15th January 1944

My Dearest Olive,

Had another good mailing last night, including two letters from you dated 2/1 and 4/1, and one from Mother, Ted, Muriel Glennie and Freda. I am very relieved that Valerie is almost recovered, as it must have been worrying for you, darling. She certainly sounds areal handful but very endearing. I am glad she can recognize her “Daddy”. It is sad to be missing all the lovely little episodes of her early childhood, but we will just have to hope that will not be for too long. What part of Nottingham are you living in?  I cannot place it at all.

Mother sent an airgraph written, just before Xmas with no special news. Muriel wrote her usual weekly letter and said she had written to you and was hoping to hear from you soon. I am very glad you have replied to her letter. Freda’s letter had been written in September, and she thought Mary had treated you very badly.

The situation is much the same here. My Company is in very good spirits. The two South African Officers, Phelan and Plymen are both great acquisitions. Phelan is a big powerful man about my own age, a former famous Rugger player and seems very keen. Edward (Gibbon) is, I am afraid, taking his reversion very badly. It is extremely bad luck after the way in which he worked, but it is not very satisfactory having him sulking around the place and saying he cannot arouse interest in a platoon.  I have had to rap him rather sharply a couple of times…I always have my boots well cleaned no matter what conditions prevail and my trousers well creased, much better actually than at home.

Had a spot of excitement the other night. I was out with my runner visiting a platoon post and we heard sounds of movement coming towards us. Suddenly the movement ceased. I challenged twice and got no reply and then after a few minutes, the movement started in the other direction.  I took three men from a nearby platoon and with my runner, we started to try and cut them off.

The hills south of Castel di Sangro.

What a chase! Periodically we thought we had them, then there would be silence and then movement some little distance away. It was very dark which made it most difficult to spot movement: finally they must have made a complete break, because we could not hear them at all. I think they got into low ground and got away by those means. It seems obvious that it was a German Patrol that had become unusually venturesome.

I thoroughly enjoyed the chase and my runner, a great little chap, enjoyed it equally well: he is only 19 but has already done very well in action and according to the Sergeant Major is very attached to me. The CSM jokingly said to him the other day, “You know Jarvis, you only carry the Tommy Gun to hand over to the Major if there is any trouble” and Jarvis replied, “I will kill all the Jerries for the Major”, another time he told the CSM he would not leave the Major in action, even if ordered too. That ought to be some consolation for you.

The weather has improved considerably and it is quite pleasant now, the snow is steadily melting.  Jimmy Clarke and I have got quite friendly with the local doctor and his wife and some other Italians and it helps to make a break. The Russian advance seems highly satisfactory: a lot of these Italians are very fearful of the Russians and have expressed hope Britain and America will save Europe!

I hope your cold is better, precious, look after yourself. All my love and kisses to you and Valerie.

Your devoted husband


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