Letter 5

Major P.E.M.Holmes

c/o 220 Ind. Port Constr Coy. IE.


March. 20th 1945


Dearest Daddy.

First of all let me thank you very, very much indeed for the £150 that you have telegraphed to me c/o National Bank of India. I don’t know what it is in honour of but it is very welcome and I am very grateful. You mustn’t get the idea however that I am short of money as my pay is adequate to keep Budgie and myself, and save something as well, and Budge never touches what small private means she has herself. I am wondering whether it is to mark the expectation of another child, which as you know we expect in June. I am afraid you may be disappointed as to its sex as Budge is certain that it is going to be a girl. Now for our news. I think you know that Budge and I are once again separated, I being on my travels again, and she being safely settled in Ootacamund. It all came as an unpleasant surprise for us as I had been assured that we would stay where we were until about September. Four days after this assurance, we got an order to be ready to move, so I had quickly to make arrangements to get Budge and Sue to a Hill Station before we moved so she wouldn’t be left on her own. We immediately closed the house, or rather to let it to new tenants and Budgie went to stay with friends. We then wired to Ootacamund and booked accommodation, and a week later I saw her off on the train, sending one of my havildars with her to help her on the way. In many ways it was the best thing for us all, as the climate we were in was not a good one either for Budge of for Sue, and I know that I should never have persuaded her to leave me as long as I was stationed there, and it would not have been a good house to have a new baby in. As it is she is in as healthy a climate as India has to offer, with plenty of food of every kind. Budge was found to be lacking in red corpuscles and that is now being rectified, and Sue is apparently brimming with energy even more than she used to. The day after I saw Budge off, I had to fly up to Calcutta, a journey that takes only 12 hours as against about 4 days by train. The wartime plane is hardly comfortable, but it is a thousand times better and cleaner than the wartime Indian Railway. I was in Calcutta on various duties for nearly three weeks staying at a dump called the Grand Hotel which is now exclusively for the Services, and in which one shares a single room with at least two others. I spent my time running around after various Staff officers, and having an insight into the inner working of an Army. One conclusion I did come to was that far too many people are involved in one perfectly simple action. To get anything done one has to see a minimum of 4 officers. I was offered a job up there myself, but as nothing was said about promotion I declined it, as if I am to remain in my present rank, I would rather remain here with the Unit, especially as our work will get considerably more interesting with the recapture of Rangoon and Singapore. I left Calcutta some days ago and am now on a ship making my way [cut out by censor] to another part of the World.

Like most people, I am fed up with the Army, especially with the Indian Army, or that part of it that deals with leave, repatriation etc. No complaints against the Troops or the officers one meets, but a lot against an Organisation that denies one the right to return home permanently after any period of service although men in exactly similar circumstances are repatriated after 3 yrs 8 months. Amery, glibly gets up in the Commons and says that we are entitled to Home leave after 5 years service overseas, civil or military, but he knows full well that we haven’t a hope before we have done 8 years. Anyway 61 days leave after all that time is a hollow mockery. How I loathe politicians and Indian Govt officials. The Indian Army is always six months or more behind the British Govt in any pay increases, leave schemes etc, and then seems to grant them with a bad grace. All Indian Army officers I have spoken to feel the same way about it and are anxious to transfer to British Service, although for most of us that is not possible. I suppose the War will end one day however.

I haven’t much thought of what I am to do after the War, but Budge’s father has made a suggestion that I go into his Brickworks, as he has only a nephew to take his place ( the nephew was also at Stowe), and he thinks there would be plenty of room for us both. I haven’t seriously considered it yet, as for one thing I know absolutely nothing about brick-making or selling. However it would be pleasant to work in a concern with a family interest. It all seems so uncertain though as to how long it will be before I get home and demobilised. I have no wish to remain on in Burma or Malaya for the reconstruction period, although I may be forced to. I should dearly like to take some long leave after demobilisation and come out to Mexico and see you and your family, although parking two children will be a bit of a problem by that time.

Sue is the apple of my eye, exceedingly beautiful, and very inquisitive and intelligent, with a sense of humour just like mine. She hardly ever gets cross or disgruntled, but is occasionally a bit stubborn and obstinate, and I find I can never force her to obey me when she doesn’t want to as I always start laughing before I can get really stern. She has no shyness or colour bar and picks up the most extraordinary friends. There were very few or rather no children for her to play with in [removed by censor], which is another reason why it is a good thing that she has gone to Ooty, where there are lots of children of all ages.

How are Jane & Stella? It is some time since I heard from you, and then you had just been down to some place I can’t remember (Cualtla?) and were considering buying some land there in Stella’s name. I believe you have sold Cuernavaca, and I hope you got a good price for it, as judging by newspaper accounts Mexico is experiencing a tourist boom at present with masses of wealthy war escapées. If there are any young and fit British subjects amongst them, they ought to have their passports removed from them, so that they can’t return home when it is all over. The German part looks as if it will be over within a few weeks now, and it is to be hoped that they will fight to the bitter end so that they will get the hiding and devastation that they deserve. I fancy that the ground war is already as far into Germany as it has ever been in any previous war, and the farther the better the outlook for the future. The Japs, if American reports are to be believed prefer suicide to surrender even civilians, 20,000 of whom are supposed to have drowned themselves, including women and children, after Saipan. Perhaps with any luck they will wipe themselves out, and save others the trouble.

Give my love to Jane and Stella and any other of my friends that are still in Mexico, and take care of yourselves.

Your loving son




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