5th June 1940
My Dear Mum and Dad
I have received the two parcels which you kindly sent me. Many thanks dear for the gifts. I somehow don’t think that I shall run out of reading matter, do you? I duly noted the places which you marked over for special attention. By the way, I suppose you must have read about Mr. Bett dying. It was in the `deaths’ column of the Telegraph.
As there are seven of us now in this ward, I’ll think that I’ll save the sugar for later when I am on my own again. Otherwise the chaps will feel entitled to share in the packet & then the sugar wouldn’t last very long.
The M.O. allowed me to go in the grounds for two hours this afternoon. This was the first time I’ve been out of the building & I enjoyed the change. The sun was brilliant in a cloudless sky & the breeze was sufficient to save one from heatstroke. I sat watching some cricket & writing to Iris. I was in my hospital blues & as I’m infectious I had to remain isolated from the many chaps who were using the Sports Field. Not that I worried. To get out in the fresh air was sufficient for me. I felt uncommonly weak in the legs, chiefly I should say though lack of exercise.
There are two chaps in this ward who are B.E.F. One was in one of the three destroyers which the Germans sank whilst conveying the men from Dunkirk. He had to swim for it, but was rescued.
It must have been a change for you to miss going to church on Sunday. What a pity that the church is such a long way off. I don’t suppose, though that Uncle Reg will often be without a car for week-ends. It wouldn’t be like him.
I, too, think that Mr Bertin’s sermon was very excellent. In fact I don’t remember reading a more topical, practical & telling address from the pulpit since the beginning of the war.
I was very interested in what you had to say about Frank Mills. I know of nobody quite like him in purity of mind & singleness of vision. I do so hope that he will get something amenable to his conception of rights.
Re. the B.E.F. & German cruelty. Some of the stories would make your stomach turn over. The press very mercifully, tries to dilute the sheer incomparable devilishness of the Germans. But the fellows know, & their experience is best summed up in one word `Hell’.
As you say the Germans have managed to get a spot of petrol oil from somewhere. Do you remember how we used to be derided for saying that Germany was very well off for certain resources? We weren’t so far wrong, were we?
Also remind Dad of the little argument we had while I was on leave respecting the size of the Belgian Army. One evening paper estimated it at a round million. I ridiculed it at the time. Now Mr. Churchill in his speech states that it was nearly half a million. Rather a difference isn’t there? Which just shows you how much reliance can be put on any figures mentioned in the paper. Sheer eyework my dear. Except of course the official Allied communiqués & bulletins. They are largely correct.
How thrilling to have a machine gun emplacement near Nightingales. Do you mean shop or house? I presume the latter.
As I haven’t tasted the buns yet I can’t give you the verdict on them. I have had though, the orange & apples. Very nice too. And those biscuits are really splendid.
It would be queer if Derek were to be arrested with the 5th Column. I don’t think they would do it though as the F.O.R. isn’t quite so suspect as the P.P.U. Middleton Murray I believe, only belongs to the P.P.U. They are certainly getting it where the chicken got the chopper. I’m sorry for the sincere Christians who might suffer, but there are relatively few in the P.P.U. from what I know of the movement.
And now I think I’ll close.
With many prayers for you all & much love.
Your loving son
5th June 1940
My Dearest Mum and Dad
I am enclosing the pages you sent me as you requested. They were very interesting, especially the one of Morris Levett & Alf Williams. It’s lovely to look at their strong, happy, manly faces once again. Wouldn’t it be just heavenly to meet them & to enjoy their fellowship with the Beatties thrown in. Perhaps we shall have this opportunity given us, & before many months are past. Anyway, we’ll hope.
I hope by this time that you have received my letter. If you haven’t, I must have gone astray. I’m glad that Auntie May has found a place for you. The description of it sounds very homely & doubtlessly, once there, you will imagine that you are on holiday. The names of the landladies reminds me of `Happy Family’. Bunn & Drinkwater, & I see no reason why you shouldn’t be happy there with them. I gather that Auntie May won’t be very far away from you, & I know that you will like that. And you certainly won’t feel lonely with the girls with you. I suppose that by this time you have wired Auntie May the time you will get there. Don’t for goodness sake have a last minute rush getting your things ready. For a long journey like that, you want to prepare things very collectedly & calmly, otherwise you will feel all `het up’ & won’t be able to enjoy the journey at all.
Of course Herefordshire is too far for Iris to go. Whatever next! We haven’t got wings yet, dear, neither have got legs the same shape as greyhounds. If I do get any leave, which of course is very problematical, I don’t think I can spend any of it with you. As a soldier, you know, I’m not allowed to chase all over the show & I’m only allowed to go to my home town. If Colchester had been out of the defence area I might have managed it. But it’s no use talking, as it were, for as I said, “We’ll keep you here for another day or so”, so I should think that I’ll be out Mon or Tues.
You don’t tell me where Arthur’s Mother & father are, though you tell me that they are all happy. That’s something, anyhow.
I’m sorry about Frank Halls. But as your writing isn’t too clear at that point in your `cherries’ letter, I’m not certain that you wrote “they said he was too good for the RAMC. If that was what you wrote who are “they”? And why too good?
In closing I assure you of my love & prayers. May it with you that all things shall work together for good.
Your loving son