My Dearest Olive,
The long awaited letter arrived with “Major” on the envelope. I must admit I rather looked forward to it. Actually, three came dated 6/1, 8/1, 10/1 and were very welcome. I thought you would be rather pleased over the promotion, and I only hope it stays. It is a nice feeling and does give one a very definite “status”.
I am very glad Valerie is much better, and I hope the winter has not been too severe. What kind of garden have you got? You implied that it was rather small, so can you sit out comfortably in it? I suppose exercising Sadi and Silva is rather a problem: how they must miss the walks in Ireland. It certainly was a wonderful country for them.
I had a letter from Muriel Glennie. She says she was delighted to hear from you and would very much like to correspond with you, but wonders if you would be too busy to write sometimes to her. She tells me she was very friendly with the Jacksons and used to often visit them at Susan’s flat. A small world! I think it highly possible you would recognize her if you saw her. I also got a letter from Alan and Molly: Roger also seems to be in the mischievous stage.
I don’t know what to say about your excursions into the realms of spiritualism. You know how sceptical I have always been on that subject. I always felt at the best it was some form of mind reading, but I don’t recall telling you that John had fair hair and blue eyes. I may have mentioned that he called me “Frank” and I did tell you how he was wounded and how he died. On the other hand, even if there was some form of telepathy you would hardly be thinking of me as “Frank”. Yet if such things are possible it would be very typical of him. He was unemotional but I think very fondly of me. Did I ever tell you that he lay dying and I was in some distress, he suddenly opened his eyes and said quite plainly, “Don’t cry Frank” and then signing to me to bend down he whispered, “I love you very dearly, you know Frank”. I believe in that moment, he must have known he was dying. It was not like him to express his feelings much and to bandy around the word “love”. Poor Johnny. I have often thought I just needed to have him here with me to make this a truly marvellous company and how he would have supported me too.
A Polish officer has been visiting us and will go back with the impression that the “Faughs” Coy Commanders are a very “Bolshy” lot. First, Jimmy Clarke had a violent argument with him at “D” Coy and then when he came to “B” Coy, I had a long discussion with him on the Russian question. He quite frankly admitted that they regarded Russia as a bigger enemy than Germany and actually said that the Russians were not really defeating the Germans but that the Germans were withdrawing of their own accord and would soon hit back. He brought up the old story of the killed Polish Officers and a few other “hardy annuals”. He did have the sense to admit that the boundary question did rest between Britain, America and Russia and that Poland would have very little say.
We have just had news of a landing north of Rome and are eagerly awaiting further news. A lot of Italians around here have been arrested for suspicious behaviour – we caught one man examining our night positions early in the morning and some hours later the place was heavily shelled. I would not mind shooting a few out of hand.
All my love and kisses, precious wife, to you and Valerie.
Your devoted husband