No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess Darling: This has been a busy day for me: it must be months since I did so much prolonged hard work. And what have I been doing? No!- Not messing with tanks… they don’t involve really hard work. I have been doing one of your jobs… washing… washing clothes… Yes Sir-! It was a huge wash… three shirts, six socks (three pairs, I mean), one pr. underpants, one vest, two hankys, and two towels… And now, the whole lot is drying before the bedroom fire… and I feel really proud of my handiwork:- especially the towels. I boiled them until they almost squealed for mercy, and now they are white once again. And my two shirts with collars look new again… I have actually ironed them. It took some organising, all this lot. For a start, there is no water supply to our bathroom taps, and so I had to cart it in buckets from a tap downstairs in the yard. I used twelve buckets of water. And I had to light the stove in my bedroom to boil the water:- and I had to find empty 14lb. biscuit tins for boiling the clothes, and I had to find a couple of irons – and an ironing cloth… and then I mooched around and found a ‘clothes horse’ for drying… And during the whole operation, I’ll bet I used a cwt. of coal-!! Some job, my dear! How we housewives do suffer-!
I don’t know how many hours I spent on the foregoing, but it seemed to occupy most of my day – with a few odd jobs in between.
I have nothing else to report today, Jessie Mine. Life is more uneventful than ever just now, and we are having a very ‘cushy’ time… particularly with the major away. The weather is rather gloomy and quite cool in the evenings. It seems as though nature is compensating for those three brilliant days we had on the Ems river.
There are plenty of nightingales in this area, and every night I fall asleep listening to them. One in particular seems to spend his nights in a tree close by my bedroom window: it is so lovely listening to him/her…
Another ‘washing’-day… my person this time. I stoked up the bedroom fire again, and boiled two large tins of water, and then had a bath. Not a bad effort really… and certainly better than our mobile showers.
I have your letter of the 21st… the one in which you chastise me about my chill. I have read your comments very carefully – and whilst agreeing with all you have to say about food etc., I don’t think I am quite as under-nourished as you surmise… Or perhaps it would be more correct to say that I have been eating more food since the end of our war.
I suppose I may be suffering from a sort of “malnutritious hangover” from the pre-VE day period, but I imagine that I am now making a little headway. Under these semi-static conditions, the cooks have a better chance of providing more appetising food… especially with all the domestic cooking facilities of these German billets. We now have, for instance, proper cooking ranges and ovens… and so our food is not tainted with petrol fumes as it is when we have to use our field cookers. I don’t think I am exaggerating, my dear, when I say that I have been eating very well for the last few weeks… Another thing, I have more peace of mind now… and this is bound to have an effect on my system sooner or later. (…)
And now I must thank you for telling me how you are looking after yourself. This sort of news does me good… plenty good. Keep on taking those iron tablets, my dear… and anything else you need. Your health is so important – at least twice as important as mine.
I don’t quite know what to think about the news from Aberdeen. I thought your mother hated the place… and yet she now seems bucked at the prospect of living there. She wouldn’t be happy there, Jess. And I think greater prosperity for your dad would possibly turn out to be more of an evil than a blessing… from your mother’s point of view, at any rate. I feel convinced it would result in even heavier drinking by your dad – and that would be disastrous if your mum were living with him. As for the boys… Jess… I don’t know. It is a good job that they now have at least a little contact with you. I cannot think of any children known to us so resembling ‘flotsam and jetsam’ as John and Stan. They are an awful trial to you I know, but I’m positive they absolutely crave your companionship and understanding. It is probably the finest thing in their young lives. If they go to Aberdeen too… well, I don’t like to think about it…
The fortune-telling… you know what I think about that. You will remember that occasion at Mrs. Pilky’s. (Pilkington) I don’t think a single word of it came true – or did it? Is Mrs. Pilky. responsible for your mother’s latest visit to a fortune-teller?
Jess… my love… I feel so sorry for your mum… How barren of happiness is her life… And what are her prospects…?
Good night, my love… my Jess…