No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood.
C Sqdn, 9th Battn R.T.R.



Jess Darling: I have received a lovely letter today… but it has been a long time finding me. It is dated Fri. 19.10.45 – and postmarked 21.10.45-! It must have been sidetracked somewhere – perhaps through the dock strikes or the rough weather. Anyhow, it has found me and that is what really matters.

This is the letter in which you tell me about the missing meat pies – and the missing shoes. Gosh! I can’t help laughing about it: that little imp of a son of ours! His explanation was lovely: “shoes gone” indeed! He knew very well what he’d done – and took damned good care he wasn’t going to be scolded for it. That “eyho daring” of his is a terrible weapon – at our expense – and he has been very quick to learn its value. I’m not blaming you, dear. I know how helpless I would be against such a weapon. What amazes me is his astuteness in realising its value: he’s only a little baby, after all. What I’m wondering now is how on earth I will be able to combat such guile: it is a problem, Jess. I can see him “twisting me around his little finger” if I’m not careful. I will have to think up some means of combating guile with guile. Perhaps you will be able to give me some hints by the time I get home.

I see now how you came to hear from Cpl Vroenhoven… I wasn’t quite clear before, not realising that your explanatory letter had gone astray. I imagine he must be a member of the Dutch army being trained in Britain. I believe we are now doing a fair amount of this training for the Dutch. Our interpreter “Teddy” told me something about the scheme before he left us. He anticipated being compelled to serve for a year or two with the Dutch Army, and I know he was hoping to be transferred to England for his training. I gave him our address before he left us… and have a feeling that he will visit us if he goes to England. We’ll have to learn Dutch, Jessie Mine!

Apropos your request to buy Barry some shoes over here… Nothing would give me more pleasure than to be able to buy something like this, dear Jess – but I’m afraid it’s impossible. Such things are unobtainable here. It is the same with clothes of any sort: I have already tried to buy some table-cloths – and was almost looked upon as a madman. By comparison with Germany, Britain is a land literally bursting with clothing: the people here are using up any old rags – and glad to do it. Not that the average German civilian is dressed as a tramp – on the contrary, they aren’t badly dressed – but they are simply living on their ‘clothing capital’. I couldn’t help smiling at your – er – should I call it naivety? You thoughtfully gave me the size of Barry’s shoes – but they don’t use British sizes over here darling: they have a different system altogether, and I have an idea it is based on a linear measure using centimetres – but that’s only by the way.

One part of your letter makes me wonder what on earth I have done. You refer to my remarks on “domestic anarchy” – and finish up by admitting that you went out and bought a 15 shilling certificate for Barry ‘after reading my views’!! Now what the hell!?! Have I made you so very apprehensive about the future, my dear? I cannot now remember my precise remarks, but I do know that I have been feeling far more optimistic about the future since we acquired a Socialist government, and I’ve no doubt that my apparent indifference to your future welfare is partly due to my – sort of – sub-conscious belief that large social reforms are inevitable within the next few years – and that abject poverty, especially in the case of widows, will become a thing of the past. Maybe I am being too optimistic… but that is something we are going to talk about – very soon. In any case, who said I was going to die soon? Well I’m not – see?

I was speaking about German clothes just now – and am reminded of another duty which has now befallen our patrol troops. It needs a little explaining… A circular letter reached us from Div. H.Q. a week ago drawing attention to certain clauses in the German surrender and demobilisation agreements. One of these clauses refers to uniforms – and in particular, to hats. Now most of the discharged German soldiers seem to have nothing to wear, apart from their army uniforms – a grey-green cloth, with, usually, a small peaked cap to match – something like the British forage cap, but with a stiff ‘peak’. They are allowed to wear the uniform providing all badges, flashes, epaulettes etc. are removed – but the cap is forbidden. But it is a small item and hardly likely to inspire any military pride in the wearer – and so, this cap prohibition has been generally overlooked, with the result that practically every discharged German soldier is wearing one. But now… it has got to stop – and we have to obey the Div. order.

So for the past week or so, our day patrols have been stopping every Jerry wearing an army cap… and politely but firmly relieving him of it. The result is that we now have a whacking great pile of this useless headgear – and many Jerries have to go about airing their bald heads: rather an unpleasant business in this cold weather. There is an amusing side to all this – amusing to us, I mean – particularly when some of our lads recount their stories about the utter dismay of the afflicted Jerries. On the whole, I think this is one of those stupid regulations that do us more harm than good – but “orders is orders”-!!

To complicate matters, we are officially reminded not to confuse this German military cap with the peaked cap worn by nearly every workman in Western Europe (something like an English train driver’s cap). The two are very similar – and even though the workman’s cap is black, the confusion still exists because German ‘Panzer’ troops wore a black peaked cap – which we have to confiscate.

I can’t help recalling how most of us were struck by the number of engine drivers in France, Holland, and Belgium, when we first entered those countries (particularly north eastern France). Every other man seemed to be wearing overalls, with a peaked cap – exactly like the British train drivers. It took us some time to discover that the cap was the standard workman’s head gear.

Must leave you now, my love –
Another day nearer to home… and Jess.
Goodnight, darling
Your Trevy.