May 2014
 
We have recently discovered Bob's letters that he wrote home to his beloved wife Madeline ("Dimples")
whilst he was serving in WWII.
 
They are incredible pieces of history, told 'from the inside' by Bob, a serving soldier in the Royal Army Service Corps
(Eight Corps) who went over to France on D-day + 6 (Tuesday 13th June 1944) and moved
through France to Belgium, the Netherlands and down into Germany.
 
The writing talent of his future career shines out from the pages hurriedly scribbled in pencil in the spare moments
and evenings, at the end of long days, giving Madeline some inkling of their every-day life,
along with his opinions on how the war was proceeding.
 
There is also the occasional light touch when the platoon had been to see ENSA shows, where he passes his opinion on the (mostly) talented performers of the day who wanted to 'do their bit' for the war effort by entertaining the troops.
 
Finding these letters have been a huge filip for the family, as, like so many who fought in the war, 
Bob rarely spoke of the atrocities he witnessed and when he passed away
we thought all of his experiences lost to us and to history.
 
Our intention is to transcribe parts of his letters and share them and we will gradually add them to this page.


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Tuesday 4th July, 1944
 
                              "I mentioned in a recent letter to you that the French people who resented us were in the minority. As a matter of fact, at one place we were at recently, a French patriot showed a few of our chaps how he had hidden his radio up the chimney during the German occupation. This airiel (sic) was behind the wallpaper. I believe he also had a nasty musket or shot-gun concealed somewhere. Though they haven’t gone very short of food, they seem to have had a tobacco famine. This particular fellow had made pipe “tobacco” from old leaves and different things. There has also, as you know, been a shortage of chocolate and sweets, in fact they were almost non-existant, and we get a kick out of watching kid’s faces when we offer them “chocolat” or “bon-bons”.
       Three of us were working on a car yesterday, when a very charming young lady – (it’s alright, she was about eight or ten years old) – came up and invited us to give her “cigarettes pour Pa-pa”. We gave her some, and one of the chaps offered her a five franc note (value about sixpence), at which she shook her forefinger and head in a manner which would have turned the Shirley Temple of the earlier films to green, and said with a captivation inflexion of the voice “Non, non M’sieur”. However, she accepted it when pressed, and went away throwing out “Merci beaucoup’s” by the dozen.
       You remember I told you of all the stew we’re getting, well we had a fine change yesterday – steak and kidney pudding. Still tinned, but very nice. We’ve been told, too, that soon we may be getting real bread perhaps twice a week. Up to now, we’ve been getting those biscuits we used to have on exercises. Every time I see one now, I bark or sit up and beg. More luxuries to relate. Today I had a shower under a round tin punctured with holes and supplied with water by a hose connected to a tank. The holes kept getting blocked up and had to be cleared with a pin, but anyway, it was good. Up to then my bath has been a biscuit tin, but that’s not so bad. The guns let off suddenly just then. They are at it nearly all the time somewhere, and no matter how you get used to them, there always comes a time when they make you jump. When I hear the shells whistle over us towards Jerry, I’m always glad I’m on the winning side. The other day, I picked up a Jerry 88mm shell case about 4 ½ ft long, which I was very tempted to keep and make into a super cigarette lighter for the hall at home! "
 


 
 

 
 
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