Wally’s Letters

Letters of W.H. Layne.

Written to his fiancée Joan Maunders on arrival at 50 Squadron at the start of his first tour.   Early July 1941

Sgts Mess, R.A.F. Lindholme, Nr. Doncaster

My Dearest One,

I arrived here O.K. and seem to be settling down all right.  I have met one or two people I know but none of my particular circle of friends, Jack hasn’t turned up, he must have gone somewhere else, no one seemed to know I was coming, everyone I have reported to this morning me asked if I was better, the general impression seems to be that I have been sick somewhere or other and am about a month late in arriving.

I have some good new for you, we are leaving here and going to another place, it will be a lot nearer to where you are, I don’t suppose I should say where it is in a letter, but if I say it is near where your cousin Peter lives you will have a good idea of the district, I shall be a lot nearer to you I am glad to say, we move in about a fortnights time. (Swinderby)

This place is rather in the wilds, Doncaster is about eleven miles away, Hatfield is the nearest place and it is a village.  The flying crews have been billeted out but I have a room in the mess and hope to keep it.

I was going to write to you last night but I didn’t have any paper, it is a good job really as I felt awfully miserable and the letter would have been just the same.

I think I had the best holiday of my life dear, I am looking forward to my next one very much.

Cigarettes are much better to get hold of here, we are allowed twenty a day but whether the good fortune will last or not I don’t know especially as we are moving, so if you manage to get hold of any I should stick to them.

I am writing this during the morning, I have to go round and see the Wing Commander (Gus Walker) now so I will add a bit more to it later on.

I am back again dear, still writing the above I have been round to see the Wing Commander, we were interrupted in our conversation though and I have to go back tomorrow, I went straight down to Doncaster after seeing him and have been down there until now, it is nearly eleven.

I had tea there and went to the pictures, had some supper and then came back here, rather a lonely evening but I enjoyed it, there are three picture houses here but they don’t appear to show very outstanding features, the programme I saw was quite good, Gordon Hacker and Alistair Sims in “Inspector Hornleigh goes to it” it was quite amusing, the other film was “The Caballero “ with Cesar Romeo in it, it was a fairly decent film.The first fellow I saw here was a pilot I knew at Cottesmore, in fact he was the first fellow I flew with there, (Sgt. Block) I asked him if he knew Mick and he says he finished his two hundred hours the night before last and had probably gone now.

I wish I could make you understand how much I enjoyed my holiday dear, it was the most wonderful week of my life, I have you to thank for it dear.

In the unlikely event of you being called up dear I want you to give every consideration as to what you will go in to, I am sure you are not the type for the services, the more I see of the W.A.A.F.S. the more I realise that, look at factory life from every angle and consider that there are other sides to it than just standing at a machine, but I really don’t think you will be called upon to go, you know that everything will be done to keep you in your present job.

All my love  Walter   xxx

F/Sgt. Layne, Sgts Mess, R.A.F. Bourn, Nr. Cambridge, May 15/43

My dear wife,

I expect you will be wondering why I haven’t written, please forgive me dear, we have been pretty busy just lately, we went on the Duisburg effort on Wednesday and we went to Pilsen on Thursday, Bob came round and fetched me out of bed at two o’clock yesterday afternoon and we went to Cambridge and spent the afternoon and evening on the river.

You must worry about the “ops,” these two were only a flash in the pan, I don’t suppose I shall be doing anymore for some time.

We took some photos the other day, we haven’t finished the roll yet, when we have I will let you have them, they are all around our own aircraft, one of them was taken just before we got into the kite to go to Pilsen, I hope they come out alright.  We are trying to get a large photo of a Lanc in flight, I will send it on if we manage it.

I was walking thro’ Cambridge yesterday and saw Doreen with her baby, her husband is in the R.A.F., but has come back to his old job for six months, he is a mechanic or something like that.

My mustache is not making much headway, if I stick my lip out and look down I can see a few bristles, it is so very fair it doesn’t show up at all.

The weather here is lovely, I expect you are having it as well, it was grand on the river yesterday, we had a punt, we daren’t tackle it with a pole, we used canoe paddles.

Bob sent his wife your address, she is going to write to you and confirm our visit there on our next leave.  I am reading a book called “The Murder Of My Aunt,” it is very different to the usual run of books but I am enjoying it very much.

All my love,  Walter.

W/O Layne, Tuesday 24th (August 1943)

Am ok dear, have tried to phone you five times today and couldn’t get thro’  Went to Berlin last night and some other place the night before, I forget where, near Cologne.

Am scribbling to catch the post. All my love,     Walt

All letters from here on were written when Walter Layne (Wally) was a P.O.W.  Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug Wally’s first communication with his wife was by a postcard which interestingly he printed. 

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                                Oct. 14/43


Again a P.O.W. postcard            Written at Stalag Luft 3 Sagan.

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                                 Oct 26/43

Dear Joan, things are going very well, I am quite fit and getting plenty of food.  I have met Dal, (Lethbridge) he sends his best wishes and will be writing soon, a fellow came round to see my called Cornish, seems he used to know you.  In my parcel include some underwear.  Send this card to Air Ministry, you have permission to draw my personal kit.  Send a pipe in my parcel, not my usual one, any old thing will do, don’t let anyone borrow my fishing tackle, I shall be using it soon.  All my love Walter.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter  Nov. 7/43    Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug 

My dearest Joan, I hope by now you will have (Nov7/43) heard that I am alright, I am at the same camp as Joe (Nelson) and Jack (Beesley,) they are in a different wing, I am in the same room as Robbie, (Robertson, previous crew member on 97 Squadron)  he is very fit.  I was with Bob (Fletcher) last week, I also saw Dal, (Lethbridge) he is going to write to you this month.

I have met a great number of old friends here, yesterday I met Harry Warton’s brother in law he comes from Scunthorpe and has been here about eight months.  We had about three hours of Bing Crosby this afternoon, on records of course, it was very enjoyable, last night we had a session of swing records.

It is a month and five days since I was captured so I suppose you will have heard of my safety by now, that is the only worry I have.  I hope Dorothy has come to some satisfactory arrangement over her domestic troubles, she certainly deserves more luck than she has had.  Has Miss Johnson arrived at the shop and settled in?  It will be a very good thing.

There is a very good library at the camp and opportunities to study almost any subject, there is a football pitch and we hope to get some ice skating in the winter so you can see that the boys are not pushed for want of anything to keep their minds busy.  Write often dearest and let me know everything.  All my love Walter.

Again a P.O.W. postcard                        Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                                 Nov 15/43

My darling Joan, Here’s a postcard to let you know I am getting on all right, I am feeling very stiff at the moment, I have been playing football, the first time for ages.  Ask Lois to remember Robbie to Bob, he is very well, we share the same room, he laughed like mad when I walked in.

I hope you are feeling well and are looking after yourself.  Write to me often, ask Bernard Twilley to write.   All my love. Walt.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter 

Nov 20/43                              Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

My dearest Joan, I hope you are getting on all right and are receiving my mail ok, I haven’t received any from you yet, but it is a bit early to expect any yet, I shall be very glad when it comes along.  You are not to worry about me at all I am very comfortable, I am doing a lot of reading, I have just finished “Rebecca” and enjoyed it very much, I remember you were often saying how good it is.  I have addressed all my mail to your mother’s house as I wasn’t sure where you would be living at the moment.  I have met a fellow here from Scawby, his name is Peter Yarnell, we were at school together, I have met several fellows from that part of England.  I have got over my stiffness from football and am looking forward to getting some ice skating shortly.  Remember me to Shirley.

I shall have to finish soon Robbie is waiting for me to have a game of draughts, I have made a puzzle like the one Percy gave me, it is causing quite a good deal of amusement.

You will notice a slight change of address on this letter.   All my love and above all don’t worry.  Walt.

Again a P.O.W. postcard         Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                           Dec 10/43

My darling Joan, I hope you are quite well, I am keeping ok.  I’m afraid I haven’t much news for you, it is rather difficult to think of anything to write about.  I am looking forward to receiving some mail, I hope some comes before Christmas.  The fellows here are very optimistic, I hope it is justified, hope to see you soon, love Walter.

Again a P.O.W. postcard          Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                            Dec 31/43

My dearest Joan. Hope you are getting on ok.  I am quite fit.  I have just been to a performance of “Love In The Mist” produced at the camp theatre, it was very good indeed, there is a pantomime starting in a few days.  We haven’t had any skating yet but we all hope to get some in the near future.  Hope to hear from you soon.  Love Walter.
P.O.W. Air Mail letter 

P.O.W. Air Mail letter Jan 29/44                                    Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

My darling Joan.  I hope you are keeping well (Jan 29) I am very fit and have nothing much to complain of, I trust you are the same.  We had quite a good Christmas, better than I expected to have as a prisoner of war, we had a special  Red Cross parcel instead of the ordinary one, it contained a cake, pudding, chocolate biscuits and other delicacies.  We are still waiting patiently  for some skating, the links are all ready for flooding but up to now the weather has been very mild.  I always  imagined this part of the world was terribly cold but up to now it is very much like an English winter, we have had a bit of snow but it clears up almost as soon as it falls which is a pity as we have lots of fun snow balling.

Have you decided on a name for the baby, if it is a girl I think Ruth would be a good idea, if it is a boy anything will do but Walter.  This is about my seventeenth letter or card to you, trust you are getting them all right, I haven’t had any yet.

Send plenty of cigarettes, the fellows tell me that only a very small proportion of them get through.  Hope to hear from you soon.  All my love Walter.

Again a P.O.W. postcard             Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                              Feb 1/44

My dearest Joan, Hope you are keeping fit and well. I am ok.  I received a letter from you on Jan 28/44, it was the first one you had written.  I hope to get some more soon, I have nearly worn it out reading it.  We have started football again I am playing on Thursday, I’m looking forward to it very much.  I think there are some football boots in my trunk, will you send them.  All my love Walt.

P.O.W. postcard 

Kriegsgefangenlager           Written at Stalag Luft 6  Heydekrug   Feb 13/44

To Wally’s sister and brother in law, Walter and Isabel Forth.

Dear I&W, I received three letters from Joan and one from Brigg the day before yesterday, I expect there will be more coming along from you soon.  One that Joan wrote was posted on Dec/26.  I hope you are getting my mail ok, I write you and Dad once a month, the other four I send to Joan.  I am quite well and getting enough food and have plenty of warm clothes.  With love Walt.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter  Feb 15/44                              Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

My dearest Joan, I received letters this week dated 7/12/43, 8/12, 26/12, and 15/12, also one from Bella dated 28/12/43.  I have written to the A.M. asking them to open an a/c in in you name at Lloyds, and telling them to put £3 per week into it, the remainder to go to an a/c in my name at the same bank, I have written to the Bank Manager telling them of this.  I was very sorry to hear of Shirley’s troubles, tell her how sorry I am, I haven’t any cards left to write to her this month.  Just because I haven’t been confirmed it doesn’t mean that I am a blinking heathen, I went to church twice last Sunday.  For heavens sake don’t send an officer’s uniform out here, I shouldn’t know what to do with it.  I am very well off for clothes.  I am pleased to hear you are writing to Mac, (McGregor Bourn) they were very good to Bob and I, I left my gun up at their farm it will be ok.

When I baled out I lost my silk scarf and my mother’s ring which was on my little finger and was a bit loose, you can break the news at Thorneydene (sister’s home) if you will, the scarf just floated away before I could grab it, I was sorry to see it go, I should think it is on some frau now, it was a good one had been all over the place.

In actuality Wally had lost the ring, a family heirloom, when fishing and was afraid to tell his elder sister of its lost.  He figured that losing it bailing out would be forgiven!

Will you write to Irvin enrolling me in the caterpillar club.  I hope this will be the only anniversary we shall be apart, everyone here is very optimistic.  All my love Walter.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter

Feb 22/44                                  Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

My dearest wife, Today was a jubilee, twelve letters arrived for me, one from ?????, two Dot, one a fellow at Cambridge, six from you and a terrific epistle from Bob Brocklesby showing everlasting gratitude for our friendship, made me feel embarrassed.

I am afraid I can give Mrs. McKinna no hope nor Mrs. Page, although I did not actually see Harry’s end.  I can’t say anything at all definite about the other bloke. (Foster.)  Page Mckinna and Foster were the crew members killed during the shoot down.)

A bit in your letter was blocked out, the line following it was “Lois and I will meet in London.”  I am a curious devil I suppose I shall find out when the war is over.  I am thinking of taking up book keeping and salesmanship, but I don’t seem able to concentrate on it.  I have read some very good books while I have been here, fiction travel and of course fishing.  I shall be very glad to get some snaps from you, send a lot, send the coloured one I had on the squadron.  Send plenty of pyjamas to me, they are about the only clothes the red + don’t issue, you are quite right they are a wonderful body.  I couldn’t read a bit in Dot’s letter, it referred to something you found in my belongings, what was it?  This is my last letter for this month, I shall be glad when next months come along.  I am glad you are keeping so well I have no worries about you at all, a strong country girl like you are should be ok.  Robbie received a letter from you and from Lois on the same day, he was very thrilled and thanks you.  The weather still keeps cold but I suppose it is natural for East Prussia, I am quite well wrapped up.  Love Walt. x

P.O.W. Air Mail letter written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug                                                                                              April 7/44

My dearest one, I hope you are keeping well I shall be glad to hear that you have had the baby and are ok.  I received my parcel today, it was just what I wanted, it couldn’t have been better if I has chosen the stuff myself.  I was surprised to see it arrive, some of the fellows are waiting for August parcels, I expect cigarettes will come along about June.  The shoes of your father wouldn’t fit me they are too small but that is nothing to worry about, send me some hair cream in the next parcel, also some boot polish.  I hope you are getting my mail alright, I write once a week.  I have had twenty letters from you up to now, five from Thorneydene, and one from Brigg, I haven’t had any from Bella since February.  I expect they will come along.  Robbie had a letter from you yesterday also one from Shirley, I don’t think he has been out with a girl, he is thrilled to bits, I feel very jealous especially when he didn’t let me read Shirley’s, I share my mail with anyone.  Today has been the most marvelous day of the year, most of the snow has gone now, I hope we don’t get any more, we had a heavy fall last week.  I am playing Rugby on Sunday, I play for a team called the “Tigers,” what a name, we get about one game a week, that is enough as we don’t get enough food to do much more.  When you feeding the baby give it soup “Layne’s bairns like broth,” you ask Bella.  Must close now lots more I could say.  All my love Walt.

P.O.W. postcard                      Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                       April 14/44

My dear Joan, I received five letters from you last Monday, the latest was Feb 3rd, they don’t come along in the order in which they are written, but I don’t suppose mine do.  I wrote Bob a card the other day, I have had two letters from him.  Have you read any books by Angela  Thirkell, they are good, start with “High Rising,” I think you will like them.  We have had a lovely spell of weather over Easter, I hope it continues.  Love W.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter  Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug  April 21/44

My dearest Joan, I hope you are keeping well, I am definitely fitter than I have been for ten years.   The last letters from you were received Easter Monday, there hasn’t been any since, it doesn’t come very regularly.  I am feeling tired and shall be in bed soon, I played football this morning tenni-quoites this afternoon and Rugby this evening, I am on my knees, I have a game of football tomorrow, in between games I did my laundry.  God how I hate the job, I seem to get more soap in the articles than I can get out.  I am taking up baseball in the near future.  I don’t think there are any Grantham boys here, not in this lager anyway, but I have met two lads I was at school with and there are several from Scunthorpe, Harry Morton’s brother in law amongst them, (Jim Skinner.)   The razor blades in my parcel were a queer lot, not very sharp, were they new, not all of them would fit the razor.  I hope you are not worrying about me at all, you have no need to, I am not intending doing anything silly, just waiting until the end of the war before I come home, I hope and think that will be next year.  I hope the baby is ok, give it plenty of gripe water and keep it teetotal, it can smoke if it wants.  Love Walter.

P.O.W. postcard                          Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                              April 29/44

My dearest one, I received two letters today one from Bob and one from Bella, both written on Feb 28.  Bella tells me we have had a son, I was so pleased and quite thrilled about it.  I shall be glad when I get some mail from you, I shall really feel that you are all right then.  Why is Bella in hospital, surely she hasn’t had a baby as well has she?  I must close now.  All my love Walter.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter            Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug                                                                              May 8/44

My dearest one, I am anxious to hear from you, I received a letter from Bella the other day, it was written on Feb 28, I was pleased to hear you have had the baby and are ok but I shall feel more reassured when I have heard from you.  The last letter I received from you was written on Feb 6, there were some more came in last Saturday but I was not among the fortunate ones.

Shall you call the boy David, I rather like the name, it is Biblical, the same as Ruth.  I received 1,000 cigarettes the other day they were from Frank (brother) and were posted on Jan 18, they were the first I have received and were very welcome as I have been living on charity for so long now.  I have received eight letters from you this year, and twenty five all together from you, so I have nothing to grumble at have I?  I hope you are getting my mail but I believe things are in a slow state, if this blinking invasion ever starts I imagine the mail will cease altogether.

I shouldn’t bother about the wireless set, it isn’t worth much anyway and I will get a decent one when I come home.  I expect you will have had a substantial cheque from the Air Ministry by now, I hope so anyway.  All my love, Walter.

P.O.W. postcard                         Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                       May 13/44

My dearest one, Yesterday and today were good days for me, I received seventeen letters eleven of which were from you.  I was very pleased to know you have had the baby and both of you are doing well.  I think David Ian are very nice names, I like David but don’t like Dave.  I also get very queer letters from Bob, but it is very nice of him to write.  I have received two cig parcels, one from Frank and the other unknown.  Love W.


May 21/44  My dearest one.  I hope you are well and receiving my mail, I am not doing too badly at all.  I have a piece of land about ten feet square which I have dug up as a garden.  I have three rows of lettuce through two of spinach and three of beet root, I have also one single cucumber just showing its head thru but my tomatoes which are my special pride are two inches high.  I have thirty three of them in a tin bowl.  I went to a play the night before last called “Grouse In June” it was quite good.  I am not often lonely as I have so many pleasant memories of you and if ever I feel at all miserable I console myself with the thought that I could be a lot worse off, single for example.  Let me know how Bern (Bernard Twilley) and Dick (Richard Campling) are getting on with their work, I hear that their firm have increased their exports a lot lately.  (Here Wally is referring to Twilley and Campling being in Bomber Command and on operations,  Both of these Grantham boys were subsequently killed on operations.)

Two more boys from Scunthorpe have come in, one of them says my photo was in the Hull Times, you didn’t mention it, perhaps you didn’t see it.  The latest mail I have had from you was written a day or two after you came out of hospital, there was no date on it.  I hope the baby is getting on alright and doesn’t feature me too much.  I wrote to Bob last month, hope he gets it ok.  I haven’t met any Grantham boys here, love Walter.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter  Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

June 4/44 My dearest Joan, I hope you are receiving my mail, I have had three from you this month, the latest one March 24.  I received some cigarettes from Bern Twilley and some Players and Woodbines with no senders name on them, so please thank anyone who has sent me cigs, then you will thank the right ones.  What do you mean by saying you have been to be churched, you were married properly weren’t you.  I hope you and the baby are getting on alright I expect you will have had its photo taken by now I am looking forward to receiving it and knowing what it looks like.  Today has been a lovely day everyone has been sat out sunbathing all the time.  My garden is getting on alright but the stuff is a bit slow in coming up.  I haven’t received notification yet from the Red + that you have had the baby all right, the telegram is taking longer to come than the mail and heavens knows that takes long enough.  I think there is a good chance of the war being over in 1945, I hope so, it will be grand to be together again.  I have read “Insides Out” today but didn’t think a lot to it.  I read “The Country Man’s Bedside Book” today it was very good.  I hope you have received money from the A/M by now, they are a long time getting organized.  All my love Walt.

P.O.W. postcard                    Written at Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                       June 11/44

My dearest Joan, I hope you and David are keeping well, I am very fit and cheerful.  We are having rotten weather here, hope it’s better in the Channel.  (Here Wally is telling Joan that he knows the Invasion has taken place.)  I have just met a fellow who shared a bed with Bob when they were in the same digs.  I haven’t had any more mail from you but I hope there will be some here in before the month is over.  All my love W.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter  Written at Stalag 357 Thorn

July 21/44  My dearest one I hope you are well I have changed camps as you will see from the address, we arrived here the night before last and everyone is very busy getting settled in.  Please excuse the writing I am holding it on my knee and laying on my bed at the same time.  I enjoyed the journey down here, we saw several storks nests, some of them on barns just beside the railway line, it was possible to see the young birds in them, some of the baby ones were as big as chickens.  I saw some deer in a field beside a wood, also a dead horse.  I have got hold of a Bavarian pipe it is so big and curly, it holds an awful lot of tobacco you would be very amused if you could see it (Half a sentence deleted by German censors, probably because he stated his location)  the weather is lovely, this camp is rather more interesting than the last, it is not in such a lonely spot.  There is another fellow here I was at school with but I haven’t met him yet, he is in the Army and was captured at Crete. (Colbeck)  I have had a notification from A/M about my commission and last week I received a telegram saying I was a father.  I hope David is keeping well, give him my love and lots of it to you.  See you soon Walt.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter  Written at Stalag 357 Thorn

July 28/44 My dear Joan, I hope you and David are well I am very fit and looking forward to seeing both of you before many more months are passed.  I am at another camp now and like it very much, the address is the same as the old one, I put a different one on my last letter but it was a mistake.  There are a lot of army N.C.O.’s at this camp (about five words removed by censor)  I was at school with one of them.  I haven’t received any mail for about five weeks now, I shall be glad when some comes along.  I am looking forward to getting some photos of the baby, I try to imagine what he looks like but I really can’t visualise  a combination of we two at all, as you can well imagine I am dying to see him.  We had an interesting journey down here, it was good to see the countryside again I saw several storks nests with young birds sat on them, I also saw some deer and a dead horse.  I was weighed the other day and was 63 Kilos, not bad at all.  I have been doing some running, came in fourth in 1/2 mile but find I have gone off so I am packing it up, I feel very old now I am a father.  All my love W.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter  Written at Stalag 357 Thorn

Aug 6/44  My dearest Joan, I hope you are keeping well and are receiving plenty of mail from me, I write regularly and can only hope that they are getting thru to you.  I have not heard from you for two months now and I don’t suppose there will be any for us for some time.  We are at an army camp now and the army fellows get their mail this way and I envy them.  We move camps again tomorrow our second move in less than three weeks, we don’t know where we are going to but I will write you as soon as I am able.  I hope the baby is getting on alright, I should love to see him, perhaps it won’t be very long until I am home  Everyone here is very confident that the end of the war is in sight, I hope they are right, it seems to have gone on for a lifetime.  I hope you have sent some photos to me of David and I hope I receive them ok.  I haven’t received my second personnel parcel yet. No doubt it will come thru when we get settled at a camp again.  I hope so altho there is nothing I am wanting except chocolate.  I haven’t lost any weight since I have been a P.O.W.   I was weighed a week or two ago and was an ounce or two under ten stone.  Give my love to David and lots to you.  Walt.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter  Written at Stalag 357 Fallingbostel

 Aug 20/44  My dear Joan, I received three letters from you on the 15th of the month, you can imagine I was very pleased to get them, they were the first for two months, the dates of these being May 2 & 8 and June 10.  I was very pleased to hear that you are well and that David is making good headway, I shall be glad when I receive the photos I am very anxious to see what he looks like.  We are at another camp now, the third in a month, I suppose we shall stay here until the end of the war, I hope so, I am fed up with moving.   I should be in another camp now that I am commissioned, I have had a notification of it from the A/M but the Germans have not recognised it yet (approximately fifteen words deleted by German censor)    Everyone here is very confident of being home for Christmas, I wish it were possible.  I have had a caricature done, it is very good, the Layne lip is well in evidence, I am going to bring it home.  I was glad to know you are getting my mail, I have had only one from my father  since I was shot down.  I am sorry you didn’t make a private bid for (someone’s)  tackle.  Love Walt.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter      Written at Stalag 357 Fallingbostel

Aug 30/44 My dearest Joan, I hope you are well and are receiving my mail, I had three letters from you a fortnight ago, May 2 & 8  and June 8, they were very welcome indeed. I noticed that the last one was addressed F/O, I haven’t had any confirmation of it but it takes a long time as a rule.  I hope you have received the money due to you from the A/M, you should have a decent lump sum, we will need it after the war and a lot more besides.  Jack had a letter from Chalky some months back, I haven’t heard from him.  I think we should be together again some time next year, I reckon everyone has had enough fighting, I have anyway, I don’t want to go to Japan.  I shall be glad when my second parcel comes along. It is quite a long time now since you sent it, I hope it hasn’t got lost.  The Y.M.C.A. has sent out log books,  but it is a bit difficult to put stuff in them, all the camp artists are all overwhelmed with them (Approximately thirty words were deleted by German censors)   Give David a kiss for me, I am longing to receive the photos of him.  All my love Walt.

P.O.W. postcard                            Written at Stalag 357 Fallingbostel

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                       Sept 16/44

My dearest one, I hope you are well, I am keeping very fit.  I am writing this by a flickering lamp so excuse bad writing.  Things are moving very quickly these days, all of the fellows here expect to be home by Christmas but I can’t imagine the blinking war ever ending.  The nights are drawing in, sorry to see Winter.  All my love W

.O.W. Air Mail letter                Written at Stalag 357 Fallingbostel 

Sept 17/44  My dear Joan, I am very fit and well, trust you are the same.  The weather is very nice here but it is cold first thing in the morning and the days are drawing shorter, I shall be sorry if I have to spend another winter as a prisoner, all the fellows here are counting on being home by Christmas, it would be marvelous, I expect you will receive this letter about then.  I had all my hair off last March but it is almost back to normal now, I shall soon have to have it trimmed again, it was much better in the summer having a bald head, it saved all the sand blowing into it.  I received five letters from you last week April 4, 8, 17 & 18 and March 29 one of these contained photos of DJ and one of Dot.  (Joan’s sister Dot  and and her son Derek.) I thought it was David at first I shall be very glad to receive some of him.  Miss Redding was certainly very good to you.  I haven’t done much reading lately, I have been watching cricket most of the time.  There are three fellows here I was at school with Laurie Collins of Grimsby, Pat Yarnell of Scawby and Ray Colbeck of Scunthorpe, the last named is an army boy and gets letters from a girl in St. Catherines  Road, Grantham.  Who is this Dick who is missing is it Dick Campling.  A fellow next to me says it wont be long now, I hope he is right.  Give my love to everyone especially to David, tell him I may see him one of these days.  We are only getting a half a red cross parcel now I am afraid.  All my love Walt.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter                   Written at Stalag 357 Fallingbostel

Sept 21/44  My dearest Joan, I received two letters the day before yesterday, one from you and one from Bella, yours was May 24th and Bella’s April 21/44 I was very very pleased to get yours as junior’s photograph was in it, he certainly looks a lovely baby, we should be able to do very well indeed when we have had a bit more practice, I am swanking him off to everyone, he looks as if he could lick anyone in England at his own weight, I shall be glad when the others turn up of him.  All the fellows here are expecting the end of the war before Christmas, I am not quite as optimistic as that but things certainly do seem to be going very nicely in our favour, V 1 doesn’t seem to have beaten England to her knees yet, I wonder what V2 will do.  I have only had one cigarette parcel since we left (censored) that was from B. Twilley, I shall be glad when some come along as I am almost out, we are on half a red + parcel these days and unless something happens quickly we shan’t get that next week.  Give my love to David and tell him I shan’t be long before I am coming along to see him, about another six months I should imagine.  I will write again at the end of the week.  All my love Walt.

P.O.W. postcard to his sister and brother in law.  Written at Stalag 357 Fallingbostel

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                   Oct 26/44

Dear I & W  Hope you are well I received a letter from you last week, you seemed pretty optimistic, every right to be.  Played football last Sunday, first game for some months, feel stiff after it.  I haven’t received my second parcel yet, could do with it before winter comes, don’t think the war will end before Christmas now but am still hoping to see you in 1945.  Love Walt

P.O.W. Air Mail letter           Written at Stalag 357 Fallingbostel 

Oct 30/44 My dearest Joan, I hope you are well & that David is ok.  I have received the photos of him, he looks lovely, I wish I could see him, send me as many photos as you can, you look well on yours.  I have had a lot of mail this month, I had some from Lincoln, I see you (An entire line, perhaps 15 words marked out by German censor) habit of it.  I have received my June parcel, March one is outstanding, in future just send chocolate, two pairs of socks & toilet stuff.  I am right out of cigarettes, double your order, send Rothmans and St. Bruno tobacco.  I have increased your allowance to £4 per week, I hope this is ok, when I made it £3 I was under the impression that the family money was paid to you, hope you haven’t been thinking me mean.  Try and get hold of some powdered milk and keep it for my homecoming, Ambrosia or ****fords, if you can’t get either of these ask Effie (sister in law in Detroit) to send you some Klim Kilmer’s Cowbell, if you cant get it yourself, try hard.  Glad you heard from Les Morris, tell him he got out just before the belt.  I received three letters from Brigg this month.  All very old ones. I am sorry winter is coming, I hate the long nights with nothing to do ( Here 3 of the 24 lines per letter are marked out by German censor)   I don’t think there is any chance of getting home this year.  All love to you & D. I.&W.


P.O.W. postcard                          Written at Stalag 357 Fallingbostel

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                     Nov 24/44

My dearest Joan, have just  received 200 cigs from Frank, first I’ve had for ages, sorry to hear you have started smoking, you will please yourself tho’  I’ve no doubt.  Received mail from you Oct 9. 12. 16. 20. have done well for mail, sorry your not getting it.  Robbie is well, got clothing parcel today, glad for his sake.  Received my June but not my March one, send mostly choc in my next, cigs quite a problem, being on charity.  Have had 3/4 of a red + food parcel in last 7 weeks.  Give my love to David more to you. W.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter              Written at Stalag 357 Fallingbostel 

Jan 22/45  My dearest Joan, Just a hurried line to let you know I am leaving this camp at four o’clock in the morning, eleven officers are moving to Sagan, the same camp that Bob is at.  In future my address will be Stalag Luft 3  address all parcels and mail as such, and send snaps of David.  I have received the baby ones of him but guess he has changed during the last few months.  I know Ruth (relative in Detroit)  is older than I am, I never said otherwise, I believe her birthday falls in September, I have never argued on the point, I think you must be mixing me up with someone else.  I shall be very glad to get some cigarettes its ages since I had any.  Some of the “Staff of Life “ (bread)  would go down very well at the moment.  What do you think of the news these days.  I hope I am able to get in the same compound as Bob, I should very much like to see him again.  I am sorry to leave Robbie but I guess it won’t be so very long before we meet again. I have made dozens of reunion promises for after the war so you will spend a few lonely nights even then.  All my love Walter.

P.O.W. postcard  to his brother in law and sister.  Written at Stalag Luft 3 Marlag

Kriegsgefangenlager                                                                                       Feb 24/45

Dear I & W.  I hope you are well I am quite fit, I’ve been doing quite a lot of travelling since I wrote you last, including a lot of hiking but we seem more or less settled here now for better or worse.  I have had one letter from Joan this year shall be glad to hear from all of you, I had to leave all my mail behind it was a bad blow but I just couldn’t carry it, I haven’t received any cigs for ages hope some come along.  Lots of love W.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter  

April 17/45 My dearest Joan, I hope you are well, I am ok, I have had a bad cold and it has made my voice change to a whisper, but otherwise I am ok.  I haven’t received any mail for ages now but I am not worried about it as I expect to be home before many more months are over, maybe I shall be back for the start of the fishing season.  We are having very nice weather just now I hope it keeps on.  Monty is showing the way to go home now isn’t he.  How is David, I am longing to see him, give him a good hiding for me.  I often wonder about Bern Twilley’ I expect he is making a name for himself, I hope he does.  I am in the same room as S/Ldr Gunter, he and I were at the same place in England do you remember the book he lent me “I Bought a Mountain,”  we thought it very good.  Are you still sending parcels I haven’t had any for ages now, don’t suppose I shall get any more.  We are living on American Red + parcels now and they have 100 cigs in them so I am ok for smokes at the moment.  I hope some more parcels come along soon tho’ as we are getting on the short side,  Everyone here is in a very optimistic mood I think the moral is higher than D Day even.  I am doing a lot of reading but it is all Edgar Wallace style of thing, nothing very good.   We have bugs here, I don’t go much on them and the hotter the weather the worse they will get.  All my love to both of you.  Walt.

P.O.W. Air Mail letter                                                                                                                                   May 2/45

Hello dearest was relieved today at I o’clock, was fishing in a lake with a bent pin at the time.  Hope to home very shortly.  I am very fit and well, have been eating a lot just lately.  Cant think of much to say, I guess I am too excited, I’ve gone right off my food.  An armoured car came along, gosh were we glad to see it.  All my love Walt.

Trenthorst                                                                                                                              May 3/45

My dearest Joan  I shall be seeing you in a very short space of time.  We were relieved by the British Army yesterday, and hope to be sent home in two or three days time.  I am very fit and well and have nothing wrong with myself at all.              There are stories going around that we shall be flown home. All my love, Walter.

2014-12-29 072624

Regular British Air Mail Letter                          Baghurst Rheine     May 7/45

I hope you are well, I expect you have received my other notes saying I was liberated.  The army caught up with us about ten miles SW of Lubeck and since then we have been travelling through’ Germany by lorry, we hope to get a plane sometime this week and fly over, I reckon we shall be together before another seven days are over.

I am very fit indeed, I have had plenty of  Red + food during the last two months and have been sleeping in fields and it has really built me up, you need have no worries about my health altho’ a a lot of our fellows have had a rough time.  I met Robbie last night at one place we came thro’ he looked really bad but I guess he will pick up after a months leave.

I have just had my first bath since leaving England, you have no idea how marvelous it was, but I feel quite weak after it.  I have had no mail from you this year but those things don’t matter now.  All my love Walt.