No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood.
British Army Exhibition
British Army Staff
Jessie Mine: I don’t seem able to think about anything but the tremendous election news from home. The Labour victory – and what a victory! I can’t believe it yet: I should have been astounded had they won by a small majority… but to have swept the Tories half out of existence – it all seems so incredible. How bitterly must Winston be reflecting upon his boast about “thrashing the socialists”! What has happened, Jess? – that’s what I would like to know. What about all the forecasts by the experts, the Gallup Polls and all the newspapers? And the pre-election evidence? – it all seemed to point to a return of the government (Tory). Personally, I hardly thought for a moment that Labour would win… but I’m damned glad to admit that I was talking nonsense. I don’t know all the story yet, but from the French evening papers I see that several big names in the Tory world will no longer be heard in Parliament. Sir James Grigg is ‘out’ – and Hore-Belisha – and Duncan Sandys – and Amery – Law – Macmillan -Gen. Spears – Randolph Churchill – Brendan Bracken – and others. Both Richard Law and Brendan Bracken have been ‘tipped’ as future P.M’s. A few years quiet contemplation in the wilderness won’t harm them. And Gen. Spears – well, Gen. de Gaulle at least will be pleased!!
Gosh! Talk about history being made! What will Churchill do about Potsdam? I presume they will have to carry on there as though nothing had happened, but Churchill is bound to feel his changed status. So many questions crowd upon one’s brain. Above all, there is the undoubted fact that the British electors have told the world that they are sick and tired of the Tories: the figures leave no doubt about that. And in the world, there are many who were dreading a Tory defeat:- among them I guess we can include Franco of Spain, and Salazar of Portugal, and the Pope, and that wretched clique we foisted upon the Greeks… and various other reactionary factions, to say nothing of the many discredited monarchs awaiting our assistance.
The size of the Labour majority raises the question “is it too large”? Would a more effective opposition have been better in view of the immense problems facing us during the next few years? We will have to leave that to the future. Meanwhile, it is immensely stimulating to know that we have, at long last, got rid of the Tories, and with them, many of the worst characters in the entire history of British politics. I feel sure that ‘Labour’ are fully alive to their awful responsibilities, both at home and abroad, and it pleases me to know that they can now go ahead without any doubts. And I hope they make an immediate start with our foreign embassies… They need cleaning out from top to bottom… commencing with Lord Halifax.
Gosh! There won’t half be some anxious hearts amongst our diplomats, so called. There will be a lot of diplomatic belly-aches tomorrow… through biting finger nails. I wonder who the new Foreign Secretary will be: it is going to be some job now that we are supposed to be laying the foundations for the new Europe.
Oh! I do wish I were with you, darling. There are so many things we could discuss. It is so interesting to speculate about future events at a time like this… and here I can’t say a damned thing. I feel thwarted: I will develop a frustration complex if I’m not careful! But if I get back to the 9th soon… well, there won’t half be some arguments!
It was at 3.0pm that I first heard, via the radio, that the Labour party were assured of a complete majority: at that time they had won about 330 seats. I was in the lounge of the Skittle Alley canteen at the time. This lounge is managed by two middle-aged English women… both very correct and ‘pince-nez’… and both fluent French linguists. I guess they have lived many years in Paris. There are many such Englishwomen in Paris: they know the ‘right’ people… and were so glad to see the British Tommies: we had plenty of them at the exhibition. Well, when the 3 o/c announcement came through, the behaviour of these old dears really tickled me. They just stood there beside the radio, speechless, with a look of utter horror upon their faces. They couldn’t have looked more terrified had Joe Stalin himself entered their boudoirs. One of them asked ” what will we do now?”… Almost implying that the end of the world was approaching and we’d better start doing something. They listended… fingers clasping pallid cheeks… and the speaker’s voice droned on telling us about the massacre… Bracken out – Churchill Junr out – Grigg out – etc. It was too much for the gentle mannered ladies: one of them suddenly sprung to life, and with flashing eyes and much determination, she switched off the set… It was the action of a heroine… determined at all costs to die fighting for the cause. She forgot that her display of damned bad manners was being witnessed by so many of her “dear Tommies”.
I wondered how many times this identical scene was being enacted in the homes of the right people… particularly in England… I almost wish now that I had reminded the two ladies that the people of Limehouse, and other British blitzed slums, would not perhaps be quite so worried by the change in government… But I s’pose I would have been wasting my breath. One doesn’t talk about such people in right society: they can’t even afford to live in Paris in order to avoid British taxation. I must visit the Skittle Alley again tomorrow… just to see if they’ve survived the night.
There is much more I could say dear, but time is against me – I must hurry… Today has brought no further news of our departure – and we are still just waiting. Am going to the exhibition again in the morning, as usual. No letters from England today: a hold-up somewhere – perhaps tomorrow.
Please excuse hurry..
P.S. This evening’s Paris paper will show that the election has some interest over here.