Friday 24th May 1946 – “this unit isn’t much good and there’s such a depressing atmosphere”

14400541,
etc.

Friday
24-5-46

Dear All,

Off we go again, and first of all thanks for Dad’s letter which I got yesterday.

I went to see the specialist again yesterday and he was quite pleased and satisfied. I am now completely better except for a few small scars on my legs, and they are disappearing. The only thing is that now I don’t need any treatment they are catching me for more parades. I have dodged most of them for several weeks. But while I’ve been dodging they’ve picked out 50 “smart men” for the actual parade in June, so I’m hoping I shan’t be on that!

I’ve got an idea that I might be posted next week although I’ve heard nothing definite yet. I shall welcome a change. I know I could be in a much worse place than this but this unit isn’t much good and there’s such a depressing atmosphere. In any case nearly everybody will be away from here in about six weeks.

I’m still continuing my afternoon bathing. The temperature here the day before yesterday got up to 95 so you can imagine that the water is quite pleasant. I really don’t know how I shall stand the cold when I get home next winter, because it will get a lot hotter here about July time. Still plenty of chaps have spent about three years here and gone back to an English winter so I should be OK after just one Summer. Actually Alex is about the coolest place in Egypt.

I have now got a present for Gwladys so all I have to do is get something for Dad and I’ll be sending a parcel. I’ve got a trinket box for Gwladys and I think she’ll like it. Even if it is of no use it looks quite nice and has souvenir value. I’ll try to get a pocket knife for Dad but up to now I haven’t seen anything suitable.

That’s about all once again. I’m on duty tomorrow but I’ll probably write again on Sunday.

Hope you are all well,

Cheerio,
Love,
John
xxxx
xxxx

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Tuesday 21st May 1946 – “gradually incidents began to occur all over the town”

14400541,
etc.

9 p.m.
Tuesday
21-5-46

Dear All,

Please excuse pencil but I’m not at the billet just now and by the time I get back I shan’t have much time for writing so I’m making a start now.

I suppose you heard about the trouble in Alex over the week-end. Fortunately it wasn’t too serious but some chaps who happened to be in town on Sunday had a bit of trouble. We usually know when these disturbances are coming but this one was unexpected. It all started because an army truck ran into a tram, and gradually incidents began to occur all over the town.

I don’t go into town much at all now – I’m keeping well out of the way! I’m quite content to spend my spare time on the beach. I’ve had a day off today and spent all afternoon swimming and sunbathing.

I haven’t heard from Ron for ages. I wrote to him a few weeks ago and again last night. If I don’t hear from him soon I shall write to his Mother and she will wake him up.

We had an Egyptian delegation round here yesterday. They were estimating how long it will take us to get out of here.

Thanks very much for Mam’s letter which I got yesterday. The mail is coming in quite well but I’m afraid the trouble held the out-going mail up.

You don’t seem to be having such good weather. Surely it’s time Summer was there?

Although I was on day off I had to parade at half past six this morning and I wasn’t very pleased. Still it’s the first parade I’d done for about six weeks so I shouldn’t grumble. I go to see the specialist again on Thursday and I’m sure he’ll say I’m OK again. I’m very pleased because these things can be a nuisance. My only trouble now is fly bites but they are nothing and the flies will bite me wherever I go. Remember those woods at Llanstephan?

That’s all for now.

I’ll write again about Thursday or Friday.

Cheerio,
Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxx

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Sunday 19th May 1946 – “Tommy Trinder is on his way out to the Far East and is stopping in this district”

14400541,
etc.

Sunday
19-5-46

Dear All,

I haven’t heard from you for a few days but I’m hoping there will be some mail in the morning.

Without a letter to answer I can’t think of much to write about. Life here goes on just the same day after day, but somehow the time seems to pass fairly quickly.

I had a letter from Stan Sunderland a couple of days ago. He is still at Singapore and isn’t enjoying the climate much. He’s had a series of complaints including the one which I’ve had. Singapore is supposed to be the worst climate in the world.

Pleased to say I’m better now. I’ve still got marks on my legs but they are disappearing.

I have been doing a lot of swimming lately, in fact I’ve only missed one afternoon on the beach in the last six days. I can swim quite well now and it’s good exercise. The NAAFI has opened on the beach and it looks like a real holiday resort nowadays.

There’s supposed to be an Ensa show here in a couple of weeks time. Tommy Trinder is on his way out to the Far East and is stopping in this district to give a few shows.

That’s about all for now. I’ll write a longer letter when I hear from you.

Cheerio
Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxx

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Wednesday 15th May 1946 – “I wrote to one Dutch family a few weeks ago”

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

Weds.
15/5/46

Dear All,

Thanks for Gwladys’s letter which I got today. I was going to write yesterday as I had a day off but somehow I didn’t manage it.

For the last two afternoons I’ve been swimming and I’ve really enjoyed myself. The sun, sea and ointment all combined are working wonders on me. My hands are completely better and my knees are almost OK again. It is very hot now but it will get hotter still in a few weeks.

On Monday we went back to school again. Apparently in the Autumn everybody in the Army must attend educational classes. So for the purpose of being able to split us up, when the time comes, into four grades, they gave us a test in Arithmetic and English. I was told today that I had got 75% for Maths and 93% for English (the highest in this mob for English). I’m not particularly flattered because it wasn’t hard. We just had to correct the punctuation in some passages from a book; write a bit of an essay and discuss the meaning of certain words.

I don’t know when the scheme will start but I reckon I shall be on my way home before it really gets going.

Surprised to hear Dorothy’s husband doesn’t like being in Germany, but I suppose it depends on where he is. I’d like to think that when we leave Egypt I was to be sent back to the billet I left last June, but I think we have seen that place for the last time. I’d like to be able to visit some of those places again (especially in Holland) and look up some of the people. I wrote to one Dutch family a few weeks ago but haven’t had a reply yet. I promised to write when I left them in Sept. ’44 but for a long time it wasn’t possible to write to Holland. If I do get a reply and it is in Dutch I shall have to find somebody to translate it because my knowledge of the language is limited to a few phrases!

I haven’t heard from Dorrell for ages but I suppose he will write soon now he has been best man at a wedding – especially if he did wear top hat etc! He certainly mixes with a queer class of people. In some ways that sort of thing amuses me but in others it makes my blood boil. I wonder if he realises how lucky he has been? I’ve been lucky myself in lots of ways but thousands of chaps have made big sacrifices, and I for one think that the majority of chaps like Dorrell don’t realise just what the last few years have meant to some people. I don’t like falling out with anybody but I could easily fall out with him, if only because every time he has written he has rubbed it in about his holidays, parties and childish ideas about tandems.

Still this won’t do I suppose. I’m not really miserable because I’ve only got six months to do and then I can forget all this.

Well I must go and have supper now and then get to bed, as it’s nearly nine o’clock now.

I’ll write again in a day or two.

Cheerio,
Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxx

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Sunday 12th May 1946 – “a very interesting lecture by a chap called Bernard Newman”

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

Sunday
12 May 46

Dear All,

I was glad to get Dad’s letter yesterday morning and to know that you were all well in spite of the bad weather.

As usual there isn’t very much I can write about . Yesterday we had a very interesting lecture by a chap called Bernard Newman. He was a spy in Germany in the last war, has written several books, been in the Ministry of Information and is a personal friend of Ernest Bevin’s. He was talking about “Europe Now” and dealt with one or two points which the Foreign Ministers are trying to settle in Paris. It was a very interesting talk indeed. It’s only when you listen to a chap like that, that you realise the size of the problems that have to be settled.

I’ve got a slightly different job to do for the next fortnight. One bloke is going on leave and I’m doing his job. It just consists of looking after about thirty batteries, getting them charged and keeping the book straight. For about two days of every three there won’t be anything to do so I should manage it OK!

Butlins have just opened a holiday camp near here. It’s run through the NAAFI. There are gardens, swimming pools, all kinds of sports, in fact the usual Butlins idea and I believe it only costs the equivalent of about 3/6 a day. It seems to me they’ll lose money though because if the evacuation plans get moving, all these places might be closed before the end of the year. But I suppose the loss of a few thousand pounds doesn’t matter very much!

Well that’s about all once again. It’s nearly tea time and I’m feeling a bit peckish. I don’t suppose there’ll be anything very appetising.

Cheerio,
Lots of love,
John
xxx
xxx

P.S. Had a letter from Geo. E yesterday. I don’t know whether you know but he will be demobbed next month and is taking a job for 4 months as a resident manager of one of the FHA guest houses. He’s got it all worked out.
J.

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Friday 10th May 1946 – “We have been standing by today in case of trouble but nothing happened”

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

Friday
10 May 46

Dear All,

Just a very short letter because there is hardly anything to write about.

Yesterday the weather was very stormy and wet. There was a bad thunder storm in the afternoon but today it has been more settle again.

I saw the specialist again yesterday and he seemed quite satisfied that it is going OK now. I’ve got to carry on with the treatment and see him again in a fortnight.

We have been standing by today in case of trouble but nothing happened. The Egyptians were talking about going on strike as a protest against the Palestine report published recently. The town was out of bounds till tea-time.

Actually I was on duty this morning and after dinner I thought I’d have a rest so I lay on my bed. The next thing I know it was nearly five o’clock! So you can see I haven’t got out of the old habit!

Well I think that’s the lot for this time. I’ll write again during the week-end.

Cheerio,
Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxx

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Wednesday 8th May 1946 – “Well it looks as though we shall evacuate Egypt and we are all wondering when”

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

6 p.m.
Wednesday
8 May ’46

Dear All,

Was pleased to get Mam’s letter of May 1 the day before yesterday.

I’m glad you like the first snaps I sent and by now you should have quite a collection. At the moment I haven’t got a film in the camera but I shall be getting one soon.

Well it looks as though we shall evacuate Egypt and we are all wondering when and where we shall go. There will hardly be room in Palestine for all these troops but I suppose they’ll manage to find a place for us until our turn for demob. It’s a safe bet they won’t send us back to England.

I shall be glad to leave this unit, in fact the night before last I asked to be posted. It’s gradually getting worse and everybody is grumbling. I think I told you that we have two parades a week practising for the King’s Birthday parade. They used to have these parades in the afternoons but it was so hot that one or two chaps were going sick. So now they’ve issued an order that on Tuesdays and Thursdays reveillé will be at 5.30 and we shall do rifle drill from half past six to half past seven in the mornings. Then they expect us to “work” till eight o’clock every night as well. I say work but really there’s nothing to do, we get the silliest jobs to pass the time away. The drivers have got to paint the tyres white and put silver paint on their exhausts for this big parade. There are lots of things like that and it appears to be just this unit which is at fault. A few months ago we had the advantage of being in Alexandria but that is no longer an advantage. Anyway up to now three of us have asked to be posted and it at least let’s them know how we feel about “playing at soldiers”.

Tomorrow is my hospital day and we’ll see what he says. It’s a queer thing this, a couple of days it was practically better but since then it hasn’t improved. It’s nothing really but chaps have been known to get their discharge from the army with complaints like this!

Well it’s a year ago today since VE Day and this time last year I suppose we were in the billet at Hamburg listening to the wireless. It’s nearly a year since my BLA leave and only a fortnight after going back I was home again – remember?

We’ve been out here six months and in another six months I’ll be at least nearly a civvy again. It won’t seem long now; just think, next Christmas will be our first one together since 1941.

Mam has got it wrong about the dog in that snap. Firstly it’s not him, it’s she, in fact she’s a proud mother having a pup about seven weeks old. Jock used to own her but when he was posted he had to leave her. It’s practically impossible to take dogs from here to England, otherwise I would have thought about it. Just now she is the section’s dog and has no special owner.

Well it’s twenty past seven now and I’m really supposed to be on duty till eight o’clock so I’d better close now. Hope you are all well. You should be getting some warm weather now. How’s the garden and countryside looking?

Cheerio,
Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxxx

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Tuesday 8th May 1945 – “I shall always remember it – not as one of the happiest days of my life but as one of the most miserable and depressing”

14400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
Main H/Q W/Less Sectn.,
2 Company
12 Corps Signals,
B.L.A.

8th May 45.
“VE DAY”

Dear All,

I’m afraid I haven’t been able to write for two or three days and this is not because we have been too busy celebrating! Duties still go on and added to all that we have started to act and look like soldiers again with the result that we hardly have any spare time but more of that later.

First of all I’ll answer Mam’s letter which I was very pleased to receive three days ago.

I was very surprised (but pleased) to hear that you had had a visit from Alf Clothier. I suppose it was a bit of a shock and it was a pity he didn’t let you know he was coming. Still it was nice of him to call and perhaps he will call again sometime if he doesn’t get posted. Though I’ve a feeling that if everybody tries to get their leave to coincide with mine I shan’t have much time to myself!

You seem to have been getting worse weather than us, though according to the wireless it has improved in England the same as here. It has been grand today.

Well I’ve been thinking a lot about you today and I guess you have been wondering about me too. I wonder how you have been celebrating; very quietly I suppose. Anyway I shall look forward to hearing all about it and now it’s up to me to tell you about VE Day here. First of all let me say that I shall always remember it – not as one of the happiest days of my life but as one of the most miserable and depressing. You see, the war’s over, and now it’s up to us to show the Germans how smart we can be. So, in spite of the fact that at home our people are cheering and singing and generally having a good time, we have a day of parades and inspections! I was on duty this morning and spent most of the time trying to “tidy things up” for an inspection which was coming off this afternoon. After dinner I had to start cleaning my rifle, changing into best battle dress, etc. in readiness for a compulsory Church Parade this evening. This was the usual sort of Parade and service with the accent on the Parade of course! That just about completed the days “celebrations”., because now it is 10.55 p.m. and I’m on duty again.

Well this is the army of course and nothing really surprises us, and we didn’t actually expect a week’s holiday. All I can say is roll on leave and let me forget this lot for a few days!

Don’t think for a minute that I don’t think you at home should celebrate, I sincerely hope you are having a good time. I only told you all about this because I know you would like to know what’s happening and I wouldn’t try to pretend that we are happy.

Still I’m glad this lot is all over and they can have as many parades as they like because we are a bit nearer the time when we shall be out of this “gallant and victorious” army!

Well I must close now. I hope I haven’t sounded too fed up, maybe I shall be more cheerful in a day or two when I write again and don’t forget if all goes well it’s only just over three weeks now.

Lots of love,
John
xxx
xxx

John’s modern day memories on rereading his letter from that date were –

“I can remember that in my unit we were all pretty fed up on VE Day but we couldn’t complain officially so, as our letters were, of course, censored we made our feelings known in letters knowing that they would be read by one of our officers. I can’t remember that these tactics ever did us any good but they may have relieved the tension!

As far as VE Day is concerned I remember this clearly, not as a day of celebration but as a day of completely unnecessary parades and this is recorded clearly in my VE Day letter home.

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Sunday 5th May 1946 – “nothing exciting happened apart from the fact that we all went to sleep”

Alexandria Seafront_194614400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
Alexandria Signals.,
M.E.F.

Sunday
5 May ’46

Dear All,

I haven’t heard from you for a few days but I think I can fill a couple of pages.

I went to see the specialist again on Thursday. He said the treatment wasn’t doing as much good as it should so he gave me a prescription for some different stuff. This is really marvellous and there’s hardly a mark on my hands now. I have to see him again next Thursday and I’m pretty sure I’ll be better by then.

On Friday afternoon I played cricket again and was very unsuccessful. I was clean bowled first ball! I don’t like these sand pitches much, they are too hard and hot.King Farouk palace Alexandria_1946

I was on guard on Friday night, and nothing exciting happened apart from the fact that we all went to sleep and therefore there was nobody awake to blow reveillé.

Yesterday afternoon I was playing badminton. We have a tournament on Tuesday.

We are “in training” now ready for a big parade on June 6th. There’s a whole list of orders for it, such as: – Shirts will be starched and ironed perfectly. Belts will be milky white etc.

It’s a wonder they don’t make us have our knees all thee same tint of brown! So far I’ve managed to dodge all the rehearsal parades and I shall do my best to dodge the actual parade, but it won’t be easy.

I’m enclosing the other snaps I mentioned. The explanations for all of them are on the backs. I hope you like them. The light got in one of them. It was the last on the roll and the back of the film was torn.

That’s all for now. I must go and get some supper. Hope to hear from you tomorrow.

Lots of love,
John
xxx
xxx

P.S. Got that form from Prudential yesterday and shall be sending it back tomorrow. It’s £22-10-8 so watch they don’t swindle you!

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Wednesday 1st May 1946 – “see if he’ll send me back to England – what a hope!”

John 194614400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
Alexandria Signals.,
M.E.F.

7 p.m.
May 1 1946

Dear All,

Just a few lines once again. I’ve got quite a bit of “sorting out” to do between now and bed-time so I can’t write much.

Tomorrow is the day when I have to see the specialist again. I don’t know what he’ll say this time. There is some improvement and it isn’t right yet and I think it is a thing which will take some time to cure. We’ll see what he says. I think I’ll suggest to him that a cooler climate might help and see if he’ll send me back to England – what a hope!

Alexandria was out of bounds for a bit yesterday. There wasn’t much trouble and I believe it only lasted a few minutes. These talks are going on but the wogs are getting impatient and suspicious. I think there’ll be an announcement about evacuation very soon.John, Gordon, Easter Monday, El Alamein_April 1946_1

Thanks for Gwladys’s letter of the 26th which arrived today. The mail is taking longer now. I suppose it’s because of Easter Bank Holiday.

That incident with the car reminds me of the time we were going to Colwyn Bay and the same thing happened then.

I haven’t done any driving for some time. They occasionally let us go out on instruction but I haven’t bothered much because the drivers here aren’t much good, nothing like the old crowd we used to have. In any case driving on the right hand side of the road isn’t much practice.

Well this is May and it will soon be midsummer, then Autumn and I’ll be counting the days. As far as I can work out from the latest programme, group 48 will be out by the beginning of December at the latest so we should be on our way in November, of course they might speed it up after September.

Sorry to hear that birthday card didn’t get there. I can’t see why it should get lost but I suppose occasional letters do go astray. Still I wish Mam many happy returns of the day now.

I’ve had some good results with the camera this week.

I’m enclosing one or two taken Easter week-end up at Alamein. I’m sending a couple to Kath as well but I’m getting some more done so I’ll save the rest for later.

Then I’ve got four quite good views. Remember seeing some of Mr Mead’s films and seeing the method of irrigation in some of these countries, with an ox harnessed to a primitive pump arrangement? Well I took one of those and it came out as clear as could be. I’ll send these views next time as one or two people want to see them yet.

I’ve just decided which two to send you now. One was taken outside our billet here, the other chap is Gordon. The other is of me and Gordon taken near Alamein. It was quite breezy that day, hence the windswept hair. We are sitting on the back of a wireless truck.

That’s all for now. Will write again in a couple of days.

Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxxx

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