No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood.
British Army Exhibition
British Army Staff
Jessie Mine: I have little news of any sort today – mainly because I have been on duty all afternoon and have thus been unable to do any sight-seeing. This evening… as it was still damnably hot… I decided to wash some clothes, and finished up with a couple of vests, a pair of pants, and two pairs of socks hanging on our bedroom clothes-line. This line measures about three feet, and consists of a piece of string tied to the window hinges at each side of the pane: it is pretty effective. I managed to buy some Rinso a few days ago, and this made the job a bit easier. But it was hot work (!), so, after a cold bath I went out to a nearby canteen (the Naafi “Imperial Club” on the Boulevard Italiens) and read some newspapers and drank three cups of tea. Most of the newspapers were a day or two old, and I see that the lifting of the ‘non-fraternisation’ ban has produced a fair amount of comment… mainly from people at home. But journalists “in the know” must have realised ages ago that “fratting” was a very real fact:- I shouldn’t be surprised if they were partly responsible for having the ban abolished – if there is any truth in the report that Monty actually invited their opinions before leaving for England.
I don’t know what your opinions are, Jess… but, for myself, I must confess that I find it hard to decide whether the ban was good or bad from the political point of view. Of course, whilst hostilities continued, it was a real necessity for security reasons, but whether its continuation after V.E. day has had any moral effect upon the Germans is difficult to say. In any case, the order has been violently flouted ever since our troops set foot in Germany.
When I was last with the unit at Lengerich, I got the impression that our lads were rather enjoying the ban: it compelled them to match their wits against those of “authority”… and authority looked pretty silly. Some of the senior N.C.O’s organised a few ‘anti-frat’ patrols in the neighbouring woods etc… and the battle of wits seemed to be regarded by the lower ranks almost as a challenge to their ingenuity. They won the battle – needless to say!
I see that an American officer has estimated that there are about three thousand pregnant German girls in their sector – as a result of Allied action. These girls are the unfortunates. For every one of them, I’ll wager there were a thousand who enjoyed unproductive intercourse. The French describe official fraternisation as the first victory for Germany – and Lord Vansittart (who seems to know his Germans) says exactly the same thing. I don’t know what to think about these opinions, Jess. I only know that the original order was almost treated with contempt, in spite of the penalties.
I still cannot say anything more about our departure: nothing definite seems to have been arranged yet regarding the vehicles and exhibition equipment. Of course, there is always the possibility that we may get a sudden ‘flap’ order to move at a few hours notice – in which case one or two of your letters will arrive after my departure. But this is only a remote possibility… and if it does happen, I will leave ample instructions with the rear party about re-forwarding our mail.
Today’s orders inform us that open-air dancing will be held at the exhibition on Saturday evening – a repetition of last Saturday’s effort. I suppose this is a sort of farewell dance. And on Sunday morning, a drum-head service is being held outside the exhibition main building for all the staff. This sounds like a bit of baloney to me.
Am going to bed now sweetheart. I have a free day tomorrow, so may do a little more exploring.
Good night, my love
P.S. Am enclosing a few photos. The young lady between Jake and I is ‘Joan’ – an A.T.S. interpreter. She lived several years in Paris pre-war. She and Willoughby (one of my crew) seem to have ‘fallen’ for each other – in a big way.
P.P.S. The large notice board shewn on the right of the tank is a short description in French of the ‘Qui s’y Frotte’ badge worn by the 9th, and reproduced on our tanks.