Evercircular: Wives and Girlfriends

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Whilst the correspondents were all young men the age range varied from those under age waiting call to those who served in the first war; most fell between the ages of 18 – 40.  The desire for female company is assumed in the writing of those correspondents already wed, it is little touched upon by those not yet courting.  This is a public letter and remains well within the limits of polite conversation.

Within the Narvik correspondence female company is only reported within socially accepted norms – a little light innuendo concerning opportunity rather than acts.  The invitation from one Narvik member to another to visit a sister currently in Cairo is accepted as a social politeness to both guest and host as well as a kindness to a soldier far from home. 

The presence of the Padre as a member of the Narvik Patrol letters may have acted as an inhibiting factor in others and the Dunkirk letters are marginally more suggestive.  It is the Padre himself, a married man living with his wife on base, who hints at the attractions of gatherings of young women.  If this was inviting confidences from the young men away from home for the first time the responses were not within these letters.

Wives

Les (Chapman) and Bill Carter earn our congratulations – two more brides to be  Oct 1941

  • Les Chapman married Miss E Mynott in July 1942 (honeymoon in Sidmouth Devon)
  • Westwood Denston wedding c. June 1941     A couple not mentioned elsewhere but important enough for a guest to attempt to hitch a lift on a training flight.

Ken North, who was billeted in a private house, reports in 1941 that he ‘had his wife down with him in June and again in September’.

The Padre’s wife was with him in a relatively static posting in the RAF.  She was reported as ‘far from well’ and we later hear that his planned embarkation was cancelled.  It is not clear if this was his unit or a personal cancellation.  After the war he married a second time.

William Thurbon was married but as he remained in Cambridge there is no occasion for his discussing separation or moving or meeting his wife and she is very little mentioned here except when those on leave visit Bill at home. 

Girlfriends and ‘girlfriends’

Whilst on exercise with the Home Guard on a Girton footpath Tom Germany reports, with a full appreciation of the embarrassment caused, ‘stopping all the sweethearts and inspecting their ID’.

April 1941                   The ARP Cleansing (Clearing?) station ‘is to be a mixed one, the (Commanding?) Gas Officer talks of getting the younger VADs to turn out in their bathing suits for practice’    WTT

July 1941                     Re John Covell ‘how is it among the few abbreviations you do know there appears ‘WVS’. Who is she?’ (Women’s Voluntary Service later WRVS)

November 1941          ‘Stan didn’t seem to manage his fire watching too well, his wife and the Lady Assistant.’

May 1942                    ‘Stan Phillips, on Auxiliary Fire Service duty, was stationed at Girton (Ladies) College.  He wrote ‘It’s all right chaps, it was during the vacation’.

The readers were not to assume that it was not an impromptu dancing competition referred to in the following ‘We have several Brylcreem Boys near us so there is plenty of competition at the dances held in the village’.

The Padre telling of the WAAFs joining his choir, and adding ‘My wife usually comes to choir practice’, a gentle chaperonage for forms sake or to avert the possibility of future ribbing.

Girls

In the notices of her death Kath is referred to as ‘daughter of’ not ‘wife of’ and as such was probably unmarried.  It is clear that she was known to the correspondents as was her relative Harold.  She is not linked in any way to any individual.

Kath Thaxter killed while Fire Watching.  Les Chapman later reports having a long chat with Harold Thaxter and extended sympathies. 1941

Children

The small doings of existing children do not make exciting reading.  New children do and congratulations follow each announcement, fading as the slow circulation of the letter makes the entry ‘old news’.

  • Stan Phillips birth of a daughter June 1942
  • Roland a father Oct 1942       John Alexander

JWR Archivist Sept 2019