No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess Darling: I am going to bother you again… just a little… and all because of Uncle Hennie and Aunt Ciss. I have been thinking about them lately… and my conscience tells me that I have not been very kind to them so far as letters are concerned. It must be months since I wrote to them, apart from the unit card I sent at ‘Xmas. And so, I want to ask whether you would mind sending those letters of mine for them to read… the ones you sent to Garsden. I don’t quite know what is in them, but you and others have found them interesting, so maybe the old couple would like to see them. In a way, I don’t like asking you to do this because you have told me how you dislike parting with my letters:- and you already have enough writing to do without bothering with relations. But I am willing to sacrifice one of my daily letters from you if it will enable you to write to Parry’s. And in case you don’t know, I am making a big sacrifice with this suggestion. But if you don’t want to part with the letters again, please say so, darling… and I will then try to concoct a letter from this end. Now you must be frank, dear. I don’t want you to do anything against your will just to oblige me. Is that clear?
Some weeks ago, we arrived in Roosendaal in Holland where we had a rest after a few bloody battles. And whilst we were there, the enclosed ‘snap’ was taken. It is not particularly good, but no doubt you will recognise your husband. The other five members of the group are sergeants in this squadron… and are all strangers to you, apart from Dicky Hall about whom I have written. Dicky is a grand lad: a parson’s son, but hardly a chip off the old block. He is only 25 years of age, but would pass for 35: I think his moustache makes him look older. He is a great big bouncing lad, full of life and fun, and absolutely natural in everything he says and does. At the moment, I am rather amused by a minor complication in his love affairs. But he received a letter from his Daphne yesterday, and afterwards looked very pleased with life, so I assume she said the right thing. I have inserted the names of the other fellows on the rear of the photo, but will not bore you with their histories.
Jess… you said something the other day about the ‘News Letter’… I don’t mind admitting that I was surprised you found any interest in it… but I now realise that I am not in a position to judge. The whole thing annoyed me too much, and I suppose I became prejudiced. I suppose some fellows had a certain amount of enjoyment during our journey across France and Belgium… Visiting brothels at Dieppe for instance was ‘enjoyment’ to some of them. And then too the knowledge that we were part of a conquering army had its mental repercussions: the lads became full of high spirits. But to me, I was still in the army, still separated from you… and somehow I could not forget that the Bosch had not capitulated, and that the future was damnably uncertain… I do not know who wrote the article about ‘C’ squadron, but am pretty certain the major had something to do with it.
It was very cold again yesterday… freezing hard all day. Les Challinor tried to use his fountain pen outside, to fill in a certain army form, and the ink very soon froze on his pen nib. But it became warmer in the evening, and we had another snowfall… a further two inches. When the thaw comes, I can visualise some flooding in this part of the world: there is an enormous amount of snow on the ground. Today it is cold, but not unpleasant… just about freezing.
We had our concert last evening, Jess. It seems to have been quite successful. As usual, the hall was packed… practically all the villagers being present as well as the troops. They seem to enjoy our functions in spite of the language difficulty. The ‘turn’ in which I took part… a very small part… created much amusement. And as it was completely devoid of dialogue, it was fully understood by the locals. Briefly, six sergeants dressed themselves up in civilian clothes… incredible rags… and appeared on stage as navvies: a signboard bore the notice “Prefabricated Buildings Incorp.” The job was to construct a typical army “shit house” (lavatory)… a tasty subject. It was a genuine slapstick affair with Dicky Hall in his element. One of the ‘workmen’ had to play the part of being literally pasted with whitewash… and Dicky volunteered for the part. He said it had been one of his lifelong ambitions to play such a part:- he got pasted alright. The ‘building’ was a tiny shed made with bits of scenery… mostly canvas on wooden frames. It was built in such a way that the whole thing would collapse with a slight push… that was my job. I walked on the stage carrying a spade… a spade being the usual implement for excretory purposes when we are in action: we simply find a secluded spot and dig a hole. I noticed the lavatory… and discarded the spade. I went to the open front of the thing, dusted the seat, and started to undress:- removing first my jacket, then my braces… and undoing one or two of my trouser buttons… and then I sat down… at ease!
In a few moments, I pushed the side of the structure whilst still ‘sitting’… and the whole thing collapsed on top of me… and the lights went out… In contrast to the ‘workmen’ I was wearing uniform… impersonating the C.O. I was wearing the major’s jacket with its “M.C.” ribbon, and a collar and tie… and smoking the same type of pipe as used by the C.O. As the C.O. also has the M.C., the ribbon helped to create the illusion… and I am told that most of the fellows thought I was the C.O. for a few moments. and having said so much about myself, please do not think that I did very much:- I didn’t…
Another evening function… there has been another ‘Brains Trust’ with a different cast this time, altho Capt Link remained as question master. Again there was plenty of amusement, but not quite as much as last time. I hope we have a rest from these functions for a day or two. They do mess up one’s evening Jess. I don’t seem able to do any writing these days.
Today I have received a letter from you dated Dec 31st. It has turned up rather late considering I have already had one written on Jan 6th – but better late than never.
I am sorry, dear, but I cannot say any more tonight… The family will be going to bed soon. Please Jess… please forgive these scrappy letters… I do so want to talk to you about many things, but I simply can’t do it with the disturbances which are so frequent here. It is horrible trying to write letters… especially to one’s sweetheart… and having to cease about every tenth line.
Be with you again tomorrow
Good night, my love