Letters, diaries and photographs from World War II

on active service


4th December 1945

My own darling,

I’m on guard this evening and having had my dinner and done the rounds I can settle down to some writing and swatting.

I shan’t close this letter until I have have had the specialist’s verdict which should be sometime after 9.30 tomorrow morning.

I went into the lampshade shop yesterday at lunchtime and got you a lampshade, one of those fluted affairs with pale blue trimming. It’s going to be a hell of a job carrying it. I’ve found a cardboard box for t and t’s huge. At the same tie I got your parents a lampshade for the front room—living room, I mean. I hope the sketch conveys some idea. The glass is green and the fittings are primrose enamel. I’ve put it up. It’s not the sort of thing you can wrap up as a gift. Your father wanted to pay for it but I told them it was a Christmas present and not to argue. It cost 27/6 and I think you’ll agree it’s quite a nice gift.




I rang Evie last night and asked her if David needed pyjamas or shirts most—shirts had it so I got her to give me his collar size and tomorrow I’ll get him one from us.

Russell, Stephen and Evie I’m still thinking about.

I don’t wear an overcoat theses days or a mac except when it rains—I wear my army pullover next to my shirt and that is sufficient for me although there was ice on the roads today. Of course I walk very energetically and feel fine.

Well, I’ve seen the specialist and he said I could have it done if I wanted. But that if it was no inconvenience it would never come to any harm. So I’m not having anything done.

He reckons it’s a cyst containing blood that was not absorbed when I had my accident and fell off the roof of the Motor Transport shop about fifteen months ago. He thought that it might even be absorbed in time but was quite sure it would never go wrong.

So now we are all set for Saturday my darling and I am so looking forward to it.

All my love is yours, take great care of each other.

Your own loving,

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


My Darling,

Thanks for the phone call. Please excuse me sitting on your ideas. You know how self-opinionated I am, but I do think I’ve got it right.

I feel that by far the most important part of our scheme is a suitable letter from Dr.Bain.

Should he, and it’s like him if he feels like it, insist that he won’t write any letters unless you live in London, then so be it and we’ll have to make arrangements about the business.

Of course I can’t be certain that our ideas will come off but I shall do my best and I feel that I’m in the right.

Goodnight sweetheart,

I love you,

John xxxx

Wednesday 4th July 1945

I went to see the Medical Officer who suspects Fibrosis and refers me to a specialist. He considers Infra Red treatment and massage may help.

This entry refers to the injury John sustained in India when he fell from the roof of a building.

Fibrosis is the formation of excess fibrous connective tissue in an organ or tissue in a reparative or reactive process. In response to injury, this is called scarring, and if fibrosis arises from a single cell line, this is called a fibroma.


My darling Janie,

Well, I’m being fairly inundated with cheerful letters from you. No, this isn’t a complaint, I like it.

There’s a snag about your visit to London. It rather looks as though we are going to get Regimental Duties on Saturday afternoon and so I may not be home until later. The Regimental side of this workshop seems to be going through an awkward stage and making things as difficult as possible for the lads. It’s a kind of periodic disease in these large establishments.

I’m now quite resigned to doing no work and getting a good deal of study done in the office, which I share with my boss. I have him in my clutches at the moment as he wants a pair of bifocal lenses out of me and I’ve straightened his spectacle frame for him. 

I went to see the Medical Officer today about my back. He says it’s a spot of fibrosis and though it doesn’t matter much he is referring me to a specialist. He said something about massage and infra red heat treatment so that should keep me occupied and amused.

I’m not able to attend the Refraction Hospital yet as the builders are in but if I’m still here in September I shall do so then.

The two-month cram course is a full-time job and will start as soon as they have students so I shall have to leave that until I’m demobbed. I’m going to book as soon as they’ll let me as I feel there’s going to be a hell of a queue.

It would certainly be better for me if you came on Sunday but I felt it would make the changeover too quick at Minehead. However, come on Sunday if you think it’s ok but I shall assume you are coming Monday evening unless you tell me it’s going to be Sunday, say by telegram.

I must meet you at the station as taxis are very difficult.

Look sweetheart, if you can’t answer Girlie’s letter and not offer, then don’t answer the letter. I’ll talk to you about this next week.

Here’s a good joke:

First Girl: I shall be glad when these utility undies are finished. I like silk next to my skin. What do you like best?

Second girl: Skin!

So long my love. All my love is yours and Anthony’s.

And I’m still your own,

Johnnie xxxx

1st July 1945

Darling Janie,

It was nice to hear your voce on the telephone las night my sweet. t’s such a long time since I heard it. 

Yes darling, I had thought of you coming up here while your parents were in Minehead but I really didn’t feel that I should mention it. I should love coming home to you in the evening but you do realise sweetheart that I have to leave just after seven ion the morning and don’t get back until after six thirty in the evening. Of corse I’m back by one thirty on Saturdays but it does mean getting up eaeky, six am at the latest. Am I really worth it?

I’m suggesting that you take the 2.30 train on Monday from Minehead that gets to London about 7.30 and I would meet you as porters are hopeless.

Plese bring my watch, pen and another pair of shoes.

Don’t forget sweet that as yet I have not received permission, though I can see no reason for it to be withheld.

I’m off to India Office tomorrow to try and sort out my pay. Keep your fingers crossed my love, it’s our car going up the spout!

Can’t make head or tail of what I’m supposed to do at Woolwich yet, twiddling my thumbs seems to be the most important part. I’m getting quite dextrous.

Russell was on the phone this moron. He’s at Caterick now o course. He will apparently be due leave in about a month.

Yesterday I went to the cricket match with your father and it was a very pleasantly spent two hours.

Your mother and I went to Abbey Road Baptist church this evening and I saw los of people I knew. Everyone asked after you and Anthony: George Lines, Rose Seale and the whole family of Rae’s. Of course your mother and I fell to talking about them on the way home and your mother laughed when I said “Just look what I could have saved poor Hilda from.”

Well, darling, it’s time I went to bed. It’ll be fun when I go wit you but we mustn’t forget we have to be up early.

All my love is yours and Anthony’s my sweetheart.

I love you,

John xxxx

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