The transcript which follows may include abbreviations or spelling inconsistencies and errors. We have chosen to transcribe the letters as they appear so that they are an accurate reflection of John Oldfield’s style and personality. We have also included his original page numbering. Where language is used that we would deem offensive, those words have been replaced with XXX.
BY AIR MAIL
Mrs. V.L. Oldfield
1st Bn. The Green Howards
Tuesday. Nov. 22
My dear Mum, Daddy, .and Jum,
Just a line while I have a few minutes to share- to give you a little news there is from this end. Thanks awfully for your letters Baily Rum which I got yesterday, with one from K. You all seem very hectic preparing for Dec. 3rd but I see you can spare time to foregather with the odd eggs and beans- Jum. It sounded great fun at Alwoodley. I’m terribly glad – Bid- that you and Dick have nailed down this shore job at Chatham. I must say you’ve been luckier than I have!
On Sunday night- I went to bed early and just before midnight was woken up to take out a night patrol to try and find another night patrol which hadn’t reported back for three hours. It looked like being a good show, and we were all in the trucks ready for off when this patrol returned. They had been drinking with the W.Yorks and forgotten to report to Bn.H.Q that they were
safe and sound. So we had to pile off the trucks again and return to bed – pretty livid- as, as I say, it sounded a bit of excitement.
Yesterday, we went off to a village called asira ash Shamaliya, where the night before the Police had surprised a meeting of gang leaders in the mukhtars’ house. They shot two mukhtar, and wounded a third who was evidently one of the Big Five. So off we went, with two bloodhounds to try and trace this wounded ….who, by the way, had nipped away in the scuffle. We got to the village but although we found a lot of blood outside the M’s house where the winged leader had gone away, the bloodhounds couldn’t hit off a trial .at all. We therefore thought he must still be in the village, and so it was thoroughly searched. During the search, one of the police came across a man hiding under some hay and prodded him out with his barrel- the arab suddenly swung round, wrenched the rifle away, and was just going to knife the policeman, when a PTE in this company shot him- one in the stomach and 2 in the chest. We found out afterwards that he was the village madman- every
village seems to run to about 5 of these- and not our wounded ………after all. Still, it was a very lucky escape for the policeman. After this, we blew up the Mukhtars house just to show there was no ill-feeling, and came home.
Col. Kreyer, who for the last ten days has been laid low with gout, gave up his command of the Bn. yesterday morning, when we left for 2 months leave at home before taking up a staff appt in England. We were all going to see him off from H.Q. but as we left on this bloodhound stint at about 8.30 in the morning, it couldn’t be done, and so I never saw him to say goodbye or ask whether Uncle Billy had been able to fix anything up for him in Malton. I must say he has always been v. friendly and I’m v. sorry he’s leaving.
We are due- I believe- to go to the Jenin on Dec. 12th so we shall spend a cheery Christmas up at Arraba I expect.
Well, dears, write again when you have time, I’m so glad Bruiser is carrying you so well Daddy, a great gift to have a eye for an ‘ass(!!) Much love to you all,