No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jessie Mine – After the terrific tension of yesterday, culminating in the grand news of the evening, today has been comparatively calm. There is, of course, a certain amount of expectancy apropos the various enemy pockets still resisting, but so far as we are concerned, the active war is as good as over: we are now more or less basking in this comforting knowledge. The announcement of “V.E. day” will be our next thrill: we are eagerly awaiting it as you can imagine, but I doubt whether it can possibly mean as much to us as yesterday’s surrender. The latter, you see, has absolved us from further active service: it has freed us from the dreadful anxiety of battle: we no longer regard the future as harbouring possible mutilation or death: it has enabled us to really anticipate a re-union with our loved ones: we now dare to think of the future… To me personally, the relief from anxiety… the dissipation of that awful four and a half year old mental cloud… is an indescribable joy.
So far as I am concerned, “V.E. day” will be significant mainly because its arrival will mark a definite step in my ultimate discharge from the army… and all the exquisite things that that implies… I am afraid I have no genuine interest now in the technical ending of the European war…
This afternoon, the officers have taken a few photographs of we sergeants. (Click here to see the photos.) There seemed to be a regular battery of cameras… all of them ‘acquired’ recently, no doubt.
I spent the whole of yesterday afternoon in the operating box of a cinema… with two German civvies as companions!! We have taken over the local cinema, and received our first British film yesterday. We held an afternoon performance, with the normal cinema staff working for us. They seemed quite obliging and all that, but it was deemed advisable to have a couple of us ‘supervising’ in the operating box… just to make sure there was no monkeying with the films. Les Challinor and I were given this job. I couldn’t help wondering what the operator thought as the news-reel was being run. It shewed many battle scenes, with German corpses lying all over the place. No doubt he is used to showing such films… but with Allied instead of German corpses. He is seeing the other side of the picture now… with a vengeance. Incidentally, the Germans call these pictures “propaganda films”. They don’t seem to look upon them as having any definite news value!
Now that the war is so obviously drawing to an end, I expect the newspapers will shortly be discussing the problem of demobilisation. I know that this subject is very much on your mind, dear… so I must tell you that my demob. group number is 22. Needless to say, I haven’t the faintest idea as to how soon I am likely to get my ‘ticket’, but if you remember my group number, you will know the answer as soon as the official scheme is published. As a matter of fact, my number is comparatively low, so I don’t anticipate a very long wait, once demobilisation commences.
Your latest letter tells me of your visit to Lin Taylor’s with Barry… but you don’t tell me how Barry behaved, or any of the nice things that were said about him. This is a serious omission, darling: You know I am as proud as a peacock about the wee fellow: I simply lap-up all praiseworthy comment about him. Please remember this sweetheart. And Jess… tell me lots about yourself: I do so long to hear every little detail about your life. You may think that such news will bore me… but you would be wrong: it is not possible to be bored when reading of the activities of the one person on earth who really matters… And when I say this, I am not unmindful of our little son… but he must always remain a close second to his dear mummy.
I can appreciate Lin Taylor’s anxiety about Bill… (friends of J and RTG) but I have a feeling that she is inclined to emphasize his dangers… not that his life is totally free from risk or anything like that… but I do believe she would be more re-assured if she really knew something about the enormous precautions which are taken to safeguard our aircraft carriers. They never put to sea without a swarm of auxiliary craft to protect them from surface and submarine attack… and they have their own aircraft for A.A. protection, apart from the huge number of A.A. guns carried by the escorting destroyers etc. Furthermore, Japan’s strength in the Pacific is now vastly reduced… whereas that of Britain and America has increased enormously… I don’t know whether you could tactfully remind her of these things… altho’ I agree that it is a difficult matter to discuss… and may be better left alone. She may resent what will possibly appear to her as an attempt to belittle what Bill is doing. It is Bill she wants, isn’t it dear… Talk, however well-meant, won’t heal that aching wound… and that is a subject about which you know more than most people.
I suppose it is natural for Bill to be feeling a bit unsettled… especially when he contemplates returning to the dreary locality of Belmont St. School… But his views may change again… especially after he has been in action and seen some of the ghastliness of war and the beastliness of mankind. When death is very near, there is no pleasure on earth greater than that of visualising one’s home and loved ones. Impressions of former happy times stand out vividly and one’s entire faculties become concentrated upon a determination to survive in order to maintain contact with so much that is good and beautiful. Even the most squalid life and environment thus becomes beatified… especially after a few flirtations with death… and it follows naturally that the life one has known becomes the ideal for which one strives to survive… That is my experience, Jess… and that of others with whom I have discussed the subject.
Later… Sorry darling… there was a minor disturbance and I couldn’t finish what I was talking about. Must leave you now for bed.
Good night, my darling
Always – Your Trevy