Saturday, 10 April 2010

31st March 1940

My Dear Mum and Dad Sunday
31sr Mar ‘40

As you will realise, I have finished the writing pad in my case, and am now using this pad which only cost me 6d at our N.A.A.F.I. The pads which you are sending on will be very welcome.

Also if you don’t mind, you can send me a cake or a few buns as I think that I can now with some as we only get cake on a Sunday.

I have been very busy these last few days & have been unable to write any letters at all. On Thursday night I was company messenger, the time for duty being 5-10.30p.m. I was under the Night Orderly Sergeant (who incidentally was a Lance-Corporal) and had to write down the passes for men leaving barracks for the evening, then checking them in on their return, and seeing that they were sober & properly dressed. I also had to light a fire. Then in the morning I had to clean out the Company Sergeant Major’s room, clean the grate and light his fire, the clear out the ash & so on from the grate in the Dining Hall, & afterwards go over to the Guard House with the Absentee report. Then back again and my period of 4 days Dining Hall fatigue began, serving out the plates etc etc & clearing up the place afterwards. We are on duty for this at breakfast, dinner and tea and have to manage our own meals as best we can. There are six of us acting as Mess Orderlies in our Dining Hall. Then of course there are cooks, Kitchen orderlies and so forth.

Well, as you know, we were supposed to have our inoculation on Friday, whereas it was postponed till Saturday midday. I felt the injection, but strangely enough, have had no pain at all to speak of, and am enjoying the 36 hrs sick leave. The fly in the ointment was that we were not allowed out on Sat p.m. and all day today have been confined to barracks, so I’ve been to no service. I’m arranging D.V. to go to the Bible Study at the Brethren on Thursday evening with Walter Stotesbury, so that will compensate somewhat. This evening in the main building we have had a little discussion on the Spiritual Issues of the War. Walter came with another Christian boy from his section named, I believe, Ronnie, and besides myself there were the Padre, Kenneth Balisat & a friend of his named Norman. This Walter by the way is a C.O. & in every possible way a splendid Christian with a very fine knowledge of the Bible. I’m so glad that I’ve met him. You will like to know, too, that when I went to Kenneth’s room to see him before the discussion (he had gone into my building to look for me) I found lying over his bed, his bible, and several Christian books. As other fellows were there, you can see that he is not ashamed of being a Christian, and very sincere.

We had quite a good discussion without anything extraordinary being said, but Walter & I several times quoted texts to prove our points and to stress the fundamental need for salvation. The Padre is getting spliced next week-end, & though a decent fellow, dwells I believe a bit too much on Works & not enough on conviction of sin.

On Friday evening we had a little film show here, dealing with medical stuff like bacteria (3 sorts) & Blood cells. They put on another film to finish with, starring Deanna Durbia. You may remember her voice singing on he Wireless. I came out however & I went to bed. The film apparatus was first class but the `talkie’ sound system was muffled & very difficult to understand. It’s the first time, I think, that this has gone wrong. 3 shows a month, I believe is the usual order.

Well, we have had more lectures. The trouble is that they are too intensive & as we have no time of our own to study them up, they tend to become forgotten during drill etc. There are absolutely hundreds of queer names to remember, functions & s on to get the low-down on. If we did nothing else but medical stuff here, I’m sure that we should get on well, but these other duties put the Kybosh on it.

I understand however that directly our 2 mths are done, we have no more infantry drill at all. The chief object of it is to smarten us up. We now have a lance-corporal for our section commander, not the one which we could not understand, but another fellow named Cox, who used to play for Burnley at football. We have here, by the way, champions of all sorts of things, internationals & cup finalists. So you see that I’m in good company.

And now to answer your letters. Isn’t it amazing to think that the love gifts amounted to over twenty three pounds? It makes it very difficult to beat when next Good Friday comes along.

Wouldn’t it be just lovely if the Rev. Reece Howells turned out to be right, and the war were to end by Whitsun. I still can’t see how things can do anything but fizzle out. Everybody in this war is too strong & still afraid, and things look like an impasse.

How very queer to hear about Dr Bolton. He sounds barmy, & it makes you wonder who the next will be. It doesn’t seem to pay to be over clever. There’s no chance of my being shot, so I should remain sane. All the same it’s very sad, & I hope the man will recover.

I was surprised to learn about the snow covering the ground. Although we have had a kind of snow, it never looked like settling, & it soon passed over. You must be getting worse weather down south.

No, I don’t require a pillow case, as I’m not very particular as to what I sleep on. The straw is in a calico case, & that’s good enough for me.

Kenneth smokes a pipe occasionally, but doesn’t drink or swear. I have written to Derek.

I think it’s a shame that the Bryants haven’t seen Joan. Perhaps they have by now, but they certainly are a selfish lot. Maybe they are upset because they weren’t consulted, or because the baby was born too early to satisfy their minds. Anyhow it doesn’t matter, as you say, for we shall always have each other dear, and nothing else matters at all, especially as we know the Friend who never disappoints.

The buns in the tuck box weren’t at all stale, & the contents lasted me all through the week, & that’s saying something with my prodigious appetite. Thanks very, very much dear.

It’s kind of Iris to send me the Standard. I have cut out 2 pieces to send to Iris E. One was about an evacuee kiddy staying at Mrs Pavey’s (Ida’s mother) & the other was abt a black-out fatality of Fred Waller’s father. Fred you will remember being Len Chatters red-faced friend.

I have just finished the first book I took out from the library & started on the second. As the first one was only a Penguin you will see that I haven’t been able to spend much time reading. These books should have been returned last Thursday.

I hope that the pram shed is now firmly established. The Garden must now be nearly all sheds, which leaves you precious little space for your washing. It was nice though of course only proper, for Dick to help Dad in making it. I’m glad he’s proud of the `Squeaker’, and he seems to be unusually kind & thoughtful. It may be the making rather the bringing out of him. I guess Joan has her hands full with bathing baby etc. Does he cry much or does he follow in his Uncle’s steps? And is Sadie very jealous of the new pet? And is the pram very nice and just what Dr. Walter ordered? And does Arthur spend much time with his baby? Baby Ford. And does Ronnie still nurse Steph on his knee? The answers I presume are either raspberries or lemons.

Well dears, this station is about to close down for the night & with all my love, or the part which Iris hasn’t got,

I say God bless you both abundantly,
And keep you in all your ways

Your fond son


1 comment:

  1. The Walter Stotesbury mentioned in this letter was a Conscientious Objector, as were many men in the RAMC. He had appeared before the local tribunal covering the East Anglia area and had stated he recognised his duty to the nation but would not bear arms.

    I have information relating to other C.O.s from the region if anyone wishes more on this line of interest.