No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jessie Mine, Thank you for the parcel – it arrived today… and now I have enough reading matter to last for ages. I have put the pamphlets in the mess: at first, there were a few mystified comments as to where all the “communist dope” had come from, but I claimed ownership and this seemed to silence all further argument. I notice that two or three sergeants are already reading the “dope”!
Am I right in assuming that you are taking the Guardian Weekly, as well as Time and Tide, every week? You have already told me about the latter… and I regarded it as good news. It is good to hear that you are trying to keep in touch with outside affairs, in spite of having a home and baby on your hands… as well as an absent husband on your mind.
The shirts are O.K. darling… and the tie is hunky-dory… just the ticket. Now I will be able to dress a little more respectably for my home-coming!!!
Jess… just beyond this window where I am writing, there is a large shrub… a lilac tree… and this lilac tree is now literally covered with blossom… that lovely purply-blue blossom which we know so well. It is a beautiful sight: I had to tell you about it.
I was in the garden at the rear of the house this afternoon… and I heard a queer rustling sound beyond a nearby wooden shed. I went to investigate… and I found a little fair-haired girl of about eight years struggling with a branch of a lilac tree from which she was plucking the blossom:- with her was a little toddler of about two years… a bonny little chap with large blue eyes and fat little knees: in his hand were two or three sprays of blossom. When the girl saw me, she looked rather terrified and mumbled a mouthful of German… presumably an explanation of her presence in “our” garden. But the little boy wasn’t scared: he just looked at me with those lovely eyes and held up his flowers proudly. I smelled them, and said they were good… and beckoned to the girl to carry on. I would have liked to help her reach the higher blossoms… but “reason” says we mustn’t fraternise under any circumstances… I left them… and thought of the day when there would be no “reason” preventing me from plucking lilac blossoms for my own little blue-eyed boy. Next year… Oh! how I long for you both, darling:- but we will all be together this time next year: And there will be lots of blossom in our home… our happy home.
How I laughed when I read of Barry’s little misbehaviour with the nurse! You do say things in a funny way, don’t you darling. Now that he has acquired this special aptitude, you will have to watch yourself: I should hate to read that you had received an eye-full from him. I laughed too when I read of your visit to the tripe shop. What a wife I have!! And what lovely daft things she does!! But how I love her for it! Did you enjoy that tripe-cow-heel thing, Jess? I’ll bet it was awful-!
I am still living in the home of the one time Nazi… enjoying the comfort of his fairly luxurious home. It makes a fine sergeants’ mess, with its well equipped kitchen for our cook, large dining room for the dozen or so sergeants of the squadron… and there is even a ‘service hatch’ for our waiter. We don’t know where the owner of the house has gone to: he disappeared before we arrived. Perhaps we will be arresting him one of these days: We ‘collect’ quite a few civilians every day because their papers are not in order, or because they haven’t any at all. Many of them confess immediately to being deserters from the Wehrmacht… Others confess… after cross-questioning etc. They are all sent away to P.O.W. cages. One surprising feature of many of these arrests is the apparent eagerness of the culprits to get into custody. Sometimes, their wives and families come out and bid them a laughing good-bye. I believe the shortage of food and accommodation is the main reason for this strange state of affairs. The prisoners, and their families, know that we treat prisoners well:- and the temporary absence of one member from a family means all the more food for the rest. It is the same with accommodation… one body less in a wretched little cellar or other hovel leaves more “lebensraum” for the others.
There are, of course, prisoners who only ‘surrender’ reluctantly. Perhaps they have risked everything and endured terrible ordeals in order to desert the army and get back to their families… But we cannot tolerate excuses, or allow sentiment to interfere with measures adopted for the safety of our army… It is an unpleasant job… but there are many worse.
I was out rather late last evening, Jess: it was actually 12.15am when I left the sergeants’ mess to go to my own billet about a hundred yards down the road. And whilst I was making this journey, I heard a sound – or rather two sounds – that made me wonder whether I was sober: Firstly I heard a nightingale… that was a happy surprise… but a few moments later I heard a cuckoo! A cuckoo, mind you, cuckoo-ing after midnight. I still wonder whether I was dreaming, but I wasn’t really… I have not heard any werewolves yet… I don’t s’pose I am likely to, either… But I will let you know if I do.
Good night, Jess…
Give little Barry a big hug for me…
And ask him to give his mummy a big kiss… for daddy..
I love you…
P.S. I have another letter from Francoise, at Limont. Will send it when I have replied. T.