Letters from World War II : J.H. Massey

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Letter from Harry Massey to Barbara Massey

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address is unchanged after the move, just M.E.F. as usual. Oh blast & damn it, as you say, why did we ever leave N. Ireland? As I can think of no new or original reason, I will just leave it at that rhetorical statement. On looking up "rhetorical" in my Fowler (I often check on myself nowadays) he says "the assumption is that only one answer is possible, that if the hearer is compelled to make it mentally himself it will impress him more than the speaker's statement". In other words, you know it was a fool.

Do you remember the day we left Warrenpoint, the awful train journey & the worry of out our mistake, & then that ghastly midnight trek round Belfast to find a room in a Hotel - how we eventually had some tea in our room, & then in spite of being so very tired, we slipped into one bed & made love very quietly & gently. It was always so lovely sweetheart when we made love in that way - & then we very quickly and surely went to sleep marvellously close together, happy & content that was Max's last chance to have been conceived in Ireland.

I was talking at the beginning of this letter about having our reward when we meet again - & I have been thinking quite a lot lately - especially since Max was born, that I am a believer in compensations. Not for any superstitious reasons or because of luck - but as a matter of act

Last edit about 2 years ago by Khufu
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& certainty. I am quite certain & I think you are too, that our new life together is going to be happier & more interesting & more exciting in every way than ever before. The very fact of this posting has made us think of each other in a more detailed way than ever before & then I was leaving you to the dangers of child birth & bombing & perhaps invasion - & you saw me going off to join an unknown campaign in the Middle East. I think our marriage was a miracle of happiness & love & passion & contentment & you my darling (you said in your letter before the birth that you had been happier than you ever thought was possible. Neither of us dared say more - & yet now I know that nothing is impossible, that now we really have even greater happiness & love to look forward to - & that it will last forever. That will be our reward & compensation for the pain & misery of this posting. Our everlasting love was assured before - beyond all doubt, & we could very well have done without - this rending asunder of our lives - but now it has happened I insist on my theory of our reward. Who will insist that we begin to have it soon? Please sweetest angel darling. wish for me like I wish for you & somebody may answer our prayers & wishes. Love & XX to Max And all dearest love to my lovely beloved wife Barbara. XXXXHarryXX

Last edit about 2 years ago by Khufu
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Letter No. 68

Wednesday - Aug 20th

Major J.H. Massey 6 Palestinian Coy, The Buff M.E.F.

My sweetest lovely darling,

Your 47th letter, send on June 27th arrived on Monday, Aug 18th - so that is a little bit quicker than they have been coming for some time. It is a marvellous letter, my sweet; I am absolutely delighted with it. It is so full of informaiton about you & about Max & about the house & what you are doing. It is so lovely to have you writing like this again, when for so long you were full of fears about the baby & no confidence in the future.

Please do not think for a single second, my darling, that this comparison of your lettters is anything in the nature of a complaint. You must know that I always want to hear exactly from youL: what you are doing & thinking - if you are sad or miserable or unhappy or frightened or discontented - or well & happy - it is all the same, it is from you & I want to know everything. - why I am so pleased with your new letters is because you are now rid of all those fears & apprehensions, & this must make such a tremendous difference to you & to your whole outlook on life. All your letters have been wonderful, with the one exception when you gave me a six page raspberry for being extravagant & thoughtless - & to which I'm afraid I rather answered back. But that was a misunderstanding & will never happen again.

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been so heavenly & wonderful & marvellous, that to be suddenly cut off from each other is too much & is not good for us. The very fact of it having been so superbly happy, makes this separation all the more difficult & unpleasant & hard to bear - but I suppose I would not have it otherwise. And there is absolutely nothing to be done about it - except to know that we shall have our reward when we meet again.

Thursday Aug 21st - A marvellous piece of news today darling - we are getting out of this bloody barracks at last & getting a move to another part of Palestine & so a complete change of scenery & new work. I am absolutely elated about it, as it means getting rid of all this extra work & responsiblity for which I get very little thanks, nor does it do me any good, as far as I can see, in getting me any further - as financially. On the new job, I shall just have my Unit to look after, & nothing & nobody else, they will all be pretty well under my hand, instead of scattered about as they are now. We shall be under canvas again, which I prefer & also drawing field allowance again, another £5 a month, free of tax. The men will be very pleased too, as they were having a hard time here & have had a great deal to put up with. Also, I shall be interested to see what sort of a job the coy relieving us will make of all this - they are 3 months older than we are, but I have a feeling that they will fall very much short of our standard. I'm expecting

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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

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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

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& 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

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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.

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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 &

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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

Last edit almost 2 years ago by MaryV
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