After long lonely nights on guard at Lee-on-Solent Dick did get home on 18th January and met Chotie again for the first time since October. He got caught up in a blitz in Southampton while returning to his unit. Towards the end of January he writes to Chotie about peace as 'something to be fought for' but also seems determined to marry her when the fighting is over.
Compulsory fire-watching was introduced in January 1941 and as an employee of Beales, the Bournemouth department store, Chotie took her turn as ‘Roof Warden’.
On 1st February the BOAC flying-boat service in Poole Harbour expanded with a route to Portugal – the only safe staging post in Europe to reach the African front. On the same day Project Fougasse or ‘Sea Flame’ successfully set fire to the sea off Studland, lighting up the East Dorset night sky so brightly you could read a newspaper in Bournemouth. (From ‘Poole and World War II’ written by Derek Beamish, Harold Bennett and John Hillier and published by Poole Historical Trust in 1980 and ‘Dorset’s War Diary - Battle of Britain to D Day’ by Rodney Legg, Dorset Publishing Company 2004.)
On the first weekend in February Dick wrote:
Marine Parade W
Thanks for the letter. As I'm on Guard again I thought I'd write. It's about the only time I get. I'm on the Beach Hut Guard with no stove and only a candle for light and heat, and is it cold!
It's now just eight o'clock Saturday evening, and I'm faced with the pleasant prospect of staying in this wretched hut, awake, ‘till ten o'clock tomorrow morning. It's so damn cold now that I can hardly write - Heaven knows what it will be like by about midnight.
There was an inspection of these guards by a General a few days ago. From what I can gather from various sources, he condemned the conditions and I believe there is the chance of moving again. I don't know where it will be, of course.
Everyone's fed up with this place as, apart from the food, there's nothing to be said for it. It's one long Guard - up to our necks in mud and only one wretched cinema, when we get any time off.
Anyhow, Darling, I still love you so much that even Guards become a pleasure when I think, of the glorious time we're going to have when I get back. And I don't mean maybe...
About every ten minutes someone, some clumsy ---, knocks over my candle, and if it were not for my lighter, Darling, I don't know what I'd do. I'd certainly have used a good few matches tonight.
I'm afraid as usual there's very little news - if any. Nothing of any real interest ever seems to happen.
I hope to meet Eric again soon. He's at Gosport (about 5 miles from here) and I'm trying to arrange a reunion. The snag is that it's difficult for us to both get the same night off duty. I expect we'll manage it soon - Eric's a born wangler.
I came off Guard and after a bath and some din-din, felt a lot better.
I'm afraid I can't write any more, Darling as it's just on Supper Time, and I must post this in the NAAFI as it's the only chance I’ll get.
Bye, bye Darling,
All my love
© Chotie Darling
Soon after this letter Dick’s unit was moved to Southbourne in Bournemouth – near enough to see Chotie regularly so there are no letters until 12th March.
He may have seen some action from the coastal battery at Hengistbury Head firing on German Schnellboots close to the shore on 12th February.
On 20th February Dick was again promoted to full Corporal.