Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Crew Tactics”

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 6 months in to his RAF experiences and is wearing his newly acquired Sergeant stripes with pride. He is now stationed at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire.

Letter 44 – 24th June 1944



family storiesfamily stories

Letter transcript:

“Same Place.

Saturday.

Dear Mom and Kids,

Hello folks. How’s getting? Ok I hope. I haven’t had any mail from you other than the letter with the 10/- in. Have you written?

family storiesWell there’s not too much news today. We (our crew) had Dinghy Drill and Bale Out Drill today. It was quite interesting. We were comparing notes with the pilot and the rest of ‘em this afternoon and generally getting to know one another. We discussed tactics and evasive action with the pilot for about an hour. He told us what his main difficulties were and we told him ours.  By so doing we help each other out. He will have a hell of a job to throw the kite about in the event of an exercise for us gunners, so we give him all the ‘gen’ on our job that will help him. A ‘Wimpy’ is very heavy to handle in the air so he’ll be doing some sweating when it comes to ‘Corkscrewing’ and ‘Steep Diving Turns’.

By the way right now it doesn’t look as if we’ll get Monday or Tuesday off. Anyway I shall be home if possible.

I wrote to Joe Lee last night. He may write you. Hope you got that £1 ok. Let me know as soon as you get it.

That’s about all I can think of just now. Sorry it’s so short.

Goodnight and God Bless. Hope to hear from you soon.

Love Joe xxxx”

Strange and interesting to read of the crew, a group of complete strangers, tentatively talking and getting to know each other and the vital points of each other’s role. Strong, lasting friendships will be formed amongst these young men who will go through so much together, and it is due, in no small part, to the mutual trust and understanding which is gained in their training together, that they will come through some of their worst experiences relatively unscathed.

family stories, joseph

To 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 fascinating yet ultimately 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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