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 (pictured, left) 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.
“Last letter from here! Friday
I received your Tuesday night letter today containing the 10/-. I’ve written to tell you about Aunt Em’s present which I’m using now. Therefore I’m returning, with many thanks, your present, as I know it will be of far more use to you than it will be to me.
We leave here for a ‘secret’ destination at 11.15 tonight.
We parade in full Kit at 9, so that’s 2 hours standing in our back-breaking outfit!!
I’m afraid I’ve not yet written to Aunt Lil and co. as I’ve had so many letters to write and so little time. I’m writing this against the Canteen wall during the morning break. Hence the bad writing.
We had our (Laundry?) today and it is a B— mess too!
I was very surprised to hear of Uncle Horace’s illness (Aunt Em wrote about it), he seemed OK Xmas and it seems to have got him quickly. Please express my sympathy to Aunt Alice by letter and I’ll try to write later.
By the way we’re going to Bridlington.
Must close as we parade in 10mins. Crikey they won’t even give us our full break!
Love to all, Joe.
P.S. Please excuse the writin'”
If you’re a Mother, you’ll read this with the pride and emotion that I feel. What a charming and unselfish boy to return the money his mother sent as a gift, knowing that she and his 3 brothers and sisters need it more….
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:-