Letter from Harry Massey to Barbara Massey



Letter No. 100. Monday, Feb 23rd Major. J.H. Massey 6 Palestinian Coy, The Badds. M.E.T. My own darling Barbara, And now having arrived at number one hundred, I will go back to number one. I hope with all my heart that by the time I reach number four or five again, I shall be able to pack up my writing materials & everything else too, & post myself home to you. Do you know I have written 958 pages in my 99 letters, & So with the L.Cs not included in this number & all the () that is over 1000 pages. And I suspect that you have written somewhere about the same amount. It is an amazing amount really. I find that when I am really trying, I can just about manage four pages in an hour. But my normal rate is certainy less than 2 pages an hour. So you can imagine how much time I have spent sitting at my table & writing to you thinking about you. And I like doing so, thank goodness. In fact it is the only real way I have of enjoying myself, & feeling more or less happy somehow together with you. I posted a 16 page letter to you yesterday & now here I am beginning again. It was sweet of you to assure me again in your last letter, that you find my letters good & interesing, & loving too. I do like to know this, I hope that they are more or less like me, for better or worse, give you a fine picture of what I am or what I am doing, thinking. I hardly think that there is any need for me to reassure you, my darling. I told you in a fairly recent letter that I am quite certain that your letters to me are the most wonderful letters which anybody could possible receive. They are perfect in every way & I love them & never cease to look forward to them. It will be an extraordinary feeling when I do not



write to you any more. If I do come home this time, I shall have a 4-8 weeks voyage, & no writing to do at all. I shall be able to do a tremendous amount of good reading.

Today, darling, for the first time for months & weeks I am suffering from hang over. Last night, we celebrated Ben's promotion, by he & his wife & I going to P.Os for dinner. P[?] himself is an extraordinary little man - he was a Communist & was imprisoned for his activities - & now he owns the most expensive restaurant in Tel Aviv, & is supposed to be making L5-600 a week profit. As a Jew, & an old friend of Ben's, he was delighted at the promotion, & the party was on him. Don't be too jealous, darling, - but we had dry Martinis, made from his special private stock of Garden Gin & [?] [?], beer with the food, & lots of champagne afterwards - & when the evening finished at 11[?], we had some lovely sandwiches, & three very quick vodkas. I enjoyed it, as much as I can enjoy anything without you being there too. - [Pity?] promised to buy champagne again, the first time you enter his place with me. If only you could - or soon.

Today, I have been in Tel-Aviv again, in connection with our [?]. And I went to see Pinocchio - have you seen it. It really is awfully good, & Walt Disney is so incredibly orginal - it is all the clever little touches which make his cartoons, & there were hundreds of chidlren there - it was this afternoon & of course I could not help thinking how Lisa would have loved it & been thrilled about it. I do miss our darling so much - we always shall


3/ do all my lives. I'm going to bed now, my sweetheart. XXX H X Saturday Feb 28th And Marie is nine months old today. Dear little chappie. how I long to see him. For four days now I have not written a word to you + that must be just about the longest time since I have been away from you. I have been very busy - working right up to dinner time every day + then some more afterwards. But I'm afraid I have been having a dreadful bit of depression + misery + I just could not bring myself to write to you darling. I don't really know why this fit came- no very particular reason really. But I expect you understand well enough - they just arrive + there you are. And though they never really go away at all they do ease off for varying lengths of time, until the curtain comes down again. I don't really feel like writing now but I am hoping to write myself into a more reasonable frame of mind. News first- + there is little enough about which to tell you. I sent you another "useful" parcel the other day. Another 2 lbs of jam - 100 cigarettes- + 4 pieces of toilet soap + 2 packets of soap flakes. I heard on the wireless that soap is now rationed in England; - + also the photographs from Feb 6th, they are rather disappointing, I'm afraid- none of them are much good of use- there are no good ones at all of the parade+ the remainder are of the men + their friends. The latter I can tell you more about when I came home- but perhaps you will find them interesting as showing types.


4/ One evening I went to the cinema + saw a perfectly awful film with Joan Crawford + James Stewart - I could not stick it + left in the middle l that girl is quite unbearable- does she really believe herself to be an actress? Since Wednesday, things have been very much overshadowed by the loss of the ship "St Inna" with over 700 lives- + it has had a very deep affect on me too. I wander has this been in the English papers. All the people on board were Rumanian Jews- men, women + children who had escaped from the horror of Rumania by the only route open to them- across the Black Sea. They left about 6 - 7 months ago + they were making for Palestine- about 760 people on a small ship which would have been overcrowded with 200. The ship sprung a leak. + they put in at a Turkish port where some mechanical help was given to them + some food. meanwhile the Palestine Government which is all British, refused them persmission to enter Palestine. And so for weeks + months that ship has been hanging about the Dardanelles. with disease on board + several people even went mad. The Jewish Agency made strenuous efforts all the time + finally after weeks of arguments + deliberations + procrastinations the Govt agreed to allow the children only to be taken off. But before this could be effected, the ship sunk, + over 700 people were drowned. It makes me shudder- + feel very angry too-


5/ to think of it; those months of ghastly misery + suffering + then a violent death - after having escaped from the Nazis. The Jewish Agency offered to count them against the quota which had been agreed for the years immigration - but the Govt dillied + dallied + talked about the possibility of 5th column + the difficulty of leading them. The first could have been answered by internment until they had been proved or vouched for + the extra trouble involved is nothing when compared with the simple humanitarian aspect. And as to feeding them there is a shortage of labour + soldiers in this country- + most officers messes are living on the fat of the land at 4 + 5 a day above + over rations. The main reason as I believe it to be is a fear probably unfounded that the Arabs would be upset at so many more Jews coming into the country. But even more than that, I believe the reason to be just plain uselessness + inability to make a decision. And that is the reason why I feel so sick + dejected + ashamed about it. Had it been unavoidable I could just make it up as one more crime of the Nazis - but when the poor people are well in a few days sailing of what we acknowledge to be their National Home + they have nowhere else to go to- it is criminal that someone had



not the guts & initiative to make a decision & allow them to come here. There is quite enough suffering & sudden death in the world today, without our so called ruling classes contributing to it with their peculiar mixture of idleness, snobishness, & ineffectuality.

I had a very sweet letter from your ma three days ago (dated Jan 8~ - & your last one is Dec 30~. it is infuriating) - she told me how well & pretty you looked. & she was [enrolling?] Maxie. I like her letters very much - they are so much more interesting & human than my own mother's. I have also had from her a Xmas number of the sporting & Dramski which, at 2/6, is a big waste of money - & a very pleasant calendar. She was telling me that you & I must take an interest in our local politics after the war. & that this would be the stepping stone to greater things. I suppose you have been talking to her, darling. In any case, I quite agree. & I hope to goodness we can do something. I know that I feel extremely strongly, & even violently, about things at the moment. And far more than wanting to see [shot?], Hitler & Mussolini & their Japanese counterpart - I want to shoot Baldwin, & Simon, & Chamberlain, if the miserable man were still alive. Those men, & many others with them, are undoubtedly responsible for the fact that Germany was ever allowed to get to a position to begin this war. And it was not a case of making mistakes - it was down right dishonesty & selfishness, coupled with the usual [admixture?] of idleness, snobishness & uneffectuality. And you & I


7./ millions of people like us allowed such men to lead us to where we are today. It is perhaps as well that countless people today are too politically unconscious to realize that the loss of their husbands + sons + fathers in the last war, was quite in vain, because they themselves have allowed the present situation to come to pass. I feel tolerably certain that the big mistake made by you + I (in particular, because you + I are better than most other people) in that we have far too much respect + even reverence for the people in high places. Whereas, in reality, they are just very ordinary bloody people with those particular faults mentioned above + who have acquired the habit of ruling + I know very well that my contact such as it has been, with my superiors in the army , has assisted me to this view. Really, I think now that our whole system of Government is all wrong - but I do not feel like trying to make myself clear, a difficult job in any case at the moment. What other news have I ? Really none, my darling. I have written myself into a better mood, thank God. but there is so little to tell you. I should like to think of something funny, in order to make you laugh, but there has been nothing really. I think I will now read childhood Boyhood + Youth in bed + finish this tomorrow. that book has a further advantage, as you wrote such a dear inscription on the fly leaf. Kisses my darling - XXX H.



Sunday - 1 March. I was thinking yesterday about our new home - somewhere in Yorkshire. You know how verandah conscious I have always been - & so our new house must have verandahs, both downstairs & up. I think that to have our bedroom windows opening onto a verandah would be lovely. & on fine nights we could just push our bed out & sleep in the open air - & the same from Maxie's room. And the roof of the house would be flat, or partly flat, & containing a studio for you. with long windows opening out onto the flat part, so that you could work outside on fine days.

[Drawing of a home laid out as described: open air, studio, verandah, Bedroom, and verandah.]

The plan on the left has nothing to do with scales or architecture & does not show the rest of the house. It is just to illustrate what I mean.

What do you think, darling?

It is not supposed to be a big house - the only good sized rooms will be the lounge & our bedroom - a smaller one for Maxie - another room for a maid. Two little rooms for guests. The garden will be just big enough to have a lawn of [illegible], some flowers, & some vegetables. And I have a hope that there will be some trees around - at least facing our bedroom verandah, so that we can be outside & not have to worry about


9./ people with telescopes on moonlit nights. Somebody is going to have to build this house, of course, + it is so difficult to know how thigs will be after the war. I wonder are you willing to live near enough to the works. For me to ask Peter to build a house for us. That would really mean a mile or two from the works, up towards Howarth- or else in the semi-country on the ridge between the works + Shipley. It is completely + entirely up to you, because you have to spend much more time there than I have - + you are the one who will want to go here + there by day. But there is probably no need to exercise our minds much about this at the present stage. And so much depends on so many things prior of building- the general social structure - + also what you + I will be aiming for exactly. But I like to think + talk about our future home. The news is really very difficult to follow at the moment- up + down in the F.E.- up + down in Lybia- but very good from Russia. I have a strong feeling that Russia will defeat Germany this year- with or without our assistance. I only hope that we shall be able to help. I know it is a very tall order, but I am certain that Russia is capable of doing it + that she will not do any waiting - + that at the present rate, it


10./ cannot last more than another six months. If that can happen , then Japan should be easy meat. I think that it is tremendously encouraging that Sir S. Cripps now has an important job in the War Cabinet. He is 100% incorruptible, + the fact of him being in the W. Cabinet will never make him change his spots. I feel very impatient, you know, sittting on my bottom in this place. I wish to God I could have a more important job-but these all seem to be reserved for the Regular Army. If I do come home, I wonder what they will do with me. I shall work v. hard for the Area Commander and/or Col.G. to make out a good report on me + send it on ahead of me. I should hate to finish up in charge of some outlandish part or railway station- when I feel so strongly the urge to be useful + to get something done. But the main thing is to get home. It is now March- + the reply will come this month. I must now catch this morning's post. I have , so far, been having a lazy Sunday morning. Do please give Marie my best love + kisses + tell him I think he looks lovely in his photographs + I think of him very much. And all my love to you darling heart. I think of you all the same, no less. Sweet darling, XXX Harry


Mrs. Barbara Massey &. Mrs Jenkins [crossed out: to Mrs Paul] 6 Bulstrode Gardens [crossed out: Lynwood.] Maddingly Road [crossed out: Candlemas Lane.] Cambridge [Crossed out: Beaconsfield Bucks.]

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