20th December 1943

My Dearest Olive,

Received 2 airmails dated 3/12 ad 5/12 from you on successive days, and a parcel containing the ‘Manchester Guardian’ and ‘New Statesman’ with a few Daily Workers inside. They were dated Nov 19 so I thought the speed of delivery was very good. I have also had a letter and an airgraph from Susan. The airgraph was written, when she heard from somewhere or other that I was wounded. She seemed pleased to have got my letter. I am writing back to her and have asked Muriel Glennie to call and see her. They are both religious so that should be a useful basic to start with. Muriel is, of course, a good deal younger, in mind apart from age which is important. She would possibly find Renee easier to get on with but I rather gather Renee is no longer there.

The parcel for John from the Glennies arrived yesterday. They were very anxious that I should accept it. I thought the nicest action would be to distribute the cigarettes, soap, razor blades etc, amongst the original members of his old platoon now only 11 in number so I got them together and told them about it and they were very pleased and are writing a joint letter to John’s mother thanking her. It is remarkable the way they still talk about him. I have seldom met an officer who had the affection of his men to such a remarkable extent. It is not just to me but I sometimes hear them talking about him and telling newcomers to the platoon what he was like. A wonderful tribute under these conditions: if only he had lived through our night battle he would have probably learnt just that touch of necessary caution and would have been a marvellous officer. It certainly would have been wonderful having him with me now I am commanding the Company.

My Company is billeted in a large school and is fairly comfortable. We have made an excellent ‘rest room’ and have managed to collect a number of papers and periodicals. The CO was very impressed with it and when the Divisional Commander (Major General Evelegh) visited us today, the CO brought him round specially to see our ‘Rest Room’ and I was duly congratulated. We had a very successful evening of ‘housey-housey’ last night and my idea of providing tea at the end proved very popular.  I must say the Company are pulling well behind me and despite the shortage of officers and NCOs, things are going well.

You are a terrible person for getting presentiments, darling. You say in your letter of the 5th that you had been feeling depressed in the same way as previously. It was the 4th & 5th that we were engaged in some very violent fighting and several times, I wondered if I would ever be returning home. However, I think there is a good chance that you need not worry for some little time ahead.

These Italians are a poor lot, the youths strut about the town with their long coats, greasy hair and arm in arm, staring at us in a most impertinent manner. In most places, they were glad enough to welcome us when we arrived but after a time start to get very uppish. I believe there is a wave of sentimentalism towards them at home – well take it from me, they don’t deserve it. I have much less sympathy with them than when I came out. The peasants are very pleasant and most of the older people and children are rather nice but those who have grown up under the influence of Fascism are an unpleasant crowd.

I expect by now you have settled in, dear heart. I eagerly look forward to the day when we will be together again. It has been a very big job for you and I think you have done magnificently. I am very proud of you.

Give my darling a very big kiss, I love reading about her.

All my love, precious wife


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