To Jessie from Harry Redgrave



To Jessie from Harry Redgrave


A letter and envelope from Harry Redgrave to Jessie. Harry writes about life at RAF Upwood including being put in charge of a beacon party, being in a crew doing ZZ landings and a colleague who keeps flying into a barrage balloon.




Temporal Coverage



Three handwritten sheets and an envelope


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit and





Mrs. H.C. Redgrave,
Alice Road,

[page break]

Sergeants Mess
R.A.F. Station
Thurs 8.8.40

Dear Jessie,

Theres [sic] quite a change in the weather down this way dear and it has turned rather chilly. I hope it is keeping nice for you in Dorset and that you are getting your rest at nights and that Horace will enjoy his holiday.

Yesterday I was relieved to find that I was not on the flying programme and looked forward to an easy day but sure enough there was a catch in it and at four o’clock I was told to report to the Adjutants Office. There I was told I was detailed as N.C.O. in charge of the beacon party and had to spend from eight until nearly one in the morning beside the mobile beacon which is placed each night at a given bearing and distance from the aerodrome. Apart from being responsible for the men on the job I had to do the signalling to aircraft who after giving the code letters to identify themselves required the direction and name of the aerodrome. The job was a bit of a bind but is one of the duties of sergeants and so I must not grumble.

I had an interesting experience this morning when I was member of a crew doing ZZ landings. This ZZ business is a method of landing when visibility is almost nil by the aid of wireless control. I cant [sic] tell you any more

[page break]

about it as, like so much we are learning, it is terribly hush-hush. When the war is all over I shall have lots to tell you dear to pass away winter evenings round the fire or when sitting by a river side in the summer sun. Those things just dont [sic] seem possible now do they darling.

Poor O’Brien seems to be in trouble with his navigation these days having twice landed up in a balloon barrage. Thats [sic] all right as long as he misses them but the safest thing is to be well away from them and not to allow yourself to get off your track.

I have just finished reading “Wild Oats” and have [inserted] had [/inserted] lent to me a book entitled “Cage me a Peacock” which as well as being very funny is delightfully shocking. The first chapter describes the finding of a young slave in a pond bathing by a youthful shepherd. The young man though rather shy is led on by the girl and the story goes on to vividly describe his feelings during his first experience of loves delight. It almost stirred my latent passions I can tell you and made me wish you were beside me as I lay reading. The sooner I finish this book the better as that sort of thing is no good for man [sic] away from his love.

Have you heard anything about my lighter as the only thing I can think is that I left it on Jessies [sic] sideboard. Cousin Jessie I mean. I remember offering her a cigarette and lighting one myself just as we left and did not have another until we got to Teddington Station.

I think Bill wants his byke [sic] sent on so I will run

[page break]

across to his house now and see what you are to do.

I have seen Bill and here is the address to send it to. 755442 Sgt Smith s.c, R.A.F. Station, Upwood. Mark the label “To Be Called for at Ramsey Station L.N.E.R.” “Handle with care please” Send it by Goods Train Carriage Forward Owners Risk. You may have to sign a few forms but I dont [sic] doubt that you will manage all right.

Your suggestion of getting the rest of your allowance through by an allottment [sic]] is good but the difficulty is that the accounts office is only open for that sort of thing on Tuesday afternoons and I have not yet been able to get there. I will try next week and if not flying should be able to get away from lectures without difficulty.

I must finish up now as I have my bed to make and I bet you would laugh to see me struggling with the sheets of a double bed and trying to remember all you taught me, whilst getting the blanket twisted up or something.

Goodnight my love and tell Pam I am always thinking of her.

Always your loving
Harry xxxx


Harry Redgrave, “To Jessie from Harry Redgrave,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 22, 2024,

Item Relations

This item has no relations.