Photograph, letters, and extra information courtesy of Claire.
Born: 1920, Ipswich.
Died: 17th October 1943; age: 23; died in an ambulance on the way to hospital one hour after an accident which killed two other Sappers and injured seven other men.
Rank: Sapper; Service Number: 2067801.
Regiment: Royal Engineers, 552 Army Troops Company. 3 sect.
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of William & Ellen F. Wright, of Ipswich.
Father: William Wright, born 1877, Cratfield, Suffolk.
Mother: Ellen Florence Wright (nee Green), born 1876, Layham, Suffolk.
Also killed as a result of the accident:
Thomas William Durkin: Sapper; age 24.
Sidney George Bunker; Sapper; age 28; 552 Army Troops Company – died on the 18th October.
Alan’s letters to his sister Hazel.
Hazel was born 1914, Ipswich, she married Alfred George Barber (known as Ted), in 1936.
Mrs. T. Barber
304, High Str.
Spr. Wright A.
552 A.T. Coy. R.E.
19th April 42 Passed by censors.
Just a few words thank you for the parcel that you sent me which I received a while back, quite in order, as you say they were very handy. The weather we are having now is quite stifling and causes many a restless night as its to hot to sleep, and we have to have a covering over us, to guard against mosquitos which are rather prominent. I suppose Felixstowe is quite empty nowadays especially the weekends, alot different to what it use to be. Well I think this is all for now except to give my best wishes to Ted and Brian. I don’t supose he hardly knows medoes he? Well cheerio until next time.
Mrs. T. Barber
304, High Str.
Spr. Wright A.
552 A.T. Coy. R.E.
31st May 42 Passed by censors.
Here’s just a few lines in answer to your air-graph of last month and also to let you know that I am quite fit and well and hoping that you and all at Walton are the same. Well their isn’t much that I can write to you about except that we are getting exceptionly warm weather now, I suppose you are getting warmer weather now? Well I’m afraid I must hurray and bring this letter to a close as the lights will soon be going out and I want to get this off first thing in the morning but will write again and shortly and here’s hoping that it won’t be long before I am seeing you again. From Your Loving Brother Alan.
Letter from Lance Sergeant Andy Barr to Alan’s sister Hilda Loraine Wright, born 1916, Ipswich.
L. Sergeant A. Barr 2079608
552 A. TPS. Coy. R.E. SECT. 4.
I was very pleased to receive your letter yesterday & to see that you are taking your great loss as well, all 3 section lads like myself were wondering what sort of notification the War Office would give your parents, as we all know it would come as a terrible shock to you all, well Hilda I am not allowed to say what actually happened on the 17th OCT. but I can assure you that Alan was most cheerful before his death. I will start from the beginning, our section arrived on a detachment on the 14th, the following day our Officer was killed, our Sergeant seriously wounded & two Sappers slightly wounded, the following day we laid our officer to rest in a small British Cemetery & 3 section paid their respect in the usual Army style. Well, the day after, we hadn’t much to do & most of the lads wrote letters home as the O.C. who came down for our officers funeral was going to take the letters back for censoring. That evening another accident occurred, resulting in the loss of three Sappers, & seven injured. Alan was one of the three & I saw him two minutes before the accident & after I was talking with him for about three hours, but I truthfully say that no one thought he would pass away in the ambulance on way to hospital an hour later, because he was smiling & joking with us all, but his main worry was how the other lads were who were injured with him. One of the died the same time as Alan & the other early next morning. Well you can imagine it was a more painful ceremony for 3 section to carry out the next morning. All three of the lads were laid to rest beside their Officer whom they buried the day before. All I can say now is that our company moved shortly after & we weren’t able to (as our usual custom is to do) make a concrete or stone headstone with all particulars cut out on the face of it & an R.E. badge cut out on top & I would have been able to send you a photograph, but we are hundreds of miles from there now & can’t do as we would wish. All Alan’s kit was lost in the accident so there is nothing I can send home to you Hilda, there was nothing saved at all & I believe our O.C. has written to your father & mother so he probably would have mentioned that. We got the parcel to-day & I shared it out as you said to 3 section, none of them liked the idea of it, but they seen it was it was for the best as we knew how you would feel when you received it back again. I have the calender hanging or rather sitting at my side here, you sent one every year didn’t you? Your mother wants to know how the name Chalky came into being, well in 1941 we were going through some very soft sand, white sand, & the truck we were on at the time churned up all this & it blew right amongst us all sitting on the back, after making some better ground we stopped & jumped off & every man was pure white, especially his face & it was real comical just to look at each other. Well somebody happened to say look at him (Alan) & the name slipped from his lips “Chalky Wright”, and it stuck, as there is a great American boxing writer called Chalky Wright, so that name since that day is the only one I have ever heard him called & his proper name is more or less strange to us. I know quite a bit about your family & Stan, also the little nieces he said used to torment him 7 you, he said had a boyfriend whom he liked very much, the best of a few that you seemingly used to have, but you packed him up. Well maybe I am getting too personal now Hilda, but we used to speak about our homes to each other small things like that. Is Chalky’s pen pal still beside you yet, Helen Roos? He was well kidded when Helen’s photo arrived. Well I can’t say much more just now I only hope you are clear off the facts now & back with your aunt. Remember me to Helen & Jean, not forgetting of course your mother & father, & all the lads of 3 section wish to be remembered to them both & they have left it to me to send their deepest sympathy. We shall never forget a great pal.
Cheerio for now Hilda.