Letters, diaries and photographs from World War II

Letters and Diary

In war news at this time on November 6th Franklin Delano Roosevelt won a fourth term as U.S. president and the aircraft carrier USS Lexington was heavily damaged by kamikaze attacks. On November 9th General Patton’s troops and tanks crossed the Moselle River and threatened Metz. On November 10th V-2 rockets continued to hit Britain, at the rate of about eight a day. On November 12th after numerous bombings while anchored in a fjord at Tromsø, Norway, the German battleship Tirpitz was  sunk and on the 17th the Germans gave up Tirana, Albania which was liberated by local partisans.

In this letter Mr.Palmer was the optician who covered for John in his optical business while John was away in the army. Miss Warren was the receptionist.

19th November 1944

My darling, darling John,

Yesterday I received your letter dated 9th November. You know you can write beautiful letters, excepting where you “try to be funny” but that’s not often so I forgive you. It makes me laugh though because precisely where you try to “show off” you spell the words wrongly and that lets you down with a bump dearest!!!!

Have you received my letter about Anthony going to school and asking whee to send him? I am waiting for your reply.

I have just witness to David and to Stephen. Mother had a letter from Stephen recently and he says he’s seen PLENTY of damage and the drains are awful. He also says he is speaking quite good french now. Anthony has sent David a letter similar to the one he sent you. By the way Anthony is eagerly awaiting a reply to his letter. Bless him, it took him ages to draw as he carefully considered what you would like him to draw.

Mr.Palmer has received your letter reference your to being back in the business for two years. I managed to smooth over his anxious thoughts over this. Don’t worry darling neither he nor Miss Warren will let you down. I go to the shop most days (Anthony simply refuses to go by and they do so spoil him). Mr.Palmer is very very fond of him and gives him sweets and Miss Warren draws things for him. Mr.Palmer and I have walked home together once or twice so you see how friendly we are. So don’t you worry about the business. I think darling (forgive me if I’m wrong) that you are rather inclined to underestimate my powers of persuasion over people if I care to exert my personality. I knew you would be worried about the business now but ( and I don’t boast) Miss Warren and Mr. Palmer are very fond of me and i do all I can to adhere them to us so that they will NOT let you down. Forgive me, I did not mean to mention business affairs to you after that last never-to-be-forgotten eye-full you gave me last time but I mention it this once to put your mind at rest. I have however told Mr.Palmer that if all goes well you hope to be home in about six to eight months and then you can settle things with him. He is certainly satisfied with this arrangement so don’t worry. If you don’t agree with what I’ve told him well do please realise I had to say something to explain your letter away.

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My muscles or whatever I strained are OK again now. I have still got neuritis but really I ought to have seen Dr.Raby months ago. That’s one of the things I want you to talk to Dr.Raby about: will my next baby put it all wrong again? No, don’t misunderstand me sweetheart I am NOT trying to wriggle out of having any more children. Do you know last night (all of it I should think) I dreamed I was having another baby and in hospital-ugh! I think I must have had indigestion. I woke up and went to sleep and still went on dreaming. Anyhow, morning came and I was still in the throes of “having it”. It somehow brought back those nightmare days before Anthony was born. Do you remember them? I thought I was going to die and in the end I did not care. I can’t say I’m exactly eager to repeat the dose but I suppose that’s one of the things for which I was born.

The Silletts have a wonderful baby girl aged eight months and Anthony and I spend ages looking at her through the window.

Oh dearest, I must stop.

God bless you my darling. Need I tell you my love is all yours?

Your adoring wife,

Janie xxxxxxxxxx

In war news at this time on November 6th Franklin Delano Roosevelt won a fourth term as U.S. president and the aircraft carrier USS Lexington was heavily damaged by kamikaze attacks. On November 9th General Patton’s troops and tanks crossed the Moselle River and threatened Metz. On November 10th V-2 rockets continued to hit Britain, at the rate of about eight a day. On November 12th after numerous bombings while anchored in a fjord at Tromsø, Norway, the German battleship Tirpitz was  sunk and on the 17th the Germans gave up Tirana, Albania which was liberated by local partisans.

In this letter Mr.Palmer was the optician who covered for John in his optical business while John was away in the army. Miss Warren was the receptionist.

19th November 1944

My darling, darling John,

Yesterday I received your letter dated 9th November. You know you can write beautiful letters, excepting where you “try to be funny” but that’s not often so I forgive you. It makes me laugh though because precisely where you try to “show off” you spell the words wrongly and that lets you down with a bump dearest!!!!

Have you received my letter about Anthony going to school and asking whee to send him? I am waiting for your reply.

I have just witness to David and to Stephen. Mother had a letter from Stephen recently and he says he’s seen PLENTY of damage and the drains are awful. He also says he is speaking quite good french now. Anthony has sent David a letter similar to the one he sent you. By the way Anthony is eagerly awaiting a reply to his letter. Bless him, it took him ages to draw as he carefully considered what you would like him to draw.

Mr.Palmer has received your letter reference your to being back in the business for two years. I managed to smooth over his anxious thoughts over this. Don’t worry darling neither he nor Miss Warren will let you down. I go to the shop most days (Anthony simply refuses to go by and they do so spoil him). Mr.Palmer is very very fond of him and gives him sweets and Miss Warren draws things for him. Mr.Palmer and I have walked home together once or twice so you see how friendly we are. So don’t you worry about the business. I think darling (forgive me if I’m wrong) that you are rather inclined to underestimate my powers of persuasion over people if I care to exert my personality. I knew you would be worried about the business now but ( and I don’t boast) Miss Warren and Mr. Palmer are very fond of me and i do all I can to adhere them to us so that they will NOT let you down. Forgive me, I did not mean to mention business affairs to you after that last never-to-be-forgotten eye-full you gave me last time but I mention it this once to put your mind at rest. I have however told Mr.Palmer that if all goes well you hope to be home in about six to eight months and then you can settle things with him. He is certainly satisfied with this arrangement so don’t worry. If you don’t agree with what I’ve told him well do please realise I had to say something to explain your letter away.

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My muscles or whatever I strained are OK again now. I have still got neuritis but really I ought to have seen Dr.Raby months ago. That’s one of the things I want you to talk to Dr.Raby about: will my next baby put it all wrong again? No, don’t misunderstand me sweetheart I am NOT trying to wriggle out of having any more children. Do you know last night (all of it I should think) I dreamed I was having another baby and in hospital-ugh! I think I must have had indigestion. I woke up and went to sleep and still went on dreaming. Anyhow, morning came and I was still in the throes of “having it”. It somehow brought back those nightmare days before Anthony was born. Do you remember them? I thought I was going to die and in the end I did not care. I can’t say I’m exactly eager to repeat the dose but I suppose that’s one of the things for which I was born.

The Silletts have a wonderful baby girl aged eight months and Anthony and I spend ages looking at her through the window.

Oh dearest, I must stop.

God bless you my darling. Need I tell you my love is all yours?

Your adoring wife,

Janie xxxxxxxxxx

Letter 19th November 1944

In war news at this time on November 6th Franklin Delano Roosevelt won a fourth term as U.S. president and the aircraft carrier USS Lexington was heavily damaged by kamikaze attacks. On November 9th General Patton’s troops and tanks crossed the Moselle River and threatened Metz. On November 10th V-2 rockets continued to hit Britain, at the rate of about eight a day. On November 12th after numerous bombings while anchored in a fjord at Tromsø, Norway, the German battleship Tirpitz was  sunk and on the 17th the Germans gave up Tirana, Albania which was liberated by local partisans.

In this letter Mr.Palmer was the optician who covered for John in his optical business while John was away in the army. Miss Warren was the receptionist.

19th November 1944

My darling, darling John,

Yesterday I received your letter dated 9th November. You know you can write beautiful letters, excepting where you “try to be funny” but that’s not often so I forgive you. It makes me laugh though because precisely where you try to “show off” you spell the words wrongly and that lets you down with a bump dearest!!!!

Have you received my letter about Anthony going to school and asking whee to send him? I am waiting for your reply.

I have just witness to David and to Stephen. Mother had a letter from Stephen recently and he says he’s seen PLENTY of damage and the drains are awful. He also says he is speaking quite good french now. Anthony has sent David a letter similar to the one he sent you. By the way Anthony is eagerly awaiting a reply to his letter. Bless him, it took him ages to draw as he carefully considered what you would like him to draw.

Mr.Palmer has received your letter reference your to being back in the business for two years. I managed to smooth over his anxious thoughts over this. Don’t worry darling neither he nor Miss Warren will let you down. I go to the shop most days (Anthony simply refuses to go by and they do so spoil him). Mr.Palmer is very very fond of him and gives him sweets and Miss Warren draws things for him. Mr.Palmer and I have walked home together once or twice so you see how friendly we are. So don’t you worry about the business. I think darling (forgive me if I’m wrong) that you are rather inclined to underestimate my powers of persuasion over people if I care to exert my personality. I knew you would be worried about the business now but ( and I don’t boast) Miss Warren and Mr. Palmer are very fond of me and i do all I can to adhere them to us so that they will NOT let you down. Forgive me, I did not mean to mention business affairs to you after that last never-to-be-forgotten eye-full you gave me last time but I mention it this once to put your mind at rest. I have however told Mr.Palmer that if all goes well you hope to be home in about six to eight months and then you can settle things with him. He is certainly satisfied with this arrangement so don’t worry. If you don’t agree with what I’ve told him well do please realise I had to say something to explain your letter away.

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My muscles or whatever I strained are OK again now. I have still got neuritis but really I ought to have seen Dr.Raby months ago. That’s one of the things I want you to talk to Dr.Raby about: will my next baby put it all wrong again? No, don’t misunderstand me sweetheart I am NOT trying to wriggle out of having any more children. Do you know last night (all of it I should think) I dreamed I was having another baby and in hospital-ugh! I think I must have had indigestion. I woke up and went to sleep and still went on dreaming. Anyhow, morning came and I was still in the throes of “having it”. It somehow brought back those nightmare days before Anthony was born. Do you remember them? I thought I was going to die and in the end I did not care. I can’t say I’m exactly eager to repeat the dose but I suppose that’s one of the things for which I was born.

The Silletts have a wonderful baby girl aged eight months and Anthony and I spend ages looking at her through the window.

Oh dearest, I must stop.

God bless you my darling. Need I tell you my love is all yours?

Your adoring wife,

Janie xxxxxxxxxx

In war news at this time on November 6th Franklin Delano Roosevelt won a fourth term as U.S. president and the aircraft carrier USS Lexington was heavily damaged by kamikaze attacks. On November 9th General Patton’s troops and tanks crossed the Moselle River and threatened Metz. On November 10th V-2 rockets continued to hit Britain, at the rate of about eight a day. On November 12th after numerous bombings while anchored in a fjord at Tromsø, Norway, the German battleship Tirpitz was  sunk and on the 17th the Germans gave up Tirana, Albania which was liberated by local partisans.

Battery referred to in this letter is a unit of artillery, mortars, rocket artillery, multiple rocket launchers, surface to surface missiles, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles etc, so grouped to facilitate better battlefield communication and command and control, as well as to provide dispersion for its constituent gunnery crews and their systems.

As usual

19th November 1944

My darling Janie,

Herewith the usual weekly or rather bi-weekly Sunday letter, no, even that doesn’t make sense.

Nothing special in the news. My First Officer leased from one of the Batteries is a grand bloke and will be good to experiment on as he’s looking forward to it.

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Some of John’s fellow soldiers

 

While I think of it sweetheart you have made no mention of my request to put forward my name so that I can join the Old Tauntonians properly.

I hope you haven’t forgotten but if so please get in touch with Mr.Williams at Taunton School and have matters put in hand so that I shall receive the magazines and so on. I said when I left that I wouldn’t join until I had achieved something and perhaps in a small way I have now. Anyway I now have a small boy and an incipient Tauntonian so fill in the forms will you sweetheart- life member or something. 

Taunton-School

 

Taunton School, Taunton, attended by John and later by Anthony

You know sweetheart I’m doing an awful lot of talking this evening and very little writing and now it’s nearly 10pm and this is all I’ve done. But as there is just no news it makes it a bit difficult. 

Oh yes, there is! Funny how one forgets the obvious. I’ve had a fireplace built at one end of this tent and it looks topping. It also has a wooden mantelpiece. The lad who made it wanted to paint it but I like the plain brick much better. We burn logs on it and really it makes all the difference in comfort and in appearance it’s super. I have bought a bedside rug from the Officers’ Shop and use it as a hearth rug. A camp chair, together with a reading lamp the electrician made, sets off a very homely picture. As Tom said “I wonder how my wife thinks I live with all this stuff in the papers these days when in point of fact I’ve never been so comfortable since war was declared!” The older a campaigner I get, the more trouble I take to make things comfortable for all of us.

Don’t however imagine for a single moment that that forward troops can do all the things I do. For them it’s really tough and now they have stopped sweating to shiver up in the mountains. I think that undoubtedly these are the toughest fighting conditions in the world and the way they are shoving on is magnificent. All this time I’ve been overseas I’ve never been far from trouble and yet never in any danger. I’ll show you all of it on a map one day sweet. Goodness you are going to find me a terrible bore after this war. You know the sort pf thing: “When I was in Burma…”

Isn’t the European war going well? This looks like the real thing if it is it will make all the difference to my repatriation. I’m not worrying about this month’s leave. It will only interfere with me getting home for good which is now more important.

Oh, to be with you again sweet, to live in our home with you and Anthony. At first I’m sure it will feel too good to be true. Those walks together or going to the beach or to the movies or to someone else’s house or even a dance (I can see I shan’t be able to get away with anything now) and then always back to our own fireside, to those intimate little fireside meals, tea and supper by reading lamp and firelight and perhaps the radio. 

Till those beautiful days are with me again, all my love is yours and our Anthony’s my sweetheart.

Take care of your dear selves and I’ll soon be with you again.

All your own,

Johnnie xxxxxx

In war news at this time November 6th saw Franklin Delano Roosevelt win a fourth term as U.S. president. On this date also
the aircraft carrier USS Lexington was heavily damaged by kamikaze attacks. On November 9th General Patton’s troops and tanks crossed the Moselle River and threaten Metz. November 10th saw V-2 rockets continue to hit Britain, at the rate of about eight a day and on the 12th after numerous bombings while anchored in a fjord at Tromsø, Norway, the German battleship Tirpitz was sunk.

 

 

45 King George Road

Minehead

15th November 1944

My own darling John,

Forgive me for not writing for seven days but one way and another I did not manage it. I felt I could not concentrate on a “love” letter with poor Maurice so tragically bereaved. Forgive me darling but this has given me a nasty shock. Add to this about ten days ago I had to do some digging in the garden, having no one to ask for help and I think I must have either strained my heart or its muscles. It’s rather worried me. Don’t let Mother know about it. Anyway I have gone very very carefully since and it’s getting better. I don’t want a recurrence of that trouble I had two years ago. Now don’t worry sweetheart. When you come home I will be thoroughly overhauled shall I, just to be quite fit for our next baby. Only I must have you with me.

I wrote to Maurice and asked him to come down for a few days but your dad rang up and said “as much as Maurice would love to come he did not want to leave Grace’s parents alone before he had to go back to camp.” Anyway I am writing again to assure him of a very warm welcome any time he cares to come. Your dad goes away next Saturday. I can’t very well tell you any details for obvious reasons. Isn’t there a line about Minnie from Trinidad? You remember? I think planes fly from there to where your dad is going. I hope so. I have tried to hint. 

Girlie has given her resignation to the school at Bournemouth as she does not like it down there and is asking to be transferred to where Raymond is. History does not state what happens if there aren’t any vacancies up there. Russell now plays hockey for the college. You know he is a dear brother John. I love him tremendously. I hate to think of when he goes away. I shall miss him tremendously as he often pops down and takes me dancing. I am very very proud of my brother. Now don’t be a silly goose. Of course, I’m proud of you- just as much. I love you both dearly, only in a different way. Goodness, what is this letter trying to be? 

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Russell Barker

Maurice goes back to camp tomorrow morning. How long did my cable take to reach you? I see Don Shrives is home on leave again. Miss Warren’s fiancee is down for the weekend as Miss Warren does not approve of his spectacles so Mr.Palmer tested him yesterday. Her fiance works on a farm. Miss Warren told me she will not leave for the duration. Don’t you worry darling, neither she nor Mr.Palmer will leave you in the lurch. I have made enquiries as to this from them. You know you don’t credit me with much common sense do you where the business is concerned. You seem to forget that I have been in business myself. 

Anthony did receive your cable a day or two after his birthday. How did you manage to send it? There seems to be some misunderstanding between us about Anthony. I did NOT mean that I thought you would not fuss him. What I meant is that I don’t want you to be so strict with him. Oh, I know you won’t approve of all he does but sweetheart blame me, not Anthony. He really is a good boy but he has these sudden outbursts. He will suddenly order you to do something and say “Do it at once I tell you!” Well, what I am afraid of is that you will come down on him like a ton of bricks and that would in all probability undo all my months of hard endeavour to stop him stuttering. Forgive me sweetheart I’m only trying too make sure you realise that his stuttering is due to nerves. I remember how strict you used to be with him, how you made me let him cry at night. But darling those sane tactics simply won’t work now. I’m afraid you will refuse to let him have his bedroom door wide open at night to let me keep answering him when he calls out at night as he still sometimes does. That is the kind of thing I mean. I have told him that you will sometimes put him to bed and he is thrilled. He wants you badly John, more that even he realises. He needs your society. Still, enough about that. I expect you are very cross with me now aren’t you? 

 

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John with Anthony before the war

Oh, my dearest darling John, I do so love you. Did you hear them play “Love is the sweetest thing” on the radio the other day? I love you, want you and NEED you sweetheart and please God, in a few months’ time, I shall feel and know I am married.

All my love darling John. God bless and keep you always.

Your very own adoring wife,

Janie xxxxxxxxxx

PS Grace did not die in hospital (they were all full up) but in their apartment. Maurice is going to try for his A.S.C. and is also going to apply for a transfer. Your dad does not leave until the 24th November now. 

Note: A.S.C.appears to mean The Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was a corps of the British Army responsible for land, coastal and lake transport, air despatch, barracks administration, the Army Fire Service, staffing headquarters’ units, supply of food, water, fuel and domestic materials such as clothing, furniture and stationery and the supply of technical and military equipment. It became a “Forming Corps” of the Royal Logistic Corps.

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