No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Darling – Damn the weather! It is snowing again… and still there are no letters. I know the presence of the one is the cause of the absence of the other. And when I say damn, I mean a good deal more, as you can imagine. Once again my impressions of my home… my love… are becoming slightly blurred through this absence of news… and I can do nothing about it, except fume inwardly. This grouse is hardly an encouraging opening for a letter to you, dear Jess… but you must permit me to let off steam somehow. After all, grousing is one of my few privileges as a soldier.
What do you think of the news from Russia? I can easily guess… because I know how I feel about it… and I know that our reactions are usually pretty similar… altho’ I grant that your high-pitched squeals of delight are beyond the powers of my larynx, or whatever it is one uses to squeal with. Unfortunately for me, the wireless set we have been using here was claimed by the S.S.M. two days ago, and so I am not so well in touch with events as before.
But we get news… sometimes via our tank radios… sometimes from the local civvies, and so we have a general idea of the situation. Even so, I do miss those interesting ‘European Service’ news bulletins, and the B.B.C. 9.0 pm news. I suppose you listen to all of them… but I do hope you are not overworking your squeal mechanism: you may find Barry becoming jealous if you do.
How is he, Jess?.. Still causing you some bother with his teeth I presume… and still taking up most of your time. I often gaze at his ‘photo… and am always puzzled by a resemblance to a ‘photo I have seen before somewhere. It was a picture of a child… but I can’t think who. It may have been Toddy… or Dorothy… or Haydn. I do wish I could remember. Not that I want him to resemble any of these people… or anyone in my family, for that matter… but I hate to have these unsolved mysteries on my mind.
Can you imagine how I am looking forward to seeing you both, darling?.. I think you can. I don’t expect Barry will show much enthusiasm – on the contrary:- he will no doubt regard me as an intruder… but his mummy… well, I expect her to make a great fuss of me; I won’t ‘arf revel in it!.. (…)
I have an idea that you and Barry will have by now had your ‘photos taken… somewhere about Jan 15th, wasn’t it?.. and am looking forward to receiving a copy before I return home. He will be so much less a stranger to me if I have a good studio portrait beforehand, in spite of the excellence of the snaps you sent me. I do hope the ‘photo is a good one, darling. You must explain its faults and blemishes, if there are any.
Do you know dear, my position is terribly exciting. It is not every husband/father who has the privilege of returning home to an adored wife and a twelve month old son, after almost ten months absence. Needless to say, I would not have chosen these circumstances, but as they have been thrust upon me, I am forced to admit that they have provided for me many hours of happy anticipation: of lovely ‘castle building’… Being separated from you is torture… you will know how dreadful… And perhaps my vivid recollections of you, and all that you stand for in my life, make our separation all the harder to bear… but it is far, far better to suffer the exquisite torture of such beautiful memories, than have lived a life devoid of so much gladness.
Jess…four letters have arrived today… and do you know what? One of them contained all those snaps of Barry, and you! Oh…it was a lovely surprise, darling: I had no idea they would be here so soon. Please thank Mr. and Mrs. Steele for taking them: it is very decent of them. It is a pity that you were unable to have the ‘official’ photo taken, but I don’t think it matters now… these I have are so good. I’m almost sure I will now be able to recognise the little chap. What surprises me Jess, is that he is so fat. I can hardly believe that my son is so ‘bonny’. And his cheeks… they positively bulge like rosy apples. I feel more amazed each time I gaze at the pictures. And Jess… you are on every snap: that pleases me more than you think… each picture is so characteristic… I know all those expressions so well… Thank you darling for a happy surprise… I think I will be able to say more about our little son’s appearance later… when I have had time to get over my amazement.
When I opened your letter, all the family here were present… almost as excited as I was by the arrival of the delayed mail!.. and of course they had to see the ‘photos. And since then, I have had to show them to every visitor to the house… and that means plenty because neighbours and relations are perpetually popping in for one reason or another. Needless to say, I was only too proud to show off my son… just as I am always proud to show my ‘photos of my wife. Incidentally, whenever I show your pictures, the comment is always “ah, une belle femme”… which just shows that I’m not the only one with good taste! One of the daughters here, Irma, has been pulling my leg because my son is so much fatter than I… but that’s only by the way. They all agree that he looks fine. Isn’t that ‘scowl’ grand, Jess! It tickles me a lot:- he’s like a junior Mussolini!
With your letters I received another cigarette parcel:- five hundred Players from Toddy and Olive. This too was a surprise. I am simply lousy with cigarettes now. Must write and thank T. and O. soon.
Your letters confirm my worst fears about our outgoing mails: that awful delay operated both ways. I had tried to delude myself that my letters would somehow reach you, but was very sceptical. I can imagine your anxiety as the days went by: it must have been dreadful for you, dear. I can only hope that there will not be a repetition of the trouble, altho’ it is no use blinding ourselves to the possibility of more bad weather. But if there is a next time, you will perhaps be less worried… especially if Mrs. Wright is also without word from Noel.
I have little news for you from this end. I am well, dear… very well indeed, and being rather molly-coddled by these kindly Belgian folk. I seem to be regarded almost as one of the family, now. The weather continues very cold… and there is thick snow everywhere. There was another heavy fall last evening, and horse-drawn snow ploughs have been out today trying to clear the roads… but they didn’t make much impression. I gather that we are having a rather severe winter, even for this elevated corner of Belgium. In spite of the snow, the days are not really unpleasant because the atmosphere is dry and the sun shines frequently. Also, we do only a little work on the vehicles each day… the rest of the time being spent on games (indoor) or lectures, or entertainments of some sort… A number of books, too, have arrived from England – from various donors… and most of us are doing some reading. These books range from good… to bloody awful… but even the latter provide some relief from the war. The other day, I read one called “‘Orrible Murder”… and there is another one somewhere called “Buckets of Blood”!-!
I am not wanting anything, Jess… apart from the unattainable!! – so you must not worry about me. There is absolutely nothing you can send me… so please don’t feel sad because you are not everlastingly making up parcels for me. Even our food is ample… and remakably good considering the circumstances. We now have fresh white bread every day… and jam.
There has been an interruption, and I have no time for more… if I want this to catch the next mail… and I do want to catch the mail.
So… Jessie Mine… I bid you au-revoir… until tomorrow.
Good night, my love