Letters from World War II : J.H. Massey

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Letter from Harry Massey to Barbara Massey

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occasions & go away again afterwards: I suppose Jas is still hiding behind 1/2 dozen cows. It will all be the same after the war I expect, but if I was Jas, I should prefer to have gone along with everybody else. Someone like fat old Birchall is doing a lot of work but Jos' few cows could be looked after by the man across the road.

I must finish on the page & go to bed. P.T. at 6.45 in the morning & right on until 7.15. This for 3 months. They should all be soldiers at the end of this. And by then I am hoping the war will be over.

Yes, Peter is a Schnauzer. He is in tremendous form & loves being here & away from barracks. He was very worried on the move & stuck to me like a limpet - he knew something was going on with all the packing. It will be very sad if I cannot bring him home.

Goodnight sweetest darling - please be happier. I shall work with all my might, when I come home, to compensate for all this misery. And I will succeed. All my love & all my dearest loving kisses & hugs & bites & licks & squeezes & all of me. For ever Harry.

Last edit about 2 years ago by Khufu
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Letter No. 74 Thursday Oct 2nd

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

My own darling sweetheart,

I have not written you a letter since Sept 25 which is a week ago & as you see, this one has been put off for two days. I can assure you, Barbara darling, that I am not becoming idle, or losing any interest in writing to you, or being at all hard up for any thing to say - far from any of those things. But things have been happening. First of all, Frank Macaskie telephoned me on Saturday - from Jerusalem - having had many adventures & escaped from the Germans. He stayed with us until Tuesday - but I will tell you all about that later. The most important thing of all just now, is that I have decided finally & definitely that I am now going to do all in my power to be sent home, to you my darling. I have sent you an Airgraph about it today, & I hope that by the time you get the letter, I may have sent you another Airgraph to inform you more exactly what my chances are. I'm very much afraid darling, that there is not a great amount of hope - but I intend to try & go on trying. It is all like this - there is such a thing as compassionate posting to the U.K. But the number of officers & men sent is very small indeed. And so when the time comes to send a batch, applications are asked for & these are carefully examined by G.H.Q, the selection is made. I really do not know who judges the degree of compassion, or how it is judged - & I am a little afraid that

Last edit about 2 years ago by Khufu
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luck plays a part in the selection. But I feel that very few people can have a more tragic story than ours, during this war. And now that we have stood up to being parted for a whole year - I just intend to make every possible effort to put an end to this miserable & wretched state of affairs. I shall have to tell the whole story - about the boy - about our darling Lisa - about my going away - about your father's death, - about your miserable pregnancy - & now, although Max was safely born & is fine, your wretchedness & worrying, about Max, about me & about your mother. That you are not strong enough to do very much work, & yet when you are not working, your mind is too free to think & worry. It might help enormously, if Mr. Hughes or a doctor who knows you well, would state in definite terms, that my return home would have a direct & beneficial effect on your health & mind & nerves. Hughes in London, is rather a difficulty, but he knows your case very well now & you could write to him & maybe your doctor could too. I do hope that he will feel that he can & should write this better. Maybe it is not necessary, in the case of an officer - but it may be, in which case it would be very helpful.

I will tell you what I have done so far - I spent a long time composing my letter. I enumerated all our sadness & also pointed out my earnest desire to serve with the 7th Bn. And then I said how hard I had worked & mentioned my good confidential report. I then decided to go & see

Last edit about 2 years ago by Khufu
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Col. Leicester & ask him for his advice. I have one advantage at the moment - Col. L. has become Area Commander for the time being, the other Col having gone away & I am hoping he will keep the job. He said first of all, that my wanting to go to the 7th would cut no ice at all, with which I suppose I must agree - so many people being the same way.

In my letter I had said our position was desperatehe said he did not agree with that - but thought that perhaps I had a chance. He said I was too late for this time, these people I am told, are going off just now. But that I should wait until applicants are called for again, & then send my letter in. He thought this was the best way & told me to go & see his senior staff officer. I did this & he confirmed Col L's statement - & advised me to prepare my letter very carefully & then it was possible for the Area Commander to work it with his ideas, if he sent it on to G.H.Q. So, my darling, I have the advantage of what I think is a strong case - being a Major & a C.O. I can make myself heard a little better - & if Col L is still Area Comd when the next time comes, he knows me & that I am not a fake, & so my application has a better chance of getting over the first fence, & possibly with his blessing.

On the other side - it is all a little chancy depending so much on who has the final say.

Last edit about 2 years ago by Khufu
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The number of vacancies is so small. And being a C.O. & a major, they may say I cannot be spared, & that my experience with the Coy cannot be replaced. So I am trying not to hope too much & you must do the same darling. But, at the same time, you must do all you can & think of all you can, to help.

And sweetest heart - & this is very important indeed, You must not worry about this & so add to your cares - & you must make up your mind that if I should get a flat refusal, you will not take it hard & so make matters worse. I shall do all I can & try to think of everything & even if I fail this time, I shall try again & again. So that instead of only having a very dim & distant end of the war to which to look forward - you can think of me always trying to get home to you. Oh darling dearest Barbara - I am dying & longing & pining to see you - to see Maxie - I am thinking of nothing else at all. I am crazy for you. Only to hold you in my arms, & feel your body & your heart beating against mine & to kiss your lips & your eyes, look at you, & tell you myself how much I love & adore & cherish you, & really tell you how much I have missed you & thought of you: felt for you.

Is it really possible darling - after all our misfortunes - that now the wheel has really

Last edit about 2 years ago by Khufu
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Letter No 75. Saturday - Oct 4th. 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 Gobowen 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.

Last edit 9 months ago by augustrinian
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3. 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

Last edit over 1 year ago by jaxdnaquest
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6. beforehand. And then religiously have a sleep in the afternoon. And the trouble is that the higher authorities just carry on in the same way. I have heard them say it, young & old - little twirps of 21 & 22 & old fools who ought to know better - "the afternoon is sacred to the British officer." And all this in spite of the fact that letters have come round from Wavell & from [Andaimlock?] - that officers will work in the afternoons - the enemy does; & drink will be in moderation - The Navy have to convoy most of it here. But there is so little that I can do about it, beyond having my own unit up to scratch, & here I do not allow officers to drink at lunch time - & they have an hour for lunch, & then carry on. It really does seem the least that one can do, to work one's hardest & so hurry on the end of the war. God - how I want to see the end of it all.

I am rapidly becoming an almost complete Jewish Unit, I think. I told you that [Pillatt?] left a month ago. So Headley is now my only British subaltern. Sgt Griffith left yesterday, to be C.Q.M.S. in a new Coy. And in a month's time, C.Q.M.S. Hemmings goes, & I have a Jew in that job. And when C.S.M. Jack arrives back from S.A. - Sgt Kiley goes too. So I am left with Salamon, Headley & Jack. And I have Jewish understudies for all these, & anything may happen any time. Sgt Medukoff was the understudy for the C.Q.M.S. & a very

Last edit over 2 years ago by Helper21
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7. clever & able chap he was too. But I could not trust or rely upon him - & he continued to be a slippery customer in spite of warnings from me. And so I shovelled him off last week & made a present of him to Col Leicester who wanted an office accountant. And so I have now changed Lubitsch over onto the Q side & he is shaping very well. To take his place, I have my eye on a L/Cpl Golumbowsky who is a M.A. & quite a pleasant bloke. He has rather a pretty wife. who crashed in on me in highly irregular fashion some months ago, to beg leave for her husband. She asked me if I did not think him quite the best man in my Coy, & being rather peeved at being crashed in on, I said no certainly not - at which she burst into tears.

I'm feeling a little better than I did when I began this evening - thank goodness. Though I don't know why. I think writing to you clears my train & takes away all my cares & worries of being away from you - until after a page or two, & I begin to feel in touch with you again. I think probably this feeling in touch has a great deal to do with my whole outlook. Earlier this evening, I felt so hopelessly & helplessly far away & cut off. The sandflies are out this evening - & so I have a moon tiger burning on my table - & I am smoking Camel cigarettes. All these little things help - Also

Last edit over 1 year ago by jaxdnaquest
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9. fitted carpets, a private lavabo & so on. How disgusting to think of Willie being in sole possession, even if Frost & [?] do do all the work. Lots of talk about the Maestro, the Massey touch & veiled hints about another amalgamation, & going onto the Board together. He said he had seen Amy from time to time, either with a "supply officer or some persona grata" Christ! Its about time that [----] grew up.

I could go on now, but I must go to bed. It is 12-30 & I get up at 6-15. Goodnight, my own darling. x x x x x H.

Tuesday - 7 Aug. At last I have heard from you again today - a letter, No 55, & 2 Airgraphs of Sep 11th & 12th & three snaps of you & Maxie. Oh - what a diffeence it makes darling. They all arrived at 5-0 o'clock, when I had given up hope for today, & I just felt like another person immediately. It was a lovely letter too - though at 6 pages, one of the short ones, for us nowadays. I always feel a little bit guilty & idle when I send off a letter of less than 8 pages - mainly because I always think of it arriving at the end of one of those awful blank spells, & then you being disappointed to get such a short letter after such a long time. They are a devil those blanks, & you seem to have them worse than me, poor darling. At least you can tell from the numbering of my letters, that I am not neglecting you. I wish I could do something about it.

Now darling one - you wrote in your letter that you hoped I had not written to Zag or B-D. as you felt I was safer where I am. I never did write that letter,

Last edit over 2 years ago by Helper21
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