Joe’s Letters, WWII: “The one where Joe plays Match Maker”

family stories

A bit of background for newcomers

Joe (aka ‘Mac’ to his RAF comrades) 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 until they are done.

Please see below for a link to Joe’s full story and the other letters in this series so far.

In this letter, Joe is now stationed at Stranraer in Scotland, some 5 months in to his RAF experiences. His Air Gunnery School training (phase 4 of his training) has commenced and he has finally got up in the air….

Letter 35 – 14th May 1944

family storiesfamily storiesfamily storiesfamily storiesfamily storiesfamily storiesLetter transcript:

“Same dump!

I’m in bed again!! Thursday.

Dear Mom and kids,

I got your letter of Tuesday evening today with much relief. It seems to me as if one of my letters has gone astray. I’d written again within those twelve days or so. Let me know if you get that letter, it’s only a couple of

family stories

sheets with just a bit of chat in it.

Well, I’ve had my mid-term and as far as I know I’ve passed. I got 70% on guns, not too good on the turret hydraulic system and as for sighting I’m not sure but there’s been no complaints about it from my Instructor so far! We get our final exams in 9-10 days so just keep your fingers crossed!

I’m afraid I haven’t got much to say this time, my head is full of guns, sighting, turrets and range estimation etc. I am feeling pretty stiff right now as we had our P.T. examination today and the things we had to do were pretty chronic!

I hope you can get me some blades as I’m pretty short having borrowed two off a mate of mine.

I only wished I’d been home when those two fowl were on the go! I told Joe and his eyes lit up immediately! He almost looked intelligent!!! Hope you can get some eggs the weeks I’m home!! It seems ages since I walked up ‘our’ Grove last but it won’t be long now!

Has Aunt Alice had her finger off?! Let me know how Gran is if possible. I wrote to 57 Garratt Street last weekend and I should get some news then!

By the way I am still having dental treatment! The dentist here is known as ‘The Butcher’! Blimey he nearly made me jump a mile when filling  tooth yesterday.

I’m glad to see they’ve put your income tax right NOW! We have been told that when (and if!) we become Sergeants, WE will be paying income tax too! Blimey aricrew now!!

Yes, I had yet another letter from Marie today and what a letter! You see I’m being optimistic and making a lot of dates for Joe and she’s been going frantic as to whether Joe Lee will be too tall or too shortfor her numeous girl friends! She has told me to write to her and tell her how tall he is!! A born match-maker!!! When I told Joe this he went all of a ‘tizz-wozz’ and got real scared! Oh boy, what a life! He wants to go to the rink most I think. There is a rink not 10 mins from his house so he says. 

Mrs Terry must be singing all blooming day now she’s heard Les is coming home! I pity you! Tell ‘our kid’ to mind how he changes gear on that old crock of a bike! It threw me more than once! He’s old enough to have some road-sense now anyway. 

I may send my skates back to you next week. 

Can’t think of much more now so here’s to the next time and still NO pen.

Your luvin’ sun, Joe xxxx

P.S. Bert Thomas sent me his photo the other day or did I tell you?! Summat to throw the darts at!!!”

It sounds as though it’s been another tough session of revision and exams, with yet more to follow. No doubt Olive would be feeling proud that Joe is doing so well with the academic demands of the RAF, and he certainly seems to be having fun!!! I’ve not been able to verify who Marie was (yet), but she certainly sounds like a ‘girlfriend’ from back home in Birmingham. Watch this space on that one…..!

family stories, josephTo read more about Joe’s letters please follow this link. There you will find the full selection of letters to date, as well as more information about his beautiful and tragic story.

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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