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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Friday 26th April 1946 – “half a dozen ivory serviette rings”

Alexandria 1946_114400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
Alexandria Signals.,
M.E.F.

Friday
26-4-46

Dear All,

This won’t be a very long letter because it’s getting rather late now.

I got Dad’s letter of the 22nd today. I haven’t heard from Kath for a few days but I suppose she was busy last weekend.

I hope you had a good week-end and the weather kept fine.

I realised I was wrong with that “stopping down” business and I took all my last snaps at f11, I’ll have to see how they come out. From now on I want to concentrate on scenes rather than snaps of people. There aren’t a lot of interesting things round here but I hope to get leave during the summer.

Gordon and I went into town yesterday and I actually made a start with some shopping. I’ve brought a small present for Mam, half a dozen ivory serviette rings. Will half a dozen be enough? Now I’ve got to look round for something for Dad and Gwladys and I should have a parcel on the way soon.

I’ve been thinking of writing to Mac at the Bldg. Socy. and finding out what sort of position I’ll be in if I go back there. If I thought I was going back to a good job I’d be prepared to carry on with that course in my spare time now. I think it’s quite natural that I should think I shan’t settle down there very easily. I was only there two years and I shall have done four years in the army and I feel now that I’d prefer an outdoor job. I think I’ll have to go back there but I see no reason why I shouldn’t change my mind later if I feel like it. No doubt there will be some good jobs there but I shall be about the last out.

Must close now
Cheerio,
Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxx

P.S. Enclosing other snap and negative.

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Wednesday 24th April 1946 – “There are 7,713 graves there, each with a white wooden cross”

El Alamein_194614400541,
Sigmn. Moore J.,
1 Company,
Alexandria Signals.,
M.E.F.

3.30 p.m.
Wednesday
24-4-46

Dear All,

Sorry I haven’t been able to write sooner but we were out all day Sunday and Monday and we were working till eight o’clock last night. Our hours are 8-1 and 6-8 now every day. They aren’t long but they are awkward and in addition we are to have an hour’s drill every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

I’ve had two letters from you since I last wrote, one from Gwladys and the other from Mam. Thanks very much for both.

I was surprised to hear that it keeps light till nine o’clock. We are only an hour in front of you but it’s dark at seven o’clock here. It gets light about five in the morning.

Kath told me about the presents she had and she is very lucky. Most of the things seem to be for after she is married and it’s a pity somebody doesn’t give her a house already furnished!

Well we spent a very unusual, but enjoyable Easter week-end. Thirteen of us went out on the exercise, travelling in three trucks. We left here on Sunday morning and went in easy stages until we reached El Alamein at tea time. We camped there for the night and did our own cooking. That’s one of the few things I like about army life, camping and cooking over a little fire. That’s why I can almost say I enjoyed the year in BLA. I shall always have some happy memories of those days and this was a reminder of them. We were up reasonably early on Monday morning (7 o/c) and cooked breakfast consisting of tea, bread and marg., cornflakes and sausages. Then we went to have a look at the cemetery on the battle field. There are 7,713 graves there, each with a white wooden cross. Not a very pleasant sight, but worth seeing if only to make us realise that it’s up to all of us to see that their sacrifice was not in vain.

Later we went further up the desert staying in one place to have a quiet dinner of tea, bully beef, fish and cheese, and tinned peaches – a bit of a mixture but that was what we had left so that was the menu. Then we joined up with the other trucks (we had been in touch with them by wireless) and made our way back here.

I took a few snaps and altogether we had four cameras so I should have some snaps for you in a week or two.

Gordon had a letter from Curly yesterday. He’s in Japan now, about 20 miles from Hiroshima where we dropped the atomic bomb. He doesn’t like it there much and he says the Japs have very queer customs.

The chap sleeping next to me had a terrible shock yesterday. He had a telegram to say that his son (2 years old) was critically ill with little hope of recovery. He left here yesterday afternoon, was leaving by plane from Cairo this morning and expected to be home tomorrow morning. I felt very sorry for him because he’s had rotten luck all along. He was originally out here as a Flight Sergeant in the RAF. Then he got shot down and was of no further use to them so he was put in the army, and lost about 5/- a day. Then he was sent out here again. Another thing, his divvy job was policeman and while most cops have got out under Class B he was overlooked somehow. There’s always somebody worse off than ourselves.

Well that’s about all once again. Hope you are all well. I’m OK myself except for my hands. They are a lot better but I’m keeping the bandages on still. It will look funny when I take them off because my arms are very brown and my hands will be white.

Well Cheerio for now
Lots of love,
John
xxxxxx
xxxxxx

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Friday 19th April 1946 – “he gave me a box of ointment and instructions”

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

Friday
19 Apr. 46

Dear All,

Well I suppose you are wondering what has happened since I last wrote (on TUES.) and I’m pleased to be able to tell you I’m not in hospital.

He sent me to see a specialist yesterday morning and after a thorough examination and lots of questions he gave me a box of ointment and instructions. He said it is the heat that causes it but of course he had a long name for it. He said it would be better after a fortnight’s treatment and then I’ve got to see him again. In the meantime I’ve got my hands bandaged up and I’ve not to let soap touch the backs of my hands. So that’s that.

It’s not very easy to write but these bandages have certain advantages. For one thing I can’t do much work! I’m supposed to be playing in a table tennis tournament and I think that I might manage that.

This weekend being Easter we are getting Monday off. But rather than just lounge around here with nothing to do, our Section Officer has arranged a small wireless exercise for Sunday and Monday. This will give some of us a chance of going as far as Alamein and it should be interesting. If I go I shall take the camera of course.

There’s very little else to tell you except that I got Dad’s letter of the 12th yesterday. Thanks very much for it.

Glad to hear the garden is about finished. There are some lovely flowers round here now. The most common are sweet peas but I’ve also seen carnations, marigolds and geraniums. But don’t think it is a mass of flowers, even one little dandelion would be conspicuous here.

We’ve had a drop of rain here today. It had been looking rather stormy for a few days. Yesterday there was a hot wind blowing all day and today we had an April shower.

We had utility hot cross buns for tea today, our only reminder that it is Good Friday.

Well it’s not a very long letter but I’m afraid it will have to do. I don’t suppose you will be hiking around Bardon Hill and Copt Oak this year? It doesn’t seem so long since J. J. used to set the pace does it?

Well Cheerio,
Lots of love,
John
xxxxxx
xxxxxx

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Tuesday 16th April 1946 – “I’ve been having treatment for a few days and although it isn’t getting worse it isn’t improving”

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

Tuesday
16-4-46

Dear All,

Just a few more lines hoping you are all well.

It’s been quite busy today as at the moment we have a lot of chaps here training and most of us “old hands” are acting as instructors. It’s a fairly interesting job and helps to pass the time away.

Last night I was playing badminton for an hour and a half and it was quite enjoyable. I had forgotten how to score but I soon picked it up again.

I haven’t been doing any sunbathing recently for a very good reason.. I wasn’t going to tell you, but the sun caught the back of my hands and wrists and gave me what is known as “prickly heat”. It’s an irritation of the skin caused by this particular climate and most chaps have had it at some time or other. The old soldiers say that as the skin gets accustomed to the heat the irritation stops. Anyway I’ve been having treatment for a few days and although it isn’t getting worse it isn’t improving. On Tuesday the MO told me that if it isn’t better on Thursday he’s going to send me to a specialist. I didn’t want to tell you all this because I know you worry over such small things – and it is only small. The reason why I have told you is that they might keep me in hospital for a few days. You never know what they might do. Anyway I don’t feel ill, I’ve never felt better, so don’t worry. You can ask anybody who has been out here what “prickly heat” is and then you’ll know that it isn’t serious.

I saw in this morning’s paper that Isaacs was to make his demob statement today but we haven’t heard anything official yet.

I hope you are getting all my letters now. I only sent a card for Mam’s birthday but I haven’t forgotten that I owe you a parcel.

Well that’s about all once more. I’ll be writing again very soon.

Cheerio and,
Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxxx

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Sunday 14th April 1946 – “it’s the usual story, scores of men with nothing to do”

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

Sunday
14-4-46

Dear All,

I was very pleased to get Mam’s letter yesterday. It was posted on the 9th. You had gone a week then without any mail from me but you should have had several letters by now.

I got a letter from Jock yesterday. He’s miles from anywhere and the only entertainment they have is one cinema. But he says the unit seems ok. He’s about 70 miles beyond Cairo. He says it’s the usual story, scores of men with nothing to do.

I’ve started occupying my time more in the evenings. I’ve started going to language classes, French on Wednesday and Spanish on Thursday. On Friday night we got together and formed a table-tennis team of which I am a member. Then we can play badminton any night, and there’s an instructor there every Monday for learners, so I hope to be there tomorrow night.

There isn’t much to tell you as nothing has happened since I wrote last. The weather is still the same, hot in the daytime and cool in the evenings.

Well this time last year it was getting towards my BLA leave, and it will soon be a year since VE-Day. The last year seems to have passed fairly quickly.

Well I think that’s all for now. I’ll be writing again very soon.

Cheerio and
Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxxx

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Friday 12th April 1946 – “They pester us and threaten to put shoe polish on our clothes”

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

Friday
12-4-46John, Alexandria_April 1946

Dear All,

Here goes again. I haven’t had a letter from you since Gwladys’s which I answered in my last one.

Gordon and I were on half day yesterday so we went into town in the evening. There’s very little to go out for these days except the pictures and not many chaps go out of the barracks at all. Now that we are wearing summer clothes again the shoe blacks are up to their tricks. They pester us and threaten to put shoe polish on our clothes if we don’t let them clean our shoes. We aren’t allowed to hit them so we are more or less at their mercy. I told you what is was like in Cairo and it’s getting the same here now.

We saw a film we had previously seen in Weybridge. It was “Weekend at the Waldorf” and was well worth seeing again.

The weather doesn’t seem to be getting any warmer now, but it’s quite warm enough. We dress “Montgomery fashion” in the evenings – slacks, and pullover outside the slacks. It’s quite a comfortable way of dressing.

I see Isaacs is going to make another statement on demob soon but he’s only going to give the programme up to the end of September. I was hoping he’d give it to the end of the year because it’s pretty obvious that I shan’t be in the September programme. Still it will give us a better idea of what to expect.

I got the photos on Wednesday and they are pretty good. There were two of me and I’m enclosing one. I only had one of each and I’ve sent the other to Kath but I’ll get some more done. Actually I think the other one is better because I was smiling! This one, as you can see, was taken along the sea front. The light seems very strong out here and next time I shall stop the lens down to f6.3, these were on f8 and that seems too much.

I haven’t heard from Ron for over a week because it’s my turn to write. I really must write to him tonight.

I haven’t heard from Jock yet but of course he’s hardly had time to settle down yet.

That’s about all for now. Hope you are all well. I’m quite OK myself.

Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxxx

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Tuesday April 9th 1946 – “I shall have to wash my knees frequently”

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

Tuesday
9-4-46

Dear All,

Thanks for Gwladys’s letter which came yesterday. I rather think that one or two letters may have gone astray lately. Glad to hear you are all OK and still enjoying Summery weather.

The weather is quite warm here and we started wearing shorts yesterday. We wear them between eight and five, and in the evenings we wear thin slacks. Actually the evenings are cool but it is gradually getting warmer and I suppose in a week or two we shall be wearing shorts all the time.

We’ve been bathing this afternoon and yesterday afternoon. The sea is grand and I might be able to improve my swimming eventually. My face and arms are quite brown already but I think it will take quite a long time for my body to get tanned.

I’ve got the job of section photographer sometime in the near future. The section officer asked me today if I would take some groups of the section (he said “before everybody goes”. I don’t know if he was hinting that the section is going to be split up. If so that bears out what I told you before). He’s going to buy a couple of films so I should get a few free exposures out of it! I shall be collecting the prints of the first film tomorrow so I expect to send you one or two snaps in my next letter. I’ll have to have some taken in my shorts so that you can see me in my Boy Scouts outfit. By the way, Gwladys says I shall have to wash my knees frequently, well that would be silly as it washes all the sunburn off!

I had read in the paper out here that Old Woodhouse is going to be sold, but I couldn’t make much out of it. I don’t see that it can make much difference, except perhaps that some of the adjoining land, Beacon Hill etc. will be closed to the public. I hope it doesn’t stop us from going there because it is a lovely district. You know we are lucky to live on the Bradgate side of Leicester, I can understand why some people look out of our side window and remark on the view.

Well it’s half past eight and time I went for supper or I shall be too late. By the way I did exactly two hours work today. I came off guard this morning, started work at eleven and finished at one for half a day. I’ve got another half day on Thursday and as far as I know I shan’t be working on Saturday afternoon or Sunday. But I’ll still accept my demob when the time arrives!

Cheerio,
Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxxx

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Sunday April 7th 1946 – “I suppose it all depends on the results of the Anglo-Egyptian negotiations due to start shortly”

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

Sunday
Apr 7 ’46

Dear All,

I haven’t heard from you for several days but I’m hoping there’ll be a letter in the morning. In any case I can’t grumble because the mail has been coming through very well.

I was on duty all day yesterday and until this morning. I spent most of the day yesterday ironing out my summer clothes as we are going into shorts from tomorrow onwards. For the last few days it has been windy but today it is very warm. We went for a walk along the sea front before dinner and it was very nice.

Jock is going tomorrow morning but still doesn’t know exactly where he is going. First he heard it was Palestine but now he thinks he is going somewhere near Port Said. We’ve heard rumours that troops in Alex are to be gradually dispersed until only very few remain. There may be some truth in it as quite a lot of chaps have been posted in the last week or two and all but two of the Forces’ Clubs have been closed. I suppose it all depends on the results of the Anglo-Egyptian negotiations due to start shortly. I wouldn’t mind a move in some ways, it would help to pass the time away.

I hear the weather is still good in your part of the world. Seems as if you are having Summer early.

I’ve finished one film and took it in to be developed yesterday. I only took a few snaps because I want to see the results first. They should be all right.

That’s about all once more. I’m on guard tomorrow night and I think we are going on the rifle range one day this week.

Cheerio for now
Lots of love,
John
xxxx
xxxx

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Thursday 4th April 1946 – “I had a small parcel from a South African comfort’s fund yesterday”

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

Thursday
4 April ’46

Dear All,

Here we are again, with not much to tell you as usual. Actually I’m feeling a bit miserable at the moment because Jock has been posted and he’s leaving on Monday. A few days ago they told us that a number of men were to be posted and if anyone wanted to go they could volunteer. Jock and I thought it over but they wouldn’t tell us what it was for or anything we decided not to do anything about it. Then we heard rumours that Jock was on it. You see the football season has finished so they have no further use for him in that respect, and I suppose one of the powers that be wanted to get rid of him. He is going to a unit which looks like going to the Far East eventually. He doesn’t mind that so much because he’s group 42 and should be demobbed in another six months.

Anyway that’s that and from Monday onwards there will only be me and Gordon of the original crowd. Gordon isn’t much in the way of company, he’s always so miserable and reserved, he’s got no views on, or interest in, anything special. Still he’s got his good points and I’ve learned by now that friends in the army are only very temporary, here today and gone tomorrow, so I’m not bothered.

I was on duty this evening and the section officer came and had quite a chat with me. I may not have told you that we had a new officer a few weeks ago and he seems to be a very decent sort of chap. He eventually got on to the subject of civvy street and told me what I already know too well. That is the importance of knowing exactly what one wants to go back to. He seemed very interested and I think he can be really helpful. He asked me if I had thought of the Police Force as there are plenty of chances there. Of course I’m still no better off but I’m definitely going to do some studying if it’s only to keep myself occupied and keep my brain active. This business of getting settled down in civvy street is going to be a big problem and it’s time I was preparing for it. Mind you I suppose I shall have to go back to the LPBS and maybe I’ll stay there but I can’t imagine many good jobs going there and in any case it won’t do any harm to have interests in other directions.

We are going into shorts from Monday onwards. I hope it gets a bit warmer than it has been today, as it has been quite cool.

I had a small parcel from a South African comfort’s fund yesterday. We had so many in the section and I was one of the lucky ones. It contained writing paper, soap, razor blades and shoe polish.

Must close now as it’s nearly lights out.

Cheerio

Lots of love,

John

xxxx

xxxx

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