22nd December 1943

My Dearest Olive,

As you will see from the above, I have at last achieved the exalted rank of Major. The CO sent for me this afternoon and told me he was promoting me. He said, ‘I want you to realise, Lawrie, that if some of these senior officers arrive I may have to bring you down, but you are doing a fine job of work and I see no reason why you should not have the benefit of the pay. Also these officers may not come or they may not prove satisfactory when they do arrive so I am ‘putting you up’.  He is a splendid chap and I fully appreciate his position – his hand is forced to a large extent if they do come. However, once having held a rank, it is always very much easier to regain it again as was proved with my Captaincy.

So I am ready to enjoy it while I can and hope for the best. It means an extra 12/- per day, so that in all it means that our weekly income  is now £4/13- which is quite a respectable sum,  Probably a damn sight more than I will ever get in peace time. It is back dated to Dec 5th, another satisfactory state of affairs. It will be some time before it is credited to me at Lloyds so it is inadvisable to increase your allowance at the moment but if you, say, need £10 for anything, write and let me know and I will send an airmail to Lloyds, crediting it to your account.

Well, I know you will be pleased, darling. I must confess I am and I only wish we were able to enjoy it together. It gives me great satisfaction to feel that more money is being accumulated for you and Valerie and it is nice to feel that one has been reasonably successful out here and that I was not just a ‘home’ soldier.

Today has been a good day, for the Battalion Cross Country Race was held over a strenuous course of 4 miles and resulted in a smashing triumph for ‘B’ Coy 165 points to ‘S’ Coy 307, ‘D’ 485 and so on. Curious. how I can always produce a good cross country team, we had first and second and seven in the first 12. Your old man came in 13th, which quite pleased him. I had rather wondered how I would perform but I found I still have plenty of stamina and actually the race was rather too short for me – I was steadily gaining at the end.

The ‘boys’ of Ballykinler who are still left did well, Frank (Higgins) came 2nd, Williams 5th, Hartshorn 8th.  Frank only came back from hospital yesterday and was posted to ‘B’ Coy which is his old Coy. I don’t quite know what to make of him – he complains of feeling very nervous and says he is frightened of going into action again. No one is eager for it but at least, we look at the thing from a reasonable angle. The CO used to be his Coy Commander and told me Frank was an excellent NCO at home but very timid out here. One day, he had the misfortune to kill his officer, a pure accident but naturally upset him greatly and the CO told him to redeem himself by doing really fine work in the next action. This he did, racing into a German position and killing about 6 and was very unlucky to miss a decoration. The CO thinks very well of him for that but at the moment I have my doubts although I will try and pull him together. However, I’ve got several very fine young NCOs, and I am afraid I will just have to pass over him unless he shows a better attitude.  One cannot afford to be sentimental when life or death is in the balance.

The CO asked me where I thought I would come in the race and I said I would be well pleased if I got in the first 30. He laughed heartily and said he would be well pleased if he got in the first 100.  We are the same age incidentally.

Well, precious, look after yourself, I dearly wish I was with you for Xmas, even allowing for the unkind rib about my going to sleep. I was just telling the Sergeant Major about it when your letter arrived. All my love, darling, to you and my dearest little daughter.

Your Major husband


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