Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Nose-dive over the handlebars!”

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, he 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 69; 7th October 1944

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Letter transcript:

“As per!

Friday 10.30pm.

Hello Mom,

How’s your cold? Only hope you’ve gotten rid of it because I have been getting scared with not having heard from you since that letter with the laundry. Jean asks every time how you are and I told her when at her house you had not been well, since then all her letters have contained enquiries as to how your cold is! You write and tell ME, then I can write and tell her. And don’t  forget. 

I am sending what bit of washing I have and if it is possible will you send a pair of civvy socks with ‘em when you return it and whilst I think about it, my kid gloves too please. That is if Den isn’t monopolising ‘em! I can make great use of ‘em especially when riding the bike, the weather here has been pretty ‘ropey’.

Joe and I pinched 2 cwt of coal tonight!! It was hard work ‘cos we had to carry ‘em half a mile but although I have now a permanent stoop, I AM warm in bed at night!! I must be getting old because I begin to notice drafts these days!! Don’t laugh please!!

By the way we have tomorrow off, yes OFF I said! We’ve worked for it all the same. Talking of work, have you got any more ‘gen’ on that Austin thing yet??

Where is Den working now? Has Joyce’s hair started to turn right again? Well, I’m out of news tonight, please forgive me. Perhaps I shall have a little more inspiration in a day or so. Till then Good-night and God bless,

Lots of love, Joe xxxx

P.S. I did a lovely nose-dive over the handle-bars today. “Sustained light cuts and bruised knee?!!”

Toodle-oo.

P.P.S. Am in a hurry for some socks also collars!!!”  

It’s hard to imagine that even in the armed forces, serving your country, you could be desperate for food, heat and clothes. Basic needs, badly met in a time of war.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.

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