A note on the letters. The transcripts 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.
On active service
Mrs V.E. Oldfield
Near Whitby, 5th Division
Yorks, ENGLAND B.E.F
March 28th 40
My dear Mum, Daddy and Jum,
We got back from training this afternoon, bathed changed and are now feeling a bit more human. Thank you for your letters yesterday and your news – I’m so glad the horse is laid on for when I hope to come back and am looking forward to it all no end, about the Royal Daimler – I see in to-days paper that the rallying to the P.O. arrived with 10/- doesn’t not – as I first thought – do the trick apparently they’ve done blink about it as yet, which is a pity. I would like to have a drive in it while I am home though I admit it doesn’t seem quite so as easy now. I rather thought that one could get a fairly generous refund on licence, etc, if you found you did not want it for the period but you will know more about that than I do.
I think – providing all goes well – that the best thing to do would be to send you a signal as soon as I land in London (there is a train from the port direct to Victoria I believe) and let you know just when I shall be arriving. Possibly with all this petrol racket it would be better to come through to Scarborough or Whitby – what do you think ? As soon as I can find
out more about times etc. I will let you know.
I hope the drag line will be a success, it sounds a great show but it’s very disappointing for old Johnny getting German measles, though he should be about in time for it.
To-morrow H and I are having lunch with a French Division which providing we can understand then ought to be v. enjoyable – in any case the food will certainly be good. Then in the evening a cocktail party at one of the ball rooms so life seems just one big social round – until Mon. when off we took to our place in the country for a little more training – and then as I told you in my last letter and all the others before – a shot of leave D.V. it’s shocking – I can think of nothing else !
The air force seem to be going great guns these days and that Sylt raid was just what was needed. Yesterday too seems to have been a good day – 5 Boche down – though these newspaper headings make you sick – greater airbattle yet and whatnot. I should have thought the 9 French planes who brought down 9 Germans a bit ago was better.
Will write again and let you know any further details.
Here’s some information about the RAF bombing raid on the German island of Sylt on the night of the 19th/20th March 1940, which Johnnie refers to in his letter. Read more…