I’m considering the possibility of writing a book about Joe and his time with Bomber Command. I’d love to hear your feedback about this. Please use the comments box to give me your thoughts. Novel, or non-fiction? Do you think it would make a good read?
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.
In today’s letter, Joe has been transferred from Bridgnorth, Shropshire Air Gunnery School to Stranraer in Scotland, where flying training will commence.
Letter 27 – 10 April 1944
“3050664, Thompson JH
Hut 13 1 Site
39 Course RAF Station
Dear Mom and Kids,
Well, I arrived here after travelling for about 18 hours! We left Bridgnorth at about 6am and arrived here at 11.15pm and we were well and truly ‘cheesed’! The first thing we had was a goodmeal, infact a super meal. This morning we had porridge WITH sugar in and milk on too and it was grand. We’ve always had porridge on its own but this
was “IT”! After that we had fried egg on fried bread with the usual bread and butter (white bread with accent on butter). The tea was tea with sugar. Oh boy, that was a good start.
After an F.F.I. and a dental, we went for an examination on the Frazer Nash’ hydraulic system and Browning gun stoppages and remedies. That exam was very important because it decided whether we were good enough to start the course straight away or go as a ‘Pool’ for extra instruction. The ones in the ‘Pool’ have to do fatigues til 12pm and after that take extra instruction on their worst subjects. They do that for a week!
After a smashing 3 course dinner we heard the results with drawn breath and many a crossed finger. Joe Lee and I passed!!! We are on the course straight away and start flying next Sunday! This course will last 7 weeks, the planes we train in are “Avro Ansons”, a twin engine type of plane used for training. The target towers are “Miles Master II”.
This camp is very widespread, by that I mean you have to walk a long way to everything! We have orders to wear FULL flying kit at all flying details, so they must be going pretty high over the Irish sea at that rate. The officers seem pretty decent but they are VERY strict just like the discipline around here.
At this place we learn yet another new subject, “Sighting”! From what I’ve seen of it, it’s pretty sticky too! Last night we all slept like ‘logs’ although trams pass right by our hut, five paces away!!! By the way we have got some new blokes in our hut and one of ’em has the number 3050665 next to me! I remember seeing him at Viceroy Close!
The one thing that bother me here is the lack of washing facilities and the mud, we are between a wood of pines beside a large ‘Loch’ (dunno what it’s called) and in the sun it’s a grand sight.
Well I can’t think of much more to say right now but I write tomorrow if I get time. I’ll let you know when to send my skates and stone later. May try to phone you too, let me know when you’ll be ‘on’ in the next few weeks so that I can catch you.
Cheerio, Love Joe, xxxx
P.S. What writin’!
I love this boy. He’s clearly excited that the flying training is drawing nearer. Olive must be so proud of his academic prowess too.
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.
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Other posts in this series:-