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Letter from Harry Massey to Barbara Massey
Letter No 29 Saturday Capt J.H.Massey 29 Mar 41 6th Palestinian Coy The Bluffs Middle East Forces
My darling Barbara These cards have their uses after all. I started a letter to you last night, but felt so tired and dull that I had to stop - and did a little reading and went to bed. And I am going off this weekend, and so will not be able to finish the letter until Monday. I am looking forward to getting away today - I have been hard at it, slogging away, since Jan 10th - and do not seem to have relaxed once in all that time. I am going to visit some of the Jewish colonies, with Ben [Arji], which will be very interesting. It is an experiment which is apparently succeeding, and each colony is an almost self contained community. Anyway, I shall be seeing for myself and will be writing you and telling you all about it. Also I think, we shall be going through some fine country and scenery. Tiberiaus, the Sea of Gallilee, the Jordan Valley - and perhaps Nazareth. Your 15th letter arrived on Thursday, the one you wrote to me from Cambridge and when you were staying with Juliette. A lovely letter, thankyou, darling. It all reminded me very much of that day when we drove down there in the car, with the awful Gilbert - and I went on to Bocking and Lisa being so upset when you had to catch the train in such a hurry on Cambridge station. I expect you thought of it too. I have just got myself a dog, darling. I have been thinking about it for some time and of all the possible and probable disadvantages - and then your recent letter saying what a pity it was I had nothing to be fond of, this made up my mind. I tried to find one for nothing or else a 5/-, but they were all so dirty and scruffy. And so I went to a kennels on Thursday and bought a little thing of 5 weeks old - for £2-10-0. About it's breed, this is a bit difficult as it is Austrian, and I have gone and forgotten it, but I think, in English, it is a Pincher Terrier. Anyway, at this moment, it is tiny, and a browny grey colour, and has a short tail, and a big head, and big feet, and is very sweet. I think it looks rather like a Dandy puppy - but it will grow to be rather bigger than a Kerry Blue, and I think, not unlike one. They are said to be very intelligent and clever, faithful, and very strong and healthy.
It is good company, already, and gives me somebody to talk to in my room, where I spend so much time alone. I have called him Peter - it is quite a pleasant name, and occured to me because on the same day King Peter of Jugo-Slavia took control of his country , against Hitler and so, I hope, shortened the war, and so brought you and I nearer to each other.
We now we have the Turks, Yugo-Slavs, and the Greeks on our side - the pick of the Balkan countries - so things are looking up. The summer here is just beginning, and the days are becoming warmer, the flies and mosquitos are coming out, and winter clothing is going away. In 2-3 weeks now it will be really hot. If only you were here to enjoy this peace and sunny weather. It does seem so wrong, that you should be in [ ] England and I am safe and sound in the Holy Land. All my love and kisses, darling heart, to you, and the baby if it is arrived. And if not, you know I am alwasy thinking about you. Forever - Harry
Letter no. 31 / Tuesday - / Capt. J.H. Massey / 8 Apr 41 / 6 Palestinian Coy. The Buffs / Meddle East Forces. 'My own darling - I have not written to you since last Wednesday. I started the other night, and felt all bloody minded and dull again and could not go on. And since then, the Company has had to do another move, and so, of course, I have been up to the eyes in work again. This time, it was only a short move - out of barracks and into billets, and in the same town - but even so, it has made me frantically busy again, and not a moment to spare. Last night, I was so tired, I could hardly climb into bed - but I managed it, and it was at 10.0 o'clock, and so I feel a good deal better today. I still have a bagfull of work to do, but I want to send this away now - and then I begin a decent letter again. These moves are a damn nuisance. Each time they happen, there all the organisation of the move, and then settling in - and then I have to make our new fire orders, and new air defence orders, and new standing orders, and new guard orders, and arrange all the office, and fix up a laundry, a tailor, and a barber, and a shoemaker, a new canteen. And a hundred to one different things. One of the big troubles of course, is having [a?] [second?] in [command?] yet, to help me with all this work. But, I think that will be put right soon now - I will tell you more in my next letter. I got your very first letter on Friday. posted by you on 11th Oct- so it had taken one week short of 6 months to reach me. A terribly long time, but it was still good to have it. Last Sunday was Apr 6th and so 6 months since I left you. What an age it seems, my darling - and how long is it going to be until I come home to you? It is impossible to say that I am becoming used to this even becoming resigned to to it - because I am doing neither. I just miss you terribly, all the time, my dearest one, and think of you and pine for you and long for you. And I'm finding it ever more difficult to remain cheerful and take an interest in things and even worse, people, or even be naturally civil to them. This German war on Jugo-slavia
has just started now - and in N. Africa again too. And I cannot imagine whether this is going to shorten or lengthen the war. I suppose it is as well that things have started to pop again - & there is now some chance that, at [least?] the end will being to come into view. But oh, my darling, the pain of being away from you, for all this time, and at this time, is so depressing and miserable that I cannot even cry or even feel very much. I just blindly and painfully ache for you - and to be with you again and speak to you, and feel your touch. I badly need some good news from you - and from the war. Look after yourself, my sweetheart and never forget will you how much I love you. All my deepest love to you and to baby - always your Harry
Mrs H. Massey c/o Mrs Nash East Lodge Winkfield Manor Near Ascot Berks
and something happy and exciting too. 32 was my age when I left you - and the next one, 33 is my age now. And my last one, 31, is your age now, though of course I realise that your areo only 21 yerally. Whatever you are, you are very wonderful, my sweetheart. As I sit here and think about you, I marvel at you, my darling one. I think about you, and shake my head and groan aloud, this being parted from you is so agonising and tragic. You are so beautiful and lovely, so young and so pretty, so smooth and so soft and utterly gorgeous and sweet and adorable and desirable. Barbara dearest darling, you are so satisfying to be with, so fine to talk to, and so heavenly and wonderful to make love to. I am perfectly certain that there is nobody in all the world like you, so perfect and lovely - others never will be. Age will never make any difference. I shall always love yoyum passionately and deeply and with all my heart and soul. I'm not just writing this darling, because I think it will please you, or because I think it time I made some endearments. I feel it terribly stronly and with the utmoststrength and certainty and I am trying hard to tell you. Oh, I do long to be with you. I pray hard, every day of my life here, that this may be soon. There is so much happiness and joy and excitement and interest and contentment and peace and quite and love - if only we could be together. It is nearly 12-0 - and I will finish this tomorrow - and try to make it a long one. I have much to tell you again. Goodnight my sweetest love -
I remember you so vividly - love you so much. xxxx. Sunday. it is inow 9.30, which is my usual time for beginning to write to you, and I had intended to write all afternoon. This major business is just making me busier, so far - which I hardly thought was possible. But it certainlt seems to be bringing me exra work and responsibilities outside the Company. On Tuesday, there is to be a Jewish recruiting march, of which I have to take command- and so today I had to go out I make all the arrangements. I will tell you all about it after it has happened. And on Thursday, I have to be the President of a Court Martial. My various experiences as defending officer will be of help, of course - but I shall have to swot up the procedure pretty hard - and the Manual of Military Law is a mystifying tome.
The whole root and branch of this trouble is having no second in command - who, in these companies, does the work of adjunctant and quartermaster. And so having these jobs piled onto me, on top of a fairly difficult command, is all a bit too much. But, as I think I told you - this should be dealt with any day now. You remember me telling you about the various officers? In February, when I was in the process of getting rid of [Behrens] - I recommended Headley for the job. And I now hear from the Military Secretary that the is to be appointed . And when this happens, it is going to cause gloom, and anger among the other British subalterns -
Letter No. 33 18 Apr 41 Major J.H.Massey, 6th Palestinian Company, The Buffs. Middle East Forces.
My own sweet darling - I feel so unhappy and miserable again, having no letters from you, and I hardly know how to write. And on one of these cards too. I have just discovered that these things are supposed to get home quicker than the normal air mail, so I hope it is true - and I wish you could do this too. Why can't they realise that it helps the morale of the troops to receive letters as well as to be able to send them. But i must try and stop this incessart grumbling, when I write to you. It is difficult though, darlying - and I'm afraid I am a very unhappy major. I am missing you so terribly badly at the moment , and I am frantically anxious to know how you are, and how your are feeling, and what you are doing. If you are having the baby after eight months, and I do you are, it will be in 10 days time now. Oh, I think about you so much and so constantly and it is so difficult to write, swwetheart. I just want to send you cables all the time, but, apart from them being so expensive, I always remember that when I do not write now, it means that you are going to have no letters from me in 5/6 weeks' times. But, if I do not hear from you soon, I will send another one in a day or two's time. I so much wanted to have word from you that you are now reassured about the money question - I was so sick that you were so worried about it, at the the time. My cable that what I had had would last until June, will just about work out alright, providing nothing special happens - so I think that is being quite good. Don't you, darling? And I have no bills outstanding here at all. Sweetest darling - I do hope that if ther baby has arrived, you are well and strong, and happy. And that if it is still to come, that you are the same, and that you will not be hurt too much. Oh sweetheart, what have we done, that I should be away from you now? If only I could be with you, I do so long to be. It is heartbreaking, and it make me cry, to think of not being there. Not that i could do any thinkg of real value to help. But just to be with you, and hold you and kiss you. but you must know how much I want to be, and how much I love you. And how much I always
Letter No. 34 Sunday - 20 Apr 41 Major J.H.Massey, 6 Palestinian Coy, The Buffs Middle East Forces
My darlng Barbara - It is three o'clock in the afternoon, and unless I can help it, I have no intention of doing any more work today. There is only one thing I want to do, and that is to write to you - but by God, I do feel flat. I feel like a vegetable, a sone in the ground and a piece of wood, all rolled into one. And although I am quite certain I have dozens of things about which I write you, it seems difficult to get going, because my mood is all wrong. Its so much more enjoyable writing to you, when the words bubble from my pen, and the only reason I stop writing is because it is time to go to bed, or to catch the post - and almost certainly you will appreciate these letter more, too. But I expect, after I have written a page or two, I shall get into a swing again, and be able to go on, with pauses, until midnight.
This dreadful flatness, is caused of course, because your letters have stopped arriving, entirely apart from just hearing from you in the ordinary way, there are so many special things about which I thirst and pine for news. It is so hopelessly niserable, not knowing how you are, and what your latest plans are about the baby, and where you are going to live afterwards, and who is going to be with you. We have both been disappointed, by receiving 2 or 3 letters, and being let to believe that "now everything is alright" - then there has been a complete dry up and nothing has come along for weeks. A month ago, your letters werer coming along splendidly, and I had arrived athe point of bexpecting one every 3 - 4 days. But now, there is a complete
reversal, and I hardly dare to ask if the post has arrived. And then life is really rather dull, just now. There is plenty of work to do, but it is not at all exciting and not very interesting at the moment. There is so much war going on in Egypt and the Balkans, and it seems somehow wrong, and is rather unsettling, to be out of it all, and be just in this place, as a kind of a glorified superintendent of police. But I shall not do anything to bring about a change, so don't start worrying about me yet, my darling, that is one thing you have been spared, up till now. It must be horrible for wives and mothers and people, who know that their menfold are in the battles, and know that casualties are takin place, and have no opportunity of hearing news, for maybe weeks. And for myslef, I am so determined and anzious to come home to you, and this one fact is so far away more important than any oter, that I shall never, in any way, do anything which might stop that happening. No matter how bored and flat I am, or how long it goes on for, or however much I may feel that I want to be off and up and doing. I think now, it is far beter to just carry on and see what happens, and not to interfere with fate or the future - unless opportunities appear in which case, it is permissible to attempt to influence matters.
And then, the other thing which is not helping much at the moment,is that bugs and flies and mosquitos here started to bite. They are really horrible, and the last few days, I have had a hell of a time. Some of them are bugs. I'm certain, and they (as you know, from