Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday 14 January 1945, Earls Colne

My darling Margaret,
                                  I have just left the telephone on which I heard your sweet voice, have walked a few hundred yards across the park to the Hall (there really is a Hall) and am now writing this in our comfortable office. The wireless has just uttered the good news of the latest Russian successes and has now relapsed into chamber music. Probably you are listening to the same programme - that is if the family are sufficiently quiescent to permit it. Though I'd much prefer to be regarding you by our own fireside ... I feel the present circumstances are a great deal better than those of recent years when I was cut off by space and time. It is very comforting indeed to talk to you for a few minutes.

                      The weather has been much kindlier for the last two days. Our muscles are beginning to unwrap them selves and it is possible to sit either in our hut or in the mess without being conscious of the meanest wind that blows. I am doing regular spells of duty now. There is very little to do: in fact we of the Africa Korps are convinced that these home keeping youths have little idea what work means. One advantage here is that there are no women in our department. The boss is a F/Lt who was rather reserved till he found out what attitude was going to be taken up by three ex-acting Fl/Lts of wide experience. However, when he found us philosophical and in no way inclined to resent his acting rank, he opened out and has proved quite a pleasant and friendly cove. It is perfectly clear to me that my acting rank can only be recovered by going overseas and I'm certainly not going to seek it in that way. All the F/Lt post at home are quite properly filled by those who are medically unfit for overseas service.

                      One of the men who came here with me has already been posted - the melancholy Welshman whom I spoke of in my last letter. He has gone to a station nearer his home. The remaining three of us new arrivals are still surplus to requirements but there is no word of our going yet. The boss here has already made it clear to his superiors that we can't go overseas for a long time, since we have just been repatriated. this representation may not do any good but it can't harm us in any way. One thing is certain - I got a temporary reprieve when I left Chigwell, because most people there were on their way.

                     I'm still wallowing in Bleak House. It's a colossal book and I think very badly written. I find the heavy irony very monotonous and am going to finish the tome only to find out what possible connection all these unpleasant people can have with each other. Esther is however rather a surprise and seemed to me to have a touch of Thackeray about her - a kind of female Esmond.

                     The sergeant who is on duty with me has just made a cup of tea so I'll need to stop. In another half hour I'll be in my prosaic bed ...

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