Friday, January 21, 2011

Tuesday 9 January, 1945, Earls Colne

My sweetheart,
                         Your letter has not yet arrived: I don't suppose that in this outlandish spot I can reasonably expect it before tomorrow evening. However I'll send off this letter without waiting for yours.

                         It is still most stringently cold here. Last night we had a heavy fall of snow; today the temperature is very low with alternating showers of snow and glimpses of anaemic sunlight. I seem to be getting used to the cold however and we have learned how to make the stove in our billet burn most of the night so that getting up in the morning is no longer completely petrifying as Jean [his youngest sister-in-law] would say. I am rejoicing in the hirsute warmth of the heavy underwear I have been carrying around for so long, and am using my new scarf constantly.

                           It was lovely to hear your voice on Sunday night even though the line was not too good. I suppose that in such bad weather I was lucky to get through at all. It is a week today since I left you and I am beginning to settle down again to the silly futile routine of the services. It's a good thing that a little work, a little drink and a little stereotyped Service conversation can help to distract me from the heartache of leaving home again. I've been getting to know a few folks, principally other Africa starred veterans. We stand round the stove at night bewailing our lost acting ranks and reviling everyone who has been lucky enough to stay at home.

                         Yesterday morning two of us walked to the nearest village - a place called Coggeshall, nearly 3 miles away. It is a nice little place with some beamed gable ends and old red roofs sagging with age. It has a plenitude of pubs with all the usual picturesque names and signs but yesterday our refreshment was a cup of tea and two buns at the local baker's. It would be quite pleasant to stroll down there on a summer evening for a pint of "old and bitter", but at present the landscape is so parched by icy winds that walking is not really pleasant.

                         I don't know yet if I am staying here. There certainly doesn't seem work for us all. I don't bother to speculate on the future. There's a fairly good library and really excellent food so I can satisfy mind and body without any trouble. Meanwhile the news from France is better and Monty seems to have done a good job recently as he has frankly confessed.

I'll write again as soon as I get your letter. If I get this little note away tonight, it may reach you on Thursday when you come home from school. Meanwhile cheerio ...

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