Letters from World War II : J.H. Massey

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Letter from Harry Massey to Barbara Massey

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8/ business which has now been fixed up for more than three weeks If I have already told you please forgive me As you know I had already recommended Jim Heasley + this was in the process of being confirmed Jim was 5 years older than Tony Burnett but far + away junior in service But I began to feel more + more worried about my choice because Jim did not improve or come on at all + did not seem to be making any effort + was generally rather [wet?]. So I had him down to my room one night + over a bottle of beer gave him lots of good advice about guts + effort + personality + initiative + what he would need to do + be to satisfy me as my second i/c. He hadn't even the blasted wit not to disagree with what I was sayinggot rid of a great deal of nonsense about knowing his own limitations + a man being what he is + that's that + having to go carefully + he even put limits on the amount of work he considered himself to be capable of so I finally cut him short + told him he was ^a spineless rabbit + ought to be ashamed of himself + he could darned well go on being junior subaltern. He was a bit hurt at first - but eventually proved me to perfectly right by admitting that he was perhaps relieved on the whole as it all might have been too much for him What dear Jim was wanting apparently was the rank + pay of a Captain but without the hard work or responsibility + fine spirit with which to win the war I must say So I quickly wrote a letter + also demanded quick action as I was fed up with being seriously overworked - Tony was appointed within a week or so He is not so darned good but he knows his stuff up to a point + has the advantage of

Last edit almost 2 years ago by MaryV
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7 left on both of us - we were able to talk on quite easily + remembering scores of people + happenings which was most interesting + amazing He is very amusing + pleasant but has a slight leaning to snobbishness + prigishness which does not matter too much He was doing well as a railway engineer in civil life + then joined the Army in 1936 in the Royal Engineers He also has a girl at home - she was going to be married to somebody else on 16 Dec 39 -he managed to stop that she promised --------- on 28 Dec 41 to mary Jack - + on 29 Dec 41 he sailed for the Middle East- + they are still engaged Last Saturday I went + had dinner with the Chap Hopkins of the Navy + his wife He had asked me two or three times + I had always made an excuse But on this day I wanted to go out somewhere + not stay in + so I rang him up + went along they have a lovely top floor flat on the side of a hill + overlooking the sea + it was a very pleasant evening Nice gins + tonics + champagne for dinner + some good old Brandy afterwards there was one other man there from the Navy + we managed to talk + play opera + Hutch + Caruso + many others on the gramaphone until 12.30 they have a daughter- 2 years old I have promised to go along + see her one afternoon- but I would not have the heart to do this until I hear your news + know that you are alright Monday 2nd June I had guests last night Jack Perrott came for supper + before that Colonel Lloyd Williams + a Major Bottom of the Hospital ship came in to see me they stayed for supper too The doctors left at 9.30 + then Jack + I went to my room + went on gassing until 1.30 all about school days + chestine life + about the present + the future too What with one thing + another I don't think to have told you very much about this second in command

Last edit almost 3 years ago by LibrarianDiva
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6/ nowadays nor whether such dealings are controlled nowadays or what sort of trend there is going to be after the war But I shall eventually have to have my quota if I am ever going to be invited onto that blasted Board The one trouble about buying their shares would be that Peter + Co might think I was seeing too much money + do something with my 1/2 salary -though surely they should feel gratified that I am getting on in the Army- + in any case it is our business if we wish to be thrifty + keep the money for afterwards rather than splash through it now On the other hand Peter + Co might also take the view that having paid me about L300 extra I should jolly well buy up some of their shares I think I will write to Tony + perhaps Gorson as well + ask their advice + ask them to write to you And of course we have to remember Income Tax - it is going to be a really horrible sum this year And if the Pay master had been slow with my back pay we shall have to pay on that next year I think you said inone of your letters that you had written Gordon about relief on your ma's allowance Now darling - you must not be too stingy with yourself - you simply must make your life as comfortable + pleasant + interesting as possible You are very sweet + thrifty about money + even more careful than me I think - but you must not overdo it - + you do deserve a little ease + luxury now, such as you may be able to obtain in these days I went round to see Jack Perrott on Friday evening- he is only five minutes walk from here We sat + drank some whiskies + sodas + talked hard for two hours nearly all about our Prep School - Oriel House at St Asaph It is really amazing what an impression that school has

Last edit almost 2 years ago by MaryV
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Letter No 46 Wednesday -28 May Major J.H. Massey 6- Palestinian Coy. The Buffs Middle East Force My darling precious- I wrote + sent off to you this afternoon an Air Mail letter card + now I must get down to things + write you a decent long letter But as I said this afternoon I cannot think at all while I am waiting for your news I just have not the heart to prattle on But I know you will want as much + as many letters from me as possible + so I must do my best + try to be as interesting as I can- Then when your good news arrives I shall just burst + I hope not be able to stop writing Another of your older letters popped up the day before yesterday the time your no 16 of Dec 10th just 5 1/2 months It bears a Middle East A.P.O. stamp 3d March + may very easily have been around these parts long before that - so you see again what that address has done for us It was in perfectly good condition + might just have done an ordinary journey from London to Bradford - so I am still hoping for nos 2, 3 ,4 , 6, 8, 9 , 10, 11 12, 17, 24, 27, ^28 + 30 to arrive they must constitute so much to me to have them Your letter was from Bishops start ford + said you enclosed a photo of the party one week end but you did not enclose it darling I do wish you wouldn't be such a one at forgetting things as I have been looking forward for ages to having some new photos of you But perhaps it will be in your 17th letter which is still to come I started this before dinner + have just returned There is a perfect new moon which I gazed at + changed my money over + as you can guess it was not difficult to know what to wish for Oh but I hope for news tomorrow Thursday May 29th And that was as far as I could get last night I wa feeling so hopelessly miserable + sleepy + anxious + I was just reading some of your old letters + looking at the wall in front of me + I was in bed at 10.30 And now it is 7.15 in the morning + there has been another air raid alarm this morning to get me up earlier than usual And so I will work a bit more before getting washed + shaved + properly

Last edit almost 3 years ago by LibrarianDiva
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2 dressed By the way I have just come by a new pair of army boots My brown ones bought in June 1935 are getting a bit dingy about the soles which is a pity because they are most frightfully comfortable but they may last for quite a time yet However I could not face the idea od paying 50-60 for a pair of bloody Palestinian boots + so I selected a pair of ordinary black army boots from my Quartermaster 's store + as we are several pairs to the good these have cost me nothing at all They were rather heavy stiff + cumbersome to begin with but now they are getting broken in + are very pleasant to wear + look quite alright So you see I am being as thrifty as I can be darling It is now after lunch- I went to fetch Peter back during the morning Poor little chap he looks rather terrible with half his ears quite raw + the hair all raw + in his head + chest molted with blood But he seems very chirpy + was delighted to see me It is of course very tender + tomorrow I have to take him along to have them bandaged across the top of his head so as they stick up properly afterwards I was a little sorry I had had it done when I saw him today - these aids to beauty are a little cruel aren't they? I also went round the chemists shops this morning buying up a suppy of Gills CR tooth paste They keep running out here there is nothing else to equal it for my pretty teeth I have just got up from my chair + been to the mirror has a good look at them + they really are doing very well that was a remarkably lucky escape I had from that man Sinclair in London Here I am 5 years afterwards in perfect health + with a glistening row of teeth all my own + as near as anything they all came out in May 1936 The difference between the two alternatives is so tremendous or it is to me anyway -I'm sure it is to you too Friday May 30th I'm no good for anything at all at the moment darling I can't write to you because nothing seems

Last edit almost 3 years ago by LibrarianDiva
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3 worth while putting down on paper + in any case I cannot think and I cannot concentrate on work at all these last few days I have not done a thing except those things which I had to do Fortunately there has been quite an amount happening + the days pass But apart from that I just live from one post to the next There are two a day - one at 10.0 in the morning + the other at 4.0 in the afternoon And cables came in with the ordinary post on account of addresses having to be decoded 10.0 + 4.0 olock have been bitter disappointments each day this week Every time I have been sure that this time the cable would come - it is almost beyond endurance And then I always feel a little ashamed of myself because you have always said in your letters that this would happen but I like a fool alwys thought the cable would come through alright But now that the time has come + I know that it must have all happened by now + yet I am in ignorance - I realise that I have never in all my life been so worried + so anxious when Lisa was born + the boy last year the thought of anything going wrong never really entered my head that this time it is so very different +the way things go are vitally all important So much so that I cannot even write about it until I know what has happened My sweet darling I am so full of love for you You are the beginning + the end for me - I just cannot bear to write I am going to telephone Jack Perrott + I hope go + see him + pass the evening Sunday No word yet darling but I feel much more cheerful because I had a postcard from you today dated May 12" - in which you say that Hughe us pleased with everything + that you yourself are in so much better spirits + feeling braver Also that Amy has arrived I hope she will be a help + good company for you + not be a nuisance in any way at all And that we have another L137 commission! Isn't it amazing + very good ? What with two lots of commissions + back pay for Captain + Major + my rate of pay increased 120% + all

Last edit almost 3 years ago by LibrarianDiva
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4 the money which I haven't spent which you thought I had spent you must be in an alcoholic flat spin about money The bank statement must be looking pretty good by now + we shall be very popular with Martins I imagine this new piece of commission must be a bonus on the Associations profits + its payment will have been decided at a Board meeting I must say that it again gives me the feeling of having my efforts appreciated + also that I have left some good friends behind who are sticking up for me I am still spending very little money though it is remarkable to me that I spend as much as I do as I very seldom go anywhere at all I shall probably have to hang in another L30 about June 20 + then that should see me through until the end of August There is really no need to be particularly stingy with myself an longer but I still feel that way + all this commission + advance in pay is not making a bean of difference to my way of living or general outlook Partly because there is nothing + nobody to spend any money on here - or at least that I dont want to meet any body I just want this bloody war to end so as I can come home to you + until it does end I will just work + write to you + think about you + read a bit which is all tied up with you + I having as much money as possible after the war is over It is going to be wonderful to find a house as I sincerely hope we shall be able to + then to decorate it + have altercations made as we want them + find furniture + carpets + everything + at the same time to know that we have the money to pay for all of it At the end of the month will sit down at my desk + we will check the bills together + then I shall just write out + sign the cheques + that will be that -- I feel that our home is going to be so important when we begin again After so long apart + so much miserable unhappiness + loneliness I know that I shall never want to leave you again

Last edit almost 3 years ago by LibrarianDiva
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5/ And your letter bless you my darling - say the same And there love we must have as lovely + as comfortable + as happy a home as possible Moorfield Cottage was never a permanent affair - Not have the same though it was comfortable + convenient + served its purpose - + we shall never forget either of them because of Lisa + because of all the love + happiness the three of us had there But next time we must make sure even if we have to take a temporary place while we are looking It must be a pleasant house with some character + some possibilities; it must have a good garden with good soil + there should be some well established trees + hedges; the surroundings must be attractive; I think it must be fairly well in the country + it must be near a village for food etc, + it must be reasonably easy for you to get into Leeds + Bradford If we can have a good measure of all these things we can be next door to Heaven can't we darling? And really settle down to a gloriously happy contented interesting exciting + secure life- + be largely independent of any body or anything else + pick + choose our friends Its all lovely to think about isn't it darling? It will be even more so when the time comes to put our plans into action There is another thing about all this wealth of ours what to do with it now- it cannot just sit in the Bank doing nobody any good I should think that the best thing to do would be to buy War Savingd Certificates- perhaps you have already done so As you probably realise it is an entirely new problem for us to have money + to have to make a decision what to do with it The only similar decision we have had to make before now it which bill to pay + which ones we dare leave for another month or two War Savings should be safe + will bring us some return + will be helping the war effort the other alternative would be to buy B.C. + W.D. shares But then I have no idea what their price is

Last edit almost 3 years ago by LibrarianDiva
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& a piano. The concert people went on entertaining us - and my two Naval Commander friends brought along a Surgeon Commander called Gay French who used to know Noel Coward - and was first class on the piano himself, & had a number of Coward's unpublished and unpublishable songs. It all went on until 3.0 am & everybody got a bit tight & enjoyed themselves. One man who came - he has been living in the Mess, the week before - was called Dan Christie & comes from Coleraine, where my pa went to school. He said himself that the war is "atrocious". Can remember Frank [Hanican?] of Warrenpoint. Anyway - this man gave a house warming party in his new mess yesterday to which I was bidden - & this was also a pleasant, amusing drinking party. It seems I distinguished myself by dropping an amusing brick. There were two women there - one of them I know quite well, the other one I had never seen before, the latter was rather remarkable - middle aged & very blond, & full of pep & she was wearing a sort of blue fluffy coatee. So I asked the woman I knew, who the funny old girl was, with the bright blue rabbit round her neck. This remark was greeted with howls & screams of laughter - & it turned out that she was this woman's oldest & dearest friend, & rather a famous person in these parts - a Lady Helen Ibrahim - the wife of the Rajah of Johore. Well, well - how was I to know.

Last edit over 1 year ago by jaxdnaquest
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9. with my letter writing. I think, with this, sweetheart, the best thing is for me to write one of those long letters every five to seven days. And also, every week, I will send my ration of one letter card & also 1 or 2 Airgraphs. According to figures published in General Orders, these two services are getting home in 10 -14 days. Will I be doing well if I keep that up, darling? And I will do my best to make the letter as long as I possibly can. with things popping as they are now, it is impossible to sit down & write for 4-5 hours as I used to do, & write a complete letter of 8 - 10 - or 12 pages if I want for such conditions, & shall never have a letter written - & so it is far better for me to just write when I can, & slowly but surely build up into a reasonable letter. And I am in troubles with my fanny again! Isn't that awful darling? I told you in a letter Card I think that I had [dhobi] rash & how irritating is was. The M.O. treated it, but it just became more irritating. So Iwent to a new & better M.O. yesterday & he says it is not [dhobi] rash at all, but a sort of infection.& he knew how painful & foul it was, because he had had it himself. So I am now on new treatment & I hope to goodness it will be better soon. Apparently it is mainly bad luck - but if anything, it is caused by perspiration & chafing & the M.O. suggested that it was also to some extent, a penalty of purity. So I told him that I was not going to cable my wife for permissio to do anything about that and was quite sure it would be indiquantly refused in any case. I hope it would & I'm sure it would & I should hate it to be otherwise.

Last edit over 1 year ago by jaxdnaquest
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