Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir



Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir


Letter from Sergeant Jim Cahir to his mother and brother. He writes about his many experiences whilst in Wellington and New Plymouth including going to a Maori Ceremony, describing the view of Mount Egmont, touring the surrounding countryside where they marched through some of the larger towns and about various people they had met, some of whom knew people from his hometown area.




Temporal Coverage



12 handwritten sheets


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 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.


ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0001, ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0002, ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0003, ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0004, ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0005, ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0006, ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0007, ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0008, ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0009, ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0010, ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0011, ECahirFSCahirM-V430702-0012


[inserted] P.P.S. Best wishes & love to the Cahir family, I sent them a post card sometime ago, when we settle down again I will write them a decent letter. Jim. [/inserted]
Aust. 419441
Friday July 2nd 43
Postal. No 272
[underlined] overseas [/underlined]
Dear Mum & Vincent
It is quite a while since I last wrote to you, I hope you and Vincent are quite up to the mark & Paddy is still getting a kick out of Army Life, as for myself I am in the best of health & am enjoying Life to its upmost. [sic]
As you can see by the address [inserted] we [/inserted] [deleted] I [/deleted] have left Wellington far behind [deleted] [indecipherable word] [/deleted] us & are now enjoying the sights of a new place.
The last letter I wrote you I left off whilst we were still at Wellington so I will go back there again in theory & start writing from where I left off.
Tuesday June 23rd I posted the last letter to you, that Evening Bill Purtell & myself were invited out to tea to a family in one of the suburbs in Wellington they were very nice & this was the second occasion they had invited us out, before going out we bought them a framed Picture of Our Lady, it did not cost us much & we thought we ought leave them something for their kindness; there were two Boys & two Girls in the family.
Wednesday found Bill & myself
[page break]
[underlined] 2 [/underlined]
at the Catholic Services Club at Wellington & as usual we had a very enjoyable time. We met one of the Jemm Boys there you remember I told you about the Jemm Family in my last letter there are seven Boys in the Family.
Thursday being [deleted] Ch [/deleted] Corpus Christi Bill & myself decided we would go to Mass and I think you will agree with me when I tell you what happened that we got our material reward for going. We were just coming out of the Church when [inserted] we [/inserted] were stopped by a Girl we knew, we had met her at the Club & she was a member of the Grail Movement, she very kindly asked us home for tea that evening, we had a very enjoyable evening & a good tuck in. Her father is Manager of the Bank of New South Wales over here. Films are severely rationed over here, after Mass Bill & myself went to Kodaks to form up in the queque [sic] to try & buy a film, when we reached the queque [sic] at 7.45 [inserted] am [/inserted] we found it about 150 yds long & at least 100 people in front of us, we eventually reached the counter & just to be different from everybody else & to show my ill breeding I asked for an extra one, much to my surprise I got it, Bill could not get his film so he got one for me, a lady directly behind me could not get [inserted] her [/inserted] size so she kindly got one for me
[page break]
[underlined] 3 [/underlined]
that brought my total to four, but the story does not end there when Bill & myself got out of the shop & he was congratulating me on my fine performance a girl came up to us & asked us what size I took, I told her & she said that if I cared to come up to her office she would give me one, well this was just too much for us, but we managed to pull ourselves together & follow her & so ended up with five films for the morning, not bad eh!
Friday we had a very short leave on dry land & [inserted] then [/inserted] we got back to the usual routine of the trip, I went to bed early but did not sleep so well.
Saturday Morning found us in New Plymouth where we were given a Civic Welcome by the Mayor, gee Mum it was great, here was the Mayor & all his counsellors blowing hot air about us, when I joined the Airforce I never thought I would even see anything like that. Saturday afternoon the Mayor took Bill myself & two other chaps in his Car to a Maori Settlement at Waitara. We were very lucky in going out to see the Maoris on that particular Day as it was [inserted] a [/inserted] day of Remembrance for them & is only held once every ten years. Tribes from all over New Zealand collect for it & the Mayor introduced us to
[page break]
[underlined] 4 [/underlined]
many famous Maoris. We met Lady Maui Pomare who is the widow of Sir Maui Pomare a famous Maori Doctor who practised all over the world & who eventually held the position of Minister for Public Health for the whole of New Zealand, we also met her son who holds a very high position in the health Department today. Amongst [deleted] one [/deleted] other famous Maoris we met were a Major & two Captains back from the Middle East, they were extra good Blokes & had quite a bit to do with the Australians in the M.E.
The Ceremony on this day was very peculiar, at an appointed hour each tribe advanced towards the centre square, a photo of which I [inserted] am [/inserted] sending home, whilst they advance a spokesman for each tribe pours forth the tribal history & the old women of the tribe weep & wail for those long passed. When they collect in the centre there are speeches, we did not understand what was going on as it was all in Maori Language. Later on in the day the Maori Girls put a concert on for us & can those girls sing! they don’t need a musical instrument at all they have a wonderful sense of timing. Before leaving we were shown over many Maori Buildings & some of the carvings were explained to us. At the end of the Ceremony we were taken home by the Mayor to meet his wife.
[page break]
[underlined] 5 [/underlined]
Sunday – Taxis were arranged take us to Mass there are 12 of us & every one went which is not too bad.
Bill & myself went down to the Service hut where we had a bite of Breakfast & returned to our lodgings. I spent the rest of the day inside as it was very squally weather outside, it reminded me very much of Melbourne Sunday evening I went to the Catholic Service Club dance & enjoyed myself, there were not very many chaps there consequently there were dozens of girls sitting out. New Zealand is far more than Australia in the way of man-power since I have been here I have not seen one young chap about Military [inserted] age [/inserted] in civilian clothes, the country is just void of young men, you hardly ever see a New Zealand Soldier in the streets.
Monday June 29th – A trip up Mount Egmont was arranged for us but was postponed at the last minute, I went into town to look around, also sent a cable to you no doubt you received it! In the afternoon, Bill & myself took a walk through the gardens, the are marvellous here, & you would swear you were walking through the glades & glens at Yew Tree Gully. From the Gardens you can get a perfect view of Mount Egmont & it is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life
[page break]
[underlined] 6 [/underlined]
it is snow capped all the year around, & often the Base of the mountain is hidden in clouds & the sun glitters on the snow capped peak, it is something I could not explain Mum, I know you would think it marvellous if you saw it.
In the Evening I went to the Pictures with a couple of the Boys to see “Canal Zone” it was terrible & one of the worst pictures I have ever seen, they did the most impossible things with Aircraft & equipment that it was almost a comedy to sit there & see what next they were going to do.
Tuesday we toured the country side with a convoy of Mechanised Army units in Aid of the Third Liberty Loan, we travelled about 120 miles & saw some marvellous country. The country around this part is the greenest I have ever seen. We passed through numerous towns the names of which were beyond me. In some of the larger towns we had to march through the main streets, we got a great ovation from the crowd, & the school children had us signing Autograph Books by the dozens. All along the route there were strong points of civilians & school kids & after we had passed each group I was just about all in with the moving & shouting. We had lunch at one of the Hotels on route & the Ladies of another town provided
[page break]
[underlined] 7 [/underlined]
Afternoon tea for us. We travelled by Army bus for the first few miles but that got too boring so we transferred over to a few Bren Gun Carriers. The Nursing Sister who is with us also rode in one of the lorries, she is a great scout.
After our trip around the country side yesterday I slept in until late, the rest of the Boys went up the Mountain to see the snow, I would have liked to have gone but I took a few pills for my old complaint & did not dare move out. Mount Egmont looks beautiful from where we are, it is snow capped all the year around & it towers above any other range of mountains, [deleted] often [/deleted] the best time to see it is early in the morning before the clouds hide it from view. A few of the chaps I believe hired skis & had some fun skiing.
Thursday July 2nd. – We had our photo taken as a group, I came out rather well even though I say it myself, I bought a copy & will send it home at the first opportunity, just in passing I have quite a few thing to send you I will parcel them up & register them to you I meant to send them last post but forgot about it.
During the morning Bill & myself got talking to a chap that we met & he turned out to be a high Postal Official & he showed us over the working of a Post Office, it was a very interesting morning & its really amazing the
[page break]
[underlined] 8 [/underlined]
workings of a Big Post office. During the afternoon Bill & myself went down to Eltham to try & trace some long lossed [sic] relatives of [underlined] ours [/underlined], that rather surprises you doesn’t it!
It’s a pretty long story so I had better start from the beginning. At the dance on Saturday night I met a few of the Boys & they introduced me to a couple of girls they had in tow, that was alright [inserted] but [/inserted] on Sunday a Phone Call comes for me so I took Bill Cashman up to the Phone with me to find out who it was, it turned out to be one of Girls I had been introduced to the previous night so I gave Bill the nod to tell her I was out as I did not want anything to do with her; a few hours later the phone rang again & here she was again so again Bill told her “he was very sorry that I was out”, this went on for a couple of days & I was getting fed up with her so I decided to answer the Phone myself the next time she rang. When she did ring I had it all worked out what I was going to say & boy did I think I was going to go to town on her; before I could get a word in edge ways she asked me did I know the “Cahir’s” in Geelong so I said I knew of them, well it appears that her [deleted] lad [/deleted] landlady is a sister of Mrs Cahir of Geelong & she was wondering if I spelt my name the same way as they did & if I was any relation.
When I heard what she wanted I just had to withdraw
[page break]
[underlined] 9 [/underlined]
a few of the nasty remarks I had made.
I eventually saw this land lady of hers she is an Australian from Warracknabeal, her first husband whose name was Willocks enlisted from Warracknabeal in the last War & has a soldiers chart like the one we have at home signed by the counsellors of the “Shire of Borung” to top it all he belonged to the old 60th Btn, my old unit. This woman’s sister is a Mrs Cahir in Geelong, they have not seen one another for about 30 years [inserted] ever [/inserted] since they left Warracknabeal. This is one little accident that happened to me whilst I was at N.P., here’ another one just as good. I was dancing with a girl at the Catholic Service Club & she asked me where I came from, when I told her she asked me did I know anybody by the name of McNamara, I thought for a moment & I said I knew a couple of families by that name, she then told me she has been a pen friend of Laurie McNamara from St Pat’s for over seven years & that she had a letter from [inserted] him [/inserted] not so long ago, when I heard that I immediately sat down & scribbled a short note to Laurie telling him I had met his pen friend, I left the note with the girl to post.
Now here’s number three & the final coincidence, a Nun at the Convent was printing on the back of
[page break]
[underlined] 10 [/underlined]
a holy Picture for me the Prayer for the Protection of an aircraft that Doreen gave me. This particular Nun was a cousin of Miss Meagher the school teacher & was very interested to know I knew Miss Meagher.
Friday was a big day for us, most of the Boys offered their services for street collecting for the Local Patriotic fund, the people of New Zealand have been so good to us that it was only right we should do something in return; Bill Purtell & myself did three hours collecting in the afternoon & I think the total sum collected for the Day was £42 just twice as much as the second collection, the Mayor was as pleased as punch over it & presented us with ample reading matter for the rest of the voyage.
Friday Evening Bill & myself were invited out for tea, we had a very enjoyable evening & spent the time in talking with a few [indecipherable word]. Once again it was a member of the fairer sex who invited us out, we seem to be doing pretty well for ourselves over here don’t we Mum! They were a very nice family we went to, we met the daughter at the Club, she is one of the hostesses there, she has a brother away in the N.Z. Army. You have no need to worry about NZ Brides or any other Brides, as Bill
[page break]
[underlined] 11 [/underlined]
Purtell is engaged to a girl in Wagga & is most faithful, in fact I think he over does his fidelity a little, and there is no need to add my opinion on the matter, my motto still stands “Like them all Love none” & “there’s safety in numbers”.
Saturday today – is on account of circumstances a very quite [sic] day, the boys are just lounging around reading & talking, there are also a few with their mouths wide open lying back in arm chairs making some terrible noises.
Tonight will be an early night as there [inserted] is [/inserted] nowhere to go except to bed. I think I will be missing Mass again in the morning, it’s a pity but [inserted] it [/inserted] cannot be avoided.
Before I close, do you know anybody by the name of Jack Guthrie in Coburg? he had a lot to do with the Irish Pipers Band some years ago, I am pretty certain I have heard that name somewhere, Uncle Gerard might know him; a lady I met in Wellington asked me did I know him as he was her cousin, her name was Kelly.
I still have not heard from anybody back home, no doubt your letters will be awaiting me on arrival, I think it would be quite safe sending them care of Uncle Shamus. This is the third letter I have written to you & hope you got the previous two, I have sent one Pkt & will
[page break]
[underlined] 12 [/underlined]
send another registered one, I have also sent two cables up to date did you receive them? In the registered Pkt will be a couple of tea towels, two small presents for Betty & Phil, & a set of mats for the side Board, you might have to see the customs about them.
Today the N.Z. airforce put a show on for us, we were sitting quitely [sic] in the saloon when we heard a terrific roar and an aeroplane started to shoot us up, by the time we reached the deck there were a few more on the job & we had a thrilling half an hour, apparently the pilots knew where we were & had flown over to give us a last minute farewell.
Well Mum I think I have [inserted] [deleted] you [/deleted] [/inserted] told [inserted] you [/inserted] all the news at the moment, don’t expect another letter from me for some time after you receive this one.
All my love Mum I think of home often in my prayers.
Your [deleted] long [/deleted] loving Son & Brother
P.S. Remember that old hat you tried to make me take with me, I wish I had now it would be very useful in the near future.


Jim Cahir, “Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 25, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20089.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.