Family Magazine

Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Family News and Clean Socks”

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.

If you’ve been following Joe’s letters, you may be interested to know that I have now successfully made contact with the surviving families of two of Mac’s former crew members, rear gunner Ivor Turley & pilot Harry Warwick, as well as with the family of Joe’s girlfriend, Jean. It has been a real thrill to discover each other and we are in correspondence regarding our combined stories and memories of the crew. 

This is the second of the surviving letters which Olive (Joe’s mother) wrote to him. Joe is a few months into his RAF experiences and is now stationed at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire.

Letter 54 – c.10th August 1944

family stories
family stories
Letter transcript:

“Home, Wed morning.

Dear Jo ‘enery,

Well here’s your washing which I received on Sat: and I think you will have less panic for a while when you take your shoes off!

How are you? Have you all recovered from your plane mishap? We are just enjoying some real holiday weather at last and I am expecting your Aunt Doris and co for today – my day off, so I’ll hurry this in time to catch the post before they arrive.

Uncle Horace came on Sat and did the fowl pen I told you about and the rest of the family came later and stayed till Sunday. I had a letter from Joyce – at Hilda’s – and she appears to be having quite a good time. Den has started back to work today so Brian and I have made the best of things.

Did you  get any time off, or do you have to wait for your 14 days? I suppose by now you have written Jean about coming down here for a day or two, let me know your arrangements as soon as you can so that I can plan

family stories

Birmingham Town Hall during the Blitz

my week which begins on the 20th. I am hoping to get a day in at Stratford again this year and a I doubt if Jean has ever been, we could all go together.

So just write as soon as you have anything settled, and I’ll say cheerio for now, send whatever washing you can round up if only to avoid a panic for the door at door!

Good bye, God bless for now.

Love from Mother and nibs.

Since I started this letter the post has brought yours with the £1 enclosed for which many thanks, hope you have passed well. I also had a letter from ‘Auntie’ Iris – you remember? – after nearly 4 years. Hope to see you tonight but will send these in case you don’t manage it.

Cheerio for now.

Save this brown paper to send some more washing.”

There is no envelope with this letter from Olive, so the date is estimated. It sounds like the summer of 44 was a good one in England! Joyce is away visiting one of Olive’s many sisters in the Black Country, and Doris is another of Joe’s aunts. Olive had 7 sisters in all. It’s  a lovely detail to know that Joe was ’rounding up’ his dirty washing from all corners and wrapping it in brown paper to send home to his mother. Nothing changes eh (except perhaps black bags for brown paper??!!!)

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

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