A bit of background for newcomers
Joe (aka ‘Mac’ to his RAF comrades) was my Uncle, but we never met. His precious letters have come into my possession some near-70 years after they were written. It is my honor to transcribe them, and the poignancy of hindsight about what happened to Joe makes this all the more difficult to write, but all the more important that I do. One letter will be posted to this Blog each and every Friday until they are done.
Please see below for a link to Joe’s full story and the other letters in this series so far.
In this letter, Joe is 6 months in to his RAF experiences and is wearing his newly acquired Sergeant stripes with pride. He is now stationed at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire.
Letter 41 – 22nd June 1944
Dear Mom and Kids,
Well we got back o.k.! About half of those Canadians turned up in time for the train! Lord knows what happened to the others!! I got back and went straight to the Sgts Mess where I had your letter and my daily letter from Jean waiting. That 10/- was tehre o.k. Thanks a lot. I shall send it back as soon as I get paid, Friday I hope!
I had a letter from Joe Lee’s folks today. They sent me his address. With it was another letter from Jean. About Jean. I guess it’s as you say “time will tell”. Frankly I think she’s a sweet kid, I like her a lot. As for being one of a number, I’m not so sure. I’ve been had like that before!! But there again time will tell.
The weather here is once again sweltering hot! It’s about 8 o’clock now and still boiling! We had a usual day today with the usual lectures. Tomorrow we go to some ranges about 20 miles away. Tell you more about it
Decompression chamber. Image c/o IWM
after I’ve been.
We have just taken our oxygen masks to be tested and inspected. We have to have about 2 hours in decompression chambers. We go to the equivalent of 25-30000 feet. Tell you all about it later.
By the way if possible send me that collar please as we leave here next Tuesday and may get a kit inspection before we go. By the way if you see Bert, tell him I shall write soon and Buster too!
I may get home next week but I’m not too sure as yet. Let you know for more or less sure at the weekend.
Not much more to write this time so toodle-oo till the next time.
Love Joe xxxx”
There seems to have been a spark ignited between Joe and one of his female admirers, Jean. We will hear much more about Jean later. She is a 17 year old girl whose letters to Joe have become a welcome daily event, and who seems to be standing out from the crowd. Interestingly, Olive (Joe’s mum) appears to have fired a warning shot across his bows. These flighty girls who love a man in ‘blues’ were perhaps all too common, and the urge to protect her eldest son from heartbreak must have been strong. Watch this space…….
To read more about Joe’s letters please follow this link. There you will find the full selection of letters to date, as well as more information about his fascinating yet ultimately tragic story.
He was our family hero. He IS our family hero. If I knew how to complete an effective RAF salute, I would salute you now, Joe. Long may your memory live in our family stories. I hope to post a new letter from Joe’s correspondence with his Mother here every Friday until they’re done. It will be a turbulent and heart-wrenching journey. Subscribe to the Blog to make sure you don’t miss any of it.
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Tagged: 1940s, family, genealogy, history, Joe, letters, memories, nostalgia, Royal Air Force, stories, World War II, writing home