Friday, March 20, 2015

V-Mail from Murdoch

Click on letter to see in separate window.

Somewhere in North Africa
James M. Finlayson SK 1/c
3 November 1943
Flotilla Nine LCT (5)

Tonight before going to bed, I've been riffling through and reading Murdoch's V-Mail to Cheraw, SC..  His letters aren't as detailed as his younger brother Pat's mail.  The above is one of his fewer longer letters.  Most of his letters read the same; letting his parents know that he's safe, asking for items that he can't get hold of (usually articles of clothing), asking about his siblings stateside, and trying to get siblings to write.

Even though Murdoch and Pat are in the same Flotilla, they don't see each other as much as they'd like. He'll either inform his mother that he's been with Pat or that he hasn't seen Pat and would like information about him if they've heard from him.  So you could be on the other side of the world, closer to a loved one than other family members far away at home, yet still depend on those at home to let you know that your little brother is okay. All of these wartime letters reflect Murdoch's love and concern for his little brother, and Pat's love for his older brother.  Pat could get annoyed with Murdoch's peculiarities, but they showed great concern for one another, always looking for the time they could hang together.

For years I had heard that Murdoch coded his letters, so the censors could not pick up on his secret messages so his mother back home in Cheraw could know what was going on.  I think I am picking up on it, but not able to decipher the odd lines.  He would write about "Papa building a fence", or "How's the garden?" or "Have Papa build a second story to the house".  Some lines were just strange and a little out of place, and all I can figure Murdoch was writing code.  Only Murdoch and his parents knew what he was writing about. I'm guessing that throughout the letters, anything that has to do with carpentry and gardening are coded messages.

Rest assured, when Murd was talking about money, he was writing about money.  Both Murdoch and Pat were sending money home, making sure their parents were being taken care of.  There were lots of letters being written back and forth, every one touching base and doing their best to watch over each other.

So long ago now, and touching to see the love written clearly between the lines.
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