No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess Darling: The weather has changed for the worse today:- much cooler and rather showery. But we cannot complain: we have had more than our share of sunshine lately. In any case, a bit of rain matters little whilst we are accommodated in these billets.
I have two of your letters today:- dated the 20th, and 22nd. You tell me that Jack Bentham has bought a car! Yes, when I read such things, it is like a smack in the eye: I get hot with disgust. It is not pleasant to know that these things can happen:- and less pleasant to know that creatures like Bentham have been able to make capital and comfortable jobs whilst better men have been fighting for them. It is a bitter reflection, Jess, and apt to make one feel very sour… But – human nature being what it is… these things are inevitable: there will always be Jack Benthams… and whilst we can lament the fact, it is some consolation to know that such people are in a minority. For myself, I am glad that I am not of his type: I could not have gained your respect had I been so. No doubt we will be poor financially, after the war, but I would rather be honourably poor than shamefully rich.
You sometimes speak of yourself as becoming ‘testy’ these days: I don’t think you are alone darling. I too feel the same quite often… especially when I hear about the lives of civilians at home. Stan Smith, for instance… a good bloke, and a chap I admire in many ways… but his recent letter made me feel peevish… illogically so, I fear. He is so well off… whether he realises it or not. His wife has been spared most of the misery of this war, whereas my wife… Oh Jess! it makes me seethe with anger: I blame myself for being a damned fool: I too could have avoided military service… But… could I?.. I don’t know.
I feel unable to answer or discuss one or two of Stan’s political arguments. It would be so unkind to speak rudely to him: he wouldn’t understand. It seems to me very easy to sit back at home and indulge in theories about Germans (the good ones) and Nazis (the bad Germans)… as though there has always been a definite cleavage between the two. There may even be much truth and logic in his argument… But as I see it, there is more truth in the fact that millions of lives… yours and mine in particular… have been hopelessly disarranged because of Germany and the German people. There never were more than two million Nazis. I don’t believe that these few (comparatively) wicked men have been able to hold at bay the three or four hundred millions of the Allies for so long. It was the German people who worked and fought for Hitler… and I don’t care a damn what anyone says. They knew what was going on: they sanctioned and encouraged his original sadistic orgies – the Jewish persecutions: The horrors of Belsen, Buchenwald etc. are the natural outcome of an evil which was willingly accepted by the German people. I can’t forget, Jess that the best years of our lives have been practically wasted… and all because of this hate-crazed and bloodthirsty nation. Stan would probably say that I am prejudiced: that what we have had to endure has blunted our sense of perception… And that is why I cannot argue with him. He can afford to sit back and indulge in academic distinctions:- I can’t.
And yet, I cannot condone cruelty to the Germans now that we have conquered them. And that is where I fall out with many of my colleagues here. It is almost a nightmare to me having to suppress even the rudiments of decent behaviour to the civilians here. I despise them, I detest them… but I do believe that they may be helped back to sanity by association with civilised people… Not that I want to associate with them, but it would be far less of a strain if we hadn’t to look upon them as animals. My trouble is that I am sick and tired of the war and of being separated from you. And I am heartily sick of Germans: I want to get away from them… and stay away: I have no sympathy for them – and they have none for us. I don’t care a damn what happens to them, apart from being against their mass slaughter… a policy some of my colleagues would like to see in operation.
And now you will think I have gone raving mad: I haven’t really, Jess… but I am so weary… you will understand.
The news seems very good today… If we include Italy, the number of liberated cities must be a record for so short a time – viz Bremen, Brno, Milan, Turin, Genoa, Como. And (?) has surrendered: Goering has ‘resigned’ his job:- Berlin is tottering… Mussolini captured? How much longer will the war last? How much more have we to endure?
Thank goodness I have you and Barry to think and dream about. Life would be hell were this not so. Let me see what I have to say about your latest letter… But first I must attend to the lights here: it is getting dark.
Later… Alas for good intentions! It is now far too late to carry on. Must go to bed… We have been arguing here about… Yes – about Germans!
Good night, dear Jess
Always – I love you