Letter from C G Barry to her mother and photographs



Letter from C G Barry to her mother and photographs


Letter mounted over seven album pages with envelope with last page of letter on seventh album page. Next page has four b/w photographs. Letter gives excuses for not having written. Catches up with family news. Explains they could not get off camp before Christmas for shopping. Mentions the sad news that 'their crew' who went to pathfinders were missing. Goes on to describe all her Christmas activities including parties, a WAAF dance, Christmas meal and reception at officer's mess. Describes being on duty and further meals after Christmas followed by more duty. Comments on day to day activities including more parties.
Last item image - right hand page:
Top centre - a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force in shirtsleeve uniform sitting on the railing of a balcony with sea front to the right.
Top right - head and shoulder portrait of an RAF officer wearing battledress with pilots brevet and medal ribbons (DFC). He has a drawn on moustache and monocle and is annotated 'Wanted Dead or Alive!!'.
Middle - oblique aerial photograph of the Vimy memorial in open ground.
Bottom right - a woman sitting in a chair with a baby on her lap, pram in the background.




Temporal Coverage



Seven page handwritten letter, envelope and four b/w photographs mounted over eight album pages


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PFieldPL19080008, PFieldPL19080009, PFieldPL19080010, PFieldPL19080011


893742 Sgt. Barry C.G.
W.A.A.F. Sgts’ Mess,
R.C.A.F. Station,

3rd Jan. 1944.

My dearest Mamma,

Belatedly – a very Happy New Year (for the world in general too, I do hope)!!

The Christmas rush now over, herewith an epistle, somewhat overdue, but I will offer only 2 legitimate excuses – a) the aforesaid rush at Christmastime during off duty hours, & b) the equally hectic periods on duty. The Air Force was pretty busy, & not only eating Christmas Pud! However, reasons a) & b) rather cut out any thought [underlined] or [/underlined] chance of letter writing until after New Years’ Day.

You would have had the twins home during part of Christmas I imagine – I wish I could have been there too. I feel so conscience stricken over not sending any Christmas cards to anyone, but as I explained over the phone, Betty was on leave just prior to Christmas & Connie & I were unable to get off camp for about a fortnight to do any shopping at all. So that’s partly why I rang up to wish you a happy Christmas.

Very many thanks to you & Daddy for the pants, which are extremely welcome indeed – & very pretty (admired by the other girls). Please thank Rose for her nice presents – [underlined] especially [/underlined] the calendar, which I think is very nice indeed, & admired by all. I shall be writing to Rose anon.

Shall I tell you my Christmas activities? – first I must tell you the sad news that our crew – that is Pete, Gerry, Al, Casey, Mac, & the Flight Engineer & their new bombaimer, are missing. Lou Neilly flew up here to tell us the news – he had promised to let us know immediately if anything happened to the crew. You remember I said Lou went straight to P.F.F. from the end of his first tour of ops.

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& he is stationed at the same airfield as our crew. Also the last Station Commander here knew us quite well & he also knew we were great friends with the boys – he is now in charge of their squadron (the Squadron Commander of Pathfinder Squadrons are Group Captains, not just Wing Commanders). So he also has promised to let us know any gen. without delay. So we hope very much to hear soon that [2 deleted words][inserted] the [/inserted] crew have found their way back to Allied territory. If they are alive I’m sure they’d never get caught – they would have too much cheek! I can’t tell[deleted]ing[/deleted] [inserted] you [/inserted] when they where [sic] missing – catch me giving the Hun a chance to find out anything of their whereabouts – if anyone read this who shouldn’t!

The day I rang you – the Saturday before Christmas Day – I said we were having a party that night. It was simply wizard – we all dressed up in civilian clothes & had lots to eat & drink, a gramophone, & the mess was effectively decorated with a Christmas tree, our guests’ names in silver paper pinned on our dark blue curtains, [sketch] & fairy lights & candles in beer bottles instead of ordinary electric light. [sketch] fairy lights.

We had a homemade Christmas cake made by one of the cooks, some Chees [sic] straws, sausage rolls, dainty little iced cakes, some oranges, lots of chocolate biscuits, & 2 Canadian boxes of chocolates & numerous packets of cigarettes of the Canadian variety. To drink we had 3 bottles of Vat 69, 1 1/2 bottles of gin, 1 bottle of sherry, & 3 crates of beer. We had about 17 guests (there were 17 of us), & the Group Captain was very frustrated because he

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[missing words]
Captain was very frustrated because he wasn’t asked – he always enjoys himself when he comes up to our mess. We had the station photographer in – he took quite a number of wizard pictures – of which I am getting copies (maybe not for some time as they have difficulty in getting the printing paper). In the end we all went & changed into slacks – we were afraid of ruining our precious stockings. I was supposed to be on duty, but managed to get off till the end of the party, when Joe & Mac brought me back to Flying Control in’t Flight van.

Previous to this party – i.e. on the the [sic] Tuesday before, we had a big WAAF dance in the WAAF mess – we entertained the “Groupies” & some odd “Wingcos” & the like. We couldn’t get any bottled beer for them so we got some draught beer “in’t tookit” (in bucket) – rather squalid, actually, but no one seemed to mind. The WAAF officers stayed for some time after the end of the dance, then went. We had a little dance of our own after that, & Jack Creeper played the piano. Then we made mountains of toast & coffee & all sat on’t floor (including the C.O.) & sang carols in the firelight – it was simply wizard.

On Christmas Eve [deleted] Joe & Ma [/deleted] we had our Christmas goose, given by S/L Kyles (the watchkeepers’ boss) in the mess along with some port & also some gin, & afterwards some tasty Christmas pud. Then Mac & Joe (gunnery leader & flight commander of one of our squadrons respectively) took Joan (a tall, dark, lovely M.T. Sgt.) & myself out for a drink, then we all went to Canada House (the Canadian YMCA club on the camp) to the carol singing there, then up to our mess for coffee & toast again.

On Christmas morning all Senior N.C.O.s were invited to the officers’ mess for drinks. Joe & Mac collected us from the mess at about 11 o’clock & we had a wonderful reception at the officers’ mess – they were

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all waiting for us. We had songs round the piano, then Lou Neilly turned up, so we decided to have a party for him that evening. Betty & I had our Christmas dinner with the aircrew Sgts. at 1200 hrs. – very nice indeed – then we repaired to the Mail [sic] Sgts’ mess for a little while & then, exhausted & horribly overfed, retired to our mess. However there was no rest for me – I had to organise some beer for that evening (the NAAFI let us down completely over Christmas – they had no bottled beer whatsoever) – it was was [sic] a proper job. Joe & Mac took me to the Sgts’ mess & we made a clandestine & deceitful arrangement with the bartender. We took the jeep round the [underlined] back [/underlined] of the mess & had our [underlined] tea urn [/underlined] filled with beer (of which word I had now become heartily sick). That evening everyone was so fair wore [sic] out that only a 1/4 of the somewhat revolting beer was drunk, & our usual[deleted]l[/deleted] witty & scintillating conversation was sadly lacking. I enjoyed myself not one bit, unfortunately – I would so have enjoyed being at home with the family that evening.

The sight of Mac (the Gunnery Fl/Lt. one) arriving outside our mess on Christmas afternoon [inserted] in a Jeep [/inserted] with a large turkey bone in one hand & 1/2 a glass of beer in t’other – was something I shall always remember about Christmas ’44!

On Boxing Night I was on night duty – Mac came up to fetch me & walk down to F/Control with me. Thank goodness for being on duty, too! And I was pretty busy also.

On the 27th Mac, Joe & Jack Creeper took Joan, Sylvia (a fairly new watchkeeper) & myself to North. A. to a turkey dinner at the Golden Lion. We had some [underlined] Pimm’s [/underlined] too! – very rare & wonderful these days (& to our horror we found afterwards that the boys had paid 5/- each for them! awful)

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That night was [underlined] very [/underlined] eventful indeed, but I can’t very well tell you in a letter; not yet anyway! Please do remind me to tell you what transpired when we got back from North A., when I come on leave – at the end of this month, I hope. The events were both exciting, horrifying, amusing & extraordinary.

On the 28th I was on night duty – fairly uneventful. Next day Betty, Joan, & I went with Mac, Joe, & Pop Lawler (a S/Ldr flight commander of the other squadron here) to an officers’ mess dance at Skipton-on-Swale – which is a satellite station to us. Of course we had to go in civilian clothes, as W.A.A.Fs are not any account allowed to attend dances at an Officers’ Mess. We called at 2 pubs on the way & had gin & peppermint (very tasty) amongst other things. We took blankets in the van to keep us warm – it was proper freezing in my black frock & a borrowed (very warm but short) grey fluffy coat & borrowed gloves & handbag. At our last port of call the [underlined] van was stolen [/underlined]!!! Horrors! Luckily Pop had been stationed at Skipton & was well known & liked there, so he rang & wangled transport. We got to Skipton late, of course, owing to this business, & the party was in full swing. As soon as Pop opened the door, there was a wild yell of welcome from at least 12 people – he was borne away within a few seconds! The American band was very good – & the food was marvellous – laid out in buffet fashion on an enormous table. There was turkey, ham, stuffing, pork, Salad, trifles etc. & coffee on another table. It was very cold – I shall have to try & wangle some coupons & get a woolly afternoon frock, as my black frock (which everyone admires) is a bit chilly. Joe says he’ll give me a few

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(I hope he remembers!). the Group Captain from here was present – he saw us & laughed ‘earty like (he’s a [underlined] good type [/underlined]!) – & the Air Commodore was also there, but I don’t think he saw us. By the way, the S.P.s found our van outside the Sgts’ Mess at Skipton! – were we relieved! We got back here at about 2.30 a.m., had some coffee, then went to our respective boudoirs, weary, but content (as they say!).

On New Years Eve, Mac, Joe, Jack, Joan, Sylvia, & I went to ‘Jock[insert]s[/insert]’ for supper then we (the girls) went to the Sgts’ mess dance & the boys to the officers’ mess party (very squalid, they said). The noise in the Sgt’s mess was too much for us, so we soon left. I went to my bunk to change into slacks, & fell asleep on’t bed, & awakened at the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” issuing from our Mess – Mac, Joe, Jack, Dick & Frank were seeing the New Year in with us. Ee I was peeved I missed it! Well, I enjoyed myself very much, but we didn’t break up the party until rather late, so I decided it would be fatal to go to bed for so short a time, & had a bath for about 1 1/2 hrs. to wake myself up – I was due on duty at 0830 hrs., you see, so for once I was in plenty of time for breakfast. I was on duty that night, but luckily got a fairly decent sleep.

Yesterday afternoon, Mac came up for a cup of tea, & also Joe a bit later, & we also had toast, the rest of the Christmas cake, & some toasted marshmallows which Mac gave me. They also came up for a little while in the evening.

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This evening Joan, Joe, Mac & I are going to “Jock’s” for supper – the boys are calling for me in a minute, so I’d better finish this before anyone realises what a long piece of teleprinter roll I have used.

My very best love to the family. Look after yourself.

Your very affectionate

[underlined] Dorter [/underlined]

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893742 SGT B RRY C G.

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[photograph] [photograph]Wanted Dead or Alive




C G Barry, “Letter from C G Barry to her mother and photographs,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 25, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/37084.

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