Irish Brigade

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

8th February 1944


8.2.44

My Dearest Olive,

Received two letters from you dated 27/1 and 31/1. I am sorry you have had a long wait for letters from me, as occasionally it does happen that I an unable to write for a time but normally I write every couple of days, so I presume the mail must have been delayed. Try and not worry more than you can help and don’t have too many feelings about events that are taking place.

I had a very nice thing said to me yesterday. I said to one of the Coy Signallers, ‘Well, how are you, Hampton?’ and he replied, “Feeling very sick, Sir, at you no longer being Coy Commander, Sir.’ So I admitted that I was feeling a little sick about it as well and had indeed seriously thought of applying for a transfer to another Coy and he said, ‘Don’t do that, Sir, we would all hate to lose you’. I told him it was very nice in one’s disappointments to have a few remarks passed like that and he said, ‘I’m only saying it because I mean it, Sir. If you could creep up behind any man in this Coy, you would hear the same things being said now’. (Lieut) Hansson, a newly arrived officer, who has just been with the Coy a few days said, ‘You must have been a good Company Commander, as quite a number of men have written letters saying they have lost a grand Coy Cmd and it seems to be that if men consider that of importance to put in their letters, they must like you a lot’. Plymen tells me he used to sometimes hear his NCOs discussing the various Coy Comds and they had a very high opinion of me.

It is very disappointing, especially as I did feel I had the confidence of the men and together we were making a grand Coy. My successor is trying to introduce all the peace time methods of the 2nd – everything has got to be polished and scrubbed and pressed, and even ribbons have to be scrubbed and all this at a time when the men deserve and were, in fact, promised a rest and relaxation after a tiring spell of duty. We are in a town (Campabasso) where there are a couple of ENSA shows and cinemas but the men have had scarcely any chance to see them because of all this cleaning – a certain amount, of course, is very necessary after coming out of ‘the line’ but this is vastly overdone. There is a very sullen, resentful atmosphere in the Company, and one can sense it walking around, with nothing like the cheerfulness of the past month which caused the Gunner Officer to say ‘B’ Coy had the highest morale of any Company he had ever met. Well, it is no use complaining, and most people have their ups and downs, Denis (Haywood) rose to Captain, dropped to Lieut, up to Capt to Major and now down to Capt, so I suppose I will just have to hope my opportunity will reoccur.

I am very much in favour of you mating Sadi and Silva if it is all possible. As regards the financial side, I expect you have received the entire £10 for Feb and I will write to Lloyd’s instructing them to pay you £40 for March and thence onwards £25 per month. That extra £30 over February and March swallows up my increase in pay, but should help you to cover mating expenses, etc. Let me know if that’s sufficient and, if it is not, try and find out what my balance is at Lloyds’ Remember my pay as Captain is probably only just being credited to me now and it may well be March or April before my pay as Major is credited. 

We have had a lot more snow during the last few days and the weather is bitterly cold. We are billeted in blocks of flats, and quite modern with central heating, electric light and gas. The only disadvantage is that the central heating does not function, the electric light and gas all off for the whole town, so that as there are no fireplaces, we sit and shiver over a miserable oil stove.  At the moment of writing, my feet feel like blocks of ice.  Oh, for my cosy little house at —- (Castel di Sangro), it may have only been about ½ a mile from the Germans but at least we were able to have a great blazing fire and considering our proximity to the enemy, lived a very comfortable life.

Look after yourself, darling, and keep going strong for the day when we are together again.

All my love and kisses to you and Valerie.

Lawrence



 

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