Letter 6





Dear Daddy.

Budge has written to you and I am sending this with hers, so that you will hear all our news at once. I arrived here on leave 3 days ago and Budge and Sue met me at the Station. They both looked amazingly well, in fact I scarcely recognised Sue, so fat and pink cheeked had she become. I never expected Budge to meet me as it is only a fortnight since she had her baby, but she is looking almost better than I have ever seen her, with full cheeks and a good colour. The baby is of course minute and has at present rather a froglike look, and reddish auburn hair. We can’t really see what it is going to look like at present. Budge’s house that she and Eryl Ransome have jut moved into is very nice, with a smallish garden, the only snag being as is usual in Indian houses that there is no running water, or water closets. And of course they need a retinue of servants and nannies to run it and the children. The cook is excellent, and I am eating like a horse, as it is the first really good food I have had for months. Unfortuneately [sic] I have come up here in the rainy season, and it is cold and wet, but I don’t mind as I am taking life very easily.

My life since I last wrote has been one long round of travelling by ship plane and rail. When I last wrote I was on my way down to a small group of Islands a long way from Colombo, where we had some work to do.

I stayed there about 4 weeks, and then came back to Colombo, in a very comfortable Liberty cargo ship. From Colombo I flew to Calcutta and then on into Mandalay in Burma. My unit had been split up all over the place, and in fact had only just now joined up, so I had detachments everywhere. I didn’t stay in Mandalay long, only about 12 days, and then I motored down to Rangoon. It was an interesting drive, about 450 miles long, and I saw as much of Burma as I want to. I stayed in Rangoon about a fortnight, doing absolutely nothing and getting bored stiff. It wasn’t knocked about but all the houses and buildings had been completely looted of everything even down to the last cheap iron hinge. Mostly of course done by the Burmans in the interim between the Japs leaving and us occupying.

After the fortnight in Rangoon, I returned to Calcutta and almost immediately had to go into Hospital with what I called a bad cold, but the Hospital called acute bronchitis. They kept me in for twelve days, although I felt perfectly fit at about 3 days. I was frightfully impatient to get out, as a vast amount of work had accumulated as we had received no mail for 3 ½ months, and it all came down with a bang, and had to be answered. While in Calcutta I took advantage of the temporary good temper of the Brigadier and got 14 days leave, although I couldn’t of course go at once. As soon as I had got things a little out of their chaos, I made a beeline for here, having four perfectly foul nights on the train, which was as usual very overcrowded. I caught what seemed to be a cold, due to the dust perhaps, and didn’t feel at my best when I arrived. Budgie said I looked very yellow, but that is due to Mepacrine, an anti- malarial drug, that we all have to take every day. It has no lasting effects, and the colour goes away almost as soon as one gives up the drug. It certainly stops malaria, which will soon I think be regarded as a punishable disease.

Your negotiations for the sale of the Railway seem to be pretty heart-breaking. What are you going to do when you retire. Return to England, or live in Mexico. I would strongly recommend the latter, as I think England is going to be pretty bloody to live in for the next 10 years. I intend to return there for Budge and the childen’s Sake, as the East is certainly no place for English women or children, and I think men only live half a life here, with a lack of energy that is so constant that one doesn’t notice it. Budge’s father has suggested sending Budge and me on a business tour of America after the war, to help choose the most modern type of brick kiln, which he would want me to erect on my return to England. The tour would end in Mexico to see you both, but would probably, in fact certainly be undertaken without the children. I don’t know of course whether this will all come off as it is in the rather distant future. I am age group 33 for demobilisation and they certainly won’t go beyond 25 this year. No one knows what will happen then, and there may be a gap before they release any more. However I should be out of the Army by the end of 1946, and time passes quickly. The demobilisation and repatriation from here is causing to say the least a great deal of inconvenience as so many are going at once, and reinforcements are not too easy. However it will straighten out as soon they are now flying men out here. It all seems to have been done in a bullheaded way, and most people out here are of the opinion that it is an election stunt largely. I dislike politicians of whatever party intensely and consider the majority of them to be of dubious honesty. There is no repatriation for me until I finish as I am Indian Service. I have applied for transfer to British Service but don’t think for a minute that I shall get it. Anyway I am not really keen to go home until I am released so it does not matter much.

I have just read a book by Col. Mitford called “Dawn breaks in Mexico”. It had a terrible review I am told but I enjoyed it. I don’t think he can have written it himself, with lyrical descriptions of sunsets, and other poetical nonsense. There is not much in the book, and I don’t think somehow it will appeal to those who have not been to Mexico. He gives you a gracious tribute of about 5 words. If you haven’t got the book, write to Budge and she will send it to you.

Budgie tells me that I have been mentioned in despatches. Having been out of touch with Army Orders for some time I haven’t seen it. It may be true however as I don’t think the woman who told her could have made it up. All my love to you all and I hope we shall see each other before too long a time.

Your loving