With 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers on the north coast of Sicily
My Darling Olive,
At present, I am up at the Brigade School of Tactics in the somewhat curious position of pupil cum instructor. John Glennie, two others, and myself are here. When I came up on a visit the other night with Dennis Dunn, the Commandant, a very decent fellow named Jack White of the London Irish, told me I was down for the course but that it was ridiculous in view of my experience etc that I should be on a Platoon Commander Course. I said I was very ready to come, as there was no doubt a lot I could learn about conditions out here. He replied that he would use me as an instructor, so that excepting for mines in which I am an interested pupil, I am back at my old game of doing some more instructing. Of course, it is only very temporary until something else happens. Apparently I owe my reputation mainly to Lyness and McClinton, who when they heard I was coming said it was absurd that they should be instructing me as they had been my newly commissioned 2/Lieuts when I was a Company Commander and getting a ‘D’ at Barnard Castle. I was always very pleasant to them at Omagh and it shows how it pays, as many people might have been very pleased at the reversal of fortunes.
It is very pleasant up here and as there is a jolly crowd, we are having a cheerful time. At the moment, I am not very enthusiastic about the battalion mess. It is a queer thing how a certain atmosphere always pervades the 1st. We had a marvellous mess in the 30th and everyone who has been to the 6th say they are a most friendly crowd but war and the changes of faces appear to make little difference to the 1st. No doubt, I will become more settled later on. John Glennie was surprised at the coldness of the atmosphere – his short commissioned service had been spent with the 7/RUR, where everyone was very friendly. This place is mainly run by London Irishmen and they are first class fellows. We work respectable hours, as the afternoons are much too hot for anything strenuous.
We have some very pleasant swimming here, the sea continues to be lovely and warm, and my swimming is steadily improving. Last night, I did a comfortable 200 yards without any particular extension and my over arm stroke is very much better than before. Still, for all the swimming and everything else, it will be a day of great joy when I return to you and Valerie.
The fighting in Italy seems fairly severe but things should turn out alright (Allied armies landed in southern Italy on 3 September 1943). We have just had the news of the fall of Bryansk. The Russian push seems to be gaining in power every day, and undoubtedly, they have made remarkable progress when one realises their offensive was only launched two months ago.
Do you think you could send me a small dictionary? I have rather a particular reason for wanting it. I will be very glad to have news of you, sweetheart. I am always wondering how things are progressing and whether you have got settled down satisfactorily. Once they start coming, letters seem to arrive fairly regularly for people so send me an air mail letter every two or three days and tell me all the news. Keep cheerful as I know you will, and don’t worry more than you can help, and when you can let me have some up to date snaps of Valerie so I know how she is progressing. I expect she is a real problem now, full of energy and causing you plenty of trouble.
Use those cheques for as much as you require and if at anytime you are in urgent need of money let me know and I will get Lloyd’s to pay over some more that month.
All my love and kisses, my own dearest sweetest girl.