Updated 14 Sep 2005

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Reg WARDS's wartime letters

Pte Joan Stevenson

Reg Ward was born in 1916 at Carsington, won a scholarship to Wirksworth Grammar School and was called up to Lincoln Barracks in 1940. In 1944 he was killed at the Garigliano river crossing in Italy, aged 27. Reg wrote many letters to his girl friend who, fifty years later, transcribed them and suggested they be put on the Wirksworth website, run by .

19 May 1940
03 Sep 1941

08 Sep 1941
16 Nov 1942

22 Nov 1942
29 Jan 1945


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| 060 | 065 | 070 | 075 | 080 | 085 | 090 | 095 | 100 | 105 | 110 |
| 111 | 115 | 120 | 125 | 130 | 135 | 140 | 145 | 150 | 155 | 159 |

Places from or mentioned

Lincoln 001, 002, 003, 004, 005 Holbeach 006 Turriff 006, 007 Doune 008 Callender 009 (all letters to) 022 Carlisle 022 Newton-le-Willows 022 Haydock Park 022 Northwich 023, 024, 033, 034, 035, 036 Haydock 025 (all letters to) 032 Liverpool 037, 038, 039, 040 Fermanagh 041, 042, 043, 044 Newton Butler 045 (all letter to) 075 Kenley 078, 079 Whyteleafe 080, 081, 082, 083, 084 APO1850 085 APO1810 086, 087, 088, 089, 090 Madagascar 091, 093, 096, 139 India 093, 096, 097, 099, 139, 148 Calcutta 096, 098 Durban 104 Iraq 107, 139, 148 Persia 107, 111, 128, 139 Baghdad 109, 111 Basra 111 Iran 111 Kermanshaw 111 Qum 111, 112 Damascus 116, 119 Tel Aviv 119 Tunisia 132 Sicily 136, 139 Italy 137, 143, 144, 150, 153, 156, 159 Syria 139 Transjordan 139 Mareth 153 Enfidaville 153 El Alamein 153

Reginald WARD in tropical gear

Did you know anyone mentioned in these letters? Can you add anything to the story told here?
If so, please see Emails about Reg Ward and email the webmaster on: .

Inhabitants of Rock Cottage, Carsington can be seen in the Census for: 1901, 1891, 1881, and 1871
Inhabitants of Thornhill House, Carsington can be seen in the Census for: 1901, 1891, and 1881

Reg WARD's wartime letters 8 Sep 1941 - 16 Nov 1942


  1. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 8.9.41 Darling, First of all I must say I'm sorry for not writing to you before but we were supposed to be out until Wednesday last week and then they decided to carry on with the result that we were still out on Saturday so really it was nothing I could help. I have just received your last letter so have a bit of leeway to make up. I see that although you say it's wet and cold you are still biking around the universe so maybe when I do get home I shall see you in shorts. Dad forwarded me a letter from Les. He seems to have dropped in very lucky, civvy billets, comfortable beds and all, the lucky young blighter. Eric also wrote but his letter seems to be mostly a gloat over the cash he was able to make out of his poultry. He just mentions that he is a "British workman" and no more but I gather that he is at a sort of Tech College at present and just going into the shops next for a wee while as part of his training. I have been out all week as I said and its been grand and warm. We slept out every night but one and it was a nice change. The one night we did not sleep out was spent in a barn and I did not know so many beetles and other horrible little insects congregated in one place. The rats also were a nuisance as they insisted on running around and over us all night. The orchards, and there are many, are loaded with fruit. The apples we had given to us were very good indeed and we must have eaten pounds of blackberries, the hedges are full of them. There are also some wild raspberries but the supply of them was not equal to the demand. I see you have a sale at Buxton's at the Spout; they are some relations of ours, very distant admittedly but relations nevertheless. Did not know that your house was a nest of spies. Some fools about aren't there. Still someone once said "A fool is born every minute - Thank God some of them live". I found quite a lot of local news in the D Times. The Wirksworth Council still seem to produce a certain amount of pity and amusement. Mrs Land got it properly in the neck. I hope leave won't be long sweetheart. I'm longing to be with you again. Do you remember the night we walked back from Hognaston over the fields? The nights are certainly getting long now. I'm afraid that there will not be much daylight in the evening when I get home. There will be a moon though and in any case what does it matter for even if I can't see you I shall be with you. Well darling, for the present. Goodbye. All my love, Reg.
  2. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 13.9.41 Joanna darling, I'm glad to see from your letter that you are getting around a little these days. Keep it up sweetheart and have a good time, it's no use letting this wretched war get you down. Cycling seems to have got into your blood but I bet that the moors over by Sydnope and Flash Dam are well worth seeing now. The heather here is a beautiful purple mass on the bogs, almost like your biking area except that it's dotted over with piles of peat even now. The orchards are showing a wonderful crop of fruit now. The apples especially seem to be bearing the branches down and as they are mostly eaters we do quite well whenever we are out. A big lot of wheat and oats are being grown here now and it's fully ripe and looks fine waving in the breeze. We were recently around the Lough Neagh district and it closely resembles South Derbys. The fields are smaller but it's much better cultivated and the people are much more up to date (I almost said civilized) than here. Do you know, Joanna, one of our chaps was talking to a youth of about 16 near here and was told that he had never been to a cinema, ridden in a train or seen a bus. The latter takes some believing but if you saw the folk and the district you would not doubt it for a minute. One of the most unpleasant smells I have ever come across is rather prevalent around here; it's the flax being seeped in pits in the fields. I should not like the job of getting it out. Leave can't be so very far away now. Don't think that I'm coming next week or anything like that, but within a month at any rate sweetheart I shall be with you. I had a very welcome surprise the other day; a 10/- note from the Social Committee per Dad, very nice but not entirely unexpected as you told me of the dances etc. Darling, there seems so much to say and so little to write so Cheerio darling, All my love, Reg.
  3. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 16.9.41 Joanna dearest, I'm afraid this is not going to be a very pleasing letter to you. I have just received your letter and I don't know if you are joking, going mad, or serious over this matter of conscription. As I read it I gather you have thought of joining the ATS or some other similar organisation; Whilst I realise that I have no right to dictate to you I definitely repeat that if you do or have to without making any effort to get out of it, that we finish. You may have thought that I was joking but I am not and if I and my opinion weigh with you at all, I hope that this influences your decision. As to your hairstyle being changed, that seems a very frivolous matter. In any case you know my opinion on that too. Personally I see no reason why you should not go into munitions if you have to change your job. One can be too honest in one's outlook but darling I do hope that you don't decide to associate with those in the women's service branches. Well, Joanna thats got a load off my mind and so we will now turn to more pleasant things. I dare say that there are lots of people after the blackberries but unlike ourselves they won't know where to go. I can think of several spots into which a car party will never penetrate in their search. Have you been getting any? Rather a painful job sometimes I know. As I said they hang thickly in almost every hedgerow here and no one makes any attempt to get them. The orchards too are weighed down with apples, mostly as red as tomatoes or yellow as plums. They really are a fine show. It's no use darling. My mind won't concentrate on anything but this mad idea of yours and I reckon I have already said enough, if not too much on that heading so will close and write again in a few days. All my love, Reg.
  4. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 21.9.41 Joanna Darling, Please don't expect this to be a consoling and apologetic letter to cover my last one. It ought to be and I wish it were but I can't honestly write one. After this rather rotten beginning I will try and forget the episode for I guess it was no more. Things here are the same as they were (and I am beginning to think always will be). Nothing happens and no news. What a life! What are beetroot sandwiches like? Never heard, seen or tasted them. Are they a wartime dish? They don't sound too bad though. How did the dance go? I should think Carson never had so many social events as have taken place lately, helps though I expect. We had an excellent ENSA concert here last week; one of the best shows I have ever seen, especially the stooge who made his first appearance as Hitler (and a very good likeness). He proceeded to recite a piece of poetry which ran "My Hess is over the ocean, my Bismark is under the sea" and I can tell you he was good. These pros we sometimes get do show up the amateurs though. There's a Variety billed for this week, the posters proclaim their artists as "Worlds Best" and "The Well Known" etc. so it should be a very good show. Hope I don't drop for a guard that night anyway. Leave can't be far away now dearest. I will soon be home again and with you. A few weeks sounds a devil of a long time to wait but I expect it will soon pass and then sweetheart I will be able to say the things to you that are so hard to put on paper. I hope your dream was not a nightmare! Well I reckon the third paragraph will have told you not to expect a long letter so cheerio. All my love, Reg. Leave of 7 days 1-8 Oct
  5. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 11.10.41 Joanna darling, Well dearest I'm back again in the old hut and what a difference to this time last week. It was a very long journey back here; we did not arrive here until 10 o'clock at night and were very fed up with it by that time as you will guess. On Wednesday it poured with rain all day and made this wretched country seem even more dreary than usual. I found a couple of letters from you and the D Times awaiting me, it seems very old news when I read them. I have been doing HG's valuation statements and have finished three of them already. I rather like doing them so of course that makes all the difference. We had a very good crossing, it was quite smooth so once again I am glad to say I can't recite a string of harrowing tales of sea sickness. As before, nothing changes here, it's still cold and damp but the leaves are beginning to fall a little now so it will very soon look bare in addition. Darling, last week's memories crowd out all this week's news (if any) so the best thing is to look forward to next leave (and it needs good eyesight) so for the present, Goodbye my love, Reg. PS Recognise the envelopes?
  6. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 21.10.41 Joanna my dearest, No I did not think that you were neglecting me although to be quite frank with you I did look for a letter the day before I got it. So Dad has been brawn making has he, wish I had been there to sample it and see that it was alright before he finished it. Your remarks about Bisto Kid are very suggestive of the smells that I know always accompanies that procedure. Rouse yourself sweetheart, go to all the hops and have a good time, no use thinking over last leave (although I'm always doing so) look forward to the next. Speaking of next leave I don't think I shall get it so quickly as we hope as I believe that the next two leaves are being put together. Of course when it comes two weeks will be so much better than one but it looks a devil of a way off at present. I'm glad you enjoyed your weekend's housekeeping. What I look forward to is the day when you will be doing it as a permanent job. Mr Gould certainly has a voice. He is in Wirksworth choir you know and he sounds like thunder rolling in the distance in comparison with the piping and squeaking of the others. I should have liked to see you gathering the damsons, somehow I can't imagine you climbing, you are not hefty enough. Do you know if HG has received the valuation statements I sent him. I think he will have done by now. It's rain, rain and then more rain here. Everywhere is muddy and the lakes have risen about three feet since I came back. Combine this with a high wind and you have got the weather we are enjoying! at the moment. Well, sweetheart, that's your ration for now so cheerio and don't forget I love you Reg.
  7. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 26.10.41 Joanna dearest, Sunday again and I had a morning chopping wood with a chap from Ashover and enjoyed every minute of it. It seemed like a Sunday morning in peace time a couple of years ago. The wind is chasing the leaves off now and I'm afraid everywhere will look very bleak in a couple of week's time and that winter will be on us very soon. I have done HG's valuation bills and am sending them on tomorrow. Keep a look out for them and in your next letter tell me if they have arrived. Leave! this is about the most important thing these days; no doubt you have heard a lot about it on the wireless and in the papers. We are now getting a fortnight on the list this winter (if it is not cancelled) and although the BBC promise it at the usual times I don't expect my turn will come until about February. We know these promises of old - in fact we were brought up on them, we get four leaves a year already, officially. Still, I reckon February will see me in Carson again for fourteen days. I have heard from Les, he seems to be alright and says no raids have occurred. I hear that these dark nights have fetched them out again though and that the planes are busy again. I hope no more have dropped around Carson, but for the bare information that raids have taken place I know neither when or where. Well sweetheart, that's all I guess so cheerio for a few more days. All my love Reg. PS If you are a rogue pinch me a few more of AJ's envelopes. We cannot get any here without a ream of paper which I don't want.
  8. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 2.11.41 Joanna darling, Today, curiously enough we have received a mail so I have got your letter enclosing the envelopes; thanks very much for them. Incidentally it's been a quick mail, three days is about the quickest post I have ever received. Yes, the leave is coming round quicker than I had hoped. Think of it dearest, fourteen or fifteen days with you. Good Lord darling it's almost too much to hope for. The snow seems to be early this year. We have no sign of it here of course, but then the "natives" tell us that they get very little usually, but they do get lots of rain. It's a choice of evils sometimes but I would rather have the snow, especially Derbyshire snow. Yesterday the Medical Officer enjoyed himself by inoculating us again. I can't say as I enjoyed it, my arm is still sore and stiff but it's working off now. If HG has a cold it's a wonder he's at the office at all. He usually hibernates at such times and if you develop it he will shyly offer you a tablet out of a wee box he keeps in his drawer. I'm glad to hear you are not attracting the nasties; I understood that you were getting pretty well of raids but I reckon that the reports must have been wild as usual. I hardly see how a draught across the hearth improves your kitchen, it sounds a bit uncomfortable to me, but I can appreciate that it makes the room lighter and more roomy. Beatrice Bacon and ATS, Edie Stanley and WRNS - no comments in either case. I daresay you have noticed how quickly the bills come back to HG. The truth is I like doing them whilst I loathe writing letters, even to you dearest and you know that you mean everything to me. I see old Peat is dead. I expect you would know him well. He was a crony of mine at times and as the paper says he certainly was old Wirksworth. In the counter in Brown's office are some old wills, they are written in copperplate on parchment and Peat is the man. Also there is a tombstone against Hanson's house telling of a Peat who died at the age of 109. Old Fred was a very interesting character (if rather garrulous) He bought antiques and I remember the time he had eight grandfather clocks. There was a devil of a din in the house when the hour struck. Well sweetheart, this may not be a very interesting or lovelike letter, but it is longer than usual. So dearest I reckon that's all for the present, cheerio and don't forget I love you. Reg.
  9. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 9.11.41 Joanna darling, What a day! rain and wind and then wind and rain. We were unable to get to church this morning, the wind was coming across the loch so hard that it was impossible to get the ferry across. It got part way and the wind just turned it round and blew it back onto the bank so we gave it up. Just as well as the cable is not over strong. Darling, although the D Times arrived as usual I have not had a letter from you this week though maybe it's delayed in the post. I don't know if it's not hearing from you or what but you have been in my mind all day and I keep remembering and longing for the times we have been together. Do you remember that night, a Friday, when you lay in my arms with the firelight flickering on your face? You can't have forgotten dearest, you were wearing that wide skirted frock of yours and for a while time seemed to stand still. I never realised how much I depend on your letters for the material for my own and I seem to have nothing to say now. So, sweetheart although this is such a short letter don't forget that I am longing for a word from you. For the present I love you and leave you. Ever yours, Reg.
  10. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 16.11.41 Joanna dearest, Are you practising spring cleaning? Your letter starts off by giving me the picture of a grimy determined little person smitten with the desire to turn everything upside down and inside out in an effort to "make the place look respectable". No doubt you came across a box of old cartridges and a few ancient pistols and revolvers in your whirl. You may have seen an old powder flask there too, containing a white powder. I would strongly recommend you not to put it on the fire, I know. Keith and I decided to see if it would burn one day. We laid a trail of it in J Mac's back yard and applied a match. To our surprise it did not run in a trail of fire like the black powder but whoof - it had gone. So had any stray hairs that were as usual hanging over my forehead and a few of my eyebrows. I expect you came across a great deal of useless rubbish though. AJ always says "don't destroy it, it may be wanted some day". All right sweetheart, I won't tell any Irish colleens I like their dress. I don't and in any case I have never seen one in red and green. There are a few whose colours could be scarlet but I think most of them would come under green. There seem to be a big lot of people home on leave just now. Ours is a week nearer, dearest. Gloves - the ones you first knit for me are still doing yeoman service. I have darned them several times (and you would be surprised at the workmanship) and we got our issue pair only last week so I am not short at the moment. However, you know what a casual devil I am and I am quite capable of losing both pairs so I think it will be as well if you hold on to the ones you have so that I can obtain reserves when required. Well sweetheart, as usual I finish on the third page - no news as usual. By the way we had a war correspondent here recently and although I have not read his article myself, I understand it's giving the impression that this place is a hub of amusements. If you see this, think of the old song "Comrades don't believe him, he's such a ------ liar" I think that man and his ancestors have received more abuse here than anyone I know. Well angel, thats all, be good and keep smiling. All my love, Reg. Monday PS Thanks for letter and photo. Will write again very soon.
  11. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 23.11.41 Joanna dearest, Two letters to reply to this time so here goes. Is it a year since I had my first week's leave? It seems much more than that. Still you are infallible on dates so as I never remember them you must be right; do you keep a diary? You must do for I'm sure that you can't remember all the dates you keep trotting out. Thanks very much for the newspaper cutting. I'm very glad that the lad got off. He's a nice kid and he must have had a hell of a time with Wood. Gardening again? Do you remember that day I came up for you and you were pulling out everything, whether it was a weed or not. In fact you pulled up one bulb, a lily, four times in as many minutes. I'm not surprised that your hands blistered. They are so soft that a spade must be a very clumsy thing and it's bound to be rough to you. I have had a letter from Les. He did not like going back any more than I do, still he seems to be settling down to it now. We have got a hut set aside for amusement now so we have a way of spending the evenings. It's equipped with a wireless, a table tennis table (home made) and darts etc. so I spend quite a lot of time there at the moment. Of course the wireless is going full blast all night. This Vera Lynn is not a Forces favourite as far as I know, although she is liked certainly, but music and not singing or crooning far surpasses any one person for popularity. I expect Cyril Webster and John Bembridge will be in the thick of the African advance now and here I am in this damn country and I have been in far longer than either of them. Hope they come through alright. Well, dearest, I will pipe down, cheerio, Keep smiling. All my love, Reg.
  12. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 30.11.41 Joanna dearest, Sunday again so here goes. The weather is still cold but not so wet. The rains of the last week are now showing in the lakes. They are up quite a lot and as the banks are rather gentle, the water is about twice as far across as in the summer. It occurs to me that perhaps I have given you a false idea of these lakes. They are not separate lakes but one huge loch made up of hundreds of lochs up to about a mile in diameter and all joined up by narrow strips of water sometimes not more than fifty yards across. It's these strips to which I am referring. Nearly all the leaves are off the trees now so everywhere is looking bare and bleak. Even the rushes are dead on the loch banks. Shiningford is a devil of a big house for such an out of the way farm. It's far too big for anyone to occupy never mind keep clean and furnished. I have never been over it but I should imagine that some parts, especially the upper floor, is in a very poor and neglected state. No, we don't get up at 6 in the morning now. 7.15 is the official time but 7.30 or after is plenty early enough for me. Even then it's pitch dark and one stubs one's toes against every imaginable thing going for a wash. The nights are very long now and will soon be longer. Never mind dearest it will soon be Xmas, then New Year and then February won't be very far away. It can't come soon enough. I have not quite finished HG's bills but hope to do so this week. I wish there were more of them, it's high time he had some for checking. Has he not met any of the others to settle yet. Will you please send me those gloves when next you write. I'm afraid the other pair are beyond repair now. I'm surprised Bowmer's property is for sale; it seems a pity to split it up, it's such a decent little property. Bowmer's, of course, never did agree, they have had an inter family law suit on for years. I suppose the sale is the culminating point. Well darling I reckon that's all so cheerio. All my love, Reg.
  13. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 6.12.41 Joanna mine, Sorry I did not mention the photo. I thought I had done so but thanks very much for it. It's very good and the oftener I see it the more determined I am to see you in shorts. February may be hardly a suitable time of the year. Still, I think I shall insist. I went down to the village yesterday, more for a walk than to see the sights and I was surprised at the amount of water everywhere. I knew the water was up about five feet but I did not dream that so much land would be flooded by it. Some kids were boating in what is usually a pasture field. It's surprising how these kids row, the boats are flat bottomed, like punts and about fifteen to twenty feet long, the oars are about eight feet long and four inches square yet the kids can get along alright. We row alright for a while and then the boat spins round and we have to let it and wait until it is pointing the right way again before we carry on. They are most unwieldy craft to us. I have seen a man rowing one alone, he had a few loads of wood, a donkey and a cart on too. So hostilities have started in Carson have they? The whole world will be at war very soon. Don't get taking sides over that. What good would you be amongst the heavy weights? From Dad's letter I gather he's very busy just now with his holly wreaths. When Les, Eric and I were at home there was enough to keep us all busy but now he is on his own he is doing more than ever. How he is going to get through it all I don't know. Dad has sent me some photos of Les and myself; Les's is very good indeed, I have a lop sided grin. I did not realise that this is a little characteristic of mine before. Yes, the photo was taken in the morning so there's no answer for the twinkle. Dearest, that's all I guess, so goodbye darling, keep smiling, All my love, Reg.
  14. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 14.12.41 Joanna darling, Glad to hear that you are being so pious and good. Also, dearest, I do thank you for looking up Dad he must be very lonely, especially on Sundays and having somewhere to pop in if he feels a bit down helps a lot. I did not know that the Nipper was working Sundays. Dad told me that he had gone up to the works but I did not think he was on overtime. I have just been trying to write a letter to Wilf Pearson thanking him for the ten bob. It's a most difficult job for you have the scene of Wilf reading it out to a critical audience. I managed it, about half a dozen lines and don't think much of the finished article. We had a cinema show here this week. Of course I have forgotten the title. I had seen it before but still enjoyed it. Our battalion dance band is broadcasting very soon on Dec 29th and you may care to hear it. It's to be on the Forces Network and it's popular Scotch songs, Loch Lomond, Bonny Mary of Argyle etc. My most difficult thing at the moment is Christmas boxes. What to get I just don't know. There's little or nothing to be had in this place. Les is lucky to be getting a 48 hour pass so quickly after his leave, lucky blighter. I have not received any of HG's bills. Can you tell me if any of mine have been checked yet and if so, what was the result? Goodnight darling, hug yourself for me until February. All my love, Reg.
  15. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 21.12.41 Joanna my darling, I'm very disappointed that this is just a letter, I did hope that it would be more. However, tomorrow will tell and I do hope if I'm lucky, you will get it before Xmas. It's not a bit Christmassy here. The weather's not too bad but that festive air is absent altogether. Still there is almost a week to go yet. According to Dad's letter he is right up to the neck in work (I almost said holly) and what about that lucky young blighter of a brother I have got, another leave in a fortnight! I had a letter from Mrs Stanley and she expects that Keith will be home for Christmas. She also does not know if Edith will be exempt but I am sure that I have seen that teachers are in some paper or another. Don't think that I have lost or broken the pen, dearest. The only trouble is that I have no ink and the canteen has closed so it has to be pencil again. So Carson is out of the war, is it. I should like to have seen the scrap though. I fully realise your position in the new conscription. AJ and HG may pull a few local strings of course but I doubt their ability in this. I hope it does not catch you though dearest. If you do have to go, I will find you, don't worry if you are affected before February. Dearest, this stupid war can't last for ever and I hope that next year at this time it will all be over and I shall be able to say to instead of write, Goodnight my love, Reg.
  16. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 26.12.41 You darling, Three letters and one parcel to thank you for, some job. That parcel sweetheart. How on earth did you manage to think of everything? It's great and what I have tried up to now makes me want to eat the rest all at once, but I am keeping myself in hand. As a matter of fact I've received a lot of stuff and still have two boxes full under my bed. You timed it very well too, it arrived on Christmas Eve and took the place of Father Christmas very effectively. Have you had a decent Xmas? I hope so. I only wish I could have been with you; no matter how big your mistletoe it would have been finished long before me. I have had quite a decent time (kept sober too!!) and I am not grumbling at all. The weather has been good but I like snow better and of course the usual festive trimmings were absent. I'm very interested to note that the Cinema is paying a dividend although I agree it's all war profit. I thought you would like the British Restaurant if you tried it, it is quite good. Did you get the chocs I sent? I'm sorry they did not arrive in time but I could not get them before. I know it was a very paltry gift and I was disappointed that I could get nothing else but it couldn't be helped. Unfortunately I have already read "Corduroy" and "Silver Ley" and I thought I never enjoyed anything more. Now I have them again I can reread them. There are not many books worth reading twice but these certainly are and they are the type I enjoy most. The plum pudding! Certainly eat it cold. As a matter of fact, I shared it up, cut up the two joeys for myself and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. No doubt you will have received my letter about the conscription by now, but I did not know that you registered so soon. What are you going to do? I still don't fancy the ATS or its sister services. Darling it's not my choice but yours. I can't decide for you, can I? All I can say is whatever you do it can't make any difference to my love for you and wherever you go, I will find you. Glad to hear of the rise. It's not before time and AJ realises that he is in no position to dictate to everyone now. I received a 5/- PO from HG and must write and thank him today. He also says little about the bills so I presume that they are OK. Well, precious, all good wishes for the New Year and lets hope that it will bring us together and so Goodnight, every bit of love it's possible to send you. Reg.
  17. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 4805498 L/Cpl WR Ward D Coy 6th Seaforth Highlanders Home Forces 6.1.42 Dearest, Sorry to be late as usual in writing. Your letter just received has awakened me to the fact that it's high time I wrote. You are to blame to a certain extent though. You should not have sent me "Silver Ley" and then I might have written sooner. As you might have guessed, Hogmanay was rather a wild night. I estimate the number of sober men at 5% and deplore the fact that I was one of them. You see I was unfortunate to be on duty that night until ten o'clock so had to be able to walk straight. However, it was a very festive occasion, the band was playing and those who could dance were doing flings and reels when not in the ditch. The old year, represented by a veteran of the last war, was carried out and the new year, the youngest soldier was carried in. Every one from the CO down had as much as they could carry so imagine a huge crowd following a pipe band up a road singing, shouting and dancing. What a night! Everyone then went to the dining hall for the rum punch (in buckets) and when I came out every table and form were knocked over and everyone was wishing everyone else a happy new year. I believe the Pioneers were working all night to get sufficient tables to stand for dinner next day. The New Year's dinner was very good, turkey, pork and pudding and lots of beer, officers acting as waiters. I went out last Saturday, five mile walk to the station, 17 miles by train and saw a lousy picture, back by train and five miles to walk back, never again! George Formby is near here I believe, he is giving a show sometime this week but as we are on night training, I shan't be able to get. I'm surprised to hear that Tant (Ray Anthony) is over here. I have not run across him of course but expect I shall be hearing from him before so very long. I heard part of the broadcast, some of it was good and other parts were lousy. One of the chaps is really a much better singer than he sounded but the other one is just as bad as he sounded. There was a great deal of patting on the back over it of course but the people who did express their own opinion were rather unpopular with the artists concerned. Has Les gone back yet? I've not heard from home for a few days so hardly know when he goes back. As you say, I wish I were only half as lucky. I'm glad that he missed that draft though. Well dearest that's all I guess. February is getting closer and let's hope it brings all we expect and hope for, so for the present cheerio and don't forget, I love you. Reg.
  18. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 11.1.42 Dearest, This is going to be rather a difficult letter to write. I expect you have noticed that I generally rely on yours for the best half of my news and as it must have been delayed this week I am in a bit of a mess. Please don't write again after you receive this until you get the next. (That's a bit Irish but you will get the hang of what I mean) I will write again as soon as I possibly can. On Friday afternoon I went to see a show with George Formby starring. It was very good and I enjoyed it. Unfortunately I had seen the rest of the show before so that took the shine off it. He sang about half a dozen songs including Mr Woo and various garbled versions of other songs and he is a very fine comedian. I never expected such a big chap - he must be over six foot tall and he has huge shoulders; a very well made man altogether. A huge crowd of women and kids were waiting to see him outside the hall. I should think he gets fed up with such crowds. Will you please tell HG not to send any more feeding stuffs bills (only of course if he intends to do so) until you next get a letter. Well darling, it's turned out to be just as big a job as I expected. I just can't think of any news. Some chaps just sit down and write page after page but I can't do it, I don't know why. Goodness knows I love you enough, still - so for the present darling cheerio and don't forget it's creeping daily nearer February. All my love, Reg.
  19. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Home Forces 18.1.42 Darling, You were right, as usual, we have moved. You guessed it before I knew about it though. We are now in a place called Kenley only 15 miles from London; it's rather a change to being 20 miles from a cinema. I have an uncle and aunt somewhere in London so as soon as I get their address from Dad I hope to be going to see them. It's such a big change I don't think we have realised all it means yet. The journey was very tedious and the sea very rough. It was the roughest I have had by far. However, contrary to my expectations I have proved a good sailor. Many did not though and had a very poor time of it. I was on deck most of the time and only got driven inside by the spray which would persist in trying to wet me through. It's quite quiet here now but there have obviously been some severe raids at one time. Let's hope it does not reoccur. There is snow on the ground and I have had quite a job today thawing out the pipes. I have been quite successful and we now have cold water in the house and the cisterns have just begun to fill. Yes, dearest, I received the gloves. They are a grand fit and come in very useful as a pair to keep strictly for going out. I hope that if this change makes any alterations to the leave it will only be to speed it up, but February is getting nearer. There does not seem to be any news at the moment. There are electric trains in place of the old donkey carts though. So sweetheart I will let you know what sort of a joint this is and more about it when I have had a chance to look round, so cheerio for the present, precious, and don't forget I love you, Reg.
  20. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 4805498 L/Cpl WR Ward D Coy 6th Seaforth Highlanders Kenley, Surrey 25.1.42 You darling, Now you see where we are and I suppose I had better give you my description of the place as usual. The villages, or rather series of villages, in this valley are fairly new and the best means of conveying to you the type is to say that Derby Road is typical of the roads and streets here. Some have been evacuated (those are the ones we live in) and altogether it's a big difference from Crom Castle and Newtown Butler. The villages lie in a valley; the whole way to Croydon and maybe beyond is built up and nowhere is the place more than half a mile wide. Just over the hill is Kenley aerodrome and the planes are over all day and every day, circling round, diving and looping all the time and we hear the guns being tried out on the drome continually. Rumour says that there are thousands of WAAFs near here but I have only seen one up to now and she was an ancient hag. All around here swarms with troops. There's one lot of Guardsmen about and I have asked Dad if Reg Bacon is still this way. If so, he is only a mile or two away. Yesterday I went to Purley, it's two miles away and quite a decent place. There are two huge cinemas and it's quite a good shopping centre. We went to the flicks, saw "Meet John Doe" which was very average and generally had a scout around. We got tea in a canteen named "The Kit Bag Club" and generally had a good afternoon out. Very different from the last afternoon I had out. I think I told you what I thought of that. I am very sorry to hear of Stan Milner's death, it must have been a devil of a shock for his mother and I expect that she is taking it very hard. That boy should never have been on a roof. Dad said many a time that he would not let him go on. Well sweetheart, leave is getting very near now, say three weeks and I shall be home and I am looking forward to it. I tried to ring up the other day but either the phone was dead or I failed to do something for I could get no answer. It was unlucky for it's not often I can get out before 6 at night. Perhaps you will be hearing from me one dinner time soon so don't ignore the phone if it goes when you are not actually supposed to be working. The snow has all gone here and today is quite mild, rather different from the day we got here. I am a bit surprised that we have had no air raids here. According to the local folk, there have been none lately and there are remarkably few signs of there ever having been any. A house here and there appears to be a bit knocked about but when folk tell of a thousand bombs in a night (and they are not stretching it) I begin to wonder where they can have fallen. The children are few and far between here, I suppose that's the result of evacuation. It seems queer not to see them about though. Dearest, that's all, so roll on leave and then there will be no need to write, I love you. Reg.
  21. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Whyteleafe Surrey 30.1.42 My darling, I'm sorry that I have been unable to phone you. I have made another attempt but the operator informed me that it would take at least an hour to get through so I had to ring off. Tomorrow I am going to Wallington with one of my mates; he comes from Dronfield and is going to meet his brother so hope to have a decent day there. Leave, prepare yourself for a shock dearest, I shall be home very soon certainly but it's been cut down to seven days now. It's rotten after building up ideas for fourteen days but it can't be helped. Unfortunately the seven days off includes travelling time too. As it is Friday night, almost everyone is out. The three of us who are left in have just had our supper. Yes, sweetheart we are all quite proficient cooks and all we cook we scrounge. Just to show how efficient we are at scrounging these days, last night we had chips, onions and toast, the only thing we bought being the bread; tonight herrings in tomato sauce on toast and cocoa, all made on a fire of coke which in its turn was acquired. The cookhouse should put a guard on at night, especially as darkness falls. All the snow has gone now and the roads are clear again; but tonight we had a curious storm, rain, snow, thunder and lightning, quite a freak especially for this time of the year. Well dearest my letters have accumulated into quite a frightening pile so I had better get on, so for a few more days (we won't say weeks although it may be) cheerio and don't forget that soon I shall be able to say, I love you darling, Reg.
  22. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 8.2.42 Darling, Sorry to have left you in doubt as to when I get my leave. For once I will be definite - I hope to be coming home either a week today or a week tomorrow. It's unfortunate that the fourteen days have stopped, you know it started about three weeks after my last leave and of course has to revert just before this one. We have had snow and frost here again, there's not much snow but the roads are in an awful state just now. On Thursday I went to a cinema in Purley and saw "International Squadron". It was quite good, although it was full of propaganda. Dad has sent me Reg Bacon's address and I am writing to him to try and arrange to see him soon. He's only four or five miles away from here and there were Grenadiers in our billets in the autumn. Well, sweetheart, I shall not be very far out in my mid February estimate and believe me darling I am looking forward to it. Now for a week cheerio and soon I will say, My Joanna, I love you, Reg. Leave 18 -25 Feb
  23. --------------------------------------------------------------------- All as usual Thursday 26.2.42 My darling, I was most surprised and pleased to get your letter. I thought it was just possible but really looked for the mail coming without hope. First of all dearest, I expect you will want to know how the move stands. Well sweetheart, it just does not - there is no change from a week ago and no signs of any preparation yet. Secondly, leave; it's not started yet but everyone is expecting it to soon. The end of the month is the most likely time. I had quite a decent journey back here. The train was in at Derby when I got there, at Nottingham I only had a few minutes wait and Leicester should have been the same but the train was half an hour late so did not get to St Pancras until ten. There I had some supper and so on to London Bridge where there was a wait of an hour. Still I got in at midnight so could not grumble really. I've felt very fed up today, a bit more than usual perhaps for dearest you made my leave almost too good for me. Did I tell you that Aunt J has taken a great liking to you? She has and I hope we shall be able to go together again sometime. Well darling I don't think there's much more to say except Goodnight sweetheart and don't forget, I love you. Reg.
  24. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 8.3.42 Sweetheart, Sunday again dearest so we will get back into the use of the pen again. Darling, it seems months since I was with you, but what a lovely week it was. The other leave I said we were going to get is off but we are expecting a 72 hour pass very soon so that will be some compensation but not nearly enough; in fact a lifetime would not contain time enough to be with you in. I have settled in to the old humdrum existence again. It was a devil of a job at first but I suppose you can get used to anything in time. I have been to Purley tonight or rather this afternoon and seen "Tin Pan Alley", not at all a bad show, featuring all the old songs. The other night I saw George Formby at Caterham but I forgot the title of the film when I came out and have never been able to remember it since. Tonight I sent word by a Guardsman to Reg Bacon in order to see him sometime this week. I can't write to him because I've lost his number and address. I hope that he will get it tomorrow. If so I shall be seeing him this week sometime. I knew that you enjoyed your visit to Eyam but I had no idea you would go into raptures over it. However, I know just how you felt, I had it too and your definition of "a bubbly feeling inside" just about describes it. My scrounge in the office lasted me until Friday with a little judicious planning but I doubt that it's definitely over now so I am doing the same old foolish parades again for a little while. Carson Warships week certainly came out very well - about three times our estimate if I remember rightly. Do you remember the dance? I still have not made up my mind whether it was worthwhile or not. Still I enjoyed the only dance I have had in the last two years. Well sweetheart, I've two more to write before going to sleep (I'm writing this in bed) so Goodnight beloved, don't forget, I love you and will love you for ever, Reg.
  25. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 12.3.42 Joanna my dearest, I don't much like writing this letter for I don't think that no more leave will sound very well in your ears. As far as I can see we shall not be here very much longer, we have got a full issue of kit - you should see me in my topee and shorts darling and you would have a good laugh; I look terrible. Don't think from the above that we are going tomorrow or the day after but it will not be very long. And now, I must say goodnight, remember the song, it's bound to have a happy ending. Don't tell Dad, I will write him tomorrow, Goodnight sweetheart mine, Reg.
  26. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 4805498 L/Cpl WR Ward D Coy 6th Seaforth APO 1850 15.3.42 Joanna mine, Well sweetheart I guess we shall be on the move very soon and you will have to use the above address from now on. I have no idea where we are going to of course but I will try and write you again from the boat wherever that is. Rumours of last minute leave are still circulating but I'm almost certain there can be nothing in them, so it looks like being some considerable time before I am able to see you and hold you again. I have seen nothing of Reg Bacon and shall not do so now. It's queer him getting married now. Still he has got a very nice girl in Phil Parker. I knew her quite well and she is a very nice person. So Bill Wright has gone at last has he? Well he has had a good run for his money. Tom Turner will be saying he is going to pack up I expect. Still, he said that ten years ago to me and Miss Pattin told me he had been saying it fifteen years then so he will still be there when Bill and Chandler get back again. I'm sorry for Bert Matkin but I would rather he was there than I. Your conscription is getting too near to be comfortable. I hope you are not bothering about what I have said. Forget it darling, it takes more than that to get between us. If it does come to it, have as good a time as you can sweetheart, it's not all bad you know. Yes, I know Jackson of Longway Bank, nice chap he is, very up to date and no doubt will try hard with Shiningford but it's a devil of an undertaking in its present state. I'm glad Stan Rowland has got a place for himself and hope he has decent luck with it. The weather here is almost perfect, it's spring right enough; the air is warm again, the sun shines all day, the birds are a treat and the buds are green on the trees. I expect I shall soon be thinking "Oh to be in England now that April's here" etc. Still it's no use bothering about that is it? I went to Purley the other night and saw "Santa Fe Trail". It was quite a good film with bags of action. See it if you can. Well dearest that's about all so Goodnight darling, Keep smiling and don't worry about me. All my love, Reg.
  27. --------------------------------------------------------------------- APO 1810 Dearest, Thanks very much for your letter. I thought I had better reply today in case it's the last chance I get. We have moved now, of course I can't tell you where we are or anything like that but the grub's good and plentiful and tobacco is about a quarter of the usual price - so! Don't think I have broken or lost the pen - it's just dry and there is no way of getting it filled at the moment, so as it's a pencil about an inch long I'm using, you must excuse the awful scribble. Darling, I'm sorry I can't write a decent letter to you, there's so much I could say but it would be cut out, so all I can say is dearest, I will always love you, have a good time and keep smiling, see you in a year or two. All my love, Reg. PS. Please look Dad up as soon as you can.
  28. --------------------------------------------------------------------- March 29th 1942 Dearest, I will try and keep my promise to write as soon as possible but what there is to write about and to arrive to you unmutilated I hardly know. The weather is now like June, long warm days and cool nights. It's never cold and never rains now. You and I are going to have a holiday on a cruise sometime in the distant future but not on a troop ship. The grub here is very good indeed and there is no shortage of it and we can buy tinned fruit and other food stuffs if we want to. Tobacco and fags are cheap, tobacco is about a third of the usual price and cigarettes are 6d for 20 so you see living is cheap now. Sleeping in a hammock may have its good points but it does not come up to the standard of a bed. Still, I can't grumble, I've slept well enough and have not fallen out yet. I never realised before how much I thought of the hills and woods around home. The flat monotonous blue grey of the sea every hour of the day is boring. The gulls forsook us when we got out of sight of land and since then I have seen nothing. Some people claim to have seen porpoises and flying fish but I'm surprised no one has seen a sea serpent or a Loch Ness monster yet. Well, darling I guess that's all. Censorship will be very strict so there's nothing much more I can say. In fact everyone who is trying to write seems to be looking at one another and saying "What is there to say", so cheerio, keep smiling this can't last for ever. All my love,
  29. --------------------------------------------------------------------- APO 1810 6.4.42 Joanna darling, Well sweetheart I don't think I have ever been guilty of commenting on the weather this early in a letter before but this time is exception enough for anything. It's hot, hotter than hell I think. We are wearing only a vest and shorts and still we sweat all day and night, the sun burns down all day and everything you touch is hot. A very large lump of snow would be much appreciated if you send one. We have seen land, a land of hills and trees, all green and brown and having the appearance which the Pitty Wood has when the bracken dies off. The natives in coloured clothes of all sorts row their long canoes out with spade-like oars and give a very good exhibition of handling a boat. They try to sell oranges, bananas and pineapples but as no one knows what can be carried in them they do a very poor trade. In any case the fruit they bring out is not ripe. Bird life is scarce, the only bird is a hawk like gull who picks his food up with his feet and eats it in mid air. He is a fine glider, much better than our hawks and rarely flaps his wings. I have seen no end of flying fish; they seem queer little creatures but can fly fast and for anything up to 100 yards. Either sharks or porpoises have been following us for a few days. I don't know which they are but sometimes we see a large fin or two protruding about a foot out of the water, float by; whatever they are, I don't want a closer acquaintance. Well darling I guess I've no more news, I don't want the letter too badly cut about when you get it, so it's cheerio. I only wish I could be with you now. I'm beginning to realise what the poet felt when he wrote "Oh to be in England now that April's here". I can almost hear that chaffinch. Cheerio dearest, keep smiling, All my love, Reg.
  30. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 17.4.42 Darling, Goodness knows what I'm going to fill the paper up with this time, nothing has happened so I am afraid this effort will be even worse than the last. Everything seems to centre around the weather so that will have to be the chief topic. It's still hot of course but it's cool in comparison with a week ago. The sweat rolled out of me (you may wonder where from but it's true) when lying still but now it's possible to walk around in comfort. The sea is still calm and remarkably blue, it's not at all like the waters around England. The nights are starlight and in the night phosphorous fish or seaweed show little lights all over the place as they float by. It's a queer effect really and looks as if dozens of lights were floating by. We have been sleeping on deck lately, it's far cooler than down here but they insist on waking us about half past five so you see that it has its disadvantages too. I've seen no birds for sometime now but the other day a school of black fish about a yard long went leaping by. It's difficult to describe them or the way they went along, for they appeared to more or less bounce along like a flat stone thrown on water. They were visible for some time but were soon left behind. I expect we shall be getting ashore soon, it will be fine to stretch our legs on land again. It's over a month since we came aboard and I guess I've been over every board hundreds of times. Still, it's a biggish boat and really we can get plenty of room to walk around. Well sweetheart I guess that's about all so it's cheerio again for a week or two. Keep smiling, this can't go on for ever. I will soon be back in Carson. All my love, Reg.
  31. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Date cut out by Censor, rec'd 20.7.42 Joanna dearest, I am only allowed to send one sheet so please see Dad and let him know that I'm OK. You might drop Aunt J a line too sometime please. I have not received any mail since leaving England so I expect there will be quite a batch following on by this time and I shall be very glad to get it. We have had some shore leave since my last letter and thoroughly enjoyed it; it's 1a city of white skyscrapers and bungalows, everything clean with broader streets than any English city with avenues of palms and other trees down the centre, numerous cinemas and the most friendly and decent people anyone could wish to meet. Rickshaw boys are everywhere and although these chaps can run for miles pulling two or even three of you, it's not as comfortable as a decent bus. All around the city lie the hills and when you get out into this district it's mainly wasteland or plantations of bananas. Fruit is plentiful, oranges, bananas, apples and pineapples are all cheap and did I feed up on them. Pineapples were 3d each, so you can guess. This may be the last letter for a week or two and by the time you receive it you may be able to make a very good guess where I am now, or at least, where I shall be very soon. Well, darling, the bottom of the page is getting very near so cheerio, keep your chin up and please see Dad as soon as you can. All my love, Reg. PS It's getting hotter again.
  32. --------------------------------------------------------------------- May 16/42 Joanna darling, At last I've got a bit of time to write a letter so here goes. As I daresay you will have guessed by now I was in the Madagascar scrap and am glad to say I'm OK and everything is quiet now. We had a fairly hectic time for a day or two but we are now getting settled down into some sort of shape. How long we shall be here I don't know, but it will be some time, I think. I am at present enjoying 48 hours rest on the boat. Most of it's gone now but I can't grumble, I've had about 36 hours solid eating and sleeping and am feeling as fit as a fiddle again. Madagascar is an awful country, it's all bare brown hills and dust with a strong wind blowing all the time in the hills. There is practically no animal life, few birds but an abundance of insects; ants are everywhere. There are huge spiders, scorpions, snakes and every other creature which slides, hops or crawls, not forgetting thousands of grasshoppers, anything up to three inches long, which rise in clouds out of the burnt out grass. The natives' conditions are very bad, in the country they live in rush or straw huts but in the town Diego Suarez they live in huts made of old tins, bits of boxes or anything and apparently there is no sanitation system for the smell of the place is terrible. It seems to me as if these people would be better off under the British than the French. Money is a bit of a bother. We use French cash on shore but on the boat it's English money. The French cash I don't like, it's too deceiving. You have a handful of notes and altogether you have not got ten bob or anything like it. The news is just coming through, it's queer to hear "London Calling" especially when he begins to speak of this place. Last night I lay in bed listening to it and kept saying to myself "Yes, we know". I saw the corvette strike the mine and was in the reinforcements which went up across the island. By the time you receive this I expect it will have lost all meaning so I will drop it. Do you know if Dad received the two cables I sent, the first time we were only allowed to send one and the second time I only had enough cash for one. I hope you don't mind my not sending one to you. I knew Dad would hand it on to you. Up to the present we have received no mail since leaving England but hope to get some during the next few days. It's about ten weeks since I heard from you dearest and I am looking forward to getting one. I have read the one I have through time after time and almost know it off by heart now. We have practically twelve hours daylight and twelve hours darkness here, with little or no twilight, the days are very hot and the nights get quite chilly towards morning. The sea is quite near to us and we get a dip in it as often as possible. It's very clear water but the rocks on the bottom are studded with very sharp shells which have to be treated with a good deal of respect. The natives here are very picturesque; the women wear silk flowing robes very much like an ornate tablecloth and are always spotlessly clean. Just after the fighting they all carried a bit of white cloth on a stick above their heads and all the men take off their hats when they pass any troops. They seem quite reconciled to the change and all they want is to live their own way and not bother anyone. Transport here is very primitive. In the hills the only possible thing is the mule. He can climb anywhere and is very surefooted even in the worst places. The native cart which is used on the flat spaces is drawn by either one or two oxen. These beasts differ from our cattle; they have a large hump on the shoulder and very wide spreading horns. Cars and buses are absent altogether and there are very few rickshaws to be seen. Well, I guess that's about enough about this place. What about home? I expect you will be fairly busy with HG's Agricultural Returns now and that Dad will have plenty on with his greenhouse plants. Well, sweetheart, I guess that's about all now so it's cheerio, keep smiling and don't forget that someday there will be an indefinite repetition of that last glorious week we spent together. All my love, Reg.
  33. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 25 May 1942 Rec'd 3/8/42 Joanna darling, I expect you will require the usual account of the place I find myself in but it's stiffish job this time and will require a good deal of paper. I hardly know where to start so I think that I had better set it out under several headings or we shall never get anywhere. Firstly I will try and give you some idea of the country itself. It's a wild rugged coast surrounded by hills and huge rocks; everything looks brown and burnt up but the trees and mangroves do brighten it up a bit. They are very green and all seem to be of the evergreen type or creepers. The sea is very blue and really I suppose it's very beautiful but I'm afraid I don't see it that way. The roads are little more than tracks and apart from the coastal road the only possible means of transport is the mule. Water is scarce but we get a regular supply by the old mule. He can go up any hillside with a load and never make a false step. Birds are very scarce really and apart from a sort of skylark very different from any sort I have seen before. The smallest I have seen is the tiny humming bird and he is about the most beautiful of the lot. He's not much bigger than a butterfly and spends most of his time on cactus flowers where he seems to feed like a bee. Between this little creature and the big reddish brown hawk there are several different types, one is bright orange. There are budgies and birds like jays. They all seem remarkably tame but none of them seem to be able to sing, they squawk and hoot. There appear to be no animals apart from the domestic ones such as dogs, mules and cattle. The main inhabitants here seem to be reptiles and insects; ants swarm everywhere and the flies are a nuisance. Still, they, like most of the creatures are harmless so we must not grumble about them. The dangerous creatures, snakes and scorpions are not very plentiful and do not bother us much. They do make you suspicious of each fresh creature you see though. Bright green lizards are plentiful and are quite tame and of course, harmless. They average six inches long and seem to prefer being upside down to any other position. I can't quite weigh them up yet; they don't seem to feel any pain for I saw a stone thrown at one, cut half his tail off and he only moved a few inches and seemed quite unconcerned about it. The chameleon is common here. I've caught several and tried to make them change colour; they do certainly change their shade and are always perfectly blended with their background but they do it slowly and it's difficult to see them change. I should like to put one on a pillar box; that would test him I know . They are anything from a foot to two feet long and very slow in their movements. The butterflies are very beautiful and cover every colour possible, some are white, some yellow and there are blue ones, orange ones and some which combine nearly all colours. Locusts and grasshoppers are another harmless pest. They are up to three inches long and find steering in a strong wind difficult. The result is when you walk through the dry grass they fly out and invariably hit you in the face. Well, darling, I've tried to give you a picture of it all but I know that I have failed. All I can liken it to is a painting done in red by a little kid who imagines steep hills one behind the other and who puts a big orange ball in the sky for the sun. Up to the present I've had no mail but there are rumours of its arrival here so am looking forward to getting a line from you soon. It's only about nine weeks since we left England actually but it seems more like a year. However, the letters should begin to roll in soon and I expect that two or three will arrive together. Well sweetheart I guess that's about all until I get your news so it's cheerio and keep smiling and have a good time. All my love, Reg.
  35. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 4.6.42 Joanna dearest, Many thanks for your four letters dated March 23rd, 30th, April 3rd & 13th which I received the other night. This is the first mail we have received so it was doubly welcome. There was almost a full moon and I was able to read them by its light; there were a few clouds scudding about and every time one covered the moon everyone began to curse it. The photograph is a very good one indeed; the only fault I can find was that in its frame it was rather too big so I cut it down and fitted it into the back of my fag case which has the advantage of keeping it clean and free from creases and framing it. Everything is just the same here, we are still on our hilltop, we have tents though now so shall be able to keep dry during the infrequent storms which we get some nights. The grub is not too bad although I admit I'm fed up with hard biscuits and bully now and could do with a meal of fresh stuff for a change. The only fruits which grow around here are a few cultivated coconuts and a peculiar fruit shaped and coloured like an orange with a hard shell, it's full of seeds and tastes something like a prune. We buy coconuts at the native village about a mile away; the cost is about five francs a dozen or a halfpenny each. It's well worth five francs to see the native go up into the tree to get them. He climbs up with his feet on the tree, toes pointing upwards and goes up like a monkey. My letter from port just before sailing took long enough to get to you. I should imagine that this one will get to you in almost equal time. I understand the mail is leaving here fairly frequently now, I only hope it arrives as regularly. I will try and describe the native village to you. Imagine a plantation of coconut palms about two hundred yards square on a gentle slope, dot it here and there with tiny thatched houses about 10 foot by six and five feet high, fill each house with folk of all sizes and there's the village itself. Across the road, in a clearing between the mangroves on the beach there are three boats. These are dug outs with a long pole crosswise and two small boat shaped logs, one on either side which they use for fishing in the bay. Well sweetheart that's about enough about this dump so lets read your letters again and see what's happened in Carson. I see that Brown's left now. In one of the Derbyshire Times you sent me I saw that a Brown of Black Rocks was reported dead or missing. Would that be his brother? I was very surprised to hear of the deaths of GJ Else and of Brownson for both always seemed to be healthy chaps. Neither was young of course but both looked good for a long time when I saw them on my last leave. I expect George and Alan will benefit under GJ's will and of course old Brownson never owned anything but a few debts. I expect that Dad is up to his eyes in work at the present time in the gardens. I only had one letter from him and that was posted before we left England. I suppose that there will be some on the way now and that he did not write until he heard from me. If Edna did send the Airgraph you mention it must have got lost for it's not arrived here. It seems a pitifully small letter considering the wealth of material on this disease ridden, God forsaken island but I guess that's about all. So cheerio darling. Keep smiling and hope for better days. All my love, Reg.
  36. --------------------------------------------------------------------- APO 1850 18.6.42 Joanna darling, I received your airmail card informing me that the letters I had already received were on the way. Thanks for it darling even if it was a bit late. You will notice that the postal number has now reverted to 1850. We are of course on the move again, thank goodness for it. I hope I never see this place again. Where we are going to now I don't know, could not tell you if I knew of course. At any rate I know that we are heading in the wrong direction. The size of those pages appals me dearest, I ought to have bought a pad with small sheets; it does at least look more and the sea looks exactly the same as it did five thousand miles away so there's no scenery to describe. I'm afraid the result will be short as usual. We have a tame lemur on this boat, he is a queer little creature, very friendly but very inquisitive. This morning I awoke to find him on my pillow. It was a bit of a shock I admit but he had the sense to save himself a knock by immediately licking my neck. He's the sort of creature you would go mad over as a pet so I will try and describe him. Something like a cat, something like a monkey, about the size of a squirrel with the same gentle, cheeky look and a long tail, in fact a tail out of all proportion to his body; it must be a couple of feet in length. He jumps all over the place, turns everything over and then comes and curls up on your shoulder. The news is just coming through, three o'clock in England, six o'clock here; the days are getting longer now but of course are not like our long summer evenings at home. I have not heard anything from Dad since the one letter I told you of. There must be quite a shoal of mail following us by this time. We may get some when we get to our destination, it's a faint hope I admit but one worth sticking to. The papers you sent (up to about the middle of April) have done very good service. I read them through and then handed them on. I think almost everyone in the platoon read them no matter where they come from. I see Wirksworth Council are getting on a bit better and don't get at loggerheads quite so often. It's a pity for their reports were always the most amusing part of the paper. There were quite a lot of interesting bits in it and I notice your name mentioned once or twice, not in the police court proceedings though so I assume you are still behaving yourself. Sweetheart, it's a devil of a long way to be from home and you. Still it can't last for ever and I am hoping it won't be such a long time until I am able to be with you again and to say Goodnight darling, keep smiling. All my love, Reg.
  37. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 4805498 L/Cpl WR Ward D Coy 6th Seaforth Army Base Post Office India 5.7.42 Joanna darling, Look at the address now and you will see that the wanderlust has got us again and dumped us in a rather wild and wet place of primitive people. India teems with interesting people and things, the cities especially are full of colour and the trades remind me of the old series of prints "Cries of London". Beggars swarm everywhere and the main cry one hears is the whining of some filthy ragged beggar or of a women with a tiny kid who holds out his hand and pipes "backshee sahib". It's surprising the number of people who try to sell fountain pens; there must be more pens to the population here than anywhere else and very few of them have any inside. All these hawkers and shop keepers ask about three times the price they hope to get and as a result is a haggle and many turnings away. Taxis and gharries are hired on the same principle. We had several day's journey in the finest railway service I have ever seen, mainly over great plains reaching hundreds of miles and cultivated in small irrigation squares. The main crop is rice which requires ploughing when the ground is flooded and so we saw thousands of natives working with their bullock drawn primitive ploughs. The conditions under which these poorer people live is terrible, we would never dream of putting a pig in some of the houses. A camp seems to act as a magnet to all kinds of folk and one of their peculiarities is that they will only do one job, for instance a man who digs trenches and ditches will not carry bricks; the result is that you have many people about. We have the char wallah (tea seller) dobhi wallah (washerman), barbers, bed salesmen and pot merchants as well as dozens of coolies. I have still received no mail and don't suppose that we shall get any yet. same letter continued 18.7.42 Darling, Yes, I know you have compared the dates but don't row at me just the same. I expect you will have received my Airgraphs by this time and know that I am in Calcutta and it's a lot better place than the last and full of interest. Its main streets are wide and spacious but the back streets or hovel bound alleys are very poor. There are some quite decent cinemas and quite a decent percentage of whites live here. Thanks very much for your airmail letter dated May 7th which I received yesterday. It's grand to hear from you again and to know that you are alright and that everyone at home is OK. I got a letter from Dad and one from Aunt J at the same time. You can have no idea how primitive the life of the country native is; he tills his field from sunrise to sunset and lives in a mud hut and generally speaking is little more than a beast of burden. Of course the city coolie is terribly poor too and may sleep with the oxen on the pavements and have to be watched out for if you are walking. The new market here is a modern place and contains everything. if you show the slightest interest in anything you are whisked inside and half the shop is down before you know where you are. The birds here are in many cases very beautiful, they are often richly coloured and there's one which sings like a thrush. The one which dominates is the vulture and he is a loathsome creature. There are a few good canteens here and the place at which we are staying has practically no restrictions although it is run by the army. There are football matches every day, yesterday I meant to go to the races but fell asleep so missed them, perhaps a good job. I have a crocodile hand made belt for you which I bought in Madagascar. I am sending it on by surface route, goodness knows when you will get it though. Fruits which you cannot get are plentiful here; bananas about 3d a dozen, pineapples 6d each. Coming here my breakfast consisted of a dozen bananas and a pineapple and I am getting rather tired of it. One peculiarity of all the houses, even in the city, is that they have no chimneys, the smoke finds its way out as best it can. Of course fires are only needed for cooking so it's not as bad as it sounds. Well darling I guess that's about all for the present, so cheerio, keep your chin up, it will soon be over. All my love, Reg. PS One thing I forgot to tell you of are the drums; in the native villages they throb until after midnight. Did you ever see the film "The Drum"? Don't forget I love you. Reg.
  38. --------------------------------------------------------------------- c/o Army Base Post Office India Airgraph 9.7.42 Darling, Many Happy Returns of your birthday, I only wish I could be with you for it. I am keeping very well. These monsoons leave a great deal to be desired and of course it is very hot at times. I have had no mail since the first lot, that is up to the middle of April, but hope to receive some soon. Let Dad know you receive this as I can only get the one form at present. Letters follow. Keep smiling and the best of luck. All my love, Reg.
  39. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 20.7.42 Airgraph Darling, I expect you will get this before my letter so you will be surprised to hear that I am on leave in Calcutta. The camp is very good and the city is quite decent, good cinemas and canteens. Thanks very much for your air mail letter which I received on Wednesday. Glad to hear everyone is OK. In case this reaches you in time, again "Many Happy Returns". I wish I could be with you as in the last leave. All my love, Reg.
  40. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 29.7.42 Airgraph c/o Army Post Office India Darling, Back off leave again. Settling down after leave here does not take so much doing as it did after a week at home. I have received your airmail postcard dated 24th June. That's quick but perhaps you made a mistake, the ones I received at the same time are dated May 17th & 19th. Very glad to hear of your deferment, hope you repeat it. This may be the only letter you will get for some time but don't let that bother you. Cheerio dearest. All my love, Reg.
  41. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 6th Aug 1942 Dear Sirs, Thank you for your letter of 4th Aug. I suggest you send your District Man Power Board a copy of the report in the Journal for March 1942, pages 92-3 on the arrangements made by the Ministry of Labour with the professional organisations concerned, about firms and their staffs who are substantial engaged in Estate management and/or the work of Land Surveyors or Valuation Surveyors. If they will not alter their decision, please let us know, giving us:- a)the number, date and office of registration of Mr Vivian Joan Stevenson whose services you wish to retain and the dates of his application for deferment. (Is his second Christian name Joan?) b)The names and ages of those working in your office before the war, including principals. Some idea of the volume of work you have to handle, besides Estates management of some 7000 acres. We could then ask the Ministry to review the case. I return the letters from the Man Power Board. Yours faithfully, HN Hurst. Asst Secy.
  42. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Mill Ash Duffield Road Derby. Employee: Stevenson Vivian Joan Occupation:Surveyor's Assistant. RCBJ.8.3 With reference to your application on form NS 300 for the calling up of the above named employee, I have to inform you that after careful consideration the O.M.B. has decided that deferment cannot be granted. The employee will be regarded as available for calling up for service when required, but, in normal circumstances, at least 6 days notice of calling up will be given. Yours faithfully,
  43. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 14.8.42 4805498 L/Cpl WR Ward Airgraph D Coy 6th Seaforths H1167 Darling, Many thanks for your postcard of June 10th. I replied but sent it by surface route so you may not receive it for sometime yet. If Dad received the photo you ought to have had one too, I sent them together. You will have seen by the papers that everything is rather unsettled here, but fortunately we are in a quiet place. I believe most of the locals are Moslems. The lightning is flashing just as it does at home in August and I expect the drums will soon be talking, so cheerio sweetheart, All my love, Reg.
  44. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 30.8.42 Airgraph APO 1167 Darling, We have had no mail for some time now but as things are fairly quiet here it will not be long now I hope. It's very hot here, I expect the monsoon season is nearing its end and the hot weather will soon be here. I saw some natives dancing the other night, they dance round yelling to the tune of the drums. It's amusing to watch but it gets monotonous very quickly. Well the bottom of the page so cheerio sweetheart. All my love, Reg.
  45. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Durban South Africa ?? ?? ?? ??
  46. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 4805498 Cpl Ward D Coy 6th Seaforth Paiforce Joanna my darling, Thanks very much for your interesting letter of Aug 17th, very glad to hear you had such a good time on your birthday and that my airgraph arrived at the time it did. I'm not so glad to hear of your enlistment but as it can't be helped we must make the best of it. I do hope you will be OK. I suppose that you will have a new address by now and that this letter will have to be forwarded on to you. We have been on the move again since I last wrote, never mind where to. It's high, very hilly and rather cold at night, wonderful scenery but nothing more. Fruit is fairly plentiful in some cases but it's mainly melons, tomatoes and pomegranates. I can quite imagine that GM & S will be in rather a mess when you are called up. HG will no doubt be saying "Thank God the Agricultural returns are finished" but I know how they will be fixed when you leave. Poor old HG will think there is no end to his troubles. With regard to the birthday present, just please yourself darling. If your suggestion pleases you, carry on. I leave it entirely with you. You are quite right, there is not much glamour about the south of the Equator, mainly dirt and poverty from what I have seen. Still, under different conditions it might be different. Well sweetheart, it's a long way from Carson, wish we had got a bit of its greenness and colour here. Cheerio darling, keep smiling and if you do get your photo taken in uniform don't forget me for one. All my love, Reg.
  47. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 25.9.42 Airgraph APO H1474 Darling, Thanks for your mail up to the Airgraph dated 10.8.42, the cable was held up. Still, thanks for it. Please tell Mrs Stanley I got theirs, will write to them. We have been on the move again; it's very hot here, 127°F in the shade one day but it's a dry heat so not too trying. The flies are the worst, they swarm all over you. Have you received that belt yet? The scenery here is soon summed up, sand and nothing but sand. It does go cold at night but in the daytime - phew - sometimes you can see lovely inviting streams and rivers but they are just mirages. We see plenty of camels in the distance. Cheerio darling, Keep smiling. All my love, Reg.
  48. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 4805498 Cpl WR Ward D Coy 6th Seaforths Paiforce 25.10.42 Joanna my darling, I've no doubt that you have been wondering where on earth Paiforce is. I hope you have not been trying to find it on the map as you did with Sans Origine. Paiforce stands for Persia and Iraq forces. Now we are able to tell you this I suppose you will want more information. Well I will tell you what I can without getting bits chopped out. In the desert the main population is Arab; these men are the big hooked-nose men you see pictures of, they are nearly all big men of fine physique; their women all dress in black and they are anything but beautiful; they look more like crows in their flowing garments. The chief animals are camels and goats. There are huge herds of camels and often you see a caravan of them carrying very big loads with the old Arab on top. In the hills are an entirely different and much less picturesque people. They are all farmers and sell their fruits and eggs to us at a fair price if you have the time and patience to argue with them. We buy grapes, sugar melons, plums and apples here and until recently it was water melons, dates and pomegranates. Well, I think that's about enough about the folks here, let's try those at home now. Have you been called up yet? That's the most important question at the moment. I hope not sweetheart, you know my opinion of the ATS and its kindred gatherings well enough. I've had no mail except a very old one from Aunt J since I last wrote to you so reckon no news is good news, leave it at that. The long winter nights will be coming on you now, makes me think of drawing an easy chair up in front of a big fire. Not much chance of that in a tent though and in any case I've not seen it light after seven since we left home. Never mind darling, those days will be back before so very long I hope. Until then, it's cheerio, all the best of luck. All my love, Reg.
  49. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Nov 5/42 Darling, Thanks for the two air mail letters dated July and for your two cards dated 19th & 24th September which I have received in the last three days. Apparently heavy air mail travels surface these days for it always takes a lot longer than airgraphs and postcards. I had already heard from Dad that you were being called up, how do you like it now that you are actually in it? I was very glad to hear that you had been to Eyam, Aunt J was very keen on you going I know and to tell you the truth I thought that you did not mean to go. How did the short holiday go? hope that you made the best of it. You will be looking forward to your first leave now, eh soldier. Although the address is the same as previously and we are still in the same country we have been hitting the trail again, a change for the better. It's a combination of the last two camps, a bit of rolling desert surrounded by hills, the climate is now like an English summer day and a rather late autumn night. Mrs Stanley certainly seems to have done you well on Edie's 21st birthday, the menu certainly makes my mouth water. I thought that all that stuff would have been unobtainable these days. I hope that the threat to the Hall woods has not materialized, it would rather spoil the look of the valley although the Dene did not look so bad as I expected after it had been dropped. Well dearest the war seems to have taken a turn for the better now so maybe it won't be so long now, hope not anyway for this district holds practically no attractions for me. It's all right to look at or go through but it finishes at that. Cheerio, all the best, don't get three tapes and start bossing me about too soon. All my love, Reg.
  50. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 12.11.42 Joanna my dearest, Many thanks for your postcard dated Oct 7th. Aunt J sent me your address. Well, soldier you go to some trouble not to say how you like your new job. Quite honestly now, how do you like it? No evasions now, just the plain facts. Thanks also for your two letters dated 24th & 30th of August and for all the news which they contain. You seem to have done very well on your birthday. I'm sorry I have not been able to get anything for a Xmas box for you but I've not been in a town for some months now; since my last leave at any rate. We are now able to mention the names of a few of the places we have been in recently. The first one which jumps to mind is Baghdad, not a city of flying carpets or snake charmers but a mixture of east and west, the inhabitants all in European clothing. Try and picture the river Euphrates, a broad river sweltering under a burning sun, fringed by date palms and scattered with dhows and barges with flocks of pelicans flying overhead. I saw Babylon but only from a train, very much like any other city of square mud houses and filth apparently but of course did not see the hanging gardens. Outside the cities everything is as old as civilization itself. It's almost like being transplanted backwards a few thousand years to see the folk and houses. Well, dearest, no more room, write soon. Cheerio it's not for long now. All my love, Reg.
  51. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 16.11.42 Dearest, The main object of this letter is to wish you a very happy Christmas and all the appropriate wishes for the New Year, hoping that I shall see you before it's over. I sent a letter yesterday to what I understand is your address; however I see by your Pc of Oct 16th that you still use the Carson address. You seem to be well and truly in amongst it all now but it won't be for long now, I believe. How do you like canteens? here we have only got a very poor PRI. He is supposed to be unable to get any stock. At any rate, he does not. Will you be able to get home for Xmas, your leave will be about due by that time I should think. I hope you will be lucky. Christmas at home will be a rather empty sort of time this year I should think. Nearly all the younger lot will be away then and there won't be much doing. Well, sweetheart, I guess that's about all. Have as good a time as possible wherever you are. Keep your pecker up, all the best. Don't wear the mistletoe out in any YM or Canteen. All my love, Reg. ---------------------------------------------------------------------


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