No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess Darling: This is one of my lucky days… it has brought me two letters from you, and so I now have a ‘mind-full’ of little pictures of my sweetheart’s latest activities:- lovely! Let me talk about these letters – and you. Firstly, the news about the radio set is lousy. But we can’t blame the set, can we dear: it has behaved valiantly, and probably been more reliable than a much more expensive set would have been. I wonder whether it is now working again… whether Mr. Paxton has been able to patch it up: I hope so – and will not forget to thank him in due course, if he has. I know Mr. Paxton very dimly: I have met him only once (in company with Mr. Speight) but have spoken to him over the ‘phone a few times. I am not surprised that he does not know me. He works for a firm – yes, Duwes (?) who did a fair amount of business with Ediswan’s but almost entirely in radio valves, not Tungars. And even when I was handling radio for our firm, before I joined the Tungar dept… I did not call on Duwes because they were always on Mr. Speight’s territory and no concern of mine. But Paxton’s name is quite familiar to me because his signature appears on all his firm’s orders. He and Speight are quite good friends, or used to be anyhow. I did not know that he lived in Hazel Grove, but now that you have made contact with him, I imagine I will see more of him… after the war… or rather, when I get back to work. Incidentally, Jimmy Dakin knows Mr. P. pretty well… just ask him… And ask him to remember me to Mr. Speight, if you see him again.
That was a nice little story about Barry doing his stuff before Kath and Irene: I do hope I can see him, Jess, before he grows out of these lovely little baby antics: And I really want to hear him say “downnn…”. I can remember Kath saying it, so vividly: she used to start in her deepest ‘bass’ and rise up to a high pitched squawk. Toddy and I used to love hearing her… and were always dumping her on the kitchen table just to hear – and see – her say ‘down’…
Your news about Kenneth Bean caused me (and one or two of my colleagues) some amusement. Combat nerves indeed!: it is the first time I have heard the phrase: it must be reserved for non-combatants! I should say he is suffering from a colossal dose of ‘wind-up’. These stories of jeep riders being sniped at is largely hooey, in my opinion. Sniping was a very much used device at one time… especially in Normandy… but Jerry’s sniper battalions were wiped out before we occupied France. There has been some since, and jeeps have been targets, but the jeeps involved have been those used by our forward elements in the front line – not those used days or weeks later by AMGOT (Allied Military Government for Occupied Territories) blokes. You will know, without my telling you, that guerilla activity behind our lines when we entered Germany was practically negligible: it never worried us. Mr. Bean must have imagined it… but no doubt his imagination will furnish him with something to write about. And from all this, you will gather that my sympathy has clogged… like yours!
Jess… you tell me that Barry has commenced to punch you in the face – just for fun! – and that some sort of paternal control may be required. In this connection I don’t know what to say: I fear there is little I could do, even if I were at home. He is obviously becoming aware of his own powers, and must be thrilled to bits by his ability to fling his arms about. I think your little dodge of making him strike himself is good: it will teach him that such blows inflict pain. But at the same time, I think you ought to make it obvious that his blows really hurt and upset you: if you pretend to cry, at the same time putting him down, I think he will soon learn that such rough handling of his mummy does not pay.
I seem to have little news for you from this end. My only work today consisted of of rectifying one or two electric wiring faults in one of our troop billets. I have also wired a light over the dart board in the sergeants mess. That dart board! It is certainly well used. I don’t think much of the game myself, but under present circumstances, it is probably a blessing in disguise. So many fellows are incapable of entertaining themselves, either by reading or writing, for instance, and a dart board provides them with some slight relief from boredom.
Up to now, we have not had time to organise any recreation in this this new location, but several antidotes to boredom are on the way. We should have a cinema very soon… and already we have a club-room for the men, but it is not equipped yet. I think it is intended to have ping-pong and dart matches in the place: also whist drives, and perhaps impromptu concerts of our own. The big snag to all these moves is the uncertainty of our stay here. We never seem to know our destiny from one week to another. One definite asset in this little town is a first class open air swimming pool. The civilians are being allowed to use it two days in the week, otherwise it is the monopoly of the squadron. Unfortunately, it seems to have been neglected because the water is swarming with tadpoles just now, and they will soon be little frogs! I am certainly not going to bathe with frogs… No sir!
A casual visitor to the place would not know that there had been a war… unless he visited a certain field where a few unknown British ‘Airborne’ soldiers lie buried. The town itself hasn’t suuffered a scrap of damage, and the civilians all look happy and healthy and well-dressed. And in the evenings, the local yokels congregate on the wooden seats in the square beneath the church steeple and chat and smoke – as they have probably been doing for generations. It is quite a pleasant little town, completely lacking in any ultra modern improvements. I suppose if it were in England, we would say it has a slightly ‘old world’ atmosphere. We have had no trouble at all from any civilians – apart from the usual complaints of odd bits of thieving by soldiers, and one case of alleged rape by a ‘British’ soldier: we suspect the latter to be a russian, but that remains to be seen. But for every case of rape, there must be dozens of mutually willing instances, in spite of orders.
Jess… that’s all for now. I will be with you again tomorrow. Meanwhile… I have lots of time to think and dream about the loveliest little lady on earth (…).
Good night, my love