Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Flying day and night”

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 71; 13th October 1944

letter 66 13 october 1944 page 1 letter 66 page 2 letter 66 page 3 letter 66 page 4

Letter transcript:

“Wratting Common, Friday.

Hello Mom,

How are you? OK I hope and settling in to your new job. I have been wondering how the working times are suiting you. I’m probably right in saying lousy, but I guess the fact that you don’t have to travel far is a help.

I’m sorry I didn’t write last night only I thought I’d better wait til today for your letter. Unfortunately it hasn’t arrived so I’m writing all the same. With not having written this last night and posting it this morning I guess it will mean quite a while for you to be without mail. I’m not sure when you will get this but knowing the way the mail comes here I guess you won’t get it til Monday. If I get your letter tomorrow (as I expect I will) I shall write again tomorrow night.

I looked at the mail list today and see that my washing has not yet come. That too will probably be here tomorrow. I can manage ok for a day or so, I still have a clean shirt and collar. The one I’ve got on now is still pretty clean mainly because I’ve been wearing my roll-neck pull-over for the last 4 or 5 days!! You see we’ve flown practically every night AND day since we’ve been here! Last night (or I should say this morning) we flew over Birmingham for almost an hour. The main object was to practice using certain kinds of secret equipment we have in these kites.

By the way I’m going to try and write to the parents of that fellow whose funeral I went to the other week. I only wish I hadn’t made the promise now; although I suppose it’s only right that I should write to them. If it’s only to let them know I haven’t forgotten them. 

I have started on a letter to Aunt Em and will also write one to Gran and Aunty Phyll. I suppose you are wondering how I shall have the time. Well as we flew last NIGHT we have not got to fly TODAY (not that we could as the weather is extra bad) so we are using our spare time to catch up on our mail.

We are down to fly TONIGHT all the same!!

Well I guess I’ll sign off for now, hoping to get your letter tomorrow. By the way has Joyce’s hair curled up properly yet? I only hope so.

Cheerio and God Bless.

Lots of love, Joe xxxx

P.S. I still have not seen Roma about here, or is she still in Brum?”

Sounding tired and rushed, but enjoying the flying! it must have been strange to be flying over his home, and equally unusual for Olive to receive this letter and know that her son was so close to her, yet so far away.

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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