No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess Darling – We are nowadays having a certain amount of intercourse with German civilians, on official duties, and once again I find myself being driven half crazy trying to understand the language. We have an official interpreter, but he is not always available, so we have to try and solve the problems of our many civilian enquirers by the usual antics… pantomime, etc: occasionally we have to try and stagger through a conversation with bits of English, French, Dutch and German… a hell of a job, and not very satisfactory – but we have to try.
We are still leading a peaceful existence, Jess… And the civilians remain quite docile and subservient: they seem to be really afraid of incurring our wrath… and are very obedient, up to now. I hope these conditions are maintained, needless to say. I was on guard last night… and had a German civilian in the guardroom all night. He was found outside after curfew, and was placed under arrest… principally as a warning. We released him this morning… and I was rather sickened by his lavish expressions of gratitude.
I can’t think of anything exciting to tell you, darling. But if I followed my inclinations I would write you a long love-letter. I do so love you Jess… and that aching void around my heart seems to increase in intensity with every day that passes. I want… Oh Jess… I will only tire you if I continue on this topic: I have said it before… and I know I will say it again… I must think of something else to say to you.
I am reading an excellent book just now dear: it is by Phyllis Bentley and called “Inheritance”. The story reminds me very much of “The Crowthers of Bankdam” which I read at Charing. Both books are about the Yorkshire woollen industry, and deal with the histories of typical Yorkshire families. ‘Inheritance’ commences at the time of the “Luddites” and proceeds, I believe, to the present day. ‘The Crowthers’ covered a similar period… and both books have a fascinating historical background. It is good to be able to read a decent book for a change: conditions here are pretty good for reading.
Are you still reading Upton Sinclair, my dear? I imagine that you cannot be making much headway: what with the housework and Barry and visitors and letters, I wonder that you have time to sleep, let alone read books. I know you will lament this state of affairs, and I have no doubt that you resent it… as I do… but your privations must surely be nearly over now: the war simply can’t last much longer. And then – when I am home – you will have some leisure: some time to live your own life. You must never become a slave to our home… and you won’t either.
I was interrupted last evening… and then went to bed: I was so damned tired after the previous night’s guard that I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
I have done little work today and have been able to finish reading “Inheritance”. I am sorry to have finished it: I wish I had something as good to carry on with. This must be the first decent sized book I have read for many months and it pleases me to find that I can still read and enjoy such literature. Sometimes in the past, I have despaired of ever again being able to settle down to reading. But I s’pose these things are conditioned by one’s state of mind.
One of my ‘jobs’ today consisted of collecting a batch of recent newspapers and cutting out all the photographs of the concentration camp atrocities. I am pasting these on to a suitable backcloth, together with German translations of the captions, and then the whole thing will be displayed in the town for the benefit of the civilian population. It may have some effect upon them… but it may not. They have already had a surfeit of such ‘atrocity’ pictures from their own Dr. Goebbels who used them as anti-Russian propaganda. It is even possible that the Germans will accuse us of using the same photographs because they are very similar in their beastliness.
I have just received your letter of the 19th, and am sorry to hear that you have been ill. You speak of it as one of your ‘lightning illnesses’ and seem to regard it as nothing to worry about. I wish I could feel the same about it, Jessie Mine. I remember a previous letter in which you complained of a similar pain in your pelvis, but it coincided with your first period after Barry’s birth and I think we both regarded it as nothing serious. But now, this recurrence makes me wonder. I believe you should consult the doctor: I would really like you to do so, darling. In all probability, we have no need to worry, but that little element of doubt makes me feel uneasy. Will you see Shanahan, Jess? Please do so… for my sake if not for yours.
Must leave you now… in hurry.