Letter from F Harrison to Kathleen



Letter from F Harrison to Kathleen


Thanks her for letter and postal order but asks her not to send any more money as he had a high rate of pay. Mentions military events of last year and describes Christmas in the desert which was a great success. Wonders when the war would end and philosophises about war in general. Discusses happiness and sorrow in life. Relates his activities on recent leave. Mentions ATS group and cinema. Writes about his compatriots and catches up with news of friends. Concludes with mention of weather.




Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage




Six-page handwritten letter


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L/Sgt Harrison. F. 1483.
C. Troop 25 BTY
4TH FLD Regt.
N.Z. Artillery.
1st Echelon.
Middle East Forces.

FEB 2am [sic] /41

Dear Kathleen.

Many apologies for not repiling [sic] to your welcome letter of [blank] received Dec 20TH with enclosed Postal Order. I really do appreciate your newsy & interesting letters – but I will come over and put you accross [sic] my knee if you send any more P.O.s, and believe me I have a fairly heavy hand which will make your tender spots tinkle so take warning!.

Seriously Kath I wish you would not send the P.Os, firstly because I am quite convinced that the cost of living etc does not warrant you people at Home sending money out here. Secondly we N.2’s have been dubbed milionare [sic] soldiers by the less fortunatly [sic] paid Tommy on account of our really high rate of pay, as a matter of fact, it is rather dangerous having too much money out here in the ‘blue’ as beer is [deleted] the [/deleted] about the only thing that we can spend any large amount on, so if I take to drink I will declare you to be the cause of the downfall!.

As an afterthough [sic] please do not think all this merely a reflection of stubborn pride as I can assure you that if the occassion [sic] arises that I need anything I will have no hesitation in requesting your help. Now that the lecture is over I will attempt to fill in a couple of pages with more interesting copy.

It is now history that the British Forces out here gave Musso’ a nasty headache round about Xmas & New Year. The official reports were not exaggarated [sic] the Cities at Sidi-Bardam, Solloum, Bardia etc were completly [sic]

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routed, the only snag in the whole business was the fact that we (our unit) cannot claim the honour of being in the scrap, our boldest efforts being confined (much to our dissappointment [sic]) to bringing supplies for the Aussies who did such mavellous [sic] work, however I suppose our day will come so here’s hoping.

Xmas out in the desert was a unique experience, one was only aware of the fact that it was Xmas by reason of the many parties consisting of singsongs & fellows consuming larger quanities [sic] of alchol [sic] than usual (I must confess that I got quite giddy on Xmas Eve!) I believe that the sucesses [sic] out here were a nice Xmas box to the people at home who have (and still are) putting up with the wartime conditions day after day week after week, wondering when the whole wrecthed [sic] thing will end. We are sometimes apt to get the same feeling our main thoughts being the wish to get into the thing and get it over, but we are consoled by the confidence that there can only be one ending and that after all what does time matter so long as we have the knowledge that we are determined to see things put right and oppression wiped out. We apt to be selfish sometimes and get the false notion that we (I refer now to the present generation of the Empire as a whole) are making magnificent sacrifices etc to the world, when actually what we are doing is merely paying a small portion of the price of mankinds privilege to run his own world (a thing which he obviously cannot do sucessfully [sic]) a few thousand lives (perhaps millions) will be brought to an abrupt end, a whole generation will have to suffer, some more than others, a host of peace societies will come into being, nations will mourn their losses profiteers will reap a rich harvest, decorated hero’s [sic] will fade from public mind and left to earn their own way in a relentless

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world, wealth & poverty, happiness & sorrow, love & hate, will all play their parts in the future as was theirs in the past, there will be more wars, fresh horrows, [sic] new death-dealing devices and the old story will be retold. In spite of all these things mankind will still exist, it is no new thing this war business it simple progresses & increases its diminsions [sic] in scale with all other things, e.g. populations, standard of living, knowledge etc.. Ask any person to examine carefully the happy moments of their life and then set them against the moments of sorrow (ask yourself first!) and in 99 percent of the cases the assets easily outstrip the libilities, [sic] actually the fact is that one [inserted] is [/inserted] only aware of distressing times when something happens that is out of the usual run of things proving therefore that ones sometimes seemingly sordid existence must be reasonably happy! Another point worth considering is that the mass of people who claim to be fighting & striving for something worth while (this applies to enemy & friend alike) could make this world a marvelous [sic] one if they would try more to uphold their principle in life. It’s amazing but nevertheless true that “It is easier to fight for a principle than live up to it”!

The further I get into this business the more confused I am getting so to give a brief idea of what I am getting at I will close by the quotation “that it matters not how long you live but rather how you live” I’m afraid that I fell down badly on the exactness of the quotation but I guess you will get the idea of the thing.

To get back to earth again Cairo is still the same old city of magnificent buildings, filthy hovels, modern traffic jams, crowded camel & ass sidestreets, fussy but well

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[deleted] old dow [/deleted] meaning wives of respected white society people, and of course the ever present hordes of loose women (white black & yellow, & brown) plying their infamous trade (hope I am not being too vivid in my description) All of which goes to make the most famous and largest of near Eastern cities a hive of interest even to a veterern [sic] of 12 months [indecipherable word]!

By the way I should mention that I have had a spot of leave since commencing this letter. The town was crowded as usual with uniforms etc there being an addition to familier [sic] ones of the services, in the form of a A.T.S. group we saw in town the first A.T.S. girl I have seen. After a spot of shopping we (my companion was a chap with whom I was chummy in N.Z he came out in a later draft) had a good “tuck in” at one of the really decent restruants [sic] that is to be found in town. The main streets were thronged with thousands of soldiers by this time so we grabbed a gharry (open carriage drawn by two horses) which by the way are much more pleasanter to ride in than the taxis, and managed to get ourselves a couple of seats in one of the cinemas. It was a pretty good show there being two pictures “Goodbye Mr Chips” & “Four Girls in White”. Robert Donat’s acting was wonderful, as was the story, I shall enjoy quite a few good evening if there are many shows as good as that!

We then went to a caberet [sic] for supper, stayed for [deleted] an [/deleted] [inserted] a [/inserted] hour watching the floor show and then returned to camp

I received your parcel containing money belt, wool helmet, pipe, cigarrette [sic] case, etc, I have previously acknowledged a parcel received a fortnight earlier, but I once again express thanks for it & the [deleted] more [/deleted] [inserted] one [/inserted] recently received. How are things in general around the old hometown, I suppose the blackout will be

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most annoying to say the least, however a few more weeks will bring promise of spring and more daylight hours so why worry?

I believe you are becoming a second Lady of the lamp, I hope you will become quite [inserted] an [/inserted] efficent [sic] nurse, then I shall have the utmost confidence in entrusting you with the task of massaging my wooden leg!.

I have met quite a few fellows recently who have just come out from Home, one of [sic] two of them were Northerners, [deleted] and [/deleted] one chap I spoke to came from York consequently he was able to interest me very much in a description of things back home. A lot of them seem quite young (or perhaps its me getting old) still in their teens and not at all downhearted or depressed with the propect [sic] of living out here, which is most admirable, as Egypt is not [deleted] what [/deleted] [inserted] a country [/inserted] one would pick for an ideal home from home.

Have you heard from Ron recently? it is some weeks since I had a line from him, possibly he as moved since I last heard from him.

Please thank Mother & Father for Xmas Card which I received early in Jan, it really was nice [deleted] to [/deleted] of them to send it.

The weather is picking up over here, not before time, as we have had some terrific sandstorms & biting cold winds but the old glass will soon be hitting 100 degrees F again and we will fell quite at home again. In conclusion keep the old chin pretty high and whats more important, help to hold up the chins of others who may cracking under the war strain. All the best wishes for your health, as for myself I am fine never felt better the only trouble I have nowadays is a few bouts of home-sickness me the would be world wanderer! and I might add that

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spite of my enthusiasm for New Zealand it’s the Old Country that calls me the strongest!

I’ll be seeing you

Love Frank X

[symbol] Give it to the Boy-Friend

P.S. I should have mentioned that we are [deleted] not [/deleted] [inserted] now [/inserted] back at Helwan Nr Cairo.

N.B. I have just received your letter with enclosed calender [sic] posted Nov 27.



F Harrison, “Letter from F Harrison to Kathleen,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 17, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/39809.

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