates and I was looking after Keith in his cot in the kitchen owing to the raids. The time we slept on the floor. Also the moments of pleasure and pain when your face lit up as I passed the kitchen window when I came home on leave and the day I came home and you knew I was due for overseas.

I keep all my memories alive love and thank god I am blessed with so many happy ones. If we had not loved ach other love we could not have carried on looking after ourselves for so long. Just keep it up dear just a bit longer and remember the worst days are over and we've so much to keep us going we can't give up now. I don't know what money I shall have to my name after the war but if the government is going to give us a months pay etc plus what the firm is saving and my war savings we should be able to make enough improvements to our home to make it a real treat for everybody to come and share it. I can already see the kiddies playing on the lawns we are going to have all over the garden.

Well love once again it's time to say 'goodnight love' I always think of that before we turn over to go to sleep. We'll be saying it soon love instead of writing it.

All my love to you darling night and day and god bless you ....

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30th September 1944

Thanks very much love for your two airmails dated 21st and 25th September which I received on Thursday and today.

I'm sorry your leg is giving so much trouble. I didn't know it was your ankle as I only heard you had knocked your leg and thought it was your knee. I can see it is in just the worst place possible for you and hope you will be able to carry on. I guess there is nothing else you can do  is there love. I can't help just when I am most needed and it makes me wonder how you have managed.

You know love you tell me your troubles in a most apologetic sort of way as though you aught not too and yet there is one thing worse than knowing when things are hard at home and that is not knowing. If I were in England I could have perhaps put in for a compassionate posting but I am afraid it is out of the question here and in any case by the time it was through I should be on my way home for demobilization.

I see the airborne lads have had a rough time in Holland and it came as a bit of a shock after the continual good news of the last two months but we can't expect everything to go right all the time and I think it was one of Hitlers last flings. Although they suffered as heavily, the 2nd army gained a lot of ground through them and before long I think all German troops will be cleared from the Rhine and if the weather makes it impossible for further land fighting the bombers in the next few months will literally wipe Germany off and they will realize while there are some left there is only one end.

 If I were in Germany, I would be dreading every night from now on and thank god the worst is over in that direction for all in England as especially for you dear and the kiddies and all my loved ones at home. German soldiers away from home must be worried to death and wishing it was all over as much as we do.

I'm glad Keith liked his letter and hope to get a letter from him with the sums answered unless they are too hard for him yet. I can't remember what sums I did when I was his age. Tell him we used to have nature classes and get leaves and flowers and press them between the leaves of books. I hope I haven't given him an idea for the future. I can see he will be asking all sorts of questions about how rabbits have babies etc. but he should find plenty of interest in butterflies from chrysalis.  We used to keep a lot and no doubt John and Eric will tell him how to look after them.

It's funny Sheila wanting a rabbit, I can't see you looking after one at the moment but I don't think I have seen one ever here. There are some dolls in the shops of a sort but she wouldn't like the Italian prams. I did think of sending her a doll for her birthday and will have a look around but don't tell her anything love in case I can't find anything suitable.

I can imagine all of them fighting to see the snap of me and would love to be able to see you all. It always gives me a queer sort of longing to hear the little bits that happen at home. I bet Keith gave you a shock when he didn't come home and although I don't suppose you would wonder where he was, I'll mention it to him in the my next letter. I think I've told you before we only get one green envelope each two weeks and as we missed one recently it was a month in between.

I see  you went to see 'This Happy band' and knew you would enjoy it. The last few pictures we have seen are not much good ' Four Jills in a Jeep' was one of them and they seem to have too many stars and no story. The rain stopped one and cancelled another so this week has been rather a monotonous one.

Talking about dodging parades I did bump into one on Sunday and today for a big wigs visit. I'm working tomorrow with Monday afternoon off but the weather makes it likely I'll have a doze on the bed or a rest at the NAAFI in town.

Dick has just had a letter from his wife in which she says she has not heard from you about staying a few days there but hopes you are all well. I told him about your leg and what a job you are having with it and he is telling his wife so she will understand why you have not been able to write.

I had a writing night on Thursday in camp, writing to Sid Banyard, Edith Evans, and Sid Baker and am now getting a bit up to date with my correspondence. As it will be a quiet  day tomorrow I might be able to work an airgraph or so in and I'm hoping to go to church tomorrow evening. The padre here has left so I may find the new one more to my liking. I've not enjoyed a church service since I came here and that is one of the reasons I've not attended as much as I did before.

We do our best in the billet to sing each evening when doing our beds and changing into long pants. The old favourites  ' With someone like you' 'Smiling through' and very often 'You'll never know just how much I love you' and I think when we are singing most of these songs we are thinking of our friends at home. Most of the chaps are married, some with children and some without but the chap I met today who is here at the moment hasn't actually seen his wife and kiddy for 8 years. He is a Pole who married a Russian and after fighting with the International Brigade in Spain hasn't been home yet and his kiddy is now 11 or 12 years old. He says he knows they are both safe but I thought he must have had a rotten time for so long away from them.

A  year from you love is a year too long and please god the end is near. Although Churchill said it might take a few months of next year to finish it he's always been a bit on the cautious side and it's so people will not slack up but see it through to the end.

 This war has meant a lot of troubles and burdens for the wife's and mothers especially and I don't think any nation would have stood it for so well. Clearly the Italians wouldn't and they all seem frightened to death about being called up for possible service against Japan. The more of them they send that way as far as I am concerned the less English lads they'll want so the more the merrier I say. Let them have a basinful. Thay asked for it anyway.

Well love sweet dreams and I'll be with you at 10.30pm so goodnight sweetheart and god bless.

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