C Sqdn, 9th Battn R.T.R.



Jess Darling: Today… this afternoon to be precise – we have moved into our new mess … the same gasthaus from which we were turned back by the major a few days ago. But this is not an unqualified victory for the sergeants. We have certainly got our mess – a palace by comparison with the other dump – but the ‘staff’ have been ejected, and now there are no Germans living beneath the same roof. The major has thus ensured the security of his crown.

Formerly, the proprietor and his wife, and a couple of maids, lived in a section of the building, even while the Pioneers sergeants were living in the place. They were the staff – and did all the domestic work for the sergeants… and seemed to enjoy doing it. But now… well, they were given 24 hours notice to get out, with orders to leave all furniture and fixtures. So now we have a complete gasthaus at our disposal, with large dining room, small lounge, bar and refreshment room, about ten bedrooms with beds and bed-linen etc… but we have no staff to keep the place clean and tidy: our own two waiters and cook have enough to do with catering etc, without attempting to take on a small hotel.

But the situation seems to be resolving itself. Already the two girls have asked to be allowed to work for us, and we are employing them from Monday next. A male civvy has also been round begging for a job… and he is going to be employed as a general ‘handyman’. The proprietor’s wife has also asked permission to use the large baking oven once a week… and she has not been refused. I don’t know where she and her husband are now living – that is no business of ours, strictly speaking… but I can’t think of them without feeling a bit uncomfortable. They have probably found accommodation in someone’s cellar or back-yard shed. And so a little more misery has been caused – so unnecessarily. I don’t think I am being soft about the ‘poor Germans’: I merely feel that we do no good by manufacturing hardship, nor does such behaviour help us in the long run. But we are much better off physically, and it would appear that physical discomfort is much harder to endure than a slight uneasiness of conscience, so our transfer is a big gain to us. Apropos this subject, we had a special visit fom the R.S.M. on Thursday, followed by Major Holden’s visit yesterday-!!

I told you about our ‘raid’ on a Polish D.P. camp yesterday morning. It seems to have had its repercussions. There was a spate of local petty thefts last night, commencing with the major’s woodland chase – and ending up with a couple of weeping women on our mess doorstep this morning wailing about their two pigs which were pinched during the night. There may be a funny side to these incidents… but we are too close to them to be amused. And taking a long term view, they are rather serious, because it will fall on us, and ultimately the British civil population, who will have to save the Germans from starvation in our zone. The Poles are not helping us by wilfully slaughtering animals which will be badly needed this winter.

In yesterday’s letter, I mentioned the squadron dance held last evening. I only spent a few minutes in the dance hall (the village hall) but it seemed to be quite a pleasant affair – and the general verdict is favourable. I noticed that German males were not admitted: they had to be satisfied with standing in the entrance hall – and seemed glad of the privilege-! This procedure doesn’t seem right to me somehow, Jess. It appears to reduce the dance to a mere excuse for providing women and girls for our lads… unfettered by the awkward presence of their legitimate sweethearts. The S.S.M. assures me that the male ban was merely imposed to prevent overcrowding… I think he intends to admit a limited number of males next time. I think this is wise. The intention is to run these dances twice weekly – on Fridays and Tuesdays. This may sound a lot… but with our present ‘operational’ programme, it will not be possible for even half the squadron to attend each dance, so the most enthusiastic dancers will not be able to average one dance per week.

There is other entertainment of course. “Passion trucks” are as popular as ever. We run one, sometimes two, every evening to a place called Goslar – about 12 miles from here, right at the foot of the Hartz Mountains proper. I haven’t been to this place yet – but hope to see it someday. Its principle attraction for troops is the cinema… and two or three canteens – and, of course, the ‘frat’… Speaking of ‘frat’ – do you know, dear, there were three girls at the dance on Friday, and they had come over from our former location, Gümmer, about sixty miles away. Some of our lads must have personality with a big P… And there is one girl now in Ringelheim here who has followed us from Lengerich… beyond Osnabruck!! I believe she is going to be given a job in the officers’ mess… where her young man is a batman – cum – waiter: Amazing isn’t it.

We had a hell of an argument about this ‘frat’ business in the mess a week ago. Some of the sergeants wanted to be free to bring their German girls into the mess whenever they wanted to. This business of entertaining women in the mess is a normal sergeants privilege… and usually confined to one or two evenings a week in England. We had to have a mess-meeting to settle the problem, and after much argument and rowing, it was decided to allow women guests on two nights a week: I think Sundays and Wednesdays were the days selected.

So tomorrow evening, we are having at least one German girl to tea. She is a platonic (up to now!) friend of the S.S.M, and speaks English a little. I met her at the concert last week – and was agreeably surprised to find that she looks and behaves sensibly… Her husband was killed at Dunkirk in 1940. Incidentally, I think I forgot to tell you that our S.S.M. is no longer ‘Ted’ Edwards. He was promoted to R.S.M. while I was on leave – the former R.S.M. having been demobilised. In Edwards place we have the former S.Q.M.S, George Rathke. And our S.Q.M.S. is now the former senior sergeant, Bob Anderson.

That is all for tonight, my love – I’m sleeping tonight between two spotless linen sheets… for the first time since I was with you… not so long ago. But I need something else besides sheets in my bed:- someone… I love.

Goodnight, Jess dear –
Always Yours