With 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers on the north coast of Sicily
My Dearest Olive,
As you can see from the above address, (1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Fusiliers, CMF) I have duly arrived with the 1st Bttn (see here for reference to Franklyn-Vaile’s arrival in the 1 The Royal Irish Fusiliers’ war diaries). I have written a long letter from the Rest Camp which describes, in some detail, what has happened. After leaving North Africa, we travelled by boat to a port in Sicily from where we went to a rest camp and spent four days living under lemon trees in a vineyard. The heat was considerable but not quite as trying as in N. Africa and the nights were rather more pleasant. The RUR officers were all posted to a battalion of the Inniskillings, much to the disgust of Aubrey and McConnell. Glennie and I rather wondered where we would finish up, but to our pleasure we have been posted to the 1st Bttn. We had a two day journey by road and passed through many towns which have had a terrible amount of damage. In some towns, there is scarcely a house still standing. The local population are amazingly friendly under the circumstances. At each town they came out and waved and cheered and, curiously enough, the more the damage the friendlier the inhabitants. The children, some of which are very pretty, all gave the ‘V’ sign. The Irish Brigade put up a magnificent show receiving special congratulations from Montgomery and the ‘Faughs’ bore the brunt of the campaign. Incidentally, we are part of the 78th Division and in the Eighth Army but to relieve your anxiety, we have not gone in action yet and may not for some time.
The battalion is very much changed and I know very few officers. Denis (Haywood) is wounded but not as badly as first supposed and may be back in a short time. Howard Brown has returned to England according to reports here. Edward Gibbon is here but I have not seen him as yet. He is suffering from malaria. Douglas Room is with Brigade HQ. ‘Pixie’ Brown is here and I have had a long talk with him. He arrived out here early in April. He seemed very cheerful and asked after you. I am posted to ‘D’ Coy as second in command, but don’t suppose I will get a Captaincy until some further action occurs. Practically all the Captains are junior in service to me, but if I had come out at the beginning, I might not be alive so there is that way of looking at it.
Although I have only been here a few hours a lot of the men have come and spoken to me and said how pleased they are to see me. Quite a number asked after you – one man telling me how the last time he saw you, he had a long talk with you in Lisburn. I have not seen any of the runners yet but I hear they are all here, except Jones who is wounded and Porter who is temporarily back in Africa.
When you write, send to the above address. Send me an air mail in return and there is a reasonable chance of my getting it fairly quickly. Now I have a fairly permanent address, I should at last start receiving some letters. Will you notify Pat Vaile and Ted Porter of my new address, as otherwise, letters will continue to take ages to arrive? I am longing to hear from you, darling, and miss you terribly. It will be wonderful when we are together again. I hope everything is going alright with you.
All my love and kisses to you and Valerie.
Your adoring husband