Family Magazine

Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Coffee, Music & Sarnies at 16000ft”

By Saveeverystep @saveeverystep

family stories

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 46 – 2nd July 1944

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family stories
family stories

Letter transcript:

“3050664 Sgt Me

c/o Sgt’s Mess

RAF Station

c/o GPO Bolxham

Nr Banbury, Oxon.

Thursday – Pay Day!

Hello Mom.

Hope you haven’t been worried cos I haven’t written but every night, except tonight, I’ve been on night flying or flying up to 12 and after. I must write  a few more letters tonight as well! This is the first time I’ve done any!

Well, our pilot ‘soloed’ on Wellingtons after only 4 hours dual! Good pilot. Yesterday morning we were having coffee and sandwiches and listening to ‘Music while you Shirk’ at 16,000 feet! Oh yes, we’re original alright!!

I’ve just been doing some washing. Don’t laugh! About Kilty and his washing, well I hardly ever see him now as we do so much flying and are up at different times. He was going to bring in a bundle tonight but up to now (10.30) he hasn’t been in. Flying! Gosh he was in a flat-spin when I told him you would do some washing for him. He couldn’t thank you enough! Should he bring it in later I’ll send it tomorrow.

How’s the weather up there? It has been good here for 3-4 days now but it will rain tonight I think. It has been thundering. By the way, have you got that bike yet? Let me know how much it is when you can, the passenger rail fare will be about 2s/6d. Send it “c/o G.W.R Station, Bloxham” etc; don’t forget send it PASSENGER. Send a pump too if we still have one!

Sorry my Arabic is so bad, but I’m standing to write this letter as there is no space on the table. Some of ‘em are doing their ironing!! Ho! Hum! A woman’s work is NEVER done! It IS a job these days Missus ‘Watsit’!!

I still have to write to Bert, Joe and ’57′ Garratt Street and others! It won’t get done tonight as I’m not feeling very literary!

So long for now, God bless.

Love Joe xxxx”

Sounds like Joe is desperate to get his hands on some bicycle transport. There must be a heck of a lot of walking from one end of the base to the other. I have not been able to find out who Kilty was. His name comes up a number of times – possibly a friend from back home? Joe seems to be in good spirits, but the fatigue must be setting in with so much night flying by now. More on this in the letters to follow…..

family stories, joseph

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, dinghy drill, family, genealogy, history, Joe, lancaster bomber, letters, memories, nostalgia, Royal Air Force, stories, wellington, World War II, writing home

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