Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Passing Exams & Fending Off Girls!”

family storiesI’m considering the possibility of writing a book about Joe and his time with Bomber Command. I’d love to hear your feedback about this. Please use the comments box to give me your thoughts. Novel, or non-fiction? Do you think it would make a good read?

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 still stationed in Bridgnorth, Shropshire where he is in the Air Gunnery School.

Letter 26 – 6 April 1944

family storiesfamily storiesfamily storiesfamily storiesfamily storiesfamily storiesLetter transcript:

“Somewhere or other

Near Bridgnorth.

Weds night.

Dear Mom and Kids,

I couldn’t make it after all as you found out. They decided to give us our exam Monday instead of Wednesday as arranged. Of course they waited til the last minute to tell us! The exams finished today and I have passed! Whooppeee!!

I will NOT get any leave before I go to the Flying School. They’ve told us to be prepared to leave on Friday or Saturday. I am well in with a W.A.A.F in Wing HQ and she says we’re off to ‘Castle Kennedy’ on the west coast of Scotland, which happens to be a seaplane base of a sort. The wonderful thing is that there’s an ice-rink at Stranraer, about 3 miles from the ‘drome!!! Just as soon as I get my new address I want you to send me my skates and stone please, by registered post, as if I know of a rink and I CAN’T go, there may be a looney roamin’ o’er the glenns! Blimey I’m going Scotch already!!! If I toddle home in ‘Thompson Tartan’ don’t be surprised!

As I told you we had arranged a bit of a ‘do’ for Tuesday after the exams. Well, we had it and I had the time of my life!!! No kiddin’, our Flight Officer ‘Digger’ Williams and our Instructor (bless his cotton socks) Sgt Frost made the party go with a real swing! We had a real good meal – soup, brawn and pickles, hot dogs, fish cake and chips, with cakes and buns galore! There was beer, cider and pop and we could have whichever we wanted. I had about 1 1/2 pints of beer, then the same in cider and then the same in pop. After the eats we had the ‘wits’ of the class out to give us a couple of phoney ‘speeches’, the one being Joe Lee of course, the chump! Digger, after much nagging put three halves of beer in line at one end of the room and three marbles at the other. He then got three boobs to roll the marbles with their noses down to the beer as a race! Oh boy, what a mess! Later we had ‘Frosty’ sing us some air crew dittys in the real technical way and what a row! Digger did a dance of a sort, he called it ‘Chile, Chile’! We invited a bloke we all used to know at Brid’ to play the piano and we had a good sing song and a lark to fill in the town. All these celebrations we had at the big old room at the back of the ‘Squirrel’. NO ONE got sozzled.

I wrote to Mrs Clarke (or did I tell you) but I’ve  had no answer as yet. If you could find those two photos of (Stan) and (Stan and Sidney) let me have ‘em at my new address. Twll Joyce to write to me about her holiday. Hope she’s having a good time. No, I haven’t written 8 Charles Road and don’t want to either! Hope you, Aunts Em and Lill have some fun at Easter. Wish I could be there too! 

These envelopes have come in just right as I’ve got to write to Alma, Marie, Pat, Yvonne, Mary and Jean besides that ‘Bridge Inn’ as they’ve just sent me 5/-from the funds!

I am enclosing that P.O. for you to send my skates and stone, as I know you can’t manage it out of your money these days. By the way I HAVE seen the accounts bloke but I haven’t had anything in the way of real facts off him but I’m trying again!

I also miss your faces at home but I’ll be home in about 6 weeks with a ‘Scotch mist’ on each arm! I hope!!! That’s all for now, will try to phone before I leave for Scotland. Now for the fan mail!

So long. Love to you all, 

Joe xxxx

P.S. Excuse the Chinese!”

Wow, what a great letter. Such a feeling to have passed his exams and be on the move to bonny Scotland. Great to know how they let their hair down in the RAF in 1944! And as for those girls…Joe was a good-looking boy, but seriously – 6 female fan letters?!!!! I am shocked, Joe! 

family stories, josephJoe’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.

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Other posts in this series:-

Letter 1 – 29 December 1943, arriving at Recruit Camp

Letter 2 – 31 December 1943, settling in

Letter 3 – 5th January 1944, confined to Barracks!

Letter 4 – 8th January 1944, meeting a boxing champ

Letter 5 – 10th January 1944, theft and wrongful punishment

Letter 6 – 13th January 1944, preparing to leave basic training camp

Letter 7 – 13th January 1944, high jinx and punishing schedules

Letter 8 – 14th January 1944, posted to Bridlington

Letter 9 – 18th January 1944, arrival in ‘the dump’ for 6 weeks training

Letter 10 – 21st January 1944, an introduction to firearms

Letter 11 – 25th January 1944, a fellow cadet in killed

Letter 12 – 27th January 1944, pork pies, live rounds and dimwits

Letter 13 – 29th January 1944, 10 fillings & the Browning machine gun

Letter 14 – 31st January 1944, Don’t worry Mum

Letter 15 – 3rd February 1944, Three ‘Joes’ and top test scores

Letter 16 – 10th February 1944, Meeting ‘Monty’ & Military Secrets

Letter 17 – 15th February 1944, Clay Pigeons and Dirty Washin’

Letter 18 – 17th February 1944, 9 days til leave!

Letter 19 – 21st February 1944, A Date Planned & Condemned Billets

Letter 20 – 6th March 1944, Arrival in 2nd Camp at Bridgnorth

Letter 21 – 13th March 1944, Eatin’, Stealin’ and Flirtin’

Letter 22 – 18th March 1944, Gigalo Joe in his first gun turret

Letter 23 – 26th March 1944, Meeting a war Hero

Letter 24 – 30th March 1944, Reality Bites – A Pal is Killed

Letter 25 – March 1944, Man v the Potato Peeling Machine

9 responses to “Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Passing Exams & Fending Off Girls!”

  1. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Bonnie Scotland, here we come” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  2. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “The Coal Heaving Incident” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  3. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “‘Mae Wests’ & Smashin’ WAAFs” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  4. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “‘Bad rain stops play” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  5. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Oops. Runaway Guns!” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

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