A bit of background for newcomers
Joe was my Uncle, but we never met. His precious letters have come into my possession some near-70 years after they were written. It is my honour to transcribe them, and the poignancy of hindsight about what happened to Joe makes this all the more difficult to write, but all the more important that I do.
One letter will be posted to this Blog each and every Friday.
Please see below for a link to Joe’s full story and the other letters in this series so far.
In today’s letter, Joe is at his new barracks/station in Bridgnorth, Shropshire (much closer to home!)
Letter 21 – March 13th 1944
20 Squad. / 5 Flight
Dear Mom and Kids,
“I received your letter on Saturday, I thought I’d never get one! I’ve written two to you and have been wondering if you received them, you didn’t say in your letter.
Many thanks for the 10/- is came in the nick of time! I have written to Jack Jeffreys at the works, acknowledging the two P.Os. The other day I got five letters that had been sent on here from Brid’, they were all from girls I knew! Bing Crosby has got nothin’ on me as far as fan-mail goes!
We (Joe Lee and me) are getting in to the tricks of the trade now – when we’ve had a meal if we’re still hungry we nip round smartly to the end of the queue again! That’s if the orderly Sergeant ain’t lookin’! Today for instance the breakfast was Eggs and Bacon! I went round 3 times! Last night Joe Lee and I went round with a bucket each, pinchin’ other blokes’ coke and coal! When we got back they’d pinched ours! So, we pinched it back again! And so it goes on!!
Last Friday a bloke from the next hut came in and asked for a chair, so we gave him one, thinking they’d return it! On Saturday we asked him whether we could have it back again. “You can’t”, he said. “We’ve burnt it!” And so it goes on!
On Monday we go to the Range to fire the Browning Machine Gun for the first time! That’s the gun we will use in the air at the next station and on opps. They’ve been teaching us the whole of the hydraulics system in our turrets and it is a pile too! We get a test to see what progress we’ve made next week, it will include drawings too!
The new subject we are to be taught here is called ‘Pyrotechnics’ (hope that’s right!) and it deals with the coloured signals and beacons we are liable to see on night flying.
I’ll write to Aunt Hilda in a moment or two to thank her for her 5/-. I guess there’s not much more to write about right now, so Cheerio.
Such high spirits and high jinx!! A lovely teenage boy in the prime of his life, handsome enough to be getting fan-mail and loving every minute, it seems. So, so tragic.
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:-