Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ANZAC Day post - Letter from James Hislop WWII

Last year, I was lucky enough to receive a call from a lady who subsequently sent me the following letter written by Jim Hislop, a second cousin of my grandfather Pat Nidd's on his maternal grandmother's side.  The "Tom", to whom this letter was written to was the lady's father, who passed away in 2006 and who had kept the letter in a drawer until his death.  He gave it to his daughter as she was interested in genealogy and he hoped that she might one day find one of Jim's relatives.  

Before the war Jim Hislop was living in Ponsonby, Auckland and for some time was dating Tom's sister Mary, who later died (hers is the death referred to in the letter).  Apparently Jim, Tom, Mary went around in a large group to dances and the movies prior to the war.  The 'mum' referred to in the letter is Tom and Mary's mother, and the Heather is Tom's eldest daughter - the lady who sent me the letter's eldest sister.  

James Hislop was killed in action on 23 October 1942 at the age of 23.  

38065 Hislop J.L. 

Thursday 11th June 1942

Dear Tom, 

Received your letter about a fortnight ago and I must say the news of Mary's death came to me as a terrible shock.  I just couldn't believe it at first and had to read the letter over several times just to make sure I had got it straight especially the circumstances under which she passed away.

I must say it is all very sad.  It must have cut Mum up very much.  I cabled her immediately I got your letter so I hope she has received it by this time.  the words that I was able to select my message of sympathy from were very limited so I hope it did justice to sentiments and deep sorrow I felt on the occasion.  I am afraid that this sounds like a lot of bull- Tom but I am afraid that I am not too good at this sort of thing and cannot express my feelings well in my own lingo as I would like to. 

Well Tom, we are not in a very much more inhabitable climate in fact as we are well up in the hills, just the bare 7,000 feet up, it is very much like a mild Auckland summer here at present.  I suppose you know by now that we are in Syria and believe me it is quite a change from the stinking heat, sand and flies of Egypt, although we still have the flies and another pest in the form of mosquitos although we are not troubled with  them much up here but I believe they are pretty plentiful down on the flat.  We are pretty well protected from them thought with mosquito nets for our beds and ointment and powders to put on our bare limbs to stop them from biting and at night when we are on guard we have nets which go right over our heads and shoulders and also gauntlets for our hands so it is a very slim chance  that we will get malaria especially if we do as we are told although I must admit that there are very few who do.

I have just this moment received a patriotic parcel from NZ and of all places it came from little old Ponsonby and packed by a Mrs Rowe of Sarsfield St.  I think this is quite a good effort as usually as they are today they come from pats of NZ and this is the first time I have ever got one from Pons. although I got one from Grey Lynn Happiness Club for Christmas.  It just shows how small the world is.  

Well Tom, I must sign off now hopoing you will remember me to all the two families both yours and the (indecipherable).  By the way the beer here is crook at present as the Aussie supply which we used to get is now cut out and so we have only the local brands left and believe you me it is certainly crook.  

Tom they had a raid on Sydney and (indecipherable) the other day.  They certainly are getting cheeky now.  I can see you chaps at home will have to knock them back very smartly so as we can get some decent beer over there.  Tell Jock to take a note of that and see what he can do about it also tell Jock that I am a Tommy Gunner and have been one for the past year including all through the stink and anything he want to know in that time just let me know.

Well Tom I must sign off now and do some work.  Feeling like a ball of muscle with nowhere to bounce.

Yours till Niagra Falls


PS Suppose Heather is getting a big girl now.  

Cenotaph Database
More information about Jim's family is here on this blog.  

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