No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess – My Darling: I suppose you will by now have ceased to expect anything interesting in my letters: they seem to have been very colourless in recent weeks. The fault may be partly mine, but it is a fact that our day to day existence shews little variation these days, and I have nothing exciting to write about.
I wondered last evening whether the news of Hitler’s death would produce any reactions amongst the civil population here today… If it has, there has been no evidence of it: everyone is behaving quite normally… and it would almost appear that they haven’t heard the news. But I’m sure they must know: there are many radio sets in the town. Perhaps they feel very much as we do… hardly interested, and slightly relieved that the world is now rid of the body of so foul a creature. I only wish his ideas and philosophy of hate could be disposed of as easily as his body: there would be far less chance of trouble in the future were this possible.
Late last evening, we received an urgent instruction to call at a certain house in a nearby town to arrest the local Nazi leader. He disappeared prior to our arrival, but had returned secretly to his home and family… I don’t know who made the discovery:- it may have been an informer, or it may have been our “intellingence” people. Anyhow, it was thought that the blighter may prove troublesome, so the major took a few well-armed troops with him. It must have been nearly midnight when the house was entered… Our lads were greeted by a hysterical wife… but no trouble, much to the major’s disgust! The Nazi was found hiding in the loft of the house… he had a bunk up there and had been in bed. He must have known the game was up: he was quite docile and was arrested without bother…
These incidents occur quite often nowadays, but we don’t usually have the pleasure of apprehending Nazi officials: it is usually a deserter from the Wehrmacht… or some minor party member. They are often quite glad to be taken into custody… no doubt being thankful for the prospect of reasonable food… and perhaps relieved to be done with the suspense of their precarious freedom.
A recent ‘incident’ caused serious injury to a couple of British soldiers. They were driving a lorry along the railway siding in the station… and they went over a mine: we felt the explosion in this mess, a quarter of a mile from the accident. The soldiers were not members of this unit, but they were British… and the major was livid when he heard about it. The Burgermeister had a bad time that day – and the station-master… well, he was arrested and stuck in the guard-room where he became my prisoner, as I was guard-commander at the time. He had to endure about four hours of cross-questioning, with odd intervals in between. He was literally scared stiff. It was more sickening than amusing to see him spring up to attention and stand as stiff as a ram-rod each time he was addressed. He was allowed to return home eventually… and I’ll bet he remains on very good behaviour for the rest of the Allied occupation.
Jess – you beautiful sweetheart… you are the funniest wife I have ever known. Your latest instalment of the Joey episode was grand. Unfortunately, it is one of those lovely little jokes which cannot be repeated for the delight of others… not that this detracted from my appreciation of the performance, but it is rather nice to be able to share one’s humour. Oh!.. how I love you for the things you do for our little son… and for the way you do them. You will do anything for his well-being won’t you dear… even though your own delightful modesty be torn to shreds. (…)
Your letter written on my birthday (27th April) tells me that you were happy all day… If it was the mere fact of my birthday that caused you happiness, then I wish I could have a birthday every day… But were there not other factors, dear Jess? Take Joey, for instance… Barry appears to be responding beautifully… a fact which must afford you infinite satisfaction. You do so deserve a respite from your perpetual bother with him. It is difficult for me to say how much I hope that he has now ‘reformed’ for good.
Your letter includes some very kind words about me. How can I thank you, dear, for the things you say? I like to think that I deserve them: that I am really worthy of the exquisite gift of your love. I don’t seem to have done anything to deserve my good fortune. I know that I haven’t done for you a fraction of the things I ought to have done: you are worth so much, Jess… I feel ashamed whenever I reflect upon the hardships you have to endure: they are perpetual reminders of the extent of my failure as a husband to the finest wife who ever breathed… Perhaps when the war is over I will be able to satisfy myself that you have not married a failure… Meanwhile, I am grateful for your sweet words, darling: you will never know how much they help – it is beyond me to tell you.
What a worry the wireless is just now: I am almost afraid to miss a single news bulletin. I have just heard the 9 O/c news… and now know that the rumours about the German surrender in Italy are correct. This is grand, isn’t it dear. It seems almost unbelievable:- what will the B.B.C. news readers do now that the inevitable tail-piece about the 8th Army has gone for good? What a triumph for Alexander… and the lads who fight for him. I bet there’s hardly a sober Allied soldier in Italy just now. And how thrilling it must have been for Churchill when he made the official announcement in the Commons. I can’t help wondering whether the old bounder knows a good deal more… particularly about the western front. Gosh! Events are moving almost too quickly: I am having a hell of a job to keep our mess map up-to-date. Perhaps the remaining German armies will now surrender… having had the ice broken in Italy… Perhaps… perhaps… I don’t suppose the world has ever before been so full of speculation.
I must leave you dear one – I have a few little jobs to do… and I simply daren’t miss the European news at 10.45pm.
Good night, my love…
You are my love…
Always and forever