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 is now at RAF Wratting Common in Cambridgeshire, as part of the crew’s final stretch of training before active operations begin.
Letter 63 – 17th September 1944
c/o Sgts Mess
How’s things? OK I hope. Hope you will forgive me for not writing sooner only I thought it best to wait till I got settled at this new place. We got here today having cycled across from Strad’. It is about 6 miles away, the RAF wouldn’t suply transport for our likes so our kit went on and we came later.
Well the food and mess here is so much better only everything is so dispersed! Gosh, as the crow flies it is 1 1/4 miles from our billet to the control tower and as we have to go by road (and field!!) it makes it a 2 miles trip almost to breakfast!! That isn’t a line either. I pity the poor devils who haven’t got bikes.
By the way, hope you’ll excuse the writing, I’m doing it on my knees. As far as I know we are here for 5 weeks but as the place is overcrowded with courses as it is, that may become 9 weeks instead. Already we are investigating the chance of leave. It works out about 50-50 if you get me! I will warn you and the civilian population before I arrive (SHOULD we get leave!)
We are in Nissen Huts and he darned things can be very hot and stuffy in the day and very cold at night. I think it’s because they’re built of metal. Still, we survived Bridlington, and in winter at that, so I think we’ll get through ok!!
By the way, I didn’t manage to get my laundry before I left Strad’ but I’ll let you know as soon as it catches up with me. Fortunately we managed to escape Kit Inspection!!
Well I can’t think of much to write about ‘cos we only got here today. I will write again in a day or so.
Till then, God Bless.
Lots of love,
x one for luck”
So another move happens. 9 months in to Joe’s training and still, it seems, things are very ‘fluid’ on the planning front! Never quite sure when or where they will be transferred next, nor how long they will be there for. It must have been most unsettling for the young men of Bomber Command. Thank goodness for the bike!
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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