World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Patricia Whitlam 

Letters Home

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Patricia Clare Whitlam (nee Rhodes), Ronald Sydney Rhodes.
Location of story: North Africa
Background to story: Royal Air Force


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Julie Turner of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Mrs. Patricia Clare Whitlam.

My brother Ronald Sydney Rhodes served in North Africa with the RAF during the 2nd World War. Because I was 16 years younger than he was, of course he was my hero. I could not wait for his letters home to arrive telling us all the exciting details about what was happening in North Africa.

The letters I received were only about 4” x 4” because they had been photographed, therefore reducing the size. My brother used to draw Mickey Mouse, Santa Clause, and Easter Bunnies etc. to decorate them. When I used to write back, I had to write in larger letters on a very large piece of paper so that they could be photographed. All this intrigued me of course. He also sent photographs of himself and his friends enjoying themselves, swimming and sunbathing on the coast during their time off. They seemed to me to be having a much better time than we were.

AT this time I would have been 6 – 7 years old and could not remember ever seeing the sea because I was only 3 when the War broke out.

When eventually Rodney came home, he bought everyone presents. I had a lovely white leather handbag decorated with camels and my mother, a lovely silver necklace and bracelet with cameo’s set in it.

His son, who is only 8 years younger than me, was born while he was away and he didn’t see him until he was about 2 years old.

I still have one small cameo from my mother’s necklace but unfortunately, have not been able to find the letters, which I felt sure I had kept. However, I am enclosing copies of 2 of the photographs I mentioned earlier.