Robert Dickinson at home.
This letter from Robert to his brother Jim and Jim’s wife Olive must have been sent after September 1944, as the breakout from Camp 59 was on September 14, 1943, and Robert writes that he has not been a POW for over a year.
Jim must have been glad to receive the letter, as he had not been in contact with Robert since he left camp.
Eve, who is mentioned, is Olive’s sister. Known in the family as Auntie Eve, she turned 90 in 2008.
Ida was Robert’s girlfriend. It is to Ida that he dedicated his journal, “Servigliano Calling.” Had Robert returned home, he and Ida would likely have married.
On the back of the letter he’s written another to Lincoln’s Kingsly Street Working Men’s Club for their support during his POW days. He signed the letter Bricky Dick—his profession was as a bricklayer and he was known in the area as Bricky Dicky. The “C. W.” in C. W. Kingsly Street Working Men’s Club stands for Castle Ward. It seems all the wards in the city used to have a working men’s club.
Robert knew the war was coming to an end. Most of Italy at this point would have been in the hands of the Allies, but the Po valley, near to where Robert was located, was the last German stronghold. This letter was the last word Robert’s family would receive from him, as he was killed while fighting with the Italian partisans soon after. Robert is buried in Milan War Cemetery.
Dear Olive & Jim;
Hello you two Bob writing, yes really me after a break of over a year. How are you both & Eve & everyone; how is Ida is she married yet? Ah! I am OK. or will be pretty soon, jolly well battered about though about 50% worse than that P.O.W. photograph. I hope to get fit before I come home it shouldn’t take long.
I have passed this last year in a room in an Italian house horrible really it is over now thank God and very soon I hope to be with you all again how I am longing for that day.
Well Cheerio for now & do write soon and tell me all the news.
The marriage of Robert’s brother Jim and Olive. Robert is in back left between two bridesmaids and Robert’s brother Len is seated at the front. Robert’s parents are on the left-hand side and Olive’s parents are at the right. Jim and Olive are in the centre. Olive’s sister Eve is the bridesmaid on the far right.
C. W. Working Men’s Club & Institute
off Burton Road
To the members of the club,
I have been going to write these few lines of thanks for years now but circumstances and the like have been definitely against it, anyway here goes thank you all for your kindness to me during my prisoner of war term. I have not been a P.O.W. for over a year now but have been ‘mucking in’ with an Italian family (and worse actually) but all that is over now and I hope sincerely hope to be with you all very shortly until then Cheerio & keep smiley