Sapper Allan V. Wake
Unit : "C" Troop, 1st Parachute Squadron
Army No. : 14426153
The following are a series of letters sent home by Allan Wake, from January 1943 to December 1944. My thanks to his nephew, Jon Millbanks, for contributing them to the site.
14426153 SPR., Wake,
1st Para. Squadron RE,
My Dear Mother & Pop
Well I have been trying to get down to writing this letter all day & at last I have made a mighty effort & succeeded. However as I thought, & of course, I told you it was embarkation so you will not be surprised at the address. I can't say [?] but it sure looks like it. We haven't done much in the way of training "as yet" but we might start Monday. All letters leaving this village are censored so you see I can't tell you where I am not only that it wouldn't be [?], if there wasn't a censor at all. This part of the country is quite nice the best I have seen for some time & the village & people are ok. As for the camp we are in civvy billets & it's not too bad, the grub question isn't bad at all. We have met quite a few new chaps I should say old timers at this game, they are from overseas & they are a grand bunch. The officers here are fair in fact one or two are quite decent chaps. The room I am billeted in is a room for three, & Johnny & another chap, two decent chaps, pals of mine for quite some time with myself makes a nice little party. At the moment they are playing cards on the floor with two other chaps. How are you keeping Mother. I hope you are up by now & feeling fit & well. How are you Pop & the rest of the family. By the way did someone get the photos on the 9th, I thought I would just remind you [?] I would like to see what a mug I am. I will also remind you to send someone for my watch on the 15th Jan at Benson Manor Rd. two or three doors the other side of the church. Mathews is the name I believe. However I certainly hope you received the eight pounds I sent in a registered letter. I would like you to put them in my certificate book. I guess you received my recent letter too. One more word about the watch will you register same whatever you do. "I thank you". Tell Don I will be writing to him in the near future. I shall have many others to write also. I have made 14/ shillings a week to be collected at Bridgestock Rd post office, however I dare say you will receive the book soon. You are probably calling me a few names as I have got in my possession your key (front door) I will enclose same in envelope. Well I can hardly write as it is too late to be writing or to let you know the time so I will finish now & I still remain your most loving Son.
ps. Now this letter I end, and until there's more, it's love to all at 94.
14426153, SPR., Wake,
C. Troop 1st Parachute Squadron R.E.
I expect you will be surprised to hear from me in this way of letter writing [note: the letter is typed rather than handwritten], however most likely you will be able to understand it better than my scrawl. Well as you have probably guessed I am on leave ten days to be exact, yes leave has come along a little earlier than usual this time & of course it may be my last. By the way I don't think there is much chance of our unit moving out your way at all I guess we must be here for the second front any lets hope you will be back to blighty very soon. As it is I was hoping to spend this leave with you & was quite disappointed when realising you would not be home for some time. However I hope I am wrong & of course you are the one who should be disappointed. It isn't much fun being on leave now for one thing there isn't hardly anything to do especially as most of my chums live quite away off. Well Wilf I received your air mail of the 13th of feb & am glad to hear that you are receiving my mail ok, incidentally I receive your mail fairly regular but if there was more efficiency in our company office where they dish it out I would certainly receive it quicker. I hope by now the weather has given you a break & I expect by now you are confined to your tent which must have been very boring & that is the sort of thing that makes you fed up. Mother was queer again a few weeks ago & up to yesterday, but she is a great deal better today & I am hoping she keeps like it. By the way Wilf mother informed me that you were hoping to receive one of my photos, well I must apologise as it did not occur to me that you would like one, however I will enclose one & I hope it suits your requirements. Well Wilf I will close now & you will hear from me most likely when I arrive back at the unit, so until I write again cheerio.
Your affectionate Brother,
Spr. Wake A.V. 14426153
'C' Troop 1st Parachute Sqn. RE
2 August 44.
My Dear Mother,
Many thanks for your most welcome letter which I received a few days ago. I must apologise for not answering sooner but have been very busy one way & another.
At the moment I am supposed to be on training but the training will have to wait. First I have some good news. It is quite possible that you will see me on Tuesday evening in Yeovil for a period of 48 & maybe if I'm lucky 72 hours. I shall have to try & wrangle it somehow. I guess it will be ok with Addy in any case if she can't put me up. I could always sleep on the grass. However try & let me know so that it will reach me before next week.
I was home the other week & saw for myself the damage I guess by now you have learnt about so I won't go into details. I arrived back ok & while waiting for a truck to escort me back to the unit I got into some trouble with two sergeants & a sergeant major. He ordered me to fasten my collar & not being in a very good mood I objected. Well after coming out of clink that night I just managed to catch the truck. So far I haven't heard of anything so lets hope I don't.
The kitten is fine & has a very good home, there was a few laughs on the way down with it, but I guess it behaved ok. Glad to see you are happy down in Yeovil, you seem to have settled down by now.
I thought you would like the shopping centre & what do you think of the pictures, right handy. Brenda & Jean seem to be having fun with the Yanks & air cadets & as for Brenda kissing them well I guess she has started young. Glad to see they have got settled down at school I hope they like it ok. Well as you say you don't think now lets hope you're right. However I still have an urge to get a crack at Jerry. By the way I haven't heard from Pop or [?] as you ask me but when I was on leave he explained how busy he was so I just keep writing & have just written to him now. Thank you for the 12 kisses Brenda that goes for me too. Well guess I will close now as news in exhausted. So cheerio until I write again or better still next Tuesday (I hope).
Your ever loving Son,
ps. fondest love & kisses to Brenda Jean & Addie.
Spr. Wake 14426153
'C' Troop 1st Parachute Sqn. RE
My Dear Mother,
Many thanks for your welcome letter. I hope you received my recent letter. Yes thanks I am still keeping fairly fit & am in England, for how long I can't say, I don't know where I shall be when this reaches you however lets hope for the best.
You have no need to worry about me volunteering for the war with Japan, as they won't ask for volunteers & if they did they wouldn't get much, I don't suppose. I guess if I go it will be because I am being sent & I shall have to hope for the best.
Jean & Brenda seem to be enjoying themselves at Stoke & the people seem to be ok. Apparently she wants to stop there, she is always changing her mind about something.
I am very sorry to hear about you not feeling too grand lately. I hope it is nothing serious, I don't like to hear you keep on saying you have been ill.
However I trust by the time this reaches you, you would have recovered all ills & chills. You seem to be reading a great deal lately. Add is sure is having fun with the kitten, fancy it having fleas. Yes it would be nice if we could find a house around Shirley but don't forget you must keep out of London for a while, the flying bombs may be [gone?] but we haven't finished with the Rockets yet. Well I won't forget what you say. I mean your motherly advice. So until I write again cheerio.
Your most loving Son,
ps. Best of love to Jean & Brenda.
pps. The phrase is:- think twice before you act once. Not think twice before you leap.
On the following day, Allan Wake left for Holland with the 1st Parachute Squadron. As a member of "C" Troop, he was either a part of the group left on DZ-X to clear the zone, or the element which accompanied the 3rd Parachute Battalion into Arnhem. He later took part in the defence of the Oosterbeek Perimeter with the remnants of "C" Troop, but is believed to have been badly wounded by shrapnel in leg and stomach in the hours before the withdrawal on the 25th September, whilst laying mine marking tape to highlight the route to the riverbank. As a consequence of these wounds he could not be evacuated, but was left behind, taken prisoner and treated in the temporary hospital set up at Apeldoorn. He died on the 22nd December 1944, aged 19, having apparently succumbed to septicaemia. The following is a letter which he wrote from Apeldoorn seven weeks earlier.
Spr. Wake 14426153
My Dear Mother, Father & Family
Well I don't know how long this letter will take to reach you as I believe they take a great journey. However I am sending this to 95 Melfort Rd, hoping that someone will be home. I suppose you have been worrying about me as you haven't heard, well that was impossible until now. They might have informed you about me but I don't know, I am at the present wounded & a prisoner of war & I might say with my leg & one thing & another it's a trifle difficult to write. Now don't worry I am going on ok & will be alright.
How is everybody at home Mother Father Donald Jean & Brenda. Have you heard from Wilfred lately. I expect so, how is he? I do hope that everybody at home are all fit & well & I hope you have managed to straighten things up a bit at 94. The weather here is lovely I hope it goes with you too. How is the business going Dad. I hope you are not having it too hard.
Well if you want to send me a parcel you can do it quite simple through the Red Cross & they do everything. I will close now as I am beginning to feel a little groggy & anyway I can't think of any more news.
Will be seeing you all soon. My fondest love to Mother Father Don Jean & Brenda & of course don't forget to tell Wilfred.
A few days after Allan Wake's death, Captain/Reverend Alan Buchanan, Chaplain to the 2nd Battalion The South Staffordshire Regiment, wrote the following letter to the family.
30th Dec 1944
My dear Mrs Wake
I have written to you several times from this hospital about your son's condition. Last time I wrote, I felt bound to tell you that he was dangerously ill. He had trouble with his stomach as well as his leg. He became convinced that he would get much better if only he could get the leg off and on Friday, December 22nd, the doctor consented. I had prayers with Allan just before he went in to the theatre, and he was in splendid spirits considering his condition. After the operation the doctor told me that although he had amputated at the very top of the thigh, there was still puss in the system. I realised that if he was to recover, it would be a long slow battle. However, I have to tell you that he did not regain consciousness, and about ten that evening, he passed away peacefully. I felt it very badly as I had such high hopes for him a week or two previously. I realise what a blow this will be to you, Mrs. Wake, and to your husband and sons and daughters. Allan has told me all about them. I can only pray that God will comfort you wonderfully.
I think I told you that he was given pints of blood by the doctor and myself and by the Dutch. I am glad to have given it, even tho' it did not pull him thro'. He stepped quietly out of this life, and I had the honour of laying him to rest in Apeldoorn Cemetery - plot number 4B, grave 1. Whenever I get back to England, I shall write again, if I cannot call on you.
God bless you. You will meet Allan again.
Yours very sincerely,
My thanks to Jon Millbanks for this account.
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