No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess Darling: I wrote you a letter yesterday dealing with one of our battles… and when I had finished, I wondered whether it would depress you… and was in two minds about sending it. But then… I thought… and thought again, and sent it. I believe you prefer to know the worst as well as the best about this life I am living… And you are bound to know that much of it is beastly. And so, I do not think I have done wrong in giving you a first hand account of a little of its beastliness.
I think you will be aware that there is little happening to us these days… not that I am sorry! Unfortunately this static state of affairs provides little to ‘write home about’… and my letters must have sounded very much like weather reports during the last two or three weeks. It is a fact, though, that the weather has been our most formidable enemy for some time… and seems likely to continue as such. I think today has broken all records for coldness (?is there such a word?). It was really painful to be outside for longer periods than half an hour or so. I can understand now why many people here wear little pads over their ears… sort of ear gloves. They are necessary in this weather.
This evening it is foggy… and I suppose that means no mail again tomorrow. It is now four days since I had a letter… but it has been officially explained that such delays cannot be avoided in this weather, so we just have to grin and bear it.
Jess… I am almost afraid of mentioning this subject, but… do you know… I will be coming home on leave in three weeks time-! It seems incredible, doesn’t it darling… And yet, it will be so, unless something very unforeseen occurs… I get a peculiar attack of ‘dithers’ every time I think about our re-union. And then there is Barry. I feel almost shy about meeting the little chap. I only hope he doesn’t regard me as some strange creature, and not to be tolerated. He has had such a lovely face to gaze into since he began using his eyes. The contrast will be a terrible shock and I expect to be “shooed” off for the first two or three days. Perhaps you can prepare the ground for me by pulling funny faces at him for a few days prior to my homecoming… and then he may be prepared for anything-!!
Today, the ‘number one’ on our leave ballot has returned… he’s had it! – in army parlance. He went home to Oldham. His route was via Dover… and then Euston… and I’m hoping to be allowed to travel the same way. If I had to go via some east coast port, say Harwich, it will be less convenient because the train will not go via Stockport. But I am hoping for the best… and longing… living for the day… the day, darling… your arms around me… mine around you… my lips upon yours… and my eyes feasting themselves upon the exquisite loveliness of my wife, my Jess.
If only I were a poet, darling… I might then be able to tell you a little of what is in my heart… But being no poet, I have to rely upon you understanding what I mean when I say I love you… There is such a wealth of meaning in those three words.
Darling – Much to my disgust, I was unable to say a word yesterday. We were messed about during the day… and there was the usual domestic upheaval in the house here… and then a whist drive in the evening which lasted until 9.30… leaving me with just enough time to return to my billet and get to bed by 10.00 pm… the time the family retire. But I sent a letter card yesterday which may fill the gap.
Jess… I have just heard the 6 O/c news… and was thrilled to hear of the fall of Warsaw. Those incredible Russians! For where are they heading? Berlin? I’ll bet you too are thrilled by the news. And did you here the radio announcement… I think it was yesterday… about the Russian commentator who said ” we alone will judge our torturers”. According to the B.B.C. it was presumed that this statement meant that Stalin’s objective was definitely Berlin.
Now that Warsaw has been occupied, by the Russians, who is going to prevent them installing the Lublin Committee as the official government? Can you imagine the British government asking permission to fly the London ‘Polish Govt’ to Warsaw? No doubt Stalin would reply “nuts” if they did so. Do you think I am prejudiced, dear? I admit that I don’t know all the ramifications of this beastly Polish squabble, but I do know that our government have an amazing aptitude for “backing the wrong horse”… They backed Mihailovitch until it became more than obvious that Tito was the man, and so they swopped over. They backed Darlan… until he was murdered. They backed King George of Greece… until the whole world knew that he wasn’t wanted in Greece at any price. They have backed General Plastiras… with his Archbishop… and I’ll bet that is another blunder: there never was a general yet who knew the meaning of tolerance – and democracy. They refused for over two years to recognise de Gaulle… presumably because he was the very man the people of France wanted as their leader. And now the Poles: the very fact that we have backed the London group, almost convinces me that the Lublin Committee are the rightful heirs to that government.
Tonight’s news revealed too that Shinwell is already on the war-path about Greece. he seems to have asked some very awkward questions in the House. I like Shinwell… and Aneurin Bevan. I always feel they voice the opinions of the ‘man in the street’… And they are not cowed in the presence of the schoolmaster, Winston.
I received two letters yesterday, darling… and the parcel of cigarettes… 500 Players! Just now, I can only say thank you… but when I come home… well, I propose to give a practical demonstration of what I think… Meanwhile, I certainly will not run short of cigarettes.
That was a lovely little story you told me about Barry and the crust. And how grand it must be for you to be able to watch him… and almost see the little fellow’s brain solving these awful problems… Yes, I am missing a lot, dear, but then you are with him and can tell me about these things. That is something. One thing I can tell you… I never have any worries about Barry. I know he is receiving the best attention a child could possibly have… and I know that my absence does not really matter to Barry. It is you he needs, darling… none other. I doubt whether I could even amuse him at his present stage. Why I couldn’t even perform antics with sterrocs (?)… because I don’t use them. But his mummy..! Well, perhaps she will be amusing both of us in two or three weeks time – Yes?
You refer to the recent change in Montgomery’s command over here… and suggest that Churchill has taken a sort of slimy advantage of the situation to increase Monty’s authority. You may be right dear… Churchill is certainly capable of anything… but I rather think that we intervened at the invitation of the Americans and that Monty’s enhanced position was an automatic consequence. I think he will revert to his former status as soon as this particular front has become stabilised. This is purely an opinion… I make no claim to have any “inside dope”.
But one thing I am sure of, and that is that Monty himself lost no time in taking advantage of the situation to advertise… Monty-! I read an account of his press interview, and it made me sick. In effect, he told the reporters that… well, what did he say… He put in a certain unit to halt the Germans: it was badly mauled. ‘Dear me’, said M… “this won’t do”. He reformed the unit, and sent them in again: they were mauled a second time: “Come, come”, said M… Come come indeed! But the third time he sent them in, they halted the Germans… “And see what a good boy am I”, implies Monty. He referred to the battles as being most interesting… most interesting! I’ll bet they were… on paper, at a point about fifty miles behind the line. Jess: the man disgusts me: Whether competent or not, he is nothing but a conceited poseur… an egotist.
And now… you will say I am a grumbler – always “ticking”… Perhaps you will be right, dear… but… you see, I know a little about what happens in the front line, and for anyone to describe it as interesting… well, he must be possessed of a distorted mind.
Your second letter deals mainly with the rug problem. I can understand your annoyance, my dear. Are there any honest tradespeople left in England these days? Your experiences make me wonder. Next time -?- we have a fire, we will insist upon dealing with traders whom we stipulate. I think we can legally claim to do so. It is a great pity about the rug: it was a beauty and looked so well in the room. But let’s not moan, darling. Small as it now is, Barry will no doubt have plenty of fun out of it.
Must go now, Jess.
Good night, my sweetheart