From Torino di Sangro
My Dearest Olive,
Received your airmail dated 14/11. I am sorry there was a gap after my first one from hospital but the reason, of course, was that I had no more airmails and had to wait some days for another one. Valerie certainly is a real character. I was very amused about her tickling Eileen, and I wish I could see the imp and her mother again.
I received a letter from Mrs Glennie. It was written on 10/11 and to me made very sad reading, because at the time of writing she had not heard of John’s death, although my letter to his sister must be arriving at anytime then as it was sent at the same time as I wrote to you. Her letter was written in answer to my equivalent to the one John wrote to you. She says, ‘It is a real comfort to me to know he has a friend such as you….. I am more than grateful for your brotherly affection and help to him. I feel he is so young to have to face all the horrors of war and so innocent …. God grant you will both be spared to come safely through and remain together to the end … Please God nothing will happen to either of you… It must have been a great wrench for you to part from your wife and little daughter and I am glad Gordon was able to help make times a little more bearable for you’.
You can guess I did not feel over happy on reading the letter. They are an ordinary decent lower middle class people who sacrificed themselves so that their children might have a better education than they had had, as John told me they spent money they could ill afford to send him to one of the best public schools in N.Ireland and their reward is his death at the age of 20. As she herself says, she is but one of many but I do feel terribly sorry for them – they were so obviously devoted to him. Of course, he was not as innocent as she thought but some Mothers will think that and he did have a very clear, decent mind. I hope you will, if you have not already done so, write to her. I feel that they will like to keep our friendship. I hope you have kept his letter to you, you have never mentioned what he said but it is something I would like to read one day.
I understand your feelings regarding Germany and Austria but cannot completely agree. I still feel it is not the ordinary German to blame, as they slid into it in the same way as so many of our own people did. I am still certain the ordinary decent German citizen wanted no more than anyone else. No indeed, you must go far deeper than that. You know the people I blame for it all and hate a hundred times more than the unfortunate German soldier who fires a gun at me simply because he has no alternative. Those are the people I will fight against, if I live through this struggle. We have got to win the war now and that is why every huge raid on Berlin, for example, serves a useful purpose despite the misery it causes, but I hope there will come a day of reckoning. John’s death has altered my outlook in many ways, I sympathise far more deeply now than I could have done before with your Uncle Harry and Aunt Lily in their desire that Kenneth should be out of the fighting. How terrible for her, in particular, if anything happened to him?
My ‘desert’ sores seem to be healing – the MO’s treatment is quite good. You remember the two Intelligence Corp men, Pollock & Naylor who came to tea one day at Omagh. I met Naylor, the young one, yesterday. He is a L/Cpl in the Field Security, and he came running across to speak to me yesterday and I had quite a talk with him. Pollock is also out here.
Your letters have just arrived from you, one dated 15/8, the other 15/9 also an airgraph from George Barnett dated 11/11. You certainly had a trying time in getting from Saltfleet to Nottingham. Thank goodness all that is over and you are reasonably settled. How are finances? Let me know how much you have cashed the third cheque for, in order that I can have some idea of my bank balance. It should be steadily improving now as I still have drawn no more than £4/10-. As far as possible, I would like you to manage on the £20 because it means a nice little balance is mounting, which apart from anything else will be very useful to you, if anything happens to me but if you want extra money for anything, let me know and I will instruct Lloyds by airmail to pay it to your account.
All my love and kisses, dear precious wife, I am always thinking of you.
Your devoted husband