Letters home shared the wartime experience
The Bearsted's eldest sons, Dick and Peter Samuel, spent the first eighteen months of the war in the Middle East. Their Regiment, the Warwickshire Yeomanry, were sent in as peacekeepers between Jews and Arabs and also to guard the essential oil pipelines.In May 1942 they were sent to Egypt and the Western Desert Campaign. In October both fought with great bravery at the battle of El Alamein.
Visit the Tent Room
As part of our story of the family, we have created a Tent Room to represent Dick and Peter’s time in the desert, both in the Middle East and in Egypt.
The room has a camp bed and bedside table displaying various personal items, which we know from Peter’s letters, he carried with him. Original letters from Peter to his parents are also displayed.
Peter’s letters home are a wonderful snapshot of his war, but often there is a hint of homesickness and in one letter he writes
“How often have I thought at particularly hot or dusty or trying moments out here, when responsibility seems endless and all-pervading, that I would give all the world to be lying under the cedar at Upton in the summer and smell the unforgettable smell of grass and new-mown hay …………. One day I shall do that again it, it will be heaven.
Deeds not words
During the Battle of El Alamein, Dick and Peter, both Squadron Leaders, fought with great courage, upholding the family motto of “Deeds not Words”.
For his outstanding bravery on the field of battle, Peter was awarded an immediate MC, after an action in which the squadron he was commanding had defended the British flank, destroying 4 anti-tank guns at very close range until only his own tank remained operational.
He wrote to his mother and father “For some reason or other, they have just presented me with an MC. I can’t think why, honestly, but it looks very pretty on the left breast”.
His moving description of the battle can be read in his letter, dated 30th January 1943. Addressed to his youngest brother, Tony who was working in the Special Operations Executive with their father.
It was the moment, of course, we had all waited for, for so long and there was not a man amongst us, I believe, who would have gone backwards if ordered to! Our part was divided into three phases. The first one on the first four days from October 23rd to Oct 27th and the second one and a half brief and hectic days on November 2nd and 3rd and the third and last seven tearing, racing days trying to catch up with the beeping fox as hard as we could go. Dick has written a detailed account of the whole affair which will no doubt reach you - I know it has been sent on - so I will not go into any detail.