Letters, diaries and photographs from World War II

Letters and Diary


4th December 1945

My own darling,

I’m on guard this evening and having had my dinner and done the rounds I can settle down to some writing and swatting.

I shan’t close this letter until I have have had the specialist’s verdict which should be sometime after 9.30 tomorrow morning.

I went into the lampshade shop yesterday at lunchtime and got you a lampshade, one of those fluted affairs with pale blue trimming. It’s going to be a hell of a job carrying it. I’ve found a cardboard box for t and t’s huge. At the same tie I got your parents a lampshade for the front room—living room, I mean. I hope the sketch conveys some idea. The glass is green and the fittings are primrose enamel. I’ve put it up. It’s not the sort of thing you can wrap up as a gift. Your father wanted to pay for it but I told them it was a Christmas present and not to argue. It cost 27/6 and I think you’ll agree it’s quite a nice gift.




I rang Evie last night and asked her if David needed pyjamas or shirts most—shirts had it so I got her to give me his collar size and tomorrow I’ll get him one from us.

Russell, Stephen and Evie I’m still thinking about.

I don’t wear an overcoat theses days or a mac except when it rains—I wear my army pullover next to my shirt and that is sufficient for me although there was ice on the roads today. Of course I walk very energetically and feel fine.

Well, I’ve seen the specialist and he said I could have it done if I wanted. But that if it was no inconvenience it would never come to any harm. So I’m not having anything done.

He reckons it’s a cyst containing blood that was not absorbed when I had my accident and fell off the roof of the Motor Transport shop about fifteen months ago. He thought that it might even be absorbed in time but was quite sure it would never go wrong.

So now we are all set for Saturday my darling and I am so looking forward to it.

All my love is yours, take great care of each other.

Your own loving,

Johnnie xxxx


2nd December 1945

My Darling Janie,

The “present” situation has much improved since I last wrote to you.

I went down to B.B.Evans and Kilburn in general on Saturday afternoon—on my way up to Evie’s, and looking around I found you quite a nice Christmas present. I always can see something for you but as for anyone else I fall quite flat.

I did pick up quite a nice cruet set in bakelite which can go to someone.

Russell came home for a few hours at the weekend and turned over all his old toys to Anthony and so I spent all Sunday afternoon going over the stuff. I cleaned and built up a Meccan aeroplane that was in excellent condition (in fact as good as new). That present can come from Uncle Russell.

There are quite a lot of trains: an engine which I am now having repaired, a tender and three coaches in good condition, plenty of rails, a footbridge and a railway bridge, slight repairs being carried out and finally a station and all the little items to go no it, a good Hornby engine and the Frog aeroplane all being saved, a chemistry set and a floodlight outfit I’m bringing down to be put away and finally the Pick-a-brick is being kept in London for when he is staying in London so that all seems to be organised.

I’m trying to get a lampshade for your parents. I have sent the book to my father. It’s too late to get something for Maurice, I’ll get him something when he gets back. That leaves Russell, David, Evie and Stephen. I shall just have to into Woolwich each dinner hour until I’ve got everything.

Provisionally I’ve arranged about Christmas and so Christmas at Wharncliffe with Evie, Stephen and David and the following day at Evie’s place. Your father is arranging seats for a Panto Thursday or Friday.

And how is the cough my sweetheart? I do hope that you are both well again.

I don’t propose to bring any civvies down with me but use what I have got down there. I’ll have things to carry without bringing clothing as well.

Newsflash: my appointment with the specialist is on Wednesday 5th so that will come immediately after Guard.

All my love is yours my sweetheart and our little boy’s.

Not so long now and I shall sleep in comfort again.

And I’m still your very own,

Johnnnie xxxx


29th November 1945

Darling Janie,

Just a line to say that all is well and I’ll push off with a few questions. 

I want to get the other record of the Moonlight Sonata and I’m not sure if the pianist is Paderowski? And the other chap with an even less spell-able name, so can I have name and record number?

If there are some Christmas presents you want me to get will you please let me know what I am to get. I don’t like shopping without you one bit.

What record did you want me to get for Anthony? You mentioned something but I’ve quite forgotten what.

I notice that there is “Alice in Wonderland” available, about four 12” records at a time with all sorts of stars playing the parts and singing. There are two sets up to date.

We now have a handicrafts class and I have asked them to make me one of those Tommy guns for Anthony for Christmas. Besides that, in the New Year, the NCO in charge says he will be able to knock me up an ironing board for you. He says the one he made for his little girl can stand the weight of both his children so if made on the same lines yours should be robust.

I got a few bits for Anthony’s stocking and the glider I’m making is getting on quite well—in this connection do you think you could get hold of some catapult rubber for launching the thing. 

Yesterday after you phoned we discovered a Meccano aeroplane of Russell’s and I’ve built it up and I suggest he may get that as a present. There is also a cheap train set which I shall have a chat with Russell about. The stuff has been well kept and with just a bit of vetting is good as new and nowadays quite unobtainable.

All would seem to be ok for Saturday week. Captain Stevenson wanted the same date and it looked for a moment as if I might have to move. The Guard rota has now come through and I’m on duty Tuesday so Saturday and Sunday are free.

I’ve made up my mind on the price business bit the stuff can wait till I get down on my holiday.

Isn’t it marvellous, we might even be together for nearly a month. As for Christmas it seems as anticipated we shall finish Saturday midday till Thursday morning. Of course, I’m almost bound to have a guard duty during that period.

All my love is yours my darling and Anthony’s.

“Tomorrow week”.

Your very own,

Johnnie xxxx




27th November 1945

My Darling Janie,

As I told you I went sick today so as to get this lump on my thigh examined.

The Medical Officers were definitely interested and I had to stand up and lie down and they waggled my leg all over the place, prodded and poked me.

They won’t commit themselves but suggest that it may be a cyst (which is, of course, my opinion). You can feel a soft sort of lump underneath the muscle.

Anyhow I have been to the surgical specialist and I now await an appointment with him and more prodding and poking and I suppose the usual X-ray.

What happens if they prove a cyst I can’t imagine—I suppose they’ll want to cut it out. So you can see I’ve got to be careful as I’m going to mess my holidays up. I suppose if an operation is indicated I’ll be able to talk them in to leaving till after Xmas.

Of course all this is pure supposition and is the product of a mind that wants some reason for not going overseas again so that I can stick around somewhere near your dear self and get on with the work I want to do so that I don’t have to stay up in London taking courses after I’m de-mobbed.

I do hope that the foregoing hasn’t worried you at all because I didn’t mean it to. It honestly doesn’t worry me. The lump in question is just the same as it has been for the last six months—no pain, no loss of movement, just a lump. I just got the urge to have it attended to so off I went.

I don’t suppose that I’ll see the specialist of at least a week—it was nearly three weeks last time and I’m certainly not going to hurry them for while they are messing me about the can’t post me somewhere.

The colonel is very ill in hospital. The story is that he is having injections every two hours that are turning him black so what all that means I haven’t the least idea.

The Saturday morning optical class is a great success and some were plotting some more lectures but I pointed out that the present programme lasts till the middle of January and that by the end of that month most of them would be de-mobbed. 

The reason for the writing paper is that my appointment was for 11am and I was back in the Mess by twenty past, no waiting at all. So rather than fag all the way to the office and back I came into the writing room to write to you. I was due to do that sometime today anyway.

The Medical Officer who examined me told me it was his last day in the army and all the other officers there were in de-mob—hold me down somebody!

I went to get some records yesterday and I got five out of six of the ones i asked for. The assistant stared at me agog as one after another were ‘in stock’.

12” children’s overture (for RHB)

12 “ Jealousy (Boston Promenade)

10” Peanut Vendor (Louis Armstrong)

10” Begin the Beguine (Joe Loss)

All right, wait for it:

10” I’ll see you again (Brooke and Zeigler)

A first class bunch. I’ll bring them down with me on Saturday week.

All for now my sweet as I’m getting hungry.

All my love is yours as ever and also Anthony’s.

Take great care and gt rid of that cough.

And I’m still your very own,

Johnnnie xxxx


25th November 1945


Just a line to let you know that all is well with me.

The parade on Friday went off well. There were mistakes but in view of the fact that we have one of these only once in three months so we don’t get much practice, it went off well.

Yesterday I went to Bowmans to see what they’d got—oh, a terribly poor show. But I did get you something—a Christmas present for you—but I’m not telling what it will have to wait till I come down on my holiday. I’ll have to do it that way so that you won’t have to carry it back home.

No, it wasn’t a lamp standard or a shade. I wasn’t satisfied with them. I did, however, se a standard just like ours. But it was painted a royal blue with a blue shade and it looked quite good. Do you like the idea?

We have just been phoning you and it was lovely to hear your voice my sweetgheaet but as I said the motto is: “A week on Saturday.”

So bear up my honey, twelve days shall we say?

And now let me stick down a few reminders:

  1. The film in my camera to be developed and prinrted
  2. The Auto Car magazine from Coxes
  3. David’s negatives and those left in the dark room and the ones I took on my disembarkation leave.

I have an idea that I may be able to get good enlargements made of  the ones I took.

I’ve got the name of a book that my dad might like from the minister who preached tonight. He was a jolly good chap and it was one of the best sermons I have heard for a long time.

Thank you very much for sending my pen along sweetheart and the price lists. As regards the letter I still haven’t an up-to-date price list from Taylor’s. The one he sent was dated 1935 so will you write to them again please my sweet.

All for now my sweetheart and I do love you and long to live with you and Anthony again but it can’t be much longer now and in the meantime all my love is yours and Anthony’s.

Take great care of yourselves

And I’m still your very own,

Johnnnie xxxx


22nd November 1945


Things are just a bit hectic just at the moment so I’ll describe them.

Yesterday we got told that the special parade due for Saturday is to be a Brigadier’s Inspection and s on Friday it is to be a dress rehearsal for Saturday and hence two parades instead of one. There is no doubt at all that we need a lot of practice if it is to look any good.

well, when I got home last night I found your mother in bed with a stiff cold, nothing in my opinion to worry about but the lady tends to be cautious. So I had to set about getting my supper: vegetable soup, meat pie and baked beans, and it went down very well. Of course, had I been warned I’d have had my meal out.

I really got stuck into those prices for the business last night. There There is a lot of work to be done before I can produce a good price list. First a Master one, then one that can be used in the shop. But I’m finding it very interesting and it’s getting me ready for coming back to the shop.

But to continue my story: when I got here tis morning and had a look at parade and train times and consider that I would have to get my own meal if I went home I thought it better to remain at Woolwich, if you can imagine it.

I’d got everything I needed except my boots when my eyes lighted upon Lt.Ross’s boots and in less than no time he was wearing my shoes and I his. (They fit me much better than Stephen’s).

Then I discovered that I was contravening regulations by having mt=y medal ribbons on a bar so I slipped them off, slipped in a thin piece of celluloid and got Mrs.Lovery to sew it on again (She is the typist).

So as I had to remain in Woolwich I’ve taken over the Guard so that the other chap could go out. It was the only way I could find a bed for the night annd he sure I was up in plenty of time for this damned parade.

News flash: the C.O. is in hospital and so the Brigadier’s inspection is off but the dress rehearsal for tomorrow is on. What a life! I hope there is a pea soup fog.

By the way we get tortoiseshell frames from a company called “Ocentric” and purchase tax is 100% so that bill would seem to be OK as I found a similar bill for September (be sure it hasn’t been paid already).

You say Anthony came up in a rash with camphorated oil. I gather this isn’t unusual, it should go in a couple of days and it will only be where I rubbed it in. But in future PHONE if worried my darling.

All my love is yours and Anthony’s.

Take care

And I’m all your,

Johnnie xxxx


20th November 1945

Darling Janie,

The motto is:  “Two weeks on Saturday”

Sorry I didn’t write yesterday sweetheart but I really had quite a lot to get on with and then a parade at 7pm at Brookhill Barracks. As a result I didn’t get home until 9.15pm.

Apparently the Officer in Charge had done an inspection on Saturday and the place was shocking. So he called us to a conference on Monday morning prior to an inspection of billets. The upshot of the conference was that I am now a Platoon Commander of the men that work down at the dockyards. It doesn’t amount to much as Lt.Ross will cover my Saturday morning inspection of billets. But I shall have to take parades. These don’t happen very often. But unfortunately there is one next Saturday.

It was a grand run to Taunton in that bus. I think I saw more than if I’d been in a car. Got to Taunton an hour early so I went for a walk and looked in the shops. The train was twenty minutes late but I managed to get a seat as we had a pair of yelling twins as far as Estuary.

I ate all of the chocolate and some of the sandwiches but went easy as I knew there would be another hot meal awaiting me home here.

I only seem to have let one important thing behind and that darling is my pe. Well you please send it along? 

I’m wondering how Anthony got along at school and if the cough was affected and how is your cold darling?

In spite of the fact that the weekend was supposed to be a business trip I good so enjoy it. You know for the first time I began to feel that Anthony really was my son and it was a very warm and pleasant feeling. I really feel that seeing you and then leaving and looking forward to the next trip is far better than being re-patriated and de-mobbed all at once.

I am able to analyse my visits afterwards and adjust myself for the next meeting and I expect you and Anthony are doing the same. Thus (I feel) that last weekend we were more the ideal family than we were on the previous occasions. How do you feel about it?

I’ll stop now as I have a lot to get on with—

All my love is yours my own darling and Anthony’s.

Take care and give me a ring if you are feeling blue (in spite of the letter)

And I’m your very own,

Johnnie xxxx


15th November 1945

Darling Janie,

Just a line confirming that I hope to be down on the last train on Friday night.

As I said I’ll find my own way home. I’m not bringing anything with me except a shaving brush, razor and a toothbrush—and a lot of love.

Two nights together, oh boy, oh boy…

All my love to you both,

Your own,

Johnnie xxxx


13th November 1945

Darling Janie,

Just a short note together with a copy of the letter I want you to type for me to Taylors of Exeter to assist me, as you will see, in the accurate compilation of a price list.

I don’t know about Saturday morning yet as I hear there is a special parade on and of course it will be assumed that I’m dodging it.

Before I forget sweetheart please go easy on that telephone. I really don’t want another £15 bill to pay, much as I like hearing your voice. Please try and use the cheap period—jot down what you’re going to say so that we can be quick. No. I don’t want to be quick when I’m talking to you and don’t I wish that we were well enough off to be able to disregard these expenses. When you’ve read this I’m sure you are going to think I’m terribly mean.

I’m sorry Anthony’s cough is troublesome again. Do you give him Scott’s emulsion because of the cod liver oil in it? Because if so halibut liver oil is now considered to be far more useful (about 80% stronger and so much easier to take). Just my little suggestion for what it is worth darling.




You know I don’t worry about him when I know that you are around for I know that he is getting all the attention that he needs.

We are getting on very well here, your father and I and there is no need for your mother to hurry home at all. I have lunch and dinner in the Mess and for breakfast I have cornflakes and toast and Bovril. When I got home last night your father made a fire. You could come into the place at any time and it’s not really untidy. We tidy up as we go along and so it’s very little trouble.

I’m going to see John Pickford tomorrow evening to try and get the future straightened out as far as we are able so that we have some idea of whee we stand financially.

Is David staying with you or is it just a call? If David offers to live down there with you to do his study and keep you company, as did Russell, will you be able to accept? I do hope so. I don’t think you’d find him useless any more. He’ll be able to pull his weight.

Well, that’s all for now, my love. See you at the weekend for a few minutes I hope. They will be very sweet minutes.

All my love is yours my sweetheart, take great care of both of you and I do love you.

Your very own,

Johnnie xxxx

8th November 1945

Darling Janie,
What a dull place the flat can be without you there to greet me. Roll on freedom when I can always reckon that you are waiting at home for me and best of all in our home.
Thank you darling for leaving the place all ready for me. Auntie Lizzie called in to see if David had gone and didn’t seem to know that you had gone as well so she talked to me instead and insisted on leaving half a bottle of milk for me so you can see we love each other again.
I cleared off early yesterday to get to the BOA library. After that I went on to Bowmans but was too late. If I can remember I’ll go along there on Saturday week if I don’t decide to come and see you. They open on Saturday afternoons.
How is the cold darling? Pop thought you were better at lunch time. My face ache has nearly gone. How did you find out little boy?
Don’t forget darling there is no hurry for your mother to return. Get yourself settled down first. We managed fine yesterday and as I’m dining here tonight I’ll have nothing to do when I get back.
All my love is yours my sweetheart and thank you for a beautiful two weeks.
Your own,
Johnnie xxxx

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