My Darling Olive,
The war news that we are getting nowadays seems extremely good and the success of the Russians has aroused much enthusiasm out here. The men are always enquiring how the Russians are progressing and I think they are hopeful that they will defeat the Germans without us having to do too much more fighting. Most of the officers are also pleased at the successes. It is only further away from the fighting line that one appears to get this bellicose talk about having to deal with the Russians after Germany is defeated.
Yesterday morning, we had a gruelling route march across country. I was with the CO the whole time and had to keep on checking up with the leading platoon to see that they were keeping in the right direction which, during the greater part of the time, they were not. I don’t think I have ever lost so much perspiration – all my clothes were wringing wet and my mouth was parched. The CO is very strict against drinking on the line of march and I was very glad to get back and have some water, the only drink available.
We have moved from our farm place and are living under very uncomfortable conditions, dirt and flies everywhere and very little water available. Nor have we the consolation of a bathe as formerly.
Yesterday we went to the local town. The CO drove me in – I had arranged to meet Dennis Dunn, John Glennie, Denis Haywood and Dicky Richards. Rather to my surprise, the CO stayed with me and asked my plans. So I told him who I was meeting and out of politeness asked if he would care to join us in a meal. To my surprise, he said he would be very pleased to do so, but unfortunately, when we met the others, we could not find a place to eat or drink as everywhere we tried was shut. The CO finally got rather tired and Dennis Dunn drove him back. We hunted on for a time but at last gave up in despair. I think they are very short of food here and the water shortage is acute – around every drinking tap are scores of civilians struggling for a drink. The shops open from about 8am to 11 and then perhaps from 5 to 6. The local people are not as friendly as in our former place – they tend to ignore us which is not surprising considering the sad fall of the Italian Empire. The town has some magnificent buildings mostly erected since the Fascist Regime but of course all for the Fascist officials and not for the ordinary people. I don’t think they regret the passing of the Fascist regime but would probably like their country to themselves.
I hope you are keeping well, darling, try and get about as much as you can. Remember, I am looking forward to seeing my dearest wife at her best when I return. I am very anxiously awaiting a certain piece of news but if it is not so, it cannot be helped and I will be just as keen to be with you and Valerie again.
P.S. Edward (Gibbon) is sitting opposite me and asked me to send his love to you.
All my love and kisses, darling