To Jessie from Harry Redgrave



To Jessie from Harry Redgrave


A letter and envelope from Harry Redgrave to his wife Jessie. He writes about the severe weather, including blizzards, and how it is interfering with training. Includes a description of the frozen river in Ayr. He also explains his problems with having to learn much of the mathematics from the start: other younger men did similar things at school fairly recently.




Temporal Coverage



Four handwritten sheets and an envelope


IBCC Digital Archive


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8 15 PM
31 JAN 40

[postage stamp]

Mrs. N.C. Redgrave
Oaken Grange Dr.

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[RAF Crest]

Prestwick Ayrshire
Sun 28 Jan. 40.

My dearest Jessie,

Hullo [sic] my darling I expect you are feeling rather lonely this weekend everyone being away and perhaps just a little bit envious. I am envious of Tom so near home and having his wife with him for a couple of weeks. You know my dear I do miss you so much and when I hear of chaps having there [sic] wives up here I start to think how we can manage to see one another again soon. Try as I might I cant [sic] see in any chance of you getting here. The fare is around three pounds and leave is so doubtful. Our first weekend is Feb 10 [underlined] th [/underlined] and owing to the weather interfering with the flying its [sic] quite possible that we shall not get it. Everything is run to get the flying hours in and when conditions cause a [deleted] n [/deleted] arrest of flying time leave is stopped to get it done or the [deleted] pupills [/deleted] pupils may have to work on Sundays. This week Wednesdays [sic] thaw made the field too wet on Thursday so we had Thursday off and had to fly today. Unfortunately it started snowing again yesterday and today has been blowing a blizzard like I have never experienced before. We paraded at 8.30 A.M. and went down to the Mill to do a mornings [sic] plotting and dinner time had to go from

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there to the drome [sic] for lunch. This entails walking right across the field about ¾ mile. Well dear I’ve been in some bad weather but never in anything like that. The blizzard was in the nature of 50mph and the snow came right across the field absolutely horizontal. Down one side we were white with snow and that side of our faces were frozen stiff. We had to literally lean on the wind and at no time could see more that 50yds ahead. Talk about a lost patrol. I do not know what it is like in Finland but it could not be worse. After lunch we had that awful journey again and if anything it was worse, this time we had the other side frozen. On getting back to the Mill we were dismissed for the rest of the day. Thank goodness. Letters the boys have seem to show that the whole country is in the grip of a cold spell like we have not had for years. Did you hear that belated weather report on the wireless today. [sic] It must have been cold to freeze the Thames. I do hope you and Pam are not finding it intolerable. See Pams [sic] little legs do not get chapped. I’ve been getting to grips with Trigonometry and you [deleted] remb [/deleted] remember me writing Thursday and saying I had been doing Trig [sic] all the evening well it was just as well I did because next morning we had the whole three periods doing Trig. and I fairly romped through the problems. Considering that I never did any of it at school I think I am getting along pretty well. I had a rather difficult time doing Indices and the boys chiffed [sic]me doing them night after night but at last I [deleted] hold [/deleted] [inserted] got [/inserted] them well and truly grasped. I dontt [sic] know whether you quite understand the difficult position I have been in over these Maths. You see so many of the lads have only just left school and those who like myself left some time ago did at least do these subjects [deleted] and [/deleted] [inserted] at [/inserted] school and have only to remember them. I have to learn the whole things from start to finish. So you can see I must

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[RAF crest]

try hard. We have just had a good laugh Paddy has been doing a Trig problem for the last hour and at last asked me to help him out. The way I came out with the theoretical method of solving it generally amused the boys. Coming from a learner of all people. Getting back to flying times or rather the absence of them I am two whole days behind not having been up since I have been here. On each Monday and Thursday the weather has made it impossible. The river Ayr has been frozen over and [deleted] as [/deleted] when the thaw came the three bridges in the town became choked up with ice. Great broken lumps blocked up the arches and all day it got thicker and thicker just like those picture of lumber jams in Canada. Three swans were jambed [sic] in the ice and held for two days nobody being able to go out to them as the ice was all broken and the river was flowing fast underneath. I think they were fed and as soon as the ice cleared they got away. In this letter you may have wondered what the Mill is. Well as the name implies it was once a mill and is a square stone building hundreds of years old it has had the machinery taken out and three floors put in and the

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result is quite a number of large rooms which make excellent classrooms. The only snag is the millstream runs between the mill and the flying field and as there are only stepping stones, when there is any rain or melted snow we have to go right round the main road which doubles the journey back to the drome [sic] for lunch. Oh our [deleted] leeu [/deleted] laundry here darns our socks that’s [sic] a blessing isnt [sic] it dear.[sic] I wish they sewed our buttons on as I have dozens to do and cant [sic] seem to get down to the job of doing them. You see I cant [sic] manage without you can I. [sic] The sooner this rotten war is over the better. The worst thing about it is being away from you but I must try and get used to it as I think it will be a long time before there is a peace and heaven knows where I shall be sent after I have finished and passed my training. Still if I am stationed in England I shall try and have you with me , the very fact that it will be some time before I see you makes me long for you more and darling I want you [inserted] to [/inserted] get a super portrait done and sent to me. Go to Clarks or some one good not Mannings and get a big one a close up. I think I would rather have a picture of you alone because if you have it taken with Pam she grows up so quick that the portrait becomes out of date. I must close now with all my to [sic] you both from

Your longing husband
Harry. Xxxxx


Harry Redgrave, “To Jessie from Harry Redgrave,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 27, 2022,

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