Letters, diaries and photographs from World War II


Same as usual

21st February 1946


              Good news indeed—I am to be released on Tuesday 26th March. 25 group is commencing on the 14th as was originally suggested.

If I can manage it I’ll stay on in London until Thursday so that I can attend one more Refraction Hospital lecture.

It was nice to hear your voice last night and I really didn’t mean to be rude but it was rather like getting a telegram, I thought that there was trouble and I wanted to know what it was straight away. So I hope that I’m forgiven sweetheart.

At 6.30 am this morning I heard a furtive tap at my window and when I looked out there was Maurice. He came in and had a wash and breakfast with me and then I went up to St Johns Wood station with him and even then I caught mty usual train from Charing Cross.

He seems very well and looking forward to coming down to Minehead. He’ll then shoot off to Bournemouth.

I had another long talk with Stephen last night but that can wait till I see you.

Oh darling I am looking forward to seeing you on Saturday and perhaps I won’t have to say Godbye to you for many years, perhaps not a serious Goodbye at all.

Till I can prove it all my love is yours my sweetheart, to forgetting Anthony.

Always your own sweetheart,

Johnnie xxxx

As usual again

11th February 1946

My Darling Janie

Boy, I did enjoy my weekend. Short but very sweet and that’s an apt description for you as well. What a lot of blurb this is but all I’m trotting to say is Darling that I did enjoy myself. It’s wonderful to m sweet that you are ready to be so frivolous and enticing and on the other hand you can just as easily be practical and sensible. Being the right thing at the right time is an art.

I was impressed Darling with your new hold on your handsome infant. Good show Darling.

Now with regard to the letting of the flat. You have told me tat before taking the house at 45 King George Road you ask Charles Pickford if it would be in order to re-let the flat to help against the extra cost of the house. He, you said, replied to the effect that such an arrangement would be ok. Well, DArlog, I can’t find that letter among the ones yo gave me last time I was home in December. So would you be so good as to have  look around. It doesn’t make a great deal of difference to the situation as they have agreed t the present arrangement until my demobilisation. but it would definitely put me “in the right” if you see what I man.

I had a very good journey back in a carriage wit three other occupants and the train running on time so I arrived back home very little the worse the wear and also before your parens name home from the evening church service.

Well, my darling, thank you again for a simply lovely time.

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

Take great care and I’m your very own,

Johnnie xxxx

NOTE: I have pleasure in informing you that my leave has been granted: 25th February to 5th March as originally requested. The demob date of March 14th is still unofficia. This date has still not been published. “Jock” Henderson was in the same boat as I am with regard to leave and after making a lot of official enquiries he discovered that the order disallowing leave had been cancelled and that the demob date of March 14th was unofficial, hence the rule didmc apply.

So I shall be down the evening of the 23rd as arranged I hope, although after all this confusion and mess anything might happen s expect me when you see me.

Your own,

Johnnie xxxx (Extras for luck) 

Same again

8th February 1946

Darling Janie,

Sorry I didn’t write yesterday but I had rather a lot to do. Anyway this should get to you before the weekend.

My leave has been cancelled in view of a London District Order stating that officers can’t take leave within six weeks of demob so I’ve had it. But in view of the fact that they said I could and then had to cancel, I bagged a long weekend but I’ll give you a tinkle about this tonight. My idea about the long weekend is to bring you back with me. We jar have to arrange the date.

As regards demob the day of my release will be announced later. Apparently vacancies are given to the various units and I take the first workshop vacancy. The reason for this is that they want approximately the same number through the demob centre each day. The second point is that I am told that you have to go to the nearest demob centre to your permanent address so it looks though I shall have to go to Tanton. This I feel may fit in with some plans that you may be concocting.

I’ve had a brainwave about a holiday: what about having a tour from time to time: two days here, two days there, go on buses or trains whichever suits best.

But it’s late. I will develop this theme in my next letter.

All my love darling to you and Anthony.

I’m still your own,

Johnnie xxxx

Same again

2nd February 1946 

My Darling,

Just to say alone I did it! As I said on Wednesday I went toSelfridges and saw nothing I liked, Pendleburys had but I was too late to get in.

On Friday morning I got off at Oxford Circus and walked along New Oxford Street, round Peter Robinson and Bourne and Hollingsworth. It was 8am and I had to content myself with looking in the windows and saw nothing at all and got to Charing Cross at 8.20am.

So I decided that the only thing to do was to get the 11.40 from Woolwich on Saturday morning This I did.

I arrived at 12.25 and started off with a further reconnaissance of Peter Robinson. This was unsatisfactory so I followed up with a full fronytsl attack on Bourne and Hollingsworth and after negotiating the moving staircase came abreast of the pyjama counter.

Well, they hauled me out one or two pairs but my eyes had already lighted on their creations and after a little persuasion they produced them. No sooner had they ben produced than a queue started to form on my left s I produced my money before I lost them. Now I’m fervently saying my prayers and hoping I didn’t waste eight coupons. My lady, your commendation is urgently sought so that I may again indulge in a night’s sleep.

The hankies I take no responsibility for whatever.

By the way, these pyjamas are to wear now not to keep till I get home. I am looking forward to seeing you wearing them for me and with that colour they should keep me warm as well. 

Your mother says—

  1. Shall she send on Anthony’s shoes as soon as they are done?
  2. She will send on some starch in a day or two
  3. Just found Anthony’s vest, it is enclosed

I asked at the office how soon I would be demobbed after the 24th and the old chap (Mr.Mortimer) said as soon as you like as long as the colonel agrees so I should get away that weekend, I have provisionally arranged t have my medical before I go on leave so that does not hold me up. It would seem that I can get my kit at Olympia or Taunton—which do you think my dear?

So glad that Anthony is on the mend, I knew he’d be all right with you. I’m enclosing letters from my Dad and from Russell.

The Indian letter was from Diana’s father thanking me for the subscription ti the club that I owed. He says Mrs.Franklyn has been ill. He speaks of Diana’ troubles, says it was due to booze. Apparently they are all coming home in mArch. The other letter was fro, one of my chaps and I haven’t read it yet ass I’m hurrying with this letter.

It’s too late for the parcel now so I’ll send it under separate cover so that yu get this on Monday morning. I’ll put another note in with the pyjamas so you’ll win on the deal.

All my love to you and Anthony my darling.

Take great care because I love you so.

Your one and only,

Johnnie xxxx

Same again

31st January 1946

My own darling,

It was grand to hear your voice over the phone last night and now I’ll tell you what started it.

On Tuesday your mother started fretting and was quite sure there was something wrong with you particularly as you hadn’t written for a week—I explained that your last letter was Friday and that I only expected one a week but when she gets a bee in her bonnet, well, you know what it’s like.

Then last night came your letter and she was simply dancing around wanting to know what was in it and I was misguided enough to tell her that you had felt seedy but the part of the letter dated Tuesday said that you were ok again, and then, another blunder, I said that Anthony was sleeping with you.

From this she decided that her premonitions were correct and that you must both be hospital cases and that she must ring up straight away.

Your poor old father had to do the phoning (hence his attitude of pulling embers out of the fire) and when I see him on his own again I’ll tell him what you told me to tell him.

I believe you fully understood why my language was so guarded. At the same time I was trying to make it sound casual—your mother’s ears were particularly flapping or is it trembling?

I think your mother wonders why I don’t worry about you. She thinks I’m reserved and cold. Well, if I was working she wouldn’t be any the wiser. But I don’t worry sweetheart because I have complete confidence in you. I’m quite sure that if you are in difficulty you’ll let me know. You couldn’t have made such a thunderingly good job of the past five years if you weren’t very capable.

At the same time darling I know that this last bit is dragging and the burden isn’t made any lighter by our impatience—I’m just as impatient as you and Anthony. The last month with you was very lovely in spite of being spent in a home other than our own. I don’t think you took such a rosy view of it as I did but in our own home it’s going to be just wizard.

You know darling I have been thinking recently, taken by and large, how lucky we have been and how, ever since I have known you our little lives have worked out more or less to plan, and how we have been able to meet all our difficulties with something in hand. We got married two years before we anticipated, acquired a nice little optical business then along comes the way and instead of losing anything we have gained a home, a son, no debts and a lot of experience. This is why I can’t bring myself to be worried about the future: the National Health, Insurance, atomic bombs and so on. Our Lord was evidently helping us before and I don’t think he’s going to stop now do you? And that s one of the reasons I hope that you, my love, will give me another child when the time comes.

But you’ll think this is a funny letter so I’ll get on to more usual topics.

Supposing I am released about the middle of March I can see no reason why we should book up a holiday in advance, just go along and get in anywhere. I’m sure it will be vey easy although if we can make up our minds in advance it would be much better.

A short paragraph in the Express this morning informs 26 groups of officers that they are like t be held up for a further four months. Looks as though I’m just on the right side this time.

I’m taking my parade this afternoon so I’m killing time till  3pm in the Mess and so you, my darling, are getting a rather longer letter.

No beach hut this year sweetheart, let’s save or pennies so we can get that car.

I shall apply for the leave dates I mentioned originally, the 23rd, I think i can manage to wait a few days for you my sweetheart though I admit it will be difficult.

Take great care my sweetheart. I love you so much. My love also to Anthony

And I’m still your very own,

Johnnnie 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

Letter 1st October 1945

Wharncliffe Gardens



It was a most upsetting phone call last night. Why were you silent? Why couldn’t you tell me straight out? Why didn’t your mother tell me? Are you all aftraid of what I might do? Do I generally do things that distress you?

Your mother is going to the Dumb Friends’ League tomorrow and Russell will bring the result with him on Tuesday. He will leave Paddington on the 10.40 which gets to Minehead before 4pm I gather, though no one seems quite sure.

Your mother says she’ll have Jake up here for you till he’s better. You must decide what’s best. She says till Russell arrives give him Yeast-Vite tablets.

Before we drop the subject it would seem to me that you worry more about my reactions to the dog’s illness than to the dog, whereas I’m conccerned with your distress not the dog’s, and that with these hysterical turns he may hurt you or Anthony. Of course I’ve never seen Jake hysterical. He may be quite harmless, in which case I’ve nothing to worry about. You know, there is something wrong. even cruel, about close in-breeding that develops the handsome dogs at the expense of their health.

I had a letter fromm Girlie yesterday. Ray is out and is coming to London to be demobbed on Tuesday. Anyway he’s going to ring me and I hope to see him and tell him about the difficulty of getting myself out etc., I ‘ll let you know all the stuff when I get it.

Oh., Darling, while I think of it please look up my Driving Licence so that I can try and get it renewed.

I’ve just been to church with your mother and Russell. It was Harvest Thanksgiving and was almost like old times. Among other we met was Mrs.Carmen. Her son is seven years old and she didmc know what school he should go to. Of course I said “Boarding School” but she was quite sure she couldn’t stand it but was definitely concerned that I thought so. I bet he’s a proper “only boy”. Of course she asked after you and Anthony as did everyone else. We also saw Mrs.Roe and your mother and I consider that she has definite designs on Maurice and David.

I had a sore throat on Friday and it has been developed into a slight chill. I think I successfully broke it up by aspirin treatment on Friday and Saturday nights.

I managed to get a tablet of Wright’s Coal Tar Soap for your hands and another that your mother got on my coupons.

Well it’s time I went to bed as it was late last night.

Goodnight my sweetheart. Take great care. And I don’t want to hear you sobbing over the phone again.

All my love is yours my Darling, and Anthony’s.

I love you and I’m 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


Wharncliffe Gardens

24th September 1945

My Darling,

How glad I was to hear your voice over the telephone last night. I really was tremendously cheered. I do feel Darling that you handled the situation vey well. It couldn’t have been done better. The situation for you of course would have been intolerable, one person doing the cash and one the books.

CP certainly told her a thing or two, something he can do in  o uncertain manner if he has to. So be magnanimous in your victory. I’m sure you have been. You know, I’m rather proud of your effort. It only remains for you to prove to the others your efficiency and everything in the garden will be better than ever.

It’s lousy news about the demob of officers isn’t it darling? Snag after snag, it rally is most disappointing. And at the same time they are making it more and more difficult for the young lads to become officers and at the same time not allowing certain regulars to continue their commissioned services for a year or two.

Still, if this compassionate posting comes off all may be well as the course I’m taking will at the present rate of progress last into April 1946.

I’m hoping that in time you’ll be able to cut down the amount of work you do in the shop and be able to come and stay up here from time to time.

Dr.Bain’s letter has not come to hand so he must be giving it a great deal of thought. I’m wondering what line he’s going to take as he knows you’re staying in Minehead at the moment. 

I have just arrived home and found Dr.Bain’s letter waiting for me. It’s quite well done.

He says “There is no doubt that your wife’s health has suffered in your absence. The responsibility of a somewhat difficult child without your health and advice was rather more than she was equal to. No serious damage has been done in her case but you should use every effort to remain in this country where you can supervise your household and give her the support she needs.”

Well, from his point of view it is a masterpiece. But it leaves me quite a lot of work to do. Keep your fingers crossed ny dear.

Not only do I have to go to my lecture on Wednesday but I’ve got to double back and go on duty on Wednesday evening . Then on Thursday afternoon I’m one of the official time keepers at the Sports Day at Woolwich.

I haven’t found a good school bag yet and the prices are fantastic for the junk they represent so I’m still looking.

Could you please send my “old flannels” and razor strop please darling. Oh yes, and could you cut a little bit off the inside of the sleeve off your new shirt so that I can try and get a blouse for it or would you rather leave it till you come to town.

I don’t exactly hurry back here these days but get off the train at Baker Street and walk through the park. I spent most of the weekend swatting but went out for a couple of hours on Saturday on the bike and had an hour’s stroll on Sundayover Priumrose Hill. By myself on both occasions. I felt lonely. I’ve kind of got used to having you around. Still, the end sometimes appears in sight and every day is one day nearer so “chins up” and let’s keep that big smile.

I do so love you my sweetheart and bed is so cold and empty without you.

All my love is yours and Anthony’s and I’m still your own,

Johnnie xxxx

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