Joe’s Letters, WWII: “70 years ago this week”

One of my Uncle Joe’s letters 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 at RAF Feltwell in Norfolk for the crew’s Lancaster Finishing School training, just weeks away from his first Operation sortie.

family stories

218 Squadron

On an added note this week, I wanted to mention that it is exactly 70 years ago this week since Joe & his fellow crew mates took to the skies on their first operational sortie. The bombing raid did not end well for the crew, who had to ditch their Lancaster in the icy waters of the North Sea and wait several hours in a freezing dinghy, riddled with sea-sickness, to be rescued. The letter which carries this story will appear soon here….Joe was to actually arrive home BEFORE the letter, much to his mother’s surprise!

Letter 82; 23rd November 1944

family stories letter 75 page 2 letter 75 page 3 letter 75 page 4

Letter transcript:

” Same place, Wednesday.

At long last (or so it seems) I have heard from you. I can’t say how relieved I was when I saw my name up on the ‘Registered Mail’ list. Thanks for the washing, it has come at the right moment!! Thank you also for the writing pad – this is about the last of my paper.

With your mail today I got ANOTHER letter from Aunt Em and in it there was a 10/- Postal Order from the Bridge Inn. I need not tell you just how useful it is as we will not be paid for a good while yet at the way things are. The one from Jack at the Austin has also arrived at the crucial moment to swell the depleted funds!! I shall write and thank all the senders. It will cost me somethig in 2 1/2d stamps to catch up with all my recent mail!! Aunt Em seems to have ‘hit the jackpot’ with her bad knee. It will take a few months to mend.

You asked if I’d had a cold or something or was it more infectious. Well your second guess was right!! I had about a pit of ‘mixed’ chemicals PUMPED into me as TEN medical orderlies stood on my chest to ‘calm’ me down!! I’m okay now though! Trouble is, I’m due for another squirt in a few weeks as well!!! What a life! I ought to have joined the ‘Brownies!’

We were flying again today and had yet more opportunities to marvel at the dear old Lanc’! I can’t give you any details. I did ok in my exams, as you will know by now, I believe I told you in one of my letters. The food here is still bang-on and so are the blokes in charge around here, the majority of them being New Zealanders, who are always the very best blokes to get along with.

We had apple pie for ‘afters’ today. They can’t serve too much of that stuff to suit me but I would rather have your brand of apple pie any day. I hope you won’t laugh but right now I could scoff a plate of your Bread Pud’!!! I just fancy it at the moment!

I see (with evil delight!) that you have been to the torture chamber, pronounced ‘Dentist!!’ The dentist here uses TNT for making holes for a filling job!! 

I’ll bet you were surprised to see Betty Taylor. I can hardly remember what she looks like (fortunately!) Eric Jones has ‘done it’ I see. What does Aunt Ag’ say about it? It was a pity old Buster wasn’t home early in the week so as we could have had a ‘natter’ together again. He’s a good egg. 

By the way, have you got any of that photo of you and Joyce done yet? Hope so. Tell our Den from me many happy returns of his 15th birthday. It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since he was 14 does it? Dad wouldn’t know him.

I see you went to another Warden’s ‘Do’. Hope you kept off the 10 year old parsnip wine this time!!! 

There isn’t much more to say at the moment so I sign off. Glad to have heard from you. Jean, as always, sends her love and me too. God-bless.

Lots of love, Joe xxxx”

family stories

Sounds like Joe is really enjoying the constant rounds of injections, dentistry and vaccinations that are part and parcel of service life! When a hand written letter is your only contact with home, the lack of communication for long periods like this must have been so worrying. He sounds relieved and delighted to know that everyone is well back 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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9 responses to “Joe’s Letters, WWII: “70 years ago this week”

  1. Oh, no, that’s the end of the letters for now! I’ll be in Italy for 3 months, so I’ll be checking your site for new posts.

    Thank you again for your efforts. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.


    • Well Yvonne. Firstly I am delighted that you’ve had the dedication and interest to get through all Joe’s letters so far. Secondly, I’m impressed! There are a lot of them! I really hope you enjoyed them. More to come….LOTS more, one every week. If you subscribe by email they will come to you automatically.

  2. I’ve clicked on “Follow”, but for some reason, I don’t receive notification. (I have a few blogs that do that to me.) I’ve got the link, and I’ll be pro-active when I get overseas. (I’ll try to “unfollow”, and follow again, who knows?)

    What happened with the book idea? And, wouldn’t it make a grand movie?

  3. Hello, I don’t really know who it is that I am writing to but, my father was Sgt Fiske R, back row about 4th in from the left, Air Gunner. I have the original photo of this along with many others. This photograph was taken at Chedbrough, Suffolk.
    Ironically, I spent 9 years as a Marine Technician in the RAF Marine Branch on boats very similar to the type that picked up your Uncle. Maybe we all just continue in ever decreasing circles?
    Ian Fiske.

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