No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess Dear, It seems ages since I received a letter from you… and I have been on tenterhooks all day wondering whether I would hear from you this evening… And I have heard from you, darling… An hour ago, I received four of your letters… Oh Jess – can you imagine my feelings? I think I would have wept if there had been nothing for me today… but even though I know you write to me practically every day, I never expected to be so lucky. One letter would have been a godsend… and I have four… four letters from my love. They were posted on Dec 12th, 13th, 17th, and 18th. And now I feel good once again… How I would love to throw my arms around you and kiss those dear lips as a tiny demonstration of my gratitude…
The photos of Barry… and Jess… what a lovely surprise: how glad I am to have them.. to have more pictures of my dear wife, and our little son… You will want to know what I think of Barry… and you will want the truth… So what can I say? Firstly, this Barry is a complete stranger to me in appearance: he looks totally different from the wee fellow I remember. And so, my first reaction was one of surprise. Perhaps I have visualised him as a slightly larger baby than the one I knew… But I find that he is a definite little person, with his own features and entirely different from what I imagined… Of course, I ought to have known that he would have altered a great deal… you have told me so often that he is “his own little personality”. He looks well… better than I expected. I have never imagined my son with fat little cheeks. And how alive he looks! You can positively see him thinking, in the two photos with his mummy. I wonder what was on his mind.
In the picture with Kath I see the happy baby you have spoken of so often: I imagine he must often look like this. It seems almost unbelievable that I can be the father of such a podgy, happy looking little fellow. But I am his daddy, aren’t I dear-? I do believe I am feeling very proud of myself at this moment! I have been trying to discover any resemblances to you and I… But do you know what? When I first saw the laughing photo, I had a momentary impression that he had ‘something’ of Auntie Emily… but I cannot now see where or why I should think this. In actual fact, he doesn’t look like either of us. Perhaps he is a composite baby with something of both of us: I hope he is…
I am so proud of you Jess: I know he is ‘our’ baby in the biological sense, but his development has been entirely your responsibility, and I can see that you have done a grand job… You appear to dislike the pictures of yourself, but to me they are a breath of Heaven… my Heaven. I have studied them and know every tiny weeny detail… I see much more than you can possibly imagine. They are you, my Jess, in two different moods… and I treasure them.
Your letters refer to my illness. I do believe you have been worrying about me… more than you admit. This will not do: I have not been very ill, Jess. I have had a mild dose of flu and was officially confined to bed for about five days. The M.O. actually wanted me to go in hospital… but I dreaded this, and when I was able to assure him that I could remain in a good bed in civvy billets, and receive hot drinks as stipulated, he agreed to let me stay with the unit. Had I gone to hospital… well… I may not have received one of your letters for a fortnight or more. I couldn’t have lived, Jess.
The present position is that I am still with the echelon, but am practically normal once again. I have a slight cough, and slight headaches, but they cause me no bother. I can go out when I like, and eat what I like… and more or less do what I like… so you will see that there is no reason at all for you to worry. Needless to say, I am not sorry to be away from the tanks for a time… It must be three weeks since I rode in one!
Today’s post has also brought me letters from Ross and Dorothy (RTG’s brother-in-law and sister). Ross says he thinks Olive (RTG’s sister-in-law) “is bearing fruit again”… and I can only place one interpretation upon this statement. I was rather surprised… but cannot say why. After all, if they do intend to have more than one child, now is the time… before Jeffrey is much older.
Speaking of Barry, Dorothy says she saw him when he was 7 months old “and he is a really lovely baby, so good and happy” she adds “he is very like you… but has strong Whitaker points as well, which I guess you are very glad to know”. Well… Am I? What do you think, Jess? If the points are Jessie Whitaker ones, then I hope he is bristling with them… like a porcupine.
Jess… I so love you… all of you… everything about you. If our son is like you, I shall be terribly happy… and terribly proud… But whoever he resembles, nothing can deprive him of his association with you… his mother. And it is your influence which is going to mould his future. He is a lucky baby… like his daddy.
Once again, I can assure you that there is nothing I require… I do hope you will cease to worry about sending me anything. We are very well clothed, and now have our woollen underwear for the winter. I know that many people make a habit of sending woollies to their soldier husbands and friends… scarves, socks, gloves etc… but these are entirely unnecessary as we already have them and can easily obtain replacements when necessary. So next time you hear of anyone sending ‘comforts’ over here, please don’t let it worry you. On the contrary, you should sympathise with the soldier who is going to be forced to carry more needless clothing. If at any time I find I do need something, I promise to write and tell you. Is that perfectly clear? Cigarettes are different from clothing and are always in demand. Even so, we don’t do so badly, what with the army issue, and the Naafi issue, and occasional issues from home charities. But the 500 you have sent me will not be wasted… of that I can assure you. They will supplement my normal supply and provide a reserve which will last me several weeks. I thank you for them, darling.
It is good to hear of your ‘liberation’, Jessie Mine. I can quite imagine what a treat it must be for you to be able to get away from the house with Barry. And you are even able to dine out in restaurants! That is indeed a step in the right direction. I hope your journey on ‘Xmas day to Reddish will cause you no bother. But I am wondering how you will travel from Stockport to Reddish. Do you intend leaving the pram at home?
More mail today! I have a ‘Xmas card from Wilf – a ‘woodcut’, and a card from Haydn… and a letter from Jess… and a letter from Mr. Cornelese (Eindhoven billet host, 8-11.10.44). It is quite overwhelming after the letterless days of the last fortnight or so. Mr. Cornelese’s letter was a pleasant surprise. I will send it to you as soon as I have replied. It is written in broken English, just as he speaks. He has sent a ‘photo which he took during my stay with him: I will enclose it with this letter. (Click here to see the photo.) It shows Mr. C. and family, and myself with the crew I had at the time:- viz. Cpl Johnny Davies, Alf “Titch” Mead, Jimmy Smith, and Freddy Glasspool, the latter being nicknamed ‘Cess’… presumably because his name has some similarity to ‘cesspool’… Johnny Davies is now in England with a broken leg: he was one of the unfortunates?.. who jumped from the blazing school at Roosendaal. ‘Titch’ Mead is in England too. He was seriously wounded during one of our battles in the ‘mopping up’ north of Antwerp, and has since had his left leg amputated, but he is recovering nicely. Jimmy Smith is dead… killed by the same shell that wounded Mead. Glasspool is O.K., and still with the troop.
I believe it is now possible to write to addresses in Holland, so maybe you would like to write to Mr. Cornelese. I know he would be absolutely delighted to hear from you. But I suggest you enquire from the P.O. about the mail service. The fact that we can write to Holland is no guarantee that civvys can write from England.
You have sent me another letter from Mr. Morgan… (RTG’s pre-war employer) and you revel in the thoughts of my further embarrassment. Well!.. I am embarrassed… and I don’t know what to say. One thing, however, stands out clearly… You don’t like John Willy! But in spite of your dislike, you have sent my letters on to him… and I think you have acted wisely. You have helped to ease my conscience. Mr. Morgan is very kind in his remarks, Jessie Mine. I am glad I have no need to answer his letters… that is your job! And… I do believe you enjoy writing to Mr. Morgan: I know you are doing it on my behalf… but whether to scold you or thank you I cannot decide. Maybe I will have to scold you… when my leave materialises. When I read about “including short extracts in our publications” I felt a bit jittery, but on further reflection, I don’t think it will matter. All the same, I am curious to know what they are publishing.
It is very late now, darling. There has been an interruption which has taken up much of my evening. A couple of hours ago, a young lady burst in upon us: she was very exhausted and couldn’t speak for a few moments. Ultimately she gasped “Germans” and started waving her arms:- she only spoke Flemish, but we learned that three Germans had broken into a neighbour’s house and had demanded food. The neighbours had somehow signalled to her by knocking on the wall, and she had immediately jumped on her bike and ridden the half mile to our billet. Judging by her condition, she must have ridden the ride of her life. There were about half a dozen of us here (’tis Xmas Eve, and most of the lads are out celebrating!) and we immediately grabbed our arms and followed the girl outside. The night is bitterly cold, freezing hard, but there is a bright moon: I couldn’t decide whether that was an advantage or not. After walking for about fifteen minutes, we found ourselves in a lonely country area, with odd cottages scattered along the side of a narrow lane. She pointed to one with lighted windows about 150 yards ahead: that was the house.
We went forward… quietly, and with weapons ready cocked. We didn’t know whether we were dealing with Nazi fanatics, perhaps dropped by parachute and fully armed, or the more inoffensive type of Jerry. As we neared the house, I noticed a black silhouette moving in the shadow of a barn adjoining the house. I decided to investigate, whilst the rest of the party crept to the door of the house. And then my quarry moved forward into the moonlight, and I noticed it was a woman. Thank goodness I withheld my fire. Almost simultaneously, I heard a thump, and the house door flew open and a shaft of light illuminated three of my colleagues standing outside by the door. They were saying some rather unpleasant things about Germans and shouting for the “bastards” to give themselves up. I joined them just in time to see three very dirty and very scared looking Germans raising their hands above their heads as they rose from the table. The bounders were in the midst of their supper! There were one or two other people in the room, but I hadn’t time to notice them really… we were too busy searching the prisoners for arms and on the qui-vive for treachery. But there was no excitement. I think the sight of half a dozen soldiers, all with arms, and perhaps looking pretty desperate, must have frightened the life out of the Jerries. They certainly submitted to our searching, hands held well over their heads. We marched them back to our billets, and held them here whilst transport and escorts were organised to take them to the nearest P.O.W. camp.
I was glad to see them go… before they received any ‘rough’ handling by some of our tough guys. After all, there is a difference between semi-starved and defenceless human (sub-human!) wretches, and the arrogant and swaggering brutes with weapons whom we find on the battlefield. These prisoners were clothed in rags, and none of them had an overcoat. Perhaps they are glad to have been captured because they would hardly have survived this bitter weather, clad as they were. Heaven knows where they came from… Perhaps they landed by parachute.
I really must go now, Jess dear… ‘Xmas Eve has passed by whilst I have been writing – and now it is Xmas day…
Xmas day, darling… How I wish… and wish…
Good night, my love…
Always… and forever