Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thursday 2nd March 1944

Last night's raid was rather noisier than usual, and in the occasional intervals between bomb bangs! and gun cracks! one could hear large numbers of planes droning overhead. Actually I don't think it was any bigger a show than the usual but maybe it seemed worse as it was more localised to this area. This morning at the railway station, everyone was telling personal air raid stories, with vigour and enthusiasm!

2p.m. Off duty now, for the rest of the day. When relieved, I hurried up from the station, went into the barracks, collected washing and writing gear and came out again. As usual, I felt a marvellous sense of relief as soon as I was out of the barrack gates! I'm now in the writing room of the Soldier's Home. After I'd written a couple of letters I hope it will be possible to get a hot bath, as at present I feel filthy – absolutely scruffy. One cannot get a proper wash in barracks as the water is icy cold and hard, also, wearing such an enormous number of clothes does not feel very hygienic.

6p.m. I had to go back to barracks for a bath as they were short of coke for fires in the Home. However there were not many waiting in the barracks bath-house and he water, for once, was steaming hot so I am now tolerably clean, I think.

After all, it was just as well that I returned to the depot, for a telegram had arrived and was lying on my bed. Instinctively I knew it was from April; but she seems now such a stranger to me that I had no idea, as I held the envelope in my hands, whether this was to be good news or bad. Presumably it meant she had received my letter.. in which I mentioned that if she was “not at home” when I telephoned I would quite understand and leave the next move to her...

Would it say in this telegram - “Please don't trouble to telephone tonight,” or in more cold, sarcastic vein, “Letter received. Cancel telephone call as now superfluous”? Or would it be a rather more pleasant message? I had not the slightest idea! And once I thought April was my other half, my twin sister!

After a few moments of thought, I opened and read the telegram.

“VERY SINCERE REGRETS ALL WILL BE WELL MY LOVE = APRIL”

(If this was written, there would no doubt be a stop after “regrets”. Would there also be a stop after “well”? I hope not.)

“Is it bad news, Bom.?” inquired someone inquisitively. “No,” I said, “Not bad news, thank you. I think it's good news actually.”

So – in about an hour's time I shall phone Romford.

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