No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jessie Mine: I feel pretty certain that you have never slept on bare boards… and so you will not be able to appreciate my present plight. I have so many aching bones darling. For the last two nights I have been sleeping on the floor and my bones have been unaccustomed to such abuse for several weeks:- so now I am paying the penalty of my recent “soft” living. No doubt I could soon get used to a hard bed again if I wanted to… but I don’t want to, so I am trying out a new type of bed tonight. I have collected half a dozen leather ‘cushions’ from the tank driving seats and am using these as a mattress beneath my ground sheet. Each cushion is about a foot square, so I have laid them in a double row to give the required width. Unfortunately, the mattress is somewhat lacking in length, but it will provide a fairly soft cushion for my hip… which is what really matters. I am looking forward to a bit of rest tonight!
There was a letter for me today… a letter from Jess dated 31.3.45. You speak of the war… and the difficulty of keeping pace with the Allied conquests. I know how you feel dear one, and agree that the present situation is terribly exciting. Over here, we are all wondering how much longer the Jerries will hold out… hoping and hoping that the end will come soon… very soon. But… our optimism is somewhat restrained. There is always that underlying anxiety… the knowledge that the enemy is still resisting… still inflicting casualties. He may go on like this for weeks… or he may capitulate at any moment. We hope for the latter (we think and talk of little else) but we have to be prepared for the former. And then there is the ‘mopping up’… a process which may last for ages. Your comment about people who regard this part of warfare as like “flicking flies off a window pane” caused some amusement in the mess. It so well describes the conventional civilian outlook… but is so far from reality. In fact, some of the bitterest fighting of this war has resulted from ‘mopping up’ operations. This sort of thing may happen in the huge Ruhr pocket:- but… there is always the chance that the encircled enemy will soon surrender. We all hope he does, needless to say.
You seem to have been in a ‘self-reprimanding’ mood the other evening. You tell me that you are “dissatisfied with yourself and your reactions to people”… and that you are “tart and testy”. Well darling… I cannot blame you… but I do admire you for your awareness of this condition… and for your forthright admission. There is not much wrong with your general outlook and behaviour if you are so easily able to diagnose your own ailment. If you had no cause to be ‘tart and testy’, I might be able to offer some criticism, but knowing what I do know… well, I marvel that you are not a good deal more tart and testy with everyone.
I could say such a lot, Jess, about my admiration for your conduct during this war: I know something of the indescribable strain and anxiety you have had to endure – particularly during the last few months… But what I think on this subject is better unsaid just now: it is beyond my capacity to express myself adequately. One thing I must say though… Your remarks about me… oh! such sweet and kind words, darling… were so lovely to read… but… you are too generous: I doubt whether it is I who will ‘lead you out of this peculiar state of mind’. You are capable of so much Jess: it is you… yourself… who will rise above all these petty irritants, once these damnable anxieties have been removed from your life. Your spirit is as bouyant as thistledown… the essential you has remained unimpaired, in spite of everything. Of this I am certain:- it is only one of many reasons for admiring your behaviour during these hateful war years.
You tell me you love me… An exquisite superfluity. Say it as often as you like, dear: it is the sweetest of all music to me. I have known it for long… and knowing it I have been able to carry on… because your love has become my life: the two are as one to me. Never could a man more truthfully say that life is good and worth-while because of the love and companionship of a fine and beautiful woman…
Ah Jess… need I say that I love you? There is such an ache within me dear one…
Good night, my love,