Irish Brigade

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

8th May 1944


8.5.44

My Dearest Olive,

Yesterday, I received a letter from you dated 29/4 and today there was one dated 1/5, very quick timing. Fancy Jerry turning up on you like that, amazing girl to come all that distance to Nottingham without a word of warning.  Still, it will be good company for you and I expect she is much easier to get on with than formerly. Valerie seems in great form, and I am very glad she is a friendly sociable child – amusing about how she gets you up in the mornings. I imagine she wants to get up quite early.  I also got letters from Pat Vaile and two from Mother – she will be glad to receive your letters and is very interested to hear about Valerie. I can only give her second hand news. Interesting to know Myrtle had met Edward (Gibbon). I am not surprised that he was not anxious to talk, as his experiences in the battalion were far from happy… the trouble is that so many regulars are like that. I have seen several cases so far. Incidentally one (Nic) Jefferies was killed last April 12 months ago and there may have been another killed in Leros, as I believe there was one with that battalion.

 

I have been meaning to tell you for several letters that on 23/4, I became a temporary Major instead of acting which means I am a War Substantive Captain and cannot be reduced below that rank. I was very pleased when the date duly arrived, so my title in Army language as Captain T/(Major whereas before it was Lieut, T/Capt, A/Major.

 

The weather has become very much hotter and I am getting brown again. We are wearing KD shirts and shorts except for training when we wear KD shirts and denims.  We have had quite a strenuous period of training getting up about 5.30 every morning and often not getting back until 7 in the evening.  They have all been very big exercises and although I have learnt some useful tips and got still more practise in handling a Company, I cannot say they have been very popular. After a strenuous spell “in the line”, most people were somewhat annoyed to find themselves engaged in vigorous training – no one more so than the .O.  Alright at home but not so good out here. We have an all night exercise tonight and after that we are hoping for a break – as far as the CO is concerned I know we will get it. One rather tends to live from day to day because we never know what the future holds and when we will be at it again.

 

Douglas is back from leave looking very fit. Don’t of course, when you write to him, give the slightest hint of what I said in my last letter. It is not as if he was bad, far from it – under fire, he is very cool indeed but he just seems to lack that ability to unbend and is rather too fond of his own comfort.

 

You will be interested to know that another officer is getting “the sack”. He is being sent back to England, it is being done in the pleasant way by saying he has been abroad too long (6 years) and that he deserves a break at home. The irony, of course, is that he does not want to go home and he knows perfectly well why he is being sent. Here again is something in the nature of a tragedy, a man madly keen on his profession and very capable from the theoretical standpoint but utterly incapable of handling men. I have no doubt he would be very brave in action and I give him full credit for feeling a bitter regret that he was not at Leros. He had been with the 2nd so long that like many others, he tried to get out and while he had a staff job, the Bttn moved to Leros. He is just the type that feels he has a mission to avenge his comrades and that, I am certain, is one of reasons why he has driven “B” so hard.

 

Curiously enough, in some ways, I cannot help but like him but he has absolutely ruined a good Company. Magginis told me that as a young officer he had nothing but his Army pay and while others went to gay parties etc he stayed in and studied. Actually he will probably do very well on the staff as he is a detail and planning man but I hope to heaven he never gets command of men. He was told about the return recently and is obviously feeling very bitter and upset over it. I have never met anyone who could produce such an unfortunately unpleasant manner.

 

I wish I could see you and Valerie again, darling. It seems a long time since we parted but I hope it will not be too long before we are together again.

 

All my love and kisses to you and Valerie.

Lawrence



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