No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood.
British Army Exhibition
British Army Staff
Jess Darling: This has been one of my official duty days, and so I have spent most of my time at the exhibition. It has been a gloriously fine day – as usual – but the heat has been less oppressive for us because the ‘shirt sleeve order’ came into operation this morning and we have consequently discarded our jackets.
The exhibition closes officially at 9.0 pm, but I always seem to get into conversation with Yankee soldiers at about this time, and usually leave the place much later. Tonight, for instance, I was talking to a couple of Americans until 10.30 – and only just managed to have my usual supper-time cup of tea before the canteen closed at 11.0 pm. But I would rather miss my tea than the conversation. I have told you before that I find the Americans very likeable: I don’t know whether this is because I am lucky in finding sensible ones, or whether my outlook differs from that of so many of my colleagues. But the fact remains that their conversation is interesting to me.
The two fellows this evening were surprisingly well informed about British politics, and we had a long discussion on the subject… particularly about our forthcoming election. I find most Americans somewhat bewildered about our domestic issues… and this is always traceable to newspapers. You see, the Daily Mail has a Paris edition, and the Daily Express is dumped here by the million, and the other British newspapers seem to be much more scarce. As you can imagine, it gives me intense pleasure explaining the situation and the whys and wherefores of our newspapers, particularly where “Express” Beaverbrook and “Mail” Rothermere are concerned. The Americans, of course, have the identical situation in their own country, where a powerful right-wing press dominates the political scene, so it is not difficult to enlighten them. Incidentally – I have had a few invitations to the U.S.A. – “sure, bring the wife and kids, they’ll love it”! – and the latest, this evening, was to Minnesota where, I was told, the fishing was marvellous!!! How would you like to fish, darling?
Oh – I forgot to tell you about a chat I have had with a Frenchman. Our conversation drifted round to the food situation in France – and he told me that many French people suspect that Britain and/or America are withholding food supplies to their country in an attempt to ‘blackmail’ de Gaulle into handing over Casablanca or Dakar as a naval base for our future use. What do you know about that?! As a story of political and diplomatic treachery and beastliness, it sounds quite feasible, and well up to the standards of our late Baldwin/Chamberlain combination. But, just now, I’m inclined to regard it as poppycock. In fact, I wouldn’t put it past De Gaulle himself to have fostered the yarn, for his own political benefit. I could only tell my French acquaintance that I know nothing about the story… but that their food situation would certainly be improved if they themselves took more vigorous action about the black-market. He only shrugged his shoulders.
There were two letters for me again today, Jess… both re-directed from the unit. One of them is dated June 8th. It must have gone astray somewhere.
I would like to talk about your letters my dear, but it is very late and I feel damned sleepy. I will try and say much more tomorrow. Meanwhile – I will sleep – and dream about my love and our little ‘pie’ if I’m lucky.
Good night, Jessie Mine