Irish Brigade

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

20th March 1944


20.3.44

My Dearest Olive,

I expect you were pleased to get my last letter and to know I have been promoted again. I had written the letter and sealed it and left it lying on the table while I went to the CO’s orders as I had a man for an interview. When I came in, the CO said, ‘Have you got any whisky, Lawrie’?  I looked somewhat surprised, as it seemed a somewhat unusual time to broach the subject of drinks and replied, ’Yes, I think so, Sir, would you like to come along for a drink’, and still rather mystified as he usually popped in without needing an invitation. He replied, ‘Do you think I deserve a drink if I give you a crown’, so then it began to dawn on me. One of the pleasanter moments of one’s life.  He went on to say, ‘I have spoken to the Brigadier about your promotion and he thoroughly approves, as he thinks very highly of you’, and added with a grin, ‘Of course I have no idea why’. He then said ‘Same conditions as before, Lawrie, if any of the tired, overworked ‘Faugh’ Majors from the Depot, answer you know what it is’.  However both he and I are of the opinion that the Brigadier will not be particularly enthusiastic about such individuals. It certainly looks as if the Brigadier does not go greatly by seniority, because I have got my Majority before Neville Chance who was commissioned in 1935 and has been a Major in the 6th. Well it is nice to know that one has got the backing of the Brigadier as well, because I know his predecessor did not think that non-regulars like myself should command Companies when there are regulars about.

I received two letters from you dated 9/3 and 11/3, a very important day in our lives, and as we both decided to write on those days. I am glad to know my credits are amounting and duly reaching a substantial sum. I cannot quite remember what I said in my second letter to Lloyd’s, but I have written again telling them to pay you £30 per month as from April 1st with an extra £10 that month. If you need any more at any time, let me know but we will try and save as much as we can possibly can. It will be needed after the war.

The CO had a long private talk with me about ‘B’ Coy. He said it hurts him to think that the Company he once commanded and has been such a good Company is now the worst in the battalion. I think he talked to me about it because he knows how attached I have always been to ‘B’ Coy and although I am now a great ‘C’ Coy man and very proud of my new Company, still I have a very soft spot for my old Company.  I was talking with some of the NCOs and men of ‘B’ Coy on St. Patrick’s Day and they were saying, ‘Why did you have to go from us, Sir, surely Major Collis would have gone to ‘C’ and you stayed with us?  You have been in action with us and we all know you’.  It was not easy to explain to them why I went.  In their minds, the logical thing was for me to stay and Collis go and it seemed the logical idea to me. Actually, I think it was ‘touch and go’, and the CO took a couple of days to make up his mind but I think his idea was that as Collis had just taken over a Company and had been involved in all that extra work, it was rather unfair to ask him to start taking over another Coy, while I was very friendly with Dicky Richards and Douglas and already knew some people in ‘C’. At that time, certain discords had not become apparent to the outside world.  Sgt. Taylor, who I knew well at Ballykinler and who just arrived with the Coy at the beginning of Feb, told me that the lads always refer to me as ‘Franky’ which he said was a great compliment. They always say ‘Franky did this’ or ‘We did this under Franky’, or ‘If Franky was here, we would be doing such and such’. According to him, I established a high reputation with them for coolness in action and he said they would go anywhere for me.  It seemed a pity to leave such a good crowd, but my new Company and I seem to hit it off very well and, of course, a lot of the men knew me already and one’s reputation for good or evil does tend to travel around the Bttn. 

The CO and I were watching ‘C’ Coy v HQ at football this afternoon and he said, ‘Would not Fellowes make a good L/Cpl? He looks as if he had twice the intelligence of the average L/Cpl in the Bttn.’ I think he would do very well but would not like to lose him and he is most emphatic that he will not leave me. 

Look after yourself, darling, I always have you and Valerie in my mind and love you both very dearly. 

All my love and kisses to you both.

Lawrence



 

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