Joe’s Letters, WWII: “A ‘Date’ planned, & Condemned Billets!”

family stories

family stories, joseph

A bit of background for newcomers

Joe 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.

Please see below for a link to Joe’s full story and the other letters in this series so far.

Letter 19 – ‘A date in the offing?’ – 21st February 1944

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Letter transcript:



Dear Mom and Kids,

I hope that you have received my photo ok, I sent it on Thurday. I suppose you’ve noticed the irregularity of my mail just lately but its mainly due to the exams coming up shortly, and I try to use most of my spare time in swotting.

I should arrive home at about 9pm on Friday but please don’t rely on that as they do a lot of queer things to Aircrew Cadets!! We are due to leave this dump on the Friday dinner time.

I wrote to an address I knew of the other day and made what I hope will turn into a ‘date’ on Sunday!!  “Nuff said!”

By the way what are the chances of that photo being copied? I don’t know how long it will take, but if I’ve gone back by the time they’re ready you can send ’em on to your folk.

I’m afraid there isn’t much news this time, everybody is swotting like mad on their weaker subjects including me!!

I think I’d better prepare you for ‘it’ now! I’ve got a nice pile of washing I’m bringing home as we are nearly all a week behind with our laundry! I don’t mean I’m bringing everybody’s washing as well!!!

The other day we had a test on Aircraft Recognition in two lots of 30 photos at all different angles. Three others and myself got 30/30 each time, so I don’t think I’ve got too much to worry about there! By the way, about our Billets, on  Wednesday last a whole road of 4 storey buildings were condemned as being ‘unfit’ for human habitation! In one Flight that was family storiesbilleted in them 25 cadets out of 50 were put in dock with everything from bronchitis to a chill or cold!! Don’t get the idea that our billet is as bad as that ‘cos it ain’t, but there again it ain’t good either! Fortunately there is a house near by that is ‘to let’ and while mooching around we found the remainder of the coal, so we’re not too bad off for a fire at night!

We’ve been told that our whole Flight will get (its?) photograph taken in a group. That’s all I know so far, if it’s possible to get one I shall do so, as I’d like to show you some of my pals.

That’s about all, so cheerio til Friday!

Love Joe.

P.S. Eggs and Bacon?!?

For some inexplicable reason, this final sentence about wanting to show his Mother some of his pals brought me to tears when I read this. Perhaps a reminder that Joe is just a boy, missing his Mum, and excited to share his new life with her, or seek her approval. Bloody heartbreaking.

family stories, josephJoe’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:-

Letter 1 – 29 December 1943, arriving at Recruit Camp

Letter 2 – 31 December 1943, settling in

Letter 3 – 5th January 1944, confined to Barracks!

Letter 4 – 8th January 1944, meeting a boxing champ

Letter 5 – 10th January 1944, theft and wrongful punishment

Letter 6 – 13th January 1944, preparing to leave basic training camp

Letter 7 – 13th January 1944, high jinx and punishing schedules

Letter 8 – 14th January 1944, posted to Bridlington

Letter 9 – 18th January 1944, arrival in ‘the dump’ for 6 weeks training

Letter 10 – 21st January 1944, an introduction to firearms

Letter 11 –  25th January 1944, a fellow cadet in killed

Letter 12 – 27th January 1944,  pork pies, live rounds and dimwits

Letter 13 – 29th January 1944, 10 fillings & the Browning machine gun

Letter 14 – 31st January 1944, Don’t worry Mum

Letter 15 –  3rd February 1944, Three ‘Joes’ and top test scores 

Letter 16 – 10th February 1944, Meeting ‘Monty’ & Military Secrets

12 responses to “Joe’s Letters, WWII: “A ‘Date’ planned, & Condemned Billets!”

  1. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Camp Number Two – Bridgnorth, Shropshire” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  2. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Eatin’, Stealin’ and Flirtin’” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  3. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Gigalo Joe sits in his first gun turret” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  4. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Meeting a War Hero” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  5. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Reality Bites: A Pal is Killed” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  6. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Man vs the Potato Peeling Machine” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  7. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Passing Exams & Fending Off Girls!” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  8. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Bonnie Scotland, here we come” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  9. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “The Coal Heaving Incident” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  10. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “‘Mae Wests’ & Smashin’ WAAFs” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  11. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “‘Bad rain stops play” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

  12. Pingback: Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Oops. Runaway Guns!” | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

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