Letter from Harry Massey to Barbara Massey

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Letter written by Harry Massey from the No. 6 Palestine company at the Bluffs to Barbara Massey.

This is a scanned version of the original image in Special Collections and Archives at Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vt.



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Letter No 84 Monday, Nov. 24th

Major J.H. Massey 6th Palestinian Coy., The Buffs M.E.F.

My own darling Barbara

I really did feel to dull & dreary to write any letter last night - so this is now Tuesday. Instead I wrote you an A.G. & then did some work.

Darling - I have now sent off my official application to be posted home on compassionate grounds. By the time you receive this letter, you will know the result, one way or the other. I did not tell you before because I thought this letter might reach you quickly by some freak & if you had not already heard some result from me, you would be on pins & worrying & over disappointed at failure, whereas, if the first word you get is that it has failed, it will probably be not very much more than you expected. Anyway, it is all as nothing now, & I can only wait results. A letter came round early last week, sayng the next lot of postings would be in December - pointing out that so many - a very small number of officer vacancies were for this Command & inviting applications. So I told one long story - & also drew attention to the fact that I had worked hard & I thought done my best & done well. Col. Leicester is the first hurdle & if he sends it on, it has to be sent on by another H.Q. before reaching the final judges. So now it is very much a matter of competition & also of luck - because there is no criterion or standard of degree of compassion - & it depends entirely on how some man or men view our case. We know only too well what the losses & tragedies of the last two years have done to me & to our lives - but it is not an easy

Last edit 4 months ago by Khufu
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subject to put over in a letter to perfect strangers.

I can hardly expect to hear anything for about three weeks from now & so I must contain myself until then. Your No. 65 came today - your last one being No. 60 which came on Nov 10th & so Nos 61-4 are missing. It does make me furious, the same as you. Yours was a very unhappy & rather desperate letter, my sweetheart & of course it is exactly these reasons which make me so overwhelmingly anxious to come home as quickly as possible & comfort you & make you happy again. Oh what a thrill, if I am so fortunate. To pack up & go down to Egypt & get on a boat & every hour to be coming nearer & nearer to you. And insted of writing more letter every day & getting more & more miserable further away from you - to spend my time thinking about you & looking forward to all the happiness & joy of seeing you again & of seeing Maxie; & the rest of my time, just read & read. Time has been passing pretty quickly - I hope it will go on doing so for the next three weeks.

It breaks my heart to be away from Maxie, too, & not to know him at all as he grows up from being a baby. He sounds so lovely & interesting & your descriptions are awfully good & interesting - but even so, I often find it difficult to realise that we do possess a baby again & that he is all ours & strong & well & lovely & growing up all the time. LIsa was so sweet & interesting at 6 & 8 & 10 months old - I can hardly bear to think of missing him for very much longer.

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Darling, you asked me in your letter if I had any chance of further promotion, in order that I might have more influence in getting you out here at some time in the future. But, I am afraid that the chances are very thin & as I told you before, I cannot see any goal ahead at which to aim. As you say, my present job is pretty dull, in a way - but I knock quite a lot of interest out of it in one way & another as I certainly take it seriously & I am always training away to really make something of this unit. Though I say it myself, there is not the faintest shadow of doubt that mine is far & away the best Coy in training & discipline & smartness & general efficiency. But nobody ever really takes enough interest in us to get to know this.

You see I already have command of the Coy & that is a Major's command & that is all there is about that. The only Lt. Col. in connection with these Coys is the O.C. P.R.T.D. - & now that Col. Leicester has left there, that job has been taken on by another Regular Officer. It would never occur to the big [noises?] that a non-Regular could do such a job. So that mean: that a job must turn up in some other direction, on a H.Q. or Base or Line of Communication or what you will. And it is highly unlikely that a Lt Col's job in such a place or Unit would come my way. There are far too many Regular majors in those places already to allow such things to slip through their fingers. So you

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see, it is pretty hopeless. You talk about me proving myself - & it seems to me I have done all I can in this direction. In the past place, as I have told you, I got a good name for myself. And I have always made a point of keeping touch with Col Leicester & letting him know my ideas & I write him long letters & reports from time to time. And even by getting rid of two second i/cs & Court Martialling one subaltern. I have shown him that I am for good standards & have my own ideas & enough guts to put them into practice. And now, under his command, I have tried to keep up the tradition. I sometimes wonder if all my "ideas & action" go down well with the Regular Army mind & mentality - & if perhaps I am not looked upon as being too progressive & downright. But to sit back would certainly get me nowhere - & to behave as I do, perhaps might. But I do not think that there is anything more that I can do about it - except to go on keeping myself in the limelight. If I came home, I go down to Captain the day I leave my appointment as O.C. in this Unit. And I wonder what they will do with me when I arrive home. But I must go to bed now - it is midnight. XXX darling XXX.

Wednesday - Nov. 26th. Tonight, funnily enough I am going to see Alice Delysia in "London Varieties of 1941". This is an Eusa show which arrived out here quite a short time ago

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and they are on in the station tonight. It should be rather good.

I had a big thrill & disappointment this morning. An official letter came for me; addressed to Major J.H. Massey The Cheshire Regt, attd 6 Pal. Coy, The Buffs - my heart jumped; inside this envelope was another envelope, addressed in the same way & marked 'Secret & Personal & Very Urgent'. Then I felt certain that it was about my posting home. And when I opened it, it was just asking for a special report on a N.C.O. of mine, I'm afraid I am going to have [?] a number of these thrills & disappointments during the next week or two.

I am President of two Courts Martial tomorrow - I had been hoping that they had forgotten about me in this Area, having been here 10 weeks & free of them. On the other hand it may be an opportunity for more limelight. They are both on bloody Arab soldiers - one for desertion - & the other for committing a civil offence, assault (not indecent, I am thankful to say - I can imagine few things more revolting than having to sit & listen to & probe into, an Arab's dirty sex life.)

I had a letter from Edwin Samuel the other day, in reply to mine - his was v. kind & polite & hoped that I would come & have a meal with them & talk about, of course, if there was anything he & his wife could do to help, they would gladly

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