No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
My Darling: It was grand to receive your letter today… the one you wrote on Sunday, the day after my departure. A lovely letter, tinged with a beautiful sadness. So much of what you say is an echo of my own thoughts… particularly where you refer to the things which remained unfulfilled during our re-union.
I had so looked forward to long evenings by the fireside with my love… And music… Ah Jess… You were so tolerant about everything. You warned me weeks ago about visitors: and how you must have felt those repeated interruptions. Looking back upon my leave, I fear I failed to realise how unhappy you must have been about the situation… But I can only plead that I was somewhat bewildered and totally incapable of being rude to people who appeared to be so anxious to see me. I will know better next time. But we mustn’t lament, my darling. After all, we were together for most of the time… And for me, the mere presence of Jess means happiness and tranquillity. I was always conscious of your nearness, of your love… I feel better, much better, for having lived those few exquisite hours with you. And that is what really matters to me: I know I can now carry on for a little longer. And for what you did for me dear… for all your kindness… for your patience and tolerance… I can only say “thank you”. It seems so stupid to ‘thank’ anyone for that which is priceless… but I hope you will know what I mean. My heart cannot speak dear, but you will interpret its message, I know.
And Barry… our lovely little son. Oh Jess… I cannot tell you how happy and proud I am to have seen him. Quite definitely, he exceeded my expectations. He has a fine little face… so expressive and charming. And how delightful are his little mannerisms. Perhaps you will know how glad I am to have seen his performance in the morning… His tremendous excitement as you approached up the stairs, and how his tiny fist waved back and forth like a piston, keeping time with his legs. Oh it was so lovely, Jess: I will never forget that morning. But there is so much of him that I will never forget, that I could fill a book talking about him.
I would like to say more about him just now, but I have little time left… so I must switch over to my own doings, just to let you know that I am OK. I am writing this in a badly battered German church. Part of the roof is intact, and part of the walls, but it is a terrible ruin. The weather is strangely erratic: sunny and blue skies for about two hours, and then glowering clouds and snow for about 20 minutes. And when it snows (as it is at this moment) we get wet inside this place. But we have made a huge brazier from a dustbin, and so we have an enormous fire: it is situated in the centre of the main aisle of the church. There is no shortage of fuel: the ruins of the church burn very well… particularly the old dry timber from the roof. I have never before burned a church piecemeal… and somehow, I don’t feel a bit guilty. I slept in the place last night on the floor between two rows of seats. It was a bit cramped… but reasonably comfortable and fairly safe from mortar fire.
The lads are living well at the moment: the Jerries have left plenty of poultry behind and chicken meals are the order of the day. The churchyard is littered with feathers. It is also littered with shell holes… the result of our artillery barrage. And the numerous graves have been somewhat disturbed… To quote one of our wits it looks as though there has been a “bloody resurrection”!!!
Jess… there is much I could tell you about the last two days… (not battles but just impressions)… but I have no time. It is getting too dark to see and we dare not have lights under these conditions. I will be sleeping in the church again tonight, but don’t know about tomorrow.
Please don’t worry about me, dear one. I am well and have lots and lots of happy and beautiful memories to keep me going. As soon as poss, I will write you a long newsy letter.
Good night, my darling…