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 Waddington including an in-depth report of his first bombing operation to Kiel and seeing St Elmo’s fire on his return back in the plane.




Temporal Coverage



Four handwritten sheets and an envelope


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[postage stamp]

Mrs. H. C. Redgrave
155 Fletton Avenue

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[mathematical calculations]

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Sgts Mess
Sat. 26. 10. 40

Dear Jessie,
Sorry my letter is a day behind but I was busy last night and I have been in Lincoln all afternoon and evening trying to find some digs. My efforts were unsuccessful but I have got the name and address of the billetting [sic] officer and I am going to see him at the first opportunity. The great influx of London people has made accommodation very difficult to find and I hope you will be patient. I am so anxious for you to come here and I felt quite despondent this afternoon all on my own. There are not many chaps I know here and in any case as you can only get away early when you have been on ops the day before its [sic] difficult to get hold of anyone you may get friendly with.

As you may have gathered I did my first trip last night and everything went according to plan. We were sent to Kiel and Cuxhaven which in spite of terrible weather I managed to locate. We set off at six in the evening and I set a course for Amrum Island just off the base of the Danish peninsular and after flying through low cloud and rain and hail showers we flew along and

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and saw the defences at Heligoland blazing away on our right. Our track just skirted the Frisian Islands and from then we saw nothing for about half an hour until we saw heavy flak going up from Sylt. Our track working out as planned took us between Sylt and the strong defences at the mouth of the River Elbe and all we had to do was glide in across the peninsular and drop our eggs right in the middle of the guns and searchlights around Kiel. The German defences give you a pretty sound idea of your position and the course I set to Cuxhaven brought us right on to the guns [deleted] at [/deleted] there and we were able to drop the rest of our load just where we wanted it. The journey back was uneventful except for a fire display of St. Elmo's Fire which struck the plane in the middle of the North Sea. This phenomena puzzled me until I made some enquiries but for all that it is a wonderful sight. We were going through a storm and all of a sudden it seemed as if the plane was caught in a searchlight and on looking up I found that all the framework of my cockpit had seemed to grow a luminous ruffle all along it. On either side the propeller blades were forming a great blue circle and the whole spectacle was most uncanny. Just in sight of our coast I got a fix which placed me about 4 miles North of my position and so we flew down to the

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Wash and from there to our base. We landed at half past twelve and after reporting back to Intelligence I wearily made my way to my bed. My first trip was safely and satisfactorily completed. At no time was I afraid but that 350 miles of water between target and home made me feel very conscious of the frailness of man and his machines. The flak is [deleted] una [/deleted] unnerving and when it is all around bursting with huge flashes and with vivid white flashes from the ground the whole spectacle is rather terrifying. That’s seven hours towards my two hundred when I go back for my rest. Roll on two hundred.

Yesterday morning when being examined by the dentist I had one of my back teeth filled and did not think much of the experience. He says I am to go again next week so it looks as if I am going to get some free dental treatment now that I have settled down. I have had some super goggles fitted to my helmet and have drawn a brand new harness and Mae West. For flying I have also had from stores a thick white roll neck pull over or 1 Frock Woolen [sic] as it is called in the stores. Gee its [sic] lovely and warm and although the temperature was below freezing point last night across the North Sea I was never cold. Did you see anything of us Thursday or Friday afternoon when we came over Peterboro and beat the

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town up a bit. Should you see a Hampden performing overhead you can bet it is us. Its [sic] now five minutes into Sunday morning so I must finish up now and hope to be seeing you again soon. All my love to you both and lots of hugs and kisses from
Your devoted husband
Harry. Xxxxxx

P. S. As you are so near its [sic] not worth a warrant and I should enquire about [deleted] buses [/deleted] a bus via Sleaford it may be quicker and cheaper. I did not receive until last Tuesday the letter you wrote after I left you that week end. Others arrived O. K. Could you send me a sub. of 5/- please. I’m broke


Harry Redgrave, “To Jessie from Harry Redgrave,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 14, 2024,

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