Wartime Letters

Who's Who
1944 letters
1945 letters
Childrens Letters
Other Letters
Afterthe war
1943 letters
Food and Drink
Book List
History of Leicester
Childhood Memories

 School days
The 'children' today
 Keith. Biography
Dad comes home.
Remembered by Keith

When my father came back from his war service, I do remember going with my mother and Michael and Sheila to meet him at Leicester's London Road railway station. When the train arrived and he got out I didn't recognise him at first. I was 8 years old and had been 4 when I last saw him.

We all went on holiday to Llandudno and he bought me a wooden sailing boat which I kept for many years. We sailed it on a small boating lake which had a statue of Lewis Carroll nearby. I ate one of my first ice creams there, a very yellow product which I suspect now  was frozen custard.

I think the gap of four years was too long and the bond between father and son was broken. I never did live up to his expectations. He took me to one football match but I just was not interested. I loved using a simple 9.5mm movie projector I received as a birthday present. I made a screen with curtains and lights and held film shows for my friends.

He wanted a sporty 'lad' and he didn't get one. One of the sad things is that I always had the feeling that nothing I ever did ever pleased him.

I am aware that I do share many of his characteristics and it was very difficult reading his wartime letters after he died. I'm not sure if he ever understood how hard it was for families left without a man in the house during the war years. 

I hope that by making these letters available years after the events, the modern generation will have some understanding of what life was really like in those days. 

Olive and Eric in their later years

In their later years Olive and Eric continued to live at the same house in Leicester. The three children eventually married and left home and they had five grandchildren.

Eric retired from Faire Brothers at the age of 60 having been with them for some 44 years. He enjoyed working an allotment with his lifelong friend Harry Quinn. He was also an active member of the Royce Institute and St.Augustine's Church.

Olive concerned herself mostly with family matters having a very large extended family in the Leicester area, the Benifers, the Johnsons, the Hardings, the Gills among others.

Olive passed away at the age of 72 and Eric just after his 80th birthday. They enjoyed their retirement travelling to Italy and Austria including visiting some of the places mentioned in these letters.

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During the war I was at school at he Alderman Richard Hallam school in Anstey lane. At eleven, I moved to the Wyggeston School. The photograph below was taken in about 1947 at Alderman Richard Hallam's. I have tried to put names to some of the faces but cannot remember them all. Can anyone help ?

Top row. Christpher,Trevor,Clive Offley, Alan Garbett, Keith Mason. John Saunders,?,John,?,?
2nd row. ?,?,Diana,?,?,?,?,?,?,?
3rd row ?'?,Anne,?,?,Sadie,?,?,?,Rita
Bottom row ?,?,?,?,?,?,?,Terry,?

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July 2004. Michael, Sheila and Keith. 
Photographed outside Michaels home in Melton Mowbray

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In Germany 1999

After the war I continued at the Alderman Richard Hallam school until I was 11 and then, after passing the notorious eleven plus exam, gained admission to the Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys. From being somewhere near the top of the class at the primary school, I dropped quickly to the bottom of the heap at a school which pretended it was a 'public school and where learning by rote was the basic teaching method. Half the 'masters' were mad and strutted about in torn gowns and mortar boards. Pupils were quickly streamed into 5 channels with only the top few getting real attention as on them lay the hope of later admission to a top university. Looking back, I wish comprehensive schools had been around but instead I was just made to feel stupid and therefore acted out the part allocated. At 16 I wanted to be a photographer, something which the autocratic headmaster considered a line of work totally unsuited to a boy from his school and he advised my father that there was nothing more the school could do for me. I therefore left and found a job with a local photographic firm, Leicester Photographic Services, where I spent two reasonably happy years. At 18, it was into the Air Force for National Service and being unable to manage on £1.40 a week, signed on for an extra 18 months to increase my pay to £2.80. Being trained as a photographer, The Air Force decided I should work on Radar and I spent my time in Germany sampling the local beer in copious quantities.  (There is another web site www.RAFWinterberg.co.uk which covers this part of my life) I returned to another Photographic firm in Leicester, Leicester Photographic Company and ended up photographing weddings, houses and machines.I moved on to PERA, a scientific research organisation in Melton Mowbray. Eventually I left to work for Bennetts Cameras in Leicester and a few months later Dixons. Dixons were exciting to work forat the time. They were growing fast and I spent seventeen years with them managing stores in Cambridge, where I met my wife, Wolverhampton, where we produced two children, Birmingham and then on to promotion as Area Manager in Southern England. Disaster struck in the form of Thatcher whose policies devastated Dixon's profits ( although the owner Mr Stanley Kalms was later to give the Conservatives a million pounds and was rewarded with a knighthood) 400 staff were made redundant overnight in 1980 with no discussion and no consideration for the effect on their lives. I was offered managership of a shop but was disgusted with their behaviour and left. This was the trigger to a marriage breakdown and the loss of everything icluding, house, car and eventually contact with my children.  I took a job with Superdrug which lasted four years and later with ladbrookes. This led to work with Oxfam running ten of their shops in London, work I really enjoyed. Eventually however, Oxfam itself showed signs of becoming less of a volunteer orientated organisation and more influenced by all the latest American business jargon and I left earlier than I would have wished. Since leaving Dixons, and then becoming divorced after 13 years marriage , I had to rebuild a life from nothing and today would rate life as being very satisfactory. For this I do not thank any politician or employer but perhaps thanks are due to my parents, Olive and Eric, who did instill in me and my brother and sister a sense of what is right, fair and decent and an attitude of not giving up when faced with problems.. While there were always arguments with my father, some very bitter, mainly over his blind support for the Conservative Party even when then were creating havoc with people's lives, I think on the whole the pair of them did do a good job raising their three children.. The future ? Well I have a partner of thirty years standing I live in a place which has everything I need on the doorstep, I enjoy reasonable health and have been able to travel around the world and enjoy my forced 'retirement' Producing this site has brought me closer to my brother and sister. . I still wonder what my mother and father would think of the fact that their memory is preserved in a form which spans the world. The same as my Aunt Mabel, probably, when she saw the first television commercial for toilet paper, ' Bloody Hell, whatever next !'

Well in November 2010 I found my son Paul was the father of a 3 year old girl Kaitlin so I am now a grandfather. Last month my Brother's son Johnathon became a father of a boy Luke so my brother is also a grandfather !

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