My Dearest Olive,
Two enlargements of the photos taken at Saltfleet arrived. I did not like the one in which I am holding Valerie in my arms, as she appears to be squinting into the sun. The other one is always a great favourite of mine, excepting I wish she was looking up at me. I am eagerly awaiting the latest photos as I am anxious to see what change there is in her.
Recently, the Germans launched an attack on the position held by my Company. At 3am, the Hun launched his attack, opening up fire on our position. We replied with very heavy fire on them, trying to make a right flanking movement which they met with further fire and beat a quick retreat. Our fire was well controlled, the men remained very cool and collected and the position had been well sited so we did not sustain one single casualty. I think the actual plan of the Hun had been to raid our positions and try and capture some prisoners as he had done with some success on another battalion (2 LIR) a few days before. However he got a deal more than he bargained for. Altogether, a highly satisfactory show for the Company.
I don’t know what is going to happen in the battalion. I don’t think I told you about (Major) Dawson. As you know he arrived just before Xmas. At the New Year, we moved to new positions and the weather was very bad, with heavy snow falls. After a couple of days, Dawson…had to go to hospital. Now Dawson is back and as McNally has just returned from his wounds, we are one Major over establishment and as the junior Major it looks as if I will have to come down. I will be absolutely furious at having to come down….
You may say why does not the CO do something but the trouble is the Brigadier. Being a ‘Faugh’ he takes a keen interest in the battalion, which is a good thing until he starts interfering with domestic arrangements. As a Regular of many years service, he likes to see Regulars in key positions and has stated that the others are fine soldiers in action, etc but not really up to being Company Commanders all the time.
Two regular Captains, one commissioned in 1932, and the other in 1937 have recently arrived and undoubtedly the Brigadier wants to see them as OC of companies. Neither has soon one spot of action since the war commenced! The CO is a Territorial, and he is not of this Regiment although he has served a lot with us and we regard him as a ‘Faugh’. He has had a rapid rise – nine months ago he was commanding ‘B’ Coy so he is in rather a difficult situation regarding putting his foot down. I know he likes me very much, but if the Brigadier makes up his mind what can he do. I took over this Company with no officers, with 1 Sergeant, 2 Corporals and 5 L/Cpls and about 50 men and have completed it to strength.
There is a fine spirit in the Company, their successful repulse of the attack shows that. I know that despite my quick temper and sharp tongue, they like me very much, and my sayings are repeated round the Company and the Sergeant Major told me the other day that an NCO said a ‘reading out’ by the Major was a grim business but he ‘talked straight’ and never ‘bore a grudge’ afterwards. Sorry to write like this, darling, but knowing how I put my heart into things when I am really interested, I think you will understand.
I am feeling very fit, could do with some more sleep, but everyone is in the same boat over that.
Wish I could see you and Valerie again – it would be glorious.
All my love and kisses, darling