Letter to acquaintances from Douglas Hudson in internment camp Laghouat, Algeria



Letter to acquaintances from Douglas Hudson in internment camp Laghouat, Algeria


Explains that he has not been able to write to all as he has used allowance of letters to parents. Says that there he can tell apart from assuring them that he keeping well. Mentions summer weather and that they had been able to keep cool indoors. Complains about food and mentions facilities for sport. Explains that life is not easy and they all wish they could be home. Greatest comfort is letters from home. Regrets not being able to learn French as little contact with French personnel. Wonders how much of life wasted. Finishes with note of concern about censor.



Temporal Coverage



Three page typewritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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Royal Air Force, 755052. Sgt. J.D. Hudson
c/o Consul General des Etats Unis
Rue Michelet,
Alger, Algerie
Afrique du Nord.
Dear All,
I have been in this part of the world now for over twelve months and have not written to any of you at Calverley although I have been more than pleased to receive letters, or telegrams at one time, or another, from you all.
I expect you all realise that in the past it has been impossible to write many letters and those I have been able to sen [sic] off naturally have been for Mother & Dad. I now have more freedom of correspondence, but even so to write to you each individually would still be very difficult, much as I should have liked to, because I have so much spare time. To overcome this difficulty, and in order to let you all know that I am still a survivor of sorts, I have decided to make this a communal letter addressed to Grandad so that it may be handed round to all concerned. I hope this will show that although I am so far away and isolated I have not forgotten those at home.
There is so very little I can tell beyond assuring you that I am keeping quite well in spite of the adverse conditioss [sic] I know that you will have heard from Mother regularly and she will have kept you posted mire or less witl [sic] my small doings.
Summer is practically over now. June, July and Augustwere [sic] hot months, the latter especially so, and during all this time we experienced no more than half an hour’s rain. Practically every day the sun shone uninterruptedly; in the afternoons the heat outside was intense but we kept reasonably cool indoors. This place is highly situated and consequently does not get as hot in summer as in the plains. After June scarcely a vestige of green remained and the ground became terribly baked. Sun bathing here has been more or less a pastime with us all and our “golden brown” is about the only thing we can say we have gained from being here.
There is no comparing the food with that we get in England. I have reached a stage of complete indifference and can eat anything. In one respect we are fortunate in that we are able to supplement our rations in a small way and do a little amateurish cooking on charcoal. Necessity has proved to be the mother of invention so many times. We have learned the art of making a little go a long way and often our culinary achievements have been really praiseworthy. I think we could term cooking our number one pastime.
[page break]
We had. until recently, the facilities for a certain amount of exercise in which football was prominent. We used to raise two teams and play for an hour in the afternoon, and it was hot. Indoors we have held Boxing Contests, Spelling bees, General Knowledge Competitions, Whist Drives and any old thing to try to make the time pass quickly. Tony – my best friend and part of my crew – and I play Bridge nearly every afternoon. We find this a splendid recreation. Our selection of English books is not large but has proved to be useful. It comprises a few quite good editions.
I suppose this little picture I have painted trying to show you the way we spend our time is rather suggestive that we have all landed here feet first. This is by no means the case. Need I say that there is not a single man amongst us who would not sacrifice his dearest possession to be reinstated and back in the struggle which we each and all belong? I will prove this to be true to you one day. There is so much I should like to say so dearly which I am unable.
Our greatest comfort is to receive news from home and to be able to send letters to England. We have one most happy consolation, that iswe [sic] can receive telegrams and by the aid of prepaid replies, despatch cables home as well. This really does mean a lot and when I say this I am not speaking for myself alone.
One thing I regret is being unable to learn to speak French satisfactorily. We have no opportunity of associating with French people and speaking their language. Most of the Arabs speak it very badly, and quite a number of us have a better command than they have.
Tony & I discuss and rediscuss together our position out here and we wonder just how much of our life has been wasted during the past year. The last time the Padre visited us he quoted “Every day is a new day, a day specially made for you and a day of opportunity”. This has given us some thing over which to ponder. We havetried [sic] and still are trying to analyse it in the hope of appreciating the wisdom implied. For people in our position it is not easy and we ask ourselves just what are our opportunities? Here we have unlimited scope because it is under these conditions that we really do notice the reactions of our fellow men, and their types and characters are more clearly laid bare. This is a subject that does give us something to think about and makes an interesting study. We have to learn tolerance, understanding and patience, plenty of the [deleted] [indecipherable word] [/deleted] latter because we are playing a waiting game.
[page break]
I have not received a great many letters apart from those sent by Mother & Dad and am quite out of touch with the chaps who started this campaign with me. I understand from the news from home that I am the only one left of our last small circle. My best friend went before I left England. It meand [sic] a lot to me that my people know I am safe and I realise the horrible mental torment and anxiety endured at home when I was reported missing, and thank God that is now over.
I will finish my letter at this stage. I do not wish it to be too lengthy to pass the Censor. Perhaps it will be a long time before it reaches you, but I shall be pleased to hear from anybody at anytime. If you write to me by Air Mail your letters should take about three weeks to arrive. For reasons unknown my letters take much longer to reach England.
So good-bye for the present, my best wishes and love to you all.
Present address (Dec. 25th 1941)
755052 Sgt. J. D. Hudson,
Interned British Airman,
Camp Militaire,
Laghouat. Algerie.
Afrique du Nord.



James Douglas Hudson, “Letter to acquaintances from Douglas Hudson in internment camp Laghouat, Algeria,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 24, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/10876.

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