Photos from Yesteryear: WWII doctor billets in United Kingdom

A group of servicemen
Dr. Martin Rucker’s children

During WWII, Dr. Martin (Mart) Rucker was billeted with Mrs. Margaret Bayliss in Dursley, Gloucestershire. Captain Rucker had been in England with the Medical Corps.

When looking through his late aunt’s documents, Nicholas Dutton Cox — who also lived with Bayliss as a small child — came across a few pictures and documents. Over the years, Cox said, Mrs. Bayliss always spoke kindly of Dr. Rucker.

“When the war was over, he sent food parcels to us, which was greatly appreciated as the UK was on food rationing, etc,” Cox said.

Cox sent three photos to the Herald — a photo of Dr. Rucker’s children, an extract of The Sabetha Herald with a “letter home” from Dr. Rucker, and a group photo of American servicemen. Cox is hopeful that “this little bit of their history” would be of interest to locals, especially any descendants of Dr. Rucker.

The letter was dated May 31, 1944, but was received in Sabetha on June 18.

The letter home reads: “The end of another month has rolled around and as always it is a big day for us in the forces, pay day. Everyone looks forward to this day, officers as well as privates. The weather has been perfect for the last four days, temperatures in the 80s and 90s, cloudless sky. Yesterday was Memorial Day so we were given the afternoon off. I spent two hours taking a sun bath, dressed for a swim but no swimmin’ hole. Rain is badly needed, but the nice weather is enjoyable for us soldiers. I cannot describe the beauty of England in the spring, with its numerous Hawthorne hedges and flowers of all shades of the rainbow. Every garden is a mass of color. We feel very fortunately that we have seen England at this time, as the winter months are days of drilling rain, not cold but the air penetrates more than it does at home in zero weather. The Herald comes quite regularly and I read every line. After I have finished it, Mr. and Mrs. Bayliss (the grand couple with whom I’m billeted) look it over. They hunt for news items about various people whose names appear often. When I bring the paper home Frank will usually ask ‘How’s so and so’ or ‘What is another doing?’ etc. They actually look forward to the time for the paper to come. Remember me to folks back home. Always ready to come home, cheerio.”


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