No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess Darling: I wish I had something really interesting to talk about: you must get sick and tired of reading about the trivialities which seem to monopolise my time these days… But, as my life remains uneventful, I can only continue to tell you about little things.
Today, I have been fixing up more lights… and installing a wireless set in the mess. In fact, for the last few weeks… since we acquired our Jerry lighting plant… I seem to have spent most of my time fiddling with wires: and since we came to this new billet, I have literally lived with screwdrivers and pliers in my hands… excepting the day I spent in bed. But I don’t mind: it is rather nice to have something constructive to do… now that the tanks have lost their importance.
Today, also, I have had a game of table-tennis, and a game of darts. These two games are very popular in the mess: some of the chaps are always playing one or the other. A handicap competition was arranged yesterday… and we played the first ’rounds’ today… and I lost in each case. I have no time for darts, Jess: it seems an aimless sort of game… although it may demand a certain element of skill. Table-tennis is a much better game, but under our conditions it is a damned nuisance. There are about fourteen of us in the mess and there is always someone anxious for a game. And so we have the noise of ping-pong balls and prancing sergeants practically every hour of the day. It is hopeless trying to read or write under such conditions. I have started resorting to my bedroom now, but it is rather gloomy and not as warm as the mess recreation room.
The major departed yesterday for England… for a ‘course’ of some sort… And the S.S.M. went the day before: he has gone for a hygiene course… I don’t think many of us will worry if the major fails to return. He is a hard bloke to live with under non-operational conditions. As a squadron leader in action he was grand… a genuine leader and an example to all of us. I think I have told you how we all admired him. But now that we are out of action… for good presumably… we don’t need a fighting leader… or at least, such a man would be quite acceptable providing he could combine the qualities of leadership with those of human understanding and tolerance. Major Holden, unfortunately, cannot do this. I don’t blame him: active militarism must be pretty difficult to expel from one’s system once it has got a hold… and more especially when it has been rewarded with the D.S.O. and the M.C.
I think I told you a long time ago… when Holden first joined us… that his face sometimes revealed an unpleasant side of his character… And I see no reason to change my opinion now, in spite of my great admiration for him as a leader in action. His worst defect is intolerance… and he has got it pretty badly. It is the army brand for which there is no cure… This may be something of a virtue for a fighting leader… but it is a hell of a vice to men who have done their fighting and are now merely standing by to become civilised beings once again. In my opinion, ‘Ronnie’ should now be promoted to colonel, and put in charge of a unit doing more active work… even if it were only a training school… He would be much happier… and more usefully employed.
There is a battalion sergeants dance this evening at Oldenzaal in Holland, and once again I have been busy installing lighting in the ballroom. I will have to go along this evening too just to make sure everything is O.K. but am hoping to get away fairly early…
Today has brought us a little news of possible future developments, although nothing seems to be quite definite as yet. Next week, however, it would appear that we are losing our tanks. I believe we will move with them, away from this place (the baron’s home) to another village a few miles away, and there the vehicles will be handed over to someone else. We may make this move on Wednesday. After getting rid of the tanks, I don’t quite know what will happen to the unit, although it seems pretty certain that the new re-organisation scheme will affect us. Under this scheme, the army over here will be classified under three headings:-
1. Group will comprise men who remain over here for policing Germany.
2. Group will comprise men who will be returned to England prior to release from the army.
3. Group will comprise men who will be returned to England prior to being sent out to the Far East.
Presumably the scheme is being operated on the basis of age/service group numbers, but I don’t know when it will come into force, or which of the three classes will include myself. Needless to say, I hope to be included in class 2.
As you can imagine, the foregoing has caused a little excitement over here… especially amongst those of us who are not likely to be sent to Burma or China or wherever they’re going. But, as always, in the army, our optimism is restrained. We simply daren’t expect good news to become a reality. We just hope… and I want you to do the same, darling. I will let you know as soon as I have any further news.
And now I must leave you, dear. I have to tidy myself up for the dance and one or two other little jobs.
Au revoir, my love