Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Mom receives the engagement news”

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, 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 74; c.20th October 1944

family stories letter olive engagement page 2

Letter transcript:

“Dear Joseph, Thursday.

Many thanks for your letter received yesterday – your washing arrived on Monday. You ask what job I’ve got at the Austin, well I’m in the tool stores in the services dept. It isn’t at all bad except that I’m on my feet all day and with my legs as they are, it isn’t too good. The fact remains, however, that I’ve got to earn something, so I’ll just have to make the best of it. I don’t know how on earth I can keep up with shopping – washing – housework as well though.

You ask for more socks, well only last week I cut the feet off 3 pair to knit up again, but I just don’t know when they will get done.

I’m not at all surprised to hear that Jean wants to be engaged, and quite frankly I don’t agree as you really do not know each other sufficiently to tie each other up and this doesn’t mean that I have anything against her – far from it – but the same applies to me and I don’t really know her. The fact remains that you have your life to live, and I can only hope for the best in life for you both. As for getting married while the war is on, I should hope you think more of, and for, her, than that.

I’m afraid I can’t write much more at the moment, it’s after 9 o’clock and I’ve still got a lot to do. I shall perhaps be better when I’ve done a few years up there, but I’m very tired now! so good-night and God bless and guide you.

With love from Mother xxxx”

A struggling Olive has clearly not received Joe’s news as well as hoped. She sounds exhausted and stressed – no wonder with 3 other children at home, no husband and little income or support. The idea of Joe ‘throwing his life away’ at such a very young age must have been a frightening moment for her. He needed and respected her opinion, but if she pushed him away….? At least Joe is sensible enough to realise that a rushed marriage for the sake of wartime is probably not sensible, but this is young love and should it be stifled? One to watch as the letters progress…

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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13 responses to “Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Mom receives the engagement news”

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