My Dearest Olive,
On arriving back from leave, found a number of letters awaiting me and a couple more arrived in the last day. The dates are 1/4, 3/4, 9/4, 11/4, 13/4, 15/4, 17/4, 19/4. So I have had a considerable amount of reading and quite a lot of news to digest. Valerie seems to be in grand form and it is very interesting to read about the performances and behaviour of my small daughter. I am glad the doll and stockings arrived safely and that Valerie was pleased with the doll and understood it was from Daddy. I am now awaiting the news of the progress of Silva. Did you ever register her and Sadi? I hope so. I fully appreciate the difficulty in buying things in England nowadays but will be glad if you can keep an eye open for any likely books. A Pelican book I would like is “Democratic Ideals and Reality” by HJ Mackinder, and a book I would like to read is “The Devil in Crystal”, by Louise Marlow, published by Faber at 6/-. The aspros or veganins will be welcomed as, though I very seldom have to recourse to them, they are very useful as a standby.
On my way back, I called in to see Denis Haywod and spent the night with him. He looked very well and as quite happy in his job as an instructor. He has now got on the staff there and so seems settled for a time. He fully admitted he had no desire to get back “up the line” for sometime. He was very pleased to see me and was very hearty in his congratulations. He sends his love to you and thought it a splendid photo of Valerie and that she was making marvellous strides. Ingrid is hoping to leave the house in which she is living shortly and consequently he is rather worried. Don’t however think I expect you to rush out and invite her to stay with you unless you really wished too – my one desire is that you should be happy and comfortable and there is no reason on earth why you should have anyone to stay with you unless you wish. Actually, because of her operation, she is anxious to try and get a place hear at hand. Dicky and I are in all probability going across to spend Saturday evening with him and we hope to stay the night.
We have come out of the line for a rest and are in quite a pleasant area. Unfortunately, it has rained heavily and continuously for the last few days and the weather, after being warm, is now quite cool again which is not so pleasant under canvas. Still we are not complaining. It was a nice change after the noise of battle and it is very quiet and peaceful here and seems well away from the unpleasantness of war. The Company has been quite fortunate – we had a lot of shelling and patrol work but had only one killed and two wounded. The Company stood up to it well and it is the youngest Coy in the battalion in the matter of age and the least experienced in battle as ‘C’ Coy has a lot of casualties on the Sangro and had to be made up later. They were absolutely first class on training, but I rather wondered how they would shape up under fire and I had every reason to be pleased with them.
I was particularly pleased with Frank – on one occasion we were moving forward to a new position and there was a sudden very heavy crash which seemed near at hand. The forward section threw themselves on the ground and Frank, calmly without the slightest touch of bravado, said, “That was quite a distance away, the hills make it seem nearer”, and continued walking and the men, knowing this Sergeant has had long experience, promptly got up and followed. We have had various NCOs of recent times, who have complained of nerves and war weariness and are asking for base jobs but there is never a word of complaint or a request of that nature from him. He had to command a platoon for over a week as Pat Howard was back making arrangements in the new area, and both Dicky and the Sergeant Major thought he did splendidly. When I first arrived, he was a bit shaken having had a nasty experience in Sicily – his platoon was cut up on patrol and he extracted his section and got them back after 36 hours in a very fine performance. Then he went to Brigade and was afterwards sick and on arriving back was bit shaken to be back in the battalion but he had done splendidly and is very sound in his tactics. The CO is very fond of him and refers to him as “the local boy who made good”. In other words, overcame his own natural timidity. He was, I gather from the CO, rather timid when he first arrived in North Africa but under the influence of the CO, then his Coy Cmdr, he pulled himself together and put up one splendid show in North Africa which deserved a decoration and the Sicily episode.
Pat sent me her photo and it is a very good one. She is a fine kid and writes very regularly. I also got a letter from the Slowley boy serving with the Navy – they all seem to have decided to write. We gather things are being tidied up for the invasion but I should not be surprised if it is not until another month or so. The feeling between the Russians and the Poles seems as bad as ever, I thought the Russian terms were very generous to Finland and the Finns will use their referral.
I hope you are well, darling. I miss you very much and will be very happy when we are together again.
All my love and kisses to you and Valerie.