FEB 17TH 1943.

Dear Jim,

I received two airgraphs of yours today. One dated the nineteenth of December and the other the twenty-fifth of last month. Rather good time on that last one I thought. Really didn’t expect any this time so you see it was a pleasant surprise indeed. Glad to hear you have received my letter of the twenty-sixth of October. Since writing that one I have written four others which I hope you have received by this time. At least you received the stockings. I was a bit doubtful about them at the time. You did not say anything about the color being right or wrong. It was the best I could do. My chances of getting more are very slim now but I’ll do my best. I’m sorry to hear that you have not yet received the photograph. Perhaps it is just as well methinks.

By the time this letter reaches you spring will be approaching. It would be good to see the first green of spring in England again. To see a few lambs scampering about and listen to the early arrivals among the birds. The smell of newly ploughed earth and the gulls circling behind the plough. How lucky you are! I hope you find enough leisure time to enjoy it all. You were telling me about your visit to a model farm. I’m sure it would be interesting. Yes, I am interested in farming. I’ve had very little experience with farm work, mostly during holidays when I was at school and the usual country boy’s knowledge of such things.  It is the sort of life that has much more appeal for me now – perhaps it is partly a reaction against my present mode of living.  One hears a lot nowadays concerning the rehabilitation of agriculture and the improvement of the status of farm-workers as a whole. Personally I think those who earn their living on the land are much better off than the average industrial worker. Perhaps not in terms of money but there are compensations of more value. Certainly their lives are not cluttered up – mentally or physically – with piles of rubbish.

Let us hope all this talk of post-war reconstruction will lead to something worthwhile. It is a very interesting subject and rather involved. One would think to hear people talking that it was something new, in spite of the fact that the need to reorganise has been brought to our attention regularly for at least fifty years. My own opinion is that one of the first requirements is a basic change in the organization of industry. It is rather obvious, no matter what the color of one’s political views, that the present capitalistic set-up is very inefficient. This war has proved that point beyond a doubt. The industrial machine has been overworked, over-expanded and over-exploited because of the possibilities for making money.  There has been no effort made toward working it for the benefit of the country as a whole. There is an enormous lag between the social sciences and industrialism.  The industrial system has grown to its present size without any sort of general control over it. It overlaps in many places and is working half time in others and there is much waste of men and material. There is no lack of knowledge about what could be done to improve it, and there are a few good examples of what a little foresight and planning could do.  The ‘grid system’ in England and the London Port Authority are good examples. Sweden has proved the value of regional planning and governmental control of industry and has done much in the way of health and educational service. On paper there are lots of plans for the rebuilding of communities and it would be good to see some of them in actual fact. Perhaps if we live long enough we shall see some of it in practice.

You were saying you had sent me some more books. Thanks a lot. I haven’t received them yet but they usually take longer than letters. Perhaps it would be best not to send any more as they take about three months to reach me. I have read Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’. I didn’t know that the B.B.C. had dramatized part of it on the radio. It is quite good though a bit hard to follow. Have you read Mann’s ‘Buddenbrook’? I believe I mentioned his ‘Magic Mountain’ to you some time ago.  ‘Buddenbrook’ is better I think. His marine engineer is quite an interesting character study. Buddenbrook is a sort of German ‘Forsyth Saga’.

Have you read Lawrence’s ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’? I have just finished G.K. Chesterton’s ‘Man called Thursday’.

We have just finished another successful patrol – you will probably be reading about it in papers one of these fine days.  It was rather trying at times and my nerves have been shaken up a bit.  Leave ashore has been rather restricted and there has not been much of interest to do or see. I’ve just been vaccinated again. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been vaccinated since leaving England. I’m getting accustomed to it now and it doesn’t bother me much.

The news is rather good these days. I have just heard of the capture of Kharkov. The Russians are doing very well. It looks much brighter for us at present.  I only hope we can keep it up.

Hope you are keeping happy and healthy. It would be rather a bad break to be ill in the springtime. I will write to you again before I leave and I hope I have another letter from you before then. Cheerio.