No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jessie Mine: As a correspondent, I seem to be pretty useless these days. Now that my life has become so uneventful I find it difficult to write with any fluency. I have not been able to acquire your aptitude for writing interesting letters about ordinary things. But that indefinable urge to be always talking to you cannot be suppressed and so I must say something, even at the risk of being tiresome. Today, we have spent most of the time working on the vehicles, although I did manage to get away for an hour this morning for a much needed bath. It turned out to be a wretched little trickle of warm water from a shower, but it was damned good nevertheless.
I received a P/c yesterday from Thea Cornelese which I will enclose with this. (Click here to see the card.) She writes in the same quaint English as her father, but it is a good effort for a schoolgirl. I hope to be able to visit them soon… perhaps during the coming weekend.
What do you think about the war these days, Jess? I suppose people at home will be wondering why fighting has again disappeared on the British sector of the front. There is no mystery about it really… but I cannot go into details for obvious reasons. Fortunately, the Americans are doing a damned fine job in the south, and even our most bloodthirsty critics can hardly say that the western front has become static. It was a pity about the Remagen bridge collapsing, although I don’t think its loss now is really serious. The most regrettable part of the business was the loss of life caused at the time. It was very tough luck on those American engineers who were trying to patch it up.
We have had some very fine weather over here during the last four or five days, and this has been very useful for the R.A.F. and the U.S.A.A.F. You will no doubt have heard the wireless accounts of our strafing of German vehicles etc… Yes… the Huns must have had a pretty lousy time lately… judging by the number of aircraft buzzing aloft all day. And those 10 ton bombs! God knows what happens to the ground when they explode, but I shouldn’t like to be any nearer than about five miles. Even the comparatively puny flying-bombs can break windows half a mile away.
I notice frequent comments in the newspapers about German civilian personnel… And the problem of what to do with them and how to treat them is apparently not too easy to answer. I feel that the order forbidding troops to fraternise is wise and logical… But I can’t help wondering whether this policy is going to have an unfortunate effect upon future relations with the German people. Are present-day German mothers going to tell their children stories of the horrible British and Americans who came and acted like brutal task-masters, even refusing food to semi-starving people? If we aren’t careful, I think some such foundation for future hate will be laid, and then the world will be faced with another Germany bursting for revenge…Och! the whole darned business is horribly difficult: I wish to goodness I could avoid seeing another German for the rest of my life. I certainly don’t want to see one… either civil or soldier.
I have noticed, too, in the papers, that reporters have commented upon the number of young and fit looking German males, of military age, but wearing civilian clothes. As one reporter says “they look as though they have just stepped out of uniform”. This point has struck me… I think I mentioned it in one of my letters. These men may be genuine deserters from the army… or they may be something more sinister… But whatever they are, their presence, behind our backs as it were, makes me all the more vigilant.
I was in a Dutch home today, Jess, when the daughter returned from her shopping with the week’s rations for the family. It was a very pleasant experience. She took each precious item from her shopping basket… her eyes sparkling as she held up the packages for the family to gaze upon. There was margarine… real margarine from England. There was soap… real soap from England… and there was sugar, and flour, and beef-cubes… and real coffee. It appears that I saw their first issue of increased rations: it was good to see their appreciation of so many little things… things which we in England have had in reasonable measure throughout the war… but which have been unknown here for years. I do hope we can continue to help these people, Jess… even if it means prolonging the rationing system at home. If ever you hear anyone grumbling at home about rations, you could do worse than remind them of the plight of so many millions over here. And you might remind them that there is tremendous gratitude over here for what our country is doing. It is little enough… considering our terrible pre-war diplomacy.
Your recent letters about Mrs. Parry have reminded me that she has some friends in Holland… Mr. and Mrs. Gottlieb. But I’m pretty certain that they lived in Amsterdam or Rotterdam… or some part of the still occupied territory. I don’t know whether I will ever reach that area, but anything is possible over here, so I will write to Aunt Ciss for the address of her friends. It will do no harm to have it by me, just in case… I may be able to help them.
Have now written to Parrys and am enclosing their letter… to save a green envelope. Please seal it up and post it for me, Jess… And don’t forget the stamp!
Must go now, darling
Good night Jess…
Always – Your Trevy.
P.S. Could you enclose a letter to Parrys explaining the reason for local postmark? T.