15th August 1943

On board ship heading for North Africa


My Dearest Olive,

Have the chance of writing another letter which should reach you fairly soon. There is still no official news that I am able to tell you, but my next letter, which may of course not reach you for a little time, should give you more information. I will endeavour to send an air mail letter as soon as possible after we land and will address it c/o Florence so you had better arrange for them to forward on letters for the present at any rate. I will be very anxious to hear from you and will hope that it will not be too far ahead before I get some news of you and Valerie.

Life on board ship runs fairly smoothly. We are fed magnificently – talk about ‘fattening up the calf’. Breakfast is at 8, lunch at 12.30, tea at 4.30 and supper at 7 and each meal, with the possible exception of tea, is first class. However, I don’t suppose it will be quite so good later on. Living is very cheap on board. 50 cigarettes for 1s 8d, a slight difference from 20 for 2s 4d. Chocolate is plentiful – I wish I could send you some. You will be pleased to hear that this is a ‘dry ship’, so that even if one wished to drown one’s sorrows in alcohol, it would be impossible. Apparently, these are General Eisenhower’s orders and is a good order, I feel. We content ourselves with vegenade at 3d per glass and it is proving a very pleasant drink. I have a certain amount to do with my draft and most of our spare time has been spent playing Bridge and hot stuff it is too. The four of us play a very hard game, none of your sociable bridge that we used to play at Molly’s, for example.

I get on very well with my stable companions. Myles is a great character; Jerry Aubrey is very much ‘the man of the world’ and you know what an excellent fellow McConnell is. We are all about the same age. The other three who came on the draft: Ellis, O’Brien and Glennie are excellent fellows. Glennie, the only other one of my draft, is a lively young sprig, very gay and cheerful. He comes from Enniskillen and it is all a big adventure to him.

The only flaw so far, apart from the big one of being away from you, is that I have a flea in my bed which I just cannot catch and each night he gives me ‘hell’. I wish you were here to catch it for me. Myles, who sleeps in the other lower berth, is also troubled with one but the other two sleeping in the top berths have so far ‘escaped’.

I miss you an enormous lot, darling. It would be marvellous to be with you and Valerie again but it is no use moping and I am only hoping it will not be long before we are together again.  I would be content, in my mind, if I knew you were fixed up alright and will be most anxious to hear how you are getting along.  Don’t forget to write frequently and send me photos whenever possible.  We had a great time together and I am certain we will have an even better time in the future.

The war news looks good: the Russians appear to be continuing their grand progress and we are hoping to hear of the fall of Kharkov at any time now.

Take care of yourself, dearest girlie, and remember I love you far beyond anything else in life.

         All my love and kisses to you and Valerie.

Your devoted husband


Read the letter of 21 August 1943


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