4th March 1945
To 3 Coy
I must apologise for not having answered your letter before, but as you will see by the above I have been shifted. You know what it is like when you are shifted from one place to another. Anyway, here is the letter which I am afraid is long overdue. I trust, my sweet, you will forgive me!
I was sorry to hear that your leave wasn’t so hot, but better luck next time.
The cracks about being a member of the L.C.C. permanent staff (you now come smartly to attention and salute?) were not appreciated. Honestly Barbs, can you really see me sitting at a blasted desk all my life. Not “Pygmalion” likely! The reason I took the exam was (1) to satisfy my parents (2) to get my money made up, and (3) because jobs are going to be scarce after this little frazzle and I don’t intend to trust the Government! So you see, Cherie, maybe you’ll be wrong about the corporation and bald head!
Well, ducks, (I remember how you like that amorous expression a la Cockney!) I am at Norwich and not at the Isle of Wight. We do ten weeks ordinary infantry training here and then start the real stuff i.e. parachuting, which latter will probably take place near Manchester. We have been issued with a cap-badge – a parachute between two wings and the shoulder flashes inscribed “Parachute Regiment”, so I don’t feel so naked now! Soon, I hope, we get the red berets.
Norwich is a nice town (about 10 mins. walk from barracks) and we get quite a bit of spare time except when we are on manoeuvres, so I think I am going to like it here. I don’t know whether you have heard of these NAAFI Clubs, but there is one in Norwich, reputed to be the best in all England. It is a wonderful place, exactly like a very high class hotel. There is dancing every night and usually some sort of concert or entertainment. In fact, I am a very happy little boy now, the only thing that mars it is that I can’t see you sometimes.
After my ten weeks here, I get 10 days leave. Are you getting any around that time. If so, for Pete’s sakes, let me know because I’d love to spend an evening in town with you. It seems a hell of a long time since we looked at the lights shining on the river from the embankment one very winding evening in November. Remember?
If I get through paratroop training OK I shall probably be ready to drop on Tokio or some place like that, by round about next August or September, so I should think that I shall be able to see something of you in six months, otherwise, I’ve had it!
Anyway, Barbara, please write soon as I really long for your letters. The best part of your last letter was the P.S. which was not (repeat not) tripe. Thanks, sweetheart, I hope you meant it.
I’m afraid I must close now, so cheerio, take care of yourself and don’t drive too fast (see what I mean!!!)
All my love
P.S. I shall have some photos done when I get my maroon beret. Please let me know if you would like one.
P.P.S. Don’t forget, I am high up on the list for one of you, please.
To 3 Coy
I have just got back from one of the famous Army’s schemes’ which has lasted several days, so I have only just received your letter and the cigarettes. We are off in ½ hour on night ops. So this will be just a note. I will write a long letter on Sunday. Anyway, thanks a lot, Barbs, it was sweet of you to send the cigs., they were badly needed. I am still enjoying life and am now almost a soldier. Anyway I’ll tell you all about that on Sunday, when I will have the time to write.
So long, sweetheart, thanks again.
All my love
P.S. Please note new name of my platoon. The rest of the address is as before.
Bruneval Airborne Platoon
To 3 Coy
You have probably received by now the short note I wrote the other day explaining why I had not answered your letter before. In it I promised you a long letter, so here goes. Therefore sit down, sweetheart, (taking care, of course, to pull your skirt coyly down below knee level!) light an American Free Issue cigarette and start reading!
You said in your letter that it was the little things that take all the time. Believe me, honey, I know what you mean; so don’t worry about not writing too often because I realise you are having to work damned hard. Just a line now and then if it’s only to say you are OK will do me fine. I shall try and write as often as possible but I am having a pretty tough time at the moment. As I said in my last letter, most of last week we were out on a scheme and, in all marched about 250 miles which is one hell of a lot. It was during this peaceful little jaunt into the Norfolk countryside that I annoyed the sergeant in no small measure. In fact, Cherie, he was ruddy peeved. You see, we were practising chucking grenades and were flinging dummy Mills bombs around. Well, yours truly flung his dummy, but instead of hitting the target, a wooden post, the damn thing hit the sergeant. Since I am a somewhat modest little soldier, I won’t enlarge upon the exact location of the affected part of his anatomy, but will merely say had it been someone not quite so tough as the sergeant, it would have completely ruined his married life! Of course, I apologised, but believe it or not, he actually swore at me and said I did it on purpose. As though I would dream of hurting him, sweet little b….!!! However, these things are sent to try us, so I merely treated his ravings with a frigid contempt, and then damn it, if he didn’t have the nerve to shove me on fatigues for “dumb insolence”! It wasn’t so much the fatigues I minded, but as you know, Barbara, I am of a sensitive, gentle nature, and the rank injustice of it cut me to the quick!!! As a punishment, I have decided if he features in any of my future poems, it will be as the villain of the piece.
However, despite trying little incidents such as the one above, I still manage to get a big kick out of Army life (here “kick” can be used either literally or metaphorically) and am longing for the great day when we drop on Germany or Japan. They are pushing us pretty quickly through our training so I think I can still hope to see some action. We don’t do so much drill now, but instead we do a hell of a lot of assault courses and battle training. This is very interesting and it is great fun, although at times it is somewhat hazardous. Still, we all like it and I don’t think one of the boys regrets volunteering for the “paras”.
Well, that’s enough about me, now let’s turn to a much more attractive subject, viz. you sweetheart. You appear to be having a very enjoyable time with the Yankee boys and I am afraid I am positively green with jealousy. However, since I have been in the Army I have met a lot of Yankee boys and I have completely changed my opinion of them. I think they are a great bunch and they are doing their full share of the work. So, Barbs, your actions meet with my full approval (that must be a relief to you???) Nevertheless, I wish I could see you sometimes if only for a few minutes, because I often think about you. I get 10 days leave starting about the 10th or 12th of May so if you can get any leave around then maybe I could see you. I am afraid if you can’t make it then I probably shan’t see you again before we go into action because, as I said before, they are pushing us through quickly as they say they need us for assault troops on Japan.
About that photograph, Barbs, I do definitely still want one, please. We have now been issued with red-berets and parachute regiment flashes so I am going to have some taken of myself. When they are ready, I’ll send you one, if you like.
Well, I don’t think there is any more to impart now, Barbs, except thanks again for the cigarettes. As I was down to my last Woodbine they came in very handy. Having read the epistle you may now get up and go and wash your smalls or whatever it is young females do!
So long, darling, and if I don’t see you for a pretty long time (God forbid), take care of yourself.
All my love
P.S. You might be interested in the new name of my platoon. They have decided that all airborne platoons here should be named after some battle honour of the paratroops. As you probably remember, Bruneval was the scene of the very first action ever fought by the ‘paras’. It was a radio-location station situated, I think, near Dieppe, and the ‘paras’ dropped one night and wrecked the place. It was a wonderful but of work, and you can guess we are pretty proud of the name.