Topic: McCauley Letters to New Zealand from Wartime Britain (1938-1948) by Debbie McCauley

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During World War II John Glen McCauley and his wife Joan Dorothy McCauley wrote a series of letters to John's older sister Hazel Emily Anderson (nee McCauley) who lived at the time in Wellington and then Wanganui. John Glen McCauley's father was George Thomas McCauley who was born in Katikati. Since Hazel's death in 1990 the collection, which consists of over thirty letters, has been preserved by her daughter Patricia (Trish) Rae Bowden (nee Anderson). They are reproduced here with her permission - Debbie McCauley (2013).

John Glen McCauley and Joan Dorothy Harvey (1938)

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22 January 1938: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel on the day of her wedding to Eric Robert Anderson (1909-1967). He tells her of the snow falling in London, the rush of life there, a trip to Liverpool, the Mersey Tunnel, London's tubes and the dogs of London.

25 June 1938: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about a little car he bought and is doing up, a Whitsun holiday to Salisbury, Exeter, Bristol and Bath which resulted in sunburn, a lodge meeting, how full of wonders London is, how Lever Brother's has over 4,000 employees in the building where Joan works as well as it's own park and sports teams plus a controlling interest in West Africa, and hopes of a holiday in Scotland.

19 October 1938: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel expressing his shock after receiving the cable telling him of their father's death. He mentions the arrival in London of L. G. Westwood [Westie], a visit to the Lodge Temple, Buckingham Palace, a possible car buying and shipping to New Zealand venture, the murderous fog and a trip to Scotland where he heard Gracie Fields and was unimpressed with the belching smoke of the Midlands.

20 November 1938: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel after receiving the newspaper cutting describing his father's death in Inglewood, New Zealand. Despite an attempt to escape, George was trapped in his blazing cottage and burnt to death in the fire.

4 January 1939: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about the bleak winter, playing rugby in 2°, the poverty of the East End, Westie who is off to the Coast, their father's funeral as well as his will and mill, and the possibility of purchasing a car.

11 May 1939: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about an International Friends League meeting, a visit to Newcastle, Scotland, Middleborough, Alnwick and Sunderland, tells her that business isn't going well, how pretty England is staring to look, how he misses Katikati, a visit to the Coliseum, and seeing Elsie and Doris Waters.

8 June 1939: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley [This letter is missing pages 1 & 2 but from its contents the date is estimated at 8 June 1939]. In which John writes Hazel about Jimmie Adcock, London's thousands of Scottie dogs, a possible trip to the Continent, a visit by Gordon Saunders who is in the RAF (John comments 'its time Hitler was stopped' but is unsure what to sign up for), Trevor Bellringer's return from South America, Duffy teaching English in Düsseldorf, a possible holiday taking a tramp steamer, an offer to send Hazel a car in place of money owed and Westie's unhappiness on the Gold Coast in West Africa.

5 July 1939: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about Stan White, Katikati news, Hazel's idea of moving to England or getting a job, a Whitsun trip with Trevor Bellringer to Cornwall, North Devon, Stonehenge, Dartmoor, Tintagel, and another trip to Rutland and Whipsnade Zoo.

GERMANY IN AUGUST 1939 by Joan Dorothy McCauley  On Friday, August 4, three young former New Plymouth residents were at Berlin in the course of a 3000-mile tour of Europe by car. They found the people looking very healthy, received the impression that there was no shortage of the necessities of life and nowhere did they see any desire for war, although uniforms and army vehicles abounded. The story of a trip that embraced France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy and Switzerland is told in a letter received at New Plymouth from Mrs. Joan McCauley, formerly Miss Joan Harvey, who made the trip with her husband and Mr. Trevor Bellringer, son of Mr. and Mrs. F. T. Bellringer, New Plymouth. This article appeared  in the Taranaki Daily News on 13 September 1939 (p. 6).

13 November 1939: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about Gordon Saunders who is paying a visit, the New Zealand Anti-Tank Unit, friends Trevor Bellringer and Geoff Amoore who have gone to camp, his new job at the A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions), the ultimation delivered to Germany, traffic chaos, Britain's declaration of War, black out hour, Muv and Westie.

8 January 1940: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about his longing for a New Zealand Christmas, the letters from their last trip, Joan's letter which was published in the Taranaki Daily News on 13 September 1939 (p. 6) and the start of food rationing.

9 July 1940: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy McCauley In which Joan writes Hazel about John who is swotting for his pilot's exams at Uxbridge, in training and was working on London's A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) before signing up. She also mentions the engagement of their friend Gordon Saunders to Gwen and seeing the ANZACs in London.

11 November 1940: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about being sent to a Cambridge station after being chucked out of the flying course, a 48 hours pass he recently had in Uppingham, the shock of experiencing London's bombing and its aftermath, how Lever Bros have provided other accommodations for its employees needing a break from the bombing, their friend Gordon who is missing-in-action, worries about unpaid rent from his property and money he owes, the restrictions of service life and how Joan's wages keep them afloat.

28 November 1940: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about his concern for Muv's health, his war job, Andy's job, a Mrs Rickard who has cancer, the Xmas cake Hazel sent over, the impossibility of making or buying nice cake in England, the rise in food prices, W.A.A.F.'s, their Xmas, his wages, and expectations of another invasion attempt.

14 December 1940: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about all the letters he has received, Quit's photo, butter rationing and the substitution of mayonnaise, a cake from New Zealand that will hopefully survive Hitler's torpedoes, leave over Xmas, a visit by a New Zealand Squadron, Lever Brothers donation for fighters and a bomber and a rugby match between New Zealand and the Welsh Guards.

6 May 1941: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about their siblings Quita and Rae, Unc's retirement, Muv's operation, his Katikati property and insurance, a fruit cake, Andy's involvement in his father's furniture business and the lack of news from friends Harold Morey, Trevor Bellringer and Westie.

2 October 1941: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy McCauley In which Joan writes Hazel to congratulate her on being pregnant and talks about rationing, English clothing, the price of food, a friend who has been declared missing in action, another who has joined the RAF, the damp weather and John's visits.

27 November 1941: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about the death of Muv and what Bill is to do, Joan's operation, the scrap in Libya in which New Zealanders are featuring in the national headlines and parcels that Hazel has sent to London.

2 March 1942: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy McCauley In which Joan writes Hazel about her baby which is due soon, John who has suffered from the 'flu and is making a rug as well as trying to get back his ability to play the cornet, rationing, a freezing cold winter in London, cakes from New Zealand, friends who are serving in World War II and her decision to leave Levers to work at New Zealand House in London.

5 March 1942: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about returning to London, ANZAC volunteers, his 8 days in hospital, letters from Westie and Quita, Joan's upcoming job at New Zealand House, playing the cornet, Joan's treatment after her operation, information about Harold Morey, money John owes to his sisters, Hazel's loneliness now Muv is gone and his hope that her baby arrives soon.

8 August 1942: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley In which John writes Hazel about photographs that have arrived of her son, his new Godfather status, Andy volunteering as a Chemist, a letter from Bill, his long and grueling hours, a visit from Frank Gray, the people Joan meets working at New Zealand House, flying a Master and a Tiger, his fathers estate, playing the cornet in church and his shoulder problems as the result of a torn ligament.

1 December 1942: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy McCauley In which Joan writes Hazel about letters from Henry Ellis, how bonny Hazel's new son is and the lack of wool to knit him a pram set, Quita's engagement, John's boredom and a week's holiday they had together, the snores that plagued her on the train home, and the soul-destroying winter climate of London.

5 December 1942: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley John Glen McCauley's last letter to his sister before his disappearance. In which John writes Hazel about his cracked rib, his status as a Pilot Officer, his damp bedroom in a little country pub, letters that go missing, the Katikati property and being godfather to Hazel's son Robert.

14 December 1942: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy McCauley In which Joan writes Hazel about John's posting to the Mediterranean and the fact that they won't be together for Christmas.

22 February 1943: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy McCauley In which Joan writes Hazel about John who hasn't been heard of since his plane departed for Gibraltar on 19 December 1942. She writes about her search for information about John's disappearance saying 'to me life without John would be hopeless'.

15 March 1943: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy McCauley In which Joan writes Hazel three months after John's disappearance about unofficial reports of tank trouble with converted transport planes of the type that John was aboard.

6 May 1943: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy McCauley In which Joan writes Hazel about the bodies of two men recovered from the plane John was flying in and says that 'the position is as black as it could be'.

6 June 1943: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy McCauley In which Joan writes Hazel about the recovery of another body near Cherbourg, France, as reported by the International Red Cross, about John's cracked rib from rugby playing, his friends in England who are also anxiously awaiting news, and a friend called Margaret Wynyard who has been giving her support during her periods of black depression.

6 September 1943: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy McCauley In which Joan writes Hazel about the four bodies that have now been recovered, encloses a snap of John, and says that 'there isn't a hope in the world left now'.

2 July 1944: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy McCauley In which Joan writes Hazel inquiring after her new baby girl, and telling about the Doodlebug's that are hitting London, a friend missing-in-action, property in Katikati, the amount of unmarried girls around London, keeping away from windows when bombs are flying overhead, those who are sheltering in the underground and Harold Morey who has joined Toc H.

17 November 1944: To Hazel from Joan Dorothy Wallis In which Joan writes Hazel about her remarriage to Bob Wallis from Auckland who is in the Merchant Navy, the sporadic shelling in London and working at the New Zealand Club.

4 December 1945: To Hazel from the Minister of Defence In which the Minister of Defence responds to Hazel's query about reports of a Pilot Officer J.G. McCauley being released from a Prisoner of War Camp in Poland, promising to make further inquires.

4 August 1948: To Hazel from the Air Department In which Hazel receives a letter from the Air Department describing the circumstances of John's disappearance and concluding that he lost his life at sea.

This page was archived at perma cc May 2017 https://perma.cc/u5vr-z8h2

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McCauley Letters to New Zealand from Wartime Britain (1938-1948) by Debbie McCauley


Year:1945, 1948, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, and 1944
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McCauley Letters to New Zealand from Wartime Britain (1938-1948) by Debbie McCauley by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga City Libraries) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License