No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jessie Mine: I think my last letter to you was written last Thursday… and that was an awful long time ago: but I am not going to make any excuses… I think you will understand that my apparent neglect has been unavoidable. At present, my mind is a mass of impressions… a rather chaotic jumble of pictures… and the pictures themselves are the visible evidence of the chaos of war… chaos, destruction… utter and complete.
Unfortunately, I cannot write about the immediate past, so once again I find myself with little to write about. I believe you will be glad to hear that I am housed with a very kind Dutch couple, in a modern and beautifully furnished home. And, for a change, there is no evidence of the war in my immediate surroundings. It is almost phenomenal to be living in a house in which there is not even a pane of glass broken. Another strange feature of this house is the entire absence of religious knick-knacks: not a crucifix, not a picture… nor an image… none of that disgusting mass of junk which has characterised all the other Dutch houses I have lived in. The place feels brighter: it has no sinister atmosphere like so many homes I have known… they are really mere worshipping dens.
Another strange feature here is the piano:- there is a beautiful instrument in the dining room. It is grand to see such evidence of musical appreciation. And there are books too… plenty of books, in Dutch of course, but the mere sight of them is refreshing after seeing so little evidence of reading matter, apart from bibles and prayer-books. All this is very significant to me. It seems that modern culture and religion… especially the R.C. brand… are inimical to each other. This is something of a platitude I know, but the evidence is so glaring here that I can’t help mentioning it.
I had to stop writing whilst the family had their evening meal… and we had to join them. (Dicky Hall is with me here.) I do not feel very guilty about eating their food as we only had an egg each, and they are plentiful just now over here: the people seem to be living on them.
Today has been bright and sunny, but not very warm: there has been quite a cool breeze for the last few days. But there can now be no doubt about springtime, Jess. All the fruit trees are in blossom… a beautiful sight. It is impossible not to think more than ever about home just now: and such reflections are apt to sadden one’s outlook. But I keep consoling myself with the thought that you and Barry are probably seeing something of the countryside: I love to imagine the little fellow being shewn the wonders of our lovely countryside by his mummy. I hope you have been able to show him some lambs, Jessie Mine: they are such delightful things for a child to see.
And now, my dear, I am going to be a nuisance again… I want you to send me something. This time, it is my two khaki shirts… the ones you bought me. And as we are now officially allowed to wear collars and ties for ‘walking out’, I would like you to send me a khaki tie as well. Do you think you can get one, Jess? Some of the lads here have had ties made out of their shirt ‘tails’, but they aren’t so good. I would prefer a real one, although I will have a ‘shirt tie’ made over here if you can’t buy a proper one. There is no hurry about this, Jess. Just send them whenever convenient.
I must go now, darling: it is getting dark, and we have no artificial lighting here: it is all ‘kaput’… Oh – that reminds me… could you include a few candles with the shirts? They would be useful, but don’t bother with them if it means any trouble.
Good night, my love…