Feb 102017

Arthur, early 1942

75 years ago, my grandfather Arthur joined the Navy. His first letter home was written on 11 February 1942. From tomorrow (Saturday 11 February 2017), I will be publishing his letters – and those of my grandmother and their two children – exactly 75 years after they were written. They tell a love story. They are funny and heartbreaking. They tell how it was to live through the second world war – as a serviceman and as a mother on the home front. It’s all here: Bombs! Sex! What to plant on the allotment!

As his service begins, Arthur is sent to H.M.S. Royal Arthur in Skegness, a converted Butlins holiday camp. He is there to learn naval discipline and soon realises that “one will go along quite well here by doing what one is told”. He is not entirely comfortable on the windswept east coast: “I’m constipated and cold and I’m going to make a supreme effort to cure one of those complaints now.”

You can read the letters at www.arthurandstella.com; Facebook and Twitter will be alerted when new letters are added.

Dec 062018

I have been contacted by a TV production company for help with a three-part documentary series it is making for broadcast next year.
The subject is the Liverpool Blitz, but they are “keen to have Arthur as a character in the series”, because of his role as Blitz reporter on the local paper in the first half of the war. This has already been highlighted in print with the book Merseyside’s Secret Blitz Diary, and a radio programme presented by Peter Sissons (read about both here), but it is very exciting to think my grandfather will be on screen in the spring.
I only hope that it will also publicise their letters on this website – and help to realise my dream of turning them into a book!

May 252019

Arthur Johnson at work in the newspaper office.

During the second world war, my grandfather Arthur Johnson was ‘Blitz Reporter’ for the local paper in Liverpool. While published reports were censored, or at least very carefully worded, he kept a secret – illegal – diary recording in detail the devastation to the city. You can read more about it here.
Arthur and his diary are featuring heavily in a three-part Channel 5 TV series, The Blitz: Britain On Fire, which is showing at 9pm on Monday 27 May and the following two nights.
Arthur’s son – also Arthur Johnson – was on BBC Radio Merseyside’s Linda McDermott show on 15 May discussing his father, the diary, and the awful week of the Liverpool Blitz in May 1941. It is available on catch-up for a few days here.
I am continuing to publish the letters that Arthur and my grandmother Stella wrote to each other after he was called up to the Navy in 1942 – posting them on this website exactly 75 years after they were written. If you have just found this website, at the time of writing (i.e. May 1944) Arthur was working as a signalman at the Admiralty in a Whitehall basement and lodging with his sister Dot and her husband Jack. He has just been told that he is to leave Whitehall, but doesn’t yet know where he will be drafted… Today’s letter is here.