Irish Brigade

The story of the 38th (Irish) Brigade in the Second World War

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


3rd February 1944

3.2.44

My Dearest Olive,

Have received three letters from you dated 20/1, 22//1. & 24/1. I am always interested to read them and to hear all the news about yourself and Valerie. It will be a great day when we are all together again. I try to avoid thinking too much about it, endeavouring to concentrate upon the job at hand but now and again, one does get a touch of homesickness. I had one this morning for a short time for some reason or another.

We have been relieved from out positions and are now back having a brief rest and doing some training. It is a pleasant change and something of a relief for, although the physical strain was not great, the mental strain did become very considerable. One always had to be on alert against possible mishaps, and I don’t think I had a proper nights sleep during the whole time. I have, rather unfortunately in some respects, developed into an extremely light sleeper. The slightest thing wakes me immediately and I have the advantage of being in immediate possession of my faculties. But on the other hand, I do tend to sleep with ‘one ear cocked’ and often wake up unnecessarily and then have difficulty in going off.

I well remember one exception. On the last night on the Sangro before we were relieved, I was then commanding ‘A’ Coy for those few days and after the battle, we dug in forward of the remainder of the battalion. Each man had a dose of rum as it was very cold, and by some mischance I took an overdose. Normally, I don’t sleep well in a slit trench but that night I slept like a log.  Edward woke me up once to report the result of a patrol he had been on and I was very dopey. Fortunately, we were undisturbed that night and the following day I felt a new man as a result of the sleep, so it served a useful purpose although not the kind of thing usually to be advised.

I was glad to get away from our recent positions without a single casualty to my Company and the positions well held throughout our stay. In fact our successful defence against the night attack seemed to frighten the Germans off, because they did not worry us again excepting an increased amount of shelling. The weather improved a lot towards the end, although the nights remained cold. The men kept up their spirits throughout and certainly gave the impression of a good Company.

Owing to the positions, I had not seen Dicky Richards or Douglas (Room) for a month and was very glad to see them again. Dicky had been on a Snow Warfare Course and looked very well.  Douglas said he had already received a ‘rocket’ from home for not writing more regularly and his correspondence of late had improved. We had a good yarn this afternoon and he is very pleased that you and his people are corresponding regularly and hopes you will be able to see them soon.

I told Frank (Higgins) and Turner that you wished to be remembered to them and they both sounded very pleased. Turner asked after Valerie and said she would probably be at school, before I saw her again. That was rather a thrust at me for having told the men that they must not count on going home too soon. I have not seen the other runners lately, but believe they are alright. Edward has been evacuated further down the line and I don’t think we will see him for some time.

The Russians seem to have accomplished fine work in the Leningrad front. We miss a map of Russia out here, and it I difficult to assess their exact position.

Look after yourself, darling wife. I love you very, very dearly and long to be with you both again.

All my love and kisses

Lawrence



 

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