C Sqdn, 9th Battn R.T.R.
Jess Darling: Today’s battalion orders have brought some good news… a “warning order” for all of us in group 22-!! And now it is officially confirmed that we will be released a little earlier than anticipated. Formerly, we were due for release between Dec 3rd and 23rd… But now, the dates are Nov 25th and Dec 6th.
I thought it was too good to last: I had the mess all to myself about a couple of hours ago, a rare treat, and had just written the above… when in burst a Jerry accompanied by a bloody (literally) Pole – But that’s another story: it can wait. I was talking about demobilisation. You can imagine how thrilled we are by this latest news. Even those of higher group numbers are quite excited… because their releases are automatically brought nearer. So far as this news is concerned, there will be vacancies for three new sergeants in five or six weeks’ time, because Les Challinor, Tom Hamnett, and I will all be leaving together. What a day it will be, darling:- the day we have lived and longed for since Nov 27th 1940. And this ‘Xmas we will be together for the first time since 1939… And we will have our lovely little pest to make it a real ‘Xmas. Gosh! I am looking forward to it. I must start thinking about presents… two in particular-!!
I cannot give you any more precise details about my homecoming. I may be lucky and released with the first batches of my group… or I may be in the last batch… But whatever happens, I am practically certain to be home within a day or two of Dec 6th – It may even be Dec 10th – as you forecast weeks ago.
Personally I prefer to concentrate on the thought that it is possible for me to be at home by the end of November, because I know of men who have been in civvy street five days after leaving the unit. It seems impossible, doesn’t it… To be wafted from this God-forsaken country, a fully-fledged soldier… and be home in England, in civvies, at home with my love… and for good – all within five days. Should the transition be slower… to give us more time for re-adjustment? A psychologist may say yes… but we say shoot the psychologists… all of the buggers: just let us get home… home…
I think the present job we are doing tends to emphasize our good fortune in having decent homes, in the true sense, in which to live. There are so many people… millions probably… who have no prospects of experiencing the joys of home for years to come… Hopeless, disillusioned human scrap:- most of them may be destined to finish their lives as beggars. There is so little we can do to help them…
I suppose you will be wondering about the ‘bloody’ Pole… It was just another little incident… and hardly worth relating, except as an illustration of the ‘home’ life of some of these homeless wretches over here… ‘Incidents’ never occur singly, and when the first hold-up was reported at 6.30pm, we sensed somehow that there would be more. The first report concerned four German ex-soldiers… recently discharged from the P.O.W. cages, and wending their way home maybe hundreds of miles away. Anyhow, these Jerries were waylaid by a gang of Poles, and stripped of everything, including their uniforms and trousers: they were otherwise unharmed.
Can you imagine me, darling… coming home with my “ticket”… but minus everything else but a pair of shirt laps flapping in the breeze? That was the plight of the Jerries – until someone found them something to put around their legs… I don’t s’pose we will find the thieves.
But it wasn’t the naked Jerries who interrupted my letter writing. I was sitting here, at peace with the world, when the door flew open, revealing a gabbling Jerry civvy bowing and apologising… a couple of poorly dressed and half starved D.P’s behind him: the latter were Poles – they are easily distinguishable somehow – a man and a woman, very thin and puny. The Polish man’s face was somewhat battered, with a huge blue lump beneath his eye, and a gash in his cheek – and bags of blood… The Jerry did his best to explain… but it was no use… I couldn’t make head or tail of his story, altho’ it was obvious that something had happened to the Pole.
I had to get them to wait whilst I changed my slippers… and then took the Poles up the village street to the dance-hall where the squadron dance was in progress. There I found our interpreter and yanked him out… And the story he learned was that there had been trouble in the D.P. camp in the village here. It appears that a certain male member of this camp has an illicit supply of drink and is always getting drunk and behaving violently… And his violence tonight had resulted in our little Pole’s face being bashed in with a poker or something… So, with his wife, (or mistress) he had sought assistance, ultimately being led to our mess by a Jerry.
It took some time to ‘organise’ a patrol to go and arrest the Pole, and the details would only bore you… but you can understand that we daren’t send an odd soldier or so on a job of this sort. We have to be prepared for violence and take the necessary precautions. Unfortunately, our official night patrol troops were not in this vicinity at the time, otherwise I wouldn’t have wasted so much time.
And now I must go to bed –
Goodnight, my love
Yours – always