Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Merry bloody Christmas”

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 his last letter, Joe and crew have experienced their first bombing raid over Germany but had ended in disaster. The crew and their Lancaster came under heavy fire and were forced to ditch in the middle of the North Sea. In this current letter, Joe has been home on survivor’s leave for a few days, and has arrived back at Chedburgh just before Christmas.


Letter 92; 25th December 1944

family stories letter 83 page 2 letter 83 page 3

Letter transcript:

Chedburgh, Xmas night.

Hello Mom & kids,

Merry Xmas! (Or is it?!) I’ve done OK for food if nothing else. We had chicken soup, chicken, turkey, pork, spuds (roast and not!) and damn good plum pud! I’ve eaten ‘farzands’ of nuts, oranges and mince pies and apples! But none of ’em seemed to taste quite right if you get what I mean? I would have given anything to have been with you and Jean and all the ‘Woodcock clan’ for Xmas as you know full well. But I have found that wishing doesn’t get one any place. At least, not in the RAF!!

raf xmas dinner menu

I was to have been over Germany today as you were all sitting down to your Xmas dinner but the ‘Op’ was scrubbed at the last minute. Yes, we raid on ANY day!

By the way if Jean is there when you get this tell her my next leave will be on the 23rd of January. I forgot to put it in her letter.

It seems there isn’t anything else to do except write letters, even though it is Xmas day. There is a dance and general booze up in the mess again tonight but neither Joe, Tom or I are going. I’m going to bed in a few minutes ‘cos I’ve got that ‘cheesed off’ feeling!! It just wants some dim person to say something wrong to me and that will put me in a beautiful mood!!! “What a war!!”

This is about all for today so God bless and see you on the 23rd Jan!

Lots of love, Joe xxxxxxxxxxxx”

family stories

Cheesed off indeed. Christmas Day away from home, with the fear of Ops lurking and a bunch of guys to spend time with who are in equally sombre spirits. Poor Joe.

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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