My Dearest Olive,
It is six months today since I left you at Saltfleet and it certainly seems very much longer. An enormous amount has happened in that time, yet the picture of our last day together at Saltfleet stands out very clearly in my mind.
I dearly wish we were together again, and miss you a tremendous amount but perhaps the time may not be too far distant when we are together again.
I was very sorry to read about your attack of lumbago in your letter of the 22/1. I very much hope it has passed away quickly. What do you think was the cause of it? Some kind of chill in the back, I suppose, and I am glad you bought the frocks and hope things will go alright with the mating of Sadi and Silva. It will be interesting to see what kind of offspring they produce. I certainly must have a photo of any pups that appear on the scene.
There is almost a revolution in the Company at present. I have never met a Company Commander who has succeeded in making himself so thoroughly unpopular in such a short space of time. He is a regular of the worst possible type, who treats the men as if they were animals. I was told yesterday that the men had been actually signing a petition asking for me to return as Coy Cmd until told they could be had up for mutiny. Several NCOs have come out and asked me if something could not be done and the Sergeant Major told me that there is an attitude of passive resistance amongst the NCOs. Plymen asked his platoon this morning if they knew the name of the new Company Cmd and was told they did not nor did they want to, so you can judge that the state of affairs is pretty bad. What is going to happen in the future, at this rate, I cannot imagine.
Douglas (Room) and I were discussing the question of handling men and he said the average Coy Cmd and officers did not understand or know how to handle men. I said that, with all due modesty, I thought I was able to and he replied, ‘You know I am the last person in the world to give you any praise to your face, but I think you are in the small minority who can, and I think the reason is, because to you they are individuals and not soldiers’. Oh, well perhaps my chance will come again sometime.
The weather continues to be very cold and we are having a lot more snow. At present, the battalion has become very regimental. An officers’ dance took place the other night at which were present a number of Italian women and Army Nurses, including the one that had nursed me after I was wounded. However she does not arouse any feeling of great sentiment in my breast. The Italian girls are very sternly chaperoned. Ma is there all the time and Pa turns up beforehand in the end so there is little opportunity, for those who want to, to have a good time. Some of them were quite good looking, a few very blond and they are all extremely good dancers making the English nurses appear very lead footed in comparison. I was rather bored, the more especially, since nowadays I hardly ever have anything to drink – the only drinks I like are beer, port and sherry and none of these are available. Usually, about once a month we have ½ a bottle of whisky each and I generally give my share away. The last lot was given to the Company cook for the excellent dinner he turned out on Xmas Day. Hot sweet rum is rather pleasant in the evenings and it is curious how one develops a taste for rum, and one day I will tell you rather an amusing story in that connection. Remind me when I come home.
Look after yourself, darling, and don’t have any more bad backaches. Another month and Valerie will be 2!
All my love and kisses to you both, sweetheart,