Tuesday 9th November 1943

With 1 RIrF near the River Trigno

My Dearest Olive,

I was very glad to receive your letter of 23/10 – also the letter containing three letters from mother and the photos. It is a pity Valerie was not looking up but nevertheless I think it is a very good photo and Denis (Haywood) remarked on how she is growing up. He commented on how fair her hair is.  I look at the photo of Helen and I thought, ‘Now who is that. I know that face, but I cannot put a name to it’, and it was not until I turned it over that I realised it was Helen. She seems to have changed a lot. I did not care for the photo much, too exotic looking but still I don’t suppose it is a true picture of her. I was very amused at the story about Valerie and the cat and her demanding lifts from Mr Bennington and as I read it, I thought ‘I must tell John this, it will amuse him’ and, like a douche of cold water, came the realisation there is now no Johnny to tell.

I am sorry finances have not worked out too well but presumably they are improving. Do you mean to say that Jenny did not even pay rent for that period? What damned audacity, whatever reason did she give?  If you have her address I should like you to forward it to me and I will send her a letter she will not forget in a hurry. It will not produce the money but, at least, it will let her know my exact opinion of her behaviour.

How much rent are you paying at the Benningtons? I am very keen on trying to save as much as we can, because it will be most useful when I return and it is the one consolation for being away from you to think that at least some money is accumulating. Besides, if anything happens to me it will mean you will have a certain reserve at your disposal. I have still spent only £4/10- since I left home which, in three months, you must admit is not too bad. I have written to Lloyd’s asking them to send me a statement every quarter.

Denis Haywood

I am disappointed over the papers, as I was really looking forward to them. Surely, it is possible to get them for people serving in fighting areas. Ask the next newsagent: ‘What the devil I am being shot at by Germans for, if I cannot, at least, get the papers I want to read?”. I was always able to buy the ‘New Statesman’ and ‘Tribune’ on railway bookstalls so surely it is possible to purchase them somewhere. I should think the head offices of the papers would forward them if, say, a quarterly subscription was paid. It does not seem much to ask – life is boring enough as it is, hanging around half the time with nothing to read and I badly feel the need of something to keep me up to date with what is going on in the world. The news we receive is very erratic although with the great news of Kiev and the rapid advance beyond it, has a very pleasant ring at the moment. Sometimes, we go for several days without news. Listening to the news from Italy and hearing different places mentioned, I suppose you often wonder if I have been to such and such a place. I cannot, of course, tell you at present but one day I hope I will be able to give you a fuller account.

My wounds are slowly healing up – the bit of shrapnel in the chest is working its way out. The arm still tends to be a little painful but is improving, although it was rather swollen last night. However, the MO says there is nothing to worry about but these things take time to heal completely. Denis Haywood came down to see me this morning: he has taken over command of the HQ Coy which is rather a step down. Apparently, morale was very low in his company and of course the Company Commander has to take it at the top. He will probably lose his Majority but is taking it philosophically, realising he is rather in need of a rest and this job is a fairly good change.

Some mail just arrived and I looked at it hopefully but there was nothing for me. Write as often as you can, darling. Are you getting my letters regularly, I am writing every couple of days?  How is my dearest little daughter – don’t let her forget her Dad. I am feeling rather depressed today, I have kept remarkably cheerful out here, but I suppose this is the reaction to recent events.

Look after yourself, dear heart, I wish I was with you again. All my love and kisses.

Your devoted husband,


Read letter dated 12 November 1943

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