Letters, diaries and photographs from World War II

In war news at this time the 8th February saw Paraguay declare war on Germany and Japan and on the 9th the Colmar Pocket, the last German foothold west of the Rhine, was eliminated by the French 1st Army.

In this letter Miss Warren was the receptionist at John’s optical business, Cranmers Opticians in Minehead; Mr.Palmer was the locum optometrist who covered for John while John was on active service.

Mr.Pickford was one of the other partners in the business.

45 King George Road


Phone Minehead 443

9th February 1945

My Darling Husband,

This afternoon I received your letter dated 28th January. So you are a footballer now? Well, well, I bet you look “natty” in your shorts and “nattier” without them!!!!!

What did you think of the jam? I hope you liked it. Also, did you look at the children’s gift? I hope so.




Jan and Pru Kilburn with their mother Nathalie. Daughters and wife of local tea plantation owner Jack Kilburn. John spent many happy times at their house and Janie always sent the children Christmas and Birthday presents.

Anthony has not been to school at all this week. I was up with him on Sunday night so on Monday morning I took him to Dr.Bain as he had such a terrible cough. Dr.Bain said not to send him to school but out in the flesh air as much as possible. Thank God he is much better now and eating a little better. Dr.Bain thought it was whooping cough. Anthony has been grumbling because I kept him from school.

I hear from Miss Warren that the job Mr.Palmer was getting at Torquay has fallen through and so now he has got to advertise for another post. 

Mr.Pickford has sent me the 1943 balance sheet to sign. You know that I think that your share of the profits should now be paid over to you and not pit to raise the capital of the business.

I understand from Mr.Pickford that a fellow from Yeovil is taking over for you, name of Gaylor, aged 23, at £7 weekly plus percentage of business done, That’s far more than Mr.Palmer is paid isn’t it?

Russell has taken on a part-time job at Mrs.Kemp’s place. He starts on Monday. At present he is helping me decorate the house ready for your homecoming. Does that make it seem nearer darling? Russell has not heard about his exam etc yet. But any day now he expects it.

I hear from my mother that Grandma is about the same. She is in Paddington Hospital. Also Mother tells me that Elsie is expecting Michael home from France any time and they are getting married by special licence. Elsie has a white wedding dress. She paid £17-10-0d for the going away frock of turquoise blue.

Oh, at school last week, Anthony coloured the best duck in his class and he is very proud.

I have not heard any more from Maurice yet.

By the way Stephen is getting troops ready for India and also going himself and Mother says she thinks he is rather worried about his career as he is not getting any younger. He saw the Medical Officer and he sent him on to a specialist as his nerves were in such a bad state and the specialist has advised Stephen to go into hospital and have a complete rest. But I don’t think Stephen is going.

Russell is trying his hand at building a wall!…where I keep my wood.

At my feet while I’m writing this is my dog Jake or as I always call him Flaky Pastry! Really darling I have never known a better tempered dog. He does not growl however much he is pulled about and he is very very lovable. Russell is very fond of him. He seems to spend all his time wagging his tail and yet he is a very good house dog. I’m sure you will like my Flaky Pastry alias Jake alias Monty (he responds to all these names!) Truly, a wonderful dog.

(Saturday morning). Have just measured Anthony for you dearest and he is roughly 3 feet 9 and a half inches tall and weights 4 stone six and a half pounds. He seems to be growing rapidly but not gaining weight much.

Well I must hurry out and ge the shopping as it is the weekend. It is raining out (believe it or not I am writing this on the floor and now Flaky Pastry is positively sitting on this letter licking my pen. He wants a game and he has already bitten or pretended to bite my ear.

I have pushed him off now. It was too much of a good thing, even for me, and now he is worrying Anthony while he is trying to play with his plasticine. Now he has come back here.

Don’t forget we have got to decide where we are going to spend our holiday. I wonder where I shall meet you. Can you imagine that meeting darling? I am saving my coupons up for something new to wear for that great occasion. I want a small fur coat but then I want lots of things!!! Anyway I shall have to start looking around as soon as I can get to town. I am seriously considering running up to town and back in a day to see Dr.Raby as my back hurts me rather. Russell will mind Anthony. I should leave on the 9.10am train and get back about 10.30pm. That is, if Dr.Raby will see me in the afternoon.

Anthony has been a perfect little scamp lately!!!

Well, all for this time. Lots of folks ask me when you will be home.

All my love sweetheart and take great care of yourself.

God bless,

Always your very own,


PS No kisses on your recent letter. Don’t you love me any more?

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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