August 1943

Lieutenant Lawrence (Lawrie) Franklyn-Vaile’s first six letters, which were sent to his wife Olive during August 1943, describe his sea journey from England to the north coast of Africa.

He is accompanied by a draft of reinforcements from the various depots of the Irish Brigade, along with six other junior officers, Aubrey, McConnell, Myles, Ellis, O’Brien and Glennie. They are all initially taken into a holding camp in Algeria before being posted to their various infantry units, who were at that time resting and training in Sicily.

Read these letters by clicking on the links below.

2/Lt John Glennie, who travelled to Sicily with Lawrie.

12th August – At a port of embarkation in the UK.

“We are on the boat at the port of embarkation. Had an uneventful journey throughout the night – did not get much sleep and felt very low and miserable but with something to do to occupy my mind, so today has not been quite so bad. It was a grim and sad business saying good bye to you yesterday, darling, and I only managed to keep a stiff upper lip with considerable difficulty, as you probably guessed….”

15th August – On board ship heading for North Africa.

“Have the chance of writing another letter which should reach you fairly soon. There is still no official news that I am able to tell you, but my next letter, which may of course not reach you for a little time, should give you more information….”

21st August – On board ship in the Meditterranean.

“The days are slowly passing and soon we should be on land again. It has been quite a pleasant voyage, better than I anticipated in many ways, but nevertheless I will be quite glad when we eventually arrive at the port of destination….”

23rd August – On board ship off the North African coast.

“The weather has now become very warm and the sea is beautifully blue and very calm. We are all wearing our tropical kit and I got my knees rather sun burnt yesterday. In fact, I overdid it slightly and they were painful for a time…..”

27th August – From a port somewhere on the North African coast.

“…We landed at a port on the North African coast and this camp is situated on the coast. The heat is absolutely terrific. I have never known anything like it. The sun beats down fiercely all day long, from a cloudless blue sky….”

28th August.

“…Our sea voyage ended on Wednesday. We sailed near the North Africa coast for a day, passing Algiers. Unfortunately, we would not land there. We finally landed at a pleasant port. The houses are built on the side of a hill, all shining white and the streets were full of French and Arabs….”


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