Letter from Douglas Hudson to his parents



Letter from Douglas Hudson to his parents


Catches up with mail sent and received. Writes of journey to new camp at Laghouat, Algeria, 300 miles south of Algiers after a 15 hour journey by rail and road. Describes locale and that it is on edge of desert. Oasis town surrounded by 43,000 palm trees. Writes that conditions were a lot better than expected even though surrounded by desert. Having previously complained of lack of privacy he mentions he now shares a two man room. Facilities are good with unrestricted water in winter and he goes on to talk of amounts of water required to drink. Comments on weather since arrival. Mentions temperature can reach 130 in the shade but describes buildings which are designed to resist heat. Goes on to mention that so far food situation was much better that at previous camp.. Speculates over weather in England and send early Christmas greeting as the letter might not arrive until near then.



Temporal Coverage



Four page handwritten letter


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Royal Air Force. 755052. Sgt. J. D. Hudson.
c/o. Consul Général des Etats Unis.
Rue Michelet.
Alger. Algérie.
Afrique du Nord.
My Dear Mother & Dad,
The last time I wrote to you was about four or five days ago from Aumale and I then acknowledged receipt of your letter of September 25th. That is the last letter I received from you. I mentioned in mine that I expected to be moved immediately from Aumale to a place called Laghouat which is on the border of the Sahara, and is approximately 300 miles South of Alger. Well I arrived here at Laghouat the night before last after a fifteen hours journey from Aumale, by Military Waggon, Train & Coach. The last 50 miles have to be made by road because the railway ends at a place called Djelfa. The last 200 miles towards this place was about entirely without cultivation. Occasionally grass grew amongst the stones & here there were a few sheep or camels grazing. Most of the country was completely flat & bare as far as eye could see and here at Laghouat the sand begins. The town itself is fairly big I believe, although so far I have had no opportunity of seeing it. It was dark when I arrived. It is an oasis town & there is a story that 43,000 palm trees grow around it. From this camp I have only seen the tops of three, but doubtless I shall see some of the remaining 42,000 when we start our daily walks. Yesterday, as a dessert, we had dates, the finest I have ever had, or at least the largest,
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so may be there is some truth in the story of the palm trees. Well when I learned originally that we were to be moved to the desert the prospects appeared grim, more so than when we anticipated our earlier moves. Having arrived here my spirits have risen considerably, the condition have turned out to be a lot better than I expected. The prospects at first of being surrounded by desert were disheartening, but on arrival here I realise that the surrounds make little difference, or have done in the past, because we never had occasion or opportunity to visit them. Our world at present, is that small area in which we have to eat, live and sleep, & the amenities here are much better. I think, about two letters ago, I complained about the noise which was going on, & how I missed the privacy. Here Jimmy & myself (I explained before that he & I both come under the same service rank & category) share a room together; Tony & a new chap share another room adjoining. We eat in a communal dining hall quite distantly removed from our own room, & have good washing facilities for outpost of Empire. I gather that during the winter the water is not restricted. It appears good although we have been advised not to exceed drinking 2 litres = 3 1/2 pints daily. I don’t think I should ever drink so much anyway, but one has to guard against colic. The French suggest mixing half wine half water. I don’t know where the water comes from. I asked a Frenchman yesterday. “Does it ever rain here” he replied “sometimes, perhaps every 14 or 15 months” I think this is a probable exaggertation, [sic] although I do know the rainfall is very small. The weather since we arrived has been beautiful. Hot & cloudless throughout the day, but a very dry & bearable heat. The nights are definitely cool and yet I have never seen so
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many stars. They say that in summer here the temperature reaches 130 in the shade & then add “but there is no shade”. If we are still here in summer this room is beautifully constructed to guard against the heat. It is built of stone & has shutters and windows and even these open into an alcove passage of stone. It is beautifully cool inside & we have expelled every fly. So for the first time since I arrived in North Africa I can say my quarters are good, & believe me they have been pretty rough in the past. The food question at Aumale was getting desperate, it was terrible; but here again if the first two days are anything to go by, the improvement is considerable and it has done quite a lot to reestablish [sic] contentment in the men. But the thing I appreciate most of all is the privacy of this small room. In Tony’s room there is a fireplace & as we still have some Red Cross [deleted] [indecipherable word] [/deleted] [inserted] drinks [/inserted] we are able to make tea etc. This is proving to be a larger letter than usual but I felt I should let you now about the new conditions, and I trust there will be no difficulty in letting it through. As winter is approaching I don’t expect there will be any really unbearable weather for a good six months and as that is quite distant lets hope that something will break for the better before, although I have been hoping like that for the past fourteen months. I was wondering whether I could include a tiny envelope with some sand in it in this letter, labelled “a souvenir from the Sahara” but I think if I did that I may become suspect of transporting a special type of germ. We have a lot more room to walk about here than at either Le Kef or Aumale. the courtyard which is more or less sand & stone is bigger. I have
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been wandering around in a pair of shorts & a sun helmet. I suppose we shall get sunburned all over again. It was getting too cold at Aumale when we left. My skin has gone a more yellowish brown now & going in the sun does not make it change much. I suppose I have reached saturation point and am not intended to darken any more. I suppose that in England it will be getting definitely cool now with possible frost & fog. How I wish I was back in it all. The sun & warm weather is small, in fact no compensation for what we have temporarily lost and are missing. I have still retained the beard on my chin. Originally it was my intention to shave it all off but I decided that the part I left on was not particularly unbecoming. Tony has started a name for me, either Abe, or Lincoln. I stated in my last letter that it would probably reach you about Christmas time and I sent accordingly greetings etc. Well in case that letter should go astray, or get delayed, I will wish you both again a very Happy Christmas (as happy as can be under the conditions) & a Brighter & more fortunate New Year. I suppose it will be a queer Christmas that we shall spend out here, at least the setting will be an unusual one, but I shall be thinking about you always. I do that every day. There is not very much to say now, but perhaps you will include all the people you may meet, and who I know, in my greeting list. I cannot write to everyone. And now I will say good-bye until my next letter which I expect I shall write in 3 or four days time. As always I send you all my love.



James Douglas Hudson, “Letter from Douglas Hudson to his parents,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 23, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/22560.

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