No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess Darling: This evening I don’t feel so good: officially, I am ill… and that I s’pose constitutes news. For the last three or four days I have known that I was booked for a damn fine cold or something… and it had blossomed forth by this morning. I felt like an old cock of ninety when I got up… backache – headache – sore throat – and creaking joints. I went to see the M.O… and he told me to go back to bed and stay there… my complaint a “severe feverish chill”… and that’s all. Nothing whatever to worry about… I have spent most of the day in bed perspiring and shivering at the same time: I have taken lots of pills… and had lots of tea… and this evening I feel somewhat better. I will see the M.O. again tomorrow… and will perhaps get ‘signed off’:- I usually recover pretty quickly.
And having told you all about it, I will have to add my usual appeal for you not to worry about me… I have not concealed anything darling… so you can see that my complaint is really quite negligible.
I was not able to write to you yesterday, Jess… I was working until almost midnight fixing up lights in our new billet. Yes… we left our comfortable mess in the wealthy German’s home yesterday… and now we are billeted in a bigger place still… the home of a German baron – a “schloss”…
We have only moved about four miles, and are now more or less in the country, with a complete estate and mansion to ourselves. We ‘reccied’ the place on Monday… and it was then that I saw the most frightful example of wilful destruction in all my travels over here. The house is a large one… about twenty huge bedrooms… half a dozen bathrooms… entertaining rooms… library… dining hall… etc. etc. Every room is massive, lofty, and gloomy… But it was the sight of the damaged furniture that amazed me. There must have been thousands of pounds worth of the stuff here originally… mostly antique and probably valuable… But now it is largely a mass of wreckage… The stairways were literally blocked solid with huge wardrobes, chests, tables etc… just rolled down the stairs. The bedrooms were inches deep in bed linen, mattresses, cushions etc… And there must have been a few eiderdowns torn to pieces because the whole of the second floor looked like a snow scene. To inspect the house was really a matter of clambering over furniture and almost bulldozing a passage through the debris. It took about fifty men all one day to clear the upstairs passages and a few bedrooms.
I cannot say really who is responsible for all this destruction… but I do know that British troops have been in the place, principally during the time of the Rhine break-through… Also the premises were used by the Wehrmacht for a staff headquarters. Heaven knows where the baron is… but he may be one of the more liberal German aristocrats who incurred the displeasure of the Nazis. His library contains more English books than German – great stacks of calf-bound volumes… fusty looking things, but all good literature, including Byron, Scott, Dickens… and lots of books on the British Empire, colonisation, economics etc… Anyhow, whatever the baron’s whereabouts, his home is now rather a sorry mess… although the tidying up of the last two and a half days has certainly made an improvement.
My principal job was to install electric lighting, using our generating plant… And by midnight last night, we had thirty or forty rooms lit up… But there is still plenty to do… and I haven’t done a stroke today: have to see how I feel tomorrow…
Must get to bed now dear…