Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Turning 19″

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 45 – 28th June 1944




family stories
family stories

Letter transcript:

“Still at Heyford.

Tuesday night in great haste…

Hello Mom,

I’m in a hurry to write this ‘cos we only just got back from Oxford and it’s 12pm now. We’ve been on Dinghy Drill in some public baths and as we went after the public had left it meant we’d be pretty late. I had supper about quarter of an hour ago.

family stories

We should be going to Barford  on Thursday instead of today as it was previously arranged. Gosh we do get mucked about!! That’s the RAF all over! 

Thanks a lot for your kind wishes on my birthday. You know how I felt that day. I sure missed home, I shall be able to thank you properly when I get that spot of leave. Jean sent me a nice card. She says there’s something else on the way. Tell you what it is when it arrives.

Had a letter from Joe Lee today. Seems there are a lot of Land Army girls near his camp! Gosh I don’t know how he does it!! Tell Bert I shall send him a letter from my next address.

Light in this place is very bad so here’s to the next time.

Lot of love Joe xxxx

P.S. Haven’t answered Marie’s ‘appeal’ yet. Should I?!?”

So Joe has turned 19. It does sound as though he experienced a hefty bout of home sickness on his birthday, possibly for the first time. We can only speculate about the nature of the ‘appeal’ from Marie….perhaps she was a girlfriend who sensed that she was falling in the popularity ratings and being replaced by another…?

Further information on Dinghy Drill exercises can be found here, courtesy of ‘Aircraft Q failed to return.’

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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