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 75. Saturday - Oct 14th. Major J H Massey, 6 Palestine coy, The Buffs, M.E.F.

My darling own Barbara,

Lisa would, & should have been five tomorrow. I have been thinking about her nearly all the time. And you will have been thinking, I suppose more than me. How lovely she would have been, the darling. She would have been beginning to read & write now, & go to school. I think of her so much that when I come to write, I feel too numbed to do so. If only we could talk together about her. And I shall always remember this night five years ago, when we went out together, to the place on the corner in Otley, & met the Mitchells; - then home to bed, & sweet gentle love; & up again at 1-0. & tea - & the drive to Four Gables. And all that day, waiting. And then there was our pretty sweet baby - & you were so contented & happy. How fortunate we were. And how tragically unfortunate we have been. Anything else could have happened - if only they would not have taken Lisa from us.

I want to say & write down again - that we will always remember her, & love & miss her, as long as we live, for her lovely self & for the happiness which she gave to us.

It is also, exactly one year ago since our last night together. That last two weeks at Gehowen was lovely, & I do not know what I should have done without it. Our rush down from Yorkshire & goodbye on Paddington Station, was all such a nightmare. Today, I cannot understand how I ever managed to leave you - at 4-0 a.m. on the Sunday morning.

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2. If I ever have to leave you again - God knows what will happen.

Sweetheart, why did they have to separate us, of all people. So many thousands would welcome separation - & so many more thousands out here get along so well without their wives.

The more I think, the more I want to be sent home & feel I should be.

Your A.F.M cable came yesterday to say you had not heard for some time - & I replied today to say I am alright - & telling you about my intentions to be sent home. I do hope it will make some sense to you - I think it will. At first, I intended to leave the A.G. to inform you, not risk baffling you in a cable. But I could not resist it, & feel somehow that I may be doing something to give it a push.

I must tell you a little more about this place, how things go on. But now, I think I will go to an early bed, & write again tomorrow. Today I wanted to write as well as think about our anniversaries; we have so many sad ones, now. If only we could be together. Goodnight darling Barbara. You know I love you more than life, & with all my heart & soul & that I always will do. Dearest darling. x x Harry x x.

Sunday Oct 5th. I was hoping very hard for a letter from you this morning, as I have none for a fortnight, now. But all I received was the B.C.&W. annual report, with which you did not enclose your love or any message. And a missing letter from Vera, of July 8th giving me all the usual Bond & Cotterell gossip.

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8. The weather in this country is now changing. The day time remains as hot as ever, if not hotter - & those hot & oppressive winds are blowing again. So that the order of dress for the day is just the same - cotton shirts & lots of perspiration. But in the evening, when the sun goes down, the temperature instead of staying more or less where it was all day, goes down low. And seems to keep on getting colder, until the following morning. A month ago I slept with a sheet up to my waist - & now, blanket by blanket, I have reached three - & changed back into my thicker pyjamas. In the mornings, I sally forth at about 6-45 to 7-0, & now wear a collar & tie & a jacket or battle dress blouse above my shorts. The variation in temperature is amazing - & is much the same as it was in Egypt last December, which I must have told you about them. We had one heavy shower of rain this week - it lasted about 1/4 hour, nothing has been seen since. But it will be beginning properly soon, & then I am told, it is terrific, & this place, instead of being cracked & baked, will just be a sea of disgusting streaky mud, & gum boots have to be worn all the time.

Monday Oct 6th. I could not write yesterday, darling. And I wrote an Airgraph this morning to tell you so. Anniversaries are lovely things when they are to mark our being engaged or married, or just meeting - but Lisa's 5th birthday & leaving you & England are another matter. And both on the same day were too much for me. I felt utterly desperate yesterday, & did not know what to do with myself - until finally I went for a long hard walk of 10 miles or more. This had the effect of quietening me down a lot - & when I came back, I was able to have a good hot bath in my canvas

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4. affair & eat dinner. And afterwards, I had Ben & Headley & Salamon into my room & we talked until bedtime - local gossip. But I'm afraid that a change seems to have come over me this last week or two. I feel so painfully miserable & hopeless & my brain just thumps round in dreary circles. My private life up to now, has centred entirely around my writing to you & it still does. If it did not, it would have nothing to centre round at all. But even though I sit here for hours in front of my pad, I get so little down on paper - nothing seems to me worth while the telling - except that I love you & think always of your love for me - & that I want to see Max - & that I want to come home. But I cannot just go on, & on & on writing about those things. Perhaps this place has got something to do with it - though I really feel that I like it very much more than the last one. It is certainly less busy & I am in the Mess just with my own officers & nobody else. And they really do bore me & annoy me. And in addition to which they have not much love for me & are rather scared of me. And Salamon, though a decent chap, is very dull & nothing more or less than a regular army sergeant. And then the work is entirely different. Before it was nearly 100% administration & almost more than I could do. Here it all depends on my own energy & initiative. My officers - except Ben - the paragon - & the entire Coy seem bent on as easy & as easy going a time as possible & the maximum amount of time off. Whereas

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5. I am determined to make the most of this 3 months training & try & make soldiers of them. So my training programme gives them organised games on Wednesday afternoon a half day on Saturday - & all other days, including Sunday are work from 6 to 6. And the officers & N.C.Os are so hopelessly gutless & unwilling to shoulder their responsibilities that I am like a big policeman in the Coy & seem to spend much of my time shouting at the men: platoon commanders & sergeants - work. And then, as I told you before, they compare notes with other Coys & find that they are having it harder. The last Coy here. for example - they just seemed to more or less please themselves, & so my people want to do the same. And do the result is, I am informed by Ben & the C.S.M & C.Q.M.S - they just think that they are very unlucky to be in No. 6 Coy, & to have a hard Major. And I am cordially disliked. That does not worry me for one moment, & just makes me all the more determined to keep them at it. But what does worry me & annoy me, is the bloody state of mind of these people, & complete selfishness & lack of spirit & determination & effort to win the war. And also the rotten slackness of the other Coy Commanders, which allows them to drift on in such a way. I've seen a number of them now & I know how they go on. There were two in the barracks when I was there - & I have seen & heard others. They all have a good old fashioned lunch from about 12-30 until 2-0 - & lots of beer & sherries

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