No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jessie Mine… The only recent event about which I can talk to you is the social evening in the mess last night. I told you earlier that we had invited a dozen A.T.S. girls from over the border:- and their officer was only too glad to allow them to join us… and the colonel gave us his ‘blessing’ and willingly issued the permit to get the girls past the frontier post.
It was a properly organised party… and we elected an ‘entertainment committee’ to arrange the evening’s programme. It started with dinner at 8.0pm… and it was a really good dinner. We have an excellent room here for dining, and the twenty-five seats were easily arranged… using the ‘baronial’ furniture for the job. We borrowed extra cutlery etc. from the officers’ mess, and sent the interpreter to find the necessary table-cloths: he brought back four beautifully laundered linen cloths, Heaven knows where from-! To complete the table decorations, we had three enormous vases full of flowers… one with gladioli and something like honeysuckle… and the other two with rhododendrons. The latter were particularly effective, so much so, that one of the girls took them away – vases as well-!
With the dinner, we had champagne and liqueurs and tea… The girls seemed staggered at the sight of our ‘spread’… I only hope they haven’t got the impression that we normally dine in such state! There were three or four sergeants with the party… and they seemed amazed to find waiters looking after us. They have no sergeants’ mess and didn’t seem to realise that such luxuries as waiters etc. were a long standing privilege for sergeants. I must say their comments amused me. One of them was particularly indignant at the spectacle of great hulking sergeants being waited on hand and foot by the poor downtrodden troopers-! I tried to convince her that the waiters were lucky: they had a comparativley soft job… but she insisted on visiting the cook-house and having a private chat with them… to learn the truth-!
After dinner, there were games and dancing… quite a full programme in fact. And… for once… I am pleased to be able to report that there was no excessive drinking and no signs of drunkenness… and there was no stupid behaviour by anyone. It was just a pleasant little party, and I’m sure the girls enjoyed it…
They had to be back in billets at Enschede by midnight, and so they left us at 11.15pm… using our transport, of course. We filled the lorry with chairs from the house… a mixture of antique oak, ‘Chippendale’, ‘Queen Anne’… and one or two highly decorative gilt chairs with pink satin covers. We have said good-bye to one or two of the latter… the girls kept them for their own billets… souvenirs from Baron Elverfeldt-!! And that’s about all I can say about that:- not very exciting, was it-?
Today, we learn that we will probably be moving in one week’s time… to Osnabrück… about 50 Km. due east from this place. But before we depart, we will be handing over our tanks to a disposal unit… And so, our days are fairly busy just now preparing the tanks for transfer. Yesterday, for instance, my mind went back to a wretched day about three and a half years ago. On that day, we received our full complement of “front line” ammunition, and spent some time carefully stowing it away – for action-! But yesterday, we reversed the process. We unloaded all ammo. from the tanks… a most delightful and tremendously significant operation… especially to those of us who were able to recall the original loading…
We have today been engaged on another ‘reversed process’… this time removing from the hulls of the tanks the track plates which we all had welded on for extra armour plating. Perhaps you have seen pictures of tanks going into action with masses of untidy looking chunks of steel ‘stuck’ to the sides: these are track-plates… usually collected from knocked-out tanks, and welded on to give us a little extra protection… There were very few commanders who didn’t adopt this track plate idea, after seeing the after-effects of a Jerry “88” on a tank!
This reminds me of a typical piece of newspaper baloney which recently appeared. In the newspaper in question, there was a picture of a Churchill, clearly shewing umpteen track-plates welded on to the hull and turret. The tank was one used by the Guards Armoured Brigade in their drive through the Rhine bridgehead. The caption spoke glowingly of the terrific speed of the Guards’ advance, and explained that the tanks got so far ahead of their normal supplies, that they were forced to carry their own spare tracks as shewn in the picture! Needless to say, this explanation caused some amusement here… and with the Guards too, no doubt!
Another of today’s jobs was the greasing-up of all the guns. And did the lads grease them!! I don’t quite know what we will do when we have disposed of the tanks, although I imagine we will carry on doing patrol-work in certain areas, using scout cars as we have been doing for the past month or so. Anyhow, whatever our job… there will be no more of that “prepare for immediate action”… thank goodness. I wonder whether you can appreciate the true significance of this, dear Jess.
There were two letters for me today… and I don’t deserve them because I didn’t write a single word to you yesterday… But we don’t have mess ‘partys’ every day, so perhaps you will forgive me. You mention the new meaning for the initials B.L.A… and I must admit that I haven’t before heard this interpretation. The only variant I know is “Burma Looms Ahead”… and that is a very real worry to many lads over here.
You tell me a lovely story about Barry and his behaviour with your Auntie Edith. He must be a grand little fellow, Jess: It is so lovely to be able to look forward to being a real ‘daddy’ to him. We won’t half have some fun-!! And isn’t it nice, Jess, to hear all the compliments about him… A clever child is he? Of course he is… we know it dear… but it is nice to find others saying it… we love it, don’t we-? And I fully accept your verdict about him being a ‘sweetie-pie’… I only hope he doesn’t push me out of your affections al-together-!! I don’t think he will… but I will have to be constantly aware of having a real rival-!!
Ah Jess… my own dear Jess…
How I love you…