A bit of background for newcomers
This week marks the anniversary of Joe’s birthday. He was born 88 years ago and it seems a fitting tribute to mark the occasion with a letter from Mum.
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, he is several months into his RAF experiences and is now at RAF Wratting Common in Cambridgeshire, as part of the crew’s final stretch of training before active operations begin.
Letter from Mum; 22nd September 1944
“Community Hall Post
Thursday 6 o’clock.
I have just had a call from the Grange to say you had rung me up and that you have not yet received your parcel or letters. I’m vexed about it, because your parcel was sent REGISTERED last Thursday as I’ve already told you in the letter I wrote you yesterday, so I strongly advise you to make enquiries at Stradishall right away. It was a cardboard box and contained your shoes, socks, shirt collars, hankies, and a tin of boot polish – oh, and a towel – I think that’s the lot. I purposely didn’t put any eatables in because there might be some delay in catching up with you.
Apart from worrying you at not hearing from me, there is the loss of the things to consider, so do see what you can do about it from your end and let me know at once.
We are all O.K. at the moment at home, but my job will soon come to an end now – in the meantime the three of us who are left are responsible for all the posts, that explains me being here today and not at the Grange. (Of course I would be away just when you happened to ring up.) Never mind son, don’t worry, you should know by now that it’s not for the want of my writing that you don’t hear, it’s the fault of the post office. If at any time I am unable to write – which I pray will never happen – I could always get Joyce or Den to write for me couldn’t I?
So once more I’ll say goodnight and God Bless you son, and I do hope you get your things soon. Let me know won’t you?
With love and good wishes from Mother and Nibs xxxx
By the way have any other letters reached you yet there or is it only mine?”
It must have been terribly frustrating to be unable to communicate with each other. Olive’s reference to ‘the Grange’ was a large, former manor house in Birmingham which was utilised during the war as the HQ for the ARP services in the local area. Her work is clearly coming to an end as the war looks set to finish in the coming months. As a single parent with three other children at home, it must have been worrying thinking about where the work was going to come from and how Olive was going to keep the family fed and clothed.
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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