No. 7925934. L/Sgt. Greenwood.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
I think it must be two or three days since I wrote to you, although I cannot be sure. There are occasions here when time simply has no meaning, and it is quite easy to miss a day. Meals too are apt to be overlooked:- I have recently spent a period of 24 hours without a meal, but I was hardly aware of it. However, we are resting at the moment after a rather hectic day or two, and I am just re-gaining control of my faculties.
The day is fine… and in between the bursts of gunfire etc. I can actually hear a skylark… Unfortunately, the local war-front is rarely silent, so the skylark is almost a phenomena.
I have just been re-reading your last letter. It is dated 7.7.44 and I think I must have received it on Tuesday (yesterday). You may not know it, my darling, but your letters are a great inspiration to me… apart from the fact that they are my only source of happiness.
I suffer from fear quite a lot nowadays, but whenever I read your kind words and descriptions of our little son’s progress, I am reminded of my immediate purpose in life, and that my own personal worries don’t really count. I think it would be easy for a man to relapse into cowardly behaviour, under present circumstances, if he were not kept in awareness of the larger issues involved in this struggle. But I am lucky in having much to live for… and therefore much to fight for.
There is little detailed news I can send you just now. I am quite well, and still unharmed… and taking as many precautions as possible… And I cannot imagine myself becoming careless, because I am always so much aware of you and Barry.
We received a little bread yesterday… The first I have seen since we landed (apart from the ‘black’ stuff eaten by civilians here: I cannot touch that). I believe it is supplied by Naafi, and we are supposed to receive some daily – about a quarter loaf per man per day. But I have just heard that today’s ration will not be forthcoming. Am not greatly worried: we are now more or less used to biscuits. Our food is still supplied in tins… and it suits all of us. But I believe our own cooks are somewhere in the offing, and that means “freshly cooked” food soon. We are all dreading it!
There seems to be nothing I am wanting… even ciggys have been reasonably plentiful for the last few days. I think matches are the principle bugbear. We each receive a folder of ‘book-matches’ every third day, but they only last a day at the most. Luckily, there are a few petrol lighters in the troop. By the way… I am now in 15 troop (my original troop) under Lt. Francis. I think my transfer took effect last Saturday. Such transfers are inevitable under present circumstances. I am quite happy with my new crew… which includes Bill Geary! He can work like hell when necessary and is quite useful. There is no beer over here as yet, so Bill has been sober for quite a long time.
I have heard talk of French wines etc., but we have seen none. Maybe troops further back are getting that from returning refugees etc. Bill went mooching around a wrecked house a few days ago, and came out with a small bottle of some strong smelling green liquid. He has treasured it ever since and seems convinced that it is a liqueur called “Green Chartreuse”. But the M.O. says it is hair oil. Anyhow, Bill keeps having a sip, and smacking his lips. He invited Jock Wilson to our bivvy last evening… and they both had sips… and seemed to like it. Meanwhile, the M.O. sticks to his theory:… but maybe he was being artful… hoping Bill would give him the bottle! that is the only ‘drink’ I have seen since leaving England.
I note your mother’s interest? in our garden… and I certainly hope she and Johnny will give you a hand with it… although I do think that digging is now too much for your mother. I think John and Stan ought to do such heavy work: they are both quite strong enough.
I will be a good digger by the time the war is over. We dig our own beds almost every day: long shallow trenches over which we drive the vehicles. We are thus fairly safe from stray shrapnel and snipers when we go to bed! I think I have slept without my trousers on four occasions since landing.
I must now leave you, Jess: this letter has taken a long time to write: it has been interrupted by one attack by Jerry fighter planes… and I don’t know how many mortar bombs. Fortunately the latter ‘whine’ through the air and so give us about four seconds warning to take cover. I am becoming quite expert at diving full length beneath a tank! – But such diversions do not assist letter writing… so please excuse this poor effort. Some day, I may find myself well away from the front… with time to think and write in peace.
Aur revoir, my darling –
I love you – Always