We’ve reached the general a part of our mini-series of letters written through a 21-year-old Fusilier Douglas William John Harmer, referred to as Billy, from when he used to be posted to the Isle of Wight right through WWII.

We’ve adopted Billy’s adventure as he writes to his circle of relatives describing his time posted to the Isle of Wight right through the 2d Global Conflict. His letters give an excellent unfiltered perception into the existence, ideas, considerations and daily tasks of an everyman as he’s moved across the Island to give protection to it.

Transcribed through uncle
Billy’s letters had been shared with us and transcribed through his nephew, Ray Gaines, who says,

“In transcribing the letters I’ve stored the prose and grammatical mistakes in, to deal with the authenticity. As can also be imagined Billy wrote his letters hurriedly and in now not in particular beneficial prerequisites.”


Fus. Harmer 6465127
W Corporate (eight Platoon)
2 Batt. Royal Fusiliers
Isle of Wight

Saturday 24th August

Expensive Joan  (sister)

Hope you might be all neatly and protected at house, thanks to your letter. I believe the photograph is the most efficient one I’ve ever observed of you, it’s the products. I guess your bloke likes it.

I’m happy you stay within the air raid refuge when the planes come over, and stay the previous guy in when there’s any AA shelling, as it’s lovely bad, even us blokes with tin hats stay below duvet once they get started shelling them, they usually come back and forth excessive people each and every evening.

Wednesday my mate and I went into Ventnor to the images, and we noticed the resort which the bomb had dropped on, it had blown a few quarter of it away, however there used to be nonetheless a tumbler electrical lamp coloration placing from a bit of of ceiling into area and it had now not been damaged.

We’ve got moved once more and we’re at a vacation camp, a rather giant one this time. There is not any furnishings within the huts in fact however they have got a just right bar, had been you’ll be able to get beer and a wide variety of drink, additionally a radiogram, a small billiard desk and desk tennis and slot gadget.

I’ve simply heard a squeak from a bloke who has observed the go away checklist and he says I’m going in a few weeks time, now not this Monday however the following. I believe it’s lovely dependable, in any case if it’s true I can be knowledgeable about four days previously, the I will be able to write and inform you evidently, in all probability then it is possible for you to to mend your week up.

Neatly I believe this is about all I will be able to bring to mind for now. I want you might all write extra as I waited every week to your letter and used to be starting to get nervous.  So cheerio, like to Mum and Dad.

Your loving brother Invoice.


Fus. Harmer 6465127
W Corporate (eight Platoon)
2 Batt. Royal Fusiliers
Isle of Wight

Monday 26th August

Dearest Mum

Hope you might be all neatly at house. I gained your parcel of books and located them good enough.

I don’t assume my go away must be very lengthy now as there are about six extra BEF chaps in our platoon to move. Have you ever had any air raids or bombing but?

I’ve learn in regards to the bombing of Croyden Airport. There appears to be slightly numerous planes introduced down at the island. Friday, whilst we had been having a rifle inspection a telephone message got here via {that a} aircraft had crashed in our space, so a L/C, seven different chaps and I had been despatched out in a truck to seek out it, but if we were given there quantity nine platoon had beat us to it.

It used to be one among our planes and had crashed into the aspect of the hill, and used to be burning. The pilot had jumped out in his parachute and used to be picked up later unharmed.

Don’t put out of your mind if anything else occurs stay off the streets and get in a air raid refuge. Neatly expensive Mum I will have to shut now.

Like to all, your loving son Invoice.


Fus. Harmer 6465127
W Corporate (eight Platoon)
2 Batt. Royal Fusiliers
Isle of Wight

Thursday 29th August

Dearest Mum

Hope you might be all neatly at house and you have got had extra sleep this week. Thanks very a lot for the 5s it at all times is useful. Monday, a celebration people went to Newport, my mate and I went to the images and noticed the ‘Broadway Melody of 1940’, it used to be superb.

Ultimate evening we had an image display within the camp, within the giant corridor which used to be used for a eating corridor and live performance corridor. There used to be (sic) two motion pictures, a go back and forth movie in color and a racing movie ‘King of the Turf’. It used to be given through the Naffi cell cinema, it used to be 3d to move in.

Each and every afternoon now we have a swimming parade however I will be able to’t swim but, even if its great to move within the water after the quick drill parade now we have, as we get lovely heat out within the solar. We’ve got heard bombs shedding at the Island a number of instances this week.

Ultimate evening lets listen military weapons off the French coast. One chap has long past on go away from our platoon nowadays and I believe I’m after him at the checklist. I’ve heard I may move Monday or the Friday after. The chaps who’ve long past on go away generally get into Waterloo about three o/clock but when I’m instructed in time I can permit you to know.

Neatly expensive Mum I will have to shut now.

Like to all, your loving son Invoice.


Very unfortunately, Billy by no means did get his go away.

Only a few days later his oldsters gained the dreadful telegram informing them that their expensive son Billy used to be killed through a German bomb at the 6th September 1940.

Temporary cross on the grave of Billy Harmer

He stays at the Isle of Wight in Parkhurst warfare cemetery, subsequent to his buddy Arthur Bevan who died with him.

Our ideas are with Billy’s circle of relatives at this in particular poignant time of yr and thank them as soon as once more for sharing those valuable letters.


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