Letter from Douglas Hudson to his parents



Letter from Douglas Hudson to his parents


Catches up with letters cable he has received and discusses problems with mail going missing but suggest that they write as much as possible. He is pleased that they do not have to put stamps on outward mail and it goes through the American consul in Algiers. Mentions possible issue of winter clothing but it would probably not be required at their new location in desert oasis town of Laghouat to which they recently moved. Describes going out through town on first walk since arriving. Mentions mosque, camels, dates, palm trees and English commercial signage. Writes of another internee's recent airmail parcel containing cigarettes, chocolate and sweets and request they try and sent him similar especially with tea included as they have difficulty making sufficient hot drinks and are slightly suspicious of water. Concludes with family and other gossip and suggest that they write to the mother of one of his friends.



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,
I wrote to you three days ago saying that the last letter I received from you was dated September 25th and also informing you that we had been moved south to a place called Laghouat on the edge of the Sahara. Since then I was very pleased to receive two letters from you dated September 28th & October 5th in which you state you have only received two letters from me in three weeks’ time, the last two being dated August 8th & 28th, the former including the two photos. You also mention receiving a cable from me on October 4th which had been delayed a day or two apparently. It was held up at this end two days because the post-office at Aumale returned my cable from querying the address “Nelsonlancs” but I explained this to you at the time in my letter home. It is rather strange you should mention only getting two letters from me in three weeks., because I still continue to write approximately twice weekly. Only yesterday Tony received a cable from his Mother saying she was anxious because she had not received any letters from him for two months. He writes home almost as regularly as I do. Another of our men received a similar cable from his Mother, so the whole thing is unaccountable. It would appear that the best thing to do is to write home as often as reasonably possible, this should ensure a delivery of a certain number anyway, even if the mails should continue queer. For quite a long time now
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I have not been stamping my envelopes. The mail goes via the Consul, but by what actual route I cannot say. Does the envelope bear the stamp S.M. or F.M.? I think it should be the latter. Another of our men heard from his Mother that according to the English newspapers British P. of W’s in Aumale were to receive clothing from Tangier etc. I don’t think we shall be in need quite as urgently of winter clothing here as up there. I believe it remains reasonably cool, however, until about April or May. At present it is not very hot. About the same as a warm English day, but as I explained the buildings are cool being [inserted] built [/inserted] entirely of stone. In case my last letter went astray I think I had better tell you again a little about the conditions down here. When I heard we were to be moved to the desert I had horrible misgivings I didn’t like the idea one bit. Well, upon arrival here I cheered up considerably because the living conditions are better than at either of our previous military camps. At long last I am able to share the privacy of a small room with Jimmy, who is of the same rank & category as myself, having trained at the same places. Tony shares a small room adjoining. These rooms should be fairly cool in summer as they are equipped with shutters & windows. The food is a considerable improvement on the food of the last place which was shocking. We get some very fine dates, which is not surprising when we learned that the town of Laghouat is surrounded by 43.000 palm trees. I mentioned this in my last letter and I think it must be true. Laghouat is truly an oasis town. I often wondered exactly what an oasis looked like, and yesterday I found out. A small party of us were allowed on our first walk since our arrival
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here, and after passing through the town we went into the Arab Mosque & climed [sic] the tower of the Minaret from where we had a good view of the entire district for many miles. We could see the exact shape of the Oasis. The town which is mostly Arab is [inserted] situated [/inserted] in a horseshoe of date palms and beyond in every direction is nothing at all but stones, sand & distant mountains of rock. For a small distance south there is occasional grass where there appears to be a swampy region, but this doubtless soon gives way to sand. In short we are out in the blue. We came across quite a number of camels. As I said before they appear to be most supercilious animals, due to the strange way they have of craning their necks. They are mostly in a filthy condition & some of them smell horribly. In the town I noticed such signs as Kodak, Verichrome, & Shell Petrol outside various establishments. Things of the past, but go to prove that at one time not very distant this place must have catred [sic] for English visitors, in a capacity different from the one it has at the moment. Some weeks ago I told you that one of our men had received a parcel by Air Mail from England containing 50 Players cigarettes & three bars of Rowntrees chocolate & a few boiled sweets. There [sic] were packed in an Oxo tin & the package amounted to 4s – 5d, the time to arrive was twelve days. He has since received another similar parcel which took under three weeks to get here. I am wondering if you could send me something like this. The item which would be appreciated most is a 1/4 lb packet of tea, that is if you can spare it. On no account send it if you are short. Getting hot drinks is our greatest problem, we have to rely on the Red Cross for these except for a morning glass of black coffee, The water is more or less all
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right, but I don’t like drinking too much of it. It sounds an expensive way of sending tea but it is the only quick way. Don’t let the post-office put you off with this talk about restrictions. Debit the postage to my account. I don’t know how my present mail is reaching you, but as the earlier delivery seems to have been shaky I will repeat the wishes I sent to you for Christmas and the New Year in my last letters. May you have as happy a time as possible under the circumstances & may the year 1942 be a better one for us all. I shall be thinking about you all the time & looking forward to the next years where we shall be together again. To-night it is blowing cool. Except for the first two days here it has not been very hot. I am beginning to doubt the story that it rains only once every 14 or 15 months, because we had a shower last night. I don’t expect we shall have any of your fogs though. Some time ago Tony wrote to his mother suggesting she should correspond with you, & I also made the suggestion in two of my letters that you should write to Mrs. Randall. She is alone, her husband was killed in the last war and Tony is an only child. This is the address:- Mrs. L. A. Randall, 58. Sunny Road. Enfield. Middlesex. I have broken the spring of my petrol lighter & fear it is hopeless to even anticipate getting it renewed here. So my lighter, after all the years of service, has had to go into an envelope and await with me the day of repatriation. The time has arrived to bring my letter to a close. I can assure you it is a much pleasanter task writing a letter quietly from here, than in the din & row of Aumale. So good-bye until next letter. With every best wish & thoughts I send you all my love.



James Douglas Hudson, “Letter from Douglas Hudson to his parents,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 24, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/22564.

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