5th May 1944

My Dearest Olive,

Received your letter dated 27/4 – very amusing about Valerie and the little daughter of your friend. I suppose Valerie could not understand how anyone could be lazy enough to crawl when they might walk. I am glad you have another friend – she sounds quite a nice girl and it would be very useful for you at night times if you have someone who can occasionally look after Valerie. I have often felt it was a tremendous tie for you and I want you to be able to sometimes get out and about in the evenings.

We have been doing quite a lot of strenuous training over the last few days. Yesterday, I had the honour of commanding the battalion on a whole day exercise on a big scale. The CO was away on leave and the 2 i/c rather sprung it on me the previous night. A slightly awkward situation arose because Collis is, of course, years senior to me but the 2 i/c said he preferred Collis to command his Company and he wanted me to have the experience of handling a battalion. Collis did not like it at all and maintained a very sullen attitude through the day.

It was a big job for me because it was a particularly complicated exercise but it seemed to go off quite well. “C” Coy were rather tickled about their Coy Commander as CO and put up a very good show and Neville Chance worked very hard with bags of energy. In the discussion afterwards, I praised rather highly the efforts of his Company. He is a very decent fellow and I feel he deserves a crown far more than Collis. Well, darling perhaps one day in the future you will see me as a CO. It is a big step forward and very few make it but one can never tell and I am going to do my best.

Today “C” put on a demonstration for the battalion. I gave the running commentary and it went off extremely well. The CO, just back from leave, said afterwards that he had seen this demonstration given at battalion schools etc on many occasions but never done so well as today and as they had had very little opportunity to practise, it was a highly satisfactory performance. A couple of days ago in a tank exercise, the 2 i/c told me that the performance of my men was “notably good” and that same day he told me that at the Arms inspection of the battalion the report was that “C” Coy’s weapons were very much superior to any other Coy. So that is not surprising that the reputation of the Company stands extremely high at the moment. It is regarded as a really crack company and I think I can say without boasting that my stature in the battalion is definitely high.

I have become quite a personality in the battalion – curious how I have always managed to be successful in the Army. I wish I could translate that success to civilian life. Certainly “C” is a lucky Company for me, and everything I do seems to turn out successfully (touch wood). One thing I have often noticed is that when I am unhappy or bored in my work I tend to become very introspective and of course the reverse applies when I am happy in what I am doing.  Naturally, the danger aspect which so often accompanies us is very unpleasant and I do miss you and Valerie tremendously, sweetheart, but I suppose I am as happy as one can expect to be under such conditions and it certainly is a much better tonic for the Company than if I went round with a long gloomy face.

Douglas is away on leave. I am not completely satisfied with him as an officer – he has a markedly lazy streak and rather presumes on my friendship by interfering in matters that do not concern him. This is probably due to his long spell at Brigade but he certainly does irritate the CSM with justification when he butts in when the CSM is consulting me. Also, he does not look after his platoon as much as I would like – he finds it very difficult to unbend….  Pat Howard is very strict with his platoon on parade but very friendly with them otherwise with the result that he has an absolutely first class platoon and is very popular with them. He, Plymen, John Glennie and Dicky (when he was a platoon commander) are the best I have met here. I am afraid this letter has been taken up with Army matters but there is nothing else to write about and I know you are interested.

All my love and kisses, most precious of wives to you and Valerie.


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