C Sqdn, 9th Battn R.T.R.
My Darling: There has been another of our bi-weekly dances this evening – and the mess has therefore been delightfully peaceful for about a couple of hours… But Les Challinor has been here with me – and we have been gassing – swopping yarns – mainly about holidays and happy times in the Lake District… and, of course, the Hebrides. Les has spent a few holidays in the ‘Lakes’ and knows the district pretty well. But he has not been to the Hebrides, and I’m sure he was genuinely interested in my reminiscences… A funny thing about this reminiscing business is the frequency with which the name ‘Jess’ appears in my narratives. It will persist in popping in… always accompanied by laughter and happiness: I like it. And I love reminiscing: it’s a lovely excuse for talking about my sweetheart.
I imagine that Les and his wife are going to visit us when we become civilians again – and then you will be able to tell your side of some of our experiences: it will be fun.
I have been rather busy today, darling. The transport job entails a fair amount of paper-work, including miles of red-tape and forms and returns, and all this takes up time. Also, today, my ‘lecture’ was from 2.0pm until 4.0pm – twice as long as last week, so I have no time for my official job during the afternoon. But I must get it back to the one-hourly basis next week: otherwise I can foresee some evening work in the future, and I don’t want that…
I have another job to contend with now… I forgot to tell you about it. It is that of “mess caterer”… a sort of secretary to the sergeants mess – another old army custom. It doesn’t involve any hard work, but there is a certain amount of book-keeping to do, and I suppose I average about one hour per day balancing cash with stocks etc, and paying out a few minor accounts for such things as char-women, drink, food supplies bought locally etc. I detest the job: I always have hated the sight of ledgers and cash-books – but I couldn’t very well refuse to do it. Our former mess-caterer was given compassionate leave about a week ago… his mother being critically ill – and there was no-one else to carry on but me. I am only doing the job until he returns – provided he is back within the next week or so. If he isn’t, then I shall politely resign or something: I can’t stick it indefinitely. By that time, the squadron patrol routine may have been modified still further, thus leaving some of the other sergeants with a bit of spare time to mess about with books. As things are just now, my colleagues have little time for anything but bed and work.
I have got rid of the orderly sergeant’s job. I couldn’t pretend to do the various jobs properly, and give education lectures as well. Fortunately, another fellow, Sgt. Lord, arrived very conveniently from another unit… and he was promptly made orderly sergeant. I was glad to get rid of that job: I dislike it even more than ‘books’.
I am still H.Q. troop sergeant… technically responsible for the ‘discipline’ of about 70 blokes. But that is one of those jobs which can conveniently be ‘delegated’. Room cleanliness, for instance, is made the responsibility of the corporals or lance corporals. For recreation i.e. selecting troop football teams etc. I have a useful corporal. And so the various little duties are passed on in the genuine army tradition. I detest this sort of game, but there is no alternative in the army… God! I will be glad to see an end to it all: I only hope that some of these army bad habits don’t accompany me into ‘civvy street’… surely one of the most awful things that could happen to any man.
Jess! I’ve just heard ‘Eri tu’ on the radio-! It was not sung quite as well as our recording… but it was lovely. This is the first time I have ever heard it apart from our record… It will be nice to go to bed with such lovely music in my mind… so… once more I say good night… to my love…
My Jess –