4th November 1943 (2)

 From 1 RIrF near the River Trigno bridgehead

My Dearest Olive,

Lawrie and Olive in December 1939.

I have just arrived back with the battalion. They wanted to evacuate me further back at the hospital but I protested most strongly and told the doctor I was far better back doing something other than just lying in bed thinking my thoughts, which were far from cheerful. He agreed that under the circumstances to let me return provided I took matters quietly, stopping the night at “B” Echelon with Maginnis. My wounds have virtually healed; they will now close of their own accord. Everyone here thinks I am a bit crazy but I know my own condition and mind best. Apparently people are not usually in such a hurry to return. The stay at the hospital did me some good, especially the sleep which was more than welcome. On the second afternoon, the sister said to me “you will not be able to sleep at night time if you go on sleeping like this during the day”, so I said, “You just watch me, Sister, and you will be surprised how much I can sleep”, and I think I was as good as my word. I certainly needed it.

As you may have guessed from my previous letter, the battalion took a very bad knock in the recent battle The CO was killed – he was a magnificent leader and I thought very highly of him and I think he liked me. Several others were killed but none that you would know, while the losses among the men were very heavy, although there again I don’t think you would know any of them. Hartshorn evacuated me back in his carrier and looked after me very well. It was the blackest day for the “Faughs” in this war and one of the worse of all times.

I have just been going through poor Johnny’s kit, a sad job indeed. I am sending you in an ordinary letter his photograph.  He did not like this particular one much –  he said it made him look too much like a “tailor’s dummy”, but although it fails to show the gaiety and brightness of his face, at the same time it does give you some idea of what he was like. I think I must have always had a presentiment that he would die. When I asked him for the photo, he said, “Oh I will let you have a better one than that, Frank. I am having some sent out to me “. But I refused to wait, saying that in the meantime I would have this one. I suppose that was another reason why. I put so much into our friendship – I gave him all I had got and at least I had the satisfaction of knowing that he appreciated it and my name was continually on his lips as he lay dying.  He once said to me, “I have lot of the woman in me, Frank,” and when I smilingly replied that I knew he had, he hastily said, “I hope you do not think I am effeminate” to which I laughed and said, “I’m the last person in the world to answer to that” which was true for no one was more hardy and strong with such powers of leadership.

He reached the semi-final of the welter weight of the British Army Championship earlier this year after having won the welter weight of the Western Command. But what he did mean was that he was very discerning but seldom gave expression to it and I supplemented It by saying that he liked to be loved,  love warmed him as it warms a woman (agreed darling?) and he confessed that what I said was true. Would you write to his mother, dearest, (Mrs S Glennie, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh). You write such a good letter and you can say how he wrote to you and how much I appreciated his friendship. I want them to feel we will always be their friends. There is a sister, Muriel, 22, George 14, and Hugh 10.

How are you dearest girl?  I am eagerly hoping for some letters when I reach the company. I am dying for news of my darling wife and dear little daughter. I want some letters from you to cheer me up and I want to know all that you have been doing. As far as I can judge from the sparse news, you have done splendidly, but there are many details I am hoping will be filled in. Have you heard from the Vailes?  I have written to Pat several times.

All my love precious wife, I wish you were with me tonight.


Read letter dated 6 November 1943


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