1944 was a bad year for Gordon. April saw his first spell in hospital, our collection includes one air letter sent at this time, finishing off by saying “So don’t worry as I’m nearly well again now. Here’s wishing you and Ron (Gordon’s brother) the very best of everything and I hope to be home again very shortly.” Sadly this was not to be the case, and the next letter in the sequence is sent to Gordon’s mother and dated the 29th of September 1944 – his 21st birthday. It states “Madam, I regret to inform you that a report has benn received from overseas to the effect that (number) Pte Dinnis Gordon Charles (Regiment) was wounded on the 18th of September 1944 in the Central Mediterranean Theatre of War. It has not been reported into what hospital he has been admitted, nor are other particlulars known, but in the event of his condition being considered by the Medical Authorities as serious or dangerous this office will be notified by cable and you will be immediately informed. I am to express to you the sympahty and regret of the Army Council.”
We can only imagine how Mrs Dinnis felt on receiving this letter. She kept a notebook in which she kept a record of her three sons, daughter and husband. She writes “Gordon wounded in right shoulder Mon, Sept 18th 1944. I heard from War Office Mon. Oct 2nd and had air letter from Gordon Oct 3rd written Sept 25th.” We have this letter from Gordon, in which he writes in a very shaky hand “Just a few lines to let you know that I am in Dock again and have been woulded in the right shoulder, so am finding it very difficult to write. but I had to drop you a few lines or your would worry so much. The shrapnel has already been taken out and I am now waiting for it to heal up. Don’t worry Mum will you as I am quite ok, I just got in the way of a bit of lead that’s all. I always was awkward. One thing, it’s not very painful.”
Of course he was just trying to reassure his mother, as the injury was quite serious. We know this from further letters. One of these letters was written on September the 30th, the day after his 21st birthday. He writes “Well Mum, I have a big surprise for you. Yesterday, being my 21st birthday the Sisters made me a big cake, with the words 21st Birthday Greetings on it. Then another Sister brought me in a parcel which contained a cake, bottle of Gin, sweets, cigarettes, razor, soap, toothbrush and razor blades. She also put a nice vase of flowers on my locker. Another Sister gave me a cigarette lighter. They were all very kind to me and I shall never forget them. they made it as good as they possibly could, and I do appreciate it. I’m sure not many would do all they did for me to make it a real happy birthday.”
I’m sure his mother would have been pleased to know that the Sisters were looking after her son and made his birthday as special as they could. He had some good days and bad days during his recovery, we can only read the letters and imagine what his thoughts and feelings were. Later, in October 1944 he writes “Well Mum, it’s a year ago yesterday, since I left England. A year in which many things have happened, some good, some bad but I will say this, I wish I had missed that year altogether, and gone from being 19 to 21. Lets hope this next period will find the war won, and Jack (his elder brother), and myself back home again with Dad, and Nancy (his elder sister) with us.” Ron, his younger brother was already at home, having been injured previously.
All the letters are contained in the small book ‘Don’t Worry Mum’ available from http://www.blurb.co.uk