Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir



Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir


Jim writes to his mother and brother of his period of leave in Bath and Reading describing the places he has visited, relatives he has met and stayed with. He mentions minor aspects of service life and service friends.




Temporal Coverage



Seven handwritten sheets


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AUS 419441
Kodak House
Nov. 2nd. 43.
“ 3rd “
[underlined] Letter No [/underlined] 17
Dear Mum & Vincent
Last night I arrived back on the Squadron after seven days leave, it was marvellous! and I had an extra good time. I travelled down to London with the rest of the crew, then travelled on to Bath after spending the night at the Y.M.C.A. in London. I arrived in Bath about 4.30 and had no trouble in finding Newbridge Hill. Uncle or Aunt were not home so the house-Keeper let me in and I sat beside the fire reading the paper until they got home from Work; Uncle got home about 6.30 and Auntie Agnes about 6 oclock. [sic] Whilst I was waiting for them the carpenters were in renovating the ceiling & windows damaged by bomb blast some twelve months earlier.
The flat that Aunt & Uncle are living in is very nice, they have a very nice sitting room where we spent a few very nice evenings sitting beside the fire talking; I did not sleep in the same house as there was no room, but put up with some very nice people a little way down the road.
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Uncle & Aunt seem to be in the best of health, the children are expected home for Christmas and by that time Aunt Agnes hopes to have secured a house somewhere around Bath.
The first night at Bath I spent by the fireside talking about home and telling Aunt & Uncle all about you Paddy and Vincent. The Second day I went into town to look Bath over, as usual it is an old town with plenty of narrow streets winding here & there; it is quite a big town with a population far exceeding Ballarat, but the people live in a very cramped style, I don’t think the town would exceed about a fifth of the size of Preston in area. Certain parts of Bath have been badly knocked about, whole areas have been razed to the ground mainly around the residential area.
The shopping area is very nice and very busy, there seems to be plenty to buy in the shops, but the catch is coupons & points as it is at home. Bus traffic is very thick, and there is always a long queque [sic] waiting for the different Buses. The thing that struck me [deleted] was [/deleted] were the orderly queques [sic] waiting for Buses, people just line up behind one another and take their turn on getting on the Bus, when the conductress says “Bus Full” they still retain their ranks and wait for the next Bus, you never see anybody bludging [sic] out of their turn.
I met Auntie [deleted] Louie [/deleted] Agnes for lunch, and had a very nice lunch of Roast Beef & vegetables at a little café, there were plenty of vegetables but the meat was very scanty, [deleted] [indecipherable word] [/deleted] I am becoming quite use [sic] to that. After lunch I walked back to work with Aunt then continued on to see the sights of Bath.
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The Cathedral in Bath is very interesting, I spent quite some time looking over it, it goes back to about 1590; quite a few of the graves in the floor [deleted] where [/deleted] were dated 1602 and round about that date. The inscription on some of the grave stones were funny, most of them were written in “Old Time English, on one particular stone the inscription was “He dyed ye sixth day of Auguft [sic] 1674”. Amongst some of the graves of well well [sic] known people was the grave of the first American Ambassador to England somewhere around 1790.
On coming out of the Cathedral I met an Australian also down in Bath for a spot of leave, he advised me to go & see a certain Lady in the Baths and she would show me through the Roman Baths, this I did! and was shown through the ancient Baths that the Romans used long Before the Battle of Hastings.
These Baths are well [deleted] bef [/deleted] below the street level and had been hidden from the Publics view for many centuries before somebody accidentally discovered them, now-a-days excavations have revealed amazing discoveries. Apparently the Romans treated Bath as a Holiday Resort and built numerous Swimming Pools beside Hot Springs; these swimming pools are very well preserved today and are lined with tons of lead, lead pipes take the over flow of water from the Baths down to the river. Hot Springs are very few in number & can’t be compared to Rotorua N.Z.; the temperature of the water coming out of the springs is 112o, about 100o cooler than Rotorua. I also saw a few examples of paving by the Romans, it was beautifully done and had some marvellous colours blended in it; here and there were columns that had been found belonging to a Temple built by the Romans to a [indecipherable word] God.
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Thursday I went over to Bristol to have a look at the town, as usual it was entirely different to home, with narrow winding streets very crowded with pedestrians & Buses. Bristol stopped quite a bit of Bombing, in one particular part of the city [inserted] there [/inserted] is an area the size of the “Block” in Collins st [sic] completely flattened, with not a single Building standing, there were quite a few other badly damaged areas but that was the worst. I met Uncle Shamus for dinner and went to “Brights Dining Hall” you might know it, it is quite a Big Place. After lunch I wandered around until I came to a Church in charge of the S.J’s, of course I called in there and was lucky enough to strike one of the Priests with whom I had a very long chat, he did not know anybody out home at all, but he gave me an address of a Jesuit College which I am going to call on when I get the opportunity. During the afternoon I travelled out on the Bus to see the suspension Bridge over the Bristol Gorge, it was well worth seeing and quite a feat of engineering’ whilst out there I also visited the observatory.
On the way back a catastrophe over took me, my watch stopped and I reset it an hour late, the result being I was an hour behind time for the rest of the day & I missed Uncle Shamus on the Bus, thus not getting home to Bath until 7.30, when I did get back I found I was to have tea in town with Uncle & Aunt, then we were going home to meet some visitors whom were coming: it must have been about 9 oclock [sic] by the time we had finished tea & got home to find the house full of visitors. The rest of the evening was spent in talking & playing cards.
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Friday, I again met Auntie Agnes for lunch, I also met about half the admiralty she seems to know everybody from the First Sea Lord down. During the afternoon I took a couple of Bus rides out of the town and got quite a good view of the place from the surrounding Hills. On the way back from one of these Bus rides I called in on the Catholic Church in Bath and met a Priest there by the name of Father Eddie McDonell, I had quite a long chat with him and during the course of conversation I found out that he knows Father Cleary very well and wished to be remembered to him, so will you pass that message on to Father, Mum! The Church in Bath is very nice but has been badly hit by Bombs, the Presbytery beside the Church has been completely demolished, one Priest and the house keeper were killed in it. The school had a lucky escape from damage, the blast of the bombs only blew the windows out. Friday Evening I went to a Theatre Revue with Aunt Agnes and a couple of other ladies (I say ladies because they were nearer the fifty mark than the forty mark), it was a good show and a very enjoyable evening’s entertainment. Uncle was on fire watching that particular evening at Bristol.
Saturday I slept in until rather late and [inserted] just [/inserted] got up in time to have lunch with Aunt in town, come back pack my bag and catch a train to Reading. The journey up to Reading only took a couple of hours and I arrived just in time for tea. After tea was spent in talking and it must have been about 11.30 before I crawled into bed. Auntie Louie seems to be in the best of health Mum! and looked after me like a new-born Baby, in fact she made me feel I could not do a thing to help myself.
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Sunday: Auntie Louie and I went into Reading to Mass, we had to walk about three miles in [deleted] in [/deleted] a drizzling rain; whilst I was at Bath I had beautiful weather perfect sunshine everyday. After Mass we managed to get a taxi back so saved our feet. After dinner which was very good consisting of Roast Beef, roast potatoes vegetables and cherry pie, not a bad effort for a starving country.
After lunch we just sat in front of the fire and talked, we had tea about 4.30 then a big supper of cold meat etc about 9 oclock, [sic] this four meals a day is a funny thing, I just can’t get use [sic] to it. Before I went to bed Auntie Louie put the Electric Blanket in my bed, it’s worth about a dozen hot water Bottles. Monday Morning being the first of November, Auntie Louie & I again went into Mass, after Mass I could [sic] the 10.8 train to London, and was in the Boomerang Club by 11 oclock. [sic] I met quite a few chaps in the Club, some I had not seen since the day I left Somers about twelve months ago. After lunch at the Club, George Brett (my navigator) & myself went for a walk around London before catching the train from King’s Cross back to Camp. There is quite a lot of difference going back to Camp after leave over here: when I use [sic] go back to Parkes after leave, I use [sic] [deleted] to [/deleted] feel real miserable about it and I use [sic] always be looking forward to the next leave even though it was a month off: over here leave just ends and you go back to the station without any wretched thoughts, in fact you get into the habit of referring to the Squadron as your home and really it is.
Since arriving back I have received a little mail, there was an Airgrath [sic] from you
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dated oct 6th, you had just received my first two Airgraths [sic] there was also an Airgrath [sic] from Mary Egan, a parcel containing a very nice scarf for my birthday from Dorothy Lambert, a parcel of Books from Robertson & Mullen and a note from Spike here in this Country.
Tomorrow night there is going to be a mock Battle on, the Aircrews of the station are going to try to defend the station against a mob of commandos, heres [sic] hoping these commandos are not the conscientious type, if they are I think we are in for a hiding.
On Friday night “Richard Tamber” is singing in a musical programme which is going to be put on in Hull, I hope to get across for it, I rang up today to try & book a seat but was unable to, if I go over I might get a seat that has been cancelled.
Last Night I went to the usual Dance on the Station, it was quite a good turn, & I really enjoyed myself, I am getting to know quite a few of the WAAFs at the dances now and have met a few very nice girls; I still thing [sic] they are a couple of paces behind the Australian girl for looks (or should I say I have not met one that can prove the contrary to me).
I have not heard from Bill Cashman this week consequently don’t know if he is still in this country or not. Bill Puntell & Jeff Varcoe are still at Brighton but expect to be posted very shortly.
Well Mum that seems to be the news at the moment so I will close down, I will send this letter Airmail, let me know how long it takes, some of the Boys have been getting Airmail letters very quickly.
How is everything at home? everybody in the best of health I hope?
Love & kisses Jim


Jim Cahir, “Letter to Mrs Cahir from Jim Cahir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 10, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20098.

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