Letters, diaries and photographs from World War II

In war news at this time March 9th saw the US firebomb a number of cities in Japan with heavy civilian casualties.On the 11th March Nagoya, Japan was firebombed by hundreds of B-29s.
Same as usual
12th March 1945
My own darling Janie,

This letter should have been written yesterday. As a matter of fact I was writing to your mother at the time, about two thirty, when I suddenly heard an almighty crackling and dashed back to find that the grass at the side of the tent was ablaze. We had that out fairly quickly as it might have caught the tent. I then had a bath and tea (that’s our evening meal of course).
I went to look around after tea and found a little empty tent behind our tent had quietly burned down and set the grass alight behind. A spark from the other fire must have smouldered unseen in the tent as I had looked over it an hour before and seen nothing. Anyway the fire was proceeding away from the camp and in a direction it could do no harm. Good incidentally as it clears grass and insects. At the head of the combe the hillsides are nearly vertical. Well, when the fire got there it simply jumped up the hillside and in a matter of seconds the hillside was bare and black.
Well, all that was all right but the fire started to creep around the other side of the combe and would have got back to the camp and at the rate it was going (against the wind) would have arrived about midnight which was not considered a good thing! So we burned a path right up the hillside a few feet away over past which the other fire would not pass. This did the trick and at 2.30 am all was quiet.
Fun while it lasted but hot and sometimes exciting work.
I don’t know whether I told you but I have received a third lot of tobacco, this time Cut Gold Blend, and I don’t know who this was from either but I think it was from Russell. Ask him my love and if it was thank him very much indeed.
I was out in the Jeep the other morning and the road I was going along was in a deep valley. Along the edge of the road was a rocky river. You know darling it looked just like parts of the Dunster/Dulverton road along the Exe valley.
Most of the trees except pines were bare and the grass was brown, giving the effect of a late autumn morning but scattered about were trees with new buds and leaves. You see darling the leaves only come off the trees just before the new buds arrive. So there I had autumn and spring all mixed up but it was lovely and so very much like home.
Another lovely tree that’s it now is “Flame of the Forset”. It’s a big tree with no leaves at all, just big red blossoms. The whole looks odd but very beautiful.

Flame of the Forest
Butea monosperma – Flame of the Forest. Native to India, Flame of the Forest is a medium sized tree, growing from 20 to 4O feet high, and the trunk is usually crooked and twisted with irregular branches and rough, grey bark.


I haven’t played football for a week or so now and at last my leg is on the mend. I’ll stay put and let it get better this time. Then perhaps it won’t come on so easily in future.

Another officer arrived today on a course of instruction. He’s a very good chap. I dragged in an old Humber chassis for him to play with, might make something useful out of it eventually.
I had some more excitement last night. About midnight the wind got up mightily and the tent moved. I thought it might take off at amy moment so up I got and paddled around i my bare feet to tighten up the ropes, by which time the wind had got normal again. At times like this I curse but actually i like a gentle breeze because as I have told you up the way in Assam for the most time the air was as still as could be.
Now as to spending our honeymoon in a walk hotel, of course I hadn’t thought of the clothes angle. It’s easier for me as I’ve only got to pit on Service Dress. Well, I leave it up to you my sweetheart. But I wanted both of us to live in luxury for a few days.
Well, my daring, all for now. Take great care of yourself and Anthony.
All my love is yours sweetheart and our little boy’s.
May God bless you both
And I remain,
Your very own,
Johnnie xxxx

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Not to be reproduced without permission
johnfinal.jpgJanie Askew

John's wife

johnfinal.jpgAnthony Askew
First son of John and Janie

johnfinal.jpgRussell Barker Janie's Brother
johnfinal.jpgGirlie Askew

John's younger sister

johnfinal.jpgMaurice Askew

John's younger Brother

johnfinal.jpgStephen Barker

Janie's Cousin

johnfinal.jpgEvelyn Barker

Stephen Barker's wife

davidfinal.jpgDavid Barker

Janie's cousin

freda.jpgFreda Cobley

Janie's cousin