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Letter : Monsoon in India

by Etters

Contributed by 
Etters
People in story: 
Allan Stoddart, Wilf Hoare, Sergeant Copeman, Lance Corporal Lawton, Malamed, Mottershead
Location of story: 
Camp near Ranchi, Bihar, India
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A7426578
Contributed on: 
30 November 2005

At the rear of the wireless truck somewhere in India — August 1942 L-R, Rear : Sergeant Copeman, Lance Corporal Lawton L-R, Front: Malamed, Mottershead

Introduction

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 mother, Allan has been in India for just under 2 months and is at a camp near Ranchi in Bihar State, India. His division was to remain at Ranchi until 5 August, after which they travelled via Benares, Agra to Bombay where they sailed on the troop ship S.S. Talma to Basra, Iraq. His diary mentions that their wireless truck broke down in the middle of the bridge over the Ganges at Dehri.

Letter

2332853
Sigmn Stoddart A
“A” Section,
No.1 Company,
5th Div. Signals,
c/o Army Base Post Office,
India

3 July 1942

Dear Florence,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tonight I am writing in our billet. Our billet as I guess you will already know, is a tent and at the moment I can’t see much of it for mosquito nets and also because our oil-lamp is not so good as it might be. It’s raining outside. It’s raining because the monsoons are here, have been here for some time now and will remain here for some time to come. We have worked hard in preparation for the monsoons and now they’ve come, we can sit in our tents and laugh at the rain. But of-course we can’t sit in our tents and laugh at the section-sergeant. It’s not done.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wilf has just made a suggestion concerning leave. He says we ought to get drunk the first day and stay drunk for a week. Not a bad idea, I think. So far since leaving home, I’ve lived a very sober existence and in fact at the present moment I feel fitter than ever before in my life. Plenty of fresh air and hard exercise is the cause of that. My face is tanned and a little thinner with the heat. My little white knees are now little brown knees. I intend having a snap or two taken shortly and I’ll send them home. How about the ones I had taken in Redhill? I hope they have arrived now, Florence, although I don’t think much to them (or it).
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Allan

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