No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
17th Dec-! (RTG’s wedding anniversary)
My Darling: This day… a few years ago… you and I…
I can’t help being painfully aware of the date, dear Jess: it is such an important anniversary… and ought to have been such a happy day for you and I… But I must be thankful for small mercies… the day has brought me a letter… from Jess… and that is a lot to be thankful for just now because letters have been very scarce for the past week. There has been a mail hold up somewhere, probably due to the weather: it has been a ‘black’ period for we fellows. But today I have your letter of the 8th… the bulky one with the papers you sent me: there must be two or three earlier ones somewhere en route.
Thanks for the papers, dear one… and the saccharins. And thank you too for the story of your trip to Stockport with Barry. What a grand adventure for the little chap. And he is going to have his photo taken… with his mummy! That is fine… splendid news. I have waited long for a ‘photo, Jess and can easily wait a few more weeks… but I hope they soon pass.
Jess, Jess… I hate to appear unkind, but this woman, Mrs. Boh, is slowly driving me crackers. I am so sick of being pestered by her that I have now found sanctuary in another place for most of the day: an empty house where the S.S.M. and Jock Wilson have a room. It is unfurnished and uncomfortable… but there are no Dutch people in the place, and I can at least read without being pestered. I leave this house at breakfast time… and don’t return until late in the evening. I have had to resort to this procedure to preserve my sanity. Formerly, I returned here after breakfast to read or write… but it became impossible: I was neither allowed to read or write. Every few moments Mrs. B. would plonk herself by the table and start jabbering away… And it was so often the same trivial tripe… wet day, cold day, did you sleep well?, did you eat well? She tells me at least once a day that she has two sons, both married, one in Holland, the other in Yugoslavia… That there are 120 English soldiers buried in the local cemetery… That the Germans took everything from Holland and that “alles kapot” God! Am I sick of that phrase “alles kapot”! We got it in France morning noon and night… and then in Belgium… and now in Holland. It seems to be universal. Its literal meaning is “everything is broken”, (or shattered)… but I have a suspicion that it is a flexible term meaning very much the same as our “buggered”. Anyhow, I am sick and tired of hearing it.
Perhaps you will find it hard to understand my seemingly intolerant attitude towards these people… especially as they are only trying to be kind and hospitable, but really Jess you cannot imagine the awful strain of trying to understand their jargon, on the one hand, and the wearying sequence of interruptions. In actual fact, Mrs. Boh is very rude, but she doesn’t know it. She must know when I am trying to write… but this makes not the slightest impression on her: Sometimes I try to ignore her and then she taps my arm to attract my attention. Since starting this letter, a little over an hour ago, I must have been interrupted fifteen times… just to listen to some inane remark and answer ‘ja’ or ‘nein’: this is no exaggeration. Forgive me dear, for dealing with this tiresome topic, but it is a major nuisance to me, and will, I hope help you to understand why my letters are so scrappy these days.
I wish I had something really interesting to tell you… but I haven’t. I am still officially under the doctor, and not on my normal job, but I expect to be reported ‘fit’ again any day now. Think I must have had a dose of the ‘flu or something.
I received a parcel from Marjorie the other day… 100 Players, and a pair of woollen gloves. I don’t think she has missed sending me a Xmas present since I joined the army.
I find my efforts to learn the Dutch language slowly petering out. Mrs. B. has killed my enthusiasm! And then, I find that my mind won’t concentrate somehow. But I have at least managed to tell the time in Dutch: it sounds crazy… Suppose, for instance, I want to say twenty past six… In Dutch it is “tien voor half zeven” – literally “ten (minutes) before half an hour to seven”! It makes you think! I was caught out with an early call once, and now I am more careful. I asked for a call at half past seven… “Half zeven”? said my hostess… and I replied ‘ja’, naturally… and felt very annoyed when I was called at 6.30 am. “Half seven” in Dutch is “half an hour to seven”… not past seven as with us.
No mail again today… Perhaps I will be lucky tomorrow. I have today written to the Ediswan (RTG’s pre-war employer) accountant and submitted the following information:-
Gross Daily Rate
From 3.9.44 8/6 (8 shillings and 6 pence) (Increase after 3 years service)
From 27.11.44 9/- (9 shillings) (Increase after 4 years service)
Gross daily rate disposed of as follows:-
2/6 per day Qualifying allotment to my wife
3/- per day Voluntary allotment to my wife
3/6 per day Net personal service pay
I have not mentioned my 6d per day (I think) increase on becoming a sergeant. This became operative from July 14th last.
I am returning Ediswans’ letter with this.
Conditions are very bad for writing (This is the end of P.8. The remainder of this letter is missing.)