Family Magazine

Joe’s Letters, WWII: “Scrounging and Hoarding”

By Saveeverystep @saveeverystep

One of my Uncle Joe’s letters 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.

At the time of this letter, Joe is at RAF Feltwell in Norfolk for the crew’s Lancaster Finishing School training, less than a month away from his first Operation sortie. There is a particular poignance attached to this letter from late November 1944, not in the content of the letter itself (which was written by Joe’s mother), but in the hand written notes which Joe has scrawled onto the rear of the letter. Using it as scrap paper, he appears to be composing a love letter to his now clearly adored sweetheart, Jean. This, as we will see, is most probably the foundation of his forthcoming proposal of marriage. It is incredibly sweet, and offers us a glimpse into the very private thoughts of this 19 year old boy, so perfectly preserved in these letters.

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“When I was young I confused up in my mind what to me was the perfect girl to have and love. My dream came true when I met you. You are more wonderful now I have come to love you the way I do.”

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Mac and Jean

Letter 85; 27th November 1944

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letter olive 27 nov 1944 page 3

Letter transcript:

” Home, Sunday night.

My luvin’ son,

I’ve brought this for you sir! Yes, your washing reached me at last and here you are complete with oddments. It isn’t apple tart put peach jam, and I shudder to think what it will look like when it reaches you, but here’s hoping you survive it. I was very glad to hear you were feeling better after your ‘squirts’ – you won’t be sorry when you have had the last of ‘em I expect.

The weather is still d—-ed awful (this end), I haven’t been out only up the village on Sat afternoon, so have been busy making the plum puddings and boiling them today. I managed, after months of scrounging and hoarding, to make four, so you will be ok for some. 

No, you didn’t tell me how you had got on in your exams, hope you did well though. Have you answered Aunt Emm, I’m sorry I can’t help any with the money problem – I had to buy Joyce some shoes this week and have bought Denis a ‘stunning’ shirt for his birthday! so I’m nearly flat for this week.

Well there isn’t much to write about and I’ve still got Den’s overalls to mend ready for the morning, so I’ll say goodnight and God bless. 

With love from Mother and nibs.

P.S. Hooray! We had some oranges this week, you should see the nibs’ faces!”

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Olive is feeling the pinch financially. The dried fruit, sugar and eggs required to make up four Christmas Puddings must have been almost impossible to come by in the middle of rationing. Olive really must have pulled a few favours somewhere, and built a little ‘stash’ of goodies in readiness for her Christmas baking! I still can’t get over the thought of baking and POSTING in the mail a jam tart. Who knows what it looked like when it actually arrived?!

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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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