There are among the letters some
quotes which are worth pulling out to sum up how people felt about
the war and their hardships. A few are reproduced here.
You know dear, it's at night after dark that I miss you most
and yet somehow feel closest to you. I expect that it's due to
me in peacetime generally being with you in the evening and knowing
just what is happening at certain times. On the pictures I saw
a chap and a girl eating chips and it took me straight back home
and me asking you to make a few for supper.
It doesn't seem over seven years since we were married and
so much has happened since then. We have had a happy time together
even if I did appear to take things for granted and you've not
had much time to spare with bringing up three kiddies besides
looking after me.
Will you be able to get the fairy lights mended as I think
they went wrong last year. Of course we had other things on our
minds then didn't we love. I'll never forget sitting in the kitchen
that night with Mrs. Brown waiting to know when the new baby would
be born. I hope he doesn't cry at the sight of the strange man
when I come home.
I've only seen a few miles of North African scenery since
I came here and although at times it looks grand, especially around
sunset, I'd rather see the sun setting over the back of Brading
We went for a walk last night as it was a lovely night with
nearly a full moon and some of the scenery is grand. One of the
chaps says it reminds him a little of the Lake District or the
Yorkshire Moors and it was pleasant change after sitting down
most of the day
We have had some experiences at Christmas, dear, and I pray
with all my heart that next year will be spent with you and the
kiddies. You know love, I've missed a lot of Sheila's lovely ways
since she was small and Keith's progress at school. I know how
hard it has been for you sweetheart on your own and you will always
be able to look back in the years of peace ahead at the grand
job you have made. God give you the strength to carry on till
I return to share it with you. I know you will also feel lonely
this holiday and I will be thinking of you all the time..
We went as walk up the road from here towards the hills and
there are several Arab dwellings scattered about. You would feel
sorry for the kiddies as although it is not as cold here as it
is at home, they wear little good clothing and are always barefooted.
They have nice eyes and are very friendly.An Arab lad who was
not much bigger than Sheila came and squatted down near us and
we tried to get him to talk. He knew several words of English
and proud dad thought he would show him his family photographs
so he could seen what kiddies in England looked like.
He was delighted and repeated 'boy' after me for Keith and
'Girlee' for Sheila and ' mummy and baby' for you and Michael. I would love you to have seen us, four chaps just sitting watching
over a valley about five or six miles wide with the hills stretching
all around. It reminds me more of England at this time of year
as grass in growing in some parts and plant similar to buttercups
and daisies are growing and there are a lot of birds which look
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Did you know love it was our wedding day yesterday.
I thought of you but I bet you didn't remember. Let me know. When
Sheila had had her sleep this afternoon I said to her "Come in
Sheila, see who's downstairs" Her face beamed and she said "Daddy".
Poor kid, it was only Mrs.S.
I see you have started arguing already with the local lads,
still it's the proper thing there. Don't get paying outrageous
prices for any thing for me as much as I would love something,
I don't want you overcharged
Keith has been weighed at school today and he is 3½ stones. I don't know if that is good, I shall have to look it
up. He is being a very good boy at present and for over a week
he has eaten all his dinner up. There was a water main burst against
their school and the water was a foot deep down Buckminster Road.
Of course he had plenty to say about that and I had to rake up
all I knew about water mains and the reasons for quick bursts
and the mending thereof. I think mothers are supposed to be books
of knowledge. I'm glad I'm not too dumb !
I'm beginning to think I must love you a little bit somehow
or I should never miss you like I do. I keep carrying on but my
heart doesn't seem to be in what I do and I sometimes wonder if
it's worth cleaning when there is no-one there to appreciate it,
not that you ever showed that you did, but you know how it is.
I feel I am living only half a life,
I have seriously thinking of new curtains but they would cost
at least £3. What do you think, love, shall I leave them
until things are a bit cheaper and there is more choice.
I think I'd better save all my money and then we will
spend it together, it will be more fun. I want a new dress. They
have some lovely one in town and they are quite cheap, anything
up to 28gns.
Well love, I almost forgot to tell you that we had a siren
on Friday night at 10 o/clock although only for 15 minutes but
it made me a bit worried as we don't want flying bombs here and
on Saturday night I was woken up by the planes going over. I have
never heard them so heavy or so many and it made the houses vibrate.
I was very alarmed but they were ours so the Germans must have
quaked knowing that the bombs they carried were for them. There
were 1500 that night and they carried 12,000lbs of bombs.
I had my usual Guinness tonight and I had to go upstairs and
tell Sheila to be quiet. She just looked at me and said "What
you been having eh?. Drink of beer?" She must have a good smeller
as the width of her bed was between us (even better than her mother
I took Keith to see a musical comedy at the Opera House on
Sat but I wish I could have had a better seat as we went up in
the Gods. It's 2/- now. We went to Mabel's for tea as usual and
we were in town by five. Mabel then took Sheila and Michael home
and got them off to bed. She is such a good pal to me Eric, we
shall never be able to repay her.
The news has just come on and Mr. Churchill seems to think
that we have a hard struggle but promises us victory. He says
the Germans still have 400 divisions. I should have thought they
would have had less the way the Russians have been polishing them
off. It made me feel that the end is a bit further off still.
Well love I feel hungry and I have not got a bit of bread
in the house. Keith went to fetch it from Mrs S but could not
make anyone hear and I don't like to go now myself and leave the
house. I thought she might bring it as she knows I haven't any.
I guess I will have to make a few chips and fritters
I bet Berlin is wondering if the RAF are paying a visit again
tonight, thank the lord we are not there.
I bought Michael a grand little coat on Friday in Teddy Bear
cloth- a pale blue. I thought it would be warmer than a knitted
one. He looks quite a bruiser in it. I thought it would do for
Christmas from us (33/6).I have made him a teddy bear and Winnie
and Iris bought him a penguin. I have a book, pencil box and paints
for Keith and Sheila and have got a skipping rope for Sheila and
a writing set for Keith. That is all so far. I want to get into
town during the week to get Sheila something for her birthday
Another damp washday. Sheila had a happy birthday, she had
13 cards and over six shillings. By the way love your card hasn't
arrived but she will think as much of it when it does come. We
had Eric, John, Billy and Bernice for tea then Nora and Alf called
in and we had a good time (although I say it myself). There was
prunes, blancmange, cress with dried egg and chopped ham sandwiches,
tarts, small cakes and a cake from the baker which I put a frill
round and three candles. I covered it with milk and sugar to make
it look like snow.
Let's hope this war will soon be over for I for one have had
just about enough of it. I little thought what it would mean to
us. Do you remember that night after Chamberlain had been to Munich
and I said then it worried me that there should be a war little
knowing that we should be separated by the beastly thing.
I have made two Christmas puddings and I told Keith to stir
and wish. I asked him what he had wished for and he said for Daddy
to come home then I had my wish and he asked me what it was and
I told him the same as yours. He said, No I wished for that, you
wish for another little Michael this Christmas.
I have got a nice pencil case and I shall put 'from Daddy
to Keith on it. Here is a list of things they are getting.
KEITH. Pencil case, 6 pencils, 6 refill paints, pair slippers,
bar of chocolate, jigsaw puzzle, writing set, reading book and
a cut out book.
SHEILA. Skipping Rope, Golliwog, Elephant, Knitting set, Bottle
scent. hair band. paints, 6 pencils, Ten little niggers book and
a book of ship pictures from her daddy.
MICHAEL.a Teddy, a penguin and 2/6
By the way love do you keep my letters? I wondered as I don't
keep a diary and they would be useful to read together by our own
fireside and would help one to remember some of the things that
happened at various times. I'm keeping all of yours so we will have
lots to reads and laugh about.
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
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 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.
When you feel low again love just sit for a minute and think
of the blessings we've ahead. A chance to get a home together which
a lot of couples haven't or have had their homes blitzed, a family
no parents could be prouder of and when the wars over a steady job
and a life together with the children, all the more in love with
each other if that is possible through the troubles and partings.
Don't think too much dear about some peoples marriages going wrong,
it isn't always the war to blame.
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.
I know I shall have to cut my smoking down as I seem to smoke about 25 a day and that would mean about £1 a week in England. .
We often talk about the meals we would like, generally when it
is corned beef and rice pudding and you would think we were
used to dining at the Ritz at the meals we say we would like. One
of the chaps has sent some garlic home and his wife likes it but
I guess if you don't like onions you wouldn't like them.
When I think of the nice little suppers I had at home, fritters
or chips with a bit of cheese and a nice mug of cocoa or ovaltine
I feel browned off with army feeding.
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'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'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
I think all the lads will return looking older than their
years in a way and with a different outlook on life.
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We have had our oranges this week and I'm going to cut a couple
up for tea and pour custard over them. You might send some custard
powder if you can sometime and we have bit of cake left and some
Frears Biscuits. We had an egg each this week, the first time for
a month. I get three each week for Michael. I give them one each
for their dinner.
I don't know whether I mentioned it before but Keith has a
comic now each week and he is just like you when he is reading
it. I might just as well go talk to the wall.
We had the siren for half an hour on Tuesday at 11 o/clock.
I had gone to bed early and didn't get the kiddies up and all
We have Butlins fair here. I think it's from April to August
and it's opposite the Blackbird pub, quite handy. They are putting
up a lot of big things. I hope there is something for children.
Keith and Sheila are thrilled about it.
We had an egg again this week at last so we will have egg
on toast tomorrow dinner and as it's a washday quick dinner we
will have pancakes as Well. No lemons though as I made lemon
water yesterday as Sheila has a cold but we shall have orange
juice. We had four pounds of oranges at 8½d (3P)
a pound a fortnight ago and they say we may get another lot next
week and lemons as well.
The daffodils are coming out in the garden but we haven't
many. I asked the price on Saturday 3/6 (17P) and 6/6 (32P) a
bunch. It's too much so I'll wait until Mrs. Hill has some of
We didn't know how well off we were in peacetime did
we ? I think that this war will at least help us to be thankful.
I see in your mother's letter that the ashtray was made of
lava and comes from Pompeii. I hope you haven't been in any danger
round there. Have you seen anything of the Vesuvius eruption ?
We lost a lot of planes last night and in your country we
don't seem to be doing very well. It's a good job the Russians
know how to move.
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You say love you don't know how we wives stick things but
we are in the same boat as you, we don't have any choice so we
just grumble now and again and get on with things hoping and praying
that one day it will all end. One day we will laugh about the
trials we have.
I didn't feel anything of the earthquake but the planes last
night were a picture. They were fairly low and in close formation
and looked like a lot of coloured lights darting about. I bet
Munich did not enjoy seeing them as much as we did.
The news has just been on and the Russians are doing fine,
I do hope they get into Berlin before us.
Well love it's ten and I feel hungry. Shall we have some brawn
and cheese and a cup of cocoa made with Gill's milk. That time
will come love and we shall appreciate it more than those who
have never been parted.
The fairy lights have just gone over again. They are American
as they are in close formation. Our planes went over about half
an hour ago so Germany will have it once more but I'm like you,
love, I can't help but feel sorry for the women and children and
I should think that what's left of them will endeavour to see
that this will never happen again.
We were fortunate this week and had four eggs each on the
Keith was talking about V day and said something about you
coming home. He said he knew you wouldn't be home as he said you
had to fight the Japs. I said you might get home but not for good
and he said he wouldn't mind you going back if only you came home.
He misses you, love, but it can't be helped but all the lads he
plays with have all got their daddies at home.
I had a rather bad time with the kiddies as we had a thunderstorm
lasting two hours. The kiddies were late going to bed and they
were not asleep when it started. Sheila was terrified and Michael
was just quiet and but clung to me with all his might. Keith almost
cried but was very brave and said God wouldn't hurt them when
I explained That God sends the storms and of course you know I
was trembling at the knees really !. It made me thankful that
they had not experienced any bad bombing as it is a job to comfort
them on ones own.
Together we have £130 in the bank so we should be able
to have some fun later.
Mable took Keith into town to see the flags and as usual has
proved herself a good pal to me and has been up every time she
could spare. I really don't know what I should have done without
Mabel all the time you have been away. I've been able to take
all my pleasures and troubles to her and have a good weep on her
shoulders when I couldn't keep it back any longer. I only hope
I can repay her some way one day.
Italy looks a grand place I can't understand you not being
happy there. Even the army think of your pleasure by sending the
A,T,S. They will make a few more partners at your next dance but
don't fall for their flattery, it's not worth while as there are
enough homes broken up already.
Everybody is taking holidays. I wish I could take the kiddies
to the sea.
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It's the thought that I am so far away and can do nothing
to help that gets me down so often.
I'm glad Ethel is able to help a bit and Evelyn and Ann know
enough trouble of their own to be grand neighbours and pals. I
know Mabel will be spending a lot of time coming up Barton Road
and I thank god that we have such standbyes. I don't know how
we would have managed without them. I know debts like that cannot
be repaid except by deeds and if we are in a position to help
them I will see that we do
I don't think I'd bother with a Yank love, you might think
what a dull husband you have now and I'd come home to find you'd
found your wings and fluttered off to America. I don't think though
love there's any chance of that on either side, we have built up
too much together to be parted now.
I am sorry Keith has had nervous bout again and it's funny that
yesterday I was telling one of the chaps here about that night when
I had to hold him in the shelter for about half an hour after the
bomb had exploded.
You ask me if there are a lot of married chaps out here untrue
to their wives. Well love I look at it like this. It takes all types
to make an army and the chaps who did or would do the same sort
of thing in civvy street before they were called up, carry on the
same without of course the risk of being found out, as you say. A few others may have found the strain of being away too much without
messing about here and there and no doubt some have, during their
service, found their homes have been broken up by the wife going
off the rails but the numbers in the case of married men in a unit
of this sort is very small
I am sure you put an X for me at the election and I think
it's not a case of voting for a good party but for the least of
evils. All of them have made promises at various times which they
know they are unable to fulfil but we will hope for the best and
if the winning party don't give us the leave in the next six months
they have promised us then it will be up to you wives, mothers
and sweethearts at home to kick up a fuss and put things right..
Today we were able to book or rather hand in our names hoping
to get seats for the Opera to hear Gigli who by all accounts is
the most famous Italian tenor and as it cost us 10/- for a seat
he'd better be as good as they say he is. It is just to be able
to say I heard him like the trip to Vesuvius.
We had heard about the new bomb and what a terrifying thing it
must me but it seems that the Japs knew what it would mean to continue
the fight with such weapons against her
I'd better make your mouth water for a change love. On my table
at the moment are four very nice peaches. I had five and have eaten
one and may eat another before I go to bed It's a shame isn't it
love but we can get them so easily but to be honest I'd sooner have
a nice juicy pear from an English tree as all the fruit here seems
to be watery and rather tasteless. I had a few grapes the other
day. The oranges are as big as plums so far but melons are plentiful
and I had a big slice of one today,
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I want to be with you more than ever today, 9 years after we
decided to face life together and you took me for better or
for worse not knowing that for your life for more than three years
would be such a hard one. I know, though, whatever trials you've
had, your love for me has kept the same as mine for you and if I
were with you tonight it would be the happiest day of my life. Try
not to think too much about the luckier chaps (I know there are
thousands) but let us thank god that the end of the war has come
and we can at last see daylight.