Letters from World War II : J.H. Massey

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Letter from Harry Massey to Barbara Massey

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12. own job. Your poor mother - it is one thing after another. Do please give her a special message from me again, & tell her how fond of her I am, & she must try hard & not worry & think so much, & get strong again. When I come home, I want to see her as I remember her. And she still has much to live for - she has all her grand children - & we intend to give her another grand daughter, don't we sweetest?

Poor old Peter has got bad feet now. He came to me the other day, having been on a newly laid runway, & his feet were covered & filled with tar. This I have to drag off with the help of petrol & oil to dissolve it. As a result his feet were raw, & two of them have become infected - one pretty badly. This one is now covered in zinc ointment & bandaged up. He struggles & yelps when Chainarzki & the medical orderly touch him - but when I do, he just lies back & watches me with big trusting eyes, & moans a little inside. It is such a help just to have a dog with me, who is fond of me & trusts me. He is becoming more & more intelligent & sensible - & also bloody funny too. I will tell you about him in another letter. I am sending the brown brother to the other hankie, darling. I do hope you like them. I have held it to my heart & kissed it & all my love comes with it. All my love is yours for ever & always, my darling - and it will always be getting deeper & stronger. I adore my sweet Barbara. x x x Harry. x

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Letter No. 76 - Thursday Oct 9th

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

My sweet darling, It is 10.30 & really too late to write but I do want to begin a letter. After having a letter & 2 Airgraphs from you on TuesdayI had another letter yesterday which was wonderful. The only trouble about getting several letters all together is that it is bound to be followed by an interval of no letters at all. But really they are coming quite well now, considering the distance & the difficulties & the last 6 have come in the correct order. You are writing me such lovely, wonderful, long, loving letters my darling - I must tell you again how good you are & how much I look forward to them & what they mean to me & how happy & content they make me when they come. You are the most wonderful person in the world to be with - & also the most wonderful to be away from, if you see what I mean. I do thank you from the bottom of my heart for your letters, sweetheart.

You said in your letter that you hoped my grave responsiblities would not stop me from being funny & making you laugh. I can promise you faithfully & absolutely that there is not the faintest chance of that happening - I'm not getting at all pompous really. And I can promise you that I will make you laugh a lot when I come home; so many funny things are happening almost every day. I would give the world to be able to come home each evening & tell you about them. Honestly, I believe it is being able to see the funny side of things out there that does keep me going. Because taking matters fairly seriously as I do, I should

Last edit about 2 years ago by Khufu
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be ill. I think, if I could not laugh at them too. Oh darling - I think so much about coming home & what wonderful times we are going to have & what we are going to do - how we shall order our lives to get the maximum enjoyment & interest & value & excitement out of them. I want to make up for all your misery. I want to live up to & exceed all that you are looking forward to. By way of reading Art & educating myself - I am afraid I am rather a disappointment to myself; but you know how little time I have & you know I am not reading any rubbish or wasting my time by going out to places. And I think a great deal too about our love & sex life - in fact that is my sex life at the moment, & has been for a year; living in the past & the future. What wonderful lives we shall have my darling sweetest. It is so gloriously wonderful to think that we understand each other so well & feel the same. I feel that I can do anything to you that I want to do & you to me. And there is never a chance of you feeling I don't really know how to express myself, darling, but I mean you do not feel that I am being "disrespectful" or cheapening you. Do you understand. I know you do. And being like this - we can be so thrillingly happy - I feel that we will have untold depths of passion & glory to explore. Darling sweetest heart, when I write to you like this & when I think of you like this, I become big & throb with longing for you - as I am now. And I feel myself buried deep inside you & your darling legs clinging to me & your breasts are

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inside my heart & darling your sweet lovely face has such a wonderful expression - your kisses are heaven to me, the love in your eyes has nearly made me faint, many times. You remember, don't you, sweetest, I always wanted light to see you. Only because you are so beautiful & I had to see you.

When we meet again my darling it will almost be like starting all over again - probably quite differently. I shall feel that I must woo you again & even seduce you. You have said you will feel shy perhaps - I think I may so too. Won't it be glorious & wonderful? I think at first, I shall just want to hold you & look at you & talk to you & kiss you. I know, once I get hold of you into my arms, I shall not want to let go of you.

Oh dear, it is maybe foolish to make plans - but I think it would be deadly not to. Maybe the war will end soon - maybe I shall be sent home - & maybe I shall be here for another year or more, which God forbid. But I shall always be looking eagerly forward.

It is 12.0. I must go to bed. I had a long interruption tonight. And tomorrrow evening I have to make this recruiting speech. I will tell you all about it on Saturday. Love & kisses & sleep well my own darling XXX H

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Saturday Oct 11th Well darling - this recruiting meeting was quite an affair, I must tell you all about it. Ben came along with me, as interpreter. Having had quite an amout of practice by now with lectures to the Coy & so on, we are pretty good together. I know just how many sentences he can cope with in each go - he is able to sense when I am stopping to allow him to carry on translating, when I am pausing for effect, or to find a word.

First of all we met Zaharoff - you remember me telling you about him? who took us to dinner at Ritz in Tel Aviv. The meeting was at a Cinema in the city - all Jewish cinemas are closed on Friday evenings. There we found an enormous crowd - between 2 & 3,000 I should imagine, because it was a big place & many people were standing. On the platform I found various people - including Mr Shartok, who is the head of the political department of the Jewish Agency, & after Dr Weizman, who is mostly in England & America. Probably the most important Jew in Palestine today: & a Major Aran, who is English, a member of the Samuel family, bears the distinction of being the first Palestinian Jew (that sounds a little contradictory but he left England some years ago, & joined up as a Palestinian) to command a Jewish unit - he is R.A.S.C.. The Chairman kicked off in Hebrew of course I could not understand a word - but Shartok who was sitting next to me kept me roughly informed. Aran then made the first speech. Then the Chairman was up again. I heard my name mentioned, & found tht I was on next. I drew several round of loud applause in my first few sentences, by telling them that

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I was proud & interested to command a Jewish Unit & explaining my reasons. I then outlined the career of the Coy since February & laid stress on all their successes & achievements & usefulness. Then I told them about our intensive training for war, which is going on at the moment. I then "lost" (got heated) my temper about these ignorant & misinformed people who say that the Palestinian Buffs are no more than police - I asked them what could be more right than that the Palestine garrison should be largely Palestinian - men who will be fighting for their own country & who know the country. I then shouted at them to join up & not to delay a moment; not to wait for conscription or the new man - or America - or victory by Russia, or by the Allies, "that would be fatal, thousands of young men may be too late. Let the Jews of Palestine show the world, the Allies, the U.S.A., that they are in the war. Let Hitler & his revolting gang who now enter Nazi German feel our spirit & your will to conquer & to repay the misery which he has brought to all of us. Then we may enjoy to the full, together - the victory was by all of us - together go forward to make the peace & the New World". (loud applause). All this, together with the translation took over 1/2 hour. And when I sat down, Shertok nodded approvingly & said it was very meaty. An old man, a Muktar from one of the oldest Jewish settelements then spoke & told them of his visit to Jewish units in Egypt, E. Africa, then came Shertok. He is quite a small man, with a black moustache, black crinkly hair, just a little bit like Bill Paul apart from the crinkly hair. He is

Last edit about 2 years ago by Khufu
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about 45 & was a Turkish Officer in the last war. He speaks beautiful English, French, German, Arabic better than most Arabs, Turkish, Russian. He is very delicate looking - small hands & fingers. I noticed his ears, which were small & thin, just like a girl's. Naturally, I could not understand a word of his speech but it was obviously very powerful. And Ben told me that half of it was based on & built round my speech. It seems I was alright because I got lots of hand shakes & thank yous very much afterwards. I have now been asked to go & speak at a place called Zikhran Ya'acu on Tuesday. I wonder what you think about all this business, Barbara dear? It certainly does me a great deal of good & has already given me far more confidence in myself on such occasions & also, I feel, a steadier command of words. And I must say that I enjoy it too, though I don't quite know why. One thing is that it is a test. I am interested to see how I go on. I had notes last night, just of the headings of my speech for the sequence & was able to hold this paper in my hand quite steadily & my voice was alright too. Whereas, in my first attempts, when I was 21, to the B.C.S.N. Foremans Assn - & to the Bing Terrible Society, I was so nervous I could hardly hold the paper & my voice was quite uncontrolled, hollow & peculiar & seemed to come from someone or somewhere else. You must know the feeling

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from the stage. I was nervous before starting last night because though I have had quite an amount of practice with the Coy, it is comparatively easy to speak to 200 men under military law & your own command & anybody making a noise or not paying attention is put under arrest by the Sgt Major.

I wonder how all this will affect my eventual attempt to be sent home, which was the original reason for my pushing myself into the breach. It certainly cannot do any harm, the publicity may do good. I saw Col Leicester this morning about some things. He was all beams & smiles & inquired how my speech had gone on; his permission had to be sought beforehand, I had to ask him about the Zikhron meeting in which he said was all right & gave me a free hand to go whenever I wanted to. It seems he is going to be given command of the Area & it was as Area Commander that I saw him. You asked me in your last letter what sort of a man he was & said that he must have great faith in me on account of this second i/c business that was not so great a test of faith really because he did not approve of the appointment of Belreas who was thrown a bone by Force H.Q. as a Captain. I was the unlucky one to get him. And in the case of Burnett, when I put in my report, a Major from Burnett's regt was at hand to agree with what I said. In point of fact neither of them are any worse than McCallaum, but in the Army they can relieve people of appointments & rank whereas in business, or in the Assn anyway, they

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do not seem able to think [?] and enduring an insufficient man or sacking him. I suppose it is partly to do with the fact that an officer cannot easily go over to the enemy, whereas a manager or salesman can join a competitor. But about Col Leicester. He is a smallish, rather [weakly?] looking man of 45 to 50 & wears spectacles - but he is said to play a very nifty game of tennis & squash. I heard that he had been relieved of his command of the Bn for not being strong enough & also for being so much disliked that eventually a gang of rowdies had chased him & he had to lock himself in his room. Personally, I do not believe these stories because all the people from the Bn I have met have been high in his praise & liked him. Possibly he is not suited to command a M.G.Bn in war - so they changed from Infantry to M.G. when he was a little too old to begin learning all over again. So, probably, that was the reason for him being transferred. He is very unpopular with many people at the Depot F in Coys - but this is mainly becuase numerous 3/60 [?] & expect to be Capts & Capts expect to be Majors & it is obviously impossible to promote them all - even if they were all suitable for promotion. I consider him to be very able, to have a very good brain - he works extremely hard too. A rather remarkable feature for the Regular Army. He is very kind rather too much so if anything. He goes to immense amounts of pains in his work. But he is quite hard headed too. It is virtually impossible to

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bluff him. And he is incredibly observant & has an excellent memory. I must say that I get on very well with him & he has always been very kind to me. The only thing is that he complains to me from time to time that I am always different to everybody else. For example, he quite often writes all COs for their views on a particular matter & always for some reson, my view seems to differ from the majority. I myself am quite convinced that I am always right but he is sometimes a shade peeved that I never fall in with the majority & I sometimes wonder if I should not be more tactful. Practically always, I can feel what reply he wants to receive & apparently the others can too, & give it to him. But I feel that he wants a "view" - & if he did not, he should not ask for it. But it is not a serious matter. I like him very much & I'm hoping that, as Area Commander, he will one fine day forward my application for posting home.

Time for bed, ducks. Goodnight again XXXX Harry XXX

Sunday 12th Oct. The enclosed newspaper cutting might interest you darling. This business has been going on today too, when there was a big parade & march through Tel-Aviv, followed by a military display at the stadium. But, there is nothing to tell you about that, it was quite normal & rather unnerving. I am afraid they have got rather a lot on with this recruiting. I'm told that the results so far are rather disappointing. In a large city like Tel-Aviv there are a tremendous number of European Jews. I think that they are only using Palestine as a place of refuge & will certainly return to Germany & Poland, & Romania, Bulgaria & so on when the

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