Thursday, January 20, 2011

Early January, 1945, Earls Colne - leave over

F/O D.H.G.Findlay 105428
R.A.F. Officers Mess
Marks Hall
Earls Colne

My darling,
                   I am convinced that my address should really read "Starkadder Farm, Little Howling" but I'll deal with that aspect of my present surroundings later on.

                   As I told you in a postcard, I had quite a pleasant journey [from Glasgow]to London. After breakfast in Euston I meandered through suburban Essex and landed at Chigwell about 10am. I soon found to my surprise that it was full of people in my racket [ciphers] all being trained to go to Northern Europe, which of course is not "overseas" nowadays. I reported to dozens of people and then had a full medical examination including three inoculations in quick succession. ...

... I was just settling down to compose a very dismal letter to you when a phone message came in from the Adjutant saying that myself and another officer called Davies were to leave first thing in the morning for a unit near Colchester. This involved returning to London where we passed the time between trains in a News Theatre and in the Regent Palace Hotel. Then a very slow and tortuous journey brought us here.

                   And 'here' is almost off the map. We are right in the heart of rural Essex and I was certain that old Adam Lambsbreath would be awaiting us at the station. Actually there was nobody, since the unit did not know we were coming. However after an icy wait of half an hour a car arrived to take us to Marks Hall.

                 I should think this must be one of the most primitive of home stations. Four of us are billeted in a large Nissen hut containing one stove which scorches one side of those who huddle round it and leaves the other side to be fanned by the icy gales. The temperature when we got up this morning was something awful as there had been a fall of snow during the night. However the country is quite pretty and I think I could enjoy it here in milder weather.

               However, anything like permanence is not yet in sight. Nobody knows why we are here and I'm afraid we will be on our way soon. The vast majority of those who preceded us home from the Mediterranean have been sent to Northern Europe and I fear that I may make that journey soon too. I must say that from first impressions I'd be quite happy to stay here.   

                I felt very dismal after leaving you. Life is so flat .... and the contrast between [the time spent on leave] and this semi-convict life is heartbreaking. However I suppose I'll soon settle down to the dull routine of passing time and it won't be long before I can give myself the pleasure of anticipation again. ...

... The Mars Bar I intend to eat luxuriously in bed some afternoon. If I stay here, I can see me getting in lots of bed-pressing hours.

[This letter ends with the expression of hope that the future - ie after the war ends - is perhaps "a bit nearer and more distinct than it used to be in the past."]


  1. We have all posted on

    Thanks Best Wished FRPH

  2. Posted via Facebook from Stephen Heppell (

    "I love the way he says "... and 'here' is almost off the map" when in fact it's just a very few miles from where I live!"

  3. Posted via Facebook from Robert Jones (

    "fascinating, precious memories. Your grandfather was in the north african desert at the same time as my dad. He joined his battalion just as the battle of El Alamein was ending"