27th September 1945
Barbs my darling,
Thanks for the letter, honey-child. Apparently your other mail has gone astray, because I certainly haven’t received it yet. About the cigs. – thanks a lot for the offer. Actually, at times we can get them moderately OK over here and then a couple of days later, they are as rare and precious as radium. When I come home on leave I am going to smoke myself dry and eat a lot of decent grub, because the food here just stinks (literally as well as metaphorically). It is cooked by ATS and several of the boys have made quite illuminating suggestions as to where it derives its unique flavour. I’ll leave you to guess what these suggestions were!!
I was very pleased to hear you get a 36 each weekend now, because that means I shall definitely be able to see you when I come back on leave. We leave Ireland on Friday week, and I hope to be on leave in a fortnight’s time. Sixteen days is what we are hoping for and then – who knows. There is a good chance of us going to Palestine, but we’ll know that definitely later. I hope so, because I’m going to be bloody browned –off (excuse the language, please, but I am already sunk to the depths of depravity) if I have done all this training for nothing.
About these female natives, young lady, around here they are Yankee-ised, and I am English, so I don’t fraternize a great deal. And as to what the khaki hides on the ATS, I wouldn’t know, but I am full of hopes for the future. I am of a rather explorative mind, you know!!!.
By the way have you heard the old saying by Confucius – “Man has more hair on head that woman, but on whole woman has more hair”. And I wouldn’t know about that, either, so don’t get the wrong idea about me.
Well, darling, I must close now and get ready for night ops. (these are official night ops., so don’t jump to conclusions).
Goodnight, Barbs God Bless
All my love
19th October 1945
17 Para. Batt.
My Dearest Barbara
It was wonderful receiving your letter, my own darling, it made me very happy. You see, I love you so much, you are always in my thoughts and when I receive a letter from you it is as though Spring has suddenly burst through the drab blanket of winter and my heart rings with pure joy. At night, before I go to bed, I always look at your photograph and kiss you goodnight – and then, for a while, I lie awake and try to picture once more, glorious you – your smile and your wonderful voice which, to me, is the very essence of life. Oh, my heart’s delight, I love you so very much.
Now who can’t write a letter d’amour? Admittedly I can’t keep it up any longer, but I’m damned if I’ll be told by a mere girl that I am unable to rise to the occasion and have nasty catty remarks slung around about my “higher intellect”. You asked for it, glamorous, and you have it. I am willing to bet that when you started reading this letter you were at least a little shaken. Blimey, you ought to be – it shook me enough when I read it through – never thought I had it in me and I can’t help feeling just a little proud of my effort considering it is a first attempt. Honestly, Barbs, tell me what you would think if you received a letter like that. I rather fancy you would think exactly the same as me, – that whoever wrote it was just a bloody fool. Am I right?
I hope you are enjoying your leave, darling, wish I was with you. I feel pretty bad about missing you, and this time I’m not kidding you. Still I won’t give up hope because I get seven days leave soon and, who knows, fate may be kind. We have at last received our mobilization orders – March 6th – this means that we can be ordered abroad any moment after 24.00 hrs March 5th. The Coy. Commander thinks it will be around the end of March so it seems as though little Dessie may soon be gorging sub-tropical fruit and chasing Yids and Arabs (or, more likely being chased by them!) As you see, it seems pretty definite this time and, of course, in a way I’ll be glad to get moving. However, (and I don’t care if you do think this is damn sloppy) I will miss you a lot, Barbs. We will have one hell of a binge, though, when I do come back. I’ll come and collect you and we’ll just about tear the town apart! Is that a date?
As you will have seen, I’m writing this on Monday afternoon. We are all supposed to be asleep now, because we are going out tonight into the mountains and we won’t be back until Wednesday lunch time. That means no sleep until Wednesday afternoon, so they are giving us a couple of hours now. It ought to be pretty good fun tonight – firing tracer and parachute flares etc. One or two sheep will probably come to a sticky end, though, if they get in the way of incendiary bullets!
I’m looking forward to getting my badge, darling, but I hope you are not hurting your fingers too much. If you see “Caesar & Cleopatra” write and tell me what you think of it.
We return to Bulford on Saturday, thank God, because although the scenery round here is absolutely magnificent, I am getting heartily browned-off with the cursed weather. There is a mountain just behind the camp which we climbed yesterday morning, just to have a look at the view from the top. It was terrific – around were mountains, some of them still snow-capped. I sometimes think I would like to spend a holiday, after I’m demobbed (?) wandering around the British Isles visiting the various places I’ve been stationed at during the time I am in the Army. If you write after Thursday, please address the letters to Bulford (the old address).
Well, have a couple of double scotch for me and give my love to London.
All my love
P.S. Why don’t you have a try at a sentence or two of “amour”. Surely you won’t let a more adolescent beat you – or will you admit defeat? That’s a challenge, sweetheart!
P.P.S. it must be original. To take extracts from the letters of Lady Hamilton, or anything like that, is strictly against the rules.
Please excuse this tiny note but I have just remembered something. When I phoned Mamma on Saturday morning she told me she was moving from her present address in Hallam Street. She told me her new phone number but I hadn’t anything to write it down with and now, of course, I’ve forgotten it. Will you please write and tell me what it is, the new address and when she is moving. Otherwise I won’t be able to phone when I go on leave and, darling child, that would be a catastrophe – I mean, if you did get home at all, I wouldn’t know how to reach you. Sorry I can’t write any more at the moment – I’m sneaking this in between boxing and drill. You should see me – en deshabille and then some!
All my love
To C Coy
I was hoping to be able to thank you properly for the pen last weekend, but, as usual (and to quote Robert Burns) “all my dreams gang aft agley”. However, as you can see, it is wizard and writes beautifully. Thanks a lot, sweetheart!
I had a 48 this last weekend and hied me London-wards full of happy thoughts of seeing you. Your Mamma told me to phone on Monday afternoon as you might come south on convoy. Well, I phoned (four times) but apparently no one heard the phone ringing so I was disappointed. That’s the second time I’ve missed you by sheer damn bad luck, but maybe third time lucky. I doubt whether I shall get another pass before Christmas, but we get 16 days (from 20 Dec to 4 Jan) so I’m praying to see you then. Please try and make it, Barbs, it means a lot to me.
Well, we did three jumps, the last one on Friday morning, and, despite horrible stories I heard, I am quite OK. Bert bashed his arm about a bit on his first jump but, despite my pleadings, refused to see the MO and did his other two jumps (one with a 60lb kitbag on his leg!) The stubborn idiot must have been born lucky because he made it without mishap. On Friday afternoon we got our passes and I hitched from Chelmsford to London. It was fun but damn cold.
So embroidery is one of your vices (or is it a virtue?) Not being very well informed about the subject I am afraid I can’t make any intelligent remarks about, but I would like to ask one question: do embroidered designs enhance the beauty of khaki issue very much, and does your company commander (or the ATS equivalent) approve when there is a kit inspection. I trust one day I will see some of your handiwork myself. Although an amateur, I am sure I would appreciate it (please don’t get me wrong!!)
About the fish and chips – I remember once or twice in a weak moment I made a few cracks about weight etc. I revoke all, old girl, you’d look wonderful anyway. And whilst we are on the subject of food and drink, I haven’t forgotten that drinking date. If you think you will be out of practice having sojourned so long in the “temperance” atmosphere of Bonny Scotland, I will handicap myself by having a few doubles before we start, and I bet I still beat you. Or, taking into consideration your extremely determined nature, do you scorn the idea of admitting the inferiority of woman to man. I’m hoping to receive your answer to this letter. I’m hoping to have stung you into making some of those caustic cracks of which you are very fond. Don’t disappoint me, darling. Well, I must close now – bedtime!
Goodnight, All my love (I always say that, but then, I always mean it)
17th December 1945
To C Coy
Darling – I received your letter about 5 mins. ago and am answering it as quickly as poss. so that you will revive this letter before Xmas.
About your coming home. Honestly, Barbs, I don’t know what to say. I mean, I know only too well what a helluva lot of cash £5 is on Army pay. But, gosh, I do want to see you very much, darling. I know this will be my third embarkation leave, but I’m hoping it is the real thing this time. If it is it means I shall be abroad for about 2 years, and 2 years without seeing you would be a lifetime, so I’d like to say my “au revoir” properly. Besides there’s lots more I’d like to say but not in a letter. Oh, hell, I’m not good at writing what I want to say, but maybe you see what I mean. All those horribly ungrammatical and disjointed phrases mean I would love to see you, light of my young life, if you can manage it. But for Pete’s sake, darling, don’t break the old bank because of me, although I don’t mind admitting I’ll be pretty cut up if I don’t see you. Anyway I’ll ring up on 22nd, – hoping, praying and with every finger crossed!! I love new experiences and I’ve never carried a Christmas tree before. Also I would like very much to have my all-too-small knowledge feminine attributes widened in some small measure. I am sure you can do that!!
Oh, darling, do you honestly think me a Cad (note the capital “C”). I mean do you think it would improve my Caddish appearance if I grew a moustache (and no cracks about my being old enough, because I am!!!)
Last night (how shocking on a Sunday) Bert and I got horribly soused with a couple of Yank paraboys. It was great fun, what I can remember, although God knows what mother would think!
Well, I must close now and try to make the evening post.
Here’s hoping I see you – it will be the best Xmas present ever, if I do.
All my love, sweetheart,
30th December 1945
To Herne Bay
Honeychild – A rather belated Christmas present, I know, but I hope you like it! It was made by a wounded ex-RAF air-crew chappie, and since the poor bloke is English and consequently gets very little pension, he is trying to make a living by making this sort of thing and selling them. As I say, it is somewhat belated, but, to quote an aged adage, “Better late than never” (I wonder if that saying is in any way connected with “If you can’t be good, be careful!”) I didn’t have time to thank you properly for the wallet, but anyway, thanks very much, it is lovely. I was getting a bit browned- off with having to keep all my pound notes (bitter irony, that!!) in the old A.B.64 so it will be very useful. Well, old girl, I hope you had a happy Xmas with mamma and the two boys, I had a really wizard time that weekend, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I slept in the same room as two women. It was a damned shame your having to go back on Boxing day, but I have no doubt that you will enjoy yourself in the accepted fashion at Hogmanay – is that spelt correctly? For the past week I have been slightly woozy and, in company with one or two chaps I used to know at school and who are also on leave, I have endeavoured to raise Caterham from the rut and put it in the groove. In all probability, from now on when I meander into the town young mothers will rush out and grab their offspring fearful lest I contaminate them with a look and strong men will blanch as they speak with bated breath of the doubtful doings of that young devil, Des! (I hope you notice the subtle use of alliteration in the latter part of that phrase).
And since I don’t return to the loving clutches of the Army until next Friday, I intend to remain happy and make this leave a memorable one. The best part was the first part, though, when I saw you, but I don’t want to get on that subject otherwise Dessie will give forth quite a lot of stuff which he wants to say, but, knowing you don’t like it, refrains, in deadly fear lest he offends you! So, darling, take no notice and don’t be offended.
I haven’t forgotten you want a Para. beret and a pair of gaiters, by the way. I’ll get them for you as soon as I can when I get back to camp (perish the thought!)
Well, I must close now, wishing you all the very best for the New Year. Please write sometimes, otherwise where in hell am I going to find inspiration for poetry and I’m sure you would hate to be the cause of the downfall of modern English Literature.
All my love