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Posts Tagged ‘Evelyn’

It is just a month today that I landed in Sicily and since last writing here I have moved with the battery about 20 miles from Catania which during the past few days has fallen. Everything seems to be going very well and it shouldn’t be long before the Germans evacuate the island.

Our present gun site is not as good as the last one, there is no cover and all around are R.A.F. dumps of bombs and petrol, heaven knows what would happen if a bomb hit one of those dumps. We are defending the port of Augusta so naturally we are quite close to the sea. For the first few days and nights there was little or no action but now that the moon is coming up action is here in plenty. Last night in particular was a real fireworks display. About 20 bombers came over and for about an hour it was ‘Hell let loose’, bombs were dropping close to the ships some of them very close to us, shells were bursting thro’ the air, tracer bullets were everywhere and the whole harbour was floodlit by the flares dropped by the Jerries. I saw two planes brought down thanks to our own Radio Location, one of them was pretty ghastly. I heard the plane screaming down and thought it was going to attack us but just as I though it was all up with us a terrific crash and flash from the plane as it hit the earth about half a mile away and if the pilot was still in it I hope he had a quick death.

I have talked with one or two families here and I am surprised to see how friendly they are towards us. They are people much like us, peace loving and I am sure they dis not want war. They are mostly Roman Catholics and dislike Mussolini intensely. It is almost funny to see them scuttling like rabbits every time a gun goes off but it is also tragic to see the older people having to run for their lives too.

Letters from my darling Evelyn are very few mainly because the postal service isn’t in fiull swing yet but nevertheless I am loving her more than ever. I pray for us that we might be together again soon so that I can try to realise my ambition of making her the happiest wife in the world.

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AFter nearly a week at Agropoli we have moved contrary to my expectations to a place only 8 miles away and close by a Yankee aerodrome. Latest information is that we shall be here for a further three weeks before moving up. We are now part of the Fifth Army comprising Yanks and British troops.

Our journey from Sicily is now completed. The highlights of the journey were first the crossing from Messina to Reggio which was made in the company of fifty or so girl students. They were packed in with the troops and lorries and the whole trip was very pleasant. Second, the mountain pass which we climbed on the third day, what a magnificent view from the top after four hours climbing and what a surprise to see a railway so high up. Third the village of Rivello which looked like something unreal. Perched on the summit of a mountain it reminded me of a scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

My impressions of Italy are not too good. The rural people are very backward and live in poverty. They are as hard as nails and their houses are very badly built though they create a good impression from the outside. I think there are  still a great many Fascists in Italy and some of them are not afraid to give one that impression.

At the moment we are billeted in an old bakehouse and the rats are the biggest I have ever seen. The rain still pours down and the sickening mud gets higher and higher. I have had one letter from Evelyn this week, she doesn’t mention anything about our argument though she may see my point of view and all will be saved. I don’t really think my darling will ever let me down like that, she is too sensible and firm and she will never listen to other people if she thinks her own way is best. I love you Evelyn and I am dying to see you and hold you in my arms again.

I am fairly happy here at the moment, more so because there are a few Yorkshire lads here. Jack Taylor from Leeds, Joe Shastall from Leeds, Vic Middlesworth from Skipton, Eric Benson from Stanningley, Monty Bloomsbury from Leeds and Joe Naylor from Horsforth.

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Today I am 25 years old. This is my fifth birthday spent in the army and I sincerely hope it will be the last.. I don’t feel any different, I am still fed up and bored and what is worse my spells of homesickness get worse every day. Often during the day I suddenly think of home and Evelyn and all that we should be doing together and for quite a time I am driven almost mad by those thoughts. Oh if could only get back to England, any part would do so long as I could follow the words or Wordsworth.

I wondered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

I am still very annoyed with Evelyn. I had a letter this week saying she was almost certain to buy that car so I sent her a telegram telling her not to. I do hope she doesn’t take it the wrong way for I have no wish to hurt her. I love her far too much to do that. Iy does seem though as if my little world is toppling over. First she gets a new job then wants me to give up radio and now the car. My S. Africa plans for us seem to be very remote now but I still intend to have a shot at it if possible even if I have to go out by myself. Anyway I have made a firm stand and I can now only wait and see.

This week I saw another opera, Madame Butterfly and it was great. Next week i am going to see the Barber of Seville, another opera. I am becoming a real opera fan mainly because of the lovely music.

I shudder when I realise that compared to two years ago my morale is down at least 50% and only my sense of duty keeps me going. Evelyn used to send me words of inspiration but they are finished now. Two lads from Leeds are with me here, Jack Taylor and Joe Shastall (?) They keep my spirits up no end. Jack is a real beer drinker and he is seldom sober though he is vey good natured. Joe is a comedian if ever there was one and he too would give his last drink away. They are the ” (unclear)  in action”.

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Once again I am in a very fed up mood and this one is worse than ever. The reason is the lack of mail. I haven’t had a letter from Evelyn for nearly a month now and for once (though I can hardly believe it myself) I am beginning to doubt if she still loves me as much as ever. I know she doesn’t like writing but a month without a letter is more than I can stand. A soldier out here must have letters from home if he is to survive at all. This Christmas has been pretty poor for everyone but it would have been much brighter for me if I had one or two letters from Evelyn. At the moment i don’t care what happens, for once the girl whom I love with all my heart has let me down.

In the past few weeks I have been at R.E.M.E. workshops for a change and I am expecting to go back to the battery anytime now.

Last week we moved into Catania and we are all billeted in a hotel near the docks. We have plenty of room and the rooms are clean and it is a welcome change from being in tents. We are supposed to be here for a rest but thanks to our O.C. (blast him) we aren’t getting much time off.

Today i got my first decoration, the Africa Star‘. I am wearing the ribbon but will have to wait until after the war before I can get the ‘Star’.

I feel like getting blind drunk but no one will drink with me so i am going to have a go myself when I have written this. If I were back at the battery with Charlie Johnson we would be blindo together because he is more fed up with things than I am.

In spite of this feeling I remembered everyone at Christmas, Gerald especially, bless him, oh for the day when I shall see him again. I hope our little boy is like him.

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Once again I have got that fed up browned off homesick feeling and it seems to be lingering longer this time. I am still here on the same site at Augusta and it now looks as though we are here for the winter. I should feel much happier if we were with the main army in Italy, they have left us behind for some reason or another though we may go up as relief troops. I hope so.

I had a day’s leave in Catania last week but there isn’t much to do or see there, the place has certainly been knocked about a bit. The ‘plains of Catania’ where the great battle took place is littered with graves and burned out equipment. It is here tha so many gallant Englishmen lost their lives. The other week I saw Gracie Fields in Augusta, she had come from England to sing to the troops and she was magnificent.

The weather here has turned most foul. It pours down with  rain every day and the ground is a sea of mud, it is a good thing we got under canvass in time. I have a small ‘bivvy’ to myself and I have rigged up electric light and built myself a two valve receiver which picks up the BBC quite well. I am fairly comfortable inside and at night it looks quite cheerful with the lights on. My bed is made of bamboo canes so it is very springy.

During the day I am fully occupied with one job or another. I am getting some good practical experience of wireless and it will be very useful after the war.

Mail is coming in slow and sometimes I think Evelyn has forgotten me but I know she hasn’t.She must be fed up to the teeth with all this waiting and I know how she must feel. I love her more every day and no matter what happens nothing can ever change my deepest adoration and love for her.

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Very little of importance has happened during the past month. I am still on the same site and hoping that very soon we shall be moving into Italy. The raids have dropped off and even that bit of excitement is denied us. Near the site is the village of Priolo where the officer in the bren-carrier rammed his vehicle under the muzzle of a German anti-tank gun which was holding up the advance. He was killed of course but he got the V.C. [13]

The mail is coming through OK now and I have had some lovely letters from Evelyn including two ripping snaps of her in which she looks more lovely than ever.

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I don’t really know why I am writing this tonight but I feel that I must write something. My little world of hopes and plans and dreams seems to be toppling over these days and all I can do is to hang on and hope that it will come through all right. My first shock came when Evelyn told me she had left Ackworth to take up a job as inspector on the Milk Marketing Board. I really should be pleased but I’m not because it looks as though Evelyn against my wishes wants to be a career girl. Shock number two came when she suggested that I should give up radio after the war and take up a job connected with farming or something. Now she wants to buy a car out of our savings to drive around on her inspections. This is the last straw. I always thought she was wholeheartedly behind me in radio but it seems that her mother has changed all that. Our savings we agreed would be left in the bank until after the war when we could use them to give us a good start in our married life. I am very disappointed. I have told her not to buy a car and had a really straight talk with her in one of my letters and I just hope for the best.

I am still thinking very much of S. Africa after the war and yesterday I wrote to the ‘John Hilton Advice Bureau’ to see if any arrangements are being made to help potential emigrants after the war.

I am still here in Sicily and it now looks as though the regiment is likely to become fairly static.Each battery has got a fair amount of negros from Basutoland in Africa and each battery is losing much of its transport

Tonight I have seen Greer Garson and Ronald Colman in Random Harvest at the Excelsior, Catania, What a lovely actress she is, she is so typically British.

 

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