Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Sleeping with your clothes on”

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  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 47 – 9th July 1944

family stories letter 47 page 2 letter 47 page 3 letter 47 page 4
Letter transcript:

“Same dump!

Saturday night.

Hello Mom.

How’s things? OK? Right now I can hardly keep my eyes open. it’s 10.25pm and I’ve just this minute come in from flying. We were on as usual at 8am this morning and have been at it, with breaks for meals, all day till about an hour ago. It is the same almost every day! I feel so darned tired!! Tomorrow, with luck, we will finish flying early, about 6-7. I HOPE. Then I shall sleep and sleep!! HOW I shall sleep! 

Last night I went to supper at 9, came to the billet and flopped down in my clothes, except shoes on teh bed! I slept like a log!! In my clothes! I sure looked an awful mess this morning, but so does everyone else so I don’t worry! Our skipper is always dog tired after a day’s flying. These ‘Wimpeys’ are so darned heavy on the controls.

By the way, how’s the bike situation?! I’m so darned fed up with walking around this dump. The rest of the crew have bikes but I walk!!! JOE!! We were supposed to be on  P.T. tonight too! In fact every night, at 1800-1900 hours. Up to now I’ve been ‘missing’ and will continue to do so as well! P.T!! LIKE HELL!

By the way tell Bert I’m sorry about the delay of my writing to him but we really don’t get the time and if we do we want to use it for sleep! I shall try my best to keep up with my correspondence all the same, even if it’s onlt a few lines. How’s Joyce got on with her exams, does she know? She doesn’t know much as it is!! Latin and french; Pooh!! She should hear ME sometimes!

By the way (once more!) we had music on the radio for flying today again and the skipper was flying our kite to the music of a waltz, so; (Joe draws wave shapes across the page here) and sideways aswell! I can’t imagine what we looked like from the ground. We haven’t managed to fly over Birmingham yet but we will try. Today we went on a bombing exercise and we ragged the bomb aimer summat awful! Lord knows where his bombs went!! 

Well, so long for now, I’m going to bed.

Lots of Love, Joe. xxxx

P.S. May ring you up one day.

P.P.S. We went out clay pigeon shooting today and one smart ‘airman’ put some pellets thro’ a farmer’s window!! He WAS ‘vexed’!! I thought he was going to go crackers!!! The farmer I mean!”

Total exhaustion has now set in. No doubt this was to acclimatise the men to the kind of relentless activities they would have to face when their active ops began. Joe still seems in good spirits, nonetheless, and they are clearly not short of opportunities to entertain each other, as you might expect from a bunch of teenagers away from home!

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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3 responses to “Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Sleeping with your clothes on”

  1. Pingback: Guest Post – Childhood Memories | SaveEveryStep – family stories past & present·

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