Irish Brigade

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

Faugh a Ballagh        Nec Aspera Terrent         Quis Separabit


18th March 1944

18.3.44

My Dearest Olive,

Received two letters from you dated 8/3. 9/3. I am glad you have some decent neighbours: it makes a big difference. The house appears to be rather a nuisance regarding leakages etc but perhaps the warmer weather will make a big difference. I am looking forward to having some more photos of Valerie and am glad you have sent some to Mother. I agree with what you say but it is no good bearing grudges and both Mother and Helen have been writing a lot of late. I do feel certain that if anything happened to me, you would find they would do everything possible for you and Valerie.

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day which was duly celebrated. There was the usual church parade in the morning with all our officers as per custom attending the RC parade. Afterwards the Brigadier presented shamrock to the field officers – they only managed to get hold of that amount but subsequently we got sufficient for each officer. The pipes and drums of these regiments combined to give a very good performance and, afterwards, there was a 7 a side 15 minutes each way soccer knock out competition which I regret to say was not won by ‘C’ Coy.  After having won the Inter Company League in brilliant style a few weeks earlier and providing 6 out of the 11 in the battalion team of which Fellowes is one of the stars, we crashed out sensationally in the 1st round yesterday. A good dinner was provided, with the CO coming round and he said to me afterwards, ‘You always seem to provide a fine show, Lawrie. I have just come from ‘A’ Coy and they are pigging it’. In the afternoon the RASC band, recently arrived from England, provided some good entertainment and, in the evening, we had a party for the Officers, and a fairly sober one on this occasion for certain reasons.  At dinner, I made a speech to my Company saying how well I thought they had done recently and I was proud to command such a fine crowd of fellows and I had the utmost confidence regarding leading them in action and got a very uproarious reception from them at the end.

The position regarding Majors in the battalion is becoming peculiar. The establishment is five Majors – the 2 i/c and four Company Commanders and they should be rifle Coy Cmdrs. At present, apart from the 2 i/c, we have three:  Jimmy Clarke and Collis, ‘D’ and ‘B’ and McNally ‘S’, which means that one rifle Coy Cmdr will have to be a Captain. The ‘S’ Coy Cmdr is sometimes a Major, especially if he is of long service and a good fighting record and McNally deserved it from that point of view.  So there is one vacancy which is between Neville Chance commanding ‘A’ and myself. The general consensus of opinion seems to be that ‘C’ is much better than ‘A’, but of course Chance is very much senior to me, having being commissioned in about 1936.  I get on very well with him, and he is quite an amusing chap. Nothing very startling from the military standpoint but a pleasant helpful fellow and he seems to like me. I want the Majority for the pay, for your sake as much as anything. As regards your allowance, I cannot quite remember what I wrote to Lloyd’s the second time. The first time, I told them to pay you £30 month as soon as my Major’s pay was credited. I think I had better write again and for them to pay you £25 per month and, at the same time, I must find out how much I am in credit – it should be reasonably substantial. I will have to send it by airgraph as I am getting very short of airmails, as we only get one a week. It has just been increased to three a fortnight but the issue is rather erratic so don’t get alarmed if there is a gap in the letters. I will send a few airgraphs if its supply is very low and sometimes they are fairly quick.

I seem to have established quite a niche for myself in the battalion. Whenever I go into the Bttn HQ officers’ Mess, there are cries from the CO downwards of, ‘Here’s old Lawrie, sit down and have a drink, etc.’  The CO often appears suddenly in my Mess and says ‘I have just come round for a chat, Lawrie’, and much the same from the 2 i/c. I have become a very great 1st Bttn man and would loathe and hate to go anywhere else. (Brigadier) Pat Scott had a long talk with me the other day, walking up and down a road for about half an hour.  He said I must have been very glad to leave Omagh – his opinion of the ITC is very low, and he kept on hitting me on the chest to explain his points and expressed himself very forcibly on some of the methods of running things there.

Look after yourself, most precious of wives. I cannot say how much I love you and long for your presence, I am very proud of you and will never be disappointed.

All my love and kisses to you and Valerie

Lawrence

* Just after writing this letter, the CO told me I was a Major again. He said he had spoken to the Brigadier and the B thinks very highly of me. He added with a grin, ‘of course I have no idea why’.  Well, I am pleased and I know you will be as well, darling.



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