No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Darling Jess: At last the snow is beginning to thaw… but even though the temperature must have risen, it is still bitterly cold outside due to a piercing east wind which seems to have arrived with the thaw. I was talking to Eddie Wilde last evening whilst on guard, (he has just returned from leave – Oldham) and he told me that the weather out here has been much colder than in England. I can quite believe him: I don’t think we ever have such prolonged periods of snow and ice at home… thank goodness. Luckily, we are well clad, and have not spent a great deal of time out-of-doors during the last month or so, and have not therefore suffered any great hardships.
I have just been listening to a resumé of Mr. Churchill’s address in the Commons on foreign policy, with particular reference to Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia. As you have said so often Jess, he is a wily old bird, and I must admit that his case was beautifully put, and reveals that he is no fool… especially in statesmanship. I imagine the opposition are going to have no easy job to criticise his recent handling of affairs… but no doubt Shinwell and a few others will have a dig at the old foe.
I was glad to hear his reference to ‘unconditional surrender’… His words may have some minute effect upon our enemies…
There has been a rather dramatic change in the weather during the last few hours. The wind suddenly increased to gale force, and soon after, the rain started… with a vengeance. It has been raining all evening… literally pelting down. At this rate, the snow which has been with us for two or three weeks will soon disappear… but the countryside will become just a soggy mess, maybe with floods as well. Still, it will be a change to be able to walk about without the fear of slipping and breaking our necks.
I received a letter from Johnny Boland yesterday… He is the ex-member of my crew who intended visiting you on his leave. Much to my surprise, he is not yet in England… and that is why you haven’t heard from him. He was detached from this unit some three weeks before Xmas… and we all felt pretty certain that he was destined for England… But he has somehow become attached to another unit… a non-combatant unit… so I don’t know what his future prospects are…
Speaking of ‘ex-members’ reminds me of Ted Hinson. I heard the other day that he has informed someone over here by letter that he is now awaiting his discharge… The lucky b…..!! Apparently, his left arm is permanently damaged, but he has not lost it… I think he is lucky, don’t you, Jess?
Darling… this is not important, but I have been wanting to say it for some time. For about the last fortnight, we have had a wireless set in this house… our own “sergeants’ mess” wireless set… and each evening we hear the French (BBC) news service at 7.15… The programme is switched on for the benefit of the family here, not ourselves, of course. Now this news is always preceded by a few phrases of a very lovely tune… obviously (?) something by Handel… I know it quite well, and so do you, but I can’t remember its name. I think it is from the Messiah, but am not positive. And so… I want to enlist your aid. I want you to tune in to the B.B.C. European news at 7.15 on any evening, and listen to this music. If I remember rightly, the European news comes in best on our set on the long wave band (1500 metres). You get this by turning the knob on the right side of the set: do you remember what to do?.. Yes, I thought so. Please don’t forget, Jessie Mine. I am hoping you will be able to identify it for me… And if you can’t, try singing it over to Mrs. Steele: she ought to know the Messiah backwards.
We had a whist drive last evening: it was quite successful as an entertainment, but I was bored, Jess. Whist is so tame and uninteresting. There were three cash prizes… and needless to say, I didn’t win one of them… altho’ I wasn’t far off the booby prize.
This evening the troops are playing the ‘finals’ in a deck-quoits competition which has been going on for two or three days. I have managed to avoid playing so far, but I think I will have to play this evening. In principle, I think these efforts to entertain the troops are excellent… but I always wish to avoid them myself. I simply can’t abolish the feeling that my time is far better occupied in writing letters. It is different for the majority of the squadron. They are mostly younger men and not married, and so they spend little time writing.
Have now played my ‘heats’ in the ‘quoits’ competition… a very tame performance. My partner and I played four games… won one, and lost three… and that wasn’t very helpful for the troop-!
Jess… once again the weather has deceived us. After raining in torrents for a few hours, it became fine again, and then the wind did its best to blow these cottages off the face of the earth. But now it is snowing again… and if it persists at its present rate, we will be snowed up again tomorrow. Some climate!
There is another break in our mails… it is now three or four days since I had a letter, and I fear that outgoing mails will be similarly delayed. It is a wretched state of affairs Jess, but we can do nothing about it. I know I shouldn’t like to try flying a plane under these conditions. How our bomber crews survive the elements is beyond my comprehension.
With this letter, I will enclose (unless I forget!) two ‘snaps’ which the family here insist upon my having as souvenirs. They show the old lady, ‘mama’, her two daughters Irma and Maria, – and Francoise, Maria’s husband. The four of them live in this cottage. I like Francoise best of all. He is so genuine and kind: he is always wanting to do things for us… and never grumbles. And he realises our difficulty with the language and spends much time explaining the meaning of words. But all the family are very decent. They wash our clothes, clean our eating utensils, mend clothes, darn socks etc… and put hot bricks in our beds-!
Sorry darling: Will have to close now, otherwise this letter will never get posted.