No. 7925934. L/Sgt. Greenwood.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess dear, I have today joined up again with the troop: they too have been idle since I left them, so we have all had a rest. It is a beautiful day… warm and sunny, and most of us have taken the opportunity to strip and bathe ourselves from canvas buckets. We are well sheltered from any observers, so I don’t think we will have shocked anyone.
Today has brought me two welcome letters: the ones you wrote on 28th and 30th. The latter informs me that you received my first field P/c: I think it was the following day that I informed you of our new address, so maybe your next letter will be addressed B.W.E.F. I note your reference to ciggys too… and must admit that a few would be welcome because we are only allowed a free issue of 7 per man per day… nor is it possible for us to buy them externally yet… Naafi hasn’t arrived! Actually, I am receiving more than seven ciggys a day because I barter my chocolate with the non-smokers, but even so, I occasionally run short. and now, my dear, I must ask you not to be extravagant by sending me millions of ciggys… just a few occasionally will be ample. See?
I don’t think there is much I can tell you about my immediate activities… apart from the fact that we have now had about four days rest. Prior to this we were in action… and Jerry got a taste of Churchills as you have heard. I imagine he is going to get a lot more in the near future. This campaign must seem a terribly tedious business to all of you at home, Jess… but it is a tough job. It must be remembered that Jerry has been digging in here for three years:- and exterminating rats is child’s play by comparison. However, we are still here… and he cannot shift us now.
Thank you, darling for all the news. (…) Your little stories about Barry make me long to see him. How I would like to pry upon you spending most of your time peeping upon him as he plays in his cot! What a delightful picture it must be! Anyhow, I can so easily imagine it, and that is a lot to be thankful for. Tea is now on the way, Jess… please excuse me for a while…
Later: Not a very elaborate tea this evening:- sardines and jam and biscuits and tea… but it was ample. ‘Tis too hot for large meals.
It has just occured to me that my present surroundings would be absolutely idyllic… under different circumstances. I am sitting beneath some very large trees around the edge of a huge field of barley: I am actually sitting amongst the barley. It is swaying and rustling gently in the evening breeze, giving off a delightful aroma… that rich warm smell which is only found in the clean air of the countryside. Now, if only you were here with me, darling… Yes, how happy indeed would I be. Unfortunately the war is very apparent even here. There are large guns blazing away in the near distance… and many aircraft disturbing the peace of the evening. What brutes we are, Jess… things could be so different otherwise.
In one of your letters, you mention the questions you are itching to ask me. I too, dear, am dying to tell you so many things but the censorship makes everything very difficult. I have to be vague otherwise my letters may reach you all blue-pencilled. I suppose we will simply have to be patient… meanwhile, I am trying to keep a record of my daily existence to enable me to put you properly “in the picture” at some future date.
Your comments about the behaviour of the Germans towards their Canadian prisoners were interesting… and I have no doubt that it is all true. But there are different types of Germans over here… there must be. I should think those referred to by you must be of an older category. I have only seen the younger ones – averaging from 16 to 20 years of age. they occasionally come by in batches as prisoners. And practically without exception, they are the embodiment of swaggering insolence. They seem to look upon us as the misguided idiots. These, of course, are the cream of the Nazi educational system. They have been thoroughly Nazified since they were 6 or 8 years of age. Fortunately their numbers are limited: otherwise I don’t know where such fanaticism would lead us. And then there are the snipers! A fine art indeed! But I will have to discuss them at some future date.
During our advance, I have seen much German equipment, especially personal kit, and it appears to me to be of very fine quality. Some of it may be ‘ersatz’, but it still seems good. I don’t know whether this denotes a generally well-equipped German army:- Maybe we are faced by specially selected troops who get the best of everything…
You have asked about the details of my crossing from England… but I think I have already described this – as far as I am allowed – in a letter which should now be in your possession. I feel sure you will be able to imagine how I felt as I saw the last outline of the English coast. And I think you will know that it was not the departure from England that hurt so much. To me, England means Jess and Barry. It was you and our little son I was leaving behind. It was not a pleasant experience and I hope never to have to endure it again. Some day…soon perhaps… I hope to do the same journey in the reverse direction… And then my happiness will know no bounds. I literally tremble with excitement when I think of that happy day.
The letter you received dated June 18th was the last I wrote in England… and I just managed to have it censored and posted before we embarked. Everything happened very suddenly on that Sunday. But we were a few days on the boat, during which I did no writing. However, I think I wrote the day after our landing, so there should only be a gap of about five days. Since then, there have been other gaps of a day or two, but these were unavoidable while we were in action. Incidentally, I find it terribly difficult to write immediately after we have been in action. I think I must suffer from some sort of reaction after the strain. My brain simply will not function.
And now, I must see about a few jobs. I have my pots to wash… and my bed to make… and a bit of general sorting out to do.
I think about you so much, dear Jess. And I simply love to ‘play’ at making pictures of you and our little son. I dream ceaselessly of the day when we will be together again… for good… and for always.
I love you, my darling.
P.S. Some time ago, you caused me much amusement by your expressions of hatred for nuts and bolts and screws etc. And you made the rather startling suggestion that magnets and glue were – er – more sensible. I laughed at the time… but have since read the enclosed article… And now I am more convinced than ever that my Jess has some amazing prophetic insight.