Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sunday 26th March 1944

Day “off”.

The streets were full of children and women in uniform this morning. All those things which once we deplored about Germany are slowly becoming established in our British way of life. The next generation will grow up in an atmosphere of danger, death, destruction and insecurity – and, even worse, they will be uniformed, standardised and regimented. Each individual will be dragged down or forced up to the national norm. If this happens it will be a tragical thing.

Great excitement is being fiercely stimulated in Woolwich and all over the country, this week, as the Government wants the people to buy more savings certificates. Captured enemy guns stand in the street; soldiers, women, civilians in uniform and the children are marching. The slogan for the savings campaign is “Salute the Soldier”!

Once, yesterday afternoon, as an MP was delivering skilled but meaningless oratory in the Market Square, he had an interruption and the eyes of the crowd were turned away for a moment. They were looking at a party of 200 soldiers who were being herded towards the station, loaded down with kit bags, packs, tin hats and all the usual military paraphernalia.

“Salute the Soldier!” But no one does!

I must correct those last four words. I don't mean that England's little people ignore the soldier. On the contrary, they salute their soldiers, in countless small ways each day, as I have mentioned in my diary. I mean that no one in authority does.

Today I found Woolwich Public Baths and had a swim – yes, I am still strong enough to swim! I shall try and get a swim regularly whilst I remain here; it helps to make one fit.

Warm, sunny day, this, with patches of green sprouting in back gardens. It was warm enough for everyone to discard their coats, scarves and gloves. Perhaps the winter has gone. All the same I do not feel very happy; on the contrary I feel distinctly lost and lonely. Perhaps this is because I have not heard, by letter or phone, from April since last Tuesday. Usually there are two or three letters each week, and at least one phone conversation. Perhaps also, it is not cheering to realise that, so long as I am in the Army at any rate, April lives on the opposite side of the social fence from me, besides being on the opposite side of the real river Thames.


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