Joe’s Letters, WWII: “All the ‘gen’ from home”

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.

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

Letter 62 – 13th September 1944

family storiesfamily storiesLetter transcript:

“16 Elmdale…


Dear Joseph,

Many thanks for letter and I was glad to see that your parcel had reached you. Your washing had arrived when I got home from work yesterday so it remains to be seen how long it will be catching you up now that you are on the move again.; anyhow I won’t risk an apple tart in it, as if it is as long on the way as the rest of your mail it would be mouldy. I’ll risk it as soon as I get your new address.

You sound as if you had a good day when you went to Cambridge (join the RAF and see the world!), I hope you didn’t let your old college down!! I was interested to hear about Joe Lee’s adventure and glad to know he had pipped the ambulance men.

Joyce went, by appointment, to the hairdresser and had her hair cut properly and now I’m getting used to it I rather like it, to say nothing of being less trouble. Brian has had a nasty poisoned knee, I don’t know whether it was a thorn or a sting, but I have been kept busy with bathing and bread poultices, still now it has broken and I think it will be ok. He’s been a good little kid though. Den is in the midst of footballing – he plays for the Y.M.C.A. – and of course takes every chance to get in a bit of practice. You didn’t say what you had done about your bike, so I’ve taken it for granted that you have it with you.

There is nothing more of interest at the moment. I’m still wondering what job I shall get when all this is finished. Buster was over this weekend. I didn’t see him to speak to, but he is still in RAF uniform. Percy Jones went back yesterday and he is expecting to go abroad to finish his training.

So I’ll finish now so that I can go home and get your ironing done and your parcel ready.

Cheerio and God bless

Love from 

Mother and ‘nibs’ xxxx
A mother knows her son, that’s for sure. He needs washing and food. I love that Olive was baking apple pies from her rations and sending them to Joseph for demolition! The most poignant part of this letter for me? Hearing my own, now elderly father being talked about as a little boy with a sore knee….wonderful.

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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