My Family History & Genealogy


Letters from William Henry Derrick to Caroline Derrick in Australia

29th January 1944


Dear Caroline,

I have to thank you for your nice Christmas card with the post mark on it dated 7/10/43 which only reached me recently and also for your letter dated 14/4/42 in which you told me of the safe return to Australia of your three beloved and brave sons. Since then I have often wondered if having survived so much hard fighting and other ills in North Africa they had been drafted to face much worse conditions in the tropical islands and jungles of the Pacific.

After spending 16 years tin mining in Malay jungles I know only too well the trying conditions which obtain in the Pacific islands to which, in times of war against a treacherous enemy like the Japs, and disease, has to be added and reckoned with, God help all those who are fighting there, against a merciless foe.

My grandson Peter is still a Prisoner of War in Germany where he is making the best of things, the other grandson Bill who was released from the Army on medical grounds has an important post on the Bristol Development Board.

The damage in bombing raids on that City have been enormous. I am glad to say I keep in good health and although now in my 81st year am still able to carry on all my important Public Duties and any spare time in my large garden for which little labour is obtainable.

My housekeeper who is also my cook (and a very good one) will in a few days complete 28 years service. She was married a year ago to a steady and hardworking man, after seven years courtship, and both now continue to reside in the house.

My two brothers, George 84, Ernest 73, and sister Agnes 77 are all alive and three sisters and one brother have passed on. This doubtless is interesting family news - the same as yours would be to me.

By the time this reaches you it will be a bit late for wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year, all the same I venture to do so, trusting this horrid war will be over before the end of it.

Yours affectionately,
Cousin William

14 December 1946

Dear Caroline,

The second parcel I have received, I am glad to tell you arrived today and I am writing immediately in the hopes of a letter by Air Mail may reach you by the 25th inst.

I simply do not know how to thank you for the good things contained in the parcel, all in perfect condition. The fruit my housekeeper, who is a most excellent cook, tells me is enough for three large Christmas puddings and a good sized Christmas Cake, which will be much richer than the one purchased last year.

February next, it will be 31 years since my dear wife engaged Ruth, who after her marriage, I was able to offer comfortable quarters for two happy people who had been engaged for seven years. The things you have sent me are a rich return for the two small packages I sent your sons during the war. See Eccl.

11.1. "Cast your bread upon the waters and you shall find it after many


Such indeed has been my good fortune.

Your last letter to me was written on my 83rd Birthday in which you enclosed a photo of yourself and Grandson Gordon William, both (as I could see by using a strong glass)
looking remarkably well, and for which many thanks.


My grandson Peter has quite recovered from his long  experience as POW and now happily married. His elder brother William is now the father of two boys and is doing well as the principal Development Officer for the city of Birkenhead.


I was glad to hear your son Gordon was doing well at the School of Forestry, the open air life in connection with that should be of great benefit in keeping him from further attacks of malaria.

In a letter Charles wrote me I gather that farming quite suits him and I hope he finds it as profitable as those engaged in it do here; several I know have recently retired with
substantial fortunes, made during the war.

Coupons would appear to be as great a trouble to you as they are here and it looks as if they will continue to be so for some time yet, but not I think for many things owing
to foreign imports.

Owing to many departmental changes made by the Government which will come into force next year my Public work which I have carried on up to the present will be
somewhat reduced, and I shall be able to take a well earned rest at the age of 84, and have more time to devote to my garden.

This year it has given a good yield in the way of fruit and vegetables, especially potatoes enough to carry on with into next spring and ?. I should have enough bottled fruit to last until the end of next year.
It may interest you to hear that the present High Commissioner for Australia
stationed in Canada is a lawyer named Arthur Starling (not sure if that is his name, Delia).


He is an Australian, born in Melbourne, his grandmother before her marriage was a Miss Annie Derrick a sister of my mother and your father. When in London Arthur makes a point of seeing my sister Agnes who lives there and she last saw him when on his way from Canada to attend the Conference which has been taking place there.  Agnes is now 79 and quite active, in mind and body.


If this does not reach you before the 25th I trust dear Caroline that you had a very happy Xmas with all your dear ones and all I can do now is to wish you and them a happy and prosperous New Year.

Yours affectionately,

Cousin William

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