Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Bale-Out and Dinghy Drills”

family stories

Apologies to regular readers for the lack of a published post last Friday. PC meltdown in our house, now thankfully restored!

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  is 6 months in to his RAF experiences and is wearing his newly acquired Sergeant stripes with pride. He is now stationed at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire.

Letter 43 – 23rd June 1944

Joe's letters family storiesJoe's letters family stories

Letter transcript:

“Same Place.


Dear Mom and Kids,

Hello, how’s things?

As you will see I’m in the money! Not too deep perhaps but I’ve got some!! I’m enclosing £1 which I owe you. Thanks a lot Mom. Let me know as soon as poss when you get it. I shall be on pins and needles until I hear you get it ok.

Hope you’ve got my letter of yesterday. I put it in a different post box and wasn’t sure when it was to be emptied. I’m afraid I can’t think of a great deal to say this time after having written yesterday. We haven’t done a great deal today. This morning we had 3 hours on how to bale out of a ‘Wimpy’ (Wellington) after which we spent the rest of the morning mucking about in the planes. Getting used to them and where everything is put. It takes a good while to learn the ‘intestines’ of a plane and these here are twice as big as the old ‘Ansons’ we used at Castle Kennedy. It means a new type of dinghy drill and bale-out routine to learn.

Of course we do get cheesed but it is for our own good. So we learn alright!!

I’m afraid that’s about all I can write this time so cheerio and God bless.

Love Joe xxxx

P.S. MAY get home on Monday

P.P.S. Yes Den I will have that other book as you press me!”

The dinghy drill and bale out routines must have seemed dull but necessary. Little does Joe know that he will be needing this invaluable lesson sooner that he might think, and that it will save his young life….

family stories, joseph

To 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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