11th March 1944

My Dearest Olive,

I would certainly like to be at home with you today sharing in Valerie’s second birthday.

I expect she is now able to realise the significance of the day and is having quite a good time. I hope she has got a few presents and that the doll I sent her will not be too long in coming. I think she will quite like it when the box arrives. I will be interested to hear her reactions.

During the last two days, each Company in turn has carried out quite a strenuous ‘Company in Attack’ organised by the CO. ‘A’ Coy did it first and did fairly well, ‘B’ Coy followed and put up an appalling show. I did not see it but everyone there said it was extremely bad, and the CO was furious and said that 80% of the Coy would have been casualties. Apparently, Collis cursed and swore at his Coy all the way, and when one of his platoon commanders approached him, he said ‘What are you doing here …… off, blast you’. Somewhat naturally the Coy did not react very well to such treatment. McNally told me it will be some time before he lives down such a performance.

That is the man to whom I sacrificed my Company and crown. All over the battalion ‘B’ is known as a very unhappy Coy, and one can sense it in the mess. ‘C’ Coy did it the following morning and to my delight put up a splendid show. The CO was unable to be present but the Second in Command (Major Holmes) congratulated me and then afterwards on what he termed ‘a really fine performance, full of enthusiasm and good skilful work. ‘D’ Coy, as was only to be expected under Jimmy Clarke, did extremely well and the 2 i/c later in the day said there was nothing to choose between ‘C’ and ‘D’. They were head and shoulders above ‘A’ and ‘B’. I was very pleased because I am anxious to hang onto the job and I think there is a very good chance of so doing. Everything that the CO or 2 i/c have seen the Coy do since I took over has been done well, so things are moving along satisfactorily.

We are a great Company for entertainment at night, tombolas, whist drives, inter-platoon quiz competitions etc, so that altogether the atmosphere is a very happy one. I have a few the old ‘F’ Coy in the Coy, no one that you would know with the exception of Sgt Payne.

Dicky Richards has gone on a course so I am just left with two officers, Douglas and Pat Howard but we are a very happy trio and get along well together extremely well and both are most helpful.  My Sergeant Major is a Welshman from Pontypridd by the name of Morton, the first non-regular CSM I have met. He has done very well for himself and is an excellent chap but I still think Leonard of the 30th was the best CSM I have ever had with Tom running him a close second.  My CQM. is another non-regular who has done very well. One consolation out here is that a Company Commander has not got all the awful responsibility for kit and equipment that he has at home.

The Russians seem to be keeping up a steady pressure and gradually pushing the Germans back. Our raids on Berlin and Germany, in general, appear to be most heavy and getting fierce and more effective. Berlin must be a nasty mess, and how infuriating it is reading about people at home protesting about the bombing. They don’t think of the lives of our men that it is saving. It really makes us all mad, because these people see nothing wrong in letting the unfortunate infantrymen go into face German machine guns, mortar, mines etc but squeals because we are trying to shorten the war by less wasteful methods.  I wish they could come and sit in a slit trench out here for a time, then they would soon be only too keen to end the war by any possible means.

The papers you are sending are now arriving very regularly and I have had a really good supply of them recently.

I hope you are quite well, darling, and are managing to have some enjoyment. Look after yourself, most precious of wives and remember I love you both very dearly.

All my love to you and Valerie.

Your devoted husband



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