Friday, 16 April 2010

16th April 1940

Leeds 6
16th April 1940

My Dearest Mum & Dad & others,

The letter I received from you today written on Sunday is just about as gloomy as the weather. It was snowing yesterday, also a wee bit the day before, but this morning we have had the real thing and no mistake. I’ve never seen such large flakes before & though the blizzards only last about an hour at a time, when it does come down you can hardly see anything else. I don’t know whether you are having the same weather at home but if so, my sympathy is with you.

I’m so sorry about the Baby proving such trouble. As if there wasn’t enough trouble about without that extra contribution. You do seem to be in the thick of it all, but so was Job, so keep on praising Mother dear.

I gather that Pansy is at last coming round to the view that I’ve so often expressed. If possible it’s wiser to wait about two years before starting a family, don’t you think, though of course I quite realise that circumstances alter cases, & there are circumstances in which it might be desirable to start earlier. However I don’t think I had better say any more in case I put my foot into it.

It’s news to me about Miriam. All I hope is that the baby won’t have T.B. which I believe Mim has got.

Yes, dear, Mr Sainsbury sent me some pocket testaments to distribute to enquiring fellows to whom they will prove helpful. I see that you guessed that the Testaments were in the parcel. I didn’t know that he was going on a holiday, & I suppose that he didn’t receive my letter until a few days later than he would have done. Which means that I needn’t have given his letter priority after all.

You might have known that I did not write to Iris last week, although I received a letter from her at the beginning of the week & another towards the end. I had to answer both of them in one letter which I sent off either Sunday or Monday of this week.

Today I received my summer dress consisting of a pair of trousers & a jacket, the style exactly like the ordinary battle dress. They are in Khaki & much lighter in weight, also a wee bit lighter in colour. I haven’t put them on yet, so I don’t know whether they will require alteration.

Last night after I had written to you, I went over to the Toc H room to post your letter. This was the second time since I’ve been here that I’ve been in the Toc H room, incidentally. When I got there I saw Ken Ballisat, so we went together to his room & there he told me that as he makes an allowance to his mother he only gets 5/- one week and 7/- the next. This came out when I asked him to go to Leeds with me for a change as we had not been together since going to St. Chad’s that Sunday evening. He said that he couldn’t afford to go out and when I asked him why, he told me the reason.

So I arranged with him to go out tonight as a little treat, especially as I think that he has only been to Leeds about once before.

Unfortunately we couldn’t go at the time we had agreed upon, as my section was suddenly called upon to wash all the dining hall tables & forms down & clear up the dining hall. This took us an hour and a half so I wasn’t free until 7.20p.m. Then we go away & I took him to the News Theatre which he enjoyed very much. We saw pictures of Norway with reference to the German invasion so you see that it was up-to-date. Another picture was on Archery, another on the Industrial Revolution and how the English countryside has been changed for ever. Yet another was called “A Lady’s Day Out”, which showed a young riding mistress taking a small party for a tour on horseback with two dogs, one of which was a Golden Retriever. Every time I looked at it, I thought of Sadie who is a dead image of that dog. It used to roam about on its own, and took a lively interest in everything it saw, in consequence of which it got lost & its mistress had to ride back to find it, which she did eventually. But you would have liked to have seen it, for the dog was so intelligent & alert, & your heart would have melted to see the dog running as hard as it could when it knew it was lost. It was all very sweet & the scenery was perfect.

And now another day has passed & there is a rumour about that Italy has entered into the War against the Allies. If this is true, I am the last person to be surprised, for I have been prophesying this for years in face of very strong opinions to the contrary & my views are at last (though very very unfortunately) vindicated. I wonder how the war will take shape. Everything is so uncertain except the certainty that God still reigns in the Heavens though not in the earth. So we mustn’t get depressed but hope on & trust in God FOR EVERYTHING. Just keep on thinking of the Eternal Glories which gleam afar to nerve our faint endeavour, and nothing on Earth can make us lose faith or separate us from the love of God.

To get down to private matters, how unfortunate to have Mary down with G. Measles. Just one more boil, so to speak.

I’m glad my clothes arrived safely. If you had seen the hundreds of pieces of string & odd bits of paper that I had to use it would seem very wonderful to you that the parcels were intact on arrival. Thanks for putting them away, also for cycle things stored away.

My company pay out quite well regarding money. I get 12/6 every week which is more than sufficient for my needs. Some companies pay out less than this, but I suppose, save more for the fellows.

Yes, one of the Poetry Books was for a fellow at the Brethren. The other for the University chap in my section. By the way, I believe I told you that I was going out Wednesday. Well, the other Brethren chaps have gone, but I haven’t gone after all as I feel rather tired & want to finish the letter. I shall probably get to the Bible Study tomorrow.

Regarding going into Leeds alone, you must realise that at the most, I only see my Christian friends once a week, apart from Sundays. And then I see a few of them by accident. The trouble is my dear that we have no time to arrange going out together. Where do you think that the time is coming from? I might be able to see a bit of them if I didn’t write letters, but I see that you still don’t quite realise the very few opportunities that we have for even taking a deep breath. And then of course, we are all in different companies, & again we are in different sections so the chances of seeing each other apart from Saturday afternoon & Sunday afternoon onwards are pretty remote.

I don’t know what I shall do, or where I shall go when I leave here. I may be a hospital orderly, maybe in an operating theatre, maybe a stretcher bearer & first aid man. There are hundreds of things that I might be, so it’s no use guessing.

And now to talk about the sad news. It came as an awful shock to me to read about poor Tommy. In fact I am dumbfounded. You needn’t think that he necessarily cheeked a superior officer. Some of the fellows in the army if they took a dislike to anyone, could queer his pitch for good & get him sent to the `Glasshouse’. It’s very easily done & often done, & there’s no justice & no appeal. I can just imagine poor Tommy’s feelings as he makes his way to the front. We all make mistakes & how dearly we have to pay for them God alone knows. It’s far worse when we are punished unjustly as Tommy might have been.

But I’m sorrier still for Pansy. She has enough to bear without that. All I can say is that all our lives are in the Hands of God, & being there, we can rest in the knowledge that He in love will cause all things to work for our good. He knows, He loves, He cares, our burdens Jesus bears, whate’er betide, He’s by my side, He knows, He loves, He cares. Whate’er betide! What a testing for our faith this is, but what a great opportunity to glorify God in affliction & quit ourselves like the Heirs of Salvation.

So to all of you from your own John I would say, “Don’t let the Devil get you down. Don’t look down. Bear up & look up for your Redemption draweth nigh”. For aren’t the sunbeams gathering on God’s side of cloud for that wonderful dawning of Eternal Day? Oh, if only God would give us larger eyes to perceive the gentle mercy of the Lord, we shouldn’t be so anxious about the wrath of man. Oh that we might get up & plant our feet on higher ground & see visions of the Everlasting Kingdom & the Coming King. May God grant us these things for His Glory.

And now, dear ones, I must leave you content in the love which never lets us go. A big X for all of you especially Pansy.

Your devoted son & brother

John xxxxxxx

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