Irish Brigade

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

4th March 1944


4.3.44

My Dearest Olive,

The air mail service appears to have been delayed as no one has had an airmail letter from home for about a week. I expect several will arrive at once and I will be very glad indeed to hear from you again. I have had a surface mail letter from Mother written last August hence it is rather out of date. Also, an airgraph from her written early last month in answer to a letter of mine written shortly after the Sangro battle. Helen’s marriage seems a great success and she is very happy, and Tapley is somewhere in the tropics but not I gather in any very dangerous position.

The weather here continues to be very wet, and a good deal of rain each day but the temperature is quite mild. We are not too badly off in our farm house, excepting it’s rather crowded and at night time we only have two hurricane lamps so that reading or writing is rather difficult. I managed to find a large farm building for my Company so that although they are somewhat crowded, they are very much better off than being out in the open in tiny tents on very wet ground and in the evenings we are able to have tombola quizzes, etc. It is a very happy Company, morale is high and the men work extremely well and it is of course very pleasant for me to have my two best friends in the battalion, Dicky Richards and Douglas (Room) in the Company as well. We all work very smoothly together.  I had to lose one of the South African Officers (Manson) to ‘B’ Coy but the other, Howard, is an excellent chap, and very keen. He certainly has a good grip on his platoon and their standard is very high. I brought my runner, Jarvis, across with me. You may remember me telling you what a good, plucky lad he is and he has settled down very well.

I had a letter from Denis (Haywood) about a month ago, in which he said he was returning to the battalion but he has not yet arrived and Dicky and I are wondering if he has gone elsewhere. I would be very pleased to see him personally, but otherwise would rather view his return with mixed feelings as I don’t quite know whether I would have to step down for him. A few months ago, I would not have minded but now I would have no confidence in him.. When he commanded the joint B-C attack that fateful December day (I was commanding ‘A’ at the time)…it was due to the great bravery and personal example of Dicky that the attack was a success. Denis told me about it himself and admitted quite frankly to me that he was in a bad way. I felt terribly sorry for him especially when he said he felt like leaving the ribbon off his chest and I was very glad he got the job in N. Africa which now unfortunately has fallen through. …I have no fear of myself in any future action, and I know my own personal pride will enable me to set a good example and my only fear is making some mistake that might prove costly to the Company but I feel my experience will now render that less likely.

Tomorrow is Barossa Day, which will bring back some pleasant memories of the past few years. The football match between Officers and Sgts at Ballykinler in 1941. This will be my fourth in the ‘Faughs’. As we are fortunate enough to be able to spend it out of the line, we are trying to make the best of conditions and it should not be too bad, however. More of what happens in my next letter.

Since writing the above, a small amount of mail arrived but, no letter from you darling. I am getting quite anxious but perhaps the northern mail will come tomorrow. I got a letter from Jim Lawrence who has apparently been ‘called up’. It must have come as a bit of shock for them, as he had been 3 days in the Army when he wrote. I expect he will very possibly be passed into some other branch of the Army when he has left the Primary Training Centre. I gather Jerry, who is expecting a baby in July may go and stay with you. I think it is a good idea, after all they have turned out better friends than many other people.

Look after yourself, precious. I hope you and Valerie are quite well. By the time you get this letter Valerie will be two. I wish I could be with you both for the occasion but perhaps I will be before her third birthday.

All my love and kisses to you both.

Lawrence



 

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