My Dearest Olive,
A much awaited for event occurred yesterday when Valerie’s photo duly arrived. I was delighted to receive it and very pleased indeed with the photo. I think she looks absolutely lovely and everyone very much admired her. I was amazed at how much she had developed. I still visualized her as the little girl I left behind in Saltfleet and I think she has come on in extraordinary fashion since I left home. She is certainly a fine advertisement for the care and attention given to her by her Mother. Her legs and arms appear to be very firm and chubby and most people thought she was older than 20 months.
You can tell her that Daddy is very pleased with the photo and very proud of his little daughter and hopes it will not be too long before he sees her again in person. It amused me the way she appeared to be just about to break into a smile, but was a little uncertain as to whether to do so or not. Most people seemed to think she is rather like me – the general remark was that she had my eyes and nose. To me, she does appear to be very much like Pat was as a little girl. Dicky Richards said he refused to believe that I could produce such a pretty daughter. I hope you will have a photo of her taken on her 2nd birthday. It will be interesting to see the progress of another 4 months.
I also received a letter dated 10/2 from you, and letters from Muriel Glennie, Ted and Miss Clinton. Miss Clinton enquired anxiously about my wounds, and said it was a long time since she had heard from you and would very much like to hear from you again. You remember Mrs Smith of Leytonstone? Well, Miss Clinton told me that her husband had deserted her and she was very broken up about it. Seems incredible to me as they always appeared a very devoted pair, perhaps living with her family wore him down. A great pity they never had a child as they were both very fond of children. I also had a large number of papers from Jim Lawrence and the “Herts Advertiser” from Freda Revill. Curiously, you know the Lawrences seem to have turned out the most faithful of our friends in St. Albans. He writes quite regularly and has sent out a number of papers as well as 200 cigarettes.
Last but not least, a very anxious letter from Helen who said Mother was ‘nearly frantic with worry’ over my wounds. Apparently, they cabled Florence about the extent of my wounds. I have written quite a good deal since then, so I presume they have had a number of letters by now but Helen says they very much wish you would write to them. I wish so too, darling, and I have asked you on a number of occasions and you have never told me if you have done so. After all, we feel very sorry for Mrs Glennie, but it would be equally bad for Mother if anything happened to me and it would be all the worse because she is so far away. They are very anxious to hear how you and Valerie are progressing and, for my sake, I hope you will write, darling, and send the photo of Valerie. She will be delighted with it and if she ever comes again to England, you will find her a very devoted grandmother. Also, if anything ever happens to me, please let her know or write to Helen, as soon as possible. I know it would be terribly hard for you, precious, but the suspense for her would be dreadful.
Your remarks about Edward (Gibbon) were very sensible. He is still away at hospital and, somehow, I should not be surprised if we do not see him here again…..Personally I hope he finds a job somewhere else – it will be the best thing.
We are in a rather pleasant part of the country, quite fertile and the climate is very much milder. The Germans carried out a systematic destruction in this part of the world, and every building, no matter how small and out of the way, has had its roof removed all of course with the object of preventing us from having winter quarters. We have managed to find a farmhouse to establish ourselves in, very crowded and rather uncomfortable but better than no shelter. ‘B’ and ‘C’ Coys share the same mess and Douglas and I have quite a lot to do with one another. I am glad to have him with me, we get on very well together.
Look after yourself, darling, and keep cheerful. It will be a great day when we are together again and something worth looking forward to.
All my love and kisses to you and Valerie