31st August 1944
To No3 Company
Thanks for the letter which I was very pleased to receive. Sorry to hear you felt a bit browned-off, but cheer up, honey, you’ll soon be dead! You know the old saying, don’t you? – “They can’t keep a good girl down.” Certainly a helluva job keeping you down – you’d bounce! (Ok! Ok!, I apologise!)
You asked for gen. about me and the call-up (or should it be the call-up and I?) so don’t blame me if part of this epistle is written in the good old egotistic style which some unkind people (no names, no pack drill!) have often stated I personify. Well, you’ve probably heard about this racket of transferring fellers from RAFVR to the army. That, star-of-my-darkness, is what I fear – in fact I’m scared as hell of the idea (Blimey, what vile grammar; but I’m sure you won’t be hypocritical enough to criticise. – A very smart crack, that!) Anyway I expect to go for another selection board, medical etc. any day now, and I shall then know my fate. However, I intend to fly, whether I’m kept in the R.A.F. or not, because if I have to go into the Army, it’s me for the Paratroops (if possible). Besides, Army call-up is 17 ½ for volunteers, so maybe I’ll get you a dead Jerry or Jap yet! I haven’t lost hope of the RAF though, because although personally I think it’s damned unfair, education counts a lot, and I have been lucky in the respect. I’m going to a special N.C.O’s course up at Cosford, in Staffordshire, on Sept. 30. for a week (special N.C.O.’s course – you oughta see this guy swanking!)
Well, I guess I’ve said enough about myself, so for now for a bit of County Hall gen. I definitely think Rene and Dave have got a crush on each other, in fact Rene as good as admits it, although “fer Gawd’s sake don’ let on I tolyer, she’ll knock me bleedin’ block orf, else!” Gladys left yesterday – she is going as a fitter in a factory, poor frill! Bill, of course, is incorrigible as ever, and Manning sticks just as much. Chris says something about an unanswered card! Mr Steele stills burbles about “jolly old British Empire, what!”, and old Bridges about the Lord! Bridges is cunning, though. In fact, you’d hardly credit it but sometimes he almost reforms me without my knowing it. So far, however, I’ve managed to avert this catastrophe, and slipped back into my old ways of drinkin’, smoking, swearin’ and general dissipation. I’m terribly scared though that one day I might catch myself saying “Excuse me, please, Douglas” instead of “Get out of the bl—dy way, Manning!” Barbara, should this tragedy ever occur, and I commit suicide with the shame of it, I leave my cigarette-case (+contents, if any), lighter, and P.N.B. badge to you!
You suggested I sent you one of my poems, so please find enclosed. It’s pretty lousy, I’m afraid, but I am sure you’ll understand that Apostle-in Chief Bridges face is not very much incentive to genius, and anyway it only took 15 minutes. I think its rather appropriate!
Write again soon, Barbs, and tell me all about yourself or better still come and let us gaze upon that exquisite figure and search enraptured, those azure depths! By the way, are your eyes blue?
P.S. Give my love to Onyx and keep a lot for yourself, of course.
P.P.S. When can I measure you for those socks, and can I interest you in any little woollen whatsits?
Bugle Rallies Bogle
She volunteered for the A.T.S.
She thought the A.T.S. was best,
But they made her wear a khaki vest
Gor blimey, what a shame!
She left the County hall one day
‘Midst tears and sighs she went away
But wearing khaki knicks ain’t hay!
Crikey, what a game!
And now, alas, she is away
To drive for her country (and her pay!)
I can almost hear the soldiers say
Gee, fellers! What a Dame!
7th September 1944
To No.3 Coy
Thanks for the letter which was waiting for me when I arrived home this evening.
Obeying the instructions in your letter, I meekly bowed my head (a rather aristocratic head, I think, although “I sez is as I shouldn’t”) and shuffled into a corner, tripping over the cat and Dad’s feet on the way. The cat squawked and Dad swore (Mother being out visiting!). I am now in the process of wiping away the tears and brushing off the sack-cloth and ashes!
You hadn’t told me “Texas” was in France but good luck to the guy, anyway! I can see you as an American yet! Are you really serious with the guy or is it just a passing “affaire d’amour” (sorry, spelt it wrong – “affaire de l’amour”)
I was glad to hear the barrack-room enjoyed my poetic effort. I think you’ve a helluva cheek (I’m trying to sound indignant, but it’s damned hard writing like that!) saying you’ve read better. Personally I think it ranks as high as Tennyson’s “Morte D’Arthur”, or even the British Army’s “Roll Me Over”!
Well, sweetheart, you appear to be progressing with the driving etc? I don’t suppose you know anything about aircraft engines, do you? They are the only type of engine that if am conversant with, I’m afraid.
On 17 Sept, that is, Battle of Britain Sunday we (ATC) are going, we hope!, on a long navigational flight from Croydon. I wish you could come and hold my hand – I wouldn’t need a parachute or “Mae West”!
Much as I hesitate to blaze my unforgivable ignorance abroad, I cannot tell you any version of “Blaze Away”. I seem to have a hazy recollection of the words in the back of my mind, and I think I probably heard it when under the influence of alcohol one night and anyone who can remember what happened when he was inebriated either has a better brain than me (which isn’t saying much, I admit) or is a ruddy liar! However, it is almost certain that one or other of the members of 450 ATC Squadron have heard it, and even if they haven’t, if I tell them a frill wants to know it, they’ll stop at nothing to get it! Ask your Cpl (if you are on speaking terms) if they have heard “Way Down In Texas” or “When I was a Servant” or “Bang-Away Lulu” or “Ring-a-rang-a-roo”. I daren’t write any of these, I haven’t the moral courage!
You talk about my “office romance” What the hell gives you that idea? Might I enquire who the other “party” may be? Please tell me, because if I’ve missed anything I want to make up for lost time!
Your description of the mannequin parade sounds damned good. I’d love to have seen you as “Salome” or better still, Lady Godiva! Still, who knows, if I am one of the army of occupation in Paris for say a couple or three years –oh boy! Oh boy! Oh BOY! I will hive me a whole ruddy harem of Lady Godivas and put ‘em in glass cases round the walls.
[JOKE:- Twelve Marines and one girl marooned on a desert island. After 50 days, girl couldn’t stand it – she died. After 100 days, Marines couldn’t stand it – they buried her!]
Well, old girl, there’s no more news at the moment so I will wish you “au revoir” and all the best in whatever you do. I might add, there will be trouble if you don’t get a commission. Come up to the office and see me sometime – I miss you a lot.
All my love
P.S. Sorry, no poem but my old brain’s a bit fagged because I’ve been twice almost knocked out this week, once in boxing, and once with the carriage door.
P.S. No ‘phone number, I’m sorry. Our ‘phones been gone four weeks now. That lousy idea was Dads!
P.P.S. Have just read this letter through and I’m awfully afraid it’s damned uninteresting. Please accept my apologies and this one excuse. My cousin and her tiny baby are staying with us. This bloody kid is the most lousy little brat I’ve ever set eyes on. I don’t even know whether its a he or she except by its name. I damn nearly put a nappie (is that how you spell it?) on this morning, instead of a shirt. D.
20th September 1944
Thanks for the letter. It was most entertaining, because not only was the substance of it interesting, but it amused me for several hours trying to make English out of your semi-Arabic hieroglyphics for which you chose to blame the lorry! However, I finally managed to get the gist of it, and, of course I was very pleased to hear from you, anyway!
You seem to be getting on O.K. with the driving. Attagirl!! After the war if you behave yourself I might hire you as my chauffeuse. Actually, of course, I prefer my employees to be more civilised, but I might consider stretching a point or so in your case (just for the sake of love!). Anyway, I’ll make a swap – a ride in your lorry for a flip in my ‘plane. Since a flight is more valuable than a drive you would have to supplement your side of the bargain with something to make up the discrepancy. I’m sure you could think of something I’d like!! I know damn well I can!
You have broken my heart, B – you first say your attachment to the U.S. Army is not serious and then you liken it to your attachment to me! How could you? I even go to bed at night and dream about you (OK I know I shouldn’t eat this utility cheese, but I always was addicted to nightmares, anyway). However, I will retire from the field in good order with a broken heart, doubtful mind and a clear conscience, wishing you all the best with your OCTV guy tomorrow. Is he English? You needn’t be good, darling, but for God’s sake be careful!
I had rather an amusing experience last Thursday night which I think may amuse you, too. I had been to ATC and had stayed on afterwards with two other fellows and an officer, playing table-tennis. Finally, when we came out it was about 11.15 and dark as hell. The officer cleared off in his car and we made our way up the lane from H.Q. Now between the wall and the edge of the lane there’s a grass verge some four of five feet wide, which, at the time, was dry and moderately clean. I’m telling you this just to give you the lay-out, so be patient! Well, we three made our way up the lane on this verge thus making no noise with our feet and we were talking in those low tones that one often affects, for some unaccountable reason, at might. Almost half way up the lane we heard queer noises coming from just in front, sounding sort of grunts and pants. Well, as I say, it was damn dark and also damn lonely, and we felt a bit nervous. However, we plucked up courage and cautiously moved forward. The noises got louder and we decided to try surprise tactics. I got out my lighter and we went still closer. Then, all of a sudden, I lit the lighter. By the grace of God it worked first time and the surrounding area was suddenly and quite brightly lit up. There, almost at our feet on the grass, was a soldier and a jane who were –well, shall I say they were making love in the most intimate manner possible. We were so goddam surprised we just stood there speechless. And then Reggie, one of the bloody fools with me, started giggling like a schoolgirl. That did it! Up got the soldier and ran like hell up the lane leaving us with the girl who was considerably “deshabille”. Well, honey, I am no saint but I felt pretty disgusted as the girl only looked about fifteen, so I told her so in goo old fashioned “basic” English. She gave us a long look, got up, arranged her clothes and then treated us to a long tirade of the filthiest language I’ve ever heard. And I have heard quite a bit in my time. Then she calmly turned round, and strolled off in the opposite direction to her former boy-friend!
Poor old Chris “had it “properly the other night. She was walking home by the “Elephant & Castle” with a girlfriend when they came upon a gang of yegs about my age. They walked through these and suddenly one of them stabbed Chris in the hand! I think she had to have about 5 stitches in it. However, it is doing o.k. now , I think!
Bertie had some rotten news on Wednesday. He heard from the Government that his son had been wounded, in Italy. However, he has since heard that he was in a lorry which was blown up by a shell or something but he was only badly shaken.
The song of which you quote the first four words is familiar to me, but not under the name “Blaze Away”. I know the words alright, but I am afraid I can’t write them, honey, I haven’t the moral courage. Anyway, I don’t think they are funny, but they have a good swing to them if you want to sing when in a march.
JOKE (not fit to be published). A soldier in hospital asked the nurse-
“What’s fresh in today, Nurse?”
“Oh, a couple of cases of V.D.”
“Thank God; it’ll be a change from Spam, anyway!”
END OF Joke.
We had a parade yesterday morning with the RAF to commemorate “Battle of Britain” Sunday, and in the afternoon we went flying from Croydon. I was in charge of my group in the plane and thus by taking a rather unfair advantage, got in the co-pilot’s seat, next to the pilot. We flew over London and down the Thames, I saw the County Hall and told the pilot I worked there. He asked if I’d like to go down a bit lower and have a look. I said yes so down we dived. It was wizard and I think you would have enjoyed it.
Well, sweetheart, I must close now so I’ll say cheerio!
All my love
P.S. I should think you jolly well will come and see us if you get leave. I want to see if you still use “half baked sausage meat” lipstick!!!
P.P.S. Love to Onyx