Oct. 6th 1941.
Arrived in this time and was pleasantly surprised to find no less than two letters with your now familiar handwriting on them. One dated July fourteenth, the other August fifth – rather good time compared to others I have received.
In your first letter you were apparently enjoying a fine English summer week-end as only the English know how to spend a week-end. What visions this brings to mind! Beautiful, quiet, green countryside. A soft familiar landscape where one feels at ease. Just to read about it makes me slightly envious. Just to be able to take the dog for a walk along a familiar country road, where one has been a hundred times, it is such a little thing but how worthwhile it seems now! You mentioned in your second letter that you were enjoying a few days holiday at home. I’m sure it would be no hardship spending a holiday on the Wirral. Since joining the Navy I’ve met a few chaps who are familiar with that district and they have nothing but praise for it.
The chap who thought of the idea about putting the clock back another hour in the summertime is deserving of a medal in my opinion. Sunshine in the summer is much better for one than cod-liver oil pills in the winter. One could hardly say that England is drenched in sunshine even in the best of summers. I have heard the arguments pro and con on this subject back home but personally I can’t see the argument at all. I suppose mothers with small boys who dislike going to bed in the daylight have about the best case against it. Farmers seem to dislike it but I could never find out why.
Nothing unusual has happened to me since last I wrote to you. You have probably read in the newspapers some of the goings on out here but events are never nearly as exciting at the place where they occur as they are from a distance. The last two months have been comparatively quiet but I expect when the winter sets in on Russia old Nasty will concentrate on the Near East. Probably about Christmas, and you know how the English always look forward to Christmas. If we only had the Italians to worry about we would all be back in Blighty by this time.
In most of your letters you seem quite worried about my health and the food I get to eat. As far as my health goes it has never been better. It is so long since I’ve had a headache I’ve forgotten what it is like. I’m ‘disgustingly healthy’ as my mother would say. The food on board submarines is probably better than in any other branch of the Service. I believe I could safely say that I am getting more to eat than the average person in England today. Living on board is hardly like living in the Astoria, but since I never lived at the Astoria I probably feel more comfortable here. I read in a newspaper article somewhere where the writer said it was surprising how comfortable submarine men could make themselves on board. I think he had it wrong. It’s surprising how much discomfort they can stand would be nearer the mark. Anyway one must have something to grumble about in the Navy or one wouldn’t be a sailor – one must stretch one’s imagination to call submarine men sailors.
You mentioned in your letter reading Charles Morgan’s ‘Sparkenbroke’. I read ‘The Voyage’ by the same author before leaving England and had intended sending it to you then but left home before I got a chance to mail it. At present I’m reading Douglas Reed’s ‘Nemesis’. This is the biography of Otto Strasser and is rather interesting. The only other decent books I have read lately are Conrad’s ‘Chance’ and Thomas Mann’s ‘Magic Mountain. No one can write about the sea like Conrad. If you ever want to feel sea-sick read his ‘Typhoon’.
I am glad to hear that your brother has been promoted. I’ll bet you feel proud when he comes home on leave. It is also good to hear that England has had a comparatively quiet summer and I hope it continues. I’m also glad to hear that you and your family are well and happy and not suffering too much from the food shortage.
It is good of you to write to me and I always look forward to your letters with anticipation. It is one of the few real pleasures left out here. You probably won’t get this letter much before Christmas so I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.