Letter to Jessie from Harry Redgrave



Letter to Jessie from Harry Redgrave


A letter from Harry Redgrave to his wife Jessie. Harry writes about RAF life in Prestwick. He mentions a trip into Prestwick including to the cinema, his first taste of haggis and how difficult it is to keep up with the mathematics. He turned down a promotion to Corporal to concentrate on his studies. It includes a satirical poem about the medical officer.




Temporal Coverage




Five handwritten sheets and an envelope


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[RAF Crest]

Our dear M.O. (Medical Officer)
Should you feel like going sick
Here it would be unpolitic
As to see the M.O.
You must wait in the snow
Though he’s usually there
In an hour or so

He gives you a pill or two
Saying you’re sick but you’ll pull through
And sends you to class or maybe to bed
In our newly converted potting shed
For ailing or not in our little school
Keep em at work is the golden rule

You go back to lessons your head in a daze
And look at your work with eyes all aglaze [sic]
Your brain with a dozen noises hum
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And try as you might you cant do sums
But your bill [deleted] is paid [/deleted] by the RAF is paid
You may be dead but you’re on parade.

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[RAF Crest]
Friday 26 [underlined] th [/unlined]

[inserted] [underlined] 1 [/underlined] [/inserted]

My dear Jessie,

I am starting this letter quite early it is just half past eight [inserted] A.M. [/inserted] and I’m waiting for class to start. All the snow has gone but it has been hailing but still after the weather we have had this is quite pleasant. Yesterdays [sic] day off was spent very easily. I got down to breakfast at 8.30 A.M. and up till [sic] noon did some homework on triangles of velocities and some equations. Then I strolled down to Prestwick and did some shopping. I bought two hard pencils for plotting, a red ink fountain pen, a protractor ruler, and some blotter, then had half a pint of Youngers Ale and got back to dinner at one. As I told you Wednesday we were having haggis. In they came. Four undescribable [sic] looking objects on a cloth on a plate. Actually they are stuffed sheeps [sic] bladders and a hole each end is tied up. To serve, a spoon is inserted one end and the contents scooped out. This filling seems very dry and with not a great deal of flavour. It is made of the whole of a sheeps [sic] paunch minced up with oatmeal and I should imagine steamed. It was not as bad as I expected but I

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cannot say I like it. After dinner I sat round the fire and read, occasionally sucking a throat tablet and generally feeling much better. About four everybody had gone out until teatime so I pulled up the settee and stretched out and had an hour sleep. After tea Paddy and I [deleted] strolleg [sic] [/deleted] walked down to the Red Lion and a couple of beers and then on to the pictures. Theres [sic] a really [deleted] nife [/deleted] nice cinema here The Broadway and back seats are only 9d. A good proggramme [sic] consisted of “Lone Wolfs [sic] Daughter” and “Spies in the Air” and news [sic] You [deleted] rembe [/deleted] remember the picture “Maisie” we saw in Bexhill well that’s running at most of the cinemas here. Anyhow after the show we went upstairs to the cafe and had a coffee and gazed around at the local frippet (Air Force term for women). These cinema cafes are very popular in Scotland and one always seems to find a good crowd in them. About 10.30 P.M. we ambled back to the digs had a cup of cocoa and went to bed. I did not feel a bit tired so laid awake thinking over some of the good times we’ve had together and looked for-ward to many to come. I also ran over in my mind all the work we have done up to now and got to grips with the Maths. At present I have found this the hardest, it going so much further than anything I did a [sic] school and the instructors go through it more as revision than anything else. But still with the help of the boys I now understand it. We have just started Trigonomety [sic] so have got to absorb and under-stand that now but I think I can manage that.

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[RAF Crest]

[underlined] 11 P.M. [/underlined]

I have just made another start with your letter after an evening of Maths. I have [deleted] being [/deleted] been doing Trig [sic] since 7 P.M. and am feeling very tired but after reading your long letter must make a better effort than the last few I have written. Since we have been here any amount of the boys have had flu or laryngitis and they get no sympathy from the M.O. who seems to think that until you collapse theres [sic] nothing a [sic]matter with you and when the chaps did pass out they were put in an awful shed where from tea until breakfast they were without any attention at all. One of the boys at Redbrae have [sic] written a few lines on our dear M.O. I have enclosed them. It has started snowing again and the boggy state of the flying field has made flying impossible so we shall have to spend all day Sunday plotting. You must have been very careful with the water system for you seem to have had less trouble than most people. You are getting very handy in most ways but save a little bit of the

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bungalow for when I come home. I envy Joyce and Tom their coming fortnight and tell her to have a good time. Pity the photo was not better. I wish it was one of you though. Far from excusing your letter I must compliment you on such a well written and long letter. Should you see Leslie hes [sic] got a Pound [sic] to pay you for me that I lent him last summer I dont [sic] know whether he has forgotten. Its [sic] very nice to know you and Mrs Franklin have palled up and you must make the most of outings with Johnny. When you consider how long before we go out together again you must make the most of all the fun you can get at home. You feel confident about my exams. If you knew how much we have got to learn and how high the standard of passes are here you would not be surprised if I missed the [deleted] ba [/deleted] boat. About 20% fail and the majority of the pupils have got a much higher standard of education than I have but if I can pass the Maths in a fortnight and the Mid-Term in another month I think I shall pull through. Was glad to hear Franklin has been made corporal I could have been as I am by far oldest in the Service in our course but refused because the extra duties might have interfered with my studies. There was no extra pay so I did not think it worth it. If your note is not worth £1 I will send a P.O. next week but I thought you would like to see one. Thank Mum when she comes back from Ipswich for her lovely letter and tell

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[RAF Crest]

her I would like to write more often. I’ll admit I do not often write but I really have not the time. I hope she enjoys herself. It will be a nice change in any case. She will miss Mrs Jacombe if she moves to Reading but still she could not stop in her house all alone so perhaps its [sic] best. Mum supposes I am getting more used to being away from home but she is wrong. I shall never be used to it and I miss you and Pam and all terribly. I had a letter from the boys in Bexhill and it seems they are doing all fatigues since we have gone. They have been sweeping snow off the streets and doing jobs in the Sackville and generally kept on the run. I also heard from young Atkins who went to Perth and he excuses his short letter by saying that they have no time for anything else but studies and you say Franklin says the course is very stiff. We all seem to be in the same boat. Well dear I must pack up now its [sic] quarter to twelve and I have to be up early so goodnight my love and give Pam a kiss from daddy [sic]

With all my love to you both Harry xxxxx


Harry Redgrave, “Letter to Jessie from Harry Redgrave,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 23, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/15819.

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