No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jessie Mine, Today, we have started with the luxury of a sergeants’ mess. We have the two ground floor rooms of a comfortably furnished home… one of them for dining, the other for writing and reading. And so, today we have dined in civilised style, with a decent table, spotlessly white table-cloth, decent cutlery and cruets, and a waiter to do the necessary. The house is owned by a married couple, but they are living in the kitchen… leaving us the full use of their furniture, linen etc. Am writing this in the mess, and conditions are certainly less cramped than in my ‘home’. Another advantage is that ‘supper’ of tea and sandwiches will be ‘laid on’ for us each evening while we are here. Also, as there are only about fifteen of us, and we have our own cook, food is rather more plentiful for those of us who need it…
Later – Sunday 28.1.45
I didn’t have much luck with my letter writing last evening: there was an unexpected interruption. I hope for better luck this time. (Damn this pen!)
There were two letters for me today, darling… dated 22nd and 23rd:- they are very up-to-date… You have asked me a question about the amazing progress of the Russians… why it is they seem to penetrate the German defences so easily. I don’t think I can offer a satisfactory explanation, Jess. I suppose there must be reasons… and perhaps difficulties. But I can quite sympathise with your query. Perhaps the answer to your question lies in an article in Saturday’s News Chronicle which I have just read. It gives details of the careers of the six principle generals reponsible for the Russian successes. They all seem to be children of poor parents… being promoted to their present high rank on merit. There is no suggestion of ‘county’ or ‘caste’ or ‘connections’. I wish I could say the same of our army.
You have asked whether I received your parcel of cigarettes, the ‘War Illustrated’ and ‘All you want in Holland’… Yes, I received all these things darling, and feel certain that I have already acknowledged them at different times. Perhaps one or two of my letters have gone astray… or perhaps I only think I acknowledged them… If the latter be the case, I apologise for my neglect: maybe I intended mentioning them and forgot all about it.
Your letters tell me a lot about Barry:- and especially about his efforts to prevent you writing letters. I can’t say that I blame him. After all, how can you expect a fellow to fiddle about with salt pots, egg cups, rings and whatnot whilst he has a beautiful mummy sitting by so temptingly close and doing nothing but make wriggly lines on bits of paper? To Barry, you must by now be his never failing source of fun and games… and these things are much more important than wriggly lines. It is good to hear that he can now recognise a few sounds: I was surprised, Jess. I wonder whether he will be able to say any words when I come home. Or is he yet too young for speech?
You speak of the weather… and I see you too have been bothered with snow… But I’m darned thankful you haven’t to put up with conditions such as we have had out here for the last four or five weeks. I have become sick and tired of snow. There seems to be no end to it. There was another fairly heavy fall last night… and again today. In addition, it remains damnably cold. But the youngsters are making the most of it. There is much sledging and ice skating for them.
I visited Mr. Cornelese again today: he seems to want me to go round there every day, but I don’t like doing this. He already has two soldiers billeted in his house in addition to an old lady and a little boy… both evacuees from the Arnhem area. I learned today, more or less by accident, that he intended providing a Xmas ‘feast’ for myself and two colleagues. He didn’t know where we were at the time, but actually wrote to the town mayor here to see whether we could be given permission to spend a day or two with him at ‘Xmas. He was informed that such permission could not be granted. I’m pretty sure the answer would have been the same, even had there been no ‘flap’ in the Ardennes at the time-! But he was anxious to entertain some British troops, so he went to the local hospital and found a couple of suitable guests. His kindness quite embarrasses me, Jess. I am enclosing another letter from him. He wrote it some time ago, but had not had it censored, and so he handed it to me the other day. My letter to him, which I posted a day or two after ‘Xmas, was received last Thursday. So at its worst, our post is better than the continental variety.
I must go now, darling… Please forgive this lousy little letter. It is the best I can do at the moment.
Jess… I love you, dear,