Letters from World War II : J.H. Massey

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Letter from Harry Massey to Barbara Massey

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Your letter was also telling me about Norths was being the nucleus branch for [illegible] etc. I can hardly imagine how it will work if all those managers are there, & nobody strong enought to lead them & take command. You can imagine how little Willie will be making up to all of them, & trying to pose as the big businessman, while Frost & [illegible] & Gelder just carry on & take no notice of him & do all the work. By God, it will be one hell of a tangle to unravel when I do get back. I also had a letter from Jack McCallum the other day, addressed to Lieut Col. JHM. & congratulating me heavily on my further promotion. It is really extraordinary, how that rumour got round. He said it would make P. Caldwell think a bit - & that he had been quite funny at the last Board meeting, shaking his head, & saying "fancy Harry, a colonel". You know, darling, if you had thought carefully, you could have been sure that this was note true. This Coy is a major's command, & I am commanding it & in order to obtain promotion, it follows that I must also change my address. And you can be sure that if & when I do that, I shall go on cabling you until I have an acknowledgment. Quite apart from you, I am much too anxious to receive your sweet & lovely letters, not to do all possible to make sure you have my correct address.

Last edit 7 months ago by KokaKli
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It seems that Jack's son, Gordon, has has been in Malaya for the last year. I hope he is alright. And Lucy, of course, has not been well. They have had another schimozzle with maids, of course, & have been buggered about from hotel to hotel ever since. Really, Jack, in spite of being pretty inward, when opportunity presents itself, is an incredibly kind & long suffering husband.

You were talking in your letter about my recruiting ventures, & saying that you thought that the Jews of all people, should have wanted to have a crack at the Nazis. Well that is just the point - they do not get the choice. These Coy's you see are not fighting much, they are not really intended to be, & only kick around Palestine doing guard duties. Jews are also enlisted into the R.A.S.C & R.E. & R.A.O.C Pioneer Corps. They have seen service in France & Greece & Crete & the Desert - but they are only services. The work in these Buff Coys is pretty dull soul destroying - & so you can understand how it is not easy to arouse enthusiasm & appeal to them "to take up arms against the common foe," when they know only too well that they are only going to be glorified policemen, playing at soldiers - but still exposed to all the rigors of military law.

It is all a deep & wide political problem - the Jewish - Arab questions enters into it very largely. In these Buff coys, there are Jewish Coys, Arab Coys, but they are all classed as Palestinians, & receive the same rates of pay & allowance & conditions of service. That in itself is a difficult beginning, because the Jews look upon the Arabs as backward & inferior people, in [spacely?] the same way that we do. And finally, it is ridiculous & unfair - [strikethrough] the Arabs live mostly in

Last edit 7 months ago by KokaKli
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darling, & you always will be - every thing I do will be for you. And you must know that this is not just a sentimental idea, caused by loneliness & not being too happy. And as you suggested in a letter, I am not over idealizing you. Darling, dearest Barbara - how could I? And you, sweeheart, must allow me to occupy your whole life - share it - Oh! but I do want to talk to you.

What news have I? I have been President of two more Courts Martial. Over a Jewish deserter who I found guilty & gave 1 years detention. And the other a young Arab, who had been creating watches & fountain pens etc from his comrades, & who I gave 6 months imprisonment with hard labour.

Carsenty becomes more & more hopeless, in spite of my clear warnings - & on Monday I take him in front of Col L. for an interview. The point is that I have to initiate the adverse confidential report, & the superior authority has to have seen him before the report reaches him. The B.F. deserves no sympathy at all - he is base lazy & hopeless.

If I cannot get promotion - & cannot get home - I wish somebody would initiate an adverse report on me & so get me home that way.

I have just finished "Childhood, Boyhood & Youth" - it is a fine book. Does he carry on? - the end is so abrupt.

All my love to you, my own darling Barbara forever - with all my heart, love & kisses to Maxie - xxxxx Harry.

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[postmark] BEACONSFIELD BUCKS 5. 15 IM 3 MAY 42

[written] 1[circled] May 3rd

[stamped] MAY 42

[written] Mrs. Barbara Massey c/o Mrs Paul. c/o Mrs. Jenkins Lyn-wood- 6 Bulstrade Gardens Candlemas hare - Maddingly Road Beaconsfield - Cambridge Bucks

[stamped] PASSED BY CENSOR No. 514

[page turned, written] JH Massey

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[postmarks] BEACONSFIELD BUCKS 830 AM 22 MY 42 2

FIELD POST OFFICE * 20 MR 42

[written] 3[circled] [month?] Mrs Barbara Massey. c/o Mrs. Jenkins c/o Mrs Paul 6 Bulstrode Gardens Lynwood. Maddingley Road Candlemas Lane. Cambridge. Beaconsfield. Bucks.

[stamp] PASSED BY CENSOR No. 514

[page turned] JH Massey

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Letter No. 5. Wednesday - April 1st Friday - April 3rd Major J.H. Massey. 6, Palestinian Coy. The Buffs M.E.F.

My darling dearest Barbara -

I'm afraid I'm in a bad state of mind for writing. This is not for any particular reason because nothing has happened - it never does. But, the war news is so very depressing; I am feeling so hopelessly bogged down here; I have had no letter from you for more than two weeks - I had a [p.e.?] from you this week in which you were feeling pretty low & miserable. It seems that you had arranged to do part time munition work, that this had come to nothing because you had been able to make no arrangements about Maxie. I wish some more news would come along - I do so want to hear more about you, & why you went to Cambridge & how things are for you there.

There is just one constant piece of good news. thank God, & that is your usual reports about Max, that he is fine & getting stronger & more handsome every day. Bless him - he must be a wonderful little boy & an untold comfort & joy to you. I long to see him.

As you see, I made a pass to begin this letter on Wednesday, but it was of no use. It was the first day of Passover & I had promised to go & have dinner with Ben and his family; but in the afternoon I decided not to go. - I had been present at such a dinner in Haifa last year, & it only annoys & saddens me to see husbands & wives & children together. So I had settled down with the 1937 Royal Commission's Report on Palestine, which is a weighty & very interesting document of nearly 400 pages.

Last night I just sat & talked to Ben & Levantin, &

Last edit 7 months ago by KokaKli
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2. went to bed at 10-30 + read a short essay by Plutarch about Marcus Cato; this is contained in a book called The Knapsack, which was given to me by [Bastien?] + is an anthology of prose + verse edited by Herbert Read. I remember [Jon?] possessing an art book by him - is he an authority? - Because I have recently read a small book by him, called To Hell with Culture, which is one in a series called The Democratic Order + which struck me as being reasonably sensible, but pretty facile, an account of slipping over the surface of things, + not making one practical suggestion about how to bring about what he thinks to be the better state of affairs.

I think there is an awful amount of rubbish + dope being written just now, about after the war. I bought these books today, which will not be rubbish + which I hope to find interesting + hopeful. A Penguin by Beatrice Webb called My Apprenticeship; another Penguin by Josiah Wedgwood called The Economics of Inheritance - which I think is a highly important subject - it was well reviewed in the New Statesman + so stands to be good; + a small book, Russia + Ourselves by Victor Gallancz. But books are such an awful price here - 6d Penguins are 1-- + the Gallancz book at 2/0 in England, cost me 4/3. Sunday. April 5th. And now I must + will get on with this letter. I glanced at the Gallancz book yesterday, + finished up by settling down to it + finishing it off at midnight. It is quite good + sound, but does not contain any thing very new, + I found it mainly interesting as it expressed the views of another section of opinion. But before

Last edit 9 months ago by augustrinian
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I immerse myself into more politics, I must catch up with such odd bits of news as I have to tell you. I told you in my last letter that I had had three late nights in a row. One of them was the R.A.F. dance - when I more or less complied with one resolution by coming away at 12.0 instead of at 1.0; but broke other by having to dance - it was pretty impossible not to. They had invited a crowd of nursing sisters from the local military hospitals, there they were all sitting round the room, the plainest looking bunch you could imagine. And they have precisely nothing to talk about - you try this & that & the other subject & they say yes & no & no more. But I met a couple of chaps from the Regt. & what with them & Ben & a very chripy little Greek Squadron Leader, we got through a good deal of free booze & had a fair evening.

On the following evening, Ben, & Katz & I went into Sarafand & had some drinks at the Naaf. until 12-o clock; not very exciting, but it was quite pleasant to sit up at a counter & chat & drink local brandy & ginger ale. And on the Sunday, Ben & I went ionto Tel Aviv & had dinner with Burstein & his wife at their house, & then went to the Palestine Orchestra - it was a lovely concert, including a Brahms symphony which I enjoyed very much. And, those are my three late nights, darling, not exactly wild debauchery but still quite an achievement for me nowadays.

This morning was a funny morning, & I think tomorrow will be a funnier day. Tomorrow being

Last edit 7 months ago by KokaKli
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Jewish Soldiers Day - last year I led the march in Haifa, & tomorrow I am leading it in Tel Aviv! Last year, I had about 400 soldiers behind me - this year, I shall have 500 soldiers & 500 A.T.S. women. This morning I met all the platoon commanders 10 men & 10 women & explained to them what they will have to do - the girls were frightfully keen & took copious & furious notes & asked endless questions. Aftr tomorrow, I shall be able to tell you all about the march etc. And I hope I shall be able to make you laugh again - its time I did. I should imagine you have had a slight giggle already at the picture of me striding through the biggest town in Palestine at the back of a bloody great brass band & in front of 1000 Jews & Jewesses.

The weather is gorgeous, my darling - brilliant sunny days & pleasantly warm, & fresh breezes, & every thing is green & fresh. Spring is very much in the air & all around - & it is very much in my blood & in & about me too. It is painful, my sweetheart, & I wonder have you been feeling it too. You should have been, the amount & the way I have been thinking about you & the things I have been thinking about you - even if you were not reaching on your own account.

It is cruel & it is torture - & there is nothing at all to be done about it. My faithfulness to you is never for one moment in question, Barbara darling - for all the reasons which you know well, & which I have told you about before. And for the additional reason, that if ever I did spoil my record, I should never forgive myself, & should

Last edit 7 months ago by KokaKli
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[partial postmark] POST OFFICE

[written] [illegible]

Mrs Barbara Massey. c/o Mrs. Jenkins c/o Mrs Paul. 6 Bulstrode Gardens Lynwood. Maddingley Road Candlemas Lane. Cambridge Beaconsfield. Bucks.

[stamp] PASSED BY CENSOR No. 514

[page turned] JH Massey

Last edit 7 months ago by KokaKli
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