No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood, R.T.
9th Battn. R.T.R.
Jess Darling… My conscience is now much easier: I have written to Jess Aldcroft, Haydn, Marjorie, Kath, and Stan and Dora. Now I can settle down to say a few words to my sweetheart. First… about Stan. I have a horrible suspicion that he is the type of person who will favour an easy peace for Germany. I may be wrong… but the suspicion lingers. I would like to know his views… and to hear his reasoning because he is well informed, and an intelligent observer of the political scene. So I have conveyed one or two of my own opinions and am hoping he will tell me I am wrong… and why. I would also value your views… more than Stan’s… and am therefore giving below an extract of my letter to Stan. Please let me know what you think upon this topic: I do want to know. Here is the extract:-
“I suppose Jess will have told you something about my life over here. We seem to have done a lot of rushing about… shooting up Jerries, I s’pose… but it is hardly an inspiring existence. Recently we assisted in the capture of a large town… as distinct from our usual battles in open country… and I was able to experience street fighting… and to observe the reactions of the civil population to their “liberation”. It was an interesting experience, and one I am not likely to forget. For the first time since coming over here, I really felt as though someone was benefitting from our efforts.
There are many stories of German atrocities and brutality: I have sometimes doubted their authenticity… but I now know that the French people have endured some dreadful years under the ‘new order’. I have heard a few first hand accounts of what ‘life’ was like in the presence of the Gestapo: it makes me feel almost ashamed when I recall my own complaints of war’s hardships. We don’t know anything about it. It requires a full blooded German occupation of one’s country to bring home the meaning of the words freedom and justice. I like to be tolerant… I try to be, anyway… but one thing I cannot tolerate is the systematic cruelty of the Germans: I don’t only mean the Nazis. There must be something radically wrong with a nation which allows itself to be hoodwinked by a gang of the most ruthless and fiendish hoodlums in history. All I hope is that they get justice after the war: a punishnent befitting their crime. But sentiment is a pernicious evil at times: it is inclined to make peoples “bleeding hearts run away with their bloody heads”. There is already some evidence of it in England.
I know that the cause of war is an involved story… with its criminals on both sides of the Channel. But it seems to me that organised attempts to exterminate entire communities… and the ghastly cruelties inflicted upon civilian hostages… are entirely the prerogative of the Germans. Maybe it is the greatest of their crimes.”
That is all, Jess. You will gather that I have been thinking about the post-war situation. I have thought a lot about it lately. I don’t quite know where I stand… but it is something we must try and find out. There will be a most unholy mess in Europe when the war finishes… and the Germans will have to fit into the picture somewhere. I hope people at home are thinking about it. I hope the ‘combines’ and large financial trusts are not going to be allowed to interfere with justice. I hope the Church will be kept in its place… especially the R.C. branch. But lots of things can happen… inimical to human happiness, but not to individual gain… if we all remain apathetic. I have written on this topic to Jess Aldcroft… and to Haydn. I suppose they will think I am a crack-pot, but I don’t mind.
I was glad to hear of your interesting evening with Wilf. You speak highly of his paintings, so I imagine they must be good. Will I see one of them in my own home when I return? I hardly think so: I had a fleeting thought that he may present you with one as a gesture of gratitude for your hospitality… and of his admiration for you. But I think his innate frugality will prevail. All the same, I hope to see both of the pictures before he parts with them.
Later – 18.9.44. Monday evening
Darling:- Have moved a short distance since writing the foregoing, and am now housed beneath a roof… a real one! First time we have been inside a building since coming over. Hope to have better conditions for writing during next week or two.
Cannot say more just now… except that I love you, darling…