Letter from Harry Massey to Barbara Massey



Letter No 69 Tuesday Aug. 26th Major J.H. Massey 5th Palestinian Coy The Buffs M.E.F. My dear darling Barbara I have just finished manicuring my finger nails + I was looking at your sweet photographs while I was doing them - + wondering why I took the trouble to file + poke away for half an hour + why I didnt just cut them off with a pair of scissors + stop them getting too long in that way. It is quite obviously for you that I do it darling. But I do wish that we could see a little bit ahead & have some idea as to when we are going to be allowed to meet again. In spite of the utter boredom & hopelessness of life, time does seem to pass quickly by - the week-ends come & go with almost incredible regularity & rapidity- & in only six weeks time, we shall have been away from each other a whole year. This slippery passage of time would be a blessed thing if we had a date for which we were aiming - but without that, it is just sheer wastage of our lives together. Time which can never be made up & which can never be given back to us. My faith in the law of compensation must sustain me. I hope, you too. In the meantime, a very small straw appeared lasr week - to clasp at. Early in October, we have to make a return together with all other units, of everybody's civilian employment. And accuracy & care were stressed, because "the return will be used for demobilisation"! It means little enough, of course & at the same time we hear of preparations being made to continue the war into 1943 & onwards. But it is comforting in a way - perhaps shows that plans are being made for an early finish of the war, as well as for several more years of it. This march into Iran of the Russians & ourselves, was announced yesterday, & is encouraging news. That is



now Iraq, Syria & Iran, & all in four months - Russia on our side & doing well - & the Americans in Iceland. You must admit it is all very interesting: encouraging too. And it indicates Churchill's ideas of not indulging in wholesale slaughter against strong lines of defence & probably gaining nothing - but biting off the easy bits & steadily improving our position. And in the meantime, the Navy & R.A.F. continue to blockade & bomb. And all the oversea countries begin to see more clearly into the future & do their part to harass & [harry?] the Nazis. How long can they stick it? I feel certain that the answer to that question is more important than - when are we going to invade France & Germany. I also have the feeling that the U.S.A. will not declare war unless it is absolutely necessary. American public opinion is so strong; & if she suffers large casualties in Europe or the M.D. she is going to have that revulsion of feeling, which she had after the last war, & isolate herself again from all affairs except her own. And that would be as much a tragedy again, as if was before. & her Navy is working for us now - probably more than we know or realise. Her army is only wanted if & when we use ours in a great invasion. And I doubt very much if we shall do that - except to walk over & occupy a Europe & Germany in particular, which has more or less given up - & in which public opinion & the public voice is at last more powerful than Hitler's tyranny.

I must admit that I am very much under



the influence of Churchill's book, at the moment. But I doubt if he has changed his views so very much, & I'm quite certain that he deviates & controls our policies & methods.

In addition to America, how are Australia, New Zealnad, South Africa, Canada & India going to feel after the war, if they have all suffered enormous loss of life & limb. Patriotism & invigorism may keep them going during the war - but there will be bitterness afterwards when all is said & done. Ramsay MacDonald, Baldwin & Chamberlain were our exclusive products & our votes put them in power.

And where are we if we lose a million of our best men, probably more. An embittered nation will assist in imposing another Versailles - & a weak minded nation, without those million or more men, will then allow Germany to rise again, & next time, perhaps make no mistake. No - I have deep & boundless faith in Churchill & also the people with whom he has surrounded himself. I think he knows how to win this war, & I think he is looking a very long way ahead. So that we, if we have to be apart longer & wait longer for it, will have a better country & better world in which to live - & so will Max & any sisters or brothers he may have.

But the waiting is terribly difficult & painful, isn't it darling. Every time I think about you & look at your photographs, I almost cry out with sadness & pain. There is nothing else I want in all the world - & you are far away & I just cannot have you. It is cruel.



It seems to me, my darling, that I tell you very often how I love you, how I miss you, & almost always in the same words - I hope it does not seem or sound like this to you. But, you know, I do not say these things because I think you want me to - I think & say them to myself so much, & only way I can say them to you is in a letter. So even if they do become monotonous, sweetheart, remember that they come from the very bottom of my heart. Perhaps, & I hope I am wrong to have doubts about my letters, because you have paid me very nice compliments about them up to now - or at least up to May - You have told me I do marvels - & that they are very interesting, loving - & well written. Thankyou darling one - I try very hard, because I know the pleasure & intense satisfaction which your letters give to me & I want so much for mine to do something of the same for you. But life is so dull & I find it increasingly difficult to be interesting - & so often when I sit down to write to you I go into such depths of misery, longing for you. Today, I look like writing this straight off & posting it in the morning. But normally, I think the better system, & I must try to do it more, is to begin another letter the same day that I post one to you & try to write some each day. By that means, I give myself the feeling of having had a talk with you each day, & also, odd things which I would write down the same day or the day after, when they are fresh



in my mind, do not seem important or interesting enough if left a few days - or else they make me feel that I am making too much of a little thing, & you will think I am becoming silly & weak minded. I notice so often in your letters, that you write about some very ordinary & every day things, but you write in such a delightfully easy, free & amusing way, it gives me tremendous pleasure to read it. Nobody could possibly write better & more loevely letters than you do, & I can promise you my darling sweetheart, that nobody could possibly appreciate them more than I do. They arrive in my office, usually at about 10.30, & I read them at once; my pot of tea arrives at about the same time, & so I have a cigarette or two & settle down. I read it in my room again after lunch - then again in the evening with a whiskey & soda before dinner. So, on top of everything else, I make the most of them. And of course, for the next few days, I am in & out of there & writing back to you. My bundle of letters is quite a big one by now, it was pathetic in February, when I had two, & a few cables & your three letters to Oswestry & your [wire?] to Oswestry - & I used to read them again & again, wringing the last ounce & shred of meaning out of them. You must know the feeling too.

You know darling - I feel now that when we were together I did not tell you enough that I loved you or how or how much I loved you, & how sweet & beautiful & lovely & gorgeous & wonderful you were, & how pretty & clever & funny & amusing & interesting & kind & how smart & attractive & seductive, & how you feel & how you smell - & all the



endless & countless things about you which made me love you always & more & more. I think I was affectionate & loving - I must have been to be so wonderfully satisfied & excited & interested & thrilled & happy all the time - & you have told me I was. But I don't think I did tell you enough or express myself well - & I think when I come home, you will have a much more voluble & less shy lover. Do you want that, darling, & will you appreciate it? The reason was my sweetest, that you aroused such marvellous depths of passion in me - & when we were making love & you were in my arms & next to my heart & I was so gorgeously inside you, & we were kissing so beautifully, I could see your sweet face & look into your darling eyes - I felt so full of love & passion towards you & so thrillingly happy - that I just could not speak. But you must have felt & understood that all my heart & all of me were yours & that I was loving you, darling you, sweetest Barbara, with all my heart & soul. Perhaps I said more than I remember to you, or even as much as you wanted me to say. But I do feel often, that I was much too silent & undemonstrative. And I feel too, I want to make up for it. Or perhaps I shall be so stirred & rent with love & adoration, & passion, that I still shall not be able to speak & tell you what I feel. It is a very lovely way of being tongue tied & struck dumb if that is the case. I shall have to write you a love letter from the works, & send Mawson along with it. Or wait until you go to London - if I can ever bear to let you go away again.



Yesterday - Monday - let me know - there was no letter from you - nor today either. I came skipping back from my Court Martial yesterday at lunch time much earlier than I expected, full of hope & almost certainty. And my table was bare. I suppose I should not look forward, but I always do expect I always will. Two of the cases yesterday were put off - one accused was in hospital & he was a witness in the other one. So I was just left with one other and a funny one, which would have been a curtain raiser & provided some relief for the other two which were for theft. This was a solider who "whilst on active service" - had committed "conduct to the predjudice of good order & military discipline" - in that he -- 'at --? on July 1, created a disturbance at 2330 hrs by shouting. In this chap's unit there are three officers, Capt Connolly, Lieut Cook & Major Noon: & at 2330 hrs - raucous tones were heard floating up through the night & shouting "Fuck Connolly" " - "Cookie can man the fucking guns" - "Noon can man the fucking moon". It wasn't altogether easy to keep a straight face during this part of the evidence. However, there was considerable argument about the time, & nobody actually saw the accused shouting, but only recognised his voice - so we found him "not guilty". He is probably a lucky chap but it seemed to me that he should have the benefit of the doubt. It also seemed to me that with a bit of tact &



common sense, there would have been no Court Martial at all.

Wednesday Aug. 24th. I did not finish after all yesterday - today came your 50th letter & in the afternoon for a change - & so your nos. 48 & 49 are missing & will come later. Isn't it annoying? I always have the feeling, when I am hurrying up to find a letter, that my haste is quite powerless & it doesn't really matter whether I post it this week or next. The only thing that matters is that I should write enough. But then there must be regularity at one end in order to avoid redoubling the irregularity at the other end. And so I push on - & think that perhaps I might miss a boat or a plane. I also had a letter from Judy, posted on the same date, July 18th. She said it was a relief to her to know that Max was safely born & you alright - & so she knew how I must have felt. Judy is really very sweet, fond of you & me. Her news wasn't too interesting & was written in that appalling hand of hers, even the address. The war does not seem to be having much effect on them. Parsh & Eilleen are now in N. Ireland, & very happy. Judy says! My God, & I should think so too - the lucky devils. Why ever did I go on the reserve in 1939.

Your letter enclosed the photograph of Lisa's gravestone. It is beautiful, my darling, & to me seems very very good. I can well believe that you were pleased with it - & it is almost unbelievable to think that it is your first attempt at relief carving. It has wonderful feeling & spirit, & though it made me cry at first, it gives to me a deep feeling & sensation of contentment. The child has the attitude & look of Lisa, the angel gives me a deep impression of care & tenderness & love - & she looks capable & competent of looking after & caring for or guiding the child to safety. It is wonderful work.



& I am so pleased that you have done it. I always wanted you to, as you know - & you wanted to do it, but could not bring yourself to begin. I feel now that with this stone which you have done with your own hands & heart - we have now done all we can do for our darlings little body left forever here on earth. And it gives such a perfect & sincere idea of what we hope & pray exists. & that she has been guided into safety & happiness & will be looked after there as well & as lovingly as we keep her in our minds & heart.

I think it is perfect, my dearest & makes me understand art & the feelings behind it, more than anything else has done before. As you said in an earlier letter Lisa would have been wonderful with Max - she would have been thrilled to the very core of her little being - & would also have been pricelessly bossy & methodical in looking after him. And I suppose she would have been giving her own dolls enormous feeds from her own little bas. The sweetheartwhat tremendous happiness it would be for everybody.

You said in your letter that Peter must make a big difference to my life - he most certainly does & I hardly know what I should have done without him. I spend many evenings alone in my room, & although he sleeps, the very presence of a live being has a great affect & during the day, although he spends a great deal of time roaming round barracks, he always seems to manage to be on hand when I go out or set off on a tour of barracks myself. He is a very friendly little chap, but never leaves anyone in doubt that he belongs to me - he has a very pleasant way of coming along, giving me a nod, often just brushing his nose against my knee or hand & then flopping down on the floor & watching for my next move. And he



has very definite dislikes. All people in uniform are alright to him; all civilians are objects of suspicion & every Arab makes him wild - I don't know why, but he can spot them a mile away, barks his head off. His elbows & knees & joints are one mass of bruises or scabscaused by going round corners too fast chasing cats - & also by hurling himself headlong at Alsations & Mastiffs, & bouncing back off them onto the hard ground. He is no respecter of big dogs & will get into awful trouble one of these days. Does this sound like my writing about Simon? Oh & I have forgotten to tell you one of the funniest things of the war. Peter spends much of the day popping in & out of my office to see if I am there. So on the day of the General Court Martial, I gave [Choinatzki?] strict instructions to keep Peter in hand. But in the afternoon he got away - & as the door was opened to let out a witness, my little friend rushed in, looked furiously round for me, went up to the bench & carefully smelt the legs of one Brigadier, four Majors, glanced round at everybody else occupying his master's office, turned round & gave the Court a long dirty & suspicious look, & marched out. It must have been too funny & I wish I had seen him coming naught for the [pomp?] & dignity of a G.C.M.

I'm afraid this question of friends is a hopeless case. I was thinking this evening that I would like to show the photo of Lisa's gravestone to someone. And I found that Beu is the only one to whom I would dream of showing it - he is away on detachment for a



I am quite friendly with most of the others, particularly Jim Headley - but that is very far from having a friend among them. Salaman, my new 2 i/c is doing pretty well, - I get on very well with him - but his intellect is extremely limited. & if the conversation goes away from Coy affairs, it is to hear rather boring accounts of his times as a Corporal in the Black Watch, & some party, or some girl he knew. And of course this C.O. & major business does not help. The few people I know outside, whom I like, & who approximate into my exalted rank, all spend far more money than I would do or want to - & so I skip out of all their invitations & suggestions. It does not worry me at all darling, really & truly - except that I would like someone to go off with & see the country. 90 into Syria, where officers are now allowed to go on leave. Mosearity is leaving me shortly, posted to some special job on account of his banking experience. I am not sorry really. He is a very nice fellow, but he talks too much to the point of & beyond boredom. I have been very blunt & rude to him at times to shut him up. He is really very good looking - fair hair & good features, not at all Jewish & an English moustache - & apparently he enjoys a reputation for good looks & knows it. And so he is rather [?] with himself & effects terrific charm. He is very pleasant in many ways, & when I am away from him I feel very sorry he is going - but later when I meet him, & he treats me to a winning smile & begins to flag some trivial matter to draft - I feel that it is just as well. My new one, Halr, is getting me down, I'm afraid. He


[image: front of envelope Stamped & postmarked]

By Air mail par avion


Mrs. H. Massey Carseland Pillory Hill Noss Mayo N. Plymouth

Passed by Censor No. 2464

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