Irish Brigade

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

22nd October 1943


22.10.43

My Dearest Olive,

Received an airgraph from you dated 1st October. All the letters sent to North Africa have still not arrived – the system seems to break down badly in this respect. As you have not mentioned it in any letters I have received, I presume our hopes in a certain direction have not been fulfilled. I was a little disappointed but it cannot be helped – in any case, you have your hands well filled with Valerie and I will have to hurry up and finish the war and get back to you. If I am right in my surmise, I suggest you try and mate the dogs at an early opportunity – assuming, of course, you get settled down and you think there is a reasonable chance of selling them, which I am fairly confident there will be. I would like to keep Jill’s line going and I feel certain there will be a very big boom in them after the war is over. One occasionally runs across an Alsatian out here and they are very greatly admired by the troops. There will be plenty of people wanting to acquire a dog after the war so we want to start Sadi and Sylva before it is too late and in order that we may have a couple of good young bitches at the end of war. You really ought to register them, you know, as we have rather neglected that. Let me know what you think about it, but I am certain we would do well financially (eventually) on them.

Dicky Richards has been awarded the MM for gallant services as a sergeant in North Africa. His company commander Denis Haywood gave him a pleasant little dinner in honour of the occasion last night to which I was duly invited. It may sound peculiar to be having dinners quite close to the enemy but we try and get a little pleasure and a change when we can. Dicky is a first class fellow and a real Londoner whom I hope we will keep up with after the war.

I think you will be receiving a letter from John Glennie about the time you get this. We thought it would be a happy idea if I wrote to his mother which I have duly done, and he wrote to you. I don’t know what he is saying although I confess to a curiosity but I shall be glad if you will write him an early air mail reply and call him ‘John’. I know I have written a lot about him but he has been a grand friend and I think you have the imagination to realise the need for friendship out here. Life would indeed be miserable without it and John and I, thrown together by circumstances, have achieved a very deep friendship and understanding. He has kept me happy and cheerful and therefore extremely ambitious to go further and I have managed, with a fairly loose rein, to guide him past some pitfalls. He got into some rather bad books a little time ago through supposedly being too familiar with his platoon and being too casual in his manner. Through my own experience, I was able to help him and, as I was IO at the time, I was able to very gently drop a few words to the CO and I am quite certain the CO thinks very well of him now. I think you would like his Ulsterism and high spirits and liveliness, but at the same time he has a touch of shyness and small boy aspects that make him very endearing. He is a splendid platoon commander – very forceful and resolute.

I am afraid that I am very much stricter out here. One cannot afford to be weak – orders have to be given under the most critical conditions and must receive instant obedience. Mistakes cost lives here and cannot be tolerated. There is many a tale, I will tell you after it is all over, which illustrates my meaning more clearly.

Well, despite everything, we have our laughs and keep our spirits up. I would dearly like to be with you and Valerie again but I am philosophical about it all and keep quite happy. Now I have settled down, I like the battalion a whole lot and am very proud of our wonderful record. The “Faughs” are an absolute byword out here, if we are not too well known at home. I have been amazed at the tremendous reputation here. The tank unit (Canadian Three Rivers Regiment) which co-operated with us in our last attack (at Termoli) told us we were the finest infantry battalion they have ever met. They talk about Scottish regiments at home but you can tell them that none of them have anything like the reputation of the ‘Faughs’ who has never been beaten yet.

All my love and kisses, darling girl to you both.

Your devoted husband

Lawrence



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