This emotional journey will revisit the stories of my Uncle Joe once again. I hope you will enjoy them, and think of your family as you read.
Joseph Henry Thompson (pictured below, left) was born in June 1925 in Birmingham, England. The eldest of 4 children, and brother of my father (dad being the youngest). I never knew him and my father hardly had the time before his tragic demise post-war at 22.
Joe ‘joined up’ to the RAF, along with thousands of other young men, in 1943 at the tender age of 18. He left his widowed Mother, my Nan and 3 siblings and left for training in December, to Regent’s Park, London, which is where these letters begin.
Letter 6 – Preparing to leave Basic Training Camp
“Weds night in bed, 12pm.
Dear Mom and Kids,
I received that letter which you wrote on Monday and at the same time a letter from Aunt Em. She has sent me 10/- and a very nice letter but I shan’t be able to write an answer until I’m in the I.T.W. (Initial Training Wing) so will you answer for me until I get time?
We’ve had a lot of parades and inspections just lately in front of different officers. We will get a very important parade on Thursday in front of the Group Captain. It’s a ‘Posting Parade’ and all the usual eyewash and rigmarole has to be extra good!
By the way we all had an injection today, the other 75% of the Typhoid serum and once more our arms are giving us Hell! The Corporal said that we’ll have one every 3 months!! In only hope he was kidding!
By the way, our lot are very fortunate in having such a Corporal, as he’s one of the best, who helps you along in an easy yet thorough manner. We’ve had a good ‘whip’ round for him as his leave starts the day we leave here. He’s been in the RAF 7 years and has served in Abyssinia against the Italians in this war.
We’ve all enquired about our civvy’s and find that you may not get them for some WEEKS yet. You see we took them to the station stores (RAF Station) and they’ll be there for quite a good while.
Must close now as I’m darned tired!
P.S. I may write from here again but don’t you write till you get address.”
Joe’s full story is beautiful and tragic. He was our family hero. He IS our family hero. If I knew how to complete an effective RAF salute, I would salute you now, Joe. Long may your memory live in our family stories.
I hope to post a new letter from Joe’s correspondence with his Mother here every Friday until they’re done. It will be a turbulent and heart-wrenching journey. Subscribe to the Blog to make sure you don’t miss any of it.
Other posts in this series:-