War Letters to Joyce 1945

Reserve-Lazarett Ebelsbach,
Stalag XIIIC, Germany

10 January 1945

My Darling,

No further mail in – my latest from you Oct. 23rd, which isn’t too bad. However a few personal parcels are drifting in & we hope the Red Cross food parcels will commence arriving shortly. It’s not very satisfactory without these latter when one has peptic ulcer cases. I was informed today that my chief medical orderly is to be repatriated. A good thing for him but a loss to me. Apparently no doctors to go home; it makes me a bit fed-up, as you may well imagine. I’m moderately busy & haven’t much time for reading at the moment.

Last Monday went with one of my cases to see a neurologist in a city some little distance from us. If you travel in this country it means starting off in the middle of the night. I was up at 3.30 in the morning & arrived back about 11 in the evening. Nevertheless it makes a break & does one good to get away. I must remember to describe a rather risqué remark passed to me when I see you.

Did I tell you I enjoyed an extra Xmas here? The Orthodox Church celebrates this festival on the 7 January & keeps Christmas Eve on the 6th. As we have five Serbs in the mess this was kept in the traditional manner. Their New Year occurs next weekend.

Cool days & the weather much the same with some warmth in the sun, though it lies fairly low in the southern sky. I’m longing to hear from you again pets, your Xmas plans & when you’re likely to leave for England. One thing must be avoided at all costs, & that is the possibility of our crossing on the high seas. I sincerely hope it will be possible for me to remain in London. I’m my usual well self. We’re expecting the Swiss Legation next week on their 3 monthly visit. They usually spend some 5 or 6 days in the Stalag area & visit us on the last day.

Trust you are very well & enjoying the lovely summer. Dearest.
To bed with a book.
All my deepest love & many kisses for your sweet self.

Your Allan.

Kriegsgefangenenpost

LuftPost

[Postmark]
Unidentified
(…) 22.45

Care perçue 40 (…)

[Postmark]
Gisborne
21 AP. 45 5:30PM
N.Z.

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
Radiological Dept., [Crossed out]
Cook Hospital, [Crossed out]
Gisborne, [Crossed out]
New Zealand. [Crossed out]

C/O N.Z. House
The Strand
London

[Stamped]
Stalag XIII C
Geprúft
D11

Gebührenfrei!

Reserve Lazarett   Ebelsbach,
Stalag XIIIC, Germany

4.II.45

My Dearest,

No mail as yet & no parcels, so we’ve got something to look forward to in the near future I trust. February has come in with a remarkable thaw & the snow apart from a few deep drifts has disappeared, leaving the place fairly wet. A lovely morning today in which I pursued my usual lazy routine, but this afternoon light rain. However everyone is delighted with the prospect of an early Spring. I should compare the temperature today with the East Coast August.

Already January of 45 gone my pets, & I’m a good deal nearer you – as regards time anyway. All my cases here are progressing well enough. I have some 60 at the moment, including two officers. My corporal orderly Robson, didn’t go home with the last exchange. I’m sorry for his sake but glad myself not to lose him.

I’m longing to hear how you passed Christmas & New Year, whether you’re shortly off to England & everything in general you’re about – whether your style of coiffure has changed & what you’re wearing. Days on the beach I expect. Have you still that nice red bathing costume & the beach suit you spoke of some two years ago? I can hardly wait to see you again, my darling. How happy we shall be – together with all your charm & elegance, snowy linen in abundance, good china, crystal, carpets, armchairs, everything spotless. A shining bathroom & your dressing table with all its assortment of silver, creams & powders. It all seems a paradise to me here. One thing I shall appreciate to the full – being able to step from the door into the car & setting off for where one wills. No waiting at stations & crowded trains.

I’m very well & much better in spirit than in my last letters. The weeks pass quite rapidly & I shall hope to rejoin you in a few months. All that matters that I can be with you once more.

All my love, my dearest one & many kisses.

Your Allan

Just listened to the Bach D Minor Toccata & Fugue for organ.  In my brief time as a church organist played it – always gave the congregation Bach at the end of service, though doubt if many appreciated it.   No one to equal old Bach!

Kriegsgefangenenpost

[Stamped]
Stalag XIII C
Geprúft D11

LuftPost

[Postmark]
Unidentified (…)

Care perçue

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
Cook Hospital, [Crossed out]
Gisborne, [Crossed out]
New Zealand. [Crossed out]

Gebührenfrei!

Reserve Lazarett   Ebelsbach,
Stalag XIIIC, Germany

10.II.45

My Dearest,

I am just beginning to breathe freely again after a period of little spare time – have now got all the patients more or less out of the wood, except one who arrived a few days ago, received the necessary accommodation & seen to it that they’re properly watered & fed, so to speak, written up & posted a series of medical reports for Geneva & got abreast of my case notes. A number of men will go out next week & I hope to transfer several others to other hospitals. Of these there are set places for tuberculosis – I have a lone Punjabi who drifted in from some obscure spot with bilateral disease, amputees & the blind. Apropos the Punjabi I hold what conversation I can with him in a very few words of English & German.

I have just received a card to the effect that 755 Reichmarks sent by me at the end of 43 & amounting to £50.6.8 is being paid to you. Each month I receive 96 marks, but as there is nothing one can buy, apart from small contributions to the mess & paying my batman, it mounts up. Some Red Cross parcels have arrived at Stalag so we shall have an issue here shortly & there will be some tobacco & cigarettes, thank goodness, for I find it very hard when one has nothing to smoke.A little mail in this week but I was disappointed to receive only official letters.

The warmer weather is holding but most days we have rain & wind. Already the first shoots of spring are appearing & the days are certainly longer. It’s nearly 5 years since we left our home in Lighthouse Rd. pets – those times seem pretty distant to me now, except the midday swim & lunch on the beach, our Indian summer together. Please God those days will return, I hope in the near future when I can enjoy that particular atmosphere of happiness & contentment you radiate. I’m very well & apart from the absence of tobacco, pretty comfortably situated.

All my love & kisses, dearest Joyce.

Your Allan.

Kriegsgefangenenpost

[Stamped]
Stalag XIII C
Geprúft D11

LuftPost

[Postmark]
Unidentified (…)

Care perçue

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
Cook Hospital, [Crossed out]
Gisborne, [Crossed out]
New Zealand. [Crossed out]

Gebührenfrei!

Reserve Lazarett   Ebelsbach,
Stalag XIIIC, Germany

16.II.45 (Feb.)

My Dearest,

A pleasant change; no rain these past two days & the place has dried up. The sun now brings some warmth & spring is already upon us. I’m fairly well occupied & expecting more patients each day. Owing to the difficulty in obtaining hot water in the morning I’ve taken to shaving the night before. It makes a little difference in one’s day & I find it pleasant merely to get myself bathed & dressed before breakfast. The weeks pass rapidly but the months not quite so fast.

All this year I have become more & more impatient to get home; like Brer Rabbit I am ‘monstrous full of fleas’ – itching all over to see you again. I like to speculate at times at what you are about. Perhaps at the moment on Breeze with the healthful NZ air streaming past in a canter, listening to the purr of your Morris & the wind singing past the windscreen, or just stretched out on the beach in the February sun. Wherever you are Dearest, I wish hopelessly to be there. I am watching for a south-east wind to blow up & have me out of the doldrums. You will be thinking this is a confession of despair Joyce! However I’m by no means depressed, not got a psychosis & am very well. Only I’m so damned fed-up with all this waiting & it’s the way love gets me. Take any small expression of love I may have shown you, square it to infinity, realise this quantity, quality or what you will, is incomprehensible & so my longing to have you once more, ‘Aupres de ma blonde’ – as a line in a charming French poem, I think by Roncelard, puts it. Regret this is such a disconnected letter but at least it has the merits of my present thoughts.

There is no sign of mail in Stalag but perhaps a whole batch of letters will turn up before very long.
Trust you are well & happy Dearest. Don’t think we’ve too long to wait now.

All my love & kisses.

Your Allan.

Kriegsgefangenenpost

[Stamped]
Stalag XIII C
Geprúft
D11

LuftPost

[Postmark]
Unidentified
Z. (…)

Care perçue

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
Cook Hospital, [Crossed out]
Gisborne, [Crossed out]
New Zealand. [Crossed out]

Gebührenfrei!

Reserve Lazarett   Ebelsbach,
Stalag XIIIC, Germany

24.II.45 (Feb)

My Dearest,

Saturday evening once more with another week gone & four more days only of February remaining. I didn’t write you on the 20th; couldn’t raise sufficient thoughts for a letter – a fine state of affairs when your husband finds a letter to his wife so difficult but I feel you will understand after over four years of communication via pencil & paper.

Early this week I received some Penicillin from the British Red Cross – expect some more from the American Society as I now have as many American as British patients. According to an account in a Swiss journal (in French) & to references in a B.M.J. Wiltshire gave me last October it appears to be an important drug. I am reserving it for serious cases where the sulphonamides are ineffective – have a badly wounded American on it at present & after two days he’s certainly better but it is too early to ascribe any dramatic effect as yet. I had to stop sulphonamide administration with him owing to the development of a progressive leucopenia. A busy week with the serious pneumonias in – two ‘crisised’ & settling well & the other looks as if he might do the same tonight or tomorrow – sincerely hope so! Also two cases of frost bite – one hands & the other feet, a partial rupture of an internal lateral ligament of the knee joint, two bronchitics & a few more odd ailments.

No mail is arriving & I’m doubtful if you will receive these recent letters; however I am continuing to write reasonably regularly – even if it’s a silent conversation on my part it does afford me some pleasure. It will be delightful to see your nice self again pets, perhaps in the near future – the end of the war means one great thing for me that I can rejoin you. After five minutes of thinking how I could finish this in as elegant a manner as possible I’m no better off. But you are my dear wife & Dearest, no one could appreciate or love you more than I.

All my kisses,
Your Allan.

Kriegsgefangenenpost

[Stamped]
Stalag XIII C
Geprúft D11

LuftPost

[Postmark]
Unidentified
Z. (…) 13.3.45

Care perçue

Mrs D. Allan Ballantyne
Cook Hospital, [Crossed out]
Gisborne, [Crossed out]
New Zealand. [Crossed out]

Gebührenfrei!

Original digital file

BallantyneDA620_War_Letters-1945.pdf

Description

This is the fifth and final in a series 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 sent 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

10 January 1945 - 24 February 1945

Format of the original

Handwritten letters

Accession number

476919

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