To Jessie from Harry Redgrave



To Jessie from Harry Redgrave


A letter from Harry Redgrave to his wife Jessie. Harry writes in detail about the funeral of two airmen in which he was a pall bearer. He also discusses plans for getting to Southend.




Temporal Coverage



Three handwritten sheets


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Wednesday 15th
Sergeants Mess
R.A.F. Station

Sun 12.9.40

Dear Jessie
Last night I went to Peterboro’ and was fortunate in getting a lift both ways. It happened like this. While I was waiting for the bus outside the camp a chap came along on a motor byke [sic] and pulled up next where a crowd of us were waiting. I stepped forward and he said “anybody going to Peterboro” but almost before he had finished I was on the pillion and I got there before the other chaps had caught the bus. He told me he was coming back later so I arranged to meet him and was taken home. This saved me 2/- fare. We got talking and he said he would come round this evening about half six and we would go for a spin.

This afternoon I was one of twelve bearers at a funeral for a Flight Lieutenant and a Sergeant who had crashed and although at first I wanted to dodge the job I feel now that it was an honour to be there and still more to carry the coffin. Perhaps you may find this hard to understand but if you had bare been there you would have felt the same and I felt priviledged [sic] to be in the impressive procession. There was a company of airmen and a firing squad a company of officers and sergeant bearers and supporters.

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We paraded at two this afternoon under a blue sky with wispy white clouds chasing themselves across to the horizon and in a strong cool breeze that fluttered the flags that draped the coffins. With ceremonial slow march the whole parade moved off and marched to the little country church down the road where we carried the two [deleted] into [/deleted] inside and with the little place packed with villagers and R.A.F. a simple service was held that must have been a great comfort to the relatives. After this a short walk took us to the graveside where the burial rites were performed and I was among the four to lower the bodies away. This was followed by volleys from the rifle party and then the last post. Then came what I thought was the most impressive moment when each officer one by one marched up to the open graves saluted and after a short pause turned away.

You may think I have struck rather a gloomy note in this recount of a funeral but I felt I must try and convey to you a little of [inserted] the [/inserted] deep emotion that I experienced today.
Rather happier news now. We have started days off now and we are hoping to get one each week and I thought that Tuesday would give me an opportunity of getting my byke [sic] so I put in for a pass to Southend and on explaining that I had business to see to at home they gave me 48 hours. This has rather foxed me as [deleted] the [/deleted] I cant [sic] get enough petrol to go to Dorchester for one day and the fare would be about a pound from London if I was to leave the byke [sic] there for one night. I cant [sic] see how I can fix anything yet so if I don’t see you we must look forward to the next time. It wont [sic] be long before I get some real leave now. When in Southend I will go and see your

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Mum and mine and go and see how the bungalow is getting along and do anything that may require doing. Mum and the girls went there last week and saw your Mum doing the garden and they say it is looking nice. Mum is having her divan sent to Tilbury and Joyce is taking the high chair and cot. They sprinkled moth balls about in the wardrobe and robette and have left the key next door with Mrs Stapleton. Your Mum has seen Ticket and has sent on my registration and driving licence books. When I saw the envelope you must have sent your Mum and postmarked Southend I had quite a shock and thought you had gone back home.

Its [sic] now eleven o’ clock and I was up at five this morning so I must pack my laundry and get to bed. Lots of love and hoping to see you soon sweetheart for several days

Your loving husband
Harry xxxx
P.S. Give my love Pamela with a big kiss X.


Harry Redgrave, “To Jessie from Harry Redgrave,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 26, 2024,

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