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> Grandads War Letters From Glasgow, Secret in September 1941
**Doris**
post 17th Jun 2012, 08:18pm
Post #1






I have got quite a few letters which my Grandad wrote to my Gran during WW2. My Grandad was a Dutchman, living in Yorkshire when war broke out. He joined the Royal Dutch Army in 1940 and trained as a gunner. Although he was posted at Wolverhampton for several months training etc, he sent some letters and postcards from Gourock, Greenock and Glasgow, dated around the 4th,5th and 6th of September 1941. He wrote about there being a lot of battleships and Navy and (his words, not mine) a lot of flying brats from the USA. Also he wrote that he was not allowed to say what was going on but will let on when he gets his next leave. Within a few days he was back at Wolverhampton.

Then in March 1942 he again sent a postcard from Gourock, this one saying farwell, he would be sailing any time and didn't know when he would be home again.

Although he did return home a few times, my Grandads ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic in November 1942, all crew lost. My Dad was born 4 months later.

So, I would like to know if anyone has any idea what could have been such a secret in September 1941 in or around that area. Thanks to anyone who may have any info of around that time.
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DannyH
post 29th Apr 2014, 11:07pm
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Hello Doris

I was only 8 when World War II broke out, but I can assure you there was nothing unique about the secrecy your Grandfather encountered in the area he was in. It was everywhere.

There were slogans on posters, and in newspapers, and on the radio, instilling into everyones mind that secrecy was of the utmost.

One of the posters depicted a spy with his head against a wall. On the other side of the wall, some people were speaking. The slogan was, "Walls have ears".

When letters were posted from anywhere outside Britain, to a British address, or when letters were posted to Britain from anywhere in the world, they were all censured. An army of censors were employed to read every letter. Their job was to cut out anything that they considered to be of use to the enemy.

I was evacuated to Canada during the war, and I know from personal experience that some of the mail I received from my parents had pieces missing. The 'offending' words had been cut out. All of this took time, which added to the timescale a letter was posted until it arrived at its destination. In my case it took about a month for a letter to reach me in Canada. Christmas cards had to be posted very early!

It must have been annoying for men and women in the Armed Forces to know that their most intimate correspondence to their loved ones, would ben read by these strangers. Similarly, for the wives and sweathearts of those in the Armed Forces who wrote to their loved ones serving abroad.

One of the reasons for the secrecy was that the German U-boats were waiting out in the Atlantic for the Allied merchant ships convoys. Anything to prevent the Germans getting advanced knowledge of of these convoys sailing times was considered worthwhile. Sadly many many ships were torpedoed .
The Germans knew that many of the ships would have to sail close to the North of Northern Ireland.

I probably haven't answered you question, but I hope that I have made you aware that the secrecy surrounding the area your Granfather was in, was not unique. I note you said her was a gunner in the army. As it was 1942, there would be no Allied troops going to to Europe to fight. Do you know anything regarding the reason he was on the ship? Do you know the name of the ship?

Because I saw at first hand the atrocious conditions the merchant fleet and the Royal Navy personell had to endure plus the U-boats, I have always felt these people have never been fully recognised for what they did for us during the war.

In closing, I would like to express my sorrow on learning of your Grandfather's death during this conflict.

Regards

Danny Harris
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Doug1
post 30th Apr 2014, 04:29pm
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Hi Doris

I think Danny is right in what he says. In the early 40's the war wasn't going well for us with submarine attacks on our merchant fleets etc. It was ingrained into everyone to be vigilant and not to discuss troop or ship movements and of course those in the armed services were under special secrecy orders and as Danny said all mail was censored. It was sad to hear that your grandfather didn't make it home. Treasure his letters.

Doug


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ave got my opinion as well
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wellfield
post 30th Apr 2014, 07:47pm
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Enjoyed the above stories!....had to laugh at what Doris's Grandpa said...'American brats have arrived!....lol.....nylons,candy,chewing gum and bags o' money.....look out ladies!
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*TAlly Rand*
post 2nd May 2014, 11:57pm
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QUOTE (*Doris* @ 17th Jun 2012, 08:35pm) *
I have got quite a few letters which my Grandad wrote to my Gran during WW2. My Grandad was a Dutchman, living in Yorkshire when war broke out. He joined the Royal Dutch Army in 1940 and trained as a gunner. Although he was posted at Wolverhampton for several months training etc, he sent some letters and postcards from Gourock, Greenock and Glasgow, dated around the 4th,5th and 6th of September 1941. He wrote about there being a lot of battleships and Navy and (his words, not mine) a lot of flying brats from the USA. Also he wrote that he was not allowed to say what was going on but will let on when he gets his next leave. Within a few days he was back at Wolverhampton.

Then in March 1942 he again sent a postcard from Gourock, this one saying farwell, he would be sailing any time and didn't know when he would be home again.

Although he did return home a few times, my Grandads ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic in November 1942, all crew lost. My Dad was born 4 months later.

So, I would like to know if anyone has any idea what could have been such a secret in September 1941 in or around that area. Thanks to anyone who may have any info of around that time.

The W.S. convoys (Winston Special) often would leave from the tail of the bank. These convoys would proceed in great secrecy to their destinations in South Africa in order to avoid "U boats etc. It sounds as if your grandfather may have been a gunner on one of these ships as many were " Defensively Armed Merchant men" and under R.N. supervision some even having army gunners, as well as navy, on board.
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