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Letter : Sicily — the British Invader

by Etters

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Allan Stoddart
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
30 November 2005

Guide issued to Allan Stoddart at the time of the landings on Sicily.


My uncle, Allan Stoddart died in 2004 leaving a widow, Jean with many happy memories and a collection of war time letters he had written, some photographs, diaries and memorabilia. Allan had wanted to tell his story and maybe he did tell some of it but it was never recorded. Jean has given me his letters and so far I have transcribed those written to my parents, Florence and Bill and a few to Allan’s mother. Using extracts from some of the letters, photographs and memorabilia and information from diaries, a small glimpse of his story is now told. Jean and I understand the site’s terms and conditions.

Allan enlisted in Dundee in January 1940 and was UK based until he sailed on the troop ship, S.S. Almanzora with the 5th Division Signals to India in March 1942. Over the next 3 years, the war took him from India to Iraq, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Sicily (landings), Italy (including Anzio), Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Palestine, Italy, Palestine, Italy, (home leave), Belgium, Germany. The 5th Division moved about so much they were nicknamed the “Cooks Tour Mob”.

This Letter

In this letter to my parents, Allan is in Sicily. His diary entry for the 10 July 1943 says “Landed in Sicily. Busy”


Sigmn Stoddart A
“A” Section,
No.1 Company,
5th British Div. Signals,

23 July 1943

Dear Florence and Bill,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I have written home once or twice since arriving here and in my letters described as far as possible the nature of the country and people. I don’t want to repeat myself and there is not much I can add to what is already said. I guess you will be “listening-in” to the B.B.C. and picking up all the news. I like to listen in myself when possible, although as you will understand, as far as obtaining information on events here is concerned, it is not absolutely necessary.
I had no idea until very recently that Sicily was so large an island. According to the text books it covers an area about the size of Wales.
The people as I have remarked are friendly and the British soldier from what I’ve observed of a kind disposition. I’ve seen a few bars of chocolate given away to the local kids and a few fags bestowed upon their parents. And if what I’ve seen be any criterion then civilian populations have little to fear from any British invader.
The climate is perhaps closer to our own, than any that I have yet experienced. It is like living in a perpetual heat-wave at home and it is a dry heat. I believe I must be growing quite tanned. In the evenings it grows quite cool but not to the extreme experienced in Persia or Iraq nor is it so “sticky” at nights as in India. On the whole, not a bad climate at all. But again, according to the text books it is not a healthy climate. The natives are inured and immune from the various diseases which can be contracted, but not so “they say” are we. Certainly, “the mossies” come out in force at night and flies as usual are in regular attendance during the day. The flies seem to enjoy human flesh. They bite like hell at times.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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