R.A.F. Officers' Mess
Note firstly the variation in the address. We have been told to use the simpler form omitting "Earls Colne".
Your comforting letter arrived two days ago. The enclosed which must have tried your curiosity severely was simply a Christmas postal order from Albert. [Not a person - the name of the Glasgow school in which DF had taught English before joining up] This I am returning to you as it will complete the payment of the book which M. Meikle has promised to get for us.
For several days past we have been floundering in deep snow but today a wild rainy wind is dissolving the whole landscape in glaur and glabber. I've been here a week now and the weather has been continuously grim but I'm beginning to see that in milder conditions the countryside could be attractive. It is undulating parkland with some fine old trees and astonishingly rural to be so near London (in a direct line, though not by railway time). After what you said last Sunday I had a look at the map and found that Ipswich would be accessible from this place. The snag is that we have a fairly long walk before we can contact a bus going either to Colchester (which is on the Ipswich line) or to the London train. In the present weather the idea of walking anywhere is completely repugnant but if I'm here to enjoy finer weather and longer daylight I may attempt a little travelling. But at present we are almost completely isolated.
I said I might phone every Sunday evening but I find now that it will not always be possible. For one thing I am sometimes on duty then and again, I believe there is sometimes a three hours' delay in calls to Scotland from here. However I'll try to make it Saturday or Sunday but if I don't phone at all you'll know it is because I can't get through.
I have not given Lloyd's Bank my new address so please forward any letters from them.
I have made several pleasant acquaintances here. One is a man who was at Torquay with me and went overseas on the same boat. He however has been home for over a year because of peritonitis. Two of the men in the hut live near London so they are always running up and down to see their families. The fourth occupant is a rather melancholy Welshman who pines daily for his release from the RAF and generally makes himself miserable. He only becomes human after three or four whiskies. On the whole, social life in a home station seems to be rather tame and stereotyped compared to our Roman nights abroad. No shots in the night: no boon companions tearing round the camp at three in the morning. Just a quiet evening in the mess and to bed at ten o'clock.
I am glad school wasn't too unpleasant for you to go back to but I'm still looking forward to the time when you leave it for good and I take your place in the profession*. Thanks for the assurance that you will cook fine dinners for me then. I still remember fragrantly the steak and kidney pie which used to add additional blessedness to Friday evenings.
And now I must shave before going to lunch. Give my regards to the family and thank your pa for re-addressing the church magazine. I hope he will not cease writing to me because I have left the overseas brigade. Take care of yourself, avoid colds, eat halibut oil capsules and generally prepare yourself for [the next leave] ...
*Before the war, women in teaching had to give up their jobs when they married. This changed when the male teachers were called up.