He Will Miss You

“I am sorry indeed to leave London.”


Albert writes on the 3rd of June 1942, ‘very annoyed’ that he will be leaving London soon. And whilst Albert will miss the concerts and the vibrancy of the capital city, I am in no doubt that it is Joyce’s company that he will miss the most.

My mother put this photograph in the album she made of her Mabey family. Joyce did not marry Albert, but she was placed within the album as a homage to how important she was to my Mother’s brother, or could have been had things turned out differently.

Dear All,

I have some news – according to what we have been told we leave here on Saturday for an unknown destination which might be anywhere. I am very annoyed at that as I had promised myself at least a further week & though I get fed up with it, the next place will in all likelihood be worse, and there are so many things that I want to do. I am annoyed about it.

As to actual news, there is little that I can say. Last night we were firewatching and could not go out. There was an air raid warning at about 3.15 or 2.45 am but the all clear went soon after. I half expected a ‘reprisal’ raid on London.

Tonight there is a concert at the Albert Hall but I shall go to Joyce’s instead as time is so short and I have not been there since Saturday.

By the way, I shall probably want my other vests and shirts (RAF) sent along when I arrive at the next place, together with the trousers if they have been done.

I have just been down the road and have come to the conclusion that I am sorry indeed to leave London, as I am just beginning to find my way about & enjoy myself in the evenings if not during the days.

I am afraid I can’t think of anything else to say, except goodbye and love to all from Albert.

We learn in the next letter that Albert gets to spend the Wednesday evening at Joyce’s. In the short time in London he has been a fairly frequent visitor. I can’t help but wonder what Joyce told her ‘young man’ (he of the tank division) of Albert’s visits.

By the time Albert writes this second letter, he knows he is headed for Torquay in Devon, on the South West coast; a seaside resort quite the antithesis of Blackpool.

Albert mentions visiting Teignmouth (pronounced ‘Tinmouth’) as his uncle Jim Mabey lived there and the family visited during the summer holidays. Excepting that, when I looked at the 1939 Census records, I found that my great uncle Jim lived in Dawlish, a smaller town along the same stretch of coastline. His occupation was registered as ‘army clerk’. Jim survived World War 1, whereas his brother Lloyd did not. Jim always looks rather dapper in the photos I have of him. This one was taken in the late 1930s outside the family home at Branstone, Isle of Wight.

Jim Mabey on the right, with his father John Mabey and brother Dick Mabey.

Friday June 5

Dear All, here is a short note before I leave this benighted dump. I am afraid that we have had an awful time the last couple of days, what with inspections and parades and the heat; which is the real London tropical weather. Talking of Hall Road, I shall be glad to get out of it, but sorry to leave London. I have been here a fortnight and have been to the Albert Hall only twice and the Cambridge Theatre not at all, though I did hear Wednesday’s concert over the radio when I went to Joyce’s.

I had a nice quiet evening there on Weds; how sorry I am to leave here. We are officially confined to camp tonight, the night before we leave, but if it is at all possible I shall slip off and pay a farewell visit.

Our destination tomorrow should be Torquay, of which I must make the best, though on the RAF side I understand that it will be a rather bad job. Ron says it is not a bad place at all, but I expect that he would put up with discipline and that sort of thing rather better than I should. One hope is that they will not want us until Monday and I shall be able to push off to Teignmouth for the weekend. I do not know anything else – how long we shall be there, what we shall do, where we shall go afterwards or anything but that the destination is Torquay or thereabouts.

If we are there for 10 weeks it would be worth having the bike sent down. In any case I must have  my map with me. I believe the most suitable ones are a 1 inch of Exeter and a ½ inch of Plymouth and district. There is also a 1 inch of Torquay which was being sold in Teignmouth last summer. I wonder if I could get that still.

Looking in my exposure book I see that the holiday was less than a year ago – but what a long year it has been (the dates were June 16-27).

I have mentioned the heat, and I expect that you are getting it warm and the garden must certainly be doing well now. Of course London heat is worst than most, and in that respect I shall be glad to leave, though there is no prospect of Torquay being much cooler. Someone has had a grain of sense and we are going round in shirt sleeves, but the service trousers are very hot & of the marching pace (same at T), I believe I have already complained.

Many times I could have done with a good draught of Branstone water, the London stuff is very insipid and warmish, and Devon water is just the same!

The parcel arrived yesterday, with the contents intact, and many thanks for the chocolate and the pen (writing this now) etc. I shall send the other pen to Jean when I am able but must warn her that it is liable to let out blobs of ink from time to time. We are now moving to another lot of flats – just for tonight!

I was interested to hear that the primula sikkimensis is in blossom, I expect that the helianthemum will soon be out, and doubtless the tomatoes are by now planted.

Well, I think there is little else to say, and in any event little time to say it, so goodbye for a while and love to all from Albert.

11 thoughts on “He Will Miss You”

  1. I remember the summer holiday with uncle Jim in Dawlish – so perhaps he’d moved to Teignmouth because of the war.
    As Headley House didn’t have piped water, the supply was hand-pumped from the well – hence its special quality!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Albert seems to have done what he could to enjoy London, even of he didn’t get to stay as long as he had hoped. It must have been hard not knowing what to expect once in Tourqay. The poster “sells” it as a wonderful vacation spot, but that was most likely far from what Albert could expect. A lovely read, Louise!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The illustrations really add to the story, especially the photo of Joyce. I like how Albert is so keen on maps (as am I, even in this digital age). Of course , they must have been essential for him, like our cell phones are now!

    Liked by 1 person

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