Joe’s Letters, WWII: “A for ‘Able'”

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 from Joe’s mother Olive, Joe has just been posted to a squadron and has just arrived at RAF Chedburgh, from where the 218 Gold Coast Squadron will engage in active operations. And so it begins.

Letter 88; 9th December 1944

letter 80 9 dec 1944 page 1 letter 80 page 2 letter 80 page 3 letter 80 page 4

Letter transcript:

“3050—– c/o Sgt’s Mess

RAF Station, Chedburgh

Nr. Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.


Hello Mom,

Well I got your letter of Sunday yesterday but I had to leave letter-writing ’til tonight as we were flying early today so I got to bed earlier.

I’ve got my washing and the pie as you already know. I sent my other dirty stuff the other day. You should have it before this letter too. I’m feeling OK after the injections but I’m due for some more soon. The M.O. need not rush himself for me!!!

We are training hard for this special duty Sqdn, in fact they are flying the pants off us. We have got our own plane XH-A, “A for Able”. She has done over one ‘Tour’ with other crews. She’s pretty fast too. Sorry about the blot, I have to leave it ‘cos I’m out of paper.

Avro Lancaster

Avro Lancaster

I see you are taking on Saturday mornings work now. PLEASE DON’T work till you are ready to drop, as I KNOW YOU. Being ill would spoil your Xmas anyway, so better less eats and health than all the eats and you in bed.

So you have got the old clock back at last! I’d almost forgotten about it and I bet you had too. Who’d had the thing anyway?

Hope the fowl are in a laying mood when I’m on leave! WHEN, I said, nothing definite yet, just hopes that’s all! How does Ernie Tonks look? Old? Has he come on this Churchill leave or for good? No one will miss Bob Foster least of all me. I’ve still to answer a letter from Joe Lee and Aunt Em. Apologise to Aunt Em for me and say I will write as soon as I get a real chance. I haven’t written Jean for 4 days; she still writes EVERY day, and has only ever missed 6 days since I’ve known her! She sends her love and regards to all at ’16’.

Tell Bri to keep up the good work with the hymns! That will keep the wolf from the door if nothing else does!!!

God Bless and Toodle-oo (lots of love Joyce). I also miss putting my legs across the hearth on Sundays!

Lots of love, Joe xxxxxxxxxxxx

Keep smiling, I am!!”

family stories

Joe is almost there. The RAF are ‘flying the pants off him’ on special duties to get the crews ready for their first Ops, only days away. It’s probably just as well that Joe has no idea how this first Op will turn out…

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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