Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Welcome to the Sergeants’ Mess!”

family stories

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 until they are done.

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

In this letter, Joe has left Stranraer in Scotland and moved (again). He is 6 months in to his RAF experiences and is wearing his stripes with pride.

Letter 38 – 14th June 1944

family storiesfamily storiesfamily storiesLetter transcript:

“Sgt. Me and No.!!     —— that should find me!!

c/o Sgts Mess

RAF Station

Upper Heyford

Nr Heyford

Oxfordshire

Dear Mom and Kids,

Well, once again, I’m here! Right now I’m cheesed off! I got in OK and we had the luck to get a charabanc back to the ‘Station’. It was raining light blue cats and dogs at the time and I can assure you I didn’t feel like a 2 and

family stories

Air Gunner ‘wings’

a half mile walk back in the rain. We had a meal and boy what a meal! There was a large dish of butter and the same of jam or marmalade on each table and as you can imagine I showed ‘em ‘ow I was ‘bringed up’!!! There was a cooked meal going too but I didn’t notice it! I hope you’ll excuse the writing but the only flat surface in the room is being used by a bunch of Canadian and British A.G.S for card games!In my financial condition things are looking pretty stiff on that table too!

No, I haven’t yet found out when we’ll be paid but I’ll let you know later.

I see by the programme for tomorrow that we have got about 4 lectures, 2 or 3 medicals, a Kit inspection and a Flying Clothing Parade! Quite a busy day!!!

family stories

Sergeant stripes

I’m afraid I can’t write much this time ‘cos nothing much has happened up to now. By the way this room is almost full of Canadians and they all seem OK to me, but time will tell! I will have to put the address of this place on the letter later as I am still not sure of it.

Guess I’ll post it tomorrow. So long, will write again tomorrow night.

Love Joe xxxx”

So, following his exam success, Joe has been promoted AND moved to a new station. He is now in Oxfordshire –  a pretty long trip from Scotland. Food, as always, is top of the agenda for Joe, and thank goodness it’s not looking too bad on that score. It looks as though he can’t quite believe that he’s now a Sergeant, and seems to have enjoyed writing his new address ‘c/o the Sergeants’ Mess’ at the top of his letter for the first time!!

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 fascinating yet ultimately 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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6 responses to “Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Welcome to the Sergeants’ Mess!”

  1. Hate to be picky, but those are Sargeant stripes. That is the rank that Mac would have been promoted first after his training, Flight Sargeant is the rank above that.

    The difference in the rank insignia between the two is that a FS (or Flt Sgt to give it its correct abbreviation) had a ‘silver’ crown above the notmal Sgt stripes.

    Great blog though, I love reading these each week. Thank you for giving us a fabulous look into a life gone by.

    • You’re so right, thanks for pointing that out!!! I’m still such a rookie. I love that you are enjoying the letters, and keep being picky. I need and want to make sure I get all this right, for Joe’s sake.

  2. I’m really enjoying Joe’s letters too. Thanks for posting the photo of the wings – I checked my photo of my great uncle, and he had them too.

    • I have a plan to one day visit all of the sites which Joe was stationed at. I don’t think many of them still survive as RAF bases but I’d certainly love to see them! Thanks Bill.

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