Monday, 10 May 2010

5th June 1940 - A Skin Complaint delays training

Leeds 6
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 communiqu├ęs & 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

John xxxxxxx

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