C Sqdn, 9th Battn R.T.R.
My Darling: I am going to a ‘private’ farewell party this evening. It has been organised, and paid for, by the four corporals who are leaving us soon with 21 age group releases. The whole squadron has been invited… including everyone’s ‘frat’, so it should be pretty well attended: the local dance hall has been hired for the function – and a variety of eatables are being supplied by the local baker… The latter has been given the necessary ‘raw materials’ – plus a few cigarettes for his labour. I believe there will be plenty of drink too – some of it purchased legitimately – and some scrounged by various means.
I don’t intend staying long… I have no ‘frat’ for one thing… but I want to just pop in and say ‘howdy’ to Sammy, and Eddie, and Frank, and Vic: they joined up with me at Gateshead and are all Lancashire lads.
So much for the party: I went rather early… and the lads all seemed to be on their best behaviour, but I imagine it will have ‘warmed up’ by now. It always amazes me at these functions to see the various couples apparently deep in conversation and thoroughly understanding each other… And yet, I know damned well our lads only understand an odd word or two of German – and very few girls here know any English.
This minor phenomena is no new thing, of course. It happened in France, in Belgium and in Holland: maybe there is some sort of telepathic understanding between the younger elements, of which I have no knowledge. Another little thing which has puzzled me a bit… the behaviour of a few of the older fellows. I know at least three men of my age whose behaviour in England and France, Belgium and Holland was more or less above suspicion so far as being faithful to their wives… But now that we are in Germany… with the war behind us… their outlooks seem to have changed, and… well, it’s as well their wives are a long way off.
It seems such a pity to me. They endured 4 and a half years of separation without doing anything dishonourable, and then go and spoil everything in their last few months in the army. I cannot say whether their moral lapse is due to some super-normal seductive power of the German frauleins, or whether it is a natural reaction to the strain of the battle period… Perhaps the truth lies in a mixture of ‘battle reaction’ plus the rather low moral standards of some of the German females. We have to remember that the Hitler regime taught young girls to believe that procreation was their first object in life, and that there was nothing dishonourable about illegitimate chilren or promiscuous intercourse. In fact, the children of such unions were called ‘Fuhrer’s children’ and the expectant mothers received first class maternity home treatment at the expense of the state. Anyhow, it is obvious that the average German girl in these villages is very ‘willing’ to say the least-!
Apart from the widespread local fratting, there are a few cases of apparent infatuation. One girl, for instance, has followed one of our lads from Lengerich to Gümmer… and then from Gümmer to Ringelheim… a journey of about 150 miles. She is now officially employed in our officers mess… and her hero works in the same place – as a batman! Other girls come from Gümmer every week-end… to see their lovers… and a few of the lads sneak back to Gümmer occasionally (about 60 miles) for the same purpose-! It’s a queer world, Jessie Mine.
Todays letter from you seems to have travelled quite well… you only posted it on Tuesday. I gather that the gales must have completely subsided by now. It is certainly much calmer over here, altho’ we have had a fair amount of rain. It is a little colder too, but hardly ‘wintry’ as yet. I hope to be well away from the place before the cold season commences becausae this is a pretty cold region judging by local reports. There is outdoor skating every winter, and very heavy snow storms. I prefer the milder English winter, bad as it is.
Thanks for all the news about Barry. I can quite believe that his interest in his books robs you of much valuable time – but it won’t be for long now, my dear. I will certainly do my share of reciting ‘Humpty Dumpty’ – and like it-!!! It is good to know of his fondness for books: it is a good sign for the future… and a splendid testimonial to the patience and sympathy of his dear mummy. The least I can do, darling, is to help continue the work so well begun by you.
Your opinion of the dock strikers seems to be similar to my own… something I suspected, needless to say. But there seem to be very few people – over here, at any rate – who have a kind word to say about these men. Maybe their opinions will change when they become ex-soldiers, and learn something about the present value of money in England. I hear that the dock-strike is now over, but have heard no details. Maybe the radio news will tell us something this evening.
Jess – I will be sending a parcel during the next few days. It will contain some (possibly all) of the books I ‘borrowed’ on my leave… and some of my personal clothing, and one or two useful odds and ends as packing… but it will not include a letter… I don’t want you to expect one, and then be disappointed.
And now to bed –
Goodnight, my love
Always and always