A bit of background
This emotional journey will revisit the stories of my Uncle Joe once again. I hope you will enjoy them, and think of your family as you read.
Joseph Henry Thompson (far left in top photo) was born in June 1925 in Birmingham, England. The eldest of 4 children, and brother of my father (dad being the youngest). I never knew him and my father hardly had the time before his tragic demise post-war at 22.
Joe ‘joined up’ to the RAF, along with thousands of other young men, in 1943 at the tender age of 18. He left his widowed Mother, my Nan and 3 siblings and left for training in December, to Regent’s Park, London, which is where these letters begin.
Letter 4 – A Boxing Champ and £1 in wages!
Dear Mom and Kids,
I’ve written so many letters just lately that I don’t know when I last wrote you so I can’t ask whether you received ‘em!
I’ve just finished writing a letter to Aunt Emmy & co. As I write this I’m on Guard and it’s about 12pm. I’m on my own in a 23 roomed mansion taken over by the R.A.F. I’m expecting a relief any minute now. I’ve had a lousy cold the last few days, can you send me about 3 hankies as I’ve sent 3 to the laundry with some other things.
I got (paid?) on Thursday £1 and that’s got to last a fortnight. By the way I could do with one of those black ties as we are only issued with one. I’ve sent my civvys or have I told you, there’s a note in the inside jacket pocket but the news on it is probably stale by now.
I saw Stanley Cox here the other day (although he’s posted now) he lives a few houses below Thomases. I’ve not long had supper, about 1/4 lb of cheese and 1 piece of bread and butter with cocoa to follow.
I saw that lad from Lewis’s the Tobacconist’s the other day, he’d just come in. He didn’t recognise me. As a matter of fact I don’t think anybody would as I had a real Service haircut two or three days ago and they scalp you with a vengeance!
By the way I had a late pass off our Corporal on Wednesday for being a good boy! I couldn’t enjoy it properly because of that rotten cold. I’ve found out that our C.O. is the Chief Drill Instructor of the R.A.F! No wonder they’re so strict on saluting and all that tripe. Blimey, my arm does ache!
There are some sergeants and flight sergeants here and they have to instruct Instructors!! The cream of the cream! It seems strange to see sergeants and corporals and other N.C.O.s all marching together, but that’s how they train instructors.
The other day we had P.T. (our 4th lesson) and our instructor was none other than Harry Mizler the ex-lightweight champion of great Britain. He sure put us through it!
The 3rd day we were here some chaps were up before the C.O for losing part of the Kit. They were told they must pay for replacements and then they were put on a charge for losing ‘em! I’m watching mine as there’s always a first time. Our full Kit costs a little over £20, so we’re told!
I’m too tired to write more and am stuck for words so Good-night-God-bless.
P.S. excuse writing and pencil
P.P.S. We may get posted someplace else on Friday 14th but I’ll let you know for certain later.
(Ref Harry Mizler – picture in photo, right. http://boxrec.com/media/index.php/Harry_Mizler)
Joe’s full story is beautiful and tragic. 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.
Other posts in this series:-