Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Oops. Runaway Guns!”

family storiesI have been approached about writing a book on 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 (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.

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

In this letter, Joe is now stationed at Stranraer in Scotland, where his Air Gunnery School training (phase 4 of his training) has commenced and he will finally get up in the air….

Letter 31 – 24th April 1944

family storiesfamily stories
Letter transcript:



Dear Mom and kids,

I have just got back from flying, we landed about half an hour ago. I am writing again in doubt as to whether you have been getting my letters. You see I haven’t had any at all for over a week now and I have been getting scared, I hope everything is O.K. at home?

I can’t think of much to write right now but here goes. So far we’ve been cheesed off with flying, it’s monotonous after a bit. We start ‘air to air’ firing in a few days as soon as we’ve finished our cine-camera exercises. Anyway I’ll tell you more when I’ve done ’em.

The other day we went to a range to fire from ‘static’ turrets and I had ‘run-away’ guns. It caught me unawares and I had made a nice big hole in the wall and the top looked like the edge of a 2 and a 1/2 d stamp! I have had a new name just lately as the “massacre bloke”!

I’m stuck for words now but I’ll try and write tomorrow if I’m not on night flying.

So long for now. Please write.

Love Joe xxxx

P.S. Sorry about writin’!”

Joe sounding as though he’s really missing the lifeline of his letters from home this week. Mail was clearly very erratic, not helped by the fact that the crews were moved around constantly during training, so parcels and letters were often playing ‘catch-up’ behind the intended recipients!

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.

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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

Letter 17 – 15th February 1944, Clay Pigeons and Dirty Washin’

Letter 18 – 17th February 1944, 9 days til leave!

Letter 19 – 21st February 1944, A Date Planned & Condemned Billets

Letter 20 – 6th March 1944, Arrival in 2nd Camp at Bridgnorth

Letter 21 – 13th March 1944, Eatin’, Stealin’ and Flirtin’

Letter 22 – 18th March 1944, Gigalo Joe in his first gun turret

Letter 23 – 26th March 1944, Meeting a war Hero

Letter 24 – 30th March 1944, Reality Bites – A Pal is Killed

Letter 25 – March 1944, Man v the Potato Peeling Machine

Letter 26 – 6th April 1944, Passing Exams & Fending off Girls

Letter 27 – 10th April 1944, Bonnie Scotland here we come!

Letter 28 – 12th April 1944, The Coal Heaving Incident

Letter 29 – 15th April 1944, ‘Mae Wests’ and Smashin’ WAAFs

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