Letters, diaries and photographs from World War II

World War Two letters


In war news at this time on 12th February Peru declared war on Germany and Japan and on the 13th the Battle of Budapest ended with Soviet victory, after a long defence by the Germans. On the 13th -14th Dresden was firebombed by Allied air forces and large parts of the historic city were destroyed. On the the 1945 Bombing of Prague took place: American planes bomb the wrong city. The 15th saw Venezuela declared war on Germany and Japan and on the 16th American paratroopers and Philippine Commonwealth troops landed on Corregidor Island, in Manila Bay. Once the scene of the last American resistance in early 1942, it was now the scene of Japanese resistance. On this date also American naval vessels bombard Tokyo and Yokohama.On the 19th
Turkey declared war on Germany and Japan and on the 26th Syria declards war on Germany and Japan.

Notes: Mr.Palmer was the locum optometrist who covered for John in Cranmers Opticians in Minehead while he was on active service. Mr.Pickford was one of the other business partners.

45 King George Road


27th February 1945

My darling John,

Today I had a letter from your father, the first since he left here. He says he has written to you and hopes to hear from you soon.

Well, I went up to London and back in one day last week. Mr.Raby put me right again and hurt me incidentally more than he has done before. He said this time that when the war is over and you are home and I can stay in town he thinks he could get me right in three months providing I was under his constant supervision and did as I was told. When he says “cure me” he means that my back won’t misplace so easily as it does now.

I got to Mother’s at about 1.45pm, Dr.Raby came at 2.30pm and went about 3pm and as he went he told Mother that I was to hurry very very slowly to my train. By the time we got to Swindon my back was aching so much I felt sick. I leave you to imagine how it felt when I eventually got holme at 10.45pm!! I ached for two days, day and night, and all I wanted to do was to lie flat!!!! Russell looked after Anthony whilst I was away and put him to bed as well. It was grand to be in London again. There is really no place like it John.

I have heard from Maurice and he is expecting his leave in about a fortnight’s time.

Anthony loves his school and seems to be getting on ok there. He now knows some French songs.



St.Theresa’s Convent School, now Minehead First School


Mr.Palmer is back from his honeymoon and his wife is with him but I have not seen her yet.

We went to see the film “Western Approaches” today. It really is a very good film. It worries me though that Russell might have to go through those ordeals.


Western Approaches

Western Approaches is a Technicolor 1944 docufiction film directed by Pat Jackson. It is the fictional account of 22 sailors adrift in a lifeboat. They are able to signal by Morse code their position. A nearby U-boat receives the signal along with a friendly vessel which changes course to go to their rescue. The captain of the U-Boat decides to wait in ambush with its two remaining torpedoes. Before the rescue ship arrives, the U-Boat’s periscope is spotted by the lifeboat. The U-Boat fires its torpedoes just as the rescue vessel is alerted to the U-Boat’s presence.Much of it was shot in the Irish Sea. Sailors rather than professional actors were used.


I am sorry your face has been painful and I hope by now it is better.

Stephen is in hospital in Warwick for his nerves.

Tomorrow evening Mr. and Mrs. Floyd from next door are coming in. They are middle-aged but Russell and I like them very much and between ourselves we refer to them as Jim and Olive (that’s their names).

Mrs.Hinton (George’s mother) has given me several roots from her garden so I should have quite a show this year.

I have been trying to get a beach hut as you seemed keen but they all seem to be booked up this year!

Sorry darling I have had to leave this for a couple of days and so have other news for you. Evelyn tells me that there is a young Pickford on the way!!!

I have had a letter from your da. He has a secretary and a car and now is getting a chauffeur. 

I received your letter dated 15th February yesterday. Yes, I do give the devil his due about the business. Do you ever doubt me of being fair?

So you want to stay in London for our honeymoon. Of course you realise that Anthony will be in London too and at most a couple of miles away from him? Do you think we shall have sufficient willpower to stop from even going in that direction on the off chance of a peek at our darling son? That is one of the main reasons Anthony has agreed (for the moment) to stay with Mother is because I have promised him he can go to Grandpa’s station and play with the red and green large lantern!! Where would you like to stay and remember if you choose a posh place we have to have the clothes to carry it off.

Later on after the war Evelyn wants to have Anthony to stay with her during the holidays!!! I mentioned it to him and he said no, he wanted to stay with Daddy!! Oh yes, my love, you are going to come right into your responsibilities as a father with a big bump. It will probably momentarily make you feel years older to have son Anthony’s age. I was thinking in bed this morning that if you had been beside me asleep I would have tickled the end of your nose and told you it was a mosquito taking a little walk or even a jungle bug! And then tickled you again!

You would laugh if you could see what I am collecting for our honeymoon: things like hair clips, soap, comb, hankies etc., all those things that are difficult to get now.

Have you any idea when you will be home? Honestly now. You say you will give me a month’s notice. Well, by the time your letter arrives it will be almost fourteen days instead.

Well I must stop and do some work as it is nearly 10am. Anthony loves his school and seems to do a lot of French!! Did I tell you he is 3 feet ten and a half inches tall and weighs three stone nine pounds. 

All my love my dearest John,

Your own,

Janie xxxxxxxx

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?

War news at this time was encouraging. On the 28th January the Russians completed the occupation of Lithuania and on the 31st crossed the Oder River into Germany and were now less than 50 miles from Berlin. The same date saw a second invasion on Luzon by Americans and the whole Burma Road  now opened as the Ledo Road linkage with India was complete. On the 1st February Ecuador declared war on Germany and Japan and on the 2nd .nval docks at Singapore were destroyed by B-29 attacks. February 3rd saw the Battle of Manila begin.


45 King George Road


4th February 1945

Phone Minehead 443

My Sweetheart,

I have out our phone number at the top in case you have lost it and as things are going now in Germany, what with the Rissians’ amazing advances, and ours, you might get hime sooner than you think and then wish you had our number so there it is: 443. You had better memorise it. The war news is certainly very cheering don’t you agree? You will soon be coming home darling.

So you want to run two cars do you Sir? And where do we garage it, let alone buy it? And golf etc? You know you do make me laugh darling. Where is the money coming from? Anthony’s education has already begun at £5-5-0 per term plus extras and as he gets older naturally his education will cost more and then Taunton School fees and then possibly college after that. My,my, it looks as though we shall finish in the Workhouse. Goodness alone knows, if we have another son, how do we educate him? Anthony still wants to be a doctor by the way and that costs an awful lot. I hope this works well and truly into that darling head of yours when you think in terms of cars etc!!!!!!!


Taunton School, Taunton

You ask me if you intend staying in this house. Well, darling, I put it to you can we afford thirty shillings plus rates weekly after this war. Personally I don’t think we can and I am hoping that perhaps we shall be lucky enough to find one a bit cheaper or that Mrs.Cranmer will agree to us still having the rest of the flat. This way you see the house only costs us about fifteen shillings weekly including rates. But if we don’t get the rent money then I rally don’t think we can afford it here in spite of it being very cosy etc. Perhaps I worry too much about Anthony’s education finances but I do so want him to have every opportunity we can give him. You know if Jan and Pru are coming to stay with us regularly this house just won’t be big enough, especially if Nathalie and Jack stay here as well.

I have been giving Anthony a lesson in how to punch. He tells me a boy in his class (kindergarten) punches him and so I have told Anthony that next time he does it to punch him back HARD and he will! Don’t worry, I won’t fight all his battles for him, although I won’t say I feel rather callous. I teach him to respect little girls but fight the boys only if they hit him first. He seems so young and unprotected when I leave him at school but he loves it there. He talks about the “Reverend Mother” and “Sister” and his teacher is very patient. They have several teachers. The one who is very patient is a Miss Chapman who lives somewhere up the Parks. She is about twenty-five and she takes their coats, shoes etc off and puts them on and teaches them some things. Then a nun plays the piano for their “band” and singing and another teaches them French and another other things. They have a prayer every day, something about “Oh, Angel of God” etc. Anthony is a bit hazy about it. He can practically count up to 50 now and already knows some French like “Good morning, Good Night, Daddy” etc. He comes home and Russell questions him on what he has done. He knows all about Noah and his ark and how he built it and why and the lions, monkeys etc., etc. they took in together with margarine and bread and Scott’s emulsion, (this is Anthony’s version) and tea and sugar and butter and jam etc and they lived in there for forty days and forty nights and then they sent out a bird to see if it was still raining and it died and then they sent out another and it lived and so they came out and that was how Jesus got rid of all the wicked people! He will also hold forth on Cain and Abel and Isaac and Esau (with all the actions).

Note: Still produced today. Scott’s Emulsion is a proprietary adulteration of cod liver oil. Cod liver oil has long been believed to have a tonic effect on the human circulatory and respiratory systems. Part of the success of Scott’s Emulsion was that it used glycerine to sweeten the powerfully bitter taste of pure cod liver oil.


St Thersa’s Minehead, now Minehead First School

Russell is still here and is thinking of taking a part-time job as a pastime. He has not heard his results yet. He is also going to help me redecorate the rooms ready for your homecoming. We are starting any day now. I have not heard any more from Maurice so have just drooped him a note. I am so glad you had a good holiday. How was Diana??!! 


Diana Franklin, daughter of one of the local tea plantation owner’s

I have to go to the dentist again on Thursday. He managed to save that other tooth for a while but I can’t chew on it. I am rather anxious about Anthony’s teeth. He still sucks his fingers you know and one of his front two teeth is protruding just a bit. I have told Mr.Ducheaune an he says it will affect his permanent teeth if not caught but I can’t stop him sucking his fingers. He does not do ut at school but so great is the strain on him that as soon as he gets in he commences to suck them and gets terribly irritable and nervy if I stop him. I have now told him that a band will have to go around his tooth if he continues!!

Well darling, let’s forget our responsibilities as parents for a moment and think about ourselves. Where do you want us to spend our honeymoon?and in a hotel or private apartment or what? Oh, darling it will be wonderful to meet you again and to feel and know that I belong to you again. 

Well, take great care of yourself, you will be home soon. By the way, what did you mean about Diana’s “attacks”? Oh. Anthony’s sweets have arrived  and they are a great success. Thank you dearest very much. 

All my love my dearest husband.

I love only you and long for you.

Your adoring wife,

Janie xxxxx

War news at this time was encouraging: on the 17th Warsaw was entered by Red Army troops and a government favourable to the Communists was installed. On this date also it was announced officially that the Battle of the Bulge was at an end. On the 19th Hitler ordered that any retreats of divisions or larger units must be approved by him and on the 20th the Red Army advanced into East Prussia and the  Germans renewed their retreat. On this date also Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in for a fourth term as U.S. President and Harry Truman as Vice President.



67 LAA Reg RA

W/S Section REME

Army Base P.O. INDIA

22nd January 1945

My Dearest Wife,

Well, don’t you think I’m a good boy, seventh letter this year and still going strong.

Everything is going fine here. We have had a little rain and cloudy mornings and evenings with lighting effects reminiscent of home and really it’s grand to hear the rain pattering on the corrugated iron roof, shades of the romantic India of my childhood at the hill station we used to live at in the hot season, and Mum in particular. You see Dad used to stay down in the plains. I remember distinctly how Maurice used to cry when it rained hard because the noise on the iron roof was terrific.

These showers are not of course the rains. They don’t come till the beginning of May and then it’s just terrific but a very welcome respite from the terrific heat and the thing about the heat up here is that there is just no breeze at all and it’s damp, just like a glass hot house. However it’s very nice just now and as far as I can I’m enjoying it.

The other morning a magnificent “tusker” elephant walked through the camp. He was huge and tusks fully a yard in length. He was the one Mr.James (the planter) uses for shooting. Anyway we have a deep monsoon  ditch, it takes our six wheelers, but Mr. Tusker took one look at it, sniffed and walked around it, stepping right across the ditch quite easily.


Recently the evenings have been very clear so I took the car out across the tea gardens to where I could get a good view and there many miles to the north were the great snow capped Himalayas. It was a magnificent sight although as far as I can gather they are seasonal snows not the everlasting snows of the giants further back. I believe there are times when we can see these as well. 

I think I told you darling in my last letter that as a result of the Brigadier’s inspection I had to prepare a report on rations, costs etc., Well, it took me twelve hours of work, facts, figures and all that sort of thing and I sent it to RHQ. This report coincided with the visit of the Catering Corps officer and the balloon went right up. Every figure was checked, each of my suggestions thrashed out. Honestly, honey, it’s just as well I took a great deal of trouble on the report because I’ve positively stirred up a hornet’s nest and it isn’t finished yet. It’s gone back to Army HQ. This Catering Corps fellow was very good and knew his stiff from A to Z. He had been an Army cook in the ranks himself. He spent hours in our cookhouse demonstrating and he made many useful suggestions to me. But you see the point don’t yu darling? I’m supposed to be san engineer inspecting and repairing instruments and things but I spent the best part of last week on rations and cookhouse.

It’s Sunday evening and incidentally I’m writing with Harry’s posh pen. I have had five marvellous sets of tennis. I played solidly from three thirty till five thirty. I played simply dreadfully. I think it must have been because I was playing part of the time with one of the planter’s daughters and she is quite pretty. I find that after all this solitude things like that have a bad effect on my nerves. Pretty dreadful isn’t it when we have to come down to excuses like that. However I do enjoy my tennis. The first time I played, that was four weeks ago, I was absolutely knocked out after three sets, ow I’m absolutely knocked out after five sets so I seem ti be getting fitter.

Last Tuesday I missed my weekly movies because of that aforementioned Catering Corps chap, however I forgive him that because he did me a lot of good.

More confessions sweetheart.  I’ve had another letter from Joan Halbert. I told you she was married, well, he’s in the army and at present in South Africa and so she follows him around lucky devils. She admits as much and sympathises with our plight. She always asks after you and Anthony and confided in me this time that her second son is to be called Anthony Peter (her husband’s name is Peter), the first is to be David John and a daughter Philippa. Ambitious, aren’t they, and they haven’t been married twelve months yet. Oh, sweetheart, I’m saving all her letters so you can censor them and real with them accordingly. Do you still love me? I promise I’ll try and be good. Please Janie.



Joan Halbert the nurse John met in South Africa on his way to Alexandria


To continue, my love, I had my Xmas parcel from the Minehead chapel: socks, a writing pad and a pencil, same as last year. Jolly good of them to continue to remember me. I also had a very nice letter from Humbly. That makes three from you, one from Girlie and one from the church.

And now it’s about time for our new feature: anniversaries. This will be the second one. Do yo like them? I dig into my diaries for the necessary information. Well, the nearest interesting item is Sunday 19th January 1941. I had taken the weekend off from Portsmouth to go to London. Apparently I went to Morning Service with Evie and saw her as far as the bus. I recall quite well she didn’t stop talking about Stephen the whole time. I also went down and saw your folks at 46 Wharncliffe Gardens. I had to return that night and while I was waiting at Waterloo Station thee was an air raid going on uncomfortably close but the train wasn’t very late leaving. Oh yes, and now I come to think of it, when I got to Portsmouth there were no cabs or anything so I had over an hour’s walk in the rain and it was bak as pitch. Well, twelve months later we were on our second ship. Most of the week we were at Suez I was in the hospital having the most careful medical examination I’ve ever had in my life. But I told you all about that before. Of course as usual we hadn’t the vaguest idea where we were going, Bombay, Ceylon, Singapore. Thank goodness it wsmt the last name. 


Evelyn married to Janie’s cousin Stephen Barker

Well, the news is ok isn’t it sweetheart, bang goes Tripoli, but what I want to see is bang goes Burma because my end of the war looks as though it’s going to take years longer than your end and by the time we get back everyone will have forgotten that there was a war.

Well now, in reply to yours of 18th December, your airmail letter took just one month. This is good but I haven’t recovered, not yet.

I’m very troubled about Russell going sweetheart especially as you have no maid. I do hope you have succeeded by now but sweetheart in my mind I have no doubt that you wull, as always, be equal to the situation when it arrives. Nevertheless I feel terribly helpless and I can tghik of nothing more exasperating and now this additional call up, but I still have every confidence in you and the same goes for Russell.

Now why is my promotion troubling you sweetheart? I’m stuck I tell you. The powers that be think ours is a good outfit and won’t spilt it. It’s much harder luck on the ‘men’ who are in just the same boat. Is it troubling you that Stephen is catching me up?

I do so hope that Russell gets, or I should say has got, his BSc but why is he going across to REME after all his ATS training? I shouldn’t put too much stress on his getting a commission where he is and I think I know the job he’s after in which case he’ll hardly have time to complete his training before it’s over (says he hopefully).

All my love to you my dearest wife. Chin up and take care of yourself and our little boy. How I do long to see you both and get that home going again in the full sense.

But I’m still absolutely all yours sweetest,

Johnnie xxxx

War news at this time was full of incident: On January 1st the Germans began a surprise offensive (Operation Nordwind) in northern Alsace.
Also on this date 46 American B-29 bombers based near Calcutta, India attacked a railroad bridge near Bangkok, Thailand and other targets in the area and the Japanese increasingly used kamikaze tactics against the US naval forces nearby.

On the 3rd the Allies took the offensive east of the Bulge but they failed to close the pincers (which might have surrounded large numbers of Germans) with Patton’s tanks.

On the 5th the German offensive Nordwind crossed the border into Alsace and the Japanese retreated across the Irrawaddy River in Burma with General Slim’s troops in pursuit.

The 6th January January saw American B-29s bomb Tokyo again and on the 7th Germans, as part of the plan to retake Strasbourg, broke out of the “Colmar Pocket”, a bridgehead on the Rhine, and headed east. On the 8th the battle of Strasbourg was underway, with Americans in defence of their recent acquisition.

On the 11th the first convoy moved  on the Ledo (or “Stilwell”) road in northern Burma, linking India and China and on the 13th the East Prussian Offensive began. The 14th January saw British forces clear the Roer Triangle during Operation Blackcock. Hitler was now firmly ensconced in the bunker in Berlin with his companion Eva Braun.
On the 17th January it was announced officially that the Battle of the Bulge was at an end.


69 LAA Reg RA

w/s section REME


19th January 1945

My Darling Janie,

I’ve just arrived back in camp after a marvellous holiday. My, when I came to say goodbye it was nearly as bad as leaving home, particularly as I know fairly certainly that I shall not see them for two years and never again see the bungalow that has been the scene of so much of my happiness during this exile. Then Nathalie kissed me (which really made it worse) but I wouldn’t have had her do anything different. She did the same on my arrival. Jack was there both times of course which just shows you how sweet she is, if you needed any convincing.

Anyway, I digress somewhat. All the above occurred at 10am yesterday since when I have driven 370 miles on my own, arriving at camp 4.45 this morning. So you see sweetheart I haven’t slept since I left and I’m a bit tired but those lovely Xmas gifts and grand letters demand immediate answers so here I am my sweet.

Yes darling, all the contents of the parcels were in good condition. The photos were wizard. Say, who is Anthony intending to hit in the group photo? Goodness, how that kid alters and grows. I met that kid the same age as Anthony at Mary James’ birthday party. I told him about my little boy and he stood against the door so that I could measure him. This lad was half an inch taller than Anthony’s 5th birthday specifications so I imagine they must be almost the same so of course I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

I am also very impressed with the extremely smartly dressed young lady standing next to the vicar. Forgive me for saying so sweetheart but it looks as though Bond Street had walked into Selfridges (the rest of the group). By the way that crack is between ourselves (all right, all right). 

Thank you sweet for all those useful bits and things so needed and yet to me virtually unobtainable. It was beautifully wrapped up and was more dear to me as you had done the decorations yourself. The book I shall start on as soon as I get to bed.

Please forget that letter when I was blue and worried but I simply could not understand why having received your Christmas parcel from me you should forget to make any mention of it, even thank you. Forget it sweet, only it was rather depressing to me.

Nathalie was also asking if Anthony has ever received those fur lined slippers she sent him in one of my parcels? I told her yes of course and apologised  for not mentioning it before but really I can’t remember you ever mentioning them.

Yes, Diana wrote to me three times around Xmas and had me worried so I spent the weekend there. As you know my fears that she was having another ‘attack’ were groundless thank goodness so the beautiful Diana will fade out of my life, a thing I thought she’d done ages ago.


Diana Franklin, daughter of one of the tea plantation owners.


Now I must turn in sweetheart or I shall go to sleep right here. So, till I sleep with you again darling all my love is yours and Anthony’s.

God bless you both darling and bring me safely home to you.

And I’m your own,

Johnnie xxxx

In war news at this time on 23rd December Allied aircraft began their attacks on the German offensive, the one factor that Hitler feared in his planning.On the 24th the American counter-attack at the “Bulge” began; the Belgian transport ship SS Leopoldville was  sunk off the coast of France with more than 800 lives, predominantly those of American servicemen, lost and Manchester was attacked by V1 flying bombs. On the 26th the siege of Bastogne was broken, and with it the Ardennes offensive proved a failure. On December 29th Soviet troops began the Siege of Budapest.

In this letter the shop Burtons was a general grocer in Park Street. Mr.Ducheaune was the dentist.

45 King George Road


29th December 1944

My own darling John,

Well, here we are four days after Christmas. Russell came down last Friday (all night) and had to stand all the way from Paddington to Taunton in a packed compartment. When he arrived here at 8.45 am yesterday he looked nearly at collapsing point. He went back on Wednesday but in returning either tomorrow ir Sunday for his week’s leave. He is now finishing his final exams. He is a dear brother coming all that way in the middle of his exams so that I should not be alone over Christmas. You know there are some very strange people around. One suggested to me recently that you might be jealous of my great love for Russell and also that you might resent him looking on our home as more his home than London. But you are not jealous are you darling and you don’t mind Russell liking it better here than elsewhere do you? I tried to explain that to them but all they would say was that you must be an exceptional husband. I quite agree with this remark but you aren’t jealous or anything are you? Then yesterday I happened to mention to an assistant in Burtons that I go dancing as often as I can when Russell is down as long as I can get someone to mind Anthony. Mr.Jones came over and said, “What? Do you go dancing with Mr.Askew away?” I assured him I did and he replied that he thought you would not allow me to do such a thing especially as you don’t dance (Oh yes, he knew that too!) I replied that you allow me to go with Russell anywhere. All he said was a grunt! 

This afternoon I received your letter dated 14th December. Christmas certainly seems to be doing things to the mail as I have received two letters from you in three weeks, sorry, three letters counting one just received. 

I am glad you are at last officially a captain and that extra money we must certainly set aside when you come home for when Anthony goes to Taunton School.


Taunton School, Taunton

We should open another account or something and put that money in it and also add to it when possible. This will ensure Anthony’s education. I am so proud of Anthony and I do so want to be able to afford to finance him in any career he chooses. But I have gone in to all this before with you. Don’t you be so silly about wanting to give me more comfort and better clothes. I am quite comfortable thank you and have far more of this world’s goods than I deserve. What more could any woman want than a beloved husband and grand little son and health and strength? 

I am sorry you have got a number of minor worries sweetheart. How I wish I could help to ease your cares. Still, when you come home I shall be able to at last, God willing.

Thank you for sending me the newspapers. I shall enjoy reading them as I aways read the ones you wrap my presents up in. 

I am sure you must look smart in your new outfit. I wish I could see you.

Well, I think I told you I went to the dentist about three weeks ago and that he gave me hell! Well, I had to go again yesterday. He literally had to dig the filling out of the same tooth. He prodded about and made me squirm lots then told me that if the tooth does not heal up more inside by 15th January he will have to remove it!! He asked if I had much pain with it and I assured him I did for three days. Well, so far it has not troubled me this time but I can’t chew on it and I await in fear and trembling for 15th January. It’s a great pity if it does have to come out as it is only a little decayed and perfectly white. Apparently the nerve is far too near the top for him to do much and this is the second tooth (if he DOES pull it out) that I shall have lost for the same reason. I shall have gas if I have to decide like I had last time. Mother will probably have to oblige and come down because I simply dare not leave Anthony with anyone and I would not be able to take him with me. He watched Mr.Decheaune very intently. Mr.Ducheaune is very fond of him, really because he is essentially a boy not half a one. 

Anthony has once again one of his periodic “nerve” periods. He can’t sleep until about ten, eleven or midnight and consequently he is inclined to stutter a bit again. If he is no better soon I shall take him to Dr.Bain. I don’t want to just now as there s a lot of chicken pox about and I don’t want to risk anything.

Anthony is getting very excited-he cried twice for you to come home last big in bed. I assured him you will be home soon.

All my love sweetheart. You will soon be coming home now.

Keep your chin up darling and don’t worry over your work so much.

Take great care of yourself,

Always your own adoring,

Janie xxxxxxx

Not to be reproduced without permission