No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood.
British Army Exhibition
British Army Staff
Jessie Mine: I am darned thankful for today: it has brought me a letter… the first for a week. I was beginning to lose hope – almost. I cannot tell you, dear, how desolate I feel when I am cut off from your letters: they are a sort of spiritual life-line for me – and without them, my outlook seems to become gloomier with each succeeding day. But now, I am revived… and Paris has become more tolerable.
Thankyou for the press cuttings about our candidate for the election:- unfortunately I am now pretty certain that I will not be able to vote. The election officer here can do nothing at all unless we have received the official army voting papers, and judging by reports, the majority of us here have not received them… and nothing can be done about it. This service-voting business appears to have been too complex for the government to organise, even though they have had it in hand since long before we left England. I remember it was at Charing that our first forms were filled in. I feel rather cynical about the whole business… I can’t help wondering whether there would have been as much official inertia had the government been confident of a right-wing service vote.
Speaking of the election… what do you think the outcome will be, Jess? You are more in touch with home affairs than I… and I wonder whether you are in any way optimistic.
For myself… well, frankly, I think the Tories will be re-elected. This pessimistic view makes me feel sick… but it is my honest opinion. For one thing, they have exploited Churchill like hell. To read some of the Tory speeches, it makes me wonder what the hell we fellows have been doing for the last few years. It has been a one man war, fought and won by Churchill. Yes, I reckon Winston is worth at least a couple of million votes. And then the Laski affair hasn’t helped the Labour party: and matters haven’t been improved by their failure to deny the Tory accusations. After all, the main issue is simple enough: will a Labour Cabinet be dominated by, and have its decisions ratified by, a non-parliamentary party executive… or will it act independently, subject only to the decision of Parliament. The answer is surely easy enough to furnish… but I have not seen, nor heard of, any clear-cut Labour pronouncement on the matter. And the Tory press, especially the Mail and the Express, seem to have made a huge issue out of it.
Of course, the fact that Tory Party decisions have for years been influenced by the non-parliamentary caucus of millionaires at the Carlton club, does not enter into the matter. They have been careful enough to ensure that such secrets do not become public through their official spokesmen… and so they are spared the painful duty of issuing denials one way or the other. I think left-wing protagonists will have to learn to become a little more unscrupulous at election times if they ever hope to achieve power. In this case of Laski, for instance, a stern and forthright denial immediately would have robbed the Tories of a powerful weapon… but the opportunity was missed… presumably because Labour has not learned the tactics of fighting Toryism. It is a pity, a tragedy… because Labour had a very strong case: the strongest they’ve ever had. And the Tories had nothing… apart from Churchill. But I am talking as though the election were already over – with the Tories in power. I may be wrong… and I will go crazy with relief if I am.
I see you have four candidates to choose from… and this, to me, is another minor tragedy. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the majority of the Knutsford Division votes are cast against the Tory… but they will not represent a united opposition. No… the Bromley Davenports are such nice people and such an old family: he’s a Lt. Col. too… such a distinguished soldier. To me, it is sticking out a mile that Bromley will become our M.P. But do what you can, dear, to give him a kick in the pants.
Your comments, darling, about my photograph make me blush: the things you say! I won’t pretend that kind words from you aren’t the most precious things in my army life… but really, Jess – I don’t feel so extraordinary. Out here, for instance, I feel the opposite. I listen sometimes to the conversation of other N.C.O.s in the mess… and their stories! Well, extraordinary seems a mild word. The things that can happen here – especially between men and women! I can’t boast of similar adventures, Jess. Is that extraordinary? Anyhow, it is at least some comfort to know that the photos pleased you: I must send you some more. And Barry! Of course he doesn’t know me, but I wonder if he’ll recognise me from my picture. I think it is doubtful, don’t you?
I have another free day tomorrow – but have no plans yet. The weather may decide for me. It has been cooler for the last three or four days, and we had some heavy rain yesterday. Tomorrow, incidentally, is American Independence Day – and the Yanks have been preparing for much ‘whoopee’. I guess it will hardly be safe out of doors in the evening: I’ll have to watch my step. Incidents between American and British soldiers are common enough on normal days!
And now to bed – to dream of my love – and another letter tomorrow.
Good night, Jessie Mine