No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jessie Mine, I imagine this letter will be subject to several interruptions because I am writing on a battlefield… with our own artillery pounding away behind me… and Jerry in front sending over his periodic doses of shell fire and mortar. But whenever I hear the latter coming over, I disappear beneath my tank in a split second, so am really quite safe. I am surrounded by very pleasing country… very much like Cheshire. It is well cultivated, and pleasantly undulating, with a fair amount of woodland. There are excellent crops here, although many of them have been spoiled by military vehicles. Much remains, however, and I suppose it will be harvested in due course. Unfortunately, most of the fields contain the bodies of dead cattle and there is a perpetual smell of decaying flesh. this is very unpleasant… but only a minor consequence of this beastly war.
I hope you are not worrying about me unduly, my dear. I am quite well and unharmed, in spite of a few actions. And I am taking all possible precautions to ensure my continued existence… I am too much aware of what I have to live for to take unnecessary risks… You know that, darling, don’t you?
I am afraid my letters have lately been spasmodic and uninteresting but we must blame the war for that. There are occasions when letter writing is out of the question… maybe for days on end. But I gather that my letters are now reaching you without very long delays, and that is something gained.
I think I am more fortunate than you. I receive lovely long letters from you almost every day, and they are now coming through in about three days. The prospect of receiving one of your letters, gives me something to look forward to every day. Your last letter mentioned Barry’s little sickness, but you didn’t seem at all alarmed, so I am refusing to worry about him. I know too that no child could be in more capable hands. Perhaps there will be another letter for me today telling me that he is better. I hope so.
I had a letter from Dorothy (R.T.G.’s sister) a few days ago… and have written to her today… just a short note. She told me of Bryan’s success with his scholarship. I am very glad that he will be going to Chorlton High and not Ardwick Central. Somehow, I haven’t much faith in the latter school. Won’t it be grand when our little Poppet wins his scholarship! I shall be as proud as a peacock… and you will too!
At the moment, my crew are all sleeping… having recently had a few almost sleepless nights. they are lying beneath the tank, in a hole for safety… and it seems a shame to awaken them. So I will be a ‘good samaritan’ and prepare the tea meal… before it is too late. I don’t think they will be hungry… four of them ate a boiled chicken for lunch, with piles of fresh potatoes. I leave you to guess where this food came from!
I am enclosing with this letter copies of leaflets which the Germans appear to be scattering over the countryside here… probably by air. I have picked them up in the fields during the last two days. I cannot help wondering whether the German people pay as little attention to our leaflets as our troops are paying to these. If so, it is time we gave up leaflet raids. Our fellows treat these German propaganda efforts as a crude joke:- even as a sign that Jerry must be weakening to resort to such silly nonsense! You may at least find them interesting.
Another enclosure concerns Walton’s “Belshazzar’s Feast”. It has been recorded by H.M.V… and although record buying is no longer one of our luxuries, I would like you to make a note of this recording… for some possible future occasion. I once heard this work over the radio and was thrilled by it… But it is a long time ago, and I do not know how it will appeal to me now. Perhaps we will hear it together some day…
I had a grievous little accident yesterday… and one which has caused me much regret. I temporarily lost my fountain pen, and when I ultimately recovered it, I found the barrel portion broken in two. You can imagine my dismay. It happened on one of my numerous daily dives beneath the tank. On these occasions, nothing else on earth matters so much as getting under cover:… that must be why I was unconscious of my pen slipping from my pocket. But I discovered my loss soon afterwards… and soon recovered it in the dirt… It is a sad looking pen now, but still usable, and I think I can carry on with it indefinitely, with a little care. If at any time you see a cheap fountain pen, I think it would be a good investment to buy it as a stand by. But please don’t ever buy an expensive one, my dear… nor must you even think of sending me your own. I can manage with this one, as you can see from this letter.
Talking of buying reminds me that I would like you to get something for me… viz. a Utility lighter. I think I have already told you of our match shortage, and I am getting sick and tired of borrowing other people’s lighters. Get me a Utility, Jess:… one like yours… And don’t buy anything more expensive because there is a certain amount of theft here. And besides, the Utilities work as well as the most expensive ones. perhaps you could include an extra wick and a few flints. I am sorry to trouble you darling. but this is a genuine need and I feel sure you will do what you can for me.
Interruptions keep occurring… I notice two chickens have appeared since tea time. They must have dropped from Heaven! There won’t half be some gorging tomorrow!
We have just received yesterdays newspapers. This is jolly good: hitherto, they have been at least three days old on arrival. I hope this new service is maintained. The news seems to be mainly concerned with Tuesdays colossal air raid, and our break through south of Caen. It is all very interesting and encouraging. Some day, I hope to be able to tell you more about this business.
I am doing very little this morning… still in yesterday’s location, and it has been a bit more peaceful – more so than for three days past. We may have an interesting little job to do later in the day, but that depends upon circumstances. Meanwhile, I am writing in the open, using my knee as a desk and my tank as a back-rest. the weather is fine but rather hazy… And there are several skylarks actually singing close by. they seem unperturbed by the not far distant rumble of guns etc. By my side is a fire… in a hole in the ground… and across the top of this fire are two track pins from a Tiger tank: they are serving as a grid upon which rest three 7 and a half lb. biscuit tins… the latter being our cooking pans. They contain two chickens and new potatoes… quite an appetising lunch!
Most of our spare time seems to be spent on cooking and preparing meals… when we are not actually in action. This morning we had tinned sausage for breakfast… with tea and jam and biscuits. We are still feeding from our ‘compo packs’ and doing quite well… especially now that the lads are finding a few supplementary items.
I have a suspicion that there is a disturbance immediately ahead… and I may not be able to continue writing until this evening. So I will finish this now… otherwise it may be delayed another day or so.
Au revoir, my darling Jess.