March 19th 1942


Dear Jim,

            Just think I’ve been writing to you for over a year now and I’ve just discovered it is a J not a T! It was rather embarrassing and I hope you’ll forgive me.

            First let me thank you for the Penguins. Anything you send me to read is very acceptable. Somehow you always manage to hit the right note. Your letter dated December the twentieth also arrived with the books. It had been so long since I had heard from you that I was beginning to despair. I have written more or less regularly but from your letters I gather that you haven’t received them all. At least the Airgraph reached you in reasonable time.        

            Just before I started to write this letter I was listening to a broadcast from England. Here are some snatches of it heard above the noise and conversation; ‘the rooks are beginning to build their nests in the tall elms behind the church’, ‘the swallows will be here soon’, ‘one can see, even at this early date, the pale green of spring grass’. Such broadcasts are bad for discipline don’t you think? I’d give a lot just to have a good look at a few pine trees and a little grass.

            So the ‘powers that be’ (i.e. Ministry of Labor) have refused to let you join the W.A.A.F.’s. I’m glad to hear it though you don’t seem very pleased about it. Somehow I can’t get accustomed to women in uniform.  Perhaps I’m old fashioned but I can never take them quite seriously. Though I must admit they are doing their bit. At least you have the satisfaction in knowing that you are of more use in your present capacity than in any of the services.

            You keep reminding me that I tell you very little about my job in the Navy. You also mentioned the fact that my last letter to you had been censored and yet I tried to be as discrete as possible – for the life of me I can’t think what it was that the censor could object to. There is lots one could write about but that will have to wait until later. One thing I can say is that at least it is an interesting life. Conditions are better than most people think and a lot less romantic. Mostly work with a little excitement thrown in once in a while. By the way did I tell you I had been promoted to Chief Petty Officer? There is really nothing to it except a few extra privileges. I’ve an idea I told you about this before but I’m not sure.

            So you have read Mgt. Rawling’s ‘The Yearling’? Rather good wasn’t it? What do you think of E. A. Housman’s Last Poems? You are right it was I who had it on board the Samaria. I liked the New Writing you sent me. I’m afraid I’m getting a bit behind with the new authors. About the only decent books I have read lately are O. Spengler’s ‘Decline of the West’ and Henry Ford’s My Life and Work. The first is very heavy and takes some thinking out. It is overburdened with mysticism and reminds me of Nietzsche. Ford takes up most of his book trying to justify his financial power but he has some good ideas about industrial reorganisation. A bit different but still grist in the mill is D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Trespassers’. Lawrence seems always to be striving after something just out of reach. His loves are all tragedies and seem to suffer by contact with sordid surroundings and a lack of understanding in others.

            You see it is a rather mixed lot but it is the best I can do.

            It is good news to hear that the bombing has dropped off a bit in England. Germany seems to be very busy with Russia just now which partly explains it I think. We have suffered a couple of reverses since last I wrote but all in all I think our position is steadily improving. With America in it now it will make a difference. The States have an enormous potential industrial output and once it gets rolling the Axis will never catch up with it. One thing I’m glad of is that my family are still far out of the reach of any bomber. There was some news from them a short time ago and they are all well and as happy as is possible nowadays.

            Your brother seems to be lucky in getting his share of leave. It is always easier when one is stationed in England. I’m glad to hear your family are all well and able to get together once in a while.

            Write to me again soon, it was quite a relief to get your last letter.