Letter from Douglas Hudson to his parents



Letter from Douglas Hudson to his parents


Writes about letters he sent as experiment by registered airmail and cables he has sent. Mentions old news and recent letter from sister of a friend as well as reminiscing. Talks of his watch and cigarette lighter. Writes of daily routine. Asks if they could send him a fountain pen. Mention weather cooling down, Continues with gossip and mentions fellow internees and new sleeping arrangements. Catches up with news and mentions playing bridge and Uckers (Naval Ludo). Comments on activities and that life is a bad dream at the moment.




Temporal Coverage



Four page handwritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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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 last two days ago and sent the letter by Air Mail registered, in the hope it would make a speedier journey. A similar letter sent some time ago by a person here reached England in three weeks. I sent a cable on the same date in reply to yours of September 12th and in my message I advised you of my experiment. If this particular letter should arrive especially quickly perhaps you would cable me and I could do the same again. I have very little to talk to you about today; my last letter was a four pager and as only two days have since elapsed without any further news from you, you will readily understand my shortage of material. I mentioned some time ago that Tony’s girl who lived near our last station – I used to be pally with her friend when we were in England – died very suddenly in July. Since then her sister has written frequently and her last letter received told of the grand view from their house and the magnificent sight of the cornfields. She mentioned gathering from their garden, which I understand is uncommonly large, 1 1/2 tons of blackcurrants this summer & 1 ton of [indecipherable word]. Such references make us realise what we have left behind. I still have with me my watch which was a Christmas present from you both in 1934. I got an unpleasant shock yesterday afternoon when I dropped it on the stone floor. Very very [sic] fortunately no damage resulted, which is [underlined] fortunate [/underlined] when you understand there are no carpets for watches to fall on. I still have my cigarette lighter but can only obtain a very inferior quality of petrol
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on extremely rare occasions. For wick I am using a strand of Jimmy’s pyjama cord. Yes Jimmy still has a pair of pyjamas. We overcome the difficulty of light shortage by a little device of our own called “George”. George consists of an old bootlace made to float ingeniously on very [indecipherable word] olive oil contained in an old cigarette tin. This bootlace burns quite well and lastingly, so “George” has become one of the family. Our latest arrival, an officer, comes from Stretford, and left Hulme G. S. in 1937. Makes you think! He was a rugger fan in his day and seems to know a number of M.G.S. people. So far, I am the only Old Manc. in Laghouat, although the north (uncivilised) is getting well represented. I told you in my last letter Les. Martin (Pilot) who is now in my room, comes from Stockport, and a friend of his here, from Altrincham. Before long the north will have become civilised. Pause to get light from “George”. I forgot to tell you earlier on that we have abandoned the old [indecipherable word] bed for a new idea based on the old four poster style. It is a double tier wooden contraption designed to save floor space. I sleep on the upper deck from which exalted position I command an excellent view of the room. Evening sobriety is essential, otherwise it would be impossible to climb up to bed and even if that was accomplished it would be deadly to roll off during the night. I get Leslie very dismayed each morning when I have my habitual search for – Keatings say they can kill them - . I always lift up the mattress and get an old penknife busy in the nicks and small crevices. [underlined] They [/underlined] certainly do like these wooden beds. On account of these “four posters” we have named our present quarters the “Tudor Suite”. It is a dickens of a job climbing down from these beds at night. I wish I could cure myself of the
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practice. We started P.T. about a week ago. It is an early morning procedure which takes place at 7-15 am. after the French have completed their Roll Call. Morning tea follows this – as long as the Red Cross supply lasts – and afterwards we settle down to our interesting daily routine. At mid-day the monotony is broken when we stop whatever we are doing for lunch. This is invariably soup with a little meat for luck. The day then wears on until 3 pm. when tea is available again, provided the Red Cross supply is not exhausted. Roll Call again at 5, and dinner which is invariably vegetable soup with macaroni or split peas at 6 pm. Supper at 9 pm. [deleted] invar [/deleted] variable, depending upon Red Cross, at [inserted] the [/inserted] moment the cupboard is like Old Mother Hubbard’s. In spite of all this the sun shines unperturbably, we continue to get fat, and remain sunburned. Roll on the Roast Beef and the good old English climate in spite of all this. I have just had a disaster with my old fountain pen nib which has now given up the ghost completely. I do not know whether I shall be able to finish my letter to you with the one I have just obtained or not, but I will try. If you think it would be possible to send a fountain pen out to me by Regd. Airmail it would be a most useful article. I notice your previous remarks regarding this procedure but I still wonder if it would not possibly be worth while. I will leave it with you to decide, however. I told you in my last letter that the weather had come in considerably cooler. This I find very pleasant after the heat of the four real summer months May – June – July – August. It still gets very hot after mid-day but the nights are very much colder & the general tendency is to sleep indoors. Most people
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slept outside until a week or so ago. I was glad to hear in your last letter No. 70 that John had attained his desired position. I often wonder what and where his next really big move will be. We still play Bridge quite frequently but of late there has been quite a big switch to “Uckers” the service name for Ludo. Although in a very different place we have managed to derive some exciting moments playing this new game. In a position like our own the whole idea of amusements is very different from the olden days when there was so much at our disposal. You have to bear in mind that all the people here see no change of scenery day in, day out, they have no fresh environment, no pictures, shows, or entertainments of any description. All amusements – they, I mean we, have to make for ourselves. We do little [deleted] ourselves [/deleted] beyond playing the games I have already mentioned, & talking amongst ourselves. I do a little private French study & we in this room do a little official routine work for the camp. Beyond that, and an opportunity to read a now very limited supply of books, what else can we do? I have tried other things in the past and finished up unsuccessfully but still we carry on and I for one am keeping fit and well. There is just one real thing I am living for and that is the great day when we shall be all happily reunited. Life is rather like a bad dream at the moment & I feel like the dreamer in a subconscious state realising that there is a waking hour when the dream will vanish. There is that waking hour. Perhaps distant, but never too far distant. Until it does arrive let us continue with stout hearts & keep smiling. Perhaps the smile is a little wane at times. So is the winter sun, but summer is not far behind. Until then, all my love, thoughts & best wishes as ever. Douglas.



J D Hudson, “Letter from Douglas Hudson to his parents,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 6, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/22863.

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