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3rd April 1945 6th April 1945 10th April1945 13th April 1945
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3rd April 1945
Well love after quite a few days without any mail I get three airmails on Sunday, one each from you, mam and Mabel and  I had written to you all in the previous three days. I'm sorry about your V24 letter love as I forgot to post it the night I wrote it so I expect you will get V24 & V25 together.

I hope Edie's Harry gets on OK though he's had a rough time of it in the last few months.

I hear from the wireless you have not had such good weather for Easter as I hoped you would from the weather here but you could expect that with Easter Sunday being on April 1st. it was my day off and I went to communion in the morning and stayed for the morning service afterwards. There was a big congregation and there was a collection in aid of The Red Cross Children's Relief Fund which amounted to over £12. 

Afterwards I went to see the semi-final of the sub depot cup. After dinner I went a walk with Tom Mansfield and took my PT shorts and towel hoping to get a bathe in but the waves were much too big for a novice like me and we contented ourselves with throwing stones at various objects while walking along the beach.

On our way through the orchards where the fruit trees were partly in blossom an 'Itie' stopped us to pass a few words and ask us for a cigarette. We gave him one and he asked us if we could sell him any but when we said 'non impossible' he asked if we would exchange some for oranges. We said we would look at the oranges first and decided to have four off him for the same amount of cigarettes. Actually they are unable to get decent fags and the civvies we work with say the black market price for English ones are 10 lire or 6d each. Still oranges are dear at this time of the year so we made a good swop.

Dick brought the football snaps from town and I enclosed them in a letter to keith with letters I'd written to Edith Evans and Gladys Wills and if the green envelope containing the lot happens to come by air addressed to Keith perhaps you'll send the others on for me.

According to the 'Union Jack' today all service airmails to England will be sent free of charge also all other letters under 1oz in weight will be sent by air so I should be about 1/6d a week better off. They must think the end of the war is close love so they don't have to pay the cost for long. In about a months time (May 14th) I shall get a 1/- a day increase on completing three years in the army, longer than I thought necessary when I joined up. Michael then was an uncomfortable possibility then love wasn't he and though he's not as old yet as Sheila was when I left, by all accounts he's a proper young loveable tough guy. I am going to have a busy time answering all his questions besides those of Keith and Sheila and besides them wanting me to go outside wanting to play their latest games with them. I'll love it all love but I don't think you'll get your nose pushed out much. Daddy will no doubt be a bit of a novelty for a few days but they always turn to Mummy when they don't feel so well and know she will put it right.

I expect sometimes you don't find letter writing easy love with as much on your hands, and wanting a quiet half hour when you have managed to get all straightened up, but your letters love and  descriptions of the little things that happen and the things the kids come out with have kept me with a real picture of you all and even Keith's untidiness makes me smile and think we will never make a neat Sunday school boy out of him but as you say a grand lad for all of that.

It always reminds me of 'Our gang' on the pictures where there was always one boy who had a nice parting in his hair, a clean suit and generally the exception to the other lads. Sheila seems as old fashioned as ever but I think I've lost love that little girlie of 21/2  years that looked so loveable and so pitiable when she was poorly. Instead I will meet a modern young miss who won't come running to daddy to play and lark about with. I'm not grumbling love only thinking for about the 100th time what it means to be separated from all we love for so long and how much Hitler is responsible for and how many families have had much more suffering and trouble than we have.

Well on Monday we had to go to work even though it was rather a quiet day and at night we had another go at whist. I only got 65 in the first half and won 40 lire (2/-) and 20 fags for second half highest score. Today we have had the civvies in after their holiday (by the way I didn't se any processions over Easter) and tonight I went first house cinema to see ' Champagne Charlie' with Tommy Trinder but it was a poor do. I came across here about 8.30pm and see the lads are still battering away across the Rhine. It said at dinnertime on the wireless there had been a landing behind enemy lines on the 8th army front but there was nothing more on tonight's news.

I don't remember having heard Albert Silvers address but if you get his number and full address I will drop him a line to see if he is anywhere around these parts.

Well love once more we must stop our little talk and it's near my bedtime.

Good night sweetheart, sweet dreams and God bless you and the kiddies.

6th April 1945

Well love it's Friday night and I am just trying to get cracking on this about 7.40pm. I was pleased to get your airmail dated April 1st and posted on the 3rd today and hope your cold is better and the weather is more like ours is here and hope you enjoy your weekend at Dicks home in Birmingham.

I thought when you mentioned about Michael bumping his head about the time you did the same thing and hope he felt OK the next day and it has not made him poorly. He must be a tough guy as he seems to stand plenty of knocking around. I am glad you have had a photo taken of them and look forward to getting it soon as under the new regulations letters under 1oz come by air the same as letters from here. 

I see Keith's bike is likely to be in dock with tyre trouble and hope you are able to get a new one for him as I expect he will be riding it a lot this summer.

Ethel hasn't wasted much time finding a boyfriend has she and I hope she doesn't  want to get married and have him to live with her after the war or we will be a bit crowded out I'm afraid. I don't think I'd bother with a Yank love, you might think what a dull husband you have now and I'd come home to find you'd found your wings and fluttered off to America. I don't think though love there's any chance of that on either side, we have built up too much together to be parted now.

I am sorry Keith has had nervous bout again and it's funny that yesterday I was telling one of the chaps here about that night when I had to hold him in the shelter for about half an hour after the bomb had exploded.

I have not started to buy the kiddies anything yet for when I come home but shan't forget as I'd hate them to be disappointed in their daddy. Sheila has a keen pair of ears and a good imagination I think talking about cows milk for her baby and I bet she gives you lots of laughs and surprises. She'll have lots of sweethearts all her life and I'm longing to dress up myself in a decent civvy suit once again and take you all out and be able to speak English to everyone we know.

Well love the days have passed this week much the same as usual and picture shows have been on Tuesday, Wednesday and tonight in camp. We also had a concert in camp last night which was fairly good though the BOD band was awful. The violinist played a solo and it reminded me of the time I heard Sid Banyard's brother Edgar play "The Blubells of Scotland" after he had been learning for about a week. I am sure the chaps that clapped only did so for sympathy.

We have had one or two lots of French beans lately with our dinners though it's been mostly spam, sausage or bacon for breakfast and prunes and rice is a favourite dinner sweet still.

I guess the war seems longer finishing now it's in its final stages but the end is coming soon as a look on the map will convince anybody and I am pleased Russia seems to be getting firmer with Japan and I hope decides to help put her in her place when the time comes. Wouldn't it raise our spirits even more if Japan were to pack it in suddenly and we knew Jerry's end would see peace in all of the world once again. You never know love and stranger things have happened.

I've got Aberavon in the sweep this week as they have not had a buster since Dick and I won it between us.

We heard today that the army was issuing a booklet to all members of the forces telling them of all the plans which have been made for their release and just what to expect till they issue the release ticket. It's wonderful what the army does to make or try to make everyone feel he has had a square deal. My only grouse is that they should call up all men up to the age of those still in the army or release all those over the 35 age limit. I hate to think of those over 35 who have dodged it as some of them have, now can sit at home knowing they are safe. I think I will write a nice little letter to a paper about it. There must be thousands feel the same way and Percy Brown would back me up I bet.

I am off from work this week and shall have a lazy day I think, church and a walk in the morning, watching the final of the BOD cup in the afternoon and a quiet night here in the evening. There's something you can pretty well rely on the weather though it's still cool at 6am with the hour on to make me feel like another five minutes in bed before having a dash around. Dick has had to move into another billet as they detailed two corporals to a billet and I now have another chap on the upper bunk who a few short weeks ago was in blighty. I still feel a novice or rooky out here but not as he does I bet.

The sergeant here had a photo of his wife and baby today and although the baby girl is 19 months old he hasn't seen her yet.

Well love it's time to say goodnight again, pleasant dreams and hope that peace will soon be with us and the day is not too far distant when I see you all waiting on the platform for me.

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10th April 1945

Well love, once more I'm sending you a few more lines. Every time I write I think that it is one more letter nearer to victory and the time when I don't have to say in writing what I am thinking in my heart. Some lads here say that the war will never finish because Germany did not collapse like a pack of cards when our lads crossed the Rhine. She is taking a terrific beating and it's only the fact that until the whole of Germany is conquered and controlled by the Allies, the war cannot be consider to have ended.

I think myself that another three weeks will see the end and although that doesn't mean everything is back to normal immediately, the longest part will be over. We shall then have to see how long the Japanese can stand up to the combined might of three quarters of the world against her.

I've managed to write a few letters since I wrote to you last including one to Harry Quinn in reply to one I received on Saturday. I also heard from Jack Richardson who is in the South of England somewhere and he says he hopes he can send the kiddies some chocolate soon. I also received a batch of leicester Chronicles from Gladys Wain and No. 7 of the Faire Brothers magazine. which included Keith's snap along with others. Edith Evans looks the same as she did when I joined the firm 23 years ago next August. 

It seems a long time when you see it in print, love, doesn't it but I can clearly remember starting there in my short trousers to gaze in wonder at all the different samples of braces in the range and wondering if I would ever remember all the designs. Still I'm not living in memories of the past much but I am looking forward and dreaming of the future together with you and the kiddies again. I comfort myself when I think of all the letters which have passed between us and how that will make our life together even more precious.

I nearly forgot to mention that I received Keith's short letter in which he told me that Sheila and Michael would not eat their tea as he had brought then some ice cream. Tell him that it was a very nice letter though the boat he drew which he said was bringing the letter took a long time and next time draw a Spitfire or a Mosquito and I should get it in three days.

Thank Sheila for her lovely drawing of an aeroplane on the ground. I hope she send me some more when Keith writes again. Has he had my letter yet. The football snaps were inside but they will come by sea.

Well love I understand you went to Mrs Dickinsons this last week and hope everything went aright for you I expect it was a job getting the family and everything ready and you were feeling hot and bothered by the time you had got on the bus and the train.. I hope the weather was kind and you all enjoyed the outing.

I've spent a quiet weekend and the high spot was Aberavon, the team I mentioned in my last letter, who earned me £3-5-0 by scoring eight goals. Stop rubbing you hands together. I'll see what I can do for you. As  a matter of fact the officers where we work were asking when we last had leave as they though it was time we had a weekend at the rest camp so I expect in the next two or three weeks I shall have seven days lounging about in comfort  with eggs and bacon for breakfast  and plenty of time to write to everyone I know. I don't suppose Dick and I will get it together as we work in the same job but it will be a pleasant change to forget work and to be able to relax..

Don't worry, it doesn't mean we are being sent on anywhere. We are supposed to have one every 12 months but it's been 21 months since my last break.. I saw a film in the open on Saturday night 'Murder in Sheridan Square' which was very good if a bit creepy. Sunday was my day off and I had hoped to see the B.O.D. cup final in the afternoon but I went to town with Mack and Fred in the morning and found when I got back for dinner they had played the match in the morning. As it managed to rain after dinner, I decided bed was the best place to be so I had a couple of hours kip. It's been a long time since I went to bed on Sunday afternoon, isn't it love. Still we might try it when I get back, what do you say ? OK ?

We went to the Palladium in the evening to see and ENSA show composed mostly of Ities but it was one of the best shows I have seen over here and a packed house gave them a fine reception. It was on for two nights and there was a big queue waiting again tonight to see it. We had some more chaps arrive in our billet tonight and one had his dog with him he had had for almost two years. It was like a small edition of Peter and can do plenty of tricks. Tell keith and Sheila I'll tell them all about the dogs in the camp in my next letter.
Your loving husband

13th April 1945

Well love, although I've not had a letter from you yet this week I heard through Dick that you had been visiting his family and I expect you have been too busy to get cracking. I hear you all had a great time together although the weather could have been better and hope it hasn't been too much for you with the kiddies and you are not feeling too fagged out now.

We heard today of the death of President Roosevelt and it seems hard that he should miss the victory which now seems to be so near. We shall hear any day now that Berlin has been entered and the way the Allies are driving all over Germany it must all finish before long. We shall then have to see what attitude Russia takes towards Japan and if she decides to link up with the Allies then I don't think it will take long to put Japan into her place.

I expect you will have noticed that we don't have to put stamps on our airmails now and understand that letters under one ounce from home will reach us by air in three or four days, just like airmails. perhaps I shall get an increase in letters from friends from whom 6d was too much to pay.

Well love since my last letter written on Tuesday evening the most exciting thing I have been doing is listening to the news bulletins at night with all the news about the allies. They are about 50 miles from Berlin.

On Wednesday, Dick was told he was being moved to another part of the depot at Traffic and a corporal was coming from there in his place. He has not gone yet but expects to do so in the next day or so. I shall not see as much of him as his billet will be little way from ours. I think the other chap had a spot of trouble where he worked and Dick happens to be the one selected to change places with him. There might be a chance of promotion in it for Dick if he likes the job.. I don't know the chap coming here but it will seem strange after working with Dick for so long.

On Wednesday night we went to the pictures but they showed a different film 'The Life of Mark Twain' which I had already seen but it was a decent film so I didn't mind too much. We came across afterwards to hear the news and I was in bed by 10.0pm.

Thursday was a fine day as usual and NAAFI night. I had a nice 2oz block of chocolate you know, love. like the broken stuff we used to get from Woollies. I wish I could send it home for the kiddies.. I did have a shower earlier and went to the whist drive but didn't do any good.

I had my first drink of Vermouth for two months as I went across to the canteen with Rusty, the chap in the next bed,. They didn't have any glasses though so we had to fetch our mugs from the billet and took half a mug each back to the billet. I'm glad I didn't have more as what I did have made us both talkative. We sat for half an hour talking about home and I bet your ears were burning.

Today was busy at work and we saw in orders our boss Capt. Wilkes is now a Major. he is away from the offices till Monday and I bet when he comes back all the civvies will give him flowers like they did when Capt. Tucker was promoted from Lieutenant. The Italians are a very excitable lot and if one gives flowers they all do the same, they are so jealous of each other.

I went to the information room after work to hear the 6.0pm news but they didn't give much fresh news, most of it was about Roosevelt. They are showing 'Song of Bernadette' in the camp tonight. I've seen it twice already so I had a mug of soup about 7.15pm and here I am. 

It's my day off tomorrow and I'd arranged to go with Tom and a party to Vesuvius but we have to attend the cinema to see a training film in the morning so the trip is off. I hope to go to town later and as I have about 2000 liras (£5) in my pocket I'll see what I can buy with part of it for you. I might end up just with a box of lemons so don't get too excited.

By the way I don't know if there are any bathing shorts on sale in Leicester, cheap as the football shorts I have to wear are rather long. What are my old ones like ? have the moths got at them ? They want about 25/- for a pair over here and it breaks my scotch heart to have to pay so much. I expect in a month's time we shall be able to start our regular dips in the sea again.. Dick's wife in the last letter addressed it to 'Dear Redder Tummy' as she had heard from you that he had got red from the sun after bathing.

We had a nice easy afternoon on Thursday as our offices were sprayed with DDT and we were not allowed in for one hour so we sat on the balcony eating walnuts which we acquired through a hole in the next door store room.. Afterwards we went to collect our pay so most of the afternoon had gone What a cushy life, eh love !. Still there is plenty of work as a rule so it made a nice change

Well goodnight love, Lots of kisses to you all.

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17th April 1945

I was pleased to get your letter date April 11th together with a letter from Keith. I'll forgive you for the delay as I know you have had a busy weekend at Brum and would need a day or two to get over it. I understand all letters under 1 oz in weight can now come by air with a 2d stamp on and as your only too 3 days it seems just as fast.

I'm afraid I shouldn't recognise the places you saw in the film 'Madonna of the Seven Moons' as I've not been there but if the film should be down our way I'll let you know how life there compares with this part,

You are getting to be a boozy trio with Mrs. brown and Mrs Woodcock not even making going to the pictures an excuse for dropping in to the local and I can see we husbands will be left at home with aprons around our waists wondering whether or not to bath the kiddies before putting them to be

I hope you enjoyed your outing though, love, though if you do have a drop more than you need to quench your thirst, then you have to expect a thick head in the morning.

Thanks for the pansy which is now in my diary though a part of the colouring came off on your letter but when we read the letters together we'll see the stain and remember how it happened.

I'm pleased you received the box of lemons although three of them didn't survive the journey. I see you say you are broke this week.
but I hope you will take a nights entertainment out of the wardens 10/-. I think you deserve it more than I do. I can't remember when Mam's birthday is and I always get mixed up between hers and Dad's. One is April 26th and the other May 12th and I got it crossed last year. Would you see that  few flowers are put on the grave for me for Dad's birthday.

I'm hoping to go on leave in the next week or so so don't want to send my credits home until I have then. I have I understand £10- £11 and I may find something nice while I'm on leave which I can send you.

Well love I couldn't get into town until Saturday and could not find anything in the shops so I bought some more packets of figs and two or three kilos of sweets and shall be sending them off in two or three days when I've got them packed up.

Sunday was a work day and I spent last nigh covering Keith's budget and enclosed cards for Sheila and Michael. The assortment of picture cards is small and I hope I've not sent ones they have had before.

I had to smile at Keith's drawing of the Greenhill with Jesus on the cross and the two thieves on the crosses each side. I know it's how their minds work it out but to see two arrows pointing to the crosses and the word 'Crooks'  It means all the same when all is said and done but it sounds quaint and a modern way of expressing it. he seems to write better letters each time and tell him I'm sorry I did not return his magic puzzle but managed to help the boxer through the ring.

I can't answer his question about how many soldiers there are in this camp as that's one thing we are not allowed to mention but there are lots and I will be glad when I can see a lot of men with civvy suits on including myself. As long as everyone doesn't choose the same design because we will then all look the same as we do in the army.

Yesterday, Dick had to move to another job in the depot so there is another corporal here now. I saw Dick last night when he came here for the picture show and said his new job was not a patch on the job he had left and was fed up already.

he's having to sleep on a wooden slatted bed like we did when we first arrived and he says his job could be done by a 15 year old.. We saw a picture in camp 'To Have and to have not' with Hunphreyt Bogart in the lead and it was quite good although it was shown in the open and we needed our greatcoats on to keep warm.

I've not heard the news tonight as after writing some of this letter I went to the Whist drive and had a good night. During the first half I won a tube of toothpaste also a bar of soap and ended up with 40 cigarettes as well and 50 lira. (2/6). My luck must have been in. I scored 96 the first half in 12 hands. Not bad, eh love ?

Dick came in and he is still browned off with his job. By the way I said I expected the civvies to buy flowers for our officer who is now a Major but they bought a polished ink stand instead.

Well love time to say goodnight. Dream of me and may both our dreams be of the future.

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20th  April 1945

I was pleased to get your airmail written on the 16th and posted on the 17th. I'm sorry your leg is aching though your arm seems to be getting on well and I think the war must be carry on another week or two to allow your arm to get better by the time peace is declared.. From all accounts it looks as if peace as we know it will take a long time and there will be no official surrender but when the allied armies meet and have cleared or occupied Germany they will leave a certain amount of troops in possession and concentrate on Japan.

Lets hope though that real peace is not far away and like you I sometimes feel so lonely without you and the kiddies and thank God that the day when we will be together again is getting nearer.

I see that the walnuts have turned up and today I posted two more boxes of mixed nuts and figs with another to follow in a day or two. Don't forget to wash the figs before you eat them in case there are any maggots inside them. I think there is one packet of figs in each box I have sent and there are two in the next one so you may be able to give your Mam some of them.

I see from my diary that I sent the postal order off to the wholesalers on March 1st for the barley sugar etc and they should be arriving any time now.

You sure have been very busy in the garden love and I wonder sometimes how you manage it all. I'm please Keith and Sheila like their letters and guess by now they have got those I posted on the Sunday. I generally put a bit of propaganda in my letters to Keith saying how I want him to look after you and the others and he may be taking a bit of notice.

I've not seen the booklet yet about demobilisation and all I know is my release group is number 30 so until I see in the newspapers the dates of the various release groups I can't estimate how long it will take to reach my number. I think you had better start a publicity campaign at your end to find out and why after May 1st they are not calling up any more men over 31 when men over 40 carry on in the army perhaps for a long time yet !

Till then it's time we started saving money to give our children a decent education. The War Office seems more concerned about ending you forms of all descriptions. I should ask the Post Office folk if they know anything about form you had about the court order. I can't see what you want that for unless they are trying to sting me for more taxes. They will have a job I think. I don't want to have to leave home again when I get back although sometimes I think I would come home even just for one day to see just how you and the kiddies are and how Mam is as she seems off colour quite a bit lately. It must as you say, be the strain on her of having to be continually among the noise with the lads however well they behave.

Well my love since my letter I wrote on Tuesday night things have been much the same as usual here. The sun still shines each day a bit warmer and it was a surprise last night about 5.0pm when we had a shower, the first for three weeks, I think. I rained again for a few minutes again tonight but it seems close and stuffy now. It is just getting dark and there is a picture in the open air at 8.30 so I shall go and look if I have seen it before. We don't know the title of the film yet.

On Wednesday night there was a film at the Palladium but I had to go to the second house as earlier we drew our KD in readiness for the summer. I expect we shall start wearing them in two or three weeks time but I've got to get mine shortened by about 6". I shall look as though I shall be wearing three quarter length ones.

Tomorrow night we start using our mosquito nets to sleep under although it's a bit of a nuisance, it is necessary and I don't want a dose of Malaria. I expect we shall have to start taking the malaria tablets as well. It's a good job I have a good swallow as they taste very bitter and it's a job to get them down.

The picture on Wednesday was Tall in the saddle' with Bob Wayne, at least I think that was his name, in the lead. I think Keith would enjoy it. Thursday was bath night and later on I came over here to write to Mam and Jack Robinson. I've got quite a few letters to answer and yesterday had a letter from George Henderson who is now in India. Like me he find there is no place like home. I also received a letter from Graham Evans thanking me for the football snap of Frank Hull and myself and telling me to watch out for No 8 of Faire Brothers magazine.

Dick seemed to be more cheerful tonight about his job but says it does not compare with his job here. Still the army doesn't have time to think about such things I guess what it says goes and you just have to make the best of it.

Well it's time to close again. Give the kiddies lots of love and kisses for me.

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23rd April 1945

Well love it's not over yet but I bet you are listening like I am to at least one news bulletin every day so you don't miss the announcement when it does come off. The last great assault is nearing it's end and Hitler and all that he stands for will soon be a thing of the past.

I expect you feel like I do that if only Japan would collapse at the same time we could celebrate fully but I don't think she will last long on her own and then we shall be reunited again I know it's second nature for you now to keep your chin up and you will get your reward love, as far as it is in my power to give it to you. 

I hope you and the kiddies are well and are having decent weather. here it has been a fine weekend  and on Saturday we went with 10 others to see Vesuvius. After a dusty lorry ride we arrived at the closest point the lorry could take us and from where we stood we could see for miles around the lava fields spread out around us and a darker patch where it burst down the side of the mountain last year.

We had a guide who told us it was an hours climb from where we were to the top. We actually took about an hour and a half before we reached the summit. I felt like packing it in well before we reached the top and haven't felt so old for years. Still we made it and when we stood on the top and looked down we wondered how we had managed to do it in the time.

The crater was about 100 feet in diameter and about 100 feet deep and very much like an old slate quarry with all rubble and stones at the bottom. There was no sign of life in it, no steam or smoke pr lave although the ground which we sat down on around the rim was quite warm. we could see Naples stretched out in front of us and one or two planes came circling around.

We came down in about ten minutes as we followed the guide's example of sticking our feet in the loose gravel which was about a foot or two deep down the side of the mountain and half slid and half skated down. we had a drink of vermouth at a little stall at the bottom and although they charged double the normal price we would have paid whatever they had wanted as we were thirsty and dusty

We stopped alter for some tea and cakes at the YMCA and got back to camp about 8.0pm. I bought a glass tube filled with some of the stuff that feel over the countryside after the eruption which I was going to send to you but I pulled it out of my pocket with my wallet and it broke. so the floor so that was that. I have asked another chap to get me another one when he is there next week.

There was a film at the camp, 'double indemnity' which I had seen before but it was a good picture. Sunday we were at work and I found plenty to do. At night there was a special picture show in camps called 'Kismet' a proper old timer with Malene Dietrich, Ronal Coleman and Edward Arnold in Technicolor and the chap in charge warned USA to expect a few breakdowns as it was an old print. he was right, it was like watching a serial. There were at least 15 breakdowns before it finished. Still we have to be thankful for small mercies.

Dick came up on his return from the same trip we had on Saturday and said there was a lot of cloud about so he didn't get as good a view as we did.

I hope to go to the opera next Saturday if the shop can get the tickets for us unless of course the war is over by then and we are confined to camp for our own celebrations. From the news today things seem to be going well all round and the link up between the Allies and the Russians should take place any day now. Berlin seems to have had it and if Hitler stays until the end as he says it would be the best way of finishing him off.

 I think I told you in my last letter I had sent off two more boxes of nuts and figs to you and hope they don't take as long as the last box of walnuts. Don't forget to examine the figs before you eat them as there may be a maggot in some of them. I wish I could send you some of our chocolate rations but expect I would get puled up if I tried to

Well love I didn't finish this last night and in a way I'm glad as today I received the latest family photograph and it's a grand one and the best yet of you all. Sheila seems to have altered most to me and seems to be more grown up and a little slimmer in the process. Keith and Michael look well and Keith has the same smile he had in the previous photo six months ago. You get even younger looking  and when I show it around the lads can see why I'm not interested in the female sex here with such a lovely wife and family. I do feel more homesick though h when I look at you all and realise what I am missing. You have done a wonderful job on your own for the last three years looking after them so well and still keeping your own good looks. I can see that you will be blaming me if a couple of years after I get back you start to get lines on your forehead. Still I will try to keep you looking young.

All my love sweetheart and keep smiling.

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26th April 1945

I was very pleased to get your letter yesterday which you finished on Sunday afternoon and as you see ordinary letters come as quickly as airmail letters so you needn't worry whether you have an airmail form or not.

I'm sorry love you are having trouble with your leg again and know how discouraged you must feel after getting it about right again. I hope love it will make steady progress this time and clear up properly and guess it is how my bottom would have been if that had healed over. Don't let it get you down though love will you and try to rest it as much as possible though I know it is easier said than done. You had better ask Dr Mann for a full report for me as I am sure you need me at home to help more than some folks who have their husbands at home on compassionate postings. Still the war is drawing to its last few days I think now and any day now the bells will ring out for peace in Europe.

I'm glad in a way that two drinks are enough to finish you off as I was wondering how I should be able to take you out when we get settled down again on my normal spending money

I can imagine the time you had with the kiddies during the storm and it's a job to think up a reason for it that they can understand to keep them from being nervous. I guess Keith thought that being the man of the house he had to set an example and I should tell them that where daddy is we get storms just the same but everyone who lives here likes them because the rain makes the food grow and the lightning ripens the corn. The kiddies don't like the sound of the thunder but know if it doesn't thunder the rain doesn't fall as fast and the plants and flowers won't grow as quickly. When you have another storm love, if it's at night, show them the garden the next day and say how much the flowers and plants have grown, especially anything they have helped plant. I'm full of good ideas aren't I love, some good and some not so good.

I hope Harry is progressing after his operation. He's had a rough time of it altogether and will take a long time to get back to good health again. Remember me to him and tell him I wish I could send some of the sunshine home we are having. Tell Keith daddy is OK and hopes to be the best in the house when he gets home.

I remember bringing some newts home that we used to catch against the walls just above Ingle Street School and I hope he has his wish of one of each sex so that he can breed with them.

As regards leave love I have heard nothing more yet but round our way we don't have charming hostesses to make it like home for us. They may have them in Rome but so long as I can spend a week relaxing and energising myself back home that will suit me. The only pleasures I will expect are late breakfasts with eggs and bacon, swims in the sea when I feel like it and plenty of books and writing materials. By the way love you photo has been duly admired by all of the staff in the office, civilian and military and most of them think that Sheila is like you and Keith and Michael like me. That makes it two to one in my favour but I don't think somehow you mind love and don't want another daughter to make it two each, do you? The photo takes pride of place on my table so I always feel near to you.

Since my last letter I finished on Tuesday the most exciting words have been the war news etc. and I am expecting the whole lot to be over any day now. I see in the papers that a lot of housewives still feel nervous about leaving the windows uncurtained after dark and I guess it's strange to see the lights on everywhere after so long. There should be a few good bonfires soon when the time comes to burn all the blackout paper etc. Shall you have the shelter taken away or put outside on the lawn for summer teas and a shady relaxing place on a Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday night was our weekly whist drive night but I didn't repeat my success of the previous week. I did mange to get three 11's in the second half but also three 3's so that didn't help much. On Wednesday after a nice shower I went to the open air picture show in camp. The title was "San Diego I love You" and Buster Keaton had a small role in it but it wasn't much good.

We heard today that Milan, Genoa and another Italian place had been taken over by Italian patriots from the Germans and if it is right the campaign on this side will soon be finished. 

I'm glad you will be able to get some flowers for dads grave on Sunday and I hope to send a postal order along love which will pay for them and also buy mam something from me for her birthday on May 12th.

I've not sent the other box of nuts home yet but will do so before the week is out. I know you like a good munch at them now and again. The lads here say my wife must be fed up with nuts as they see me taking boxes to the P.O. not only mine but boxes for the chaps at the office who live down there so I post their boxes for them.

Well love it's time to say goodnight once more. Tell Michael that daddy had the kisses he wrote on your letter and they were real sloppy ones. 

29th April 1945

Well love I hope you didn't get drunk on the strength of the rumour that Germany had surrended, like we hear a lot of people in the U.S.A. did. Still it won't be long before they surrender to the whole Allies and we shall feel a lot nearer that reunion we have talked about so much and the thought of which has kept us carrying on.

We have heard that Mussolini and some of his gang have met with a quick end at the hands of their former subjects and of course there are rumours that Hitler has gone mad (I thought he had been that way for a long time), he's dead, that he's still in charge of Berlin's defence (or what is left of it). However true these rumours are it shows Germany is on the point of collapse and I don't think she will be in such a position again to cause the damage she has over the last six years.

I suppose it feels more like peace time at home with all the lights on and with summer coming everybody planning summer holidays. Have you thought where you might like to go love to celebrate our second honeymoon. I bet the kiddies would enjoy it at the seaside this year and you and your two cronies the Mrs. B &W will have to hire a Midland Red (Bus Company) and take the families to Mablethorpe for a week. I'd bet you would have a time with 9 kiddies between you to watch. You'd have to take it in turns to nip across the road for a quick'un. 

I hope love you are not having a bad time with your leg again. I can't tell you how low I feel about it sometimes. My being here only able to write words which must seem always the same to you "stick it" "try to rest it" etc. knowing you have done the first and find it impossible to do the second as you are fixed. If I thought the army could give any special treatment to wives of soldiers I'd stir things up. It will always get me that there are as many with less responsibilities by far than your have and still have their better halves with them to help them have a good time. Still love we'll look on the cheerfull side and eat all the sweets and things ourselves and make them jealous. Perhaps they will make their husbands volunteer so they can send them some nuts. I guess if I had been one of the lucky ones who didn't get called up I shouldn't look at it like this and it must be a case of sour grapes.

Well love I managed to get down into town yesterday and buy something which I think you will like when you get it. As a matter of fact I went into the military gift shop and spotted some table centres painted with views of Italy at each corner they seemed reasonable at 420 lire each, about 21/-, so I bought two one for you and one for mum for her birthday. Feeling in a tender mood I also bought a pair of gloves which may or may not fit you but I hope so.

I've sent off today three registered envelopes, two to you containing your gifts and one to mam. If you are lucky and they come by air you should have them in a couple of days. Otherwise I expect mam won't get her birthday present until a fortnight or so after her birthday and my lovely wife will have to itch with curiosity for the same length of time. We find very little to spend our hard earned wages on and you'll be able to show the neighbours how lucky you are to have a husband overseas. There I go again love - I always was sarcastic wasn't  I.

We went to the opera again -quite a fan nowadays - and this time were five floors up but still had a good view. The weather wasn't too good as it rained on the way into town and we had a thunderstorm on the way back. Yesterday it was on orders that until we change into KD shorts for the summer in about a months time we should go to work in short sleeve order, that is without jackets. A lot of chaps got wet coming back to camp at dinnertime. I had to go work the same way today and it seemed quite strange to walk along with sleeves rolled up and a belt round my waist instead of braces. I took my gas cape with me as it has been cloudy all day and rained several times.

The gardens and fields here are full of plants and they seem to grow as you watch them. If I eat many more salads I shall smell of onions for the rest of my life. We get vegetable salad, including carrots,  peas, potatoes and onions on average every two days and  I've eaten enough prunes, stewed usually, to save me buying salts for the next few months. We get a lot of marmalade here as I expect they use a lot of the oranges they can't export to make into marmalade. You'll have to watch me at home with the jams love as here we just grab a jar and plaster it on about an inch thick. Don't tempt me though with any dehydrated potatoes if you want to keep me love as we get them served all sorts of ways and I am just keeping my mind, as I gobble it up, on some nice new potatoes and garden peas with a bit of lamb and mint sauce. We did have Yorkshire pudding today with our dinner to remind me a bit of home. Still we managed to get a tin of grapefruit on our NAFFI issue last week so two of us demolished it for supper (it was a big tin).

I hope the kiddies will not think I have forgotten them love in this letter but I will have to send them another letter each. I still get plenty of compliments about you all from the family photo on my desk and how lucky I am to have a nice family waiting for me. I'll envy nobody when that day arrives.

Goodnight sweetheart, god bless.

2nd May 1945

I was very pleased to get your letter dated April 29th today also the one from Miss Mason. I couldn't think for a minute or two who in the world  Miss Mason was until I realised we had a very beautiful Miss Mason ourselves and I'm hoping when I finish this letter love to send Miss, Master and Master Michael a letter each in reply.

I had a letter from mam yesterday and she said she felt a little better though it seems her chest is wheezy and as the weather even here is cold I expect you too are having a cold spell after your early taste of summer.

You don't mention your leg at all love so I hope it isn't troubling you too much or don't you mention it in case I worry. The snaps are nice and Michael with his cap and coat on looks a real boy and as you say love I guess I've had his baby ways. Still I think I shall find plenty of fun with the family I come home to and I don't think  you will have to worry about having to go through any more trying times in that direction. We've just got the family we want and please god we'll live our lives happily with them in peace before very long.

Sheila looks a bit wistful in the snaps but I can't say her mother looks the same. I guess people will be asking if you are my daughter if you keep it up. By the way love does Keith have to wear his glasses all the time? I showed Dick the snaps tonight and he has one with his wife holding the baby and she looks a big'un for two years or so though very much in the baby stage compared with Michael.

Well love while I was in the cinema tonight they announced the German armies in Italy had surrendered so another chapter of the war ends. I don't know quite what to believe about reports of Hitler's death. It's possible he has been killed, died, been murdered, poisoned or isn't dead yet but in any case I wouldn't like to be his successor. I think the end is near love and it seems on the 9pm news that is on as I write the allies are meeting very little opposition and soon there will be very little of Germany to capture.

I see Keith wouldn't mind me having to go away from home again if I came home on leave and I expect he does feel a bit lost without his dad and it's a good job he understands why. I think though love that I would feel more upset than before even about leaving you a second time though sometimes I feel I'd stick another year anywhere just to be with you for a month. I can't see Japan lasting long on her own and naval and air power must already be moving over to the east and Burma is nearly liberated. 

I often wonder if George Reeves is on the Malay peninsular near Singapore hoping before long to be freed as so many have in Germany. It is now four years since he was captured and I hope he has kept his health. I had a letter from Graham Evans yesterday and was sorry to hear Brian Kendall, a lad from the Haby Dept. who was a lieutenant in the R.A. I think has been killed on the western front. I don't think you knew him love but may remember his father who at one time was a mechanic after Jim Goodbury left and worked with Bill Griffin. He went to S & B later on.

I think I had better tell you how I am getting on before it is too late. Before I forget I checked up on the date of my letter after V33 and find it was sent off four days afterwards so it might have taken longer in the post. I guess you've got it by now also my V35 written on Thursday and possibly today V36 I wrote on Sunday evening. I suppose it is to much to hope that the registered envelopes have gone by air but if they have you should get them this week. Otherwise you will have to wait a month.

We had our shirt sleeve order on Monday, the weather is still cool and yesterday we had our jackets on again till the weather improves. We saw a good picture in the camp on Monday night called 'The man from Down Under' with Charles Laughton and it was quite good. Tuesday was a dull day with rain falling pretty often and at night was our weekly whist drive, Dick won the gents prize of 10/-. I had a reasonable score but not good enough. Today we were able to book or rather hand in our names hoping to get seats for the Opera to hear Gigli who by all accounts is the most famous Italian tenor and as it cost us 10/- for a seat he'd better be as good as they say he is. It is just to be able to say I heard him like the trip to Vesuvius.

I have heard nothing more about my leave but until the weather clears they can keep it. It has poured with rain most of the day. Were getting onions at least twice a day at the moment and I am full of wind from dusk to dawn.

Well love it's time to leave this writing room time 9.55pm and time to say once more Goodnight love, pleasant dreams and god bless you and the kiddies. Look after yourself for me.

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6th May 1945

Well love this might be the last letter written while we are at war with Germany and I guess you are also listening to all the news bulletins to hear when it is all over. I heard on the 7pm news that it is expected to be all over in the next two or three days and although it's not an automatic ticket back home immediately we know the hardest part is over. About 7.15pm on the same programme, as I was writing an answer to mum, the radio played "You'll be so nice to come home to" and I sat without writing anymore for quite a few minutes day dreaming of what it will be like.

Until the government start issuing the release groups we shan't know just where we stand and so will not feel as excited at the announcement of peace in Europe as we should have done in the last war. Still love we have stuck it so far and I know your love is with me as mine is with you.

I am glad there will be no more sirens, risk of plane crashes with bombs and restricted lighting etc. and things you've had to do without will be coming back into the shops again. There's one thing there should be enough ships around to take everyone out here home on leave and although I don't want to leave you again, even for a short time love, I long so much to see you and the kiddies again. I've not seen a photo of Sheila yet with a big smile on her face though I think she is a bit nervous of the camera.

I hope you have been luck and received the table centre and gloves by air I sent by registered envelope. I expect I shall hear from you in a few days if you have. I haven't heard anymore about the 7 days leave I'm expecting and it had better come quick or else I shan't have any credits left to spend on it.

It will be three years a week tomorrow since I had to report to Chepstow and start eating out of a mess tin with a thousand others in the same boat. I think there should be an increase of 1/- a day in my wages, unless as usual the army balances it in the army fashion and it is only an increase on paper. By the way did you hear anymore about that form you had to fill in asking if you had a court order against me etc.

I had a letter from Roy Lacey on Friday and he said he had been Bluebelling in Swithland Woods (with his fiancé I expect) and walked home through the fields to Anstey. It takes my mind back to the Hikes we had in our younger days (sounds like we are getting on in years) and I shall enjoy just as much picnicking with the kiddies doing the picking and us relaxing. According to him the name of Faire Brothers stinks a bit around Leicester but I'll be glad to get my bottom on the stool again.

I went to town yesterday with Sam Mead from Leicester and Tom Mansfield and once again had a do at the opera, this time it was "Madame Butterfly" I'll stop for a minute love, here is the 9pm news, are you listening with me love.

Well love it's 9-10pm and it seems all over bar the shouting. I'll be listening again with you love each night at the same time and am saving half a bottle of stout to drink your dear health. Have one for me love at the same time.

Well as I was saying love we had a good seat in the stalls for 2/6d  and when we came away from there we had tea and Tom took snaps of the group which I hope to send along when they are developed.

We had a cinema show on in camp on Friday night "Lost in a Harem" with Abbot and Costello and it wasn't too bad. The weather is getting warmer again after the colder and raining spell and  next week should see us in shorts. I've not been for a swim yet as I have been to town on my day off the last four weeks but will be doing so soon I expect.

I hope Keith Sheila and Michael get their letters and cards and are satisfied with them. I never know if the sums I set for Keith are OK but I asked him to send me a sample of what he does at school to put me wise. 

Well love I think I'll have an early night tonight so I can dream a little longer with you. I've got a nice corned beef sandwich waiting for me in the billet but no cocoa worst luck.

God bless you all.

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9th May 1945.  VE Day 
Well love I was pleased on VE1 day to get your letter dated May 3rd and posted on May 4th They arrived together with one from Mam just after we had had a short service in the square in the barracks and to see the snaps of you and the kiddies on the lawn with the bikes in the background made me long to be with you.

I expect you have had an exciting two days and the kiddies have had a good time with plenty of singing , bands, processions and ice creams. I have been listening quite a lot to the radio and we had a laugh today when the announcer gave the weather forecast for today and spoke about our old friend the depression. Also today when they were describing the scenes in London and saying that the dogs took no notice of the fireworks as they were already 'bomb happy'

Well love I hope you had a good time and not spent it worry about how long it will be before I'm back home. Actually none of us know what the government and the army will do. We are all waiting to see if they release some groups and give others leave and then send them back or what scheme they have.

The camp is very quiet at present. On Monday rumours were floating round all day, first it was over then it wasn't and we heard it first hand on the radio officially at 7.40 p.m.. I had saved half a bottle of stout from the NAAFI for the occasion and drank to your health and said a silent prayer that we would soon be together again.

Afterwards I walked across to the canteen with a pal about 8.0 pm and we had a couple of Vermouths to drink each other's health.

There was an open air show on camp 'Captain Courageous with Spencer Tracey in so we watched that and then went to bed not knowing if we would be working the next morning or not.. Nobody seemed very excited and the canteen closed at 10.0pm as usual with very few unsteady on their feet.

Reveille was at 5.45 as usual but the orderly sergeant came in and said work is off and we could sleep until 7.0am. I got up at 7.30 and had breakfast and we had an informal parade at 9.0 when the RSM said there was a service at 11.00 and afterwards free drinks in the canteen for two days..

We had the service but then there was a dive for the canteen by those who wanted to get lit up quickly.

I was with Dick and we managed to get a bottle of beer each and I read you letters while sitting outside in the brilliant sunshine. We had been told  to celebrate in camp if possible but after dinner decided to go for a dip in the sea so I have my first bathe this year getting back about 5.45. We were late for the cinema show in the Palladium so came back to the barracks to listen to the wireless and after a glass of vermouth at about 8.0 we heard the wireless again until about 10 pm. The wireless was outside and we sat there listening to the King's speech while across the square in the canteen the lads were having a rousing sing song with 'Bless them all' the favourite although they don't use the work 'bless' I was in bed by 10.30 but from then until about 1.0am I could hear various chaps returning to their billets singing as they came.

Today was also a rest day and this morning Dick and I visited the British Canteen where Dick took a snap for a momento. The soldier in charge there said he had had four years  burying and tending graves right from El Alemein onwards and he hadn't seen his daughter now four years old. He made Kraft cheese before he was called up and it certainly sounded a big change from his civvy job. When we got back we watched football match between the B.O.D teams and then came back to the camp for dinner. Some of the lads went swimming again this afternoon but I decided to change into my shorts and went to the information room to write some more letters.

The only thing in the camp tonight is another sing song in the canteen so once again I'm in my usual writing spot.

Well love, that was our victory celebrations, quiet weren't they ? When I come home we will celebrate properly, I promise.

God bless you and the kiddies.

11th May 1945

Well love I was pleasantly surprised to get you letter dated the 7th and am glad you liked your little gifts. It's a good idea to put the embroided cover under a glass tray and I mentioned what you have done to Tom Mansfield who also sent one home and he is writing home to tell them to do the same.

I'm sorry Sheila is poorly and hope she will get over it. I expect with all the noise and excitement of VE day you feel just about done in. Tell her daddy has sent her an extra kiss to make her better.

We have now been told we can send pictures home of where we are so I'm going through my souvenir snaps and postcards to send some to you so everyone can see what a beautiful country daddy is in just now. I had a word with the officer about my leave today and hope to go to Maiori a week next Monday for a break. It is lovely there for bathing so I can forget the daily routine for a week and daydream about the time we will be back together again. We don't know when that day will dawn but we have managed to keep our spirits up so far which is the main thing and that day will be the best we have ever had.

You say you don't mind being kept in on VE day as long as nothing stops you from meeting me at Leicester Station. I think you would be there, love, even if you had to break out of hospital wouldn't you and I feel happy knowing that we mean so much to each other.

I did have a letter from Agnes and I think she was being an optimist when she said she thought I would be playing cricket for Faire Brothers before the summer is out. I don't think some of the folks back home realise how long some of the lads have been out here without getting back home. There is also so much to do even though the Germans are finished.

A lad in our office has been here for four years and his release group is 36. We have heard rumours that 1-20 or 1-24 age groups should be released in the next six months but all I know is that we are supposed to start being educated by the Army during our spare time (if any) so I've put down for shorthand and Interior decorating so I can have a go at spring cleaning the house when I do get home and back to normal living.

Well last night we saw a very good ENSA show, "Pocket Varieties" an all Italian show which lasted about two hours and the house was packed. 

We have booked to hear Gigli the best known and by the price of the seats, the highest paid, tenor in Italy and the Verdi opera House in Salerno will be packed. The seats are priced from 5/- to £1 and we have ten shilling seats. I have seen quite a few operas at the San Carlo, Naples and the NAAFI there is housed in the Royal Palace which is a first class place. When we were there last, Tom Mansfield took a snap of us on the balcony which I will send to you in due course.
We are now allowed by the censor to mention places we have been to and it was at Naples 16 months ago where we landed. We were for a time at Nola which you can find on the map about 20 miles from Naples. before coming in March 1944 to our present location.
Well love, now we don't have to limit the number of  blue triangle letters we write each week I shall be writing more often so good night sweetheart, carry on the good work a little longer. All my love, Eric.

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15th May 1945

Well how are things  now? Are you able to settle down for a bit longer. I hope you haven't been knocked up with Sheila being poorly. I've had a letter from mam today which says Sheila seems a bit better and as she says there are a lot of feverish colds about. Does she still look a pitiful little thing when she is poorly. I remember she used to look that sorrowful and unhappy when she was off colour.

Mam says she hopes to get her present from me put in a tray like you mentioned in your letter and we will have something to remind us of Italy when we have settled down again in our proper life again.

Well love my last letter to you was on Friday and here is an account of myself since then. As a rule on Saturdays I have a day off but I had to work for a change and have Sunday off. Saturday evening there was a show (picture) so I was more or less up to date with my correspondence. I went and so passed one more evening.

On Sunday, which was our first day in shorts, I went to a thanksgiving service in the church here and am saving the programme in my wallet for that day when we can read together our letters etc. again. Afterwards we got one or two sandwiches and went for a swim. Afterwards we did a bit of sunbathing and I did my best about keeping from getting sunburnt about my body. I forgot to pay as much attention to my legs and about 5pm when we got back to camp they had started to tingle.

After that I went to see Gigle, the Italian tenor and he was very good in "The Masked Ball". It was about 12pm when we got back to camp.

The ration corporal went on leave on Monday and I have taken over the rations for a week. It is a change and as I hope to go on leave myself next week with Dick I'm afraid my normal work has gone to the dogs a bit. There was a good picture on in camp at night called "And Now Tomorrow"  with Loretta Young in the lead and it was quite warm outside watching it. I put some vasolene on my legs when I got back to my billet. Today to be on the safe side I put my long trousers on instead of my shorts and now tonight I am about OK again.

A lot of chaps have underestimated the power of the sun and got burnt a bit, my knees are a lovely brownish pink and my arms are skinning a bit as we have to have our sleeves rolled up during the day.

Tonight after we finished there was a bit of a do for the 'Ities' who work with us so it was about 7.45pm when I left. They were having a dance on the square when I decided to sneak away but it beats me how they are able to dance so fast with the weather so hot. Every waltz is about twice as fast as an old fashioned English waltz and their quick steps make them dance so fast.

There are about 40 chaps and 7 or 8 girls so they made each dance an excuse me so each one got a chance. I tried one  dance but gave it up as bad job as I think I am getting a bit old to go at that pace. I went across to the writing room to write this but it was closed for the evening so I had to sit on the side of my bed so if the writing is a bit scrawly please forgive me.

Before I go on I forgot to mention that yesterday was my third anniversary in the army so I will be handing in my pay book to get the extra 1/- a day plus I think 3d a day for the third year increment. I guess the army in their quiet way will give it me with one hand and take it away with the other so if my wage increases and yours goes down you will have to let me know so I can send it on now and again.

It is now 10.20pm and while I am writing this there is an argument going on about state control,children etc. nearby, so as I have to join in now and again I will have to hurry to finish by lights out.

I've not fished out the views I have to send home but hope to do so tomorrow or Thursday. I don't know what to buy Keith for his birthday as the toys are too big (what are worth buying) but if I am unable to get anything I'll have to let you know and send the money on.

Well love it's time once more to say goodnight. I know there is not much interesting happening to put in the letter but it is the usual daily routines here


17th May 1945

I was very pleased to get your letter today dated the 11th of May and I'm relieved to hear Sheila is a bit better and hope the weather will allow you to go out with her and help put the roses back in her cheeks again. Poor kid, I bet she was in a state with her ulcerated mouth and bet she was in a lot of pain. I've wondered about if it affects the teeth and from what I remember it can be caused by drinking from another persons cup and the sergeant I work with said they had a case on gingivitis in their mob in Scotland and the army authorities sent them about 120 tubes of Gibbs dentifrice.

I am sorry about your leg still being sore love and it must have decided not to heal until I come home. We have been discussing the release group plans and it looks like another 8 months or so before the army give me my ticket. Whether or not I get home on leave in the meantime rests I suppose on the usual shipping situation, how many men have to stay on the job here and in relation with the war against Japan.

I see Churchill has said that men needed for Burma will get leave at home first if possible and though I think I shan't be going out that way it seems the only certain way of getting leave at home. I expect they will still have the L.I.A.P. draw for chaps with over 2 years    service abroad and on August 11th I shall be eligible for that so you never know. Someone has to be lucky and it might be me.  I do understand I shall be going on local leave for a week next Monday so I'll have plenty of time to get up to date with all of my letters.

Since my letter on Tuesday night life has been going on much the same here. We had a thunderstorm last night at the time we should have been going to an outdoor picture show and so it was held in the 'Palladium'. It was about the closest night we have had so far. The sweat was rolling off of us as there was a crowded house and the picture  ' Song of a lonely Soul' or something like that with Percy Grant as Ernie Mott a London Cockney in the lead role took two hours to show. 

I lay in my vest with one blanket only on top and was still too warm. I went back to short trousers today as my legs are OK again but my arms have started to skin and itch like the devil. I had a very nice shower tonight, changed my underwear and after our NAAFI issue, which included 3 half pint bottles of Italian ale per man, it was about 8.30pm and I came over here.

By the way I see my sums to Keith are too easy for him and am waiting for him to send me a few examples of what he is able to do. I expect it is a queer sort of peace for the kiddies with so many things still rationed and especially for those who still have to wait for their daddies to come home before things are like they remember them before the war.

Mabel and Bernice  have done more for us than we can repay though I know they don't want any such thing and we will try to find some way to show them how much we love them for all they have done. I hope Mabel is getting better now and is able to give up work and have a good rest at home. Norah seems to thrive on work at the Fosse Cinema and expect she's glad of the money it brings her. With the kids growing up and still all at school I don't expect she is able to put much away and it will help when Eric starts work at August I should think.

I don't think I will be able to taste your early potatoes this year love do you, but save a few shallots as they will go well with a bit of cheese and a nice cup of cocoa. Happy days love I have always kept before me and always will till we start an even happier life together with the added knowledge of how much we mean to each other.

We were given the army booklets on the release plans and the government plans for making super men before we enter civvy street again by educating ourselves etc. still it must be handy for the chaps with five years service already and the prospect of another 18 months like a lot have. I see Bevan still says he won't call up any more over the age of 30 and it's about time John Bull wrote him an open letter regarding all the chaps much older who have done their bit and not had the chance of making a nice bank balance to educate their families while the lads who were only 25 when the war started and shot into reserved jobs can sit back and rub their hands and carry on making their money. I wonder if he has a son just over 30 who may have been affected

Well love I talk like this as it seems unfair not just to me but all of the lads.

God bless you and the kiddies

21st May 1945

Well love at last I am on 7 days leave and as Dick managed his at the same time we are both tonight sitting outside the house which is the unit rest camp on our first night away. It has been a lovely day today and we had a swim and a good sunbathe. I had spent one or two days before coming here on the beach so am already a nice brown.

 I am making it a real quiet holiday and hope to get right up to date with my correspondence.  I expect the mail from you will take a day or two longer to reach me as it will no doubt go first to where I work before being forwarded on. I didn't know till this morning it was Whit Monday and so, unlike Leicester which is not having a holiday at Whit I am taking it easy.I hope love you are well and that Sheila has got over her gingivitis so you are getting your rest again and the kiddies can play out once again. 

Out here the main topic is the demobilization plan and they say the up to group 26 will be out this year. That sounds as though it will be February or March before I get my ticket but I'm hoping Japan will continue her peace offers and accept unconditional surrender long before then, before her islands get blasted to kingdom come. Of course new schemes may come in besides to release older men from the services so we always have a hope in our hearts to keep us going

I see we shall have plenty of ribbons to wear with the army civvy suit with the 1939-45 star, the defence medal and Italian medal and think I shall have to apply for the ARP medal as I got three years service in before the army found I was necessary there. Still I can't see me wearing any but the kiddies might like to play with them.

There is another LIAP draw tonight at the camp and in another three months time my name will go in. You never know your luck love and as groups 1-18 are excluded as they will be returning home in the next three or four months. Of course by August they will have extended the number of groups that are excluded from leave and if they do exclude up to group 30 I know it wont be long before my turn comes.

We had grand meals today as there are only about 30 men here and it is always easier cooking for that number rather than 2000 men. I understand we can get eggs for breakfast at 20 lire (1/-)each so although it no doubt seems dear to you I shall be getting my strength up during the week. We had our annual egg in camp on Sunday morning so it was a good start. I went to communion at 8.30am and afterwards went with Tom Mansfield down to the beach for the day.

Inflation does not seem to have applied to eggs. Currently they are 49p for ten in the local Lydl store which makes them 1/- each in 'old' money, exactly the price Eric was paying in Italy in 1945

All last week I was on civvy rations going by lorry to draw them and then issuing them later in the day. It was a change and this weather its nice to get out for a ride instead of being inside all of the time. By the way love I see our beds have sheets on so I doubt if I will sleep very well after being used to army blankets for so long. We also have tablecloths on the dining room table, cups with handles and saucers and our food is served on plates with no queuing up. During the week I hope to visit once more the place I bought the needlework for you from last year and also I hope to get Keith something for his birthday. If I can't I'll be sending home one or two P.O.'s for you to get him something.

I keep getting put off this letter as Dick is nursing the cat and it keeps sticking its claws into him and playing about and he keeps wanting me to watch it.

I drew 4,000 lire (£10) today so I shouldn't be short on leave but today I've not spent a cent. I certainly won't spend it on wine as it has to last me until a week on Thursday in any case as we miss the usual fortnightly pay parade next Thursday. 

I am hoping Keith will be sending me another letter soon telling me what he does at school as he seems to have earned his chocolate too easily. By the way I don't suppose you have had any of the South African stuff yet but it should be coming along any day now.

Give my love to both Mams and dad and I'll be writing them all in the next day or so. I hope Mams asthma has about cleared up  and she is able to get out again, also your mum is getting over her illness. 

Well love it's getting dark, time to say once more goodnight sweetheart, sweet dreams and god bless you and the kiddies. I spend my days and nights thinking of you all and longing for that day of all days to dawn.

24th May 1945

Well love I have now been here three days and have had grand weather all the time so far. As a matter of fact it is too warm sometimes and I've managed to burn my legs quite a bit more than is good for comfort so parts are skinning. Still it is very restful and I am eating more eggs than I have had for the past 12 months, I should be fit by the end of the week.

We spent the first day on the beach having a dip and a sunbathe and (excuse the blotches love there are a few drops of rain falling, heat spots I think and I'm sitting on the wall of the promenade writing this) at night we wind up at the club.

Tuesday was even hotter and most of the time we lounged on the beach sunbathing and swimming, more of the former as I am not such a hot swimmer but manage to splash around for about ten minutes at a time. I find it is difficult to sleep at nights as it is hot and the noise of the sea seems to keep me awake.

There are a lot of fishing boats here and night they go out with big lamps on the front of the boats which they say makes the fish blind and they swim into the net. With nearly a full moon at the moment it looks a treat and if you and the kiddies were with me at the moment I should be happy.

The sands are not the golden colour we see at home partially because of the ash from Vesuvius laying about still and mixing with the sand. It gives it a dirty grey look. Some of the kiddies are as brown as berries and spend most of their time in and out of the water.

On Wednesday we decided to walk to Ravello, the beauty spot in the hills where in peacetime many rich English people have their villas and it was and it was there we went for a day last September and I bought the needlework. It was rather hot walking but we saw some grand scenery on the way. We arrived there at midday and decided it was time to quench our thirst. 

We went to a very nice hotel with an open verandah where the proprietor, who had learnt English very well, looking after visitors for 35 years, said wine was better than lemonade as a thirst quencher so we had a bottle between us. After the drink he took us to a really well fitted bathroom for a wash and brush up and then we decided it was time to eat. We had two eggs and chips followed by cream cheese made from goats milk and another bottle of white wine.

Needless to say we we felt nice and tired by the time we had finished and we sat in the deck chairs for about an hour daydreaming and wishing it was peacetime and we were properly on holiday with you and the children. Afterwards we went round the villas we had visited before, also the monastery. A young novice took us round and I found the wine I had had enabled me to talk fluent Italian. When we came out he gave us little discs with the crest of the monastery on and it surprised me when he asked if we had a cigarette, not for him as I thought at first, but for the priest. It was a new one on me and we had to laugh. 

We started back to camp at 4pm and got back in time for dinner at 6pm. I had dropped my watch in the sand the day before and it had stopped so I took it to the watch repairer and he hopes to get it done by Friday for a cost of 10/-.  We had some snaps taken and called for them from the photographers. There are three or four with me on and you will see love I'm trying to keep young for you although I notice my grey hairs are getting more numerous.

I received today  my first mail since coming here, three copies of the Leicester Chronicle from Mabel  which I haven't studied yet, Faire Brothers magazine No.9 which includes my snap taken with Frank Hull and a letter from Jack Turvey.

Later today  after I had started this letter I was pleased to get yours dated May 18th and am pleased to see you had a nice time at the Culver Road party.

I know how you feel about some neighbours and I feel the same way love but it is as well not to think that way too much but thank god the war has not hit us as hard as some. We don't know how long it will be before we are together again and I know the children must be a trial to you sometimes. I bet the front room looks a lot bigger without the shelter and I am wondering how Michael is going to kiss his daddies photo. He'll have to blow kisses in future

I can't find any good photo's of Vesuvius yet for Keith but I hope to get some before long.

I'm sorry I forgot to say how much I liked the goodnight snap of Sheila and Michael and it will be a grand day when I can carry them up to bed. Goodnight love, god bless you all. The shelter which is refered to consisted of a metal top table under which we spent the night when the air raid sirens sounded. If the house collapsed, the theory was that the table would be strong enough to stop those underneath being crushed.

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27th May 1945

Well love once more I'm back in camp after my leave and after some time getting my kit etc. straight again. Here I am in the writing room about 7.30pm to talk to you dear.

The time has passed quickly during the last week and it doesn't seem five minutes since I started my holiday there. I am sending in another envelope some views of Maiori and Amalfi also some of Ravella and you will see how from them how hilly the country is around that area

Click on image to enlarge There is one view showing Amalfi with a lift to a hotel in the foreground and Keith would love to see that I'm sure. I've sent him in another envelope a little booklet of snaps of Vesuvius taken during the eruption last year and they were all I could get. Tell Sheila and Michael I will be sending them a picture card in a day or two so they won't think daddy has forgotten them when he sent a letter to Keith. 

Dick has taken some good snaps during our leave and I'll be sending them on when the copies come through. I got well tanned during the week as most of our time was spent in bathing costumes on the beach. 

I went round the shops at Maiori to try to find something for Keith's birthday but couldn't find anything so will be sending a P.O. for £2 and you will have to get something for me love. I did buy a tie which I'm sending and also a couple of bottles of brillantine which I thought were scent when I bought them. There are also three little handkerchiefs and a bracelet, which if you think Sheila would like with one of the links off she can have or if you like it for yourself love, have it and I'll try to get a smaller one for her.

On Friday we decided to learn how to row. I took it out across the bay, being an experienced oarsman (?) after practicing on the Abbey Park (remember, love) and then Dick took over and after a shaky start got on pretty well. After dinner we decided to visit Amalfi grotto and cavern under the sea with pillars of rock and an entrance, besides of course the one we entered by, about 30ft under water so the sunlight reflecting through the water in the tunnels made all the water in the grotto a wonderful emerald colour. We had walked from the rest camp to Amalfi where we hired a boat and after an hours journey around the coast we reached it. The water was not rough but had a bit of a swell on but I didn't feel sick for once.

I think we must have got boats on the brain as Saturday morning we decided to try a spot of fishing from a rowing boat. We had had our usual two eggs for breakfast, I had altogether 14 eggs in 6 days, and once again the sea had rather a heavy swell which was OK as we were rowing out but while fishing my stomach began to feel uneasy. We stuck it for over an hour but didn't catch anything  so we gave up. When I got back to the billet I thought I'd feel better if I gave up my breakfast which I did and felt much better afterwards.

I didn't have a lot of mail while I was at the rest camp, one from you on Thursday and one from mam on Friday together with Faire Brothers magazine and some Leicester Chronicles from Mabel. The only letter waiting for me on my return was one from Jack Richardson and a Leicester Chronicle from Gladys Wain.

I see the children have had a good time at the various street parties and hope you enjoyed your little outing to Coalville on Monday. I hope the weather at home now is better and you are still wearing that smile love and have the family once more in good health. I hear Keith's tummy had been off so no doubt you had a bit of extra work with his pants.

I guess this waiting is getting you down now and again love and I feel the same wishing with all my heart a miracle would happen and I could find myself on the way home to you. When my thoughts dwell on what I am missing every day I am away from you I feel rotten knowing a lot of chaps have to come home before me and you must carry on alone however your health is. Please god may that day dawn when we can be together again. I love you so much dear. Goodnight sweetheart, sweet dream and god bless you and the kiddies

29th May 1945

Well love it's only two days since my last letter so I expect I will have a job making it interesting but I know even if there is little to say you like me to say "hello love how are you" as often as possible.

I hope you are keeping well love and your leg is getting on more now or else you will need a longer holiday than I shall with all the sleep you are losing. I think the government aught to give mothers a days holiday with pay for every month they have had to do double job on their own. The hardship on the home front seems to have been divided very unequally and those who have not had the extra work to do don't seem to realize how luck they have been. Still love we have found out in a way that they can't know how much we mean to each other and so have much more to look forward to.

I started the daily routine work on Monday and it seemed a long day. Actually our hours of work have been altered so we now work an extra ¼ hour each day and an extra hour on Saturday morning, finishing at 1pm until Monday morning so we have the Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday off. It will enable us to go for a Saturday afternoon swim if we wish although the last two days it has been raining on and off and tonight it looks as if there is a storm brewing.

We have just been listening to the fight on the radio between Roderick and Dawkins and from the chaps expressions as they listened, they enjoyed it as much as the spectators at the ringside. I wondered if you were also listening and possibly Harry Langdale had come up.

It's a pity one of the many chaps still at home can't put those spuds in for you love as they are always a good standbye for the winter months. Don't try to do them by yourself though love, its too much for any woman let alone one who has too much on her wheel  than she should have. I know you often do things which have to be done however tired you feel, but that is not one of them and I'd rather the potatoes stay in the sack and went rotten than you should be knocked up. Perhaps Mr. S wants instructions in how to set them the right way up. They should certainly know the number of times they have watched me over the garden fence or from the bedroom window. Still I wouldn't worry about it love, just look after yourself, that's the main thing.

When I got back from my leave I heard that some ATS had been posted here but they are away at another camp and none work at our office or in the vicinity, though the few I've seen wouldn't cause you any anxiety love. Some of the chaps that like entertainment in that direction may feel happier through their coming but I'm only interested in one person love who I always loved and wanted to be with and you should know by now who I mean. We have kept faith so far love and always will. I long for love but with you dear when that day dawns. It raised a faint hope when you mentioned about Faire Brothers doing what they could to get some of us released but I doubt the government will release many men out of turn and after all I suppose it's the fairest way of release for those men in the army as it is. Not that I'd refuse release love.

We had a chap from the Ministry of Labour here yesterday lecturing about the blue booklet on release and we were able to put questions to him in writing for him to answer. I asked him about the maximum age of 30 for call up and a lot more must have thought the same as out of about 20 questions, 8 were on the same subject. His reply was that the war office could only train so many men in the twelve months after the defeat of Germany and the Ministry of labour could supply those from the under 30,s. nobody seemed very satisfied with the explanation but it had to stand as we were not allowed to discuss his answers.

I expect you will be voting for me before long love in the general election and I'll let you know later what I think. Perhaps you will let me know who the candidates are when they are announced for our area.
I have sent off tonight a picture postcard each to Sheila and Michael and have posted the various little gifts I mentioned in my last letter. I've just got to get a 'free of duty' label tomorrow and hope to post it tomorrow night. I'm getting the £2 postal order for Keith but if it doesn't arrive in time will you get something useful for him love and take the money when it arrives.

Well I filled this love and feel I could carry on much longer now its about filled.

We saw a film ' Meet me in St. Louis' last night in camp and it was lousy. I guess that's the lot. Goodnight dear, pleasant dreams and God bless.
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2nd June 1945

Well love we have now entered the 6th month of 1945 and no matter how slow the time drags it does keep on and each day brings us nearer reunion. We don't see much change here than before the war finished as there is enough work to keep us going though we have just had the hours adjusted so we work a bit longer each day and finish in time to get Saturday afternoon off and also Sunday so we do get a bit more time to ourselves.

We have started classes on hobbies etc. in the evenings and on Wednesday night I started shorthand so that when I get back I can take down in shorthand everything you have to tell me. I should think it would be enough to fill a book if you can remember it all. I expect when me meet we will both be tongue-tied and just look at each other and wonder if it is for real.

The news about John Mantle who I think must be Mr. Mantle of F.B's has come as a shock and I hope to hear it is not him as he will be badly missed there. If it is him no doubt one of the chaps in the office will write to tell me.

I'm sorry you couldn't go to 'Gussies' dance and know Bill has an irritating way of getting your back up now and again but we know he has always been the same and perhaps it's a good job he doesn't' live in Leicester else he would drive you crackers sometimes.

On Thursday it was warmer again but not warm enough to bathe after work. I wrote a letter to Mabel at night as it is some time since I wrote to her. Friday was our cinema night and though it was an old picture 'Strike up the Band' with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland it was pretty good.

I forgot to mention that on Wednesday after our shorthand lesson we saw a picture at the 'Palladium' called 'Arsenic and old Lace' which was a really good film and fairly recent I should think. The place was packed for both houses.

We have arranged at the office that the chaps who sleep down there do the weekend duty clerk so I'm off every Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

This weekend it has turned out fine and I went on the LCO bike with Tom down to the beach for a bathe. It was a bit rough but most of the time we spent laying on the sand or rather shingle. Afterwards we went into town and saw Bette Davis in a film.

As you can see I didn't finish the letter on Saturday and when I returned to camp there was a letter waiting for me from Edith Evans who told me about MR. Mantle. Apparently they had elected three new directors in the morning, Mr. Coates, Tom Burnham and Frank Fewkes and later they had lunch at the Grand Hotel to celebrate it.  Mr Mantle complained of feeling unwell and died suddenly while he was being taken home. It will be a big shock to all at F.B's  and I feel very sorry he had to go. He was always one you could talk to and was very good to me when I saw him after I was called up. I think he will be missed more than anyone else in the firm and wonder whether Mr. Wright in the counting house will take his place. Of course there is Mr. Partington who may do so but either one of them will have a job to carry on his job well.

I'm pleased to hear of Mr. Coates promotion to directorship and know I have a good friend in him. I expect he will still carry on his corset travellings and he may keep the department busier than ever. I shall have to drop him a line of congratulations and I bet the girls are kidding him about it. Whether he will take over the suspender and brace departments as nominal manager I don't know but I expect he will need a desk of his own.

I have at last got the free of duty parcel ready and will send it off tonight. Tom don't seem very lucky at the moment with the parcel from Durban and it must be coming along near Keith's birthday so don't make all the jelly's up before then and have one left for his party.

We hope to attend a race meeting this afternoon, but as all the runners are donkey's or mules I guess there will be more laughs than anything else.

Dick has just come in to the billet to have his Sunday morning shower and if he can get in the truck after dinner he is going with us. It is a lovely day and I wish you were here with me love. It will be the first race meeting I have been to. Dick hoped to get the snaps back this week of our holiday in Maiori but they are waiting for paper and so will be a few days yet.

I hope Keith liked the Vesuvius snaps and I have asked one of the chaps who is going to Naples today  to see if he can get some more views of it so I may be able to send a few more off.  Did you like the views of Amalfi, Ravella and Maiori or have they come sea mil and not arrived yet.

Don't think love I am enjoying life out here that much that I don't care how long I stay. I try to get as much enjoyment as I can while I must be here, but always in my heart is the prayer that before long I will be able to come home to you for good and it will be more pleasure to sit by my own fireside with you and the kiddies than anything that happens here without you. We can get out in the summer but when it starts to get darker and colder at night the only thing we can do is stay on camp most nights, relying on picture shows etc. to keep our minds occupied.

Before I forget love, thanks for the bathing costume I have just had. I christened it yesterday but found two small holes in it in a private part which I shall have to get mended.

Tom forgot to put my name on the address but it was addressed  C & E so found me OK.

Goodnight sweetheart, sweet dreams and roll on that day of days.

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5th June 1945

I was very pleased love to get your letter today dated 29th May and posted on the 31st. and before I start telling you about myself love I will just straighten out the points you raise in yours.

Well love the place we went to on leave Maiori is on the coast about 10 miles north of Salerno and the road to it winds round the cliff side and there are two or three small bays which the road follows round before getting to Maiori. Our camp at San Antonis is about 9 miles south of Salerno and about 1 ½ to 2 miles from the sea. It takes us three quarters of an hour to reach the nearest point of the beach from here. Inland from our camp about four miles away the hills and the mountains start and they look grand and rugged and on some of the higher ones there was snow until the middle of May.

This district is a fruit producing area but at the moment the crops of wheat etc. are ready for harvesting.  Tomatoes plants are showing signs of a good harvest and the orange trees are beginning to blossom. Round Maiori they seem to concentrate on grapes, lemons and nuts and the lemon trees(they look more like vines) are full of lemons now as they get two crops a year I understand.

About four miles north of Maiori in the next bay is Amalfi, where there is a cathedral and it was from there we took a boat to visit the Blue Grotto.

Ravella, a prosperous village about as big as Long Buckby is up the mountains between Amalfi and Maiori and most of the big villas with....... Gardens etc. stretching for two or three hundred......   (Corner of letter missing) To the edge of the mountains belong to wealthy...... Some Italian and some English. You will.... from the views I've sent along and I hope... other views soon. By the way the snap Dick took of the VE day service didn't show me as I was on the far side. The Colonel wants a post card enlargement of them so he must think they are good. 

Eggs love cost us 1/3d each not 1/- as you mention and it's cheap to what they were(1/9d) two or three months ago. Tell Evelyn you have done enough laying in my opinion and yours too eh love, we don't want any more children hatching out.

I've written to Mr. Coates about his promotion and I thought when I heard the news I wonder if Olive thinks I might get his traveling job. What did you say love?

I see you have had to do the gardening yourself after all and perhaps MR. S is saving his energy to hoe the spuds up for you. I hope you have set plenty of lettuce love so you can give them some. I don't quite get ' I think there is something out of place at their own home' and as I am curious perhaps you can explain more. I may be dense unless you mean he must get every little weed up etc. in his 'massive' garden before he can tackle ours.

It seems funny to hear 'Bob has been off from work' when it doesn't seem long since I was writing to him from England and him in Gib. I shall feel a real old sweat if any more of my nephews and nieces take up family life. The grey hairs in my head don't seem to grow any less in number.

Well love I seem to feel a cheerful note in your letter with you in such good spirits as you can with so much to look after on your own and I guess the kiddies good behaviour (I hope it lasts) sometimes helps.

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I think I mentioned in my last letter I was going to the races on Sunday afternoon and I went with Dick and Tom and Mac from the office and we had a very pleasant time. The racing was at Persano about 20 miles south of our camp (you want a good map of Italy to follow this) and we went by lorry.

All of the runners were mules and there was a tote taking bets of 5/- and 25/-. We all had a race card and picked out a mule that we fancied but kept the money 2/6d each and the one with the winner took the lot. I picked two winners and ended up 7/6d in hand. Of course all the mules didn't run according to plan and there were 15 in each race.

At night I wrote to Mr. Coates and mam and went to bed by 10pm. Yesterday, Monday I managed I maaged to send off the parcel of little things I 'd bought on leave and registered the parcel so it should arrive OK. It has a free of duty label on so don't pay any duty on it love will you.

I had some Chronicles from Gladys Wain and last night we saw a film in camp I see was on at the Odeon a month ago "Wilson" and as it didn't start until 9pm it was 11.30 before it finished.

Today we have been on civvy pay once more and as it's now 9.25pm Mr. Attlee is speaking on the wireless and he seems worse than Churchill.

I've got to have a shave and then to bed to dream I hope of you. So goodnight sweetheart, sweet dreams.

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9th June 1945

Well love I was pleased to get your letter on Thursday and although you are quite right when you say the views of various parts of Italy are pretty good, that is not enough to keep a family man contented and especially when he loves so much that family.

It is now Saturday and at 1pm I will be finished for the weekend. The weather has been fine all week and looks as if it will continue so.  I'm pleased Keith liked the Vesuvius photos and I had to smile at him saying it is a good birthday present. I've asked for a £2 postal order which I am sending on to you to buy something for him. I am also sending a birthday card in an envelope addressed to him which if it turns up before his birthday perhaps you will hold it back till then unless of course he sees it first and you have to tell him it must have come by a very fast plane.

I had a letter from Harry Quinn yesterday telling me about the collection of furniture by the wardens. It was about their last job I think, so I don't suppose you will be getting anymore little gifts to have a sip of Guinness to drink my health with. Still I know you have enough money in your stocking to get such necessities when the occasion demands a livener and hope you don't get too fat on them now I suppose the supplies gradually increase.

I suppose you have heard on the wireless about the changes in overseas service etc. and the only thing that will interest me about it all are the possibilities at some future date of getting a short ten days leave in England when my turn comes and how long I shall have to wait before group 30 is released. Of course now chaps have only to do four years abroad a lot of chaps here will soon be returning home for a months leave although afterwards they can be sent to France or Germany instead until their release group comes along.

I haven't your letter in front of me love as I'm writing this in the bosses time in a quiet moment so if there is anything I forget to answer in this letter I'll reply in my next epistle.

Well love since my last letter on Tuesday evening the days have gone on in much the same old way. Wednesday evening I attended my second shorthand evening class from 7.30 to 8.30pm before seeing a cinema show in camp. The title was (This is missing and Eric meant to put it in later bur forgot) ..  and was very similar to 'Gaslight'.

The nights are not so good now and we find two blankets sufficient. Thursday should have been writing night but we didn't get our NAAFI issue till about 8pm and I found by the time I had written to Harry Quinn it was about 10pm so I gave it up. Friday passed the same way with a cinema show on at night. I forgot to mention that there was also a short film on Wednesday night about the concentration camps in Germany which seems too horrific to be true even with the evidence of the films.

Fridays picture was not too bad but wouldn't be considered a first class picture at home. Before the film they drew for the next lot of leave. Tom Mansfield and Mac in our office will be due for repatriation in  a months time and both are beginning to feel a bit excited.

I don't think I told you how I  came to this place. You remember I went back to Donnington on August Monday and after about five days messing around in camp I was put on the next draft and on August 11th about 10pm we all marched to the station and boarded a special train which too us through the night to our embarkation point on the Clyde. We had had a few minutes break at Carlisle for a cup of tea and it was about 10am on the 12th August when we boarded the Durban Castle. We moved down the Clyde and anchored till the following Monday when off we started in convoy. We had six or seven corvettes and a small aircraft carrier as escort and although I expected to be rather sick on the journey I was OK.

After passing Northern Island, we only saw the sea for about five days except for some grey birds like big gulls skimming the water. We had a quiet journey although I often thought about U-boats. We made a wide half circle till on the Sunday we sighted Gibralter and passed it during the evening. We were told we would land at Algiers but instead we landed at Phillipville where we started our life abroad.
Talk about sweat love. I never thought I had it in me as the water was scarce we could only get one swill each day. We slept in tents on the sand and we didn't need any blankets most of the nights.

In January 1944 we came over to Italy with the GRTD and landed a few days later in Naples. The port had been knocked about a bit but the town itself wasn't badly damaged and we went by electric train to Nola where we were in barracks. It had suffered quite a bit from the war but it had a decent NAAFI and garrison theatre. I met Frank while I was there as he was waiting to get back to his unit.

We moved in March to Naples and watched Vesuvius starting its eruptions. On the Sunday we came by Pompeii and Salerno to our present abode 8 miles south. Just after we arrived Vesuvius flung up her ashes and the ground was covered to a depth of 6-12 inches in one day with fine ashes. Afterwards there was white dust and then brown earth mixed with rain. I hope to get a tube of the various stuff that fell. I broke the one I had when I pulled it out of my pocket.

Well love I will have to close now. I hope you enjoy the South African fruit jellies and chocolate which I hear from Mabel's letter you have received. Don't forget to give Keith an extra bit for getting his sums right.

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12th June 1945

I'm sending this letter this way so I can enclose the £2 PO which should be enough to get Keith something for his birthday. I had a letter from Mabel telling me that you received the cash wholesaler's stuff and it was funny that I also had on Sunday the acknowledgement from them. I know you will get some enjoyment from them and I'll have to put in another order in to follow on when I've saved a bit more.

Well love, we finished work for the week on Saturday lunchtime and I made a dash round when I got back to barracks as I had put my name down on the list for the lorry which was taking the chaps to see the FA touring team playing the CMF football team at Naples. There were plenty of internationals in both teams and there was a crowd of 30,000 to see it.  It was a draw 2-2 and we did hear it was being broadcast on Naples Radio. 

After the match we came home along the Autostrada and stopped at a YMCA which was in a very nice big house standing back from the road and after a rest of about half an hour while we had tea and cakes we carried on back to camp which we reached about 10.0pm.

Sunday was also our day off and we had put down for Mairo where we had spent our week's leave and we started off by lorry at 9.0am. We arrived about 10.30 and after dumping our small pack with our sandwiches at the club we had a grand bathe in the which was like a millpond. After an  egg and chip dinner back at the club we decided to walk up to Ravilla by a short cut which was mostly steps. We started off about 1.30pm and before we had gone half way up we were sweating like pigs. We found a shady spot for a five minute rest and kiddies bought us lemons in exchange for a few cigarettes. After getting our wind back we carried on and arrived at Ravilla at 2.30pm. We went our usual stroll around the villas and it was ideal to lie down for a rest on real grass. After another egg and chip tea served with real tea and brown bread we walked back to Maiore by road and after waiting an hour for the lorry eventually started back to camp at 10.0pm and arrived just in time for lights out at 11.0pm.

You ought to hear the sirens we have in barracks for lights out, reveille, hankers, work parade etc. The first night they sounded it at lights out, I had already been to sleep and it woke me up and I thought it was an air raid. I still feel funny in my stomach when I hear the siren even now when it doesn't have any connection with air raids.

I've just been reading your letter again and hope Keith has got over his fall off his bike. I'm sorry your mam is cracking up and I'll try to get a letter off to her tonight. I have not answered Harry Q's letter. I shouldn't bother about disposing of the cot as it may come  in handy if we have visitors anytime and a cot is needed.

As regards how long I stay out here if Mr and Mrs Stevens bothered to read the papers they wouldn't talk so much drivel about being home any day now. I don't qualify for PYTHON which is for four years overseas. LIAP is leave at home for a month and Grieg the War Minister has already stated that 7,000 men per day come home from France on leave whereas 2000 men per month come home from CMF. I cannot stand a chance in this for another two months at least and the chances are about 400 - 1 against being lucky. I don't know if the British army will stay over here for another twelve months but I expect so and the chief hope of getting home is the short leave scheme starting in the autumn and travelling home possibly by plane. Of course some will have to be given to those men due for Burma and though I hope I'm not picked  I am liable being over the 24 release group and less than two years abroad. As Burma overseas service is now down to 3 years 4 months it would mean I couldn't have to go for more than one year after leave but in my case 30 release group should be due before then.

Sometimes I feel I should be pleased if I came home so that I could be with you for one month as although it no doubt be hotter there there's not much difference as regards being with you. Here the Italians are not friendly as we understand friends, perhaps because the English soldier has a low opinion of them and they have being used to asking a favour for doing a favour all their lives. Still there are so many men will be returning home for discharge and also having completed four years service that what are left will be needed for a long time yet.

Dick has just bought the snaps taken on our leave and I'm putting them in another envelope just in case they make this too heavy for Airmail. I have marked the backs so you will be able to see where they were taken. I'm sending three of me which seem about the best one is for you and will you give the two mams one each..

I'll see what I can do about a comb or two but the stuff in the shops is tripe. I have two small NAAFI combs but if I can see anything reasonable I will send them along.. I've had Bernice's letter completed by Mabel and two Chronicles, one with pictures of VE day. I looked to see if there were any street parties in but there weren't.

Well love must close down. It won't be long before we are once again together for good and can once more live our lives together in peace and happiness. We needn't worry about any breaking up of our home.

PS Vote conservative for me.

My father voted Conservative all his life even after being made redundant in the first year of the Thatcher regime from the firm he had worked for since he was sixteen. I have never voted Conservative. 

14th June 1945

This letter was written not to Olive but to his Mam and Dad

Dear Mother and Dad

I am sorry in the delay in writing to you but I can only blame it on to two things, the leave I had recently when I felt too lazy to write to anybody and the warm light evenings which seem to put me off sitting down writing letters and after I've written the one to Olive I've had it for the night.

I understand you've not been very grand for a little time now and I don't suppose the weather you have had lately has helped to get you right again. Here we could do with a shower or two for a change as the sun is a bit too warm for comfort in the daytime and the roads are very dusty.

I had a very nice change at a place called Maiori on my leave and the bathing was grand as the water is quite warm and clear. I'm not much of a swimmer but manage to do enough to make it worthwhile.

We have been on a few different trips on Sundays on our day off and the other Sunday we went to the races, where all the runners are not horses but mules and it is harder to pick a winner as you never know how a mule will behave. I finished up 7/6d which wasn't so bad. 

Another day we went to Naples to see the English Touring tam play CMF at football and there were 30,000 spectators to se it, all soldiers, sailors and airmen and it was just like going to see City at Filbert Street. I've finished football for this season and hope to get a game of cricket later on.

The different fruits are just coming on and I've already had fresh apricots and peaches and soon we will get as many fresh tomatoes as we want as the fields around us are full of them. lemons are also cheap and plentiful so we can't grumble.

We can get egg and chips etc. ate the café's but two eggs and chips cost 5/- so it isn't very cheap. An egg in the shops costs 1/3d and in the winter they were 1/9d each. A bit dear aren't they. I sent a snap of myself taken at Ravello on the balcony of a villa where Greta Garbo liked to be alone and Olive will be bringing it to you no doubt show you the other snaps I've sent her.

The scenery in parts of Italy is certainly very nice but I'd willingly change it all for a glimpse of  Culver Road. 

I get letters from friends who say they expect to see me home anytime but I'm afraid it will be some months yet before I come home for good and all I can hope for is a chance of a short leave under a new scheme which starts in the Autumn. I know how tough it is for Olive on her own with the kiddies to look after and I hear today that Keith has no doubt got German Measles and the others will follow I expect so she's well in it'

I hope you liked the jelly Olive has given you from the parcel I sent and I wish I could bring them instead of sending them.

It seems strange hearing from Olive that Percy or Bob have called in to see you when I remember Bob in Gibralter when I was still in England

Well I guess I will have to close now, keep smiling and I'll be round to see you one of these fine days in a nice new army civvy suit.

Best love to you and all at home. God bless and keep you safe for many years yet. 

17th June 1945

Well love another weekend is nearly over and I have just got up to date with my diary which wonders of wonders I am still keeping and am in the writing room of the barracks hoping to get about four letters written.

I have had letters from Mr Coates, Ethel Evans and Agnes and Gladys Wells unanswered for a few days and I will have to send them a collective letter to them all.

I was very pleased on Thursday to get your letter dated the 11th and to see the chocolate etc. from Capetown was well received. I can't remember saying it cost me £2 love as I think the total cost was 22/6d but even if it had cost £2 its just a little gift I like to send to you love now and again and as long as you enjoy what I send that's all that matters.

I see the family's had one more complaint but hope they are all about OK again by now. They say don't they love that it is worse if an adult gets German measles and once a child's had it they don't get it again.

Don't bother what the grass looks like at the back love. There will be bags of time for me to have a real good do at this and my hands are itching to have the chance. The house will need a good overhaul I know but it has had to wait so long a bit longer won't hurt it and there's one thing love I won't have to take out another small mortgage to borrow £10 less 37/6d for lawyers expenses. Remember love? We'll need an evenings hard work reckoning up how we stand.

I don't suppose you have got the registered parcel I sent yet but no doubt have the snaps and hope you liked them, also the small comb I sent.

I shall have to write to Roy to thank him for the toy soldiers etc. as a matter of fact he told me in a letter he sent me a few weeks ago he was going to give the kiddies these things but asked me not to mention it as he wanted it to be a surprise. It shows how good I am at keeping a secret doesn't it love

We saw on orders a day or two ago that the L.I.A.P. draw is now in two parts (1) Men 2.1/2 - 3.1/2 years overseas and (2)  Men 1.1/2 - 2.1/2 years overseas so my name goes in the next draw. Of course love the chance of being lucky is about 400-1 so I will need a double whisky if my name does come out to stop me fainting.

I didn't like the crack at the end of your letter love " I expect to see you before next years out".  It doesn't sound long when you say it quickly does it but I'm hoping twelve months at the most will see me out of the army and if the new 14 days leave scheme is anything at all which it should be, I should get home before then in any case.

We just heard a little bit in the 7pm news that all troops except a few garrison troops should be out of Italy and the Mediterranean theatres within 12 months of VE day so unless we come under the troops still needed for stores etc. I shouldn't be here this time next year.

I know you'd like a nice peaceful army life love though I think you'd get browned off after a time and long to be back home again. We get a bit more time off nowadays and the warmer weather and swimming  etc. make such time off more enjoyable than it is in the winter. I can't say I like the Italian people though as you can't feel any of them are genuine and they are as liable to shop their best friend to help themselves a bit as any uneducated race. They will give you an orange or some fruit and five minutes later ask you for a cigarette. 

I gave some kids on the beach a packet of sweets the other day.  There were about seven of them all dressed in bits of rag or nothing on at all and they had been brought down by their grandfather to paddle. A little later on they came asking for a cigarette for momma or granddad and when I gave one of them one for him they all wanted one.

We didn't have any shorthand classes this week and you'll know doubt think it's one long round of entertainment when I tell you how I have spent the evenings since my last letter. Well love Wednesday was as normal picture night and also free issue ration of cigarettes, which were a godsend as I had finished last weeks issue by Tuesday morning and had to smoke my pipe which I still can't get really used to.

I expect it is light at home until about 11pm just now but here it gets dark by 9-9.15pm. We have the cinema show in the open if it doesn't rain and on Wednesday the picture " Here come the WAVES" with Bing Crosby in wasn't as good as most of his pictures.

Thursday evening I wrote letters to your mam , Bernice( a reply to one half from her and half Mabel) and mam. It seems hard writing letters with the weather so warm.

San Antonio has had a festival as each day is named after a saint as you can see from the calendar I am enclosing and the village which has only one street was all lit up with electric signs and there was a procession starting from the village and going about a mile out of the village by our camp and then returning. The priest and choir headed it and behind several men carried a life size effigy of San (or Saint) Antonio. They were followed by a band of about 30 and all the villagers about 6 abreast, all in their best clothes and all the smaller girls in white. They sang as they went along and when they returned there were all sorts of stalls selling necklaces etc. still I wasn't interested and saw the cinema show in camp. Friday there was another picture show and then I was ready for our weekend off.

Dick had borrowed 220 lire (11/-) while we were at Ravella so I had only 2/6 left to last me until next payday on Thursday. I went bathing at the beach on Saturday afternoon and when we came back about 5.30pm we hitch hiked to Salerno and had tea in the NAAFI tea garden on the front. Tom paid and later on at the YMCA the other chap paid for ices. We finished up at the garrison cinema to see "Bowing to Broadway". Today  I've had a bath and after dinner a bathe once more.

Well love I hope you can read it. Goodnight sweetheart and keep safe and well for me.

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20th June 1945 Dear Olive,

Well love it was a pleasant surprise to receive you letter written on the 14th so soon after your previous letter and to hear that the things I sent along travelled by air and reached you so quickly. I'm sorry my packing resulted in the bottle of brilliantine getting broken. I bet Sheila will like her box and hopes the bracelet suits you and doesn't tarnish too quickly. Don't take any notice of the value on the outside of the parcel, as a matter of fact you would be shocked if I told you how much they did cost. I had given up the other box of nuts as lost but I hope you enjoyed them.

I shouldn't worry about losing your sex appeal love, I think rather you must be saving it for me. No love I don't think we will add to our family and we will have quite enough on our hands seeing that what we have been blessed with get a fair start in life. I bet Michael will be thrilled to start school although I can't see you letting him start after Christmas when the weather is so cold.

Well love according to the proposed schemes for leave for chaps out here, there does seem to be a chance that my turn will come before Christmas. I understand 4000 men are going to be sent home each day from the CMF and when you realise that only 2000 per month are sent home on LIA it is about 60 times as many and should mean about 250 a month going from this unit alone. The scheme will be worked on longest service abroad although those with over 3½ years may not go in the next few months they will go home anyway. Seriously love, I think the 30 release group will get out about next May but it would help if between that time we got a couple of leaves in. You had better keep a bottle or two of raspberries in hand but knowing the army by now don't expect too much will you. So many things can happen to change these paper plans at a moments notice.

According to the Union Jack today, Grieg, the minister of war had a lot of questions to answer in the houses of parliament and I think they know now a bit more about how the chaps out here feel.

I am surprised the S's have started an allotment and if you are not careful they will be bringing you some produce and telling you how well their stuff grows. Still I bet our garden will give good results after the work you have put in to it.

I hear that the weather is at last hot and hope it is not too hot for you. Here it is still warming up and last night I was quite warm enough in bed with just my singlet and one blanket over me. Monday was pretty busy and the hottest day of the year so far, we had all had enough by 5.pm. There was a picture on in camp and as it did not start until 9pm I managed to write to Agness and Gladys and now only have Jack Turveys letter to answer and I shall be more or less up to date. If you see Kath ask her to tell Jack I've not forgotten him but I like to have  quite a bit of interesting information to tell him and with life as it is it is weeks before I have enough to fill a letter.

The picture took about two hours to show and it was about 11.30 before we got to bed. As usual I've forgotten the title but I'll fit it in before the end of the letter(I hope).
Tuesday we had quite a nice salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions for tiffin and this weather I enjoy it more than a hot meal at 5.30 when we get back to the billet from work.

There was an Italian musical at the Palladium at night and as usual it was a very good show. They certainly are good at putting over variety efforts though they sound a bit comical when they try to sing songs in English.

Today we finished early and as Tom is on leave at Rome this week, I shall take his place on the lorry watching the fences and going round the camp with it. It will be a change and I will enjoy it.

The picture tonight is 'Murder my sweet' with Dick Powell and it is 9.pm I am sitting waiting for it to start and can hardly hold the paper so if you can't read it blame the light. I will be writing to Keith tomorrow night but if it doesn't arrive in time for his birthday wish him a very happy return from his daddy and tell him I will be thinking of you all on that day and wondering if you are having a party.

Goodnight, sweetheart, sweet dreams.
 The picture on Monday was 'Roughly speaking'

Eric always enjoyed football and played as well as watched The injury to his knee was caused when he fell on some lava from Vesuvius which had erupted near to where he was stationed

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24th June 1945 
I was very pleased to get your letter today started on Monday and finished on Thursday. I see the postal order and snaps arrived safely and hope Keith found something suitable in town yesterday for his birthday. About this time 6.45pm as Arthur Askey is on the air in the next room, I expect his party will be in full swing. I'm glad you managed to save his birthday cake so he gets it tomorrow.

I'll have to try to get you a decent comb, love, so Sheila can have the one which I sent. She's got enough sauce for anyone twice her age, hasn't she ?. I'm wondering how she will greet her daddy. Most likely 'Hello pop' or some other Yankee expression.

You ask me if there are a lot of married chaps out here untrue to their wives. Well love I look at it like this. It takes all types to make an army and the chaps who did or would do the same sort of thing in civvy street before they were called up, carry on the same without of course the risk of being found out, as you say. 

A few others may have found the strain of being away too much without messing about here and there and no doubt some have, during their service, found their homes have been broken up by the wife going off the rails but the numbers in the case of married men in a unit of this sort is very small

I don't know about the fighting units whether the tough time they have been through makes them more liable to get their pleasures where they can when they do get a break. If you were with me just now, love, you would see the chaps in the writing room here, all writing letters home while the sweat makes you arms sticky. No-one writes just because he feels cooler doing it .

We have a canteen in camp which is well patronised though you rarely see a drunk, three picture shows a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the open air and often an ENSA show on Tuesdays. We also do our letter writing in the evenings as there is not much chance at work these days.

I am pleased you Mam is well enough to get to Yarmouth for a holiday and hope she gets the benefit of a nice week's weather. I see you are still doing your stuff in the Garden and getting some dividends out of it. The potato situation seems bad all over England and I'll have to send some dehydrated ones along to see if the kiddies will eat them. I would certainly like some new potatoes for a change !

I think I had better turn architect and send you a plan of how I think the garden would look laid out. I doubt though if we would get any cement for concreting or paving stones for some time with the housing question as acute but we might get one or two fruit trees in.

My tummy still gets a bit upset when the siren goes. It always makes me think of those nights in November and December 1940 when it always went after tea.

I had a letter from Mam today also one from Bill Chambers who is now back in India from Burma. He is now a Sgt so he is doing rather well. His demob group is 33 and he says he is due for repatriation in July 1946 and sounds quite pleased it is so near,

I'm glad you liked the snaps love, perhaps my legs are a bit fatter after their airing for six months of the year. They certainly seem a bit hairier and of course have a lovely brown tan. I'll have to wear shorts when I get back home just to show them off !

We've heard nothing more about the leave scheme but I don't see why all the chaps shouldn't get home for 14 days at least before the year's out.

I'm please the terrible three are still getting their night out and can see you forming a society for 'ex serviceman's' Wednesday night out' after we get back to mind the family that is they take any notice of us after we have been away for so long.

Dick has gone with a party from 'traffic' to Capri today and I should have loved to have gone but of course only chaps at traffic could go. If there is a trip from our barracks on another Sunday I shall be there. We saw two good films this week,' Murder my Sweet' with Dick Powell    on Wednesday and 'The face in the Window' with Edward G. Robinson on Friday. They both seemed up to date pictures.

Well love it's time to kiss and go to sleep. Goodbye love, sweet dreams. Keep your fingers crossed, it won't be too long now.

30th June 1945

Well love its Saturday night, the last day of another month and at the moment about 8.30pm I am sitting in the office where I work thinking of you love, wondering what you are doing and what sort of day you have had. I had a letter from Bernice in which she said you were all down last Friday night and Sheila and Michael wanted me to tell you they had lots of pennies and Keith had gone for some chips for you all. We get chips sometimes with our mid-day meal but they don't taste as good as they would at home and when I think of all the little things I am missing at home with you, I get real homesick and in a frame of mind that if I wrote any letters that night I would be accused of being the grumpiest man in the army.

I had better tell you what I have been doing the last few days and you wont get the benefit of my morbidness.

Well love on Thursday, sorry Wednesday we had our second picture show in camp this week and before the show they drew the LIAP which included 18 men from 2.1/2 - 3.1/2 years and 5 from 1.1/2 - 2.1/2 years. Needless to say my name wasn't drawn out in the latter 5 though for 5 minutes or so whilst they were making the draw I had hopes. Afterwards we saw 'Saratoga Trunk' with Gary Cooper in and it wasn't a bad show.

It is real hot nowadays and before the days out our KD shorts are sticky with sweat. After two days of wearing them they are ready for the wash and I expect it will be the same for the next two months.

Frank Hull came in yesterday to see me and he said he will be returning home in the next two or three weeks as he has now been abroad for over 4 years. He is coming in again before he goes and he promised to come and see you and give you an eye witness account of how I am looking and what sort of life we lead here.

Did I tell you I weighed myself in the ration stores and weigh about 13 stone - stripped.

Dick brought the proofs of one or two more snaps taken on our leave and I'll be sending them on when he has had the copies made. I'm staying this week back at the office as Fred and Mac have gone with Capt. Flynn to a weekend camp run by the Battalion and it meant Tom would be staying here on his own. We are doing the weekend work between us so shall be getting a day off during the week to make up. He has just returned from his leave in Rome and has had a real sightseeing holiday judging by the number of views he brought back. He said he was glad to get a rest when he came back as it was a lot of work touring round, though it was worth it. I don't suppose I shall get a chance to go there for some time as I had my leave in May though there are a lot going and I may be lucky.

Well love I was telling you before I drifted off what I was doing. Thursday was NAAFI night so after I had drunk your health with a bottle of Itie beer and cleaned myself up I went across to the writing room and wrote a letter to mam. We had just read in the Union Jack that the revised probable release dates are up to 21 by the end of the year and 22-26 by May 7th 1946. of course I felt properly in the dumps about the idea of at least another year in the army and I bet mam thought I was a proper misery. Afterwards I had an early night and went to bed by 9.45pm. I lay on my bed in my singlet and underpants and dropped off to sleep, waking about 5am not even cold.

Friday continued sultry and I had a shower when I got back to camp. Afterwards I went across to watch a basketball match as we are having an inter-billet league. Afterwards I joined in a game of volley ball which is played like deck tennis but a football is used. I sweated like a bull after playing for half an hour and my vest was wet through. Later we saw a film in camp "hangover Square" which was one of the British English thrillers which would have had a job to be a big picture at home I should think.

We had heard on the wireless about soldiers from BLA, who couldn't watch the cricket at Lords as it rained  and being given an extra days leave to make up for it. It's things like that that make the chaps in this theatre wonder why the lads from France and Germany seem to get all the breaks.

Frank Hull was saying Arthur had been home on leave and returned to France and shouldn't be surprised if he gets another one before I get home.

I have put my name down for cricket and Tom and myself have had a bit of practise this afternoon in the courtyard as the sports office is here and we can easily get hold of the kit. We had a gang of barefooted youngsters fetching the ball for us and we gave one of them a bat. I don't think they had seen one before and it was comical to see them trying to hit the ball. Once more I had a good sweat on but Mac had told me there was a bottle of beer here I could have so I've fetched it out and put it on the desk with a pint mug so I will feel better in a little while.

Well love that's it for now. Goodnight sweetheart and tell the kiddies I shall spank their bottoms if they have not looked after you and kept you happy. 

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