No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jessie Mine, During the last few days the weather over here has been abominably hot. I suppose it is really beautiful summer weather for which we ought to be thankful… but from the soldier’s point of view, such heat can become a nuisance. One of our problems just now is cleanliness. For a start, water has been rather restricted lately, and two ordinary washes a day have been absolute maximum. This may not sound so bad, but local conditions have to be understood to appreciate its significance.
The dust here is amazing… especially to those of us who travel in tanks. We move totally enshrouded in dust… and whether our journey be a few yards or many miles, we finish up looking like animated lumps of earth… covered from head to foot in the stuff. Our clothing does not prevent it from covering our entire bodies… And in the present heat, bodies perspire freely and the dust sticks.
The other day, in a local action here, I perspired so much that my face literally dripped with moisture… as though I was standing beneath a shower. My eyes were partially blinded with the stuff, but I managed somehow. This happened when I was acting as gun-loader for Bill Geary who was commanding the tank under my ‘tuition’. Loading is warm work normally, but in this heat it is like working in Hades.
Food too has become a more difficult job lately. Butter melts and becomes oil: open tins attract flies and wasps – and they become dust filled: bread goes stale whilst it is being cut: empty food tins have to buried immediately to keep away flies etc.
At the moment, the sun is shining brilliantly and our principle problem is finding a shady spot. The local trees are hardly more than bushes and afford little shade… so I am sitting by the side of my tank in a tiny strip of shade.
I think it must be this hot weather which has brought out the mosquitoes. They are still very troublesome at night, but less so than in a former harbour about last Tuesday. We have been issued with anti-mosquito cream, but I don’t think it is very effective. Some fellows, the more susceptible ones, smear themselves continually, but they still have ‘puffed’ faces and swollen eyes etc. I think I am luckier than many of my colleagues. Most of them suffer in some way from these mosquito bites, but they don’t affect me at all. I can feel the mosquito when it bites and I hate the damned things on my flesh, but I suffer no ill effects.
I have been feasting myself… upon your recent letters. I have had so many just lately, my dear. I think I received five in two days, including the long one about your trip to M/c. I loved reading about your experiences. How thrilled you were to be once again free to roam the shops at leisure… and how delightful for me to read of your happy little excursion. Perhaps you will now be able to venture forth a little oftener. I hope you do, my love. It is good for you to get out – and I’m sure it is good for baby to leave him in someone else’s care for a short time. You speak of your visit to the news theatre… I think you would have to attend cinemas more regularly to have any chance of seeing your husband on the screen… and then you may not recognise him. We have been filmed once or twice to my knowledge. On the last occasion, the whole squadron were moving forward very hurriedly to look after an impending counter attack by Jerry in the neighbourhood of Maltot or Mouen – or one of those places.
We were moving fast across a wide flat plain in a single line, causing an enormous cloud of dust… And it was this ‘picture’ that was being filmed. But all of us were wearing goggles… and I was also wearing a towel around my neck to prevent the dust from going down my neck. So I hardly think you will recognise me, even if you see the film. I have no doubt it will look quite impressive in a newsreel.
The lighter you bought is quite a common one, and not nearly as fearsome as you imagine. For a start, you needn’t worry about changing the wool: it lasts for ages. The wick is a different proposition, but very easy to fit if you get the correct type:- i.e. the one with a wire at the end. It is an ordinary wick, but the thin wire extension makes it easy to thread through the smallest hole.
You have a good memory for names. It must be a year or two since I mentioned Major Fresize… and yet you have recalled the name. He is still with us, so it must have been one of his namesakes you heard mentioned.
There are many things in your letter I would like to talk to you about, but I cannot get a chance to settle down to serious writing. I have had about fifteen attempts at this already! So you will have to excuse me this time, my darling. But you can rest assured that I have almost eaten up your letters… and now I am waiting the next… and the next… I may even receive one today if I am lucky.
Poppet seems to be progressing marvellously. I do wish I could be whisked home to have a peep at him… and his dear mummy. It seems so long since I saw you both… And baby was such a wee thing then. He must have altered a great deal… and yet, you tell me that he still has his ‘bumps’ and queer little lopsidedness… so perhaps I would know him.
Anyhow, I know I am going to see you both again… and it may be sooner than we think. I am living for the day… and I dream endlessly of the time when I will step off the train at Edgeley… and into the arms of my love… Happy dreams, darling.
I must leave you now, dear Jess. Bedtime is nearly here… and there is some ‘hot sweet’ on the way.
I hope to be with you again tomorrow.
Good night, dear Jess.
I love you…
Always. Your Trevy.