Updated 14 Sep 2005

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Reg WARDS's wartime letters


8th Army Xmas card 11 Nov 1943

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
to
03 Sep 1941

08 Sep 1941
to
16 Nov 1942

22 Nov 1942
to
29 Jan 1945

Photos

| 001 | 005 | 010 | 015 | 020 | 025 | 030 | 035 | 040 | 045 | 050 | 055 | 059 |
| 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

Grave with original marker

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 22.11.1942 - 29.1.1945

    LAST LETTER

  1. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Darling, 22.11.42 Many thanks for your postcard dated Oct 26th which I received the other day. I'm glad you enjoyed your 48 hour leave. It's a very short time, just long enough to make you wish it were a week or more and too short to see many people or to do too much. Your seven days will be about due when you receive this and that's a far better spell. I can't understand why you don't get much mail from me, I write you every time I write home and frequently in between, must be going astray somewhere. Glad to say that I'm OK, the weather is getting noticeably colder now and the snow appears to get a little further down the mountains each night. None has fallen here yet though. The days are still warm enough for shirt and shorts but I think it won't last for long now. Have you finished your wireless operator course yet? What will happen when you have passed out on it, will you be posted to an A/A battery or something like that? Thanks for the news that Dad is quite well again now. In your last Pc he was getting better but noone ever let me know he was ill. What was the matter with him? I received a couple of D Times mid August issues, thanks for them. Nothing much seems to be happening; I read them through and they must have passed through half a dozen pairs of hands since then. Mail comes through more regularly here than any place we have been in previously. We get two or three lots a week now and some arrive in only three weeks. I believe I told you I had been in Baghdad in my last letter but that was all I had room for. I have also been in Basra on the Persian Gulf, in Kermanshaw and Qum in Iran; nothing worth mentioning about them, the usual domed mud houses and dirt. The women folk here definitely wear the trousers and also a kind of cloak with which they cover their faces. They are practically the same colour as us and some of them are passably good looking. Well dearest, that's about all again. So cheerio, all the best and keep your pecker up. All my love, Reg.
  2. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 29.11.42 Joanna darling, Practically no mail for anyone this week so I've nothing to reply to, there will be a big lot in during the next two or three weeks. How is the new life suiting you? You have not told me yet you know. I expect the lack of privacy is what gets you most. I know it did me at first but that soon wore off. What's the grub like in your branch, it's the first thing every squaddie thinks about. We can't grumble about what we are getting now, its quite good and fairly plentiful, all tinned or dry stuff of course, but we get very good white bread which is more than you can say I expect. I recently spent a day in Qum shopping. It's a very interesting town, one main shopping street and the remainder the usual flat topped or domed roofed mud buildings. I'll try and give you a picture of it:- a wide street of low roofed shops, some of them joiners or metal workers' work places, others fruit shops selling dried figs and so on and the rest devoted to clothing or very cheap Birmingham type of jewelry and such like trash. There are no drains at all and the water just lies or runs along the gutters. Off the main road are the "residential quarters", very narrow streets of low mud buildings, very dirty and poor. The main sight of the town is the mosque and that really is a beauty. Unfortunately, the interior is "out of bounds" but the outside is splendid. In the centre is the great gilded dome of the temple proper. It's golden and glitters in the sun. Around this are four tall towers of glazed tiles, taller than the dome but very slender, each topped by a small roof. The whole place is surrounded by a high wall in which are two gateways. They are faced with glazed tiles and well worth seeing themselves, and of course that's where the beggars hang out. While I was there I saw a Moslem funeral, the procession was headed by the coffin and each of the mourners took a turn in carrying it a few yards whilst the rest kept up a sort of chant. Altogether it was a very interesting visit although as a city at home we would consider it a washout even if the authorities did not demolish it. Well sweetheart that's all for the present so cheerio, keep smiling, All my love, Reg.
  3. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 13.12.42 Joanna darling, You would think that a warm day in a date plantation under a blue sky would be just right conditions to write a letter, perhaps, but unfortunately there is such a lot that can't be written. Last night I was out to a cinema, the first time for months and although the cinema apparatus was awful and the picture rotten I enjoyed it very much. We got a good supper after it so it made a very nice change. I have had no mail from you for some time and as I don't expect to be able to get any for a further six weeks or so. I shall have a biggish batch when it does finally catch up with me. Where are you now, what are you doing and are you getting your leave regularly? Let me know all about it when you write. I expect that by the time you receive this the cold weather will be at its worst, rather different from this now that I'm away from the snow line. Well dearest I guess that's about all for the present so cheerio, keep smiling and don't forget every letter is one nearer to the end of all this wandering. All my love, Reg.
  4. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 11pm Christmas Eve Darling, I am on a course in Palestine and we have got a few days Xmas leave so I am writing this in the bedroom of the hotel we have put up at. It's lovely dearest, I wish you could see this place, the Med is within 100 yards, the climate is perfect. I have just been to a cinema and seen "How Green is My Valley" and had a supper. I've a bottle of wine in front of me and a good bed to go to, the first in almost 12 months. The country is the best I have been in yet, all orange groves loaded with huge oranges of every variety and the rest of the land is nearly all under cultivation. I enclose a bracelet which I thought you might like. I know you have not much use for them but I thought that it would make a nice souvenir. We have not made up our minds whether to stop here or not, we may move on to the Holy City tomorrow, it all depends on transport facilities. Personally I rather hope we go on. The people here seem very friendly which is quite a change and there's a general atmosphere of Xmas about. Well sweetheart I guess that's about all. I hope you have been lucky enough to go on leave so Goodnight and the happiest of New Years, hoping that it will see us together again. All my love, Reg. PS. Ever seen a camel draw a plough? Have decided to send bracelet under separate cover. R
  5. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Paiforce 1.1.43 Darling, A new year, let's hope it's a lucky one. In my last letter I told you that I am at present in Palestine so this time I will try and tell you how the place appears to me. The whole countryside is dotted with orange groves, fig orchards and vineyards. The oranges etc. are now loaded with lovely fruit, it's a pity they can't be transported to Blighty. The rest of the land is cultivated. Of course there are no crops growing at the moment and the Arab farmers are busy ploughing. They use donkeys and oxen to pull them but the animal mostly used is a great lumbering camel. It looks funny to see such a huge cumbersome creature pulling a plough and of course he makes the farmer look small. All along the coast runs a wide belt of sand dunes, it's fine sand and not the usual mixture of stone and sand but it's heavy stuff to walk in. The cities are very modern in the Jewish quarters and not so good in the Arab districts, cafes are very popular here and everyone, especially the Arabs, gather to talk and smoke there. New Year's Eve here was not the hectic thing we have in the battalion and perhaps it's just as well. I have seen the Sea of Galilee and quite a lot of the river Jordan. The Jordan valley is quite picturesque, there are not many people living there though, just the old nomad Arab with his black tents and goats and sheep. Some people live in the caves in that district. In summer nearly all the flowers we cultivate grow wild here and I am told that the hills are covered with daffodils and narcissi in spring. No wonder it was called a land flowing with milk and honey after living in the deserts. Well sweetheart no mail has been forwarded to me here so I've no idea of anything which you may want to know. I don't suppose I shall get it until late February anyhow. That's all darling, so goodbye, keep smiling, All my love, Reg.
  6. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Paiforce 25.1.43 Darling, I have sent a letter, pendant, bracelet and photo off today. Unfortunately it had to go by sea route so goodness knows if it will ever reach you. Thanks for the whole pile of mail which was awaiting my return. I had thirty letters and postcards altogether and yours formed at least half of the total. The ATS does not sound so bad as I expected. I was afraid that you would have hated it. I told you in my letter that we had a fine time on the course. I don't mind telling you that I'm anything but glad to be back. Damascus was quite an interesting city. Cold, of course but we could put up with that under those circumstances. No doubt you would see in the papers that a good deal of mail went down. I think it was the October lot, still I think all my stuff comes by air so I did not lose much. From your letters I gather that you have turned into a bit of a wanderer yourself. Seeing the country at the Government's expense is quite a good idea or would be if you were able to choose your own destination. I shall be very pleased to receive the photo you promise me. I've often wondered how you look in those togs. Cheerio sweetheart, it will not be so very long now I hope, so long darling. All my love, Reg.
  7. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Paiforce 14.2.43 Joanna darling, Sorry I have not written before but I've not had much chance. Thanks very much for your Air letters of Dec 30th & Jan 3rd, also for your letter card Sept 7th & Nov 2nd, all of which I received together. I was very good of you to send the PO. Thanks very much for it. The ATS seems fairly cushy about reveille, you talk of getting up at half past nine on Sundays, wish we had a few days like that here. On the other hand I'm hanged if I can remember having had my breakfast before it got light, that's taking things a bit too far in my opinion. It will be rather a difference for you I know. I have heard from Stanleys what a fine little place Keith and Hilda have got. I see you share their opinion. Young Graham will be quite a hefty little fellow by now I expect. I shall be very glad to receive the photo you have sent. A photo is a poor substitute any time for you but will be none the less welcome. Will you please drop Dad a line. I have not written to him either for almost three weeks and I have only this card at the moment and don't see where the next is coming from for a day or two. Things are getting a bit better here now. At last NAAFI is feeling its feet and some stuff is coming through, about time too but I suppose we mustn't grumble. The war news seems to remain consistently good these days, a big change from a year or two ago and it looks to me as if this year will definitely see the end of it. May it be soon so that we can all get home again. I expect you will be on leave about now. Make it a good one whilst you are at it. I don't suppose that the weather will be ideal by any means but that won't worry you any more than it ever did me. Well sweetheart the light's fading and the bottom of the page is closing in so Goodnight darling, keep smiling, All my love, Reg.
  8. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Miss VJ Stevenson Paiforce 20.2.43 Thornhill House Carsington. Derbys. England. Airgraph Joanna darling, Yes, I have got your official number etc. but I'm hanged if I'm going to use it. I suppose I'm stupid about it but I still prefer the above mode of address. There's nothing much I can say this week and I'm glad not to be able to give you gruesome details of illness and so on. I received an airgraph from Eyam the other day. Aunt J seems to be OK and as usual fairly busy. She says she is looking forward to the time when we shall be going to see her again. Who isn't? Well sweetheart I guess that's about all so once again it's cheerio and keep your pecker up. All my love, Reg.
  9. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Paiforce 27.2.43 Joanna darling, Quite a heavy mail this week, air letters from you dated Jan 8th, 11th, 20th, 23rd & 31st. Receiving a bunch like that makes me ashamed of the scrappiness of my own letters. So the Army have begun to chivvy you about from one place to another have they, apparently if you keep going to places like the I.O.M you will be quite content for them to carry on. How did you like the boat journey? Hope you will have no awful experiences to relate when I do see you again. Well sweetheart as long as you don't get moved from one desert to another desert it's not so bad. My grouse is that one lump of sand looks much the same as the others wherever you are. You seem to strike lucky with canteens. Well listen and I will get the better of you this time; we can get tinned fruit, milk, chocolate, sweets, cigs, cakes and anything else we fancy at approximately prewar prices and we can get as much as we want, how's that? Guess it shakes you. I have not yet received the photo which you sent but am looking forward to getting it. The last one you sent was very good and is in my wallet, but I want another one and even more than that I want to see you and make sure it is you and not just a beautiful dream. Well you will have had your leave by now. How did you enjoy it and how did you enjoy the worst part of it - going back? Your conditions seem to be fine but there's no place like home is there? At least I've only seen one and believe me it's a wonderful country. I told you about it in a previous letter and lately I have thought a lot about it. There's every chance for a fellow there, what do you think? Don't think that by this I have definitely made up my mind to go. I want your opinion for that's going to count a lot after this war. In fact I hope in this matter you will agree for you will have the casting vote. As I said I have not made up my mind but I definitely lean that way. Please don't mention this to anyone, they may not understand as you do and may even worry. You seem to have been very lucky on finding such fine billets in the I.O.M, the place seems perfect from your description, more like civvy billets by the sound of it and from what I have heard there's stacks of amusement in Douglas. Sorry I did not tell you I was going on a course; there was nothing out of the ordinary about the course itself but the journey to and from it were fine. You will know by my other letters that I had a short stay in both Baghdad and Damascus and you will have seen by the photos I sent you that Tel Aviv is a fine place. By the way, those same photos give you a very good idea what a South African city looks like. I can't understand you not getting mail for a month at a time. Even if I was away on a course it should have been my mail and not yours which got held up. In fact you should have got it much quicker from Palestine than from Paiforce. Well sweetheart I guess that's about all so once more dearest, cheerio, keep smiling and don't forget I love you more with every day that passes. All my love, Reg.
  10. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Paiforce 6.3.43 Joanna darling, Many thanks for your letters of Feb 7th & 21st. Glad to hear that you had a good leave and that the weather has been kind to you. Your description of Carson almost makes me see it and the mention of Renshaw's hill reminds me that there will be young rabbits about now. If I was home I suppose that I should be having a walk round this afternoon to see what autumn's prospects are like. You seem to have had rather a bad passage home. Last time we came across that district the old tub did everything but loop the loop. Still it's worth it sweetheart to be home even for so short a time. I rather gather from your last letter that there's another one dated about the 14th on the way so I don't know if you went to Eyam or not. According to yours of the 7th you intended to go. I hope you did sunshine. I know Aunt J was looking forward to seeing you. From her letters it seems as if I'm not the only one in love with you and she always writes and tells me when she has heard from you. Evidently you have not yet received the photo etc I had taken at Xmas. Hardly to be expected as it had to go surface but you will be receiving it sooner or later. Whilst on the subject I've not yet received the one of yourself you sent. The I.O.M. sounds a lovely place for a holiday. John Bembridge and I were once considering going there but nothing ever materialized. From what you say it's warmer than it is here. Incidentally I'm not sunburned at the moment although I don't suppose it will be long before I am. Did you know that in heat such as we had last autumn you don't turn brown but white and you never sweat or if you do it dries on the skin as soon as it forms. I've received a letter from Keith. You will be able to tell me if I'm right for from his letter he appears to be rather a patronizing individual these days, full of his own importance. He refers to Wirksworth as a "stagnant backwater". I have replied giving him to understand that if he wandered about as much as we have done and had to put up with the inconveniences we have that he might long for a "backwater" to "stagnate" in. However, he has done very well for himself and I suppose he thinks he has a right to condescend to lesser mortals; but who is the lesser mortal? Dad told me that the Nipper has an interest at Brasson. Apparently he is rather shy of the subject; he's eighteen isn't he and growing up fast. Well darling, the bottom's near once again so once more cheerio sweetheart it won't be long before I shall be saying to you, Goodnight dearest, All my love, Reg.
  11. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Paiforce Airgraph 13.3.43 Joanna darling, I have now received your letter of Feb 12th. Glad you went to see Aunt J, she was looking forward to seeing you so much. I have had a letter from John Bembridge, he has been fitted up with a glass eye and is now somewhere up in the western desert again. I was out last Sunday to one of the bigger local towns. It was quite an interesting place, perhaps its chief attraction was the trees after the sand. The people were more friendly than most and I think more honest. Of course there's not much competition in this part of the world. Well that's about all sweetheart, Cheerio and good luck. All my love, Reg.
  12. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 4805498 Cpl WR Ward D Coy 6th Seaforth M.E.F 23.3.43 Joanna dearest, All right, there's no need to bother about the changed address. Everything is still peaceful about here. I've had no mail at all this week so don't be surprised if you find the reading rather heavy going. Regulations say you can't say this and you must not say that until it's almost a matter of hello and goodbye. How is the I.O.M. looking now, flowers everywhere by this time I expect. I've seen quite a lot lately. In places out here there are masses of 'em, hyacinths, delphiniums, daisies, bluebells, coltsfoots and even a few orchids and everywhere there are any of any variety you find the big red poppy. They look fine when you are lucky enough to see them! In one of your letters you say that the Shiningford Land does not look so bad. What has happened there? Folk keep hinting at it and I have formed an idea of what it is but noone has ever said what it actually is. What's the matter, is it a military secret or something? Did the Hall Woods ever get felled is another question. One letter said that they were going to be but I've never heard any more of it. One thing here that I think is worthy of mention is the fact that the powers that be have decided that the floor is too hard to lie on now and have decided to issue us with a palliasse of straw. Of course it's very thin but it does make things a bit easier. I think you will agree that their thoughtfulness is almost overwhelming. I believe that it's a year today since Blighty disappeared over the watery horizon. It really does seem to have gone more quickly than the previous two and it's certainly been the most interesting. Well darling the space is about ended and so are my ideas for a letter so cheerio. Someday I'll be able to look down at you again and say "Happy Joanna?" Goodnight dearest, All my love, Reg.
  13. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 27.3.43 Joanna darling, What's all this about CB? Have you been on jankers? Your letter of the 9th rather looks like it although you don't mention it on the 3rd. You seem to be a bit "browned off" with moving around, not homesick are you. Make the most of it sweetheart, it won't last for long. As soon as the war's over you will be demobbed whereas old Churchill's speech of the other day didn't promise us anything much. The photo I sent is of a group (I don't suppose you have received it yet) so maybe it's not what you want and although having one taken is worse than having a tooth out to me I will get one when I can. The only trouble is that native villages are hardly the place to find a photographer although it would be easy to buy a donkey. Do you get hot water bottles, ATS for the use of, or are you pulling my leg again. I fancy the latter. You say you have lost it. Is that what you have got the jankers for? haven't you been in the Army long enough to know how to get another? Spring at home sounds good this year. I suppose the chestnuts are in full flower and the birches pale green again now. There are not many trees in this district but it's not hard to imagine the old chestnut behind the house or the damson blossom in the pub orchard. I think your idea of getting your mother and Bet over to the I.O.M whilst you are there is a very good one, shall you be able to get a living out pass while they are with you? It won't be like going home but it will certainly be the best thing to it. What's your Dad going to do, forage for himself? He's very capable of doing it I bet. It's bitterly cold here just now, the winds have been high for the last few days and when it rains it simply lashes it at you. Not too good in tents but they stand up to it well, not like that one in Palestine which blew over and pinned me to my bed just after Xmas. Apart from the cold and the mud after the rain things aren't too bad. We are getting plenty of grub and the absence of anywhere to go makes us go to bed in decent time, so it's early to bed and early to rise, although the wealthy and wise part of the rhyme were rather a mistake. Well darling that's about all, sorry I can't tell you more but the censor's very keen. So cheerio my darling and don't forget I love you. Reg.
  14. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 4.4.43 Joanna darling, Your letter of the 2nd Dec, the one which you sent by surface route has at last arrived, rather a long time, like the Airmail letters very welcome but hardly worth it when you consider the time these things and airgraphs take. I've had nothing but the letter from you this week so I suppose that there will be something tomorrow. It's rather a prosaic thing to say but today really is glorious. I spent the morning wandering about amongst the hills and it was just like a Sunday morning at home. I can't say the same about this afternoon for you are too far away. BLUE PENCILLED SO COULDN'T DECIPHER IT ALL The hills here are very much like home, rather rocky -----so but the same abundance of lovely flowers, many are the same as at home, egg and bacon, lichens, wild peas, poppies, daisies by the thousand and --------- as well as wild tulips just like the ---- ones we used to grow at home. The animal life is practically nonexistent but there are plenty of skylarks round us singing in the hills. The villages around here are surrounded by trees, mostly fruit and as they are at the moment --------- they look rather like a ---------- in the distance. Needless to say this appearance disappears the moment you get into the centre of the place. I had a very interesting talk with an old native the other day. Don't think that I've learnt a foreign language, this old man had spent some years in Canada and as a result spoke quite good English with a Yankee touch. It was rather amusing to hear him say "Gawd Almighty" and to refer to his own currency in terms of dollars. However, he told us all about his crops and the habits of his people, of how they regard us and he also gave one the best "back to the land" lectures I've ever heard and so we will leave him to his philosophy. Censorship is now 100% here, have any of my letters ever been trimmed down at all? You have never said so but it occurred to me that if they had there would not be much left. I notice that you are now being influenced by the Army. I don't remember the precalled up Joanna calling things "smashing", being "browned off" and so on. Still I don't know but what I prefer it and I'm waiting impatiently for the photo you have sent to see how you look. I've had a letter from Dad, he's OK and I expect busy as usual. I suppose your mother and Betty will be over in the I.O.M with you now, lucky beggars. Well sweetheart I guess that's about all that space will allow so once again, cheerio, keep your chin up and keep smiling. All my love, Reg.
  15. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 10.4.43 Joanna my darling, As expected your letter turned up on Monday. As it was dated the 25th of March that was good going. I'm sorry not to have an Airmail letter card for you this week but you see we only get issued with one a week and as this week's have not turned up yet and I'm unable to scrounge one I will have to send this and it's much slower. So your folk managed to get over to the I.O.M did they. Lucky blighters. I wish I could but it's rather a long way from here and four day's leave would not be much good; leave is on the go here but I hardly expect to go for a long time as I've had a leave since leaving Blighty and very few others have. Apparently you were able to have quite a decent time with them and even worked a bit of leave into the bargain. Nice work sweetheart, grab all you can in that line, it's worth it. I was out on pass a couple of days ago. As usual I can't tell you where which is just a plain damn nuisance but we had quite a decent time wandering round. I wish you could see these places, perhaps they would not come up to your expectations but they are well worthwhile. As usual the most interesting place was the bazaar, a very big one in this case. It must have been well over a quarter of a mile long and everything in them from Birmingham's worst to finest silks etc. The smell of these places differs every few yards; one moment you are by a leather shop and the next moment on to a spice shop and so on, each has its own smell although the local smell is always there as usual. The usual way is to walk through and bargain with one shopkeeper after another for anything you want and eventually buy it at about a third of the price asked and twice its value. They are a hard lot these wogs. Today being a Saturday and more or less a half day is wash day. Yes, I do my own, the Army contractors are as usual awful and the stuff comes back a good deal dirtier than it goes away so we just get the old petrol can of water and scrubbing brush going and make a better job of it than they do. When I was out I saw "Sun Valley Serenade"; it's a good job you mentioned "Katrina" in your letter or I should never have been able to spell Sonja Henji. It was a very good film and the fact that it was a very comfortable cinema helped me to enjoy it. Goodnight sweetheart, All my love, Reg.
  16. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Airgraph MEF 18.4.43 Darling, It's three o'clock in the morning, rather a queer time to be writing, but I'm on guard and everything's quiet so it seems to be an opportune time. I received your letter as expected on Monday. Glad to see that you refuse to let the powers that be worry you although they do make you get up at a reasonable hour, no sympathy for you, lazy bones. I keep managing to get out once a week, was out on Thursday, spent a lot of time pottering about the bazaars and wrangling with the worthy wogs. Once again we got to the great gate of the mosque with intentions of going in but turned back because the paving stones looked too cold and our boots would probably have been pinched from the gate by the beggars who hang around there. Well sweetheart that's the space, can't think what's happened to the letter cards lately, cheerio, all my love and keep smiling. Reg.
  17. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 2.5.43 Joanna dearest, Sunday evening again and summer's definitely here now, hot days and warm long nights, comparatively long of course. There's hardly been any mail again this week, just a few belated ones but none for me except one from Les who I hear is once more on leave. He does not say if it's draft leave or not but he apparently expects to be out before so very long. I suppose you know that Reg Bacon's missing. I believe I told you that I missed seeing him by hours a few months ago. I believe I know where he was , you know how news travels. When last I heard of him it was from a Guardsman I was talking to at least a thousand miles from him; it's hard luck on his wife. The grub here is fine now, I think about the best we have ever had; egg and bacon and decent meat is no longer a thing of the past and the cooks don't seem to mess it about in the usual way. In addition another chap and myself muck in at tinned fruit and biscuits every night and so go to our beds with a sigh of contentment clasping a well filled tummy. In addition to all this I reckon I eat almost a dozen oranges a day, the heat's a good excuse for that though. By the time you get this I expect that you will be thinking of leave yourself, remember you can paint the best picture of Carson for me will you. Let me know what it looks like and especially what the back of the allotments by our house look like. Les tells me that the last chestnut has fallen but being Les he refers to it in terms of firewood only. I'm afraid the fly season's begun again; a couple of flycatchers have been hung in the tent but the only catch to date has been myself three times, being long has its disadvantages you see. I hope they don't get too bad for they can be more than a pest. Well dearest, that's a rather trivial list of things but living here is not very exciting although it has plenty of advantages, so goodnight sweetheart, keep smiling. All my love, Reg.
  18. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 9.5.43 Joanna darling, Stacks of mail this week including an Air letter dated 13th April and the photo from you. Now this photo dearest. It's good of your face but where the devil did you get that hat, it's just terrible darling. Sorry if I seem rude but thanks for it just the same. I've been fortunate to get out on pass again this week and managed to visit the mosque. I have got to the door a couple of times before but have jibbed at walking barefoot over the paving stones, and then when I finally made up my mind I found that Christians are provided with huge slippers to fit over boots instead. It's not a bad sort of place although not as beautiful as many I have seen. The walls of the courtyard are bare stone although there are patches of ancient mosaic hanging on in places. The prayer hall is huge and ornamental, the roof is all inlaid and the walls mosaic, wonderful work and colour effect. The part which corresponds to the pulpit in our churches is a carved marble flight of stairs. It's very fine workmanship and worth seeing. Apparently, Moslems are of four sects for there are four ornamental arches facing Mecca, one for each sect. The whole of the floor space is covered with very rich Turkish and Persian carpets, the sort of stuff which would command a huge price. They are worked in a pattern of oblongs each about five feet by two and a half; this makes spaces for individuals to worship in and there they kneel and pray or sit meditating, oblivious to everything else. I've never thought about it before but from what I could understand from the jabbering guide, there are a good many similarities between Islam and our own, they have common prophets and customs. Have my letters been cut about at all? Dad tells me that a piece I wrote to him on the flowers which grow around here had been cut out. Why, I don't know. I always thought I played safe in that respect but I guess the censor was browned off or something, it's silly to take things to that extent. Glad to hear that the Jankers was not dished out as a punishment, I could hardly imagine you answering the call etc. Everything's the same here, I know that's getting a rather worn out phrase but it's true, at least true to the extent we are allowed to write. Well sweetheart I've several more to write, I've been letting them slide again just lately so I had better pipe down, write another two or three and then get on with a bit of washing (laugh if you like) and a few other odd jobs. Cheerio my darling, All my love, Reg.
  19. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 17.5.43 (stamped 3.6.43) Airgraph Joanna darling, Many thanks for your letter of April 25th. Glad to hear that you are still having a decent time. Things are not too bad here, the monotony of it is getting us a bit browned off but I suppose it's no use letting that bother us. Have you had leave yet? Don't forget that I want a full description of Carson when you write. I got a snap taken last night, goodness knows how it will turn out but if it's any use at all I will send it on. Well sweetheart I guess that's all space will allow. Keep smiling, All my love, Reg.
  20. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 24.5.43 Joanna dearest, Sorry I missed writing yesterday but I did not get time. Your letter of the 8th arrived today; you certainly seem to be working some queer hours just now but a shift of six hours is not too bad. No, I can't tell you where I am, somewhere in the Middle East of course but that's rather a large area and I'm afraid that you will have to keep guessing. How was the channel when you went on leave, was it kinder than last time or were the effects as before? I had no idea that George Marsden was in the Navy. He was going in I knew but then he was also going in the Air Force at one time. He also ran away from home; in fact that boy seems to have developed a mind of his own at last. A sale at the Hope and Anchor should be very interesting and attract a lot of attention, if the relatives don't rob the place before it comes off. There's a huge lot of good antiques I know. I suppose Miss Budworth's death will shake HG and his fellow topers, it's been their meeting place for years and there have been Budworths there for years; in fact they have been there so long that they are more like mine host out of an old book than landlords. Les's stay in Ireland has now been cut down to a month so he may be coming out this way after all. Dad tells me where he is but I never heard of the place before. Everything here is much the same so I've no news. The cornfields are ripe now and a good deal has been pulled. Yes, they pull it by hand and cart it away on donkeys. Well sweetheart, that's all, keep your chin up. All my love, Reg.
  21. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF no date Joanna dearest, Thanks very much for your letter of the 9th which I received the other day. I've only had that one this week from home although I've had one from John Bembridge. The MEF address is really insignificant; this is one of the most peaceful places you can imagine and very much like CENSORED, CAN'T READ A WORD UNDER BLUE PENCIL with its -------------- after rain there's that same herby smell which you find -------------. John B is down in Egypt now and holds the rather peculiar status of "official rat catcher" in a camp there, that's a smashing job if you like. He says it reminds him of the time we went ferreting at home although he's had to substitute oily rags in place of ferrets, he gets an acker a tail (ie approximately d) as a bonus so is able to make a nice addition to his pay. Sounds like one of those jobs you dream about (sorry, substitute we for you). Cyril Webster I know nothing of. I was rather surprised to hear of young Desmond Taylor's commission. I knew him of course but always thought of him as a bright kid and no more. It's rather a shock that he's grown up to me. Of course there are a lot of silly boys in similar positions but he does seem so very young. Of course I know Marg Rains well, another damn nice kid who seems to have grown up suddenly. Tell me dearest, am I getting ancient or is everyone maturing very rapidly in Blighty these days? I seem to be getting hopelessly behindhand through not seeing these folk for three or four years. Have you given any thought to the S Africa idea I wrote you of some time ago. You've not mentioned it and so perhaps you have not got that particular letter. Also, have you received the oddments I sent you in January. Sweetheart, this letter is nothing but an answer to yours, nothing has happened here. As it is Easter Sunday we have had a free day, voluntary church parades which meant that everyone made a few remarks on the padre and his ancestors and noone went to church. It's a job to fill a day in really if you aren't one of those folk who's one idea is to lie in bed all day. We do a bit of washing (using Lux mind you) some cleaning up and finish up by reading and smoking too many fags. Well darling I guess that's about all this time so as usual Goodnight sweetheart, keep smiling and don't forget. I love you Reg.
  22. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 5.6.43 Joanna dearest, Thanks for your letter of May 21st. So you managed to get your leave and I gather that you are not going back to I.O.M. Where are you going to now? Carson seems to be the same, thank goodness for that. Do the RAF maintain a small staff on the Shiningford land? You seem to be getting quite gay these days, the last three letters refer to some bloke or other; it's a good job that I know my Joanna or I should be getting a bit jealous. Do you find that being on leave is one long round of people who ask you when you are going back on the first day you arrive home. It always annoyed me, and then there are the old crones who think that you are having the time of your life. I'm glad to see that you had a better crossing this time, it gives the leave a better start. I can't recall the house you tell me that Mary ex Doxey has gone to live in. I thought that they were all of a bigger type than the one you describe. However, I suppose that it suits them well enough. I heard from Les today, he is expecting to go back to Wales very soon. He says very little about Ireland, but I don't think he likes it very much. He is on some job away from the rest of his crowd so he's lucky. How did the dance go, was the Nipper there? Where do all the blokes come from these days? I should have thought that they would all have been away now. Well sweetheart I'm afraid that I can't tell you anything of where I am etc but you know how strict censorship is out here. However; I can tell you that you that it was a different crowd to this in Tunisia, things are quiet enough here. Cheerio darling all the best. All my love, Reg.
  23. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 24.6.43 Joanna dearest, I was very surprised at the news of your new abode, you are in luck this time alright. How do you manage it? You will be able to get home every week and Sid Husband's place is only just across the park. I'm afraid that it's well over a week since I was able to write to you. Sorry, but it just couldn't be helped. Someone, I think it was Dad, had already told me that Jim Fidler has turned up again alright. I bet his wife is feeling relieved about it; it's such a long time since he went missing and I believe that you told me some time ago that he had been officially reported as believed killed. Your leave must have been a good one even if you did only stooge around Carson as you call it, well there aren't many much better places for the job in my eyes. Please don't mention gooseberry pies, I've just had the same old bully and jam for dinner and the thought of those pies, well I suppose you know. Do you remember that big one I finished off on one leave I was on, wish I had it now. I had no idea that Edith Stanley was going to college, I thought that she had finished all that long ago. She must have been teaching for over a couple of years now. What's her idea? to enable her to get a job in a secondary school I suppose. It sounds a very pukka joint that she is going to anyway. Cheerio, keep smiling and don't forget, I love you. Reg. PS Had a letter from old Sutton at the Post Office, under his name he puts PMR, any idea what it stands for?
  24. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 27.6.43 Joanna dearest, Well, you lucky blighter. Many thanks for your letter of the fourth and an undated one which you wrote later. You complain of the rain, a little drop would do us very nicely but I doubt very much if it's due to rain again for a few years here. I managed to get hold of a few Ashbourne Telegraphs the other day. Perhaps you have never heard of it, it's just a local rag but covers Hognaston district and is quite interesting providing you know the district well. I was very pleased to hear that the Husbands family are all well especially that Mrs H has improved so much. Please remember me to them when you next go there, will you. This kid brother of mine must be growing up at a tremendous rate these days. There was a big difference the last time I saw him but nothing in comparison to what you say he's like now. He will be nearly 18 now of course, although it's hard to imagine that he's not still at school. Carson sounds grand these days. I expect they will all be getting ready for haymaking now, old Joe Renshaw will be leaning on a gate looking at the crop and the dogs will be there, wish I was with him again talking it over. We have just come off church parade, had a section of parsons this morning all having a dabble. It's a long time since we had one for which we are all thankful but this morning was not too bad at all. Well darling that's about all so for the present cheerio, good luck and keep your chin up whatever happens. All my love, Reg.
  25. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 29.6.43 Joanna my darling, Your descriptions of Kedleston at the moment are very vivid. I can almost see the place and the flowers which you describe and I bet you are making the best use of the tennis lawns. Speaking of tennis, I saw a court the other day but it was composed of sand like the rest of the countryside. The photo which you have can give you no idea of the monotony and the vastness of it. I'm very glad that you are able to drop in and see Sid and Mrs Husbands, please remember me to them and Dodie. She's in the Land Army now, isn't she? Darling, there's such a lot which I can't write about and nothing that I can except that I'm loving you more than ever and looking to the day when I shall see you again, so Goodnight dearest, All my love, Reg.
  26. --------------------------------------------------------------------- MEF 23.7.43 Joanna my darling, At last I am able to get a letter off, please don't blame me for not having written sooner. I expect you and Dad will have gathered from my cables that I am in Sicily. I'm keeping my head down and my fingers crossed and am coming to no harm. Of course I can't tell you much of the war out here, you will know more about it than I do I suppose. One thing however we can say is that our Airforce is supreme, for a few days our friends were about but you should see them run for it if a couple of fighters come along. Some did not always get far though. The country itself is very beautiful but rather hot, fruit seems to be very plentiful and you can bet that we have made the best of it. Oranges and grapes grow everywhere but are not ripe yet, lemons are plentiful in certain districts and we just sucked them as we marched along, plums, pears and apples are also quite good. Whole fields grow nothing but tomatoes, I have got them coming out of my ears now I reckon. There are also plenty of water melons. The scenery is very good, a narrow plain follows the coast and farther inland are the hills and mountains. Both rivers and the sea are very warm and ideal for bathing. The people live in a terribly poor standard. Their houses, or rather hovels, are not fit to keep cattle in, their clothes are one patch on top of another and they have a horrible habit of kissing your hand, especially in the country districts. By the way, it's only the old folk who do this, no glamorous Iti girl has tried it yet or maybe I should not call it horrible. Everyone is very friendly, they gather and cheer and clap as you go by although no doubt they curse us in Italian at the same time. This place can't last so very long now and after all I'm nearer home than I have been for a long time. I received a couple of letters from you a week ago. Cheerio darling, keep smiling and never forget I love you. Reg.
  27. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Central Med Forces 7.8.43 Joanna dearest, Yes, I'm here still, sitting on top of a hill overlooking miles of orchards. On the left is the sea and away over to the right is a quaint medieval looking town. It's very beautiful but rather difficult to describe. There are huge patches of vineyards dotted with olive and fruit trees of various kinds. The people are most friendly, on the surface at least. Yesterday we marched through the town I mentioned above, the church bells pealed, the crowds all clapping and yelling "Viva" or something of the sort, the old women with glass jugs of water and some of the men offering drinks of their wine, rather like a carnival day in fact. No doubt it's the best policy though. A great many of the houses fly white flags, sheets or towels, as soon as a town falls and some even carry a personal one on a long pole. Like their Italian soldiers a white flag is their most cherished possession. Fruit is still plentiful, the grapes are now ripe and anyone going down the hill returns with his steel hat piled up with them. At the moment I've got about five bunches around me. I shall be ill if I'm not careful. The war here is moving on, the Jerry man is on the run and of course the Iti has practically given himself up altogether. We are hoping Italy will pack up altogether soon, one or two really good RAF raids would decide her, I guess. I received a couple of letters from you the other day. Would you swap me that gooseberry pie for a cart load of grapes? Sweetheart, a couple of days will be your birthday. I will try and get a cable but if I can't will you please accept a rather belated "Many Happy Returns". One of my cousins got married a little while ago and I sent her a small present which she has received so I'm afraid that we shall have to write your parcel off as a loss again, hard luck but still - Will you please let Dad know that you have heard from me. I've only been able to scrounge the one stamp. Cheerio darling, keep smiling. All my love, Reg.
  28. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Central Med Forces 10.8.43 Joanna darling, Well sweetheart it's just after lunchtime, I've just had some bread quarried in 1927, received a couple of letters from you, found a shady place under an olive tree, Jerry is miles away so I'm feeling at peace with the world in general. The scenery here is grand. I described it in my last letter but as it's clearer today, we get a better view especially out to sea. It sounds rather piggish I know but at the moment I've got a heap of figs and several pounds of grapes at my side, my pockets are full of almonds, a bloke has promised me some plums in a few minutes so the home front is doing rather well. At present we are lying back, laying about or sleeping. The worst of this kind of life is that you are going like the hammers or doing nothing, there is no happy medium. The newsreel you saw was pretty quick work. I saw camera men kicking about a few times but as you will no doubt have guessed these front line pictures are taken a few miles from any enemy. One case I do know of the "first troops" into a certain town. Actually we were through it a few hours before he got there. To reach a good many of the cottages and farms off the road one has to follow paths through the lava beds. How the old man gets home in the dark if he's drunk, I don't know, it's like a maze in daylight. There's a convent only a couple of hundred yards from here. It's fine to hear them singing in the morning. They also play "God Save the King" now. At first it was a bit shaky but there's a big improvement already. The refugees who are living amongst the rocks here are in rather a sorry plight; grub's very scarce with them; a steady stream of farm carts loaded with furniture and people with bundles of bedding go by on the road from dawn to dusk. Some of them will have a shock when they get to what once were their homes. I was very surprised to hear that Betty is getting married. I got your letters of the 19th and 24th together and found the answer to the puzzle of the first in the second. I certainly had no idea anything like that was in the wind, wish her all the best of luck or whatever the appropriate thing is for me, will you please. It's rather amusing on reading your letters to find that you are becoming a sort of pole squatter, you write most of your letters in trees. If you do get up to Eyam, please let Aunt J know that I'm alright and intend to remain so. I've not written to her for a month but intend to do so very soon, pure idleness, but you need not tell her that. Keep your chin up, the silver lining is not far away and I shall be able to tell you instead of write, All my love, Reg.
  29. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Cent Med Forces 20.8.43 (approx) Joanna darling, Sunday morning again and of course the sun's still shining, there are never any clouds or signs of rain here, just perpetual sunshine. The bells are ringing down in the town and I suppose that all the faithful will be having a spot of prayer. Fortunately the C of E padre has decided not to hold any service today so we have no church parade. One thing I don't think that I have told you of are the little niches which are to be found built into many of the houses. They contain some religious picture or statue and as a rule the stonework is ornamental and the whole thing is kept very clean. One of the greatest shortages here are books and papers, the only literature we can get are the Eighth Army Paper and the Crusader and these are generally a few days old before they come round. There are a few tattered novels but we all read them long ago. When we were bathing the other day a chap named Houghton from Wirksworth and another named Doxey from Middleton came up. I had not seen either of them since I joined up. George Smith who used to live with Arthur Fearn is OK, he's in the same lot but I did not see him. The civil population is returning to normal fast now, they are going to be the best scroungers yet in a short time. The evacuees have gone home so the population in places like this is only 10% of what it was two or three weeks ago. Wine making is now in full swing; the bunches of grapes are thrown into a concrete trough and trampled on by a man with very dirty boots. When he has crushed all the juice out, it's strained into large bottles and allowed to ferment and after about six months is ready to drink. You would be very amused to see and hear a conversation between one of us and an Iti; they speak very fast and wave their arms about but we can generally follow their meaning; out of my very limited stock I suppose I use "non capisco" most of all. As you may guess it means "I don't understand". Thanks very much for the cable you sent. It did not manage to get here on time but as they actually take longer than a letter it was hardly to be expected. There is no service from here and so they come ordinary mail from Egypt. Your letter reminds me that our travels were mentioned in the news so I don't suppose the censor will have any objections to my mentioning them at last as you missed it. They are roughly Madagascar, India, Iraq, Persia, through Transjordan to Palestine on a course, back to Persia and Syria, Egypt and now Sicily. I wonder where next? Afternoon Sweetheart, It's not very nice to lie here and write this; three years ago (no, more than that) I should have been going out to meet you. I bet that the fishpond is still as lovely and wild. The first Sunday I get home, I know where we are going. Cheerio darling, keep smiling All my love, Reg.
  30. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Field Service Post Card 18.9.43 I am quite well. I have received your letter dated 31st Aug. Letter follows at first opportunity. Reg.
  31. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Cent Med Forces 19.9.43 Joanna my darling, Yes, I'm still here although the censor is back at work and I can't tell you where here is. I will continue to try and make your mouth water by saying that the orchard we are in contains apples, peaches, grapes and figs. I see by your letter that you are still at Kedleston although most of your letters are headed "At Home". By the way, there are also plenty of walnuts around here but they are not quite ripe yet. As usual there are miles of olive groves and I was watching the locals make olive oil the other day. It's a very simple matter of grinding and pressing the olives. Of course there's more to it than that but that comes later. I've just received a letter from Dad, he tells me that Les has had fourteen days draft leave. Every leave that lad has had lately (and he's had a good many) seems to have been draft leave. What do you think of the news in this part of the world these days? horrible creeping creatures these Itis, only fit for such jobs as fish and chip mongers. Who has gone to the Hope and Anchor now? I'm not usually sentimental but it does seem a pity that there's no Budworth to carry it on; they were more of an institution than inn keepers. There's not much chance of me running into Ray Anthony, the RAF are usually a good many miles behind us. In any case we don't even know that he is in this part of the world. Frank Oldfield wrote me, reminding me of various binges but I'm practically on the water wagon these days. There's stacks of wine and it's dirt cheap but what a head it leaves you with, so no thanks. Well darling I'm nearer home than ever before since we left Blighty. It's a long way yet but we are on the right road and from the news it won't be long before I'm seeing you again. Cheerio sweetheart, keep smiling, All my love, Reg. Please let Dad know that you received this. I've no more cards.R
  32. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Airgraph Central Med Forces 2.10.43 Joanna darling, No mail lately so I expect that I shall receive a bunch as soon as I have finished writing, it often happens. I suppose that Betty's wedding will be very soon. Carson seems to have been struck with a whirl of weddings lately, must be something in the air. We are still wandering around this poverty stricken country and it does not improve on closer acquaintance. The hills are not quite as big but the folk are just as poor and miserable as before, a whole nation of scroungers apparently. Cheerio and keep your pecker up. All my love, Reg.
  33. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 13.10.43 Cent Med Forces Joanna darling, A shoal of letters turned up yesterday so I'm going to have a busy time today. Two of them were from you dated Sept 27th & Oct 3rd. I can't understand you not having received any mail as I have written fairly regularly. Italy is not such a good country, the people all live in villages which are always built on a hill top and there are none of the isolated farms and cottages common to Blighty. These villages are often seven miles or more apart and in the morning and evening you see practically the whole population going to work in the fields. The country is not so very hilly now, it's taking on more of a rolling type of land. Trees are few and far between so if you do get caught in the rain, there's no shelter. The weather here has definitely broken up and we have rigged up shacks for ourselves. Before we did this we were wet through day and night and of course dry blankets were unknown. However, it's not so bad now although we are rather crowded. That's enough of my troubles. All letters contain a wealth of information on Les's wedding. I have had a letter from both Les and my new sister as she terms herself. They don't say very much but Bet has promised to send me on the photos when they come through. Sorry to hear about Jack Higton, I am not surprised as malaria is very prevalent out here. Quite a lot of people get it and it certainly shakes them up. At one place we were at the mossies were thicker than flies are here and it's always referred to as Mosquito Valley now. Our Iti allies? (damn them) are forever pestering us for boots. They are in a very poor state in this respect and a great many of them either go barefoot or wrap any old cloth or sheepskin round their feet. The cold weather is coming on so they look like having chilblains this winter. Cheerio, keep smiling All my love, Reg.
  34. --------------------------------------------------------------------- CMF 6.11.43 Joanna my darling, From your two letters of the 10th & 17th Oct you seem to have been having a rather hectic time lately, weddings, cinemas and so on, good enough, keep it up. Dad tells me that you have had very little mail lately. Admittedly letter writing has been a few days overdue at times but nothing is sufficient to warrant that delay. Wonderful news - we are in billets, at least that is the name given to these four walls and a roof. At any rate it's the first we have seen with the exception of two days a fortnight ago since leaving Blighty. The place we are in is a typical Iti farmhouse, almost without furniture, full of squealing women and kids and in a filthy condition. This room was thick with the dirt of years until we pinched a brush and got cracking on it. Even now it is a dismal hole but welcome shelter from the rain. We have been rather busy lately but by keeping my head down, I've kept out of harm's way. We are resting now though and I'm very thankful for it. Jerry still goes back but stubbornly. You have to hand it to him, he's a brave man. Thanks very much for the description of Bet's wedding. You all seem to have had a good time although your job of keeping our old enemy the rector occupied must have been a sore trial to you. How do you do it? I know I should have fallen out with him during the first five minutes. I see by our local rag "The Eighth Army News" that there are cinemas running all over Italy now. These adverts and propaganda titbits sound very well but it's only the folk way back in HQs and such like miles behind the lines places who ever see them. The poor old foot sloggers never get to them, they are too far away. Out here the women do most of the work on the land. It's a common sight to see half a dozen women breaking up the land with big hooked tools. It must be very hard work for them but they live so little above the standard of animals, that it suits them. The kids too, even at five to ten, appear to be really ancient. They are little and bent with old pinched faces and patched filthy clothes. No wonder they grow up into such horrible adults. Have you been down to Lincoln on your leave? If so, how are the folk down there, last time you mentioned them, Mrs Whatever her name is, was ill. Also did you manage to get to Eyam? I hope so as I know how much Aunt J looks forward to seeing you. Well sweetheart, I guess that's about all so cheerio. I'm still heading for home and you. All my love, Reg.
  35. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 4805498 L/Sgt WR Ward D Coy. 6th Seaforths CMF 13.11.43 Joanna darling, Three letters dated Oct 24th, 31st & Nov 2nd which I've received during the last few days. I see that you have got your leave and I'm sure that Mr Ellis would be glad to see you. I know I would. You talk of cold weather, we have got snow here, can you beat that. Fortunately it's a long way off but still it does not look too promising. You will no doubt have already noticed that the powers that be have been slinging bits of tape about again. It's unpaid so it's not much use yet. I've sent a registered envelope containing a watch off to you today. I hope it gets through although I'm rather pessimistic. If you have to pay duty on it see that the duty value is not over five quid and please draw the necessary cash off Dad to pay it. Keep smiling, All my love Reg.
  36. --------------------------------------------------------------------- CMF ? 11. 43 Joanna darling, A wonderful change in the weather this morning, the sun's out and making the snow capped mountains look very beautiful. They are not so nice at close quarters though and I'm speaking with the rather bitter voice of experience. After over a week of incessant rain it makes a nice change. Thank goodness we have got a roof over our heads, the last few days must have been hellish for the blokes who are actually in the line. The peasants are making the best of the sunshine and are busy ploughing with cattle, the womenfolk are following the plough, breaking up the lumps and sowing the corn by hand. They will be at it until darkness so thank your lucky stars you were not born in this benighted land. The locals are thawing out of their original indifference, they have discovered that we don't intend to pinch their miserable belongings and that we pay cash for goods. The result is that they are offering a variety of useless rubbish for sale at ridiculous prices. Yesterday, after a lot of argument with an Iti, who, of course I could not understand, I bought a fowl for three bob instead of the original price of 10/-. I should have known better though for it must have been the original Italian fowl. It was so tough that I had bully instead so you can guess what it was like. The trees have all turned a golden brown now, reminds me of home and the beech trees in the Dene. The bird's don't sing when the sun's out here for there are only a few sparrows to be seen. There are no rabbits either, definitely not much of a place to spend my usual Saturday afternoon in. The locals had a bit of a scare the other day. Some of them spread the rumour among them that the Germans were coming back again and believe me they were scared. After being reassured they settled down to their normal existence though. Well darling, I guess that's about all, there's nothing happening here and I'm quite content for it to stay that way. Keep smiling and keep your chin up, All my love, Reg.
  37. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Copy of letter to Betty 4805498 L/Sgt WR Ward D Coy 6th Seaforths CMF 2.12.43 Dear Betty, I've just received your letter and photos for which many thanks. They are certainly very good photos; I think they are the best of Joan I have ever seen, also they have told me that I have never met your husband which is a thing I have often puzzled over. I have another batch of Les's wedding on the way so I shall have a stack soon. The weather was very kind to you, according to the photos. It's decent here today, which is rather strange. There is a saying of "See Naples and die", I've never seen Naples but "see the mountains and faint" must be quite as true. They are tremendous, snowcapped and very steep; except for an accident I should be on one now. After several days shivering on the opposite hill to Jerry, I came into a back area and fell when getting my breakfast. It's nothing really but the powers that be decreed that I stay here for a few days. If the guns would be quiet, it would be very peaceful, it's a change anyway. The Italians are a very disappointing people, they are miserable hungry creatures dressed in filthy rags and the most persistent scroungers I've come across yet. The average person is so dirty that I doubt if I will ever be able to face ice cream again. You are hardly right when you say I won't think much of you for not having written before, after all am I in a position to blame you. In any case writing is not my strong point and I could not blame you if you had not written now. From Dad's letter I see that Les is on his way out complete with tropical kit. He's not coming here at that rate, both here and in North Africa it's bitterly cold at night and just cold during the day, more weather for scarves than KD now. At that rate he must be going further east but I hope that he does not get too far. Your suggestion of a tandem does not tempt me, watch any pair and you will see who does all the work. Not for me, no thanks. On rereading the first part of the letter through - about the photos- it struck me that it was hardly complementary to you, please read it the other and right way. Well, I guess that's about all. Keep smiling and the best of luck to you both. Yours very sincerely, Reg.
  38. --------------------------------------------------------------------- CMF 3.12.43 Joanna darling, Yesterday I received a letter and three photos from Betty; you are looking very fit and nicer than ever, if possible. Whatever have you been doing to your hair, it certainly looks good. I also received two letters from you dated 10th & 21st Nov and one I got a day or two ago of the 14th, shaking down into the routine again after leave isn't too pleasant is it. At present I'm on light duty after a couple of days in dock as a result of a stupid accident. After missing all that was going, or rather coming from Jerry for a day or two I came back here and slipped on the cobbles of a village when getting my breakfast, result a bruised and swollen knee, it's about right again though. We have had a few dry days lately and so the ground is a bit firmer now. The clouds look rather threatening this morning so we are hoping for the best. It's still very cold, there's a sharp frost every night. The chances of meeting Jack Higton are very slight; I don't know what Div. he is in but I suppose that he will be somewhere on the East coast which is miles away from here. According to the news they are busy over the Sangro in that sector. Les is on his way out complete with tropical kit; evidently he's not coming to this land of mist and snow. I hope that he's not heading for India, perhaps he will finish up in Iraq, there are some big dromes that way more like towns than barracks. Evidently Eric's grown up now, a pipe eh! I did not know that he had started to smoke; I shall soon be the juvenile member of the family at that rate. I know very few of the people on the group photo, suppose they are relations of Bob's or a stack of your unknown relations. I hope so or I shall be a stranger at home when we eventually do get back. I'm afraid that we shall not have such a good time this Xmas as last; no hope of sitting in the sunshine of Palestine this time, more likely to be bully and rice in the rain, I'm afraid. Aunt J wrote me that you had been to see her and was very pleased about it. I'm afraid I don't write as often as I ought. Well dearest, I guess that's about all, keep young and beautiful, I shall not be long. All my love, Reg.
  39. --------------------------------------------------------------------- CMF 16.12.43 Joanna darling, Dad has not had a letter from me for goodness knows how long and I suppose that you are the same. Mail is very bad both ways at present but if you don't hear, for goodness sake don't worry, I'm alright. As I told you I have been in hospital with my knee. It was nothing much and is better now and I'm back with the unit. I was dodging from one hospital to another for several days and getting back was the same. In one place I stayed two days at I saw a cinema show and a couple of concerts, the whole lot were very good. One of the shows was in the local opera house, a fine building, beautifully decorated and planned - rather a change from the usual housing of a show. When I arrived back here I was very surprised to find an Imperial Tobacco parcel containing 500 Players waiting for me. I've no idea where they came from, have you? If you do know, let the person who's responsible know how much I appreciate them. No one had fags so you can guess I was not the only one to be thankful. At the moment I am able to write in comfort as we are in a flat containing beds, tables, chairs and all the necessaries for comfort. This is how wars should be carried on. The weather is much warmer too, how long that will last I don't know, it's a nice change at any rate. Dad tells me you were getting a 48 hour leave at the end of Nov; how did you enjoy it? It's hardly necessary to ask really, I suppose. Keep it up, you are doing fine. My last leave was eighteen months ago but it really makes very little difference out here. Dad tells me that this and that person wish to be remembered to me. It makes me think that I ought to be writing all day and night but that's as far as it will get I suppose. Well sweetheart I guess that's about all, keep smiling and darling never forget, I love you. Reg.
  40. --------------------------------------------------------------------- CMF 29.12.43 Joanna darling, Well that's another Christmas by and taken altogether it was not a bad one. It's usual for officers and sergeants to act as waiters on Xmas dinner so imagine me trotting up and downstairs, carrying piled plates of grub. Fortunately we were not in the front for the day so we were able to have a comfortable day. There was stacks of grub, pork and some tinned turkey, Xmas pudding, mince pies and plenty of fruit. Beer at the rate of two bottles a man was especially welcome. For myself I got a bottle of really good Scotch for 8/6. You might tell your Dad that, it will certainly make him envious. Of course there was plenty of local wine so towards evening things were getting rather lively. I'm afraid everyone did not do so well for the artillery were firing intermittently all day. Most of it was going the right way though. Were you able to get home for the day. It would be very nice if you were. Mail has not been too good lately. I've not yet received the parcel Dad sent, but there's still stacks of time for it to come. So Eric's car has fallen through, has it? What the devil are wages like in Blighty now. If the cost of living is in proportion I can't imagine army pay going far. Frank Oldfield's letter must have taken a devil of a long time, I had given it up for lost long ago. I have had a letter from Aunt J. She told me of Mrs Gee, I guess it shook 'em. Dad has been so busy lately that he has had to deputize Betty to write his letters for him. She tells me that Les has not been heard of yet, it won't be long now though, I expect. Italy is definitely looking like winter now, all the trees except the olives have shed their leaves. There's snow on the hills and until today the ground has been very muddy. Today it's dry and there's a good wind so it's getting a bit firmer. That's the fifth time I've had to leave this letter, let's hope I can finish it off now. It's surprising how little there is to write about; days are long and full but I'm hanged if you can remember what you have done at the end of the day. Sweetheart, it won't be so very long now I hope so cheerio and keep your chin up. All my love, Reg.
  41. --------------------------------------------------------------------- 4805498 Sgt WR Ward D Coy 6th Seaforth CMF 2.1.44 Joanna my darling, I've been so irregular with letters lately that I think I had better come back to the idea of writing every Sunday. It's a bit difficult sometimes but I can't remember when I wrote before as a rule. I've just received your letter of Dec 20th. I see that you were able to get home at Xmas time as you hoped. I told you in my last letter that we had quite a decent time but New Year was no good at all. I understand that I am now a paid Sergeant and that I never was a Lance Sergeant. It's been a point I never was sure of before and of course the extra pay will be welcome. At present we are undergoing an orgy of beezing up, you can't move for brushes and so on. Do you get all that in your mob or are you all good little girls and do it as a matter of course. We have had a heavy fall of snow here, it was a foot deep yesterday but thank goodness half of it has gone already; it's bad underfoot as you can imagine though. Did Keith and Hilda manage to get for Xmas? I would like to see that kid of theirs now. I bet he's growing into quite a big lad, he's three years old, isn't he. Does Keith grow more and more important? I have never heard from him since I wrote telling him to be thankful, not to moan about what he has to put up with. I have a letter from Mrs Stanley which I must reply to. What's the idea of the car? I should not have thought that there would be much work for it or that with the present restrictions on petrol that it would be much use to them. Well sweetheart it's 1944 and I reckon that this year will see the end of the war and also see me back in Blighty. Admittedly we are not two years out here yet but it seems a hell of a long time. John Bembridge has been out about 2 years now. I shall have to hurry up, the dinner pipes are playing and it gets dark almost immediately after. Have you any idea where Cyril Webster is these days? We have never written to one another. I expect he will be alright somewhere or other. Well dearest, that's the lot, cheerio, keep smiling, All my love, Reg. Sorry for dilapidated state. In my pocket two days.
  42. --------------------------------------------------------------------- CMF 12.1.44 Joanna my darling, When I get four letters in two days from you it makes me wonder why I can't write more often and why I have got so little to say for myself. The letters were written on Xmas Eve and Day and the big New year one. I also got your newsy letter with the Xmas card. Thanks very much for clearing up the mystery of the cigarettes. I could not think who they were from but then it was no surprise to find that you were the responsible person. Thanks a lot sweetheart, they came at a time when we were all out. Dad's parcel has just arrived, he sent fags but why must he buy them and send them when he could do it tax free. Hanged if I know. At the moment I'm living in unusual comfort; there are three platoon sergeants in our billet. The locals are very nice folk, even if they are Itis, and make us very much at home. We look after them of course, such jobs as getting wood are easy, for we just pinch other folk's stuff. We have a big fire, use their table and chairs at meal times and for letter writing. They wash up for us and clean up after us, smashing time. Glad to see you were able to get home at Xmas, makes all the difference, doesn't it. I can't understand why Dad tells me on the 27th that nothing had been heard of Les and on the 25th you tell me that Betty had heard, what's wrong? I must write to Aunt J tonight, I've been guilty of not writing for so long and I know she likes to hear. She always tells me when she hears from you. I know she thinks a lot of your letters. Please remember me to the Husbands, that's another letter. I must write to all these good folk soon. Dad has certainly been busy lately, how he managed to get through so much work, I just don't know. Admittedly he works very hard and likes it but that lot must have tested him. In your long Christmas letter you wonder if this year will see me home, the answer is definitely, I think. Even if this damned war is not over, I believe we shall be home. We have been out a long time you know and a good many folk who came out after us have already arrived in Blighty, so here's hoping. I never thought about the kids not knowing what a real Xmas is, rather pitiful isn't it but even they are better off than the kids here. There's a bambino in this house, he's a grand little chap, an evacuee, whose father is dead. I don't suppose that he had ever seen chocolate until I gave him some today, he went into a corner by the fire and munched away happily. He can say "thank you" in English but otherwise never makes a noise. That's hardly true though for one of us gave him a pencil this morning and when someone tried to borrow it, he went for the "sergenti". Well goodbye darling, All my love, Reg.
  43. --------------------------------------------------------------------- ITALY: SEAFORTH'S PART IN ITALY FIGHT The Seaforth Highlanders have been living up to their great tradition in Italy, it is officially disclosed. During October and November the regiment was constantly in action in the central sector of the Eighth Army's front. It came under command of the Fifth Army in January when it was engaged in fierce fighting on the line of the Garigliano. For a week the division of which it was a part beat off some of the hardest pressed enemy assaults of the campaign. The regiment previously distinguished itself in Sicily and in North Africa where it fought at Mareth, Enfidaville and El Alamein.
  44. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Letter from Reg's father Rock Cottage Carsington Feb 12th Dear Joan, I hardly know how to write this letter to you but you will have to know so I may as well tell you. I am more than grieved to tell you poor Reg was killed on the 18th of Jan. I know how you will feel about it, as I do myself. Don't worry too much darling I cannot write any more now as I am too full up. Yours, W Ward
  45. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Sent to Pte J Stevenson Kedleston Hall. Derby. Darling, I am leaving this with Aunt J and I hope you never get it. All I want to say is that you are to forget all about me as soon as possible. Dearest, don't worry, keep that chin up and don't forget to keep smiling. No tears now sweetheart. Reg.
  46. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Kedleston Hall 15th Feb 44 02.00 Dear Ron, Forgive me for being so long in writing to you, but since coming back from leave I've not had chance to do much. My leave, though I've been back less than two weeks is a mere memory & seems months ago. I little thought then that I'd have to tell you that Reg was killed in action in Italy, on January 18th, and we only knew on Saturday and I didn't even know until I was on the way home on Sunday. His last letter written on the 15th was full of his new civvie billet; three sergeants shared the billet, were looked after by the people in the house who were apparently very good to them. He said he was having a super time, but it didn't last long - three days later he was killed. I can't really believe it yet. In that letter he was hoping to be home soon, yet before it reached me all chance of that happening had gone. Little did we think that on his last leave , just about two years ago now, that two years from then the war would still be on with even worse to come, and though we realised the possibility of his not returning, never dreamed it could actually happen. Well, it has, and at the moment, I daren't think ahead. I'll miss him terribly; his letters & the hope of his return are all I've been looking forward to since he went. All his letters have been cheerful and uncomplaining. I guess we'll never know what he's been through out there and maybe it's better that way. His dad & Eric are terribly upset as you can imagine though they've both been marvellous about it. On Sunday night there was a memorial service for Sam Matkin, the HG sergeant who was buried at home last Wednesday, and when the news came it was made into a joint one for them both. Mr White was very good indeed, and I was so glad I was able to go; the church was more full than it has been for ages and HG & Mr Woodward were there representing the Company. Mr Ward took the parade & was marvellous all through. I don't know how he did it; I couldn't. It's rather strange, but in the normal way I would never have been able to go home on Sunday because we're on night shift this week, but I changed shifts with a girl on ?A? watch on Sat night, worked her evening shift for her, which left me free from 1am Sunday to 1am Monday and for no apparent reason I decided to go home though when I was getting up after four hours sleep was inclined to change my mind. However I left camp at 9am and met Mr Redfern, Betty Ward's father, in the milk lorry just beyond Weston Underwood. He'd a letter for me from Mr Ward & was bringing it to camp for me. I didn't really need to ask what was in it, I knew. Well, I got home somehow, and stayed until 9pm. I saw Mr Ward in the morning & went to church at night. For once, I'm glad to be in camp; at home I could settle to nothing whereas here there isn't time to brood. By all the rules I should have been tired out yesterday & slept the clock round considering I was awake at 6am on Sunday & didn't sleep again until 8am on Monday, but strangely enough I woke up at 1 pm today & couldn't sleep properly again. I expect your mother will awfully worried about your brother since the recent facts from the Japs have become known. It must be dreadful for her, & poor Aunt Nance was in an awful state when I saw her on leave. Can you wonder? Forgive me for rambling on like this, but I can't help it and 3am isn't the best time of day; you're helping me to pass the night pretty well. I can't write any more Ron, so au revoir and the best of luck, Sincerely, Joan
  47. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Rev Frank Clark C.F. HQ C.R.A.S.C 10 Corps Troops CMF Monday 29th Jan 1945 My dear Miss Stevenson, I am grateful for your kind letter and for the good wishes you send with it. It is most thoughtful of you to send a parcel of cigarettes as an interpretation of Reg's wishes. When they arrive I shall distribute them among my men, as you suggest, and I am sure they will appreciate as I do, the sacred associations of this generosity. Please accept my humble thanks. It is just over a year since the sad event happened which brought sorrow to you and to all to whom he was so very dear. I have been thinking much of those times as I look back and recall the terrible price paid for our successful advance across the Garigliano. Tragic happenings took place so quickly and over so wide a field that even now it is impossible for me to fit together all the pieces to form a true picture. Such was the rush of duties that it was not permitted to me to be at every man's side in his direst need, or to close the eyes of all who meant so much to us in our wonderful fellowship of the front line. It was not I who found your boy and buried him, but I gathered as much as I could for our records. He was buried in a little cemetery I have constructed on the Southeast bank of the Garigliano river near the tiny village of PONTEFIUME [Photo 15] and that must have been within a few yards of where he fell. By this time, it is likely that all graves have been gathered into a permanent British Military Cemetery. When this is done, photographs are sent to next of kin. It is not easy, when writing, to remember all, but if and when in the Providence of God, I have the opportunity to return and visit you at home, perhaps I shall be able to tell you more. Noone can take away from you, I am sure, the fragrance and inspiration of his memory. May God, to whom you give thanks for him, bless, protect and keep you always. My warm good wishes to his father and to yourself. With thanks, Yours sincerely Frank Clark.
  48. --------------------------------------------------------------------- ALIEN EARTH In a foreign soil my dear one rests; In alien earth he lies. Not for him the last long slumber under friendly skies. Not for him the final sleep beneath an English tree; In a grave in God's green acre, sleeping peacefully But his spirit has come back. I see him everywhere. In everything he knew and loved; Fields, woods and gardens fair. He has returned unto his own; The dear land of his birth. Could so great a patriot rest long in alien earth. Patience Strong.
  49. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Inscription on gravestone Military Cemetery at Minturno, Italy 4805498 W.R.WARD SGT. 6th SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS 18th JANUARY, 1944 I GRUDGE NOT MY LIFE IF IT GIVE GREATER LIFE TO THEM THAT DO LIVE --------End of Reg WARD's wartime letters----------------------------

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