Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Marking time”

family stories

Apologies for being a little late this week…briefly hospitalised!!

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.

At the time of this letter, Joe is several months into his RAF experiences and has just moved to RAF Stradishall in Suffolk, as part of the crew’s final stretch of training before active operations begin.

Letter 59 – 7th September 1944

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Letter transcript:

“LUBLIN the 2nd

Stradishall ‘Concentration Camp’!


Dear Mom,

Hello, how’s things? I did start to write to you last night but I was damned if I could think of a thing. Even now I am a bit short of inspiration! I didn’t get any mail from you today but I guess it will arrive tomorrow. I had some letters today sent on from Heyford. They were written by Jean just before my leave!! There was also one from Marie!!! I don’t think I’d better answer that!

Well this place is still as bad as ever but we are only here for a fortnight. We haven’t done any flying yet and I don’t suppose we will till we get to this next place. We aren’t doing Conversion Unit here by the way! This is an ‘Aircrew School’! Some newly invented place for us to ‘mark time’ at til there is room for a new course at the ‘Con’ Units’ The binding thing is that we are spending hours in the classrooms going over subjects we know inside out.

The food and mess are still very duff. There is always a queue for meals and when the dining room is full we who are outside have to wait till the place is cleared and the tables re-set. And so it goes on!

Tonight I have a bit of time to spare so I’m going to see ‘Madame Curie’, Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon of the ‘Mrs Miniver’ partnership. It should be good; all I’ve got to do is get IN the place now!!

Well, I’m stuck for news now. Perhaps I’ll have something more to write when your letter arrives tomorrow. Till then, Good-night and God bless.

Love to All,

Joe xxxx

P.S. In this place they burn their dead! I can’t sleep at nights because of some damn fool shouting “Bring out your dead!”

Envelopes? I swiped this!”

A clearly frustrated Joe is getting a little fed up with the constant moving and waiting around. The frustration he feels is pretty obvious, especially since he’s spent months studying subjects that he’s now having to re-study, just to bide time before he is able to move on. Perhaps his eagerness to get into action is more instinctive than well thought through…..

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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