Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Neighbourly Gossip”

family storiesI am 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, biography 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 33 – 29th April 1944

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Letter transcript:


Monday night.

Dear Mom and kids,

“I had just come back from flying and was getting out of my suit and harness when Joe Lee comes into the crew room with your letter! (of Wednesday afternoon). I had written a letter to you only half an hour before and posted it too! I can’t write about much this time as there’s nothing to write about!

It seems a great pity about Mr Chadwick doesn’t it. Mrs Chadwick will have a big worry now with all those young children. Mrs Terry is lashing out with the dough again I see?! Bob Foster is on his high horse so it seems, maybe Canada has made him a bit too clever. It won’t be long before he gets brought down to earth with a big crash at that rate.

I haven’t had a letter from Mrs Clarke yet but that’s understandable. As for Stan, I have had a letter, 2 sent to him at Bridgnorth, returned to me for some unknown reason. Fortunately I had put my address on the back of the envelope. However I shall write him again.

While I think about it have you been able to get razor blades lately, if so will you let me have some as I’ve been on the cadge for the last day or so. Also boot polish if any.

Gosh, I have just got your other letter of Wednesday afternoon, they’ve just brought it in! I’m glad to see my stuff is arriving ok!

That’s all for a while so cheerio,

Your ‘Sun’, Joe xxxx

P.S. I don’t know when you’ll get this but our post office is closed till Saturday morning and I can’t get out of camp!”

The perilousness of the postal system is beginning to be evident! Canada is where a good number of pilots, navigators and engineers were trained for the RAF. Reading between the lines, it sounds as though Bob Foster may have been over there undergoing pilot training, and it may have gone to his head!

family stories, josephTo read more about Joe’s letters please follow this link. There you will find the full selection of letters to date, as well as more information about his beautiful and tragic story.

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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