Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Is the war nearly over?”

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.

At the time of this letter, Joe is several months into his RAF experiences and has just moved to RAF Stradishall in Suffolk, as part of the crew’s final stretch of training before active operations begin.

Letter 60 – 10th September 1944

family storiesfamily stories

Letter transcript:

“16 Elmdale…..

Thursday.

Dear Jo ‘Enery,

Many thanks for letter (no.2) received yesterday, and I hope by now that you have received your parcel. Joyce forgot to register it, but perhaps it will be ok for once.

Well, do you like your new ‘dump’ any better now? Or is it worse than ever? It doesn’t sound very cheerful, especially if the weather is as bad there as it is here, for it is cold and wet like November today.

Listening to the wireless today sounds as if we haven’t got to wait much longer for the end of the war – with Germany – at any rate. It will  be worth something to have the black-out lifted, for I hate getting about in the dark. It also sounds as if I shall have to be looking for another job soon, although I’ve been promised that I shall be kept on as long as possible, there is only 3 of us left as it is.

family storiesFreda showed me an article in the Despatch about a prisoners of war football team and her hubby was named as the captain, was she thrilled! It certainly shows that he is fairly fit.

I presume Jean has got your new address by now as this letter came on Tuesday and is the last, I sent all the others in your parcel. She also wrote to thank me for having her here.

Remember us to Joe Lee when you write back and tell him he won’t be able to tug Joyce’s plaits as she is having it cut tomorrow, but he will still be welcome at our ‘umble ‘ome’!

I caught sight of Percy Jones  today, he has managed to keep in RAF uniform complete with white in hat, unlike poor old “Buster”.

Well son, things are much the same as ever here, day off tomorrow and week-end next week, after that who knows.

So good night and God bless you.

Love from Mom and Kids.

xxxx”


So interesting to read the public’s view of the war’s progress and the limited means by which they were able to learn about what was going on. The reliance on the ‘wireless’ for news was critical, and here we are, in September 1944, hearing Olive say that she thinks it will be over soon, still several months away from the end. Imagine the look on Freda’s (a neighbour I think) face when she read in the paper that her prisoner of war husband was captain of a football team in a prison camp somewhere! What a thrill to know that he was out there somewhere, fit and well.

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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