From Torino di Sangro
(1 RIrF spent 22-26 November in Torino di Sangro waiting for the weather improve before the attack on German positions north of the River Sangro could take place)
My Dearest Olive,
Received your letter dated 11/11, another delightful letter. In it you say, ‘This is first time since our marriage that I am totally unable to help you and I feel it very much’. Darling, how utterly wrong you were – your last two letters have helped me enormously and I am deeply grateful. It has been marvellous to feel you understand so well and I humbly apologize if some of my letters in the last couple of weeks have appeared rather off hand. I know you will understand and forgive me. It has been a time of great mental stress but at least I feel much happier in the last few days. It is indeed good to have a wife who knows and understands me so well and is just the same in the rain as in sunshine.
As regards John’s appearance, he had very fair hair, blue eyes, was about 1 inch smaller than me. I cannot speak much about any habit of rolling cigarettes because he used to smoke most of mine but I remember on one occasion when the three of us were completely without cigarettes, Dennis Dunn produced some tobacco and Johnny proceeded to skilfully roll some cigarettes. You might tell me what it is all about. Does Sally think she knows John or did he give you some clue in his letter that makes you think you had seen him? In any case, you ought to be receiving the photos of him I sent very shortly. I wrote to Muriel Glennie at the same time I wrote to you so it is quite possible the letter reached her before the War Office telegram. Places a big responsibility on the poor girl, but she asked that I should write if anything happened and from John’s account she seems very sensible so I presume she will find a way of breaking the sad news gently.
I have had two letters from Pat Vaile, one dated Aug 26 and the other Sept 6th. Very bright cheerful letters they were and I was most pleased to read them. She is a fine girl. Have you heard at all from Philly or seen anything of him?
Remember when I was telling you about Edward in a recent letter. …I decided I would have a talk with him and today we managed to get a short walk together. He said he would like to leave the battalion and that I was the only real friend he had here. A remark I felt far beyond my desserts, as wrapped up alive and dead in Johnny I had taken very little interest in him. However, we had a very good talk and he was able to un-bottle quite a good deal which is not easy with him and at the end he said, “You are a real friend Lawrie, I’m terribly grateful”, so I suppose I have managed to do some good….Probably a change for him would be the best thing….So once again, I revert to having someone to lean upon me, my sturdy ‘rock’ has departed.
My ‘desert sores’ are on the whole getting a little better although I am still having some little trouble and discomfort. The MO’s treating me for them and making a good job of it. I have had a bit of a cold during the past few days but it is a little better today. Funny to think that at this time last year, I was engaged in a violent Battle Course at Barnard Castle. I was not enjoying it particularly but at least I had the thought of returning to you shortly.
We don’t get much news from home but the Russian campaigns appear to still be going very well although the Germans seem to be stiffening in the south. Still, they must make a fight sometime.
Reading of what Valerie is doing is always a great source of pleasure and delight. She certainly is a grand child. Send some photos when you can, although I know the weather is bad now.
All my love and kisses, precious