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. 37 Sunday 27 Apr 41

Major J.H.Massey 6 Palestinian Coy. The Buffs, Middle East Forces.

My darling sweet Barbara, I'm becoming so anxious to hear some news about you & the baby. I was really thinking that it would be born after eight months, but there has been no mention of that in your recent letters, & one of your post cards this week said there did not seem to be any hope of anything happening early. I'm thinking of you all the time, sweetheart, and I find it quite difficult to write about normal things. It's so difficult to write about, darling - because I do not know when the birth is going to be, nor do I know when this letter is going to arrive - it's sure to be after the baby, & so I feel that I want to say things about it, & that you will want me to. But it's quite impossible, isn't it? I would give anything or do anything to be with you. You will be so sweet, & though you will get on alright without me, I know you would like me to be there, & near at hand. I never expected this to happen to us. One sees so many films and so on, of husbands going off to the wars, and leaving pregnant wives at home, but one looks on in only a detached sort of way. It has been the same with more sorrowful things which have happened to us.

But this is occupying all my thoughts just now, and I shall think of nothing else at all, until I hear your news. So, darling, if I do not say much in my next few letters, It is only because I do not know what to say. But it makes me feel very desperate when I think of you, my sweetest and almost more

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than I can bear. So I must hurry and write about more mundane things, or I shall sit hear all night, thinking about you, until my brain snaps.

Let's talk about money again. I did some arithmetic yesterday, and taking the Dec overdraft figure, & adding what I have had since then, + £20 a month for you + £5 a month for your mother - & then taking my pay & your allowances + the extra pay for Captain Major + the commission - & the result is that at April 30th, we should be £225 in credit which sounds rather lovely & healthy - in fact, it does not only sound, it is. And there is another thing - I believe that your marriage allowance now increases either to 7/6 or 9/6 a day, instead of 6/- a day. But I only realised this the other day, & have not been able to get hold of a copy of Allowance Regulations since. So that will be a pleasant surprise for you, when the pay slip is seen to be more than ususal. And my allowances go up a bit too - that I also have to find out for certain. We shall be able to begin making plans about our next house soon! I started this late tonight and my mind has been wandering rather too much. And now, I must go and listen to Churchill's broadcast - 11-0p.m. - and then to bed. Goodnight sweetest, dearest love. XXXX. H.

28th April

This really is a horrible, disgusting country, & I loathe and detest it. Admittedly, my outlook is very much biased. I should hate any country I had to spend any length of time in, without you. But even without this, the country is loathsome. As my colour sergeant rather crudely puts is, the whole place is just

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made of sand a& shit. And I do agree that that just about describes it. There's no real or natural beauty in the place - there are a few trees & a certain amount of dirty grass, but never as we know it. And day after day, there is this silly, pointless, unnecessary gusty wind. That is what is annoying me more than anything today. In my office, if I have the windows open, all my paper keep blowing off my table, & if I have the windows half open, it may be alright until somebody opens the door and then they shut with a bang, or fly open again, with a bang, in any case, always with a bang. And then the shutters bang, & doors bang & more papers fly. It's bloody

And now I have come next door to my room to write to you - and have fastened the windows, the shutters, and the doors, & it is reasonably peaceful. Until it gets dark, and then every revolting dog for miles will start barking, continuously, unceasing, unremittingly & without pause until I go to sleep. And the chickens join in too. And there is another foul noise which I cannot identify - It sounds too human to be an animal, & too inhuman to be a human being. So goodness knows what it is, but it wails and shrieks, & yelps, the dogs bark more furiously and the hens start up again. And Peter looks as though he would like to join in too, but he thinks the better of it, after catching my eye. (Just at the moment, he is sitting across my knees, as I write - a new position for him - it's rather pleasant, & intimate, trusting & affectionate). And the flies & all the other

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things which fly & creep & sting & bite. They affect one's outlook too. The Mediterranean is the most handsome & refreshing thing in view, & that is really lovely on fine days, as you can imagine. But, as usual, there has to be a snag in it, & this time it is that the bathing is very dangerous indeed, and it seems that many lives have been lost among the soldiers, through being pulled out to sea by the currents.

I'm taking a very black view of everything today, but I'm not exagerating really- this is what I normally think & feel about the place. And if, when I write in any other strain, it's only because I have seen some things new, or have had a lovely letter from you, & I am therefore looking on the bright side. As you said in your first letter after you had heard I was in Palestine, it is a dull country. You suggested that I might read the Bible, & work up some interest that way. But like you, I don't think I shall quite get around to this. Writing to you takes up far more valuably - so much of my time. And there are many other books which I want to read more. It would be much better if I was in some lovely country - full of beauty & interest - with a charming people - places of amusement - which did not have as their main aim, the rooking of the British Army while the going is good. But I know I should find it impossible to exist happily, or even contentedly, without you, for any longer than a very short time. And certainly

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not for 6 3/4 months, and then with no assistance of any kind as to when we are going to meet again. It is cruel, cruel, darling. Sent away - indefinitely. And my return is controlled by so so many imponderables - so weighty, and so obscure, & so international in their character, that people such as ourselves have no idea at all as to how long it is going to be.

It is difficult to know how I am going to manage to exist for perhaps so long, without you. But by some means or other, I shall manage it - & I certainly have no intention or slightest desire to do anything else except - just exist. I sometimes think I envy the many people out here, who pass the time so lightly, and spend all their money, here and there, and have girl friends, either because they are perfectly entitled to, or else in spite of wives & lovers at home. This feeling never even goes so far as mental infidelity - & it never takes longer than about five minutes to pass. But it is invariably followed by a flood of warmth of feeling towards you, caused by the irresistible realisation that any person in my position is far, far better off than others in my position. Because I think of you in particular, to return to, and to love, and have your love of which to think. There is not the faintest even the most fleeting doubt of this - but it does make me unhappier, and more wretched than any other man. Oh darling - why do we have to be apart? We love each other so much. It was

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