In May 1940, my leave was cancelled and I was called for training, at St Mary's Bay, Kent, in the use of a new anti tank gun. My first letter home is from there.
On 21st May, our unit of Irish guards were travelling back to our base when we were stopped and turned around at Dorking, Surrey. We were being sent to France.
These are my letters home from May 1940 onwards.
Undated letter (probably April, 1942)
My dear Mother & Father,
Your last letter is dated 22nd Feb, but the mail has quickened-up so much this past week (letters dated 12th March are already here) that I expect at least 2 from you this next week.
Now I have some good news for you. I am living with Bert Duffy. I have left my working-party and am now back in the main camp. The camp has altered considerably from what it was when I first came here. We have a beautiful church, staffed by 6 or 7 padres, a military band and organ provide the music. Last Sunday I was able to attend Holy Communion for the first time since being made prisoner; I also attended this morning. A school, where every subject conceivable can be studied, is also in full operation, I am learning German and studying Geography. All the tutors incidentally have degrees after their names. Four or five different orchestras ranging from symphony to swing have been formed, and I can say quite honestly they are 'tip top'. Time, the enemy of every prisoner of war, can quite easily be made to pass quickly here. We are enjoying beautiful sunny weather.
All my love to you both, Bill and Dot.
In April 1942
In Burma... Japanese advances near Toungoo continue and the Chinese are forced to retreat. The Japanese also heavily attack British positions near Prome.
In the Philippines... the Japanese resume major attack on the Bataan Peninsula. The American and Philippine troops have 24,000 of the their men ill due to short rations (1/4 of normal ration size) and tropical diseases.
In the Mediterranean... The Italian cruiser Bande Nere is sunk by the British submarine Urge north of Sicily.
From London... Admiral Cunningham is appointed to serve on the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee in Washington, he leaves the post of commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet.
In New Guinea... Japanese invasion of New Guinea continues with landings at Sorong and Hollandia. They go almost unopposed.