Patrick Joseph Doyle - Rifle Brigade, Eighth Army, North Africa and Italy .
He "was apart from Gran from 1940 to 1947, and was home on leave just a handful of times. I particularly recall two of those occasions, one was when Anne [my Mum's sister] was born in 1943 and he came home to Dublin on compassionate leave as Gran was desperately ill and not expected to live, and the second was when I made my First Holy Communion. On one of those occasions I remember him saying goodbye to Gran, and to Anne and me, early in the morning when the frost was still on the windows, and Gran cried and cried as he left the room with his kitbag over his shoulder. Later I understood that as they said goodbye, there was no guarantee that they would ever see each other again."
"He would have been 27 when he joined the army, and at the height of fighting in 1943, 1944 and 1945 he was 30, 31, and 32."
"Grandad was in the Rifle Brigade with the 8th Army which was headed by Montgomery, and he was present at the Battle of Monte Casino."
Mrs. P.J. Doyle
18 Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin, Eire.
Sender’s Address: 6920752 Pte Doyle, P.J. R.S.Z.A. DET. G.SC. RAOC 5SOD B.NAF.
North Africa Monday, 29th November, 1943
My Dearest Anne,
Arrived safe and sound somewhere in North Africa. Everything is strange and interesting so far. Weather warm. Have written some ordinary letters which are on their way. I probably will not get any from you for some time. I am quite well, and so, if everything is right your end there is no reason to worry, so please don’t. Mail will not be as often as before, but will be as regular as my duties allow. At the moment I am working all night 7 Days a week. The oranges are plentiful. Have become separated from my mate Fred again. I shall probably be moving on from here in due course. My French is improving already. But Arabic except for a couple of phrases is still a closed book. Will write a long letter at weekend, which should reach you around Paddy’s Day – if you are lucky! Give my love to friends and relations, especially Mum, and Dad. You are constantly in my thoughts, and our three stars, which are very brilliant here, is a common bond. I keep praying that you, Joan and Baby Anne are all well. Keep your heart up Sweetheart, like I’m doing, it can’t go on for ever. God Bless you and give you strength and happiness.
Always your ever loving Pat x x x x x x x
Joan x x Anne x x"
"Airmail Letter – 3d. stamp – with an official stamp on the outside saying ‘Released by Censor’.
On the back of the letter, in Paddy Joe’s handwriting he says to the Censor:
I certify on my honour that the contents of this letter refers only to private and family matters.
Addressed to: Miss Joan P. Doyle
18 Shelbourne Road
Ballsbridge, Dublin, Eire
Italy, 28th November 1944.
My Own Darling Mummy, Joan & Anne,
Here comes another Xmas, the fourth that we have missed together. The only one when we were all together, except Baby Anne of course, you were too small to remember, but I remember for you.
I feel for you and Mum, more than I do for myself, cos soldiers must be brave and not care about anything – at least not too much. But while you are enjoying Xmas, as I want you to very much, maybe you would like to know how the little girls and boys here in Italy will spend theirs. Of course they will go to Mass, as they are all very good Catholics, but most of them will go bare footed, or at the best in wooden shoes. But they won’t come home to a nice breakfast and a fire like you will, for you see, laughing eyes, there aren’t any fireplaces in Italian houses, and there is not too much food either. Also there will be a lot of snow, or at least rain to make things worse.
Now in North Africa where I spent last Xmas things will be different. First of all there will be lots of sun – but very little Xmas, as Arabs do not hold Xmas. But ask Mummy to tell you stories, and maybe she will tell you how she and I used to spend Xmas Eve. How I would go out singing hymns to get money for poor children, and when I was finished would visit Mummy in her house and then we would go for walk down the Fort Road (Pigeon Fort Road) and watch the big moon and stars on the water. Or the first present I gave you, Mummy, remember? The manicure set. How bashfully I gave it to you, afraid you would not like it and so proud when you did.
Darling Joan, when you grow older, which won’t be for a long time, I hope you have as much fun and joy as we have had. Anne, the radio is playing, “Together”, followed by “Mean to me”. Can you guess what it’s doing to me? And Baby Anne, sure I scarcely know you, but love you, not more, because in the Magic Four we all love equally. Our first Xmas together I promise you lots of fun and now, my lovely, loved, and loving people, don’t think I shall be far from you at Xmas. Mummy knows I shall walk and talk beside you in spirit.
God Bless you all. Lots of fun and happiness is the wish of your loving Daddy, x x x"
Tuesday, 18th Sept. 1945
Darling Little Laughing Eyes,
When you receive this letter you will be six years of age, P.G. It doesn’t seem such a long time since you were so tiny as to fit comfortably into a small drawer. Many happy returns of your birthday little sweetheart and may all your dreams come through. I am enclosing a little “Ricordo da Roma”, hope you like it.
The country where I am is very beautiful, we are surrounded by forests. Sometimes I go there to sit and think of all the nice times we are all going to have together. If I remain very quiet the little squirrels come chattering down the trees in search of nuts. They are very industrious in laying by a stock of food for the winter and then when the snow comes (it remains on the ground for three to four months, and is higher than your head if you stood on your tip toes), they retire to their little house and sleep all the winter, only waking to have some food and then off to sleep again. Would you like to do that? I know you would love them. They have soft coats of reddish brown fur and a long fluffy tail bigger than themselves, golden bronze in colour. Also there are flocks of birds flying in a wonderful style all through the day. Already I am training some of them to come to my window for crumbs so that when the cruel frost and snow comes they will know where to come for food. The weather is glorious and I am tanned like an Arab (not to be confused with street arabs!).
What new subjects are you learning at school, and are you doing well at them. Are you still with the same nice kind teacher. Have you taught Baby Anne any of the prayers you have been taught. Sometimes I get so lonely for you all that I feel very sad, but then soldiers, just like soldiers daughters, must never get sad over things which can’t be helped.
My hand is still sore so it’s time I gave it a rest. Give my love to your Grand-Dad and Grand-ma, uncles, aunts and cousins. Give Mummy an extra special hug and kiss on your birthday as it’s a big day in her memory too. Tell Anne some nice stories, until I can get home to tell you both some.
God Bless you my little Daughter-Pal.
Heaps of love and kisses from your own
Loving Daddy x x x x x x x x x"
IN FLANDERS' FIELDS the poppies blowBy: Major John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' fields.
The poppy is the recognized symbol of remembrance for war dead in Canada, the countries of the British Commonwealth, and the United States. The flower owes its significance to the poem In Flanders' Fields, written by Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) John McCrae, a doctor with the Canadian Army Medical Corps, in the midst of the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium, in May 1915.
Lest We Forget.
Are you subscribed to the Mungo Says Bah! RSS feed yet? If not - you know what to do...
You can also follow my tweets at @MungoBah