After the fall of Tripoli.

Apr 22nd, 2012

Capt. G. Tattersall

c/o C.R.E,

7th armoured Division. M.E.F.

29th January 1943.

Dear Harvie,

By the time you get this letter I do not know where I shall be. I may be still here (i.e. M.O. to the Royal Engineers) but I am using the address above because I do not know which unit of the Royal Engineers I will be lodging with from week to week. The C.R.E. [Chief Royal Engineer – admin] is the Big Wig at the local H.Q. and is in touch daily with the units and will arrange for my mail to be sent to which ever unit I happen to be with at the time.

The end for which we set out on this holiday had been achieved.[the capture of Tripoli I think he is referring to – admin] We are now parked in what amounts to a Garden of Allah. Yesterday it was a ploughed field: to-day it is amongst palm trees with a field of carrots not far off. The farms in the vicinity will supply is with eggs, chickens etc. and we hope to get bread soon instead of army biscuits. We have also been enjoying cauliflowers, spring onions and carrots. A woman with a strident voice brought the officers mess a gift of a live rabbit which we ate the next night. I never think of anything nowadays except of food. We have always had plenty to eat of course: but a change of diet is pleasant. Rabbit or Chicken are excellent after tins of “Meat and Vegetables” and Corned Beef. I am sorry the Army does not supply tins of Steak and Kidney Pudding. We have had tinned food so exclusively that Spring Onions and raw carrots are a delicious change.

Would you like to send me a Penguin volume or two? Especially non-fiction, which I think are called “Pelicans” For instance I happened upon volume one of the Lives of the Great Composers but would like to read volume two and three, or We Europeans by Julian Huxley. Also could you send me a gift of a badger hair shaving brush, if you can still get them in England, as I left mine behind in the flesh pots and have been pricking myself daily with an army issue shaving brush ever since.

Notice how the “Sappers” are in the limelight in our little bother over here. As the M.O. to the Sappers I like the reflected glory.

Cheerio – Gilbert

Tags:

An Ambulance following in my wake

Apr 22nd, 2012

Capt. G. Tattersall

4th Field Squadron: Royal Engineers

M.E.F.  29th December 1942

Dear Harvie,

The address above does not really represent the facts but I give this address anyway. There are other such units in the R.E.s and I visit them willy-nilly by fancy or by order. At present I am lucky to have an Ambulance following in my wake. I look back every now and then to see if it is still there.

Cheerio Gilbert

Tags:

Wilfred ‘well again from the jaundice’.

Apr 19th, 2012

16th December 1942

My Dear Harvie,

I remarked in my last letter that I looked forward to climbing that hill again to some of your pleasant Sunday evening suppers. Under wartime conditions letters do not necessarily arrive in the order of posting and I have just recently received two letters from you in the wrong order. I also had two notes from Emma, so brief that I believe she was scared of writing to me here. She seems to enjoy clearing Ash Grove. I have had no parcels yet. I expect them to start arriving soon, however I shall be grateful of the jersey you mention sending. The winter has been mild so far and although it will probably become colder after Christmas I hope for spring in this region by mid- February. I am out of hospital, quite well again from the jaundice and trust everything is all right with you and at Belle Abbey. Going to have Pork, Christmas Pudding and cake next week. Bully and biscuits last year. All the best for 1943 from Wilfred

Tags:

A censored letter.

Apr 19th, 2012

21 November 1942.

To wish you both a happy New Year and hope that I shall see you again before it ends. Just now I am in the camp hospital with a slight [here the word is rubbed out and  the word “influence” inserted in a different hand – probably meant to be influenza. As it turns out in the next letter Wilfred had jaundice and there is a documented outbreak of this at Chieti – more of this later – admin] but the treatment is very good and I shall be out again before you read this. In fact I am enjoying the little change as much as a holiday. Hoping that you all keep well and cheerful and the kettle boiling.

With love from Wilfred

Tags:

Patience is now the only, the necessary and the hardest virtue.

Apr 13th, 2012

15th September 1942

My Dear Hilda,

How one dreams of coming home -of the things that one shall do, eat, see and say “how happy the past – how happy will be the future”. Dreams are the occupation of Prisoners of War and not one day passes but I think of you all: think too of Gatley, or Belle Abbey, or St.Annes, or Didsbury, reviving a thousand memories of the past, wondering how you all fare in the uncertain present; and picture for us a more mellow future. I imagine myself stepping ashore in England – knocking at your door – and with what fathomless joy! Prisoners of War are so deeply homesick, far more so than soldiers, as the desert was nothing to the caged safety of this pleasantly placed camp. Beyond these few thoughts my mind is vague: I think of living, if not in the Isle of Man then in Jersey or the West country or perhaps even in South Africa: the latter because of the sunshine and the fact that my income would practically double itself there on account of the saving on taxation. (But would one be homesick again for things English) Also I intend to have an occupation even if it is only having a sweet shop – something to provide that interest in things (instead of people) that you once recommended: and how right you were! But I should not want to be too far from you or the family after all (where Pat comes in I don’t know yet) [Pat is Wilfred’s fiancée – admin] the main thing is a tranquil existence far from the madding crowd. Yet in the first place I look forward only to coming home to you and doing nothing; smoking and drinking tea by your fire, gossiping and getting used to English life once more, eating those English things I have not seen in years such as crumpets and suet pudding – and what a profound pleasure all this would be! Patience is now the only, the necessary and the hardest virtue. One is so weary of all this, but I guess you must be also. Hoping you and the girls are all well and happy.

Love Wilfred

Tags:

From BBC WW2 Peoples War.

Apr 13th, 2012

This is from a fellow Prisoner taken from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/05/a4121605.shtml

The first prison of war camp in which I lived was in Gravina in Italy. It was divided into four sections, each to hold 2,000 men. Those lucky enough to have a bed found that they were built of wood and were designed to hold two men in the top bunk and two below; each barrack room held 48 men. It was tantamount to living in a beeline. The water supply to the camp would fail to function for days on end, as a result, the place would become disgusting.

The fences outside the camp were patrolled by sentries, posted every forty metres or so. The Canalimieni (police) were under a separate command and were feared more by the Italians than by the British and colonial prisoners. In fact, the Canalimieni at that time were very closely related to the Gestapo and sometimes used similar methods. Quarters were frequently searched; the storage of food was prohibited. The possession of knives, compasses, wire cutters, no matter how crude, was also prohibited. Anything that may assist an escape such as civilian clothing or shoes, if found, were confiscated by the police.

The food supply was very meagre, hardly enough for a child to live on, let alone a man. A typical day’s food consisted of: bread…….200 grams, cheese……..40 grams and rice or macaroni……..60 grams. In addition to this, each man was allowed one teaspoonful of olive oil and one teaspoonful of sugar. On Saturdays, each man was allowed a small meat portion.

In the camp, men were allowed to write a letter or a card every ten days, but when they had been written, they were censored by the Italians. Any that were deemed ‘not suitable’, were confiscated.

Tags:

Snookered in PG 65.

Apr 13th, 2012

[This is the text on the reverse –  admin]

17th August 1942.

My Dear Harvie,

I am in Miles’s position – snookered – and although I cursed the desert at times I should prefer it to the long boredom of prison camp far out of the world. I suppose your work is finished now excepting that part which will occupy you for life. Send me news of your activities – letters are welcome indeed. Hope you are well and all OK at Colby. I’ll be seeing you – Wilfred

Tags:

Snookered in PG 65 – Gravina.

Apr 13th, 2012

Tags:

Gravina Tuturano

Apr 13th, 2012

Wilfred went from Benghazi through two Transit Camps in Southern Italy.

PG 85 – Gravina Tuturano and PG 65 – Gravina.

These exracts are from: http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2-1Epi-c6-WH2-1Epi-i.html

Other Camps in Italy

CIRCUMSTANCES varied from camp to camp, but some conditions were fairly general— hunger in the early days, overcrowding in all transit camps, poor sanitation until protests had taken effect, and an atmosphere, until the authorities’ bluff had been called, of overbearing truculence and petty restrictions. Tuturano (Campo 85), near Brindisi, rivalled Bari as a bad camp, although men straight from the amenities of Benghazi were delighted to be given bunks, palliasses, and blankets.

Gravina (Campo 65) was a bad camp. It was cold and hungry. Men died of starvation. Before the autumn of 1942, when Red Cross parcels began to arrive, the camp was filled with rows of exhausted men sitting or lying down to conserve their meagre energy. The commandant at this time was believed to be corrupt and to be selling food, boots, and clothing intended for the prisoners in his charge.

Tags:

Map of Italian POW Camps.

Apr 13th, 2012

Tags: