12th May 1944

My Dearest Olive,

Received a letter dated May 3 from you and then a few minutes ago another one dated May 1 duly arrived. Jerry apparently still has not changed a great deal. Her politics are all right but her experience is very limited and very narrow. I smiled when I read how you stood up to her over the British Army. I had no doubt that would touch you on a sore point. And quite right you are too, as our lads have put up a magnificent show and will continue to do so. I wish some of the people could come here and see the fine spirit that prevails in this battalion.

Naturally, no one is particularly thirsting to fight – when you have been in a few battles, you do not go out of your way to seek more but there is a good steady spirit, morale is high and we will tackle whatever job comes along in best spirit ready to do our utmost. We know what a bloody business war is and have no illusions about it but at the same time we face the immediate future with quiet confidence. You know when it all boils down, one is fighting for very simple things, I thought the CO expressed it extraordinarily well when speaking to the battalion this morning. He said there was a lot of talk about “this and that” and that there are lots of problems and questions to face after the war but we would deal with them when they came and in the meantime what he was fighting for was to return to his wife before he was so old and fat that she would run away with another man.

Of course, this raised a great laugh but everyone agreed with the sentiments. Well, I don’t anticipate my wife will run away with another man but I think I am really fighting for you and Valerie, to sit down in our own house to feel that you are near to me again, to talk to you about all the things we have been through here, to see Valerie grow up and enjoying her, to take Sadi and Sylvia for long ambling strolls, to watch a cricket match at Lords, to have nice cups of tea and plenty of cakes at tea time.

I suppose I will want other things afterwards but it is what I feel I want at the moment. We have had some fine times together – life has not always been easy but I have been more than lucky in having a wife who has stood by me so well and I am tremendously proud of you, my darling. You have meant an enormous lot to me and although there are times when I regret I have not shown it, I can assure you that sitting out here writing this, I more than fully realise it. The good times will come again but, in the meantime, don’t worry more than you can help. I am more than glad that you have our darling daughter – her daddy longs for the day he will see her again.

In times like this, it is interesting to see how men react. There is not much time for a sentimental attitude towards people especially those holding responsible jobs. The test is not of friendship but of reliability. I have two officers commanding platoons (Pat Howard is away for a few days) and Frank commands the other platoon. The more I see of him here, the greater I admire him, not the big brother sentiment of Ballykinler days but as man to man, someone who I admire for his steadiness and coolness and who I feel I can absolutely rely upon. He loves Betty tremendously and has only two days of married life, so has been through it all, seen other NCO.s go off on the grounds of bad nerves yet has continued quietly and consistently,



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