War Letters to Joyce 1941

11719 Lieut D.A. BALLANTYNE

30 May 41

My dearest,

You will probably hear that I am missing. I remained behind with wounded when my unit moved and am now in a hospital with a number of our M.O.s including Borrie, Foreman & others. I am very fit and well, not wounded, & generally my usual fit self. Am starting work tomorrow after a good night’s sleep.

We have been terribly well treated and looked after by our opponents & I shall be always grateful & indebted for the way they have dealt with our casualties.

I’m only allowed one page – am sitting on my bed – the mail is just ready to go & I’m off for a shower.

Please let everyone know pets & don’t worry as I shall be quite all right.

All my love dear Joyce.

Your Allan XXXX

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
26 Au 41.2

[Postmark]
Timaru
27 Au 41 10:30am
N.Z.

Box 125 [Crossed out]

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/O 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin, [Crossed out]
New Zealand.

Craighead [Crossed out]
Timaru [Crossed out]

Warwick House
Cranmer Square
Christchurch

11719 Lieut. D.A. Ballantyne

5 June 41

My dearest Joyce,

The weekly letter again – I’m afraid my last one was rather scrappy as I had only arrived & had one or two minutes to catch the mail. When you will receive these I hesitate to think but I hope Sutherland may have been able to drop you a line by now concerning the circumstances. However I hope you will appreciate the old hand when you see it. Doubtless it may be some months before you have word from me but I do hope you will not have abandoned me completely by then. Just now NZ & you & the Morris seem rather far away. I shall not be able to write another letter to Mother as we are allowed only one per week, but you can let her know I’m fit & well.

Am working very hard in a large hospital with English & Australian medical men – have several wards myself with some 80 patients, all surgical save for an odd influenza, which disease still occurs in these parts, & am getting the hand in again. Have done more concentrated surgery in the past two weeks than ever before. We are well quartered & I’m enjoying such comforts as clean sheets, showers & the like.

I still look the same my dear wife save perhaps I a little more hardened physically than when you last saw me. Do hope you are well & happy & enjoying your work at ‘Craighead’ – I’m sending this c/- my mother’s address to make sure you will receive it.

Till next week pets, my everlasting love & kisses.

Your Allan XXXX

ACF

Kriegsgefangenen-Post

[Stamped]
Exempt from postage under International Convention regarding treatment of Prisoners of War

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
25 Sp 41

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/O 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin, [Crossed out]
New Zealand.

Craighead
Timaru

NZ 11719 Lieut. D.A. Ballantyne

19 June 41

My dearest Joyce,

We are permitted to mention we are in Greece, but I cannot mention the exact location. However I am working in a large hospital looking after our own men, English, Australian & New Zealand, & we are left entirely alone as to the actual running & treatment. Incidentally one is gaining some experience in surgery – more particularly orthopoedics & septic wounds.

I sincerely trust you will have had news of me from army headquarters & that a letter may have reached you from Sutherland as doubtless the non appearance of air mail letters might cause you some concern. There should have been a cable from Crete & several letters. Your best means of getting in touch with me is through the International Red Cross – the local branch would probably advise you.

It is difficult to find very much to write about, my dear one – you will have to be content to know I’m very fit & well & as you may expect, rather looking forward to the end of the war. I do hope you’re enjoying ‘Craighead’ & that the winter is not too severe. Here we are enjoying lovely weather – day after day of hot sunshine, though today is cooler & more pleasant. Give my love to Mother & my regards to Robert.

Meanwhile until next week, all my love & kisses, dearest Joyce.

Your Allan XXXXXXX

Kriegsgefangenen-Post

[Postmark]
Dunedin CI
10 OC 41 7-P
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/O 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin, [Crossed out]
New Zealand.

Craighead
Timaru
Canterbury

must apologise for this strange letter paper.

NZ 11719 Lieut. D.A. Ballantyne

27 June 41 (Greece)

My dearest Joyce,

The weekly letter again! I am writing in the ward room of my particular block of wards. The room is much the same as any such in our own hospitals – charts, trays & drugs & lockers & a wash basin & towels. Most of my chaps are progressing fairly well & so far I have not had any deaths since leaving Crete. The hospital is full of cases one would see rather infrequently in ordinary civil practice, for instance I have two septic knee joints.

Life is fairly good. The meals continue to be very appetising – we had roast beef, roast potatoes & green peas recently & eggs appear occasionally & are usually to be had from the canteen. At present I’m reading anatomy from some of the standard text books for 3-4 hours each evening & some other branch of medicine at odd moments usually in the afternoons, getting into my stride again which has rather lapsed these past 18 months.

The weather continues very warm with little alteration between day & night temperatures & I religiously have my hour in the sun after lunch followed by a cold bath – am browner than ever before in my life & as there is none of the opposite sex in our environment, all over. I presume you are still at Craighead, my dear, & do hope you are well & happy. It is some 6 weeks since I received your air mail in Crete & unfortunately I lost them all along with most of my remaining gear on the first day of operations & worst of all the letter you left in my pyjama coat pocket last August & which I’ve always carried with me. However I managed to retrieve your photo & the small snaps I had. I think Timmy’s birthday is about due & you will have to apologise to Arthur & June that I shan’t be able to write or to send anything for him.

Trust you are well & happy my dearest one. Give my love to Mother & my regards to Robert, my Uncle Fred & Aunt Milly & to anyone else you may see. Meanwhile my everlasting love my dear wife.

Your Allan.

K.G.P.

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
9.?.41.2
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/O 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin, [Crossed out]
New Zealand.

Craighead
Timaru
Canterbury

Telephone –
Australian Military Forces – Eastern Command.

Address   Greece
Date   Thursday 3 July 41.

My dearest Joyce,

The weather continues to be very oppressive, especially at night & myself kept fully occupied with ward work & with reading – am progressing slowly with my drive in anatomy, maintaining a steady 3 hours each evening.

Altogether life is not so bad, & the food is good. We are really every fortunate – all the men (orderlies & staff) have sheets & pillow-slips & of course patients as well – the laundry is done outside hospital.

I usually do my own washing as I have only two shirts & pairs of shorts & do not want them going astray – have no under clothes but one can manage very well without, three pairs of socks, one of your knitted ones remaining only – the rest unfortunately lost, however you may forgive me such when I return.

I do not know whether the army will return my tin trunk to you or not. There are several valuable articles including the typewriter, which will require re???ing by a firm. I have the contents insured for 100 pounds.

It is lonely not having news from you my lovely one – However there is no reason to worry as to whether you are well & happy & I must remain content. Do not forget to have an occasional chest film. It is a wise precaution though probably unnecessary.

Give my love to mother & my regards to Robert – trust he is progressing well & not wasting his time with Audrey – presume he is still engaged. My regards to Gertrude & the various other people we know. Have very little news my dearest – we don’t leave the hospital & each day is much the same except Sundays when I attend church. Trust you are well & happy my love. I’m very fit & well.

All my love & kisses.

Your Allan XXXXX

ACF

[Stamped]
Exempt from postage under International Convention regarding treatment of Prisoners of War

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
25 Sp 41

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/O 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin, [Crossed out]
New Zealand.

Craighead
Timaru

NZ 11719 Lieut. D.A. Ballantyne

My dearest Joyce,

Not very much news to give you this week – the days come & go – fairly rapidly, which is satisfactory, & the only difference in the week is that we all try to take Sunday afternoon off completely, if work permits & I attend the Church of England service on Sunday evening. I am very fit & well – had a mild attack of diarrhoea for a few days but am now better. Try to sunbathe for an hour between 1 & 2 in the afternoon – the weather is lovely & I’m becoming very well tanned – & finish with a cold shower which fits one up for the afternoon. My weight is 10 stone 10lbs so you will understand I’m in pretty good condition. Trust I shall be able to maintain it. We are fortunate in being able to buy from a canteen run in the hospital & can purchase cigarettes, (not Craven A or our own good brands but nevertheless tobacco) chocolate, biscuits & the like & occasionally eggs. Yesterday I drew my first pay of 27 Reichmarks, (approximately £2/10/-).

The mess is fairly good & a few extras such as fresh goat milk, tomatoes & eggs & fruit make life more pleasant. The only things I would like are pipe tobacco & some good beer or whisky, but one can get along quite well without such. I trust by now you may have heard from Sutherland, whom I asked to write & to whom I entrusted my diary which should reach you in good time. You will have heard of Plimmer’s death; he was promoted Lt. Col. & was killed during operations. I am so sorry for his wife & children. He had just heard how well his son was doing at athletics at Wanganui College & had shown us the sports programme.

Our day commences with getting up in the morning which I don’t mind so much as the nights are warm, breakfast 6.30, lunch 12 & dinner at 6pm. We are housed in a very large building with sun roofs, Xray, plaster room & theatre & have comfortable beds & plenty of shower baths. There is a fair library of medical books & I brought one or two of my own & am reading fairly solidly- making up some lost ground since I left Napier. If you remember it, could you write to Josh Gilray, Jim Foley & Sandy Whyte for testimonials for me as I may need them later – explain the position & apologise that I can’t communicate directly with them.

The only worry I have is not having news of my dear wife – however I presume you are your usual fit self pets. Give my love to Mother & my regards to Bob & to any one else – also to Miss Pemberton, Brownie & the others on the hill, meanwhile all my love & kisses, my dear one.

Your Allan XXXXX

Kriegsgefangenen-Post

[Postmark]
Dunedin
C.I.
10 OC 41

Examiner 4181

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road. [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Craighead,
Timaru
Canterbury

11719 Lieut. D.A. Ballantyne
Greece.
10 July 41

My dearest Joyce,

Some two months or more now since I had your last letters – it seems such an age, although the time has really passed quickly & the weeks come & go almost before I know it.

How are you my dear one? Still at Craighead I presume wearing your winter clothes at the moment. Here the weather remains warm day & night. I wear a pair of shorts & a shirt – short socks & boots only – no under clothes as I possess none – nor stockings. The shorts are a pair of Indian pattern & I have cut them down & resewn the bottoms. Wash my shirt & shorts weekly & they dry in a few hours on the roof. I have my battledress, a woollen singlet & a sweater – one Wilson left behind which I bagged, having lost your short sleeved one. At the moment I’m sitting in the dental surgery where I usually retire each evening to read anatomy. I have just fried myself a couple of eggs, bread & tomatoes, which went very well with a cup of tea – since joining the army I have taken to sugar again.

Have been taking some exercise on the roof. We have marked out a court & put up a rope & play tennis with a medicine ball, which weighs about a ton. Last time I played I blistered my foot on the concrete & nearly wrecked a finger & my nose. However these are minor things.

Life continues to be fairly agreeable & my only worry at the moment is a chap with empyema following a bullet wound of the chest which smashed his L. clavicle, some ribs on the R & the R scapula. I drained him by a rib resection a week ago after repeated aspirations & he hasn’t yet settled, despite a transfusion & apparently good drainage.

No more for the present my lovely one – my love to Mother & all – my everlasting love & kisses dearest Joyce,

Your Allan XXXXX

Kriegsgefangenenpost.

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
2 DE 41 2
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Craighead
Timaru

NZ 11719 Lieut. D.A. BALLANTYNE
Greece.
28 July 41.

My lovely Joyce,

The letter a little earlier this week, so I shall miss the joy of writing to you as usual on Friday. There is so much I could tell you about & really so very little that would pass the censor. However you will know that I’m my usual fit self, am having enough to eat, so that the scales register a constant 150 lbs, have a small amount of tobacco & a few cigarettes, am able to drink the wine of this country & occasionally to enjoy a bottle of good beer, so that I’m by no means unhappy and I have plenty to keep me occupied – have ward work, anatomy & surgery & am plodding rather slowly through a German grammar, so that I hope in time to be able to read the tongue if only to speak it haltingly.

I have decided I want to do an English Fellowship. Think it would be more useful for me as I hope we shall settle in some country town & I may be able to run a private practice in conjunction with superintending a small hospital & doing my own acute & routine surgery. I imagine my medicine brushed up a little will be sufficient for general purposes as I’ve read a good deal & it will come back & a membership would not be worthwhile. It will mean we shall have to spend some time in England as it will probably take me two years but I must do this before settling down in practice. Sorry to have taken up so much space with my intentions, pets, but one must have these & you will I know be pleased to help me.

Trust you are well & happy my lovely one. My regards to all – my love to my mother.

Your loving husband, Allan

Kriegsgefangenen-Post

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
[…]
N.Z.

[Postmark]
Timaru
27.AU.41. 10.30 A.M.
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road. [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]

Craighead, [Crossed out]
Timaru [Crossed out]

C/- Warwick House,
Cranmer Square,
Christchurch
New Zealand

NZ 11719 Lieut. D.A. Ballantyne
(Greece.)

My dearest Joyce,

Missed your letter last week as I wrote to the bank & we are allowed one letter only per week.

Struthers, a NZ dentist has had a letter from NZ, posted sometime in May & yesterday some English mail arrived, so I am hoping there may be a letter from you in the next few weeks. Life goes on much the same, though the work is slackening off with the general improvement in cases & of course no further admissions.

I am at present writing in the Xray room – it is Saturday (letter day being yesterday) but I shall have this included – time 8.30am – have just had breakfast of beans & bread lard & tea. The weather is fairly trying – successive hot cloudless days with never any rain – sometimes wind & mostly a heavy heat haze over the place in the early morning. Just at present I long for some NZ winter weather – cold nights & frosty mornings, some snow & hail & I wouldn’t mind a week of cold & rain as we had at Oxford some 15 months ago.

I hope you are enjoying your work at Craighead, my dear one, – presume you occasionally run down to Dunedin in the Morris, or is petrol fairly heavily restricted? Trust you are fit & well Joyce & generally happy. Give my love to my mother & regards to Bob. My best wishes to Grandad Eaton, Gertrude etc.

I am very fit & well & keep a little in trim by playing medicine ball tennis on the roof daily. The medicine ball weighs about 4-5 lbs.

All my love & kisses, my lovely Joyce.

Your Allan XXXXX

Kriegsgefangenenpost.

[Postmark]
Highfield
20 NO ?312
N.Z.

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
18 DE 41
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road. [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Craighead, [Crossed out]
Timaru [Crossed out]

Cook Hospital,
Gisborne

NZ 11719 Lieut. D.A. BALLANTYNE
Greece
5 August 41

My dearest,

Not very much news to give you this week – apart from such commonplace things as the weather, which is very warm & dry, & my health, which needless to say is in its usual excellent state. The nights are almost as oppressive as the days, & I have lately been sleeping on the roof – a flat concrete one with walls round the edges.

All the buildings in this country are in stone or concrete – the last wooden building I remember seeing, apart from our huts in Egypt, was in Australia – there is very little decent timber in Greece, as everywhere is second growth.

The wards do not take so much time now, as most of the cases have now to be left to the care of nature, apart from dressings which are mainly done by the orderlies. I have an occasional case in theatre or the plaster room but in general am finished soon after eleven in the morning, apart from an evening round, & spend the rest of the day revising my anatomy, playing an occasional game of crib with Hetherington, who was Supt. of Thames Hospital, or reading; we have a small library.

Had a fairly good concert put on by our own fellows last week. One is apt to become stale at times, as none of us have moved out of the place since arriving.

I sincerely hope to have word of you in a few weeks – would so like to know how my lovely Joyce is & where you are & if the car is behaving well in my absence. No doubt you are very well & enjoying the crisp frosty winter mornings of NZ.

Give my love to my mother & my regards to Bob.

All my love & kisses, dearest Joyce.

Your Allan.

Kriegsgenfangenenpost

[Postmark]
Highfield
20 NO ?312
N.Z.

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
18 DE 41
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Craighead, [Crossed out]
Timaru [Crossed out]

Cook Hospital,
Gisborne

NZ 11719 Lieut. D.A. BALLANTYNE,
Greece.
13 August 41

My dearest Joyce,

Two o’clock in the afternoon & I’m sitting on my bed writing on a small table – am shortly commencing the usual afternoon spell of anatomy which is progressing fairly well.

The dormitory, comprising 13 of us in all, 3 English padres, 5 R.A.M.C. chaps, an Australian, 2 NZ dentists, (Dodgshun & Warren) & 2 N.Z.M.C., Hetherington & myself has had an epidemic of sandfly fever; so far I have escaped.

Life is much the same. I lost one of my patients last Sunday, an English captain with a fractured femur who apparently appeared to ‘pack up’, as he had nothing post mortem of any note – have 3 other fairly sick fellows, the rest are now nearly all convalescent.

The weather is cooler now, more so the nights which are much more pleasant & one needs a blanket – 2 have managed to acquire a decent camel hair sleeping rug & the hospital has a number of good Australian blankets.

We have been out for some walks during the past week, 4 or 5 miles between 4 & 6 in the afternoon, which means a pleasant change & some exercise.

I feel sure that by now you will have had word of me & I trust the diary from Sutherland so you will be quite happy about things. How is the car going & Craighead School?

You will pardon the brevity of the letter as you can well imagine what news we have, living in a little backwater completely divorced from world affairs. However it’s an ill wind that blows no one any good & I am learning some anatomy which will stand me in good stead later.

Give my kind regards to June & Arthur our Timmy & Margaret Ann – Sam & Ed & to the Pembertons & to Gertrude – my love to my mother & regards to Robert.

No more just now my lovely Joyce.

All my love dearest & kisses.

Your Allan

Kriegsgenfangenen-Post

[Postmark]
Highfield
20 NO ?312
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
New Zealand [Crossed out]

Craighead, [Crossed out]
Timaru [Crossed out]

Cook Hospital,
Gisborne

NZ 11719 Lieut. D.A. Ballantyne
Greece
19 Aug 41

My dearest,

Another week has passed very much like the past weeks since I arrived here – we have climbed a few hills about the neighbouring country & walked up to 4 or 5 miles during our afternoon exercises from 4 until 6, accompanied by a German guard, who is always very nice & pleasant to us. Yesterday I played medicine ball tennis on the roof instead.

On Sunday afternoon all the officers in the dormitory shifted down on to the 1st floor – (our block has 3 floors & a sun roof) – the patients occupying this floor being distributed to other parts of the hospital. Hetherington, Dodgshun & Warren & I took a room to ourselves & generally spring cleaned our few possessions. The first night was rather uncomfortable – we all got up at 2 a.m. after finding no one had slept & put on the light to find the beds rather alive with bugs which had bitten us pretty thoroughly. After disposing of these, mosquitoes bothered us a good deal & the night was not one of the best. However the debugging came next morning & for a mark each cleaned up the room pretty well & autoclaved the bedding. We now live in comfort & term our room NZ House. The mess has been shifted to the same floor & is much more pleasant – a large room with windows which catches a lot of sun.

The weather is now much more pleasant with cooler nights although today a hot dry wind is blowing bringing clouds of dust. You may wonder when I speak of mosquitoes of malaria. There is none in this part of the country, though in places the infection rate is very high.

I am very fit & well & not overworked. Trust you are well & happy, my dearest one – give my love to my mother & regards to all. Perhaps I may be able to be with you again this time next year, & that will mean a really short period of our life apart.

All my love & kisses, dear Joyce.

Your Allan.

Kriegsgenfangenen-Post

[Postmark]
(…)
28 DE (…)
Postage
(…)

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
27 JA 42  2
N.Z.

[Stamp]
DEP(…)
Censor

[Stamp]
Comite International De La (…oix)-Rouge Geneve
RED CROSS

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Cook Hospital
Gisborne

NZ 11719 Lieut. D.A. Ballantyne
Greece.   Tuesday 26 Aug. 41

My dearest Joyce,

I regret very much that at the moment I’m in the doldrums, having about as much energy as a tortoise, & a correspondingly paucity of ideas for your letter.

Was laid low last Friday with Sandfly Fever, which hit me with a ‘wallop’, generally & also locally in the back & legs & I’m just tottering carefully about again. Got up for a while yesterday & shaved & bathed & fell into bed again, & did the same today – am going to take life very easily for the next week. Anyhow I’ll have more sympathy with sufferers from this disease in future; there has been an epidemic among staff & patients.

Do you remember a Watty McKay from Hastings? I think he was at one time a sporting reporter to the Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail. He is unfortunately not doing any good – is in this hospital.

Your spring weather proper will be coming with September & I can imagine the Christchurch trees & the spring bulbs which will be in full flower now. I shall be very glad when the time comes to leave this country. There are some delightful spots but generally the country is poor. We are very fortunate in the Dominions in having no peasant class – there is no middle class to make this place prosperous. I believe I reach the 4th decade at the end of this week – have hasn’t much in my army & captured life which will no doubt do me much good.

Trust you are well my lovely one – all my love & kisses.

Your Allan.

Kriegsgenfangenenpost

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
23 JA 42  2
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Cook Hospital,
Gisborne

11719 Capt. D.A. Ballantyne,
Greece.   31 Aug 41

My dearest Joyce,   I am starting your letter a couple of days earlier this week, mainly because I have nothing else to do at the moment – it being 5.30pm on Sunday afternoon & ½ hr to go until tea. In NZ we should be having our Sunday evening meal from the tea trolley by the fire – hot buttered toast & poached eggs, cakes & choice Ceylon tea. Great things to look forward to as I’ve not eaten butter since leaving Egypt & now we don’t have margarine. I am quite satisfied that NZ people live better than any others & that it is the best country on earth. I often think longingly of such things as the lovely cream & milk & the good bread & meat we always had.

The first lot of cases for repatriation left the hospital nearly two weeks ago – mainly men minus limbs. Off (Alf) Slater of Wothington went with them. I don’t know how much longer we shall be here now – it is good to see one’s cases doing well & many up & about – most of the patients are either well enough for discharge, which of course means a prison camp, or fit to be moved, or fit enough to join the next batch for repatriation.

The weather is becoming cooler & much more pleasant & the mornings are beautifully fresh after the oppressive stifling atmosphere that one woke to a month or two ago. Even the shower water is cooler. I have taken over the running of the mess bar since Slater left. We are able to purchase various wines, an inferior brand of brandy termed KONIAK, cigarettes & such things. All profits go back into the mess fund with which the ordinary rations are supplemented by such articles as eggs, tomatoes, onions & fruit.

I am looking forward to being back in NZ so much – am longing for some cold weather & rain & hail & the big warm fires, armchairs & in general having one’s own house again.

Wood generally is scarce in Greece, as most of the country has been deforested.

Trust you are fit & well, my lovely Joyce – my love to Mother & regards to Bob.

All my love & kisses.

Your Allan.

P.S. Have quite recovered from my bout of Sandfly fever.

air mail if possible)

Kriegsgenfangenenpost

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
23.JA.42.2
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne,[Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Cook Hospital,
Gisborne

11719 Capt. D.A. Ballantyne
10 Sept. 41.

My dearest Joyce,

You will observe the promotion. Dr Clive how (Selwyn), the senior NZ officer here issued a routine order to this effect affecting several others & myself. It is in accord with the automatic promotions concerning our part of the NZMC which was published some time ago. At all events, if he hadn’t promulgated the order, I had intended putting on an extra pip, as it was due after 12 months of active service & in any case I had been recommended for a captaincy on two previous occasions, in NZ, & after the Greek campaign while things were quiet in Crete. I do hope you had my letters & cable from Crete my dear one, & that Sutherland has written you & sent on my diary.

Life here is much the same & there is little I can add in my letters from week to week. I am still plodding along slowly at anatomy & have reduced the whole of the embryological section of one of the standard textbooks to precied notes, so that I should know that part. Besides which I have precied other portions of the book. I had commenced to learn German, but it is not easy to obtain a grammar book & I haven’t the cash to buy one as yet, but hope to continue my studies of the tongue again shortly. Altogether I keep myself fairly well occupied with reading, a certain amount of ward work which remains to be done, & superintending the bar, which takes a little time & involves keeping account books, which are audited each month. Last month during the period after I took over we made a profit equivalent to £16 which goes towards mess funds & provides extras such as eggs, fruit, tomatoes etc.

The weather is lovely at present, much cooler than when we arrived, though still warm enough for shorts. I wear only shirt & shorts, boots & socks & occasionally a pullover – one Wilson (ChCh) left behind in Crete & which I picked up.

Trust you are well & happy my lovely Joyce.

All my love & kisses.

Your Allan.

Love to my Mother & regards to Robert – also best wishes for his exams.

Air mail
(if possible)

Kriegsgenfangenenpost

[Postmark]
Dunedin C.I.
21 JA 42 1:45p
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Cook Hospital
Gisborne

NZ 11719 Captain D.A. Ballantyne
Greece.
26 September 41

My dearest Joyce,

Am a little late in writing your letter this week, as it’s now Thursday, so am sitting down at 9.30 in the morning to catch the mail.

The weather is much cooler, really corresponding to our NZ April, & I have even worn battle dress on occasions. Fortunately the heavy knitted sweater which Wilson left behind fits me very well & is a most useful thing.

I have managed to purchase a good German grammar book & am doing a bit each day; it is not an easy language though in 3 months time I hope to have some knowledge of it.

French is a most useful tongue to know throughout the Middle East. I can usually make myself understood & carry on a very meagre conversation – I once could read French fairly well.

Life is very much the same – at the moment a number of cases for repatriation are being seen by the German command here & are expected to leave shortly. I have now only some 14 or 15 cases in the ward, all of whom are convalescent save one of my own men (one of my old A say drivers) who has a compound femur & a septic hip joint, & whom I am very doubtful about at the moment.

Had a dream the other night in which I had arrived back in NZ & found you’d had no word of me. I sincerely trust this is not so – surely it cannot be!

Do trust you are well & happy, my lovely one & that you are enjoying Craighead – if you’re there. Trust the Morris is giving good service.

Give my love to Mother & regards to Bob. My best wishes to our various friends.

The padre is waiting for this letter so must close. All my love & kisses, my Joyce.

Your Allan

Kriegsgenfangenen-Post

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
23 JA 42
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road,[Crossed out]
Ravensbourne, [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Cook Hospital
Gisborne

24 OCTOBER, 41

My dear Joyce,

Some NZ mail has just arrived & I am hoping there may be a letter for me, as it is many months since I’ve had news of my dear one.

You will note the change of address. I have left the hospital along with the NZ.s & most of the English personnel & am now in a very well run prisoner of war camp in Germany. I think the officers are shifting on shortly to a separate camp but the above address will find me. Living conditions are good. We are housed in large huts with good beds & stoves, & can cook in the stove ovens.

The British Red Cross parcels are excellent & with portions issued there is an adequate diet. Each man receives a parcel weekly plus 50 cigarettes & tobacco. I am very fit & well – had an interesting trip here. I hope sometime I may show you part of Europe.

Hope to get some warm underwear & socks shortly.

All my love.

Your Allan.

Kriegsgenfangenenpost

[Postmark]
19.11.41-14

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
24 FE 42 2
N.Z.

An   Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
Empfangsort:   Ravensbourne, Dunedin, [All Crossed out]
StraBe:   229 Main Road, [Crossed out]
Land:   New Zealand
Landesteil (Provinz usw.)   Otago [Crossed out]

Cook Hospital
Gisborne

Examiner 506

[Stamped]
Stalag VIII B
Geprüft: (Checked)
Ur.32

From the back of the page: (appearing inverted)

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
24 FE 42 2
N.Z.

Absender: Capt D Allan Ballantyne
Gefangenennummer: 23918
Lager-Bezeichnung: Stalag VIIIB
Deutschland (Allemagne)

28 OCT. 1941

My dearest Joyce,

Our wedding anniversary. 2 years ago today. – the same day one year ago Egypt – let’s hope the next one together. I hope so for otherwise I’ll be forgetting how you walk & look & what clothes you wore & all the other important & happy moments of my life in NZ. You must believe me when I say I’m very fit & well & have plenty of food & warm clothes. Yesterday got issued with 2 pair of long woollen underpants & 2 woollen singlets (English) 2 handkerchiefs – have gloves, scarf & a great coat – my book repaired & in good order, am to get a roll neck sweater – even new English battle dress is issued here for those needing it.

We have 4 meals daily, Breakfast 7.30am with tea, bread, margarine, jam, potted meat. Soup & potatoes 11.30am. Tea 4pm with bread, jam, fish, meat, butter or margarine. Dinner 7pm potato & meat pie or such cooked in hut oven – cocoa, English tea – all vitamins in diet.

My love – your Allan.

Kriegsgenfangenenpost

28th Oct

[Plain date stamp]
06.11.41-14

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
23.FE.42
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
C/o 229 Main Road [Crossed out]
Ravensbourne [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Cook Hospital,
Gisborne

Gebührenfrei (Free of charge)

[Stamped]
Stalag VIII B
Geprüft: (Checked)
M 19/

Kriegsgefangenenlager      Datum 21 November 41

My dearest,  Tell Mother Diamond Robinson is here & well. Some 9 NZ doctors here – none of us working at present. Have written to England through Red Cross for medical books. If you won’t mind my studying after war will get you to England & sit for English Fellowship Surgery. Want Superintendentship of one of closed country hospitals if such suits you. Think we can scrape up enough cash for me to do degree, & I can always do locums. Hope to have your letters for Xmas.   Your Allan.

Kriegsgenfangenenpost

Postkarte

[Plain date stamp]
02.12.41-14

[Stamped]
Stalag VIII B
Geprüft:
M 7/

[Stamped]
[…]
P.M.4845

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
8.AP.42 3
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
Ravensbourne [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
C/o 229 Main Road [Crossed out]

Cook Hospital
Gisborne
New Zealand

Gebuhrenfrei!

Absender:
Vor- und Zuname: Capt D. Allan Ballantyne
Gefangenennummer: 23918
Lager-Bezeichnung: M-Stammlager VIII B
Deutschland (Allemagne)

CHRISTMAS Greetings.

A little picture to express,
My wishes for your happiness;
A little message from my pen,
To haste the Day we’ll meet again;
God grant you every Christmas cheer,
And joy throughout the Coming Year.

From

STALAG VIIIB,  Germany.   CHRISTMAS 1941.

Kriegsgenfangenenpost

Postkarte

[Plain date stamp]
10.12.41-14

[Stamped]
Stalag VIII B
Geprüft:
M 16/

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
25.FE.42.2
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
Ravensbourne [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
C/o 229 Main Road [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Cook Hospital
Gisborne

Gebuhrenfrei!

Absender:

Vor- und Zuname: Capt D. Allan Ballantyne
Gefangenennummer: 23918
Lager-Bezeichnung: Stalag VIII B
Deutschland (Allamagne)

12 Dec 41

My dearest,

So very pleased to have your letter of 5 Oct. yesterday. They are such a joy to me pets. Am happy to know you are fit & well. Don’t know what my weight is but would guess at 11 stone.

Am making inquiries concerning those 2 lads you mention & will let you know something in my next letter. Am not surprised to hear Kingston & Jennings are back in NZ. Both are better out of the M.C. Glad to hear Jack is well. Ask Tessa to give him my regards.

We are preparing some Xmas festivities – saving a little each day from our Red Cross Parcels for a good dinner, having carols & generally trying to make it a memorable day. The camp authorities have allowed us to fit up one of the huts as a church & have had a 2 manual & pedal reed organ built.

I am hoping to get some medical books for primary FRCS & am working at some notes I made in Athens. Have been looking at house designs & interiors in some books here – hope it won’t be too many years before we can settle. You certainly haven’t had much of a married life yet, my dear.

I’m very well, my Joyce, get spasms of acute loneliness for my lovely one.

My love & kisses.

Your Allan.

Kriegsgenfangenenpost

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
18.MY.42.2
N.Z.

05.3.?

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
Ravensbourne [Crossed out]
Dunedin [Crossed out]
229 Main Road [Crossed out]
New Zealand

Cook Hospital
Gisborne

Stalag VIII B
Geprüft
Nr.4a

Gebührenfrei

21 December 41

My lovely one,

Received your letters of 13th 21st & 28th September yesterday – great day – also 2 from Mother & one from Geneva saying they’d written you airmail.

I imagine I’m just the same as when you last saw me pets, except that we all have removed almost every vestige of hair from our bodies & my eyebrows & hair are just sprouting. I continue to enjoy my robust health & don’t think I’m any thinner on top – perhaps a little greyer at the sides – am massaging the old scalp with castor oil when I remember. Have a good English pipe & am all right for tobacco – get chocolate in the parcels weekly.

Have been practicing Xmas carols & teaching men to sing parts. We hope to parade thro’ camp on Xmas Day. Noakes, Hetherington, Steve Wright, Foreman, Dodgshun & I sleep in adjoining beds & get a lot of amusement from each other. I amuse them by crawling well into a sleeping bag I acquired in Crete – it is referred to as the ‘cocoon’. Get my base kit sent to you – regret I have the keys but the locks can be removed – a pair of dirty sheets on top. Your wardrobe topping dearest.

Best wishes Walter & Joyce & Grandad. Our hair removed as precaution against lice but camp now clear. Very glad of your photo I still have.

Think of all your lovely ways – not at all dim.

Kisses Joyce,

Your Allan.

Kriegsgenfangenenpost

[Plain date stamp]
05.1.42-14

[Postmark]
Dunedin
05.MY.42
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
Ravensbourne [Crossed Out]
Dunedin [Crossed Out]
C/o 229 Main Road [Crossed Out]
New Zealand

Cook Hospital
Gisborne

Gebührenfrei
Stalag VIII B
Geprüft
Nr.20/

December 31st [1942] 1941

My dearest, mixing the dates a little.

In NZ you will be in 1942. Here it is 8pm & I am remaining up to see the old year out at midnight. We are looking forward to a brighter 1942 with good reason I think, for confidence. I sincerely hope we may be together at this time next year. 1941 has been the most eventful year of my short life apart from October 1939. We had as bright a Xmas as possible under the circumstances. Carols services, beer, a formal tea at 4pm & mess dinner at 7pm with roast pork & such like from Red Cross parcels, a Xmas tree with presents & a Father Xmas.

I am very well & the cold weather not worrying me unduly except that I have a chilblain or two, probably from cold bathing in the morning, but I prefer the chilblain. The temperature is not much above zero on centigrade scale & at night I should imagine 20-30 degree frost. It gets light about 8am & is dark soon after 5pm.

I do hope you will have a happy 42, my dear one & that you will keep fit & well. I am thinking very much of you at present & shall toast you this midnight. Remember I’m the same pets & longing to be with you again.

My kisses & all my love,

Your Allan.

Kriegsgenfangenenpost

[Plain date stamp]
27. 1. 42-14

[Postmark]
Ravensbourne
22. JE. 42. 3
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
Ravensbourne [Crossed Out]
Dunedin [Crossed Out]
C/o 229 Main Road [Crossed Out]
New Zealand

Cook Hospital
Gisborne

Stalag VIII B
Geprüft

Gebührenfrei!

Original digital file

BallantyneDA620_War_Letters-1941.pdf

Description

This is the first in a series of 5 sets of personal letters from Doctor Allan Ballantyne, held prisoner-of-war in Europe, to his wife Joyce, in New Zealand.

Each letter or postcard is displayed in date order of writing.

From the start of interment until mid October 1941, letters were written on a single sheet of paper then placed into an envelope, now rather fragile after so many years, then posted through a prisoner of war mail service for eventual delivery in New Zealand.

From late October 1941 until the end of interment, mail was generally written on one side of an “aerogram”-style sheet of lightweight paper that was then folded and sealed into an envelope shape, for posting.  A full picture of the address side of one of these letters is displayed for interest, thereafter only the main address panel is shown for ease of reading.
In addition to these styles of letters, occasional “postcards” were produced within the prison camps, for mailing by prisoners.  Examples are sometimes found in the weeks preceding Christmas.

Due to the long delivery times experienced with correspondence being transported between Germany and New Zealand and vice versa, it was difficult for either to know where the other might be living or incarcerated.  The most commonly used address for mail being sent to New Zealand was “229 Main Road, Ravensbourne, Dunedin, New Zealand”.

Changes start to occur early in the war when one finds mail being redirected to “Craighead, Timaru, Canterbury”, although no mention has been noted in the correspondence as to what Joyce may have been doing at that location.  Other addresses occur from time to time before Joyce started working as a radiographer at Cook Hospital, Gisborne, where mail was initially redirected before this becoming the regular address.

Postmark dates can be confusing as they reflect the dates when each piece of mail passed through the various postal services.  The letter writing date may be substantially earlier than the NZ postmark dates, depending upon the circuitous route that mail travelled.

To assist readers with understanding address details, commonly-seen German terms with suggested English equivalents, suggested by “Google Translate” are listed below.

Word or Label   Meaning
Kriegsgefangenenpost   POW mail
Postkarte   Post Card
Geprüft   Checked
Taxe perçue   Perceived tax
Luftpost   Airmail
Par Avion   By plane, by airmail
Gebührenfrei   Free of charge

Vor – und Zuname   First and Last names (of recipient)
Empfangsort   Receiving location (the street address)
Straße   Street (usually contains suburb or area name)
Kreis   District (Usually displays name of city/town)
Landesteil   Part of the country (Usually contains the name of the country to which the mail is being sent)
Provinz usw   Province etc (generally unused)

Absender   Sender
Gefangenennummer   Prisoner number
Lager-Bezeichnung   Camp designation
Stammlager   Main prison camp
Deutschland   Germany

Date published

30 May 1941 - 31 December 1941

Format of the original

Handwritten letters

Accession number

488476

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