D +6 Monday 12.6.44
More departures during last night. The T.P. looked fairly deserted this am. But “C” are still here. First contingent depart about 2.0am tomorrow. Self & others about 4.30am. Not much sleep tonight. Going to S. by rail. Did a little final stowing this morning, then ceased work for the day. Weather warm and sunny. Plenty of air activity. Had shower during afternoon. Cash running short. Most of the men are now “broke” – apart from Francs, which no one now wants to buy. But there has been a little more bartering.
Managed to write another short note to Jess. Saw Dave L. this morning. He had just said good bye to his wife. I think it is a good job we are going in a few hours time. Much more of this inactivity will cause depression. Many of the tank crews proudly wearing new denims – today…with various titles & slogans painted on the back. A good sign: the lads are very cheerful & in excellent spirits. Heard the 9 o’clock news. Beachhead now 60 miles. Americans about 15 miles from Cherbourg. Still progressing.
German retreat in Italy continuing. Russians have launched attack on Finland. Have no sympathy for the latter. They had their chance to get out of the war…. But I think this offensive is only the introduction to Russia’s Summer campaign.
And now to bed: reveille 2.30am! Where will I be this time tomorrow? Have missed Jess’s letter today: but mustn’t moan. Have to get used to it… Y.M.C.A. cinema this evening – saw “San Francisco”.
D +7 Tuesday 13.6.44
Left T.P. about 4.0am. Train departed 6.30am. Arrived W..K..M 10.30. By road to L/S, arriving 1.30pm: Thus am now in emb. area. Road journey here from stn. about 12 miles through rural villages etc. Much friendly hand-wavings, but no hysterical demonstrations from onlookers: no flags, bands or slogans. Just a calm friendliness: even troops waved to us…. rather unusual, but they knew where we were destined for. Got a secret little thrill from all this; but am glad there were no pretentious farewells. Hot meal served in tent on arrival at L/S… & then work: final sealing.
Billeted in camp 4 miles from vehicles: had to walk there for tea. Sleeping in huge vehicle shed: hundreds of us in one long room. Three blankets per man issued, with palliasse & pillow straw etc. After tea, everyone paid 10/=… very welcome. Evening free… Wrote to Jess: letter not sent… too badly censored. Will try again tomorrow. Amazing mass of shipping here… all “flying” barrage balloons. Rained all morning, but cleared up at lunch time. Afternoon warm & sunny. Strawberry time: much activity in fruit fields around here. Countryside very beautiful. Saw a grand avenue of rhododendrons in flower close by.
D +8 Wednesday 14.6.44
Fine morning: marched to vehicle – about 3 & 1/2 miles along water-front. Dozens of vessels… maybe hundreds, including some very large naval vessels.
Completed sealing & stowing by lunch time. One or two heavy showers about noon. Had lunch in “town”… got a lift back to camp later. Afternoon free. Went to camp “cinema” in evening: accommodated in a queer “building” of marquees. Saw “The Sullivans”.
Band of East Lancs Regt. played in camp prior to cinema show – quite good. Wrote to Jess. Strawberries very plentiful just now: tasted my first today. Wonder if Jess has yet gathered any at home. Hope they aren’t all eaten by visitors! Wonder whether she is worrying much. She won’t know definitely that I am still in this country… but may have an idea. Seems ages since I had a letter. “A” echelon may bring some when/if they catch up with us. No signs of any great excitement today, but our departure must be very near. Am amazed that I don’t feel terrified about impending events. But I am not looking forward to action.
D +9 Thursday 15.6.44
Lecture this morning by I.O… & then nothing… but plenty of rest. Weather warm and sunny. Pleasant surprise about 5.0pm – mail arrived. Two letters from Jess, & one from J.W.G. (Garsden) Much news about Barry & J…..all happy news. Also about the family..K. T.& O., D. etc. (Kath, Toddy and Olive, Dorothy) A great treat these letters: seems ages since I least heard from home, but it is only a few days really.
D +10 Friday 16.6.44
Still here… another day of rest. Only official activity was the issue of “Mae Wests” this morning, plus two 24 hr. ration packs per man. Also vomit bags: found I had been given 3 of the latter. Do I look like a good vomiter? Inserted craft Nos on our embarkation tags.
Wrote to Jess – then read for most of day. Loud speaker system here is a bit of a nuisance. It operates throughout the camp… making official announcements etc all day. I am beginning to dread that “attention all troops” repeated so often throughout the day. Recd. a further 10/ = each.
D +11 Saturday 17.6.44
Still waiting: games this morning… an effort to prevent boredom, I suppose. Delightful surprise in Naafi at 11.0am: heard a really fine pianist playing Chopin, Rubinstein, Mendelssohn, Beethoven: very rare to hear other than jazz in Naafi… hope to hear him again. Wrote to Jess: read quite a lot. Went to cinema after tea. Saw “Melody Jim”: not much good.
Air raid warning about 11.30pm: all clear half hour later. Had 10fr. on Derby sweep. Still fair amount of bartering for English money. Francs are being sold pretty cheaply by some fellows. Think they regard the money as partly worthless owing to press controversy regarding note issue. Germans, too, are reported to have paid out fr. liberally. But I imagine our currency will be stabilised as we occupy the territory. Fine day, but cool wind.