Tuesday 14th September 1943

With 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers on the north coast of Sicily

My Darling Olive.

Nothing very special has happened since my last letter a couple of days ago. Day after day continues to be extremely hot here – the sun shines fiercely all day long from a cloudless blue sky. Sounds very nice on paper, but it is very tiring when one is doing strenuous training. It would be more pleasant but for the flies.

The other night, Dennis Dunn and I visited the Brigade Training School and met several old friends. Lyness and McClinton, who were at the ITC late last year and came out with Denis Hayward, are both there as instructors. They are contemporaries of Purcell and Yates and I had liked them both. McClinton, who is with the ‘Skins’, has done particularly well and won the MC. Another was Seymour who used to be in Arthur Davies’s Company. You would probably remember him if you saw him.

I dearly wish I could have some news of you. This wait for letters is appalling and I am always wondering what has happened to you since I left and whether you are now fixed up satisfactorily. Once the first letter arrives, they should start coming fairly regularly. The first letter I receive from you will probably be the air mail direct to this address. The letters sent to the draft number will probably take a further time to pick me up. I hope you are receiving mine alright and if you are not staying at Hampstead, they are being forwarded on to you quickly.

As I mentioned in my last letter, I hope to save £10 per month. May not always be able to quite manage that figure but will have a good attempt. By those means and with the hoped for gratuity we should have something behind us when the war ends. My own expenditure is very small and if they don’t start too many fancy ideas in the Mess here I should be alright. It is extraordinary that the moment the battalion has a lull in the fighting, they start trying to return to peace time standards. It has just been decided to have a Guest Night once a week, incredible as that may sound, and strict rules are laid down that no one must depart before the last guest leaves.  Of course, how long they will be able to continue having guest nights remains to be seen. Most of the officers are definitely opposed to these Guest Nights but the minority rules. The CO (Lt-Col Butler) is away at present so I have not yet met him.

The news comes through in spasms but the Germans appear to be putting up a fierce resistance in Italy. The Russian situation looks very hopeful as they continue to push on steadily and arouse great enthusiasm amongst the men here if not to quite the same extent amongst the officers. I think there can only be one result now to the war but the Germans may manage a good deal more damage. Are the RAF still raiding Germany heavily?  We don’t hear much of this now. The local population don’t appear to worry much. Their main occupation of pressing the grapes into wine continues – they usually do it with their feet and, as they are walking around barefooted all day long, it would seem as if a good deal of dirt was mixed with the wine.

I hope you will occasionally write to Mother, darling, and give her first hand news of Valerie as I am unable to do that now. I miss you both very much and cherish many delightful memories of our happy times together. I am very glad we had that time at Mourne Park and that last week at Saltfleet.  Valerie must be turning into a real little girl now.

All my love and kisses to you both, dearest one.

Your devoted husband


Read the letter dated 16 September 1943


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