Step back in time seventy-five years ago and many of our Thames 'boys' were in Italy involved with military operations - as they waited for the end of World War Two.
One of these men was Douglas Owen Barker of Thames, telegraph deliverer to signalman. Doug wrote many letters home, along with diaries - they all started with the identification details: eg. No. 459351 SGMN Barker, D O, SIGNAL COY, "A" Depot, 2NZEF NZ ADV. Base. (photo right)
Doug attested 28 October 1941, and entered camp 10 January 1942. He was stationed in Wellington, until leaving for overseas service 29 January 1945. L/Cpl Barker was based in Italy from 7 February 1945 until 20 March 1946 when his unit left Florence bound for Japan.
When MyHeritage recently had the offer of free colourisation of photographs, I had a few of Doug's photos processed. What a difference, as previously mentioned the years melt away when you see these images remastered.
The war experience was very real for these men, but imagine from Thames to Italy via Egypt.
In a letter sent to his sister Betty Barker of Thames dated 3/3/1945, Doug wrote (part of letter):
"Well here it is Sunday night, so I'll drop you a few lines while I have the chance. It has been snowing heavily all day and its been fun watching the snow turn into nice mud. But we cannot growl about the weather because for the last fortnight it has been lovely & sunny.
Had a great few days leave yesterday Bet. Went to Bari, arrived there for morning tea after which we all had a good look around the streets. Talk about thousands of kids on the street. They're a nuisance they pester you to buy your cigarettes boots or any article of clothing, and they follow you all around the place.
We had a nice tea at the Club and went to a large Italian Opera House which is used as a picture theatre. Imagine us Bett, sitting in a Royalty Box puffing cigs and munching biscuits..had another good hot meal and off back to camp...How is Cliff's Army life (his brother) coming along. I dont suppose he in camp yet?
Thats the lot for now Bett, Love to all, Your loving brother Doug."