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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
HELLO LITTLE GIRL HOW ARE YOU ? MAMMY SAYS YOU ARE A
CLEVER LITTLE GIRLIE BUT A BIT OF A NUISANCE SOMETIMES. I KNOW
YOU CAN WASH UP FOR MAMMY AND LOOK AFTER MICHAEL. I BET YOU
PLAY LOVELY WITH HIM AND MAKE HIM LAUGH.
KEITH HAD A LOVELY PARTY AND GRANNY TELLS ME YOU HAD ONE WHEN
SHE CAME UP FOR TEA. DO YOU LIKE ICE CREAM. DADDY CAN BUY LOTS
OF IT IN TUBS WITH A LITTLE WOODEN SPOON TO EAT IT WITH.
DID YOU LIKE OLD MOTHER RILEY WHEN YOU WENT WITH MAMMY AND
KEITH. DADDY WANTS TO HEAR YOU SING LOTS OF SONGS WHEN
HE COMES HOME SO SING THEM ALL TO MAMMY FOR ME AND WE WILL SING
THEM ALL TOGETHER AT A BIG PARTY WHEN JERRY IS FINISHED AND
DADDY DOES NOT HAVE TO BE A SOLDIER ANY MORE AND CAN DANCE YOU
UP AND DOWN ON HIS KNEE AND RIDE ON THE ROCKING HORSE WITH YOU.
IT WAS A LOVELY DRAWING YOU DID ON THE PAPER FOR DADDY AND
TELL KEITH HIS WAS A LOVELY ONE TOO.
GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART LOTS OF KISSES FOR YOU AND MICHAEL FROM
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Go to next letter from Olive....
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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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Go to next letter from Olive....
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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
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
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
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.
Go to next letter from Olive....
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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