Military POW Stalag Luft Postcard

Letters from a POW

A more personal post from me… For a long time I have been researching my own family tree as well as helping others with theirs. There are usually months if not years between “amazing” discoveries. A large number appeared after my DNA test results came back from Ancestry. Others simply by scanning through ancestry’s records. This one discovery in particular knocked me off my feet.

I’ll start with a bit of backstory. My Grandad, John Victor Foster (Jack) was born in 1920 so was only 19 when WW2 began. He enlisted in the RAF at West Drayton and was trained at RAF Cardington and RAF Yatesbury. He was sent to France supporting the B.E.F but in June 1940 he was captured by the Germans at St Valery-en-Caux and spent the next 5 years as Prisoner of War No.89.

Jack was known for his sense of humour. Should you utter anything remotely funny people would say “You must get that from your grandad”. I remember him saying “If you were hungry you’d eat grass.” I was probably a little too quick to brush this off as his sense of humour.

My searches of Ancestry don’t tend to include the generations of family I have met, no hints are offered outside of the usual Birth, Marriage and Death results so they are left and what images and important documents exist in your own collection are added. A good while before he passed away he wrote down his memories of the war and produced a small book that was distributed amongst friends and family. I was re-reading this one day and decided to type his POW number into Ancestry. Several records appeared.

A chap called Rob from Boston, Massachusetts had uploaded the text from some postcards he’d found in his Grandmother’s belongings. I messaged him immediately and thankfully he replied. His grandmother was a red cross volunteer and plane spotter in the war, she was sending parcels to her assigned POW… and he was writing back! Here is what those postcards said…

4-1-43

“Dear Mrs. Frye,

Thank you so much for your welcome letter received today. I must first apologise for the postcard but we are rationed every month, and the letters I send to my people in England. My greatest need here is food. I have plenty of clothes. Such articles as coffee + tea, tinned meat + biscuits are very valuable. Also cigarettes. I will write again next month and tell you more about myself and my life here. In the meantime, cheerio.

Sincerely yours, J.V. Foster”

Letter from Prisoner of War 89
First handwritten postcard by J V Foster to Mrs Frye

6-3-43

“Dear Mrs. Frye,

I hope you received the card I sent last month. Since then you will be pleased to hear I have received Three parcels from you in less than a month. The first was dated 16-10-42. The second, 16-11(42) and the third 1-12-42. They all arrived in good condition. I was surprised to see the amount of food you were able to pack into such a small box, and especially so much of the (…missing fragment)… articles. That ultimately we never see … I haven’t told you much about myself up to the present. I expect you know I am English. My home is in the West country, in the county of Somerset. I have three brothers, one is in the navy, the others are still at school. I joined the Air Force before the war, and unfortunately was taken prisoner in June 1940. I am thoroughly fed up with prison life but manage to keep up a cheerful outlook. I would like to be home for next Christmas, but I have learnt not to be too optimistic. We have a lot of American boys here. They have been busy playing baseball during the past few days. Well I must thank you before closing for the very welcome food parcels, and I hope to hear from you shortly.

Yours Truly, J.V. Foster”

Letter from POW 89 - J.V Foster
POW Letter from Stalag Luft 3 written by J.V Foster
Letter from POW 89 at Stalag Luft 3
Second Letter from J.V Foster prisoner of war at Stalag-Luft 3

16-7-43

“Dear Mrs. Frye,

I received your letter today dated 21st May, also the food parcels you sent. So pleased you received my letter, they sometimes go astray. I find your letters very interesting, especially about the garden. I can picture you all together. We live in the country also, in Somerset (where the cider apples grow.) How I wish I could be there now. Our slogan is “The day will dawn.” We have moved to another camp, please note address.

Sincerely Yours, Victor Foster”

Letter from John Victor Foster to Mrs Frye from Stalag Luft 6
Third Letter from J.V Foster to Mrs Frye from a German POW Camp

8-7-44

“Dear Mrs. Frye,

Have received three big parcels from you, and also a book parcel in the last two months, but have been unable to send a card until now. I am still waiting for this war to end. Since I last wrote you we have had a lot of Americans here in another compound. Thanks again for all you have done.

Jack”

Postcard from Stalag Luft 3 by J.V Foster
Final postcard from J.V. Foster from Stalag Luft

I must say a big thank you to Rob who took his time to dig them out again and photograph them for me. It’s so lovely to have found them and at the same time it fills me with sadness that my grandad had to suffer. It was a shame that he wasn’t reunited with his letters, I wonder what he would make of them? I have no idea if he ever tried to make contact with Mrs Frye on his return, but I’d like to think he did.

Jack’s memories of the war are available in a short book called Sauerkraut and Boiled Potatoes which covers his time from enlistment through training, capture, his time spent in prisoner of war camps, his brush with death on the long march through to his return home.

A kindle edition is available.

WW2 Colourised Photo

J.V. Foster


(Far left, sat on chair) Photo taken in 1939 at RAF Cardington following training. Shortly after he wandered into Bedford to have his photo taken alone in uniform.

Military Photo RestorationRAF Photo Restoration and Colourisation

His next stop was wireless training school at RAF Yatesbury before being sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force where he was captured at Saint-Valery-en-Caux by Rommel’s troops.

Prisoner of war no.89.

His memories are available in a short book called Sauerkraut and Boiled Potatoes which covers his time from enlistment through training, capture, his time spent in prisoner of war camps, his brush with death on the long march through to his return home.

A kindle edition is available.

Land Girl - Colour Photo

Pat Wyatt

The Women’s Land Army was established in World War One, but was re-founded shortly before the outbreak of World War Two. With much of our food being imported and all able bodied men required to fight there was shortage of labour to provide for ourselves. Here we see Pat, (now commonly known as Granny Wyatt) doing her bit as a Land Girl at Drewsteignton in Devon. Can you imagine that today?

Land Girl - Colour PhotoLand Girl - Colour Photo

Thank you to Kim for the chance to add some colour to this wonderful image of your Gran.