Sunday 10th February 1946 – “Egyptians, French, Greek, Italians, English, in fact nearly everybody who went past was speaking a different language”

14400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
16 Area Signals.,
M.E.F.

Sunday
Feb. 10 1946

Dear All,

Just a few lines before tea. It’s a grand day, the sun has been really hot. It seems very changeable though, on Friday it was bitterly cold.

Thanks very much for Dad’s letter (and the Land Girl’s photo!) which arrived on Friday.

We have been confined to barracks on and off since yesterday morning. You might have read that there have been demonstrations in Cairo and Alexandria, so the town has been out of bounds to us. Apparently the Egyptians are protesting against the “presence of foreign troops (us) on Egyptian soil”. I’m sure none of us particularly want to be here! I’m afraid if we did pull out of Egypt a lot of the people here would find it hard to make a living. Still it’s pretty obvious that no matter how much they protest we will never leave the country because we have so many interests here – the Suez Canal particularly.

I told you we went on the rifle range a week or two ago. Well yesterday they had an Inter-Section shooting competition each section entering their four best shots. As I did fairly well last time I was in the team. Our team didn’t do too well but, although I say it myself, I did very well. First we fired five rounds what they call “grouping”. That is the nearer all the shots are on the target the higher the score. All my five were in a circle 1” diameter so I got the maximum score of 25. Then we fired another five and that’s what let me down because I only got 14 out of 25. Lastly we had to fire ten rounds in 45 seconds. You can guess that is pretty rapid. My rifle jammed halfway through and I only had time to fire nine shots but all mine were in the centre circle scoring 27 out of 30. I’ve heard rumours that they are going to form a unit rifle team to shoot in tournaments but I don’t know if anything will come of it. I can’t understand now why I couldn’t hit those crows when I was on leave!

We sneaked out the back way this morning and sat on the sea wall in the sun. It was really grand and here were quite a lot of people out for a walk, making it look something like an English sea front. But you’ve never seen so many different nationalities in all your life. There were Egyptians, French, Greek, Italians, English, in fact nearly everybody who went past was speaking a different language. I once read in a book that no other place in the world has such a variety of languages and nationalities and I can quite believe it.

We had a bit of a shock the other day when it said on orders that “it was not expected Group 38 would leave the Middle East before the end of October ’46”. This caused a big drop in morale but in the very next morning’s pair we saw that somebody had asked the War Minister if he was aware that such a notice had been published. The War Minister replied that he was making enquiries to find out who had issued the statement, but that it was untrue and was not authorised by the War Office. So the good rumours are in circulation again!

That’s about all for now, so once again I’ll say,

Cheerio,
Lots of love
John
xxxxxx
xxxxxx

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Thursday 7th February 1946 – “there’s nothing worse than standing in a car park in the small hours of the morning knowing very well that nobody will pinch a lorry”

14400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
16 Area Signals.,
M.E.F.

Thursday
7th Feb. ’46

Dear All,

Just a short letter this time because I haven’t heard from you since I last wrote.

I’m on guard now and there’s an hour to go before it’s my shift so I thought I’d write a few lines. Thank goodness this job doesn’t come round too often. It gets cold at nights and there’s nothing worse than standing in a car park in the small hours of the morning knowing very well that nobody will pinch a lorry, but also knowing that just as well that if you doze off the orderly officer will catch you!

We played football this afternoon and managed to draw two each. I had a bad pair of boots, and I’ve hardly got any skin left on one of my little toes, still it was a good game.

What do you think to the “Peace Situation”? Trouble in Palestine, trouble in Greece, arguments between Britain and Russia at the Peace Conference, what a world we are living in!

I’m firing on the rifle range again on Saturday morning. This time it’s an inter-section competition. The top scorer gets the magnificent prize of ten bob,  and out of us they are going to pick a rifle unit team. Personally I’m not very keen, because it’s too much like hard work trying to keep the barrel clean after a rifle has been fired.

That’s the lot for now. So cheerio

Lots of love
John
xxxxx
xxxxx

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Monday 4th February 1946 – “in another couple of months we shall be sweating and longing for the sight of a drop of rain”

14400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
16 Area Signals.,
M.E.F.

9 p.m.
Monday
Feb. 4 1946

Dear All,

Thanks very much for Mam’s letter of Jan. 29th which arrived at dinner time today. Pleased to say the mail is coming fairly well now.

I was glad to hear you had received that parcel safely, as I had begun to wonder if it had been lost. No doubt the little luxuries would help to remind you of the good old days and the days that are to come again. No doubt I shall send some more foodstuff soon.

Before I forget again I want Dad to know that although I didn’t write specially for his birthday I didn’t really forget it. I thought of it a couple of weeks beforehand but then it slipped my memory until it was too late to write and even then I forgot to say anything about it. I was rather sorry because I’ve always remembered your birthdays before but I now wish him “many happy returns of the 22nd”.

Yes the days are lengthening here very noticeably. It’s light at 6 a.m. and not dark till after 6.30 at night. The weather is still very unsettled though, we’ve had a lot of rain in the last few days. Still in another couple of months we shall be sweating and longing for the sight of a drop of rain I suppose.

That chap who lives at Newbold V. has gone home. He left here on Saturday. He’s been out this way for four years so actually he’s finished his overseas time but I believe he’s nearly due for demob. He told me that if he was ever out Anstey way he would look you up so don’t be surprised if he turns up one day. Of course he didn’t promise but he might be round that way. He wasn’t a particular mate of mine but he’s not a bad sort of bloke. He has been having the Chronicle sent to him and his mother is now going to address it to me.

I’m still having trouble about Kath’s 21st present. As you know, she saw something she wanted and that was what I wanted her to buy. Now she says she wants to forget it because it’s too expensive etc. etc. I think you’ve probably got an idea how much she would need to buy it so let me know, but don’t let her know I’ve asked you or she’ll be mad! There’s plenty of time yet of course.

That’s all I’ve got time for now. I’ll be writing again in a day or two. Hope you are all well, I’m fine,

Lots of love
John
xxxxx
xxxxx

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Thursday 31st January 1946 – “if that was possible I should go to a quiet, peaceful place like Llanstephan”

14400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
16 Area Signals.,
M.E.F.

Thursday
31 Jan. 46

Dear All,

Thanks for Gwladys’s letter which arrived this morning, and also for the O.W. Mag which got here yesterday.

I was pleased to hear that Dad had managed to obtain a camera and that it will soon be on its way out here. I shall look forward to its arrival and hope to make good use of it in the Summer especially. Thanks a lot for getting it and don’t be afraid to take the money out of the tin box. Films are fairly easy to obtain out here so I should be OK.

Now that Gwladys also has one I believe I’m right in saying that we’ve got five cameras in the family. One of these days we’ll set up in business as Photographic Dealers!

Yes Kath had mentioned that all being well she and Gwladys were hoping to go away together this year, but she didn’t say where to. I think the Isle of Wight would be nice and I hope to go there myself someday. Perhaps I’m attracted to it because it was our last glimpse of England as we sailed, but it certainly looked picturesque even at that time of year.

Personally I’m looking forward to spending another holiday in South Wales. It’s a long time since that holiday at Llanstephan but I well remember it. I’m like Arthur B. in one respect, I’d like to be demobbed in the Summer so that I could go for a holiday immediately and if that was possible I should go to a quiet, peaceful place like Llanstephan. As it is I shall be demobbed in the Winter (I hope!) so I shall have to look forward to the next Summer. In a way it’s strange I have been travelling for practically three years and now I’m right by the side of the Mediterranean, yet I long for a holiday in England. Naturally all this travelling hasn’t been the same as a “Cook’s Tour” but the fact remains that there’s something about England which can only be appreciated when one is away.

The weather has been rotten since yesterday afternoon. There was a terrible storm yesterday evening and it poured with rain most of the night and it’s been raining on and off all day.

I’m playing football tomorrow afternoon so I hope it doesn’t rain then.

That’s all for now.

Cheerio and Lots of love
John
xxxx
xxxx

P.S. My watch does still go and does keep good time
J.

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Tuesday 29th January 1946 – “Out of the twenty-two players, sixteen play for first-class clubs in Blighty”

14400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
16 Area Signals.,
M.E.F.

29-1-46
Tuesday

Dear All,

Well here we are again.

Thanks for Dad’s letter which I got this morning. It was posted a week ago.

The weather seems to getting warmer again and since yesterday morning it has become quite hot. I don’t know if it is just a “flash in the pan” or if Summer is coming but it has been warm enough for shorts today.

This afternoon we went to see a big football match. There is a team of airborne lads on tour from Palestine and this afternoon they played the “British Army in Egypt”. The touring team won 3-2. Out of the twenty-two players, sixteen play for first-class clubs in Blighty and one is a Scottish international so you can imagine that it was a good match. These football matches are good entertainment and very interesting.

I don’t envy Cecil Hopkinson his experience with the lions. I should think he’ll be glad to get home.

A chap who left here recently to be demobbed has written to one of the boys and he says that it took him exactly nine days from the time he left the barrack room to the time when he walked in home – a civvy, they certainly didn’t waste much time.

I’m enclosing a snap one of the boys took a couple of weeks ago. It’s not too good, for one thing the sun was too glaring but you’ll probably be able to recognise me, the only one without overalls! The kid on the right is an Egyptian who volunteered for the British Army when he was 16. The others are drivers. The one on the left and the one sitting in the front were both in the old airborne crowd in Weybridge.

That’s all for now.

Cheerio and Lots of love
John
xxxx
xxxx

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Monday 28th January 1946 – “We got ticked off this morning for having dirty rifles”

14400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
16 Area Signals.,
M.E.F.

9.20 p.m.
Monday
28-1-46

Dear All,

Just a very short note now, ready for post in the morning. I’ve got a day off tomorrow so I shall write again some time during the day.

I haven’t heard from you for a few days now, in fact I haven’t had much mail at all since the middle of last week.

We are busy again preparing for another general who is coming round, as I think I told you in my last letter. He’s coming round tomorrow, that’s why I’m taking the day off. I was due for it last week but I saved it up and I shall be able to take it easy tomorrow while the excitement is on.

We went down town last night hoping to get a bath but we were too late so we just went in the reading room and then had a pretty big supper. We had terrible meals all day yesterday so we were ready for a feed. We had omelet and chips, followed by ice-cream and bananas. I weighed myself yesterday and I weigh 11st. 9lbs. I didn’t think I was as heavy as that because last summer I only weighed 11st. 2lbs.

We got ticked off this morning for having dirty rifles and consequently had to parade with them at 5.30 tonight.

After that I had several games of table tennis with one of the boys.

Will close now as it’s lights out. I’ll write again tomorrow.

Cheerio,
Lots of love
John

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Thursday 24th January 1946 – “The war has certainly made a difference to rates of exchange and our sense of values!”

14400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
16 Area Signals.,
M.E.F.

3 p.m.
Thursday
24-1-46

Dear All,

First of all thanks for Mam’s letter, written on the 18th, which I received yesterday. I seem to be doing better than most people for mail recently.

As usual there isn’t a lot to tell you. We now get an hour PT every morning, and I’m feeling the effects after only three mornings. I must have been in need of exercise but all the same I’d rather do without it! Our section officer is going home soon and I think he wants to go home looking tough, so we all have to do PT with him.

Last night, being off duty Jock and I went into town and went to the Force’s Club for an hour on the billiard table. We didn’t stay long and we were back in the barracks before nine o’clock.

They are still expecting the general to come any day and for the last week gangs of blokes have been whitewashing and painting nearly everything in the camp. It’s a good job we’ve got plenty of native labourers to do most of these jobs.

It was very cold here yesterday and it isn’t much warmer today. We shan’t start wearing shorts again till April but the old soldiers tell us that it is always plenty warm enough by March.

I shall have to write to Aunt Clara and Uncle Charlie soon. I’m afraid I haven’t written for some time.

Pleased to hear you’ve got a good load of wood to help the coal situation. It seems a pretty queer exchange one load of wood for one turkey! The war has certainly made a difference to rates of exchange and our sense of values!

We don’t have any fires at all here, and there aren’t any fireplaces in any of the barrack buildings so shortage of coal doesn’t bother anybody.

There’s a bit of ground round our transmitting station and we’ve made a bit of a rockery and put some plants in. If they grow and if they are flowers they should look nice.

Have you heard from Ron yet? He said he was going to write to you.

That’s about all for you so I’ll say “Cheerio”

Lots of love
John
xxxx
xxxx

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Sunday 20th January 1946 – “I’m just longing for the day when I get back and it can’t come soon enough”

14400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
16 Area Signals.,
M.E.F.

10 p.m.
20-1-46
Sunday

Dear All,

Well it’s rather late now but I must write a few lines. Thanks very much for Gwladys’s letter which I got yesterday.

According to bits I’ve heard on the wireless today you are in the grip of a cold spell and this morning’s paper said all England was blanketed in snow yesterday. I just can’t imagine it somehow, but I wish I was there. It can snow all winter next year and I’ll enjoy it! By the way I don’t want to spread rumours but we had it on very good authority that the latest aim of the Government is to have group 53 out by December. So I reckon if that is correct I shall be out by October or early November and therefore ought to leave here in September or thereabouts. We’ve got to wait and see but I don’t think it’s too much to expect. I’m just longing for the day when I get back and it can’t come soon enough.

I hope you have received the parcel by now. It was posted at the same time as Kath’s sweets so it should be there now.

Fancy Arthur B. signing on for another 6 months. I didn’t know it was possible but in any case I can’t understand him. It would serve him right if they sent him abroad.

I’ll see what I can do in the way of presents and of course I’ll let you know when I send anything. As Kath has seen something she wants I think it would be best for her to have the money so she can get it. Then later on I can send something small for a souvenir.

It would be nice to see Clarice Johnson if she is in Alexandria. I haven’t seen many WAAFs here at all – not that I’ve been looking particularly hard of course! I think there are a few switchboard operators but there isn’t an aerodrome here.

Yesterday afternoon we went into town to see a football match between our boys and an Egyptian team, but it wasn’t too good.

At night we went to the pictures but, like the football match, the film wasn’t brilliant.

Today I’ve been on duty all day. It’s been a grand day and I sat outside all afternoon in the sun.

That’s about all I have time for now as it’s nearly eleven o’clock.

So cheerio
Lots of love
John
xxxx
xxxx

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Friday 18th January 1946 – “the films themselves, when obtainable, cost upwards of 5/-“

14400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
16 Area Signals.,
M.E.F.

9.30 p.m.
Friday
18 Jan ’46

Dear All,

Thanks for Dad’s letter which I got on Wednesday. The mail seems to be coming through a bit better now. I haven’t time to write much now, but I want to write just a few lines then I’ll write again on Sunday because I shall be on duty all day.

I was interested to hear about Dad’s experiments with developer etc. Do you use my camera at all? I hate to think it is lying idle there and it would be as well to use it sometimes.

I’ve found out that printing and developing out here only costs 1/10 a film but the films themselves, when obtainable, cost upwards of 5/-.

Nothing much has happened here lately. I was working all night on Tuesday, owing to a bit of an emergency but it soon cleared up.

We are very short of men these days and we shall be on duty four days a week until we get reinforced. Still we shall be able to save some money. I’ve hardly spent anything for the last couple of weeks.

The weather is just about fine and that’s all. It hasn’t been too warm lately, in fact it’s just like English weather. There’s a full moon now and the nights are very clear and sharp.

I had a letter from Ron yesterday and the rainy season had started up there. It had been raining non-stop for two days.

Well I shall have to close now and sprint back to my barrack room before “lights out”. I’ll be writing again on Sunday.

So cheerio for now
Lots of love
John
xxxx
xxxx

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Monday 15th January 1946 – ” I’ve never seen such filth or smelled such smells in all my life”

14400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
16 Area Signals.,
M.E.F.

Monday
15 Jan ’46

Dear All,

This will be another of my now famous short letters I’m afraid. Nothing much has happened since I wrote on Friday and I haven’t had any mail since then.

The weather is the main item of news. It grew very dark this morning and since before dinner it has been very wet and wintry, I came through town at 5 o/c tonight and it reminded me of a wet Saturday night in England, only this was worse because there was even more noise than usual.

The only relaxation over the weekend was a football match on Saturday afternoon between our unit team and an infantry unit.

On Sunday morning there was a big church parade (emphasis on the parade part of it as usual) but only C of E blokes went on it. They had two bands to lead the parade and from what I can make out they were only in church about half an hour whereas the parade occupied the best part of an hour.

All day yesterday we were cleaning equipment, scrubbing and polishing ready for an inspection this morning. I think Gen. Paget is coming round in a few days so everybody here is getting shaky.

We’ve been out all day today testing sets all over the place. I went to one place on the edge of the desert. What a journey! We went through the dock area and that is bad enough but conditions on the other side of the docks are worse. I’ve never seen such filth or smelled such smells in all my life. First we passed the cattle market and then a lot of tanneries where skins were hanging up to dry. There were a lot of wool warehouses and the people sorting the wool looked like sheep themselves. They were sitting amongst big bales of wool, pulling it about and doing nothing in particular. I should imagine these people work for a ridiculously low wage.

That’s about all for now. Hope you are all well, I’m fine myself.

Cheerio and
Lots of love
John
xxxx
xxxx

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