Monday, January 12, 2009

Thursday 12th August 1943

Paced the usual 8 furlongs.

This afternoon my spare kit arrived from the Citadel (I sent for it about a month ago) Actually it was a pathetic little bundle tied up with string, for the Authorities had opened it and taken forth all military articles. So my long treasured riding breeches, two bayonets and Mills bomb were gone. Very sad.

What remained was a plaintive little collection of small things, some of which had memories. Thus:- “The Penhales” by Crosbie Garstin. “Spoken Arabic” (hardly ever opened!) “The Tale of Troy.” Of these three books I really value “The Penhales”, given me by Hammick outside Tobruch, with the mocking words, “If I do not return, it is yours.” He didn't return – from Crete.

The only other things in the kit bag were two pairs of ancient and tattered civilian socks and a Gold Flake tin which held:

A Corporal's chevrons,
An RA hat flash,
A territorial Army 4-year service star,
3 rosaries from Jerusalem,
a button and an old fountain pen,
an EY finger ring marked “Palestine 1940”,
a bar and medal - “Southwell Minster Choir 1937”,
a pencil, sharpened at both ends and engraved with propaganda (ie “Victory Ahead”) and religious sayings.

Something wistful about these relics. How proudly I stored away the chevrons, flash and service star, when I placed them in the box over 3 years ago! And the medal, which was given me by Billie Cottam when I left the Southwell billets. (“Take this with you, Steve! It's mine – but don't tell Dad I gave it to you!”) And the pencil – that was given me by a dear and fussing old man who came on the boat at Southampton distributing texts just before we left. Funny I've suddenly found it again when I may soon be returning to England!

But! I deeply regret the bayonets, Mills bomb and riding breeches!


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