No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess, my darling, I have had another inoculation today… this time for Typhus. I was scheduled to be re-vaccinated last Tuesday, (it is a four-yearly business in the army) but I refused to have it done owing to my impending leave… And that brings me to the subject. There has been a little complication in the squadron as a result of which I may depart a day or two earlier. Therefore, Jess, I want you to be prepared to see me any time after the eleventh. I will probably be home later… say the 13th or 14th… but I feel I ought to warn you of this further possibility. And that is all I have to say about leave at the moment.
Did I tell you that I recently saw the first bath since leaving England-? We harboured in the outskirts of Liège for a night, and I found a billet in what appeared to be a normal ‘working class’ house. But it turned out to be a little palace inside, with a beautiful kitchen, lounge, easy chairs, central heating… and a real bathroom complete with bath, wash-bowl, W.C. etc. I was really amazed when I saw it, and can honestly say it is the first genuine bath I have come across since leaving England. You may think that all my former billets must have been awful slums not to have baths, but this is not so. I have lived in some decent and fairly modern homes, such as Mr. Cornelese, but never before have I seen a bathroom, let alone a bath. This has often puzzled me… especially in Holland where the people are usually so clean and up-to-date.
There is something else I have been longing to see since leaving England… but have now given up hope… I refer to a decent ‘open’ fireplace: one at which you can sit and feel warm and appreciate the friendliness of the dancing flames. There are no such things over here:- only the totally enclosed ‘kachels’ (ugly things), or totally enclosed fireplaces with mica windows in front: I believe we call the latter anthracite stoves: the army has a different name for them, but we won’t discuss that-! Perhaps you can imagine how we have longed for the sight of a decent fire during the recent bitter weather… Anyhow, I will be able to see one soon… made all the nicer by the presence of the dearest little lady in the world… Oh… about the bath. I couldn’t resist the temptation of sampling it, and my hostess very kindly gave me permission to use it. I think it was the first time I had actually been submerged in hot water since I was last at home. The army showers are alright, but not nearly so satisfying as a decent bath.
Jess… it is obvious from your last two letters that you have been having a hell of a time with the weather… Frozen pipes, carting water, Barrys’s teeth, sleepless nights… Yes, I can well believe that it is cold at 3 and 5 in the morning. It does seem strange that our water supply should have frozen up in spite of your precautions. You have putrid luck with all our domestic appliances… goodness knows why, but I know it is not your fault. Perhaps I will be able to do one or two little repairs for you when I come home. The back door for instance: I will certainly put an end to that projecting grub-screw which has bothered you so much. Likewise the hot-water tap:- as one of your irritants, its days are numbered. And that scullery window… we’ll soon stop its awkwardness. There must be many other jobs to be done, Jessie Mine… please make a list so that they will not be forgotten.
There is one thing I will not be able to do, however… and that is the dining room fireplace. The crack in the back-plate is a builder’s job and I could not tackle it in the time. But perhaps we can have another try with the builder, or whoever you have seen about it. If only I were at home for good, darling… In view of your recent remarks about Barry, I am not expecting to find the usual good-tempered little fellow you have so often spoken about. I am, in fact, already prepared for a few disturbed nights… I am almost looking forward to them:- it will be such a treat for me to get up and attend to him, and so relieve you of a minute part of your worry. But I will first of all have to have a ‘course’ on baby maintenance: you will be my instructor… yes?
I have just remembered another little detail about my homeward journey. I have learned today that the priority telegrams which we are allowed to send on disembarkation must not exceed three words, including the sender’s name. This is lousy, isn’t it. Anyhow, it is better than nothing. I know it won’t matter to you if I have to omit my name… I don’t think there is anything else I can tell you on this subject… apart from confessing that I already feel queer every time I think of our meeting. It is one of those lovely-horrible feelings: my tummy seems to do a complete somersault, and then my heart races like an engine… I think I must be in love-!
Jess… can you realise how I have lived for this leave?.. what it means to me?.. the prospect of seeing you again… of being near you… the feel of your hands… your lips: to hear your dear voice… to look into your eyes… The exquisite joy of just being with the one person who is my love… These thoughts take away my breath: after so much yearning, it seems incredible that I am at last to be granted that for which I have so long waited. But I am going to see you darling… I really am… Can you wonder that my mind has become a little confused with excitement-?
Good night my Jess, my love