Wednesday, 7 April 2010

22nd March 1940 - Good Friday

No. 7374615
No 1 Section “A” Company
Becketts Park Training College

Leeds 6

My dear Mum and Dad

This is Good Friday, but I haven’t been able to attend any services. I’ve just had tea at which we were given one hot cross bun each, but as there was a vacant seat near me, I had an extra one. This is practically the only external evidence of Good Friday here. I could go to a church tonight but owing to the fact that letters must somehow be answered I must keep in and do my best. I haven’t been out since Sunday, not even to walk round the grounds. It isn’t so much hard work to send say a letter a day to someone away, but when that someone finds letters arriving in shoals which must each be answered it’s about four times more difficult.

There is precious little time during the day. A single period of drill sometimes lasts for two hours, and when we get about three periods a day, well there isn’t a great time left, taking other duties etc. into condiseration.

I see that tomorrow Saturday, I am down for fatigue at Becketts Home, about two and a half miles away. With the others detailed for same fatigue I have to parade at 7.45a.m. in Khaki, carrying canvas jacket & trousers & march to this place. Hardly anybody has heard of the place which apparently is to be taken over with other building for further intakes of recruits. There was never a time when there were so many chaps here. Some of the new fellows when they arrive will have to sleep in tents. Out sergeant Cowell is being transferred to this new Company F. So we shall be having a new instructor.

By the way, I hope you have go my long letter. I thought you might prefer having it dished up in that way than receiving a page or so every day. If not I can try to write to you each day. Please let me know dear.

I have completely recovered from the effects of the inoculations but am awaiting a further one next Friday. And then there is the dental business. Did I tell you about that? I had inspection the other day and they, my teeth, have to be attended to. I suppose they will drag out my brute by the excavator method. Other teeth have to be drilled. Sounds inviting doesn’t it, dear?

I hope, if I have the time, to go into Leeds tomorrow and send my case off. It’s a bit of a nuisance here.

As Marjorie has no doubt told you, I have found Kenneth and his quarters, and when we are free we shall spend a few hours together. Kenneth has some nice fellows in his company and he appears to be quite happy. He had a cold last Sunday, so was in Hospital for 2 days.

We have got in our section just one decent fellow named Jam. Hartshorne, a ginger fellow and school teacher. Although not extraordinarily religiously inclined, he is head and shoulders above the rest for intellect, though he is very unassuming and never parades his education.

We went to the Toc. H quarters in Becketts Park last night & sat writing letters. We have a library here, and a NAAFI canteen in another building where we can buy almost anything. We have our own telephone kiosk and post box, besides the post box in Toc H .

I still get lost wandering about here. This place is really on the grand scale. Each building averages about one hundred and twenty rooms, not small rooms. Some of them are colossal. Bathrooms etc to every section of the building, electric light and radiator to every room. I’ll describe my room another time.

We had a little concert here on Wednesday evening, in the Main Hall, just musical items and impressions. The performers were drawn from the lads here at Becketts Park with an A.T.S. girls or two thrown in.

One fellow with a beautiful voice sang `Because’ & Somebodys Sonata. A violinist in the orchestra sang `One day when we were young’. We had several orchestral items, there being abt 8 or 9 chaps in it. One fellow played on two spoons to a piano accompaniment and performed some acrobatic feats in doing it. There were accordion (piano) duets & mouth organ duets, and several first class impressions etc. etc. I came away just before the end. There was no payment & everything was absolutely moral.

The Main Hall is nearly as fine as the Moot Hall, so that will give you an idea. In it there is a big pipe organ which sounds beautiful, a gallery and seating accommodation for about 400 to 500 on the ground floor alone.

Well to get down to your two letters received, written on Tuesday & Wednesday. I was overjoyed that Iris has visited you. She really is a dear girl when you know her. I’m glad you like her.

Poor Iris! I did so want to write to her right away but noting seemed to help me in that direction. She must have thought I was a brute, yet I was so anxious for her. I had only been here a completed day when I started writing to her. Church spoilt its completion, so I had to finish it next day, i.e. Monday.

I still have letters here that I brought with me from Colchester, still unanswered. When I read your Tuesday’s letter at the dinner table I could hardly restrain the tears. Your Tuesday letter was given to me Thursday midday. Letters seem to take 2 days in transit. I had written to Iris on Monday, & your letter was the first news I had of her.

She must have excelled herself at talking that day. A pity she forgot abt the buses. I wish I had been there to take her home.

I think she is more than a girl in a thousand.
I have had no lectures as yet except on military discipline. The past week is really an extra week, and medical lectures and drill training start next week.

I have met no Scripture Reader, only the Padre whom I have not spoken to & the Methodist minister.

As you will realise, I haven’t been able to get in touch with a mission.

Now I’ll reply to the letter received today. Yes dear I’m getting very patient. It really is a good training ground for the soul. Abt. Sinking my pride and dignity. You musn’t worry about that. I’ve got on very well with the sgt. & as you know have been singled out by him to instruct others. This is the sgt. we are losing. You can trust me to absorb all the medical training I can. No, you can dismiss that abt the infantry reg. There’s no chance of that as far as I am aware. It’s only something thought of myself!

You know about my arm (O.K.) & Ken (found). I’m awfully happy abt. Iris. So she is spending today with you. It will be nice. I’m looking forward to coming home one day. Won’t I give you a big kiss! The Everitts seem very considerate. They are quite nice folk.

I look forward every day for your letter. When the letters are being called out I always listen intently.

I have read the E.C.T. (Did you see abt. Mr Harris of East Hill House being presented with a radiogram. It mentioned Miss H. Cornish). I’m saving the C. Herald for Sunday.

What a shame about Baby’s eyes. I do hope they become normal. Dear Joan will find new interests in Baby that will make up for Dick’s absences.

May I say that your writing hasn’t troubled me a single bit. I wonder if mine is easy to read.

You do write a lot & have a gift for expression. It’s just as good as hearing you talk.

I had a letter from Iris today, which made me go all `trembly’ when I took it. I am a happy lad with so many lovely things to look forward to every day or so. I wouldn’t change places with the King (or would I?)

You know that Marjorie Mary, Iris B, Jenny, Suzanne & Pansy have written. I’ve answered all except Pansy.

Tell Steph to hurry up or she’ll be forgotten.

Now my two dears, that is about all I can write for now.

Into God’s keeping I commend you. One other thing, Mum. You musn’t make my bedroom a shrine, you know. I’m not quite a saint (an R.C. one anyhow). I don’t mind you going into it. If you like you can use it whenever you like.

How is the wireless? Is it downstairs? And has Arthur shown you his car?

With my love & prayers.

Your very distant but near son


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