April 18 1940

The previous letter that Bobby Sheedy wrote to Cynthia, his childhood friend and neighbour, came from the Plymouth area in the summer of 1939 where he was in training for the war which was declared in September. The British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) was sent to France, but nothing much happened during the Phoney War period. (A certain tone of frustration can be heard in Bobby’s letter, writing being very difficult when censorship forbade so many ordinary topics.) In May 1940, however, the attack they had prepared for came, France fell, and the B.E.F. retreated to Dunkirk. The story of the evacuation is well known, more than 80% of the B.E.F. was rescued.

Note the stamp, Passed by the Censor he was so rude about!

No 2363483. Sigmn J. R. Sheedy 4UA.A. Brig HQ Sigs, B.E.F.


Dear Cynthia,

Forgive the foul scrawl in pencil, but the ink or l’encre has given out, and Woolworth’s have not as yet opened a branch in this god-forsaken joint.

What I can tell you Lord only knows as the bloody- ‘tut tut’ blue pencil, please!- censorship allows nothing to pass.  Even small talk about the weather is forbidden in case the Germans read between the lines.

I imagine the censor as a small, weedy, Old Bill moustached gent with a low mind.  A sort of frock-coated Mrs Grundy if you see what I mean.

I can understand certain aspects of this blue-pencil business, but some of the forbidden information is just bureaucratic.  One must not describe one’s billets (personally I haven’t sufficient imagination), also conversation  about food is taboo (ditto-ditto).  This cannot serve any useful purpose as men on leave give adequate information about both the above.

Change of Subject

I’m glad you missed our pleasant society at Warkworth, but maybe the R.A.F. came up to scratch, or did they?

From reports from my local correspondent, I gather that “Rolling Stone Ewing alias ‘Gordon the Con-man’ is setting out once more for distant lands.  When I return on leave I expect to see ’95’ festooned with tiger skins, elephant tusks, stuffed tadpoles and all other types of hunting trophy.

Note “when I return on leave”.  If it’s September I will be lucky unless Adolf kicks the bucket before that.

Apropos of nothing, it’s getting helluva cold here, (where I’m writing) so I’ll leave you.

Before I forget did I tell you I love you?  No!  Well I do.  It occurred to me one cold night when on guard, providing comforting warmth.

Au revoir,


P.S. I am not drunk.

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