Saturday, September 3, 2011

Capt. D.R. Stewart, 390Coy. R.A.S.C., Paiforce*, 3 Sept.45

A letter from Margaret Findlay's younger brother, stationed in Persia

My dear Margaret,
                            I was so pleased to get your letter of the 25th yesterday. I think it's the longest letter I've ever had from you; thank you very much for it.

                           What I liked most about the letter was the news that you're keeping so well, and that the doctor is satisfied with you. In a month or so I'll be looking most anxiously for the first communiqué. Please look after yourself, Margaret. I'm sure the rest of the family will be keeping a very strict eye on you to see you don't do anything you didn't oughter.

                          I hope my Beirut purchases will arrive safely. I sent them off on Thursday in two small packages. I registered them to ensure safe passage, and so couldn't put duty free labels on them. I hope you won't have to pay much, if any, duty. I wonder if the sandal things I sent have arrived. Would you like a wee white Persian cap? They're what a lot of the men wear perched on top of their heads, and are quite amusing.

                       You all seem to have enjoyed your holiday at Bearsden. It must have been a very nice break for you, especially with the weather being so kind to you. I suppose Roy went just about mad with so much open space about him. How fat is he now? I suppose he's enormous.

                      It is a blow about the release continuing to be so slow even after the victory over Japan. Is your Socialist government not going to do something about it? If only they'd reduce overseas service it wouldn't be so bad; I'm just longing to see you all again. Do you remember the first night I was home on embarkation leave in Apr. 42 and you asked me if it was emb. leave, and I had to admit it?

                      No, I'm not a very good swimmer yet. I'm still convinced I'm not buoyant enough! I could do about 100 yds. in the sea at Beirut, and then it was weakness of the limbs through lack of use fo the necessary muscles that made me give up. Out of my depth all the time, but don't tell Ma! I make sure I'm convoyed. I can do a few strokes on my back, but can't float. Gwyn [his girlfriend, a nurse, later his wife] tried to teach me to do the crawl in the river here, but I was a very difficult pupil and it became too hot for swimming before I got any distance with my lessons. This long para. was initiated by your remarks about Brodick [village on Arran where the family holidayed] in '39. It was a wonderful holiday, wasn't it? I don't think I ever enjoyed one as well. It was a good job Dan had his compass on Ben Nuis that day.

                   It's ages since I wrote to Ene and Jean [his other sisters]. Will you tell them I'll write any day now? As this is my 3rd letter to 155 this afternoon/evening I'd only repeat myself if I wrote now. Please give my regards to Dan; I hope his rheumatics aren't giving him too much trouble.

With much love,

*"Paiforce" is explained here. David Stewart was Margaret Findlay's younger brother, and this letter was in the same box as the letters from Daniel Findlay. It gives the interest of another slant on the aftermath of the war and the frustrations of the demobilisation process.

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