No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jessie Mine, You have told me a little about the trouble you have had with neuralgia… and reading between the lines, I am certain that you have had a hell of a time. You have planned to visit Griffiths to have a tooth out… but I think the principle cause of your suffering lies elsewhere: it is, in fact, over here in Belgium. Worry is the root of many ailments, particularly nervous ones… and you have had much worry lately. You have had to nurse Barry through his first ‘sickness’… and on top of this, there have been days on end without any news from me. I am certain that this absence of news has depressed you terribly, and I feel dreadfully guilty. And yet, there is so little I can do about it.
Conditions have been particularly bad lately: we have been moved backwards and forwards over fair distances, leaving us with no time for personal affairs. And then there followed a spasm when we spent three days and nights in the front line… having very little sleep, and no time to ourselves. I have been worried about you, darling: I know something of the blank despair with which you have been tormented as the days have gone by without hearing from me. It is a damnable situation because it causes such one-sided suffering. I know I am alright… but you cannot know… you can only hope… and hope. I cannot ask you not to worry… but I do want you to try and remain optimistic if my letters are again interrupted… as they may quite easily be… Please be assured, darling, that I am being very careful indeed and not running any unnecessary risks. I think I could be much worse off than I am here… and I am thankful that I am not further ahead.
And now I would like to tell you something about myself… but I fear there is little I can say. My movements are still too recent to disclose, likewise my present whereabouts… other than that I am in Belgium.
A little while ago, we were in Holland and it was there that we were treated with amazing hospitality by the civilians. There can be no doubt that the Dutch people are deeply grateful for their liberation from the hated Bosch… and how they hate him! They seem to have a tremendous affection for England and the English and their efforts to help we soldiers was (sic) almost embarrassing. I had the good fortune to live with a Dutch family for three days… and I will never forget the kindness I received from them. Fortunately for us, there seems to be at least one member of every Dutch family who can speak English… and this enabled us to have many pleasant and interesting conversations. You can imagine my pleasure at being able to discuss the world’s problems with an intelligent foreigner. How very similar in outlook they are to us! And in their habits and lives. I have no hesitation whatever in saying that they resemble the British to a remarkable degree… far more so than the French or Belgiumies.
My Dutch host, Mr. Cornelese, insisted on taking a photograph of myself and crew and I am hoping that he will be able to post a copy to me: but this will depend upon internal postal arrangements in Holland. (Click here to see the photo.) However, if I get the ‘photo, I will send it on to you. I had to leave my home address with Mr. C, so it is possible that he may send the ‘photo direct. If he does, I hope you will acknowledge it… and tell him of my deep appreciation for the kindness shewn me by himself and family… i.e. Mrs C., daughter Thea, and “Willy” (the latter 16 years and 3 years respectively).
Owing to the popularity of the English language in Holland, I was able to speak to many civilians… and was always left with a feeling that here at least were people who had no doubts about the work and hardships of we soldiers. Their own work… that of the underground workers particularly… they spoke of almost scornfully. “It was nothing” is the general view. It is the soldiers, the men who have actually forced the Bosch from their homes, for whom they have nothing but admiration.
One evening, it was very dark, I completely lost myself in a town. It was about 11.0 pm… and I was about 6 kilometres off my ‘course’. A figure approached from the inky darkness, and I stopped him… hoping to find a British soldier who could re-direct me. He turned out to be a Dutchman… about my own age… and he spoke English fairly well. I explained my problem… and he immediately insisted on accompanying me until I found our harbour. And he stayed with me for the next 1 1/2 hours… even though we went miles away from his own destination. He simply refused to leave me until he knew I was ‘home’… saying that it was a privilege for him to be of even the slightest assistance to a British soldier. “We know the extent of our indebtedness to you” he said “and you won’t find a single Dutchman who won’t be glad to do anything for you”… Well, I found he was right… and it was a happy experience for me.
And now I must leave you, dear… Hoping and hoping that you are now completely better… and that Barry has completely recovered from the vaccination.
Au revoir, my love