No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess, Darling: I have not been in good writing form lately… as you will have noticed. I have little of interest to write about… and then my cold has made my mind a bit fuddled. But I must try and write a page or two this evening… if only to let you know that I am still O.K.
I did not write last evening: I intended doing so, but overlooked the date… You see, Dec 6th is quite an important day in the Dutch calendar…St. Nicholas’ day… and the evening before seems to be celebrated much as our Xmas eve. And so, this was a hectic household last evening, with eight soldiers, mother and father, daughter and son, uncle and two nieces. It was a family affair of course, but we were all present as guests. There were piles of presents… most of it junk, but no doubt bought with the best of intentions. I begin to see now why these Dutch houses are usually so full of useless knick-knacks: they are probably presents from friends, kept on display for courtesy, I s’pose.
We soldiers were all given a present… a wall plaque, bearing the name of this town. God knows what I will do with mine… It was given as a souvenir, with such kindly intentions, but I cannot imagine myself carting it around Europe…
In addition to the present giving ceremony, there were the usual games and nonsense as with all family gatherings: I remained a mere onlooker in a comfortable chair… being a “seek man”-!
My cold is still with me… and is receiving the M.O.’s attention daily. I feel decidedly better today, but the M.O. says my temperature is still above normal and I am still officially confined to bed. It will no doubt be a few days before I return to the tank. Meanwhile, they now have a deputy in my place.
We have not been served too well with newspapers just lately, and I am not too well acquainted with world events, but judging by odd reports it would appear that many of our liberated ‘allies’ are in trouble… There is Belgium… where matters seem to be under control now, but I think this is an illusion… And there is Greece, where open civil war appears to have commenced… And Rome… And France… What is happening, Jess? Is it the old story of reaction versus the ‘left’. And is it true that all the reactionaries are sponsored by Britain… with the ‘left’ being labelled everywhere as communists?
Oh God! What a ghastly world it is. I despair of any good resulting from this war. It seems utterly futile. Perhaps I am in a pessimistic mood… I must be… so lets get off politics before I go nuts.
I have had no mail since Monday – and that is a pity… I would so much prefer talking about your letters just now: I am so sick of the war, Jess. I don’t want to talk about it just now. Even thinking about battles makes me shudder… some other time perhaps I will send more ‘war’ stories.
I suppose you will have heard all about the leave scheme for the 2nd Army. It will affect this unit of course… but I am not greatly excited by the news… There can be little relaxation, little real pleasure in any such leave, for me. Naturally I will not refuse leave. If it meant being with you for only an hour, I would accept gladly… But my mental state will be a queer one. I will not be able to forget this hell… this bloody beastliness. I know I will be conscious all the time of having to return to it. Even here, I am terrified of war… how much worse will it be to return to it from home – my love… from all that matters in life… I mustn’t think about these things, Jess. No soldier has any right to think of the future… it is the way to insanity.
I hope everything is alright with you, darling. And Barry? Has his first ‘toof’ arrived yet? Is he well? Are you well? Please tell me you are… And please take great care of yourself, dear Jess. You mean so much to me… so much: I cannot tell you how much, but I hope you can guess.
I had a letter from Ted Hinson yesterday. He is still convalescent, but seems very cheerful. His arm appears to be progressing well, altho’ it will never again be normal as part of the joint is missing. But he has not lost his arm… and he is, presumably, finished with active service… so I can understand his apparent lightheartedness. I will send you his letter when I have replied to it.
And now… a few words about Johnny (“Tiger”) Boland. You may remember that he was my driver when he was wounded at Crevecoeur. Subsequently, I sent you a few of his private papers, in Bill Geary’s parcel; At the time, I thought he may have been evacuated to England, and would thus be able to collect these papers. I was wrong: he remained in France all the time. About six weeks ago, he rejoined this squadron with a batch of reinforcements. Officially, he returned as a driver, but he was no longer fit to drive… he had made up his mind not to do so. For one thing, the wound in his back had been troublesome for a long time: his eyesight was not too good: he has turned forty years of age: he has been in the army since the outbreak of war, and has seen service in France (before Dunkirk), N. Africa, and again in France: and his only son was reported ‘presumed killed’ just before he rejoined us. Can you wonder that his enthusiasm is not what it might have been? Anyhow, by devious means, the squadron placed him in medical hands… and when I last saw him, about a week ago, he was expecting to be medically de-graded. Furthermore, he was hoping that this would result in him being sent to England on ‘Home Service’ – and leave. So… when I heard this, I suggested that he should call upon you and collect his papers. He said he would like to do so: he would also like to hear some of my records, particularly “Pagliacci”. I said O.K… help yourself… Jess will show you how to work the machine: Can I take my wife? he asked… Sure… my wife won’t mind… Can I take my daughter too: it will be a nice outing for us all? Sure, take all the family, but for goodness sake let my wife know a day in advance: just send her a postcard.
And thats that! See what I have let you in for, my darling. But I know you won’t mind. Johnny was with me for a long time. He drove me ‘in’ and ‘out’ of a few battles: we had some good times… and I shall always be indebted to him for his unfailing good humour. he was an admirable foil for Bill Geary’s early morning liverishness. He is a typical “Lancashire Lad”… an ex-cotton spinner. I don’t know whether he has been drafted to England, but think it is quite likely. I think too that he will definitely call upon you… and I know you will make him welcome. Unfortunately, I cannot give you any idea of the date of his probable visit. I can only hope that he will not fail to notify you in advance. Finally… I hope you enjoy his company: I would prefer him to see you alone, but maybe his wife and daughter will not prevent him telling you a few things…
And now to bed…
Good night, Jess, my love-