Letters, diaries and photographs from World War II

Letters and Diary


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


15th October 1945

My Darling,

It’s been great listening to your voice on the phone. You sounded so cheerful and at the same time so loving.

Yes, only this evening I got a couple of the tickets for ‘Gay Rosalinda” for Monday only to get home and find a letter saying you may not come until after the weekend. Of course, if that course is made necessary I can alter the day I expect.

Oh, while I think of it, that letter to the barrister: tell Gordon to be careful how he starts things with those chaps for they can get very spiteful and they know the law inside out. In any case it’s never wise to write cross letters to customers, too much pride can cause a load of trouble.

Did I tell you that last week John Davies appeared at church in the company of Hilda Rowe? The same phenomenon occurred yesterday and your mother swears that they are holding hands. Things are getting thicker but he has o go back to Germany in a day or so.

I was asked to do seat steward again. I said I’d be glad to but that it would have to be arranged at the last moment as I never know when I was likely to be posted.

I had a card from an antique book seller (addressed to my dad) informing him that they had details of the pedigree and arms of the Askew family of Lancashire, price nine shillings and sixpence. So of course I coughed up my money and am now awaiting the results. It starts 1547, the year after Anne Askew was martyred. Of course, it may nor bec our family but I thought it would be rather fun to look it up.

‘Fantasia’ is on at Studio One. Have you seen it yet? If not, we might go along.

I’m dying to hear about Rosie’s wedding.

Do you know, I can I can hardly wait until Saturday. I am so looking forward to seeing you.

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

And I’m still your own,

Johnnie xxxx 

Duty Officers’ Room

13th October 1945

My Darling Janie,

Well, your mother has agreed to toddle down on Friday and although we haven’t received definite confirmation from you we are working on those lines.

I won’t be able to come down to get you my sweetheart although I shall be on the station, with open arms, waiting for your arrival. I don’t want to take any leave of the special variety until I have the result of the Price Regulation business for if anything goes wrong I may have to ask for tine off then. I’m not expecting anything to go wrong but one can’t be too careful.

You won’t have to bring very much luggage will you sweet? One case will surely suffice. I will wait until you get here before I decide when to take my next leave, about the end of November. I say. Darling, it’s a absolutely wizard thought to feel that you might be with me this time next week even though it is in a barracks.

To bring me back to earth and while I think of it, I’m not getting the various optical journals regularly. In fact I ain’t getting them at all. Be so good as to mail them to me Darling when Gordon has finished with them. Today we started in ophthalmic optics class. There are five of us at the moment. We have laid out a syllabus and each take it in turns to lecture on a pre-arranged subject. I start the ball rolling next Saturday.

When I turned up to go on duty I met John Westbrook and his little French wife. She is quite an attractive little thing. He was going around trying to discover local digs so that he could get a sleeping-out pass. She’s obviously fed up with going to and from Camberley without him to London. She works at the French Legation and having to live without him, very much a stranger in a strange country, poor little thing, try and imagine it. She was telling me what a wonderful place Istanbul was.

The sergeants want me to go to their mess tonight and as it’s cold here I’ll drift across.

Well, my sweetheart, roll on Saturday, I can hardly wait. All my love is yours my sweetheart and our little boy’s.

Take great care.

I love you,

Your very own,

Johnnie xxxx


4th October 1945


Just a line enclosing the shoe permit. Please ask Russell to collect my shoes from Ridlers.

Raymond was here last evening and we had a long pow-wow together. Of course he asked after you both.

Girlie and Daphne got safely to Parkstone and today Girlie will be going to the pre-natal clinic and then they may establish when the infant is to arrive. They seem ti be in some doubt, December 8th or 25th.

Ray turned up in civvies, the ones he just got from the demob depot. The suit and shoes were good, the shirt fair and the tie lousy. Roll on the day when I put mine on. He had a suit of dark grey with a light stripe.

Girlie heard from David about three weeks ago but there was no real news to pass on, a usual David letter and no idea when he is coming back.

I’ve been throwing my weight about today and have interviewed four people today for absenteeism. They are all sorry and will try and do better—we hope!

About the business, sorry I was laying down the law, just you folks do what you like, whatever is easiest for you. Don’t get het up about things, jus jog along comfortably. I’ve only got about five months to do. You know I’m looking forward to getting down to work again.

You father says he’d love to help you straighten the garden up, he says nothing would suit him better.

I shall be with Stephen to meet Evie on Saturday. I hope you have enjoyed their stay.

I love you my darling, take great cate of yourself and Anthony and I’m still your very own silly,

Johnnie xxxx 


2nd October 1945

My Darling,

Juat a line, though I don’t suppose you need any now you have plenty of company. And I’m very glad you have some sweetheart, particularly as it’s Russell. When Russell goes there will be a space of less than two weeks and your parents will be along, then you’ll come up here, then three weeks and I’ll be home on leave.

Do you want me to push my leave as near Christmas as possible to take it at the end of November and in this connection are you coming up to London or am I to go to Minehead? It looks as though I shall get Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I think it would be preferable if you came up here.

I got browned off with my battledress today and went along to the Quartermaster’s store and have effected an exchange, then I dumped the stuff at the Regimental Tailors’. As I worked an exchange, the only cost incurred will be that of the alterations so I hope to look a bit more respectable.

I went to see the specialist today and got the “pay off.” Well, it’s perfectly all right now and I’lll not have to attend any more massage.

This notepaper is Russell’s and it’s very handy. I hope he’ll get me some more.

Well, it’s about five thirty and time I was on my way. Oh, will you ask Russell to bring back my army pullover, it saves wearing an overcoat.

Au revoir, my sweetheart.

All my love is yours and Anthony’s.

Be good and take care

And I’m still your very own,

Johnnie xxxx

Wharncliffe Gardens
25th September 1945

My Darling,
So you’re ‘browned off’ with me for not writing. Sorry, pet, but we were phoning so often I thought that counted. But if you want letters you shall have them.
Well, I wrote it my application for compassionate posting, then rang the colonel ad asked for an interview. He said he’d come round or send the car for me. In point of fact he did neither so I shall have to see what tomorrow brings. To Dr.Bain’s letter I have added the secondary reasons that I am unable to supervise the business and continue my studies.
Today I got Anthony his school bag. Now what do you want me to do? Save it for his birthday and send it along then with a few other little things I can collect between now and then to fill it? It’s your mother’s suggestion and I think it quite a good idea. So I now await your orders my love. It cost thirteen shillings and sevenpence and is worth about two shillings and sevenpence but it was the best of the bunch from the manufacture point of view.
Today the weather was rough and cold. I shall soon have to start putting on some more clothes. So far I haven’t.
I went for massage today and it was decided that I should see the specialist at 10.15am on Friday and I suspect that will be the end of the treatment. I haven’t felt the pain for some time and the masseuse or whatever you call the woman who tries to do me in says she can’t find anything to massage these days. She does my neck as well these days because I said it was stiff. It was, and she nearly broke it for me, but it’s much better now.
Well, who do you think has turned up at the workshop now? None other than John Westbrroke. So of course we had a long pow-wow. He’s brought back a wife with him, a French girl, the one he mentioned in his letters. He’s just the same as ever. He asked after you and Anthony.
Your mother has other distinct views that you should be with Anthony on his birthday and that she’ll stay on here, then she’ll come down after and you can come up here for a week or so. Can you work anything out on that basis my sweet? Though, as I’ve said before I’m prepared to stay here by myself and let you all be together.
Well, that’s all for now Darling.
All my love is yours and Anthony’s
And with or without letters
I’m still your own,
Johnnie xxxx



I’ve just been to see the “old man” and he turned down the original draft and recommended that I omitted the sentence crossed through in the enclosed letter. He says they have no interest in business reasons.

I’ve sent him the re-written letter using you as my only excuse. He says he’ll forward this second letter with one from himself recommending my case and stating that in any case he is anxious to keep me as chopping and changing of instrument officers is adversely affecting the instrument workshop production.

Well, darling, this is better than I had hoped for. So now we;ve done all we can and we have got to wait for results.

Tonight I’m on duty at the barracks. It is more quiet than usual as the crowd have gone to the swimming gala. For my part I have just returned from the London Refraction Hospital where we have just had another two and a half hours of brain boiling. I’ve got three of the other opticians from this workshop going there now and John Westbrook will be joining as well.

After a lousy article in the News Chronicle about REME officers and Staff sergeants being delayed in demob I see tonight that we are to have authentic news at the end of the week from the Minister of Labour so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Of course this course goes on until the end of March next year at the present rate of progress (quite quick enough from the mental effort point of view) so it’s not much use being demobbed before then, always supposing I’m left here.

Oh darling, please get me a bank statement from the beginning of the year for our account so that I can check what I’m being paid by H.M Paymaster. I haven’t had a pay slip yet.

Well darling, all for now. I do hope you are getting on well at the business. I’m lonesome for you and although I’ve only been back a couple of weeks I want you badly. I’m getting worse and worse and I love you.

My love to you both,

Your own,

Johnnie xxxx


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