29th February 1944

My Dearest Olive,

Several days have lapsed since I last had a letter from you, but I am expecting some will arrive in the next few days.  I am very happy in command of my new Company and like them a whole lot. It is very pleasant having Dicky Richards as my second in command and Douglas (Room) as a platoon commander, my two best friends in the battalion. It certainly makes for a happy and helpful atmosphere. The Sergeant Major, who was CSM of ‘B’ Coy in Sicily, said to Fellowes the day it was announced I would take command of ’C’ Coy, ‘I think I will get on very well with Captain Vaile’. Fellowes said ‘Why, Sir’ and the CSM replied, ‘He believes in working hard and playing hard and he always takes a keen interest on the Company’.  So far, we have got on extremely well together – he is a first class chap. We are training hard at the present time and I am out with the Company as much as possible in order to get to know them properly before going into action with them and so far I have every reason to feel confident of their ability to acquit themselves well.  Last night, we held a very successful inter platoon quiz. Followed by a Sing Song and everyone enjoyed the evening very much.

The weather has been extremely wet of late with almost continual rain and we are knee deep in mud, but this afternoon for the first time for some days the sun is shining.  Progress seems very slow at the moment, but it is no doubt affected by all this rain which makes conditions so difficult to move in. I had no idea an Italian winter could be so unpleasant.

This letter is rather disjointed as I keep on having interruptions as we are doing a ‘Coy in Attack’ exercise tonight: rather more pleasant than the real thing. I am anxious to practise the Coy at working together at night time as a compact body and also to practise myself in leading them. Night attacks are quite a tricky business and need plenty of practice and the responsibilities of the Commander is very great.

The ‘blitz’ on Germany appears to be as heavy as ever and it looks as if the way is being paved for the ‘The Second Front’. According to the Eighth Army News, Montgomery is very much in the public limelight in England and seems to be very energetic. The Russian advance seems to continue slowly and remorselessly and it certainly is a marvellous effort. I see Churchill states that he and Stalin have agreed on the Curzon Line as the Russian-Polish boundary after the War. I am glad to see he has shown such good sense. Bye-elections at home appear to be getting rather more violent, and the W. Derbyshire election must have created quite a sensation. An editorial of the ‘Eighth Army News’ had a very scathing ‘leader’ on the Conservatives trying to push in Harrington. This paper, incidentally is very refreshing in its views and very progressive, at times and it would certainly put the ‘Daily Herald’ to shame. It is always preaching reconstruction and what the soldier wants and should have after the war is over.

Douglas showed me some photos of his parents and home the other day. It certainly looks a delightful house and his parents seem very pleasant people. His sister, Mary, is a very jolly pleasant looking girl, not exactly pretty but very nice looking. I have a feeling that you and she will get on extremely well together and I hope you will be able to visit them shortly.

How is my dear little Valerie getting along?  I often admire the photo you sent me. She is really a lovely little girl, and I am very proud of her.

Since writing the above, have just got back from our night exercise. It was highly successful and the Company worked extremely well and showed any amount of enthusiasm. They are really a fine crowd, and I am getting quite attached to my new Company.

Look after yourself darling, and remember I love you very dearly and am eagerly looking forward to the day when we are together again.

All my love and kisses to you and Valerie, sweetheart



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