Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Letters from the War front - 22 October 1940 Mrs H Turner

Today's letter is from Mrs H. Turner, Columbo, Sri Lanka, whom Grandpa spent some time with whilst ashore. (refer last post).

I had a giggle myself at the stamp on the envelope "Using less paper saves shipping space". Whilst this was a serious issue at the time, I was wondering how much space could a piece of paper could take up?

Obviously Mrs. Turner was also talented in the artistic department, as this beautiful hand drawn image accompanies the letter. This led me to think how readily available were coloured pencils during 1940?

I have blanked out the actual address of the sender for privacy reasons.


Dear Mrs Holford,
 My daughter and I had the pleasure of meeting your husband when he was in Colombo, & were able to take him and 4 others - Mr Parker, Mr Allen, Mr McLaughlin & Mr Shields for a drive & a swim.

They came to lunch here on 2 days and had curry once, & a lamprey the other time, and seemed to have enjoyed themselves in a quiet way.

They all looked very well, and seemed to like Colombo. I daresay you will hear all about it in due course.

My husband has not returned from England yet, but is on his way. I do wish they could have met him. They have promised to call in on their return, & if you are coming to meet your husband, we shall be so glad to do all we can to help make your visit here a success.

I do hope you will try not to worry, and that this wretched war will soon be over. I have a son, a flight Lieutenant in the Air force at home and its a horrible feeling not to know what is happening. Of course most of my people are in England & my youngest son 16 1/2 is at school here.  I've just had a letter to say he is a messenger boy in the Auxiliary Fire Service for the duration of his summer holidays, & so sometimes on duty all night.  He seems to like the excitement, so I expect he wont want to return to school.

 Well, here's hoping we shall meet one day, with the five men here.  Kindest regards,
from Delia & myself.
Yours sincerely,
Hettie. G. Turner
(Mrs. O. G. Turner).

Letters from the War front 21 October 1940

The fifth letter in this series is rather long, in fact, it is the longest letter that  I have.

"Lomani" means Love in Fijian, a reference to my Grandmothers heritage.

I was fairly young when my Grandfather passed, although I have very distinct memories of the way he spoke, the way he carried himself, and how he conversed with those around him. As I read his words, I can almost feel him standing here in front me. It's quite surreal.

I am fortunate enough to be in possession of a letter from the Mrs. Turner referred to, and will publish this next post. I have to admit if it was me in a strange country, I am not so sure I would be entering the vehicle of a person I did not know - no matter how snazzy it might have been!

Jacaranda's have been a favourite of my mothers, no doubt she gets it from my Grandmother. I have some botanical books that belonged to my Grandma, and I wonder if perhaps some of the love of nature came from the many "samples" gathered by my Grandfather during his travels.

"Ern" is another family member enlisted to the military.

I do wonder how it happened that some men were left behind?!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Letters from the War front 13 October 1940

Today's letter from my Grandpa to my Grandma, needs no transcription as it has been typed and is quite clear to read.

Although it states it is the Fourth Letter, I am not in possession of its predecessors.  Len's records indicate he was on-board the H.M.T. Nieuw Zeeland at the time.

I am rather intrigued about the "life on board" as it was, references to the social life, orchestra's, etc. totally contradict what I had envisioned the social aspects of a military ship during the war to be like. On the flip side, I feel they probably needed as many distractions as they could get, whilst they could get it.

There is a reference in the last paragraph to the "baby coming", I am sad to say that the baby did not make it.
The 4th October also being mentioned was their wedding anniversary. For someone so devoted it must have been exceptionally difficult to be on the other side of the world at this time.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Letters from the war front 10 February 1940

Today I have been busy scanning in my Grandfathers letters, to post here as promised.

Not all of them are marked with a date, however for the most part I will attempt to post them in order. Some of the Envelopes had more than one letter each, and of course there is the possibility that over the years, the letters themselves have been returned to the incorrect envelope.

Appreciate the words and the art, as I do.

"Lomani" is Fijian for Love.

Bill and Pat referred to in the contents, are Cora's brothers. Beat is a reference to Beatrice Holford - Leonards' sister.

The pictures hand-drawn on the front of the envelopes are indicative of the area Len was posted to at the time of writing the letter.

Interestingly the injury Len refers to is not mentioned in the military records I have obtained for him.

 10 February 1940.


Captain L. B. Holford
1 Aust. Corps ??
10 Feb 40

My Sweet Frances,
 You know my Lomani, that I would rather do anything than cause you the slightest pain or worry, that is why I concealed my injury from you. I instructed Pat, who is now L/Cpl Pat, by the way, to let Bill know how things were going so that if the authorities communicated with you he would be in a position to tell you what had happened.

 I miss you so my own, everything is so unreal without you. I lay awake for hours thinking of you, and I seem to sense that you are doing likewise. I wonder if it is telepathy my dear. I really am picking up so there is no need for you to worry. I trust that Mother has recovered by this time, and that Beat is also well again.

 Frances I want you to buy yourself anything you require, do not stint yourself sweetheart, as I cannot be there to purchase these little things for you. I know you so appreciate (?).  Please understand that I am not writing sentimental slush, as I am pouring out my very hearty to you. Through the medium of this pencil.

 I love you with a vigor that is unquenchable; it is over 12 years since we first met, stormy, tempestuous years, but with the golden thread of our mutual love running through them. Darling it is that and that only which has kept me going, given me that tangible something to strive for. I love you deeply as you know my sweet, wait for me, as you are all to me.

 I expect to hear some really good news shortly, the nature of which I cannot impart to you fearing to disapoint you so. As by this time you will have seen the casualty lists, no doubt you realise the loss of so many of my friends is sad, but believe me they will pay tenfold.

 At [crossed out word] (sorry) recently I purchased an exquisite bronze ? priest, it will fit into our Oriental group very effectively. You know doubt will be pleased to hear that your preserved fruit parcel arrived and it's succulent contents were enjoyed to the full. It had ? all over Africa practically and it was a welcome surprise.

  Any reference to the operations here are rapidly censored so that I cannot make any reference to the interesting phases engendered by them.  I still do not wish you to write pending reliable stabilisation of movement. I will let you know immediately this occurs. Keep your chin up. Love to John and Aunty Cora.

With heartfelt affection,
Your adoring husband,

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Letters from the War front - Code

Yesterday I attended a Genealogy conference run by Unlock the Past. The two main speakers were Thomas MacEntee and Chris Payton, who I have to say were brilliant!

I learned a great deal about how to better organise my "Genealogy Toolbox" and "Irish Land Records", and was thoroughly entertained in the process.

I was also very fortunate to be able to spend time with my friend Judy, and a delightful lady from QSA Susan.  During dinner and coffee, I mentioned that I was in possession of some letters written by my Grandfather Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Bernard Holford whilst on location during WWII, to my Grandmother Cora Francesca Holford (nee Bach).  

It is clear that Leonard was totally and utterly devoted to Cora, and the distance between them was an obvious strain whilst he was away.  In the interest of immortalising and preserving their love, I have decided to write a daily post with a photograph and transcription of each of the letters.

The salutation of each letter varies depending on which part of the world Len was in at the time of writing. My Grandmother (Cora) recorded these locations not long before she passed, although there are a couple "in question".

The post for today is the "Code" that was used. I apologise for the rotation of the pic, it simply didnt wish to co-operate