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Letter found in Norfolk hotel reveals RAF war hero’s desperate plea to save his business

PUBLISHED: 16:18 12 December 2018

A Norfolk hotelier made a desperate plea to be released from the Royal Air Force just two weeks after the end of World War II, so he could save his business. Pictured: Joe Delf in his RAF uniform. Picture: Palm Court Hotel

A Norfolk hotelier made a desperate plea to be released from the Royal Air Force just two weeks after the end of World War II, so he could save his business. Pictured: Joe Delf in his RAF uniform. Picture: Palm Court Hotel

Palm Court Hotel

A Second World War hero’s desperation to return to his ailing hotel business has been revealed after a letter was found in an attic, more than 73 years later.

A Norfolk hotelier made a desperate plea to be released from the Royal Air Force just two weeks after the end of World War II, so he could save his business. Pictured: The letter Joe wrote to his superiors in the RAF. Picture: Palm Court HotelA Norfolk hotelier made a desperate plea to be released from the Royal Air Force just two weeks after the end of World War II, so he could save his business. Pictured: The letter Joe wrote to his superiors in the RAF. Picture: Palm Court Hotel

Joe Delf typed the letter at his barracks in India on September 17, 1945 - just two weeks after the end of World War two.

He made a desperate plea to be released from the Royal Air Force as the Imperial Hotel in Great Yarmouth had finally been returned to him by the military, exposing him to significant debts.

Appealing to his commanding officer for his immediate demobilisation, he said he needed to return home immediately to save the business he ran with his sister Louisa Lindsay and her husband Campbell.

“Recently the premises have been derequisitioned which has thrown upon the company the added expense of rent, rates and insurance,” he wrote from Sambre, near Belgaum in India.

Imperial Hotel, Great Yarmouth.
January 2014.

Picture: James BassImperial Hotel, Great Yarmouth. January 2014. Picture: James Bass

“With the business closed for five years it is inevitable that there is little available income to meet such big liabilities.

“I needs (sic) hardly emphasis (sic) that unless I am in a position to reopen in the very near future I shall return to financial ruin and the subsequent domestic strife as I have a wife and two children dependent on me.”

Mr Delf’s letter was found in the attic of the Imperial Hotel and passed on to his grandson Jason.

He now runs the Palm Court Hotel and Marine Lodge Hotel, with his brother Nick.

“Although he wrote the letter in September, he didn’t get home until February because they were quarantined.

“At the beginning of the war grandad became a fireman and then he volunteered for the RAF because there was nothing happening.

“As soon as he signed up, Yarmouth started being bombed.”

“I was fascinated by the letter when I read it and I showed it to grandad, who was still around at the time.

“He told me how a builder friend of his did the repairs that were needed and said, ‘Pay me back when you have got the money’. That wouldn’t happen nowadays,” said Jason.

It was in 1959 that Mr Delf bought The Burlington and seven years later he acquired The Palm Court at auction.

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