No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess, darling, I don’t know what I am going to talk about… but it is a quiet evening up to now, and fine, and I feel that I must talk to you.
We have had a quiet day so far… by war standards, I mean. What I really mean is that we have not actually been in action, nor has Jerry counter-attacked our particular sector, – so we have just remained static; sort of waiting for something to turn up. But you must always remember that a ‘quiet day’ on a war front does not indicate absence of noise. Such ‘quietness’ does not exist out here. Today, for instance, we started with heavy machine gun fire from our side at 3.00 am. This was followed by a terrific artillery barrage for an hour… and we are located only 300 yds. in front of our guns. The noise they make has to be heard to be believed. A little later came the inevitable drone of aircraft. And then Jerry himself started… sending over spasms of machine gun fire and loads of mortar. This has been going on… by both sides… more or less all day… and it will doubtless continue all night. And yet, so far as we are concerned, it has been a quiet day!
As usual, I am sitting close by my vehicle in the open… and very close to that lovely hole beneath the vehicle. I think you have always regarded me as having a partiality for holes… but you wouldnn’t know me now. Digging them has become an art… and the finished product is positively loved by all of us. We spend plenty of time in it… most of it unwillingly – or rather by the will of Jerry. He has a nasty habit of sending over dirty great batches of mortar fire… and I know of nothing on earth so capable of moving the human anatomy: We literally fly through the air into our beloved hole whenever we hear that ominous moaning and whining. It is rather funny at times… if one’s sense of humour is sufficiently elastic! Needless to say, we sleep in our holes… and like it!
The weather has been a little kinder today. It started by being dull and cold, but this afternoon has been a little warmer… and my laundry is at last getting a chance to dry. I washed my underclothes last Thursday… in fine weather… but as soon as I had finished, a thunderstorm came upon us… and I had no option but to leave my wet clothing outside. I placed it on a board beneath the tank overnight… and some clumsy devil wiped his feet on it. Friday it literally poured down all day, so my now partially dirty laundry remained on the board. During a lull in the rain on Saturday, I re-washed it… but had to leave it rolled up in a canvas bucket owing to a further storm. And now it is Sunday, and I have at last managed to hang it out. It should be dry by tonight because, to use Bill Geary’s words, “there is a bloody lovely drying wind”. – Bill, incidentally, has had a similar problem with his last laundry. But he placed his wet clothes in his valise… and seemed very annoyed when he found everything in his valise soaking wet three days later. These are only minor irritants in this army life.
I have wondered lately whether my letters are reaching you as quickly as they should. I shouldn’t be surprised if they are not. This is the position… we have them censored by our troop officer
Later (Monday evening). I had to move at a moment’s notice last evening… and this is my first chance to continue… I was discussing outgoing mail whilst we are located right in the front line. Well, after the troop officer has censored them, there is no official organisation for having them conveyed from this forward position. We have to rely upon a water cart or other vehicle visiting us and hand them to the driver, who in turn hands them over to the official post clerk further back. The snag is that the driver may forget to hand them in. I suspect this must have happened with some of my letters, because they seem to have taken a damned long time in reaching you. It cannot be helped, unfortunately. I am thankful to be able to write at all from the front line.
And now, my dear Jess, I must thank you for three letters received this evening (Monday). I was so glad to see them, as you can imagine. You refer to Noel Wright’s experience… and it seems to have distressed you somewhat. I would rather you tried not to think about such things, my dear. They don’t happen every day… and don’t forget that comparitively few of us are destined to suffer injury.
It was nice of your mum and dad to think about the new cot. I know this has been one of your little worries for some time… so now you have one less worry. I hope it has arrived by now… and that Barry has accepted it without any bother. What would you do if he objected to his new home? After all, we are all a bit conservative, and I suppose even a tiny baby may dislike being ejected from his comfy little cot. But Barry seems to accept most things philosophically, so I don’t s’pose you will have any trouble. (…)
I am sorry to hear that Barry is not yet quite well… but you seem to have everything well under control, and I am not worrying about him. Perhaps the Polish doctor is quite a good man after all… but I am not saying anything more in this direction: your intuitions are usually pretty reliable.
Once again it has been a “quiet” day, my darling… And quite warm into the bargain. My laundry is now quite dry and I have been able to stow it away in my valise, thank goodness.
This evening… a few minutes ago… there was an exciting attack by our Typhoon rocket firing planes on Jerry positions a mile or so ahead of us. It is thrilling to watch those Typhoons as they sweep around and then dive down at incredible speeds, releasing their rockets as they dive. And then they sweep upwards… climbing with amazing speed and twisting and twirling to avoid A.A. fire. How on earth they survive the terrific A.A. barrage is beyond me… but I have yet to see one shot down:- a sight I hope never to see. I feel that these pilots are really helping us personally because their targets are so often Jerry tanks… our enemies. And now I have reached the end of my present spasm of free time… and I have one or two little jobs to do before it goes dark.
Jessie Mine… I do hope you are trying hard not to worry a great deal about me… You once gave me permission to worry a teeny weeny bit on your account… and I am quite prepared to allow you the same latitude… but please don’t be too anxious. I am quite well… and doing my damnedest to remain so. I don’t see why I shouldn’t be successful.
Au revoir, my love. I will try and write again tomorrow.
I love you, Jessie Mine
For always –