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Christmas with a difference

Posted on 22 Dec 2015

Tags: Letters, Christmas, Second World War, WW2

With Love and a Huge Cocktail is a fascinating exchange of letters between Jim Maurice and his wife Pam who were separated during World War 2.

They spent three Christmases apart. In 1943 Jim, a GP who became an RAF doctor, was posted in Aden. He was a Senior Medical Officer at a hospital but was far from any action and used his spare time to explore what is today the Yemen. He also became interested in horses – it is from the Yemen that the finest Arab horses originate. He discovered he was so talented at it that he owned, trained and rode one horse to victory in the South Arabian Derby. He tells the tale here, in a previously unpublished extract from his letters.

Dec 20th 1943
I wish you had been there to see the show. We paraded in great style and cantered to the start. To my huge joy my three were no trouble while the Sultan's horses and the A.P.L.'s played hell. My instructions and how the race should have been run in our plans were these: I was to go away as hard as I could and set such a tremendous gallop, Dean to come after me and make a run when the 4 stone extra began to tell, while Tunis was to keep out wide and go as hard as he could. The Arab could ride him no other way however hard he tried!

This is how I think it went. Tunis just beat the flag and jumped into the lead. Na'Ma went away perfectly and I was poor, (3 from last in the first 30 yards I am told.) Anyway the first thing I saw as we got galloping was Tunis in front, then Helen, and Na'Ma at her quarters on her right, Mary the same on her left, then Peter and then Star in a hell of flying sand and gravel which was cutting my lips.
I gave Star a touch with my heels and he went like a train leaving everything near standing. For one brief instant Helen was racing level between Na'Ma and Star and then we were out on our own, chasing and slowly catching Tunis. Na'Ma, though I did not see her, was hard after me.
Tunis was four lengths clear but not quite holding his position, and I could feel Star laying himself out like one possessed. The bend in the course was long but went through 180° leaving a furlong straight to gallop. Into the bend we were well into Tunis' dust and I could hear nothing behind me. I pulled out a little to make my run in the straight and was, I feel certain, making ground when Tunis swerved and went off the course. Start trying to follow him and changed feet, and got unbalanced. As I straightened him I heard something hard behind, and so did Star and went again like a train.

Results: 1 Star 2 Na'Ma 3 Sandi. Star won by two lengths, 10 lengths separated second and third. In the last race Star knew what was wanted and we “cake walked” it and won by eight lengths, easing up. Dean hit a soft patch and jarred Na'Ma (who is all right now). Dean thinks he should have won the Derby.

Heaps of love from


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With Love & a Huge Cocktail

During World War II, Jim and Pam Maurice were separated for three years. Jim, a GP, became an RAF doctor sent to the Middle East. Pam stayed at home in the south of England with their two small children. Eloquent and educated, they were prolific letter writers, exchanging correspondence weekly, and producing over 300 letters in total. This selection of their letters tells the story of a separated couple who loved each other dearly - and also gives a fascinating insight into British attitudes, society, politics and the wider world at this crucial time in history.

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