No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess Darling: Will you ever forgive me? I wonder… And I wonder why I ever mentioned the damned things: I am talking about “flues”… blast them! I have your letter today in which you tell me that you were going to Stockport with Barry… to inspect electric cookers. I hope there wasn’t one in town: I know you don’t want an electric cooker, but am just afraid that you may have left a deposit for some blasted thing you don’t really want… simply because of my thoughtless ‘advice’. I have already explained my error, but am rather horrified by the thought that you may have taken action before receiving my letter. I sincerely hope not… and am now dithering with anxiety… awaiting further news from you.
You ask me about leave, and whether men are leaving the battalion weekly for home. The position with this unit is that we are still dealing with the first leave quota. You may remember my telling you that we were allotted so many vacancies per month, the monthly figure being variable. For instance, in January, the squadron had 27 vacancies, but in February it was only 17. From this you can see that a full squadron requires several months before everyone has had his first leave. I believe we will reach this state of affairs early in July… And then what? It is strongly rumoured that the system will then commence to operate all over again… using the same rota as for the first allocations: my number will thus be 34 once again – and I should be home during the third week in August.
Now this is alright in theory, but I want to impress upon you, Jess, that we have heard absolutely nothing – officially. It is a damnable situation, but typical of army procedure. I heard a radio announcement the other evening to the effect that Grigg, the Minister for War, had denied the rumours that the forces in Europe were going to get more frequent leaves… This denial must have been aimed at the newspapers which had predicted leave every 3 or 4 months. But he added, apropos of the European forces, that leave would be speeded up if possible… Did he mean that larger monthly allocations would be made to help those who haven’t yet had any leave? Or was this a hint that the existing scheme would be repeated… with possible larger monthly allocations? I have a suspicion he meant the latter. It is a logical assumption, anyway. But it is certainly not a definite answer to our problem. As soon as I know anything, I will tell you… altho’ I shouldn’t be surprised if you discover the true state of affairs before I… You are more in touch with the radio and newspapers, and they seem to be better informed than we soldiers.
You ask whether I have read ‘World’s End’… and the answer is yes… I’m pretty certain that I have read the first three books of the series, (is the third “Dragon’s Teeth?”) but was not able to obtain the fourth. In any case, I would not like you to send me any books just now, darling… although I could hug you for thinking about me. I have such a lot of kit… and books are inclined to get badly soiled and damaged. As a matter of fact, we are rather well off for reading matter just now. We received about a hundred paper-backed books about a fortnight ago (the Penguin type) and there is some good stuff amongst them. I am reading one just now called “Full Orchestra” by Frank Howes. It is a history of musical instruments, and music development. I find it very interesting: it is lovely to be reminded of so many beautiful works which I had almost forgotten… viz. Brahms 1st Symph. ‘Francesca’, Sibelius – Liszt – Beethoven – Mozart – Handel – etc. The author deals with many pieces that you and I know intimately.
Speaking of music reminds me that I was delighted to hear of your efforts with Barry. You are doing absolutely the right thing by combining music and dancing ‘around the house’. A child’s mind quickly appreciates the rhythm and ‘fun’ of dancing because it is physical… and it won’t be long before he associates ‘music’ with this lovely fun… And that will be the first step towards enjoying the music. But I don’t know why I am saying this Jessie Mine. You know more about the subject than I – Forget my lecture! and just carry on as you are and let him see the piano being played. I wish I could see his little face during his first piano lesson.
Another thing that pleased me was your self accusation about being N.B.G… (No Bloody Good) But what a lovely N.B.G.ness. It is grand to hear you speak of Barry’s ‘mind opening fast’… and grander still to know that you would ‘rather tend this’ than look after the house. Keep it up Jess… and bugger the house. It is so important for Barry to have you now… all of you, especially your mind. He is developing rapidly, as you say, and time is therefore precious. Please make the most of it Jess. It is better for you… better for Barry… And the house? Well, it won’t fall to pieces or run away… and it has no awakening cionsciousness to the marvels and mysteries of the world… But Barry has… and time is precious.
Gosh! I am glad that my son chose you for his mummy. Suppose he were in the hands of someone else! Hateful thought: away with it…
I am writing this at the hospital. I came up here this morning but returned to the town after lunch to do a lighting job at the officer’s mess. The ‘job’ consisted of floodlighting part of the garden of their house for a party they are having this evening. They have imported some female service people from some place – either A.T.S. (Auxiliary Territorial Service) or Waafs (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force).
Whilst I was doing the job, the major came out to see me. “Ah, Sergeant Greenwood, just the man I want to see. Do you speak French?” I don’t, not that you would notice anyhow… but I told him I did – sufficient to ‘get around’. “Good” he said, “I have put your name forward for Paris, and you will be going the day after tomorrow for a fortnight”. I pretended to be surprised but I wasn’t, really – we hear things sometimes. I thanked him appropriately.
This is the “griff” (“news”) – in case you are curious!!!
The British Army War Exhibition is running in Paris at the moment. It was opened about 10 days ago – by Monty, I think. We have already sent one Churchill crew for the first fortnight… and now I am going for the second fortnight. I will be accompanied by Mr. Boden from this squadron, and three or four fellows from other squadrons (‘mixed’ battalion crews, not squadron). I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do when I get there… and I doubt whether I will be able to find out this side of Paris. But this doesn’t matter really: I can talk about the tank and blind the Froggies with science – in English! Tomorrow, Sunday, instead of having a nice easy day to get my kit ready and tidy up my clothes a bit, I have to go to some damned place for our railway ticket etc. This involves a journey of – God knows – about 300 miles there and back, I s’pose… But it is a journey westwards, my love, to Holland not Germany, so please don’t worry…
If I get time for writing tomorow, I will tell you of any further news. But – dammit – I must write tomorrow darling: I may be two or three days en route for Paris – and they are practically certain to be letterless days, in both senses.
I suppose I will have a new address in Paris: I will let you know, dear one. Meanwhile, I will write as often as I possibly can – and will not forget to make arrangements for your letters to be forwarded.
Jess – what couldn’t I do with you in Paris…!?
Ah – my love,