Letters from World War II : J.H. Massey

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Letter from Harry Massey to Barbara Massey

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Letter No. 88. Sunday Dec 21st

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

My own darling sweetheart

I do not know whether I shall manage a very long instalment tonight, or not. I feel reasonably fit & awake now but I have been another enormous long walk today with Saloman, to which turned out to be much longer than we expected as intended & we must have done no less than 25 miles. It is only interesting to go East from this place, which takes us into the mountains, North, South & West are mostly a continuation & extension of a rather dull & flat valley going on to the sea. So [having?] orders to serve doing a dull initial fire both in & out, we had the car takes us to a certain place - & it was only after we had seen the car away that it was realised that a wrong turning had been taken. Soon we set off each armed with a service rifle, a haversack, ration of bacon & marmalade sandwiches. Peter following along. We get some very good brined bacon about 2-3 times a week now, not having seen it at all since I came out here. At 3 o'clock we came to the place we intended to begin training about 20 minutes from home. So we branched off towards the nearest main road - & we were very lucky - at 5.0 pm we hit a minor road, & very tired & foot sore by then, sat down for a smoke & we had only been there two minutes when an Arab bus came along, & took us within 4 miles of home - this was really a miracle because buses, particularly in Arab parts of the country were very few & far between. And two minutes after coming back here, the rain came down in floods. So it was a good day after all. It was a lovely clear warm & sunny day

Last edit about 2 years ago by Khufu
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Letter No. 89, Sunday 28th Dec Major J. H. Massey 6 Palestinian Corp, The Buffs MEF My own darling heart - I arrived back from my Xmas visit to the Hopkins in Haifa at 7-30 this evening. I have been busy ever since, as many things had to happen during my absence, nothing at all having happened for 3 1/2 months. And I also found a large bunch of letters & cards waiting for me, including [miraculously ?] your letter no 61 from Oct 26th, AG's of 2 & 8 Nov- the latter giving me the copy of Hughes certificate. It is now 11-30 pm & I cannot write much longer. I wanted to make a beginning - I have so much to tell you about the "most important topic" - & about my leave - & still to answer properly your 3 delayed letters which arrived last week. And to tell you again how much I adore & love you & long for you with all my heart. Your Xmas parcel was [lovely underlined], my darling - thank you very much indeed. All the contents are very useful & what I want & used & I'm so pleased to have Tolstoy's book. I took the parcel with me to Haifa & opened it on Xmas morning. Your letter was sweet & made me so happy [& sad ?]. I wore a pair of the socks straightaway, I put Vaseline Hair Tonic on my hair, I powdered myself in all the places after my bath; I kissed the [Perlis ?] too, & pulled the crackers with the Hopkins child. It was a lovely parcel & I was so pleased you made me wait to open it until Dec. 25. I am furious with myself now for not sending such a parcel to you &

Last edit over 1 year ago by shashathree
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the ground, a little for me. When I saw him last week, he made noises as though he would try & find out something but I did want to press it, then.

You must not worry, darling sweet, that I shall get myself into trouble with all this. I am being very circumspect & respectful - in any case, I am only replying to a general circular for applications. In any case, my sweetheart, it has been more than heartening to hear you say in your letters how well you are now really - & that [illegible] all your [illegible] again in order & in place your stomack muscles in good form. I was very worried about you, dearest sweet. I would [illegible] feel very much happier if I could be nearer to you, quite [illegible]. I am [illegible] longing to be with you. I [illegible] realise from your letters that your [illegible] was not your choosing at all & really depended on your [illegible] poor soul [illegible] that you [illegible] feeling. It is [illegible] & so that is that. It will be hard more interesting for you [illegible] your [illegible] if only you can have a comfortable & pleasant home in which to live. And also some work to make you feel useful to the war effort. But you must not have any guilty conscience about that [illegible] [illegible] have been quite enough for that [illegible] of [illegible] lives - you have a strong son to look after & bring up - & I am out here, instead of being

Last edit 7 months ago by KokaKli
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reserved in Bradford, which it could have been. So do not go & do anything which you don't want to do, darling. If you can find such work which is not as hard, & which you want to do, & where they want you, that would be alright. Otherwise, you can concentrate on Maxie - on some of your own work - & are writing to me, to keep up my morale & war effort. By which I do not mean you must write cheerfully if you do not feel like it. All your letters are all the world to me & I want to hear all about you. But do keep well my sweetest - & never worry about me. I am very careful & well behaved - & I keep in excellent health, & I do not think the Nazis will come this way - if they do we shall be a match for them - & even if they come as far as this, I shall probably have to take my Jews away behind enemy lines to guard a Base or [illegible] of [illegible] But I do not think that will happen. And I shall come home [illegible] having seen a Nazi, or [illegible] not a hero at all. It is a little galling to think of at times - but somebody has to do this job. & nothing is of importance compared with coming home to you. You must promise me never to blame me or laught at me ([illegible]) for having been in such a safe & cushy job all the time. I don't think you will, somehow. And now [illegible] Xmas - it was a pleasant &

Last edit 7 months ago by KokaKli
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for their outlook - & they have correctly guessed the official attitude as to their uses. Dr Weizman, for the Jewish Agency, has asked for Jewish Batallions, & the Cabinet promised them - & then put them off, & has finally gone back on its word. The Government, of course, are going carefully, & do not want any Jewish-Arab troubles again after the war. But I feel that their attitude is muddled & misinformed rather than deliberately & intelligently careful. Misinformed, because they rely on the Palestine & local Government officials, who are notoriously out pro Arab, only because they are jealous of the abilities & industry of the Jews, & cannot patronise [illegible] over them as they can over the Arabs - & muddled because of being misinformed.

But what am I to do? I have 196 soldiers. & I consider it my duty to train them & treat them as soldiers, & quite irrespective of surrounding bad examples. War is war, & we are up against a ruthless & efficient enemy - & we must be the same, if we hope to win by force of arms, rather than by blockade & gold, & so give them the opportunity again of thinking they were not beaten & so they must try again in 1960. Solomon & Ben-[Azi?] agree with me. that (the hard way is the only way) this is the right way Headley, who is milk & water & a fish, says the men are unhappy & I drive them too hard.

Last edit 7 months ago by KokaKli
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Letter No. 93. Saturday - 17th Jan Capt J.H.Massey, 6th Palestinian Coy, The Bluffs, Middle East Forces My own darling Barbara, It seems that my life out here is to become ever funnier, before it becomes better - or before I come home. Another of my battles is now won & on Monday Ben became Captain Ben Arzi. And Salomon goes & Headley goes & I am all by myself. It sounds more Tragic & Terrible than it really is but still it is quite a break. If only because I shall have no more poeple from England in my mess - but I spend so little of my time there, & neither of them are particularly interesting. Ben will be equally as good as Salomon as far as administration & accounts & so on are concerned - probably better - It remains to be seen whether he can or will be of any help in chasing the subalterns around. And Headley, as I have told you is more of an obstruction than a help & is more complacent than my patience can cope with. I am to get another Jewish subaltern from another Coy, but my hopes are not too high that he will be of much use as they will almost certainly send their worst, unless Col. L. controls it & instructs them who to send. In any case, there are bound to be difficulties as the Coy he is coming from is frightfully slack & ragtime. Ben is elated & doing his best to conceal his delight - & he is itching to put up the extra pips but cannot do so until it is confirmed - an annoying formality. Sgt Lareny has now been promoted C.S.M. C.SM. Jack having been in hospital since before Xmas & having become fed up with having no sergeant-major. And so here I am, as I said, all alone , & enjoying the doubtful distinction of being the first

Last edit over 1 year ago by shashathree
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of these Coys to become all Jewish, with the exception of the C.O. Salamon & Ben & I went to Tel Aviv on Wednesday for the purpose of celebrating & with the express intention of getting a bit boozed. We had 3 large Gins & Frenches here before we left in order to give ourselves a good start at reasonable prices. We then went to Pilz & stayed there from 7.30 until midnight. The food is really excellent there, & the band frightfully good. We did not dance of course - but just sat there & ate & drank & watched the people & listened to the music & enjoyed it very much, & just got nicely boozy - the way you like me to! Tomorrow we are going in again, together with Headley, for a fairwell party - but this time more quietly. Food at an exGerman place which is very good & reasonably priced, & then to see a film called "Underground" & then a couple of beers & home. And after all this I shall probably not go out again for several weeks. It is a dull & miserable life, & I hate it. But you have no need to feel particularly sorry for me because being away from you is the cause of the whole matter. I suppose I would much prefer it if, during this last year, I had seen the Desert & Crete & Cyprus & Malta & the enemy - & that during the coming months I may see the Caucasus, & Iran & maybe Bulgaria & Turkey - & meet Russians. Provided I could have seen & will see all these places & people - & still return to you whole & unharmed - I suppose

Last edit over 1 year ago by shashathree
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it would be much more interesting. But if it were like that, you would have to worry constantly about my safety, survival - & I should have much less time to write you letters -& many of your letters would possibly fail to find me. And so we should be missing & worrying about each other even far more that at present & life would be hovering around the limit of what can be endured. It is all a question of missing you & longing for you - which indicates of course just how happy I was & how much I loved you - & just how happy I expect to be again & how much I shall be able to put into effect my love for you again. Time seems to go along quickly, from week to week & weekend to week-end & so on - but it now does feel an age since we parted from each other at Gobowen. It is 16 1/2 months, which is a long time, & a tragic slice out of lives such as ours, at a tragic time too. But it seems so long ago, darling. It is unbearable to have to be away from you, from Maxie - & I never stop thinking so, longing & pining for you. I think, sweetheart, that when I come home, at first I shall want to hold you very tight in my arms, and lay my head on your breasts, & just cry. The relief, the happiness & joy are going to be too great. I do hope we shall be able to find a house, even a temporary one, that we shall not have to hang about for any length of time in rooms or hotels. As we have both, apparently, firmly decided, our house & home is very important, & must be lovely in every way. But if we cannot find quickly what we want, we must find something else

Last edit over 1 year ago by shashathree
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as early as possible,& look for the other at our leisure, but not too leisurely, & don't settle down in the imperfect one, as we did in Not Lane. The one trouble is that I can picture the really awful sacker which is going to go on after the war, in houses & building materials - unless the Government really & truly step in & control things.

Tuesday, Jan 20th Dearest darling - I had an A.G. dated Dec 18 yesterday, & two PCs today from Dec 21th & Jan 1st. There is no doubt that PCs are much quicker on the average. But you get rather more on an A.G. in spite of your writing on both sides of the PC. Your AG writing gets smaller & smaller but is 100% legible. I wonder are we having a competition because I have been reducing mine too, & squeezed in 29 lines on the last one, but you have beaten me by two.

They were lovely darling, & I contained all kind of bits of news which I wanted to hear.

I am so pleased that the slippers arrived & are alright. But how infuriating that a pair of stockings were pinched. That is really a bit thick, & must be what comes of having to declare the contents on the outside of the parcel.

It is time I sent you another parcel, & I must have a look round & see what I can find.

And on New Year's Eve, you wondered if I was thinking of you! You can imagine how much, my darling. But I enjoyed my last New Year more really- & I believe I never told you

Last edit over 1 year ago by shashathree
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Letter No. 95. Tuesday. Jan 27th

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

My sweetest darling.

It is a wonderful thing, & very fortunate too, that you love me & are interested in all that I do, & that without fear of [boring ?] you, I may write about the past & the future. Because the present is so dull & uninteresting, I am so glum. My last letter, in reply to yours on the same theme, was mostly about my love & faithfulness to you. I hope you did not remark that I said nothing at all about your love & faithfulness to me. But, sweetheart, you have told me to believe you & believe in you - & I do. I cannot bear to think about you not loving me - far less to write about it - & being unfaithful to me. And I cannot think for a moment that you would be unfaithful to me unless you were also to stop loving me - in which case it would hardly be unfaithfulness. And you always, or nearly always, tell me that you love me & you would never say such a thing unless you meant it. So, darling dearest, let me talk no more about that awful subject & only talk about love. I am more lovesick about you than in love with you just now. The news has been depressing the last few days. I nearly wept when the news came through that we were being heavily counter attacked in Lybia & more or less coming back again. Perhaps & I hope to God it is so, we shall contain this counter attack & then carry on again & finish off the Nazis & the [Saps?] in N. Africa. But if not, I cannot help thinking, of course, about how the end is

Last edit over 1 year ago by shashathree
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