Problems with post to the Isle of Man

Sep 5th, 2013

9 October 1944

Dear Harvie,

Since this letter is going to the Isle of Man I hesitate even now to put my army address on it. An order came out that letters addressed to the Isle of Man should have a civilian address or an Army Censor address on it. The Isle of Man was to be treated as a Foreign Country. Later this was modified to letters being written to or by internees. I don’t really know what the position is to this day.

[This refers to an interesting and often controversial issue, which was the internment of “enemy aliens” (and also British subjects) on the Isle of Man, chosen because of its remoteness from any military bases. After War broke out in 1939 local “Enemy Alien Tribunals” were set up to classify all Germans and Austrians, male or female, into category A,B or C. Category A was a potential security threat and interned on the Isle of Man. This was complicated on 11th June 1940 when Italy entered the war and Churchill ordered all Italian males in the country to be interned immediately. Among the famous internees were Kurt Schwitters, the Dadaist artist, Nilolaus Pevsner the architectural historian, Sir Charles Forte and R W “Tiny” Rowland. A fascinating book on the subject is “Island of Barbed Wire” by Connery Chappel to whom I am indebted for some of this information – Admin]

I don’t even know if you could successfully write to me except through Hilda.

I have been receiving your cigarettes regularly. If I cared to sell a packet in this country I could get about 4 shillings a packet. Of course I shan’t: I wouldn’t rob anybody of their hard earned money. My Batman and I will smoke them. he gets cigarettes from home too but at less regular intervals.

Where we are and what we are doing I am not allowed to say – except that as for so long I have not been doing much. My job is not a man-sized job – I sleep most afternoons. The troops have remained incredibly healthy and curiously enough have failed to get V.D : this is so unlike Italy that I feel sure that everybody is amazed. I confidently expect an outbreak but nothing has occurred yet. I do however expect an outbreak of scabies soon. British men have an incurable love of small babies and young children and quite a number of these suffer from scabies.

We have been well fed from captured German rations. Enough were captured to feed an entire army. Pork has been our staple diet. Pork all day long. Wines that the Germans filched from Europe found there way onto our dinner table. Each man was given a bottle each. We smoke German cigars too. We eat “Ersatz” honey and German cheese squeezed out of tubes like tooth paste. In the meantime I see children looking pale and vaguely ill.

We hope that the war will finish. The end of the war will not mean our immediate return to England. At a wild guess it would mean the beginning of short term leave in England and permanent billets for the winter where reasonable facilities for entertaining the easily “browned off ” troops could be obtained.

If these billet happen to be in Germany then they will probably have to introduce some measures to make sure that fraternisation with the Germans does not happen – some hope!! It is difficult to control troops when the British Army are adamant that they will not set up official brothels. I expect they will send out the A.T.S. instead, the purpose obviously disguised.

Well cheerio – Gilbert


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