On 24th May the popular Picture Post magazine predicted that Poole, where Chotie lived, would be one of the main landing areas for the still anticipated German invasion. Dick sent a telegram to Chotie on 24th May and they managed to meet up in Southampton the next day.
On Tuesday 27th May Dick wrote to Chotie while guarding prisoners on Southampton Common. Rumours that he’d heard about moving proved true and, as Allied troops were evacuated from Crete (following the German paratrooper invasion), Dick was preparing for a move to Fort Brockhurst at Gosport near Portsmouth.
In June rationing was extended to clothes – Chotie found this increasingly miserable. She was an avid fashion fan and trained as a window dresser at the Beales fashion store in Bournemouth (later bombed).
The move to Gosport on 3rd June found a very disgruntled Dick comparing the place to a chicken coop and fed up with his duties as a Corporal. On 7th June he reverted to Private at his own request:
Letter posted Monday 9th June 1941
My Darling Chotie,
Thanks a million for the letter. I've only just got it as I suppose it was held up at Soton.
Well, Honey, I've got some news this week! I'm now a private again.
I got so utterly fed up with this Battalion, that I sent in an application to the Old Man to revert to the ranks. He refused, saying he considered me better as an NCO, than as a private. He then asked me why I wished to revert, so I let him have it!
I told him I'd sooner serve as a Mess Orderly in a fighting unit than a Sergeant-Major in this. That shook ‘ee!
He asked me whether I'd like to go on MT*, driving, probably on a motor-bike, should there be a vacancy. I told him I would, so may start there soon. At any rate I'll get a transfer.
I told the Old Man that all the NCOs did here was to wet-nurse a lot of kids who should be in the Boy Scouts.
So here I am. Being a Private will give me a wonderful chance to swot up, which I intend to do. Besides, driving is more fun than fooling about in barracks, etc. I shall probably break my neck, but that's how it goes.
(Don't forget to address all correspondence to Private name & number)
Will you still love me as a private, Darling? That's all I'm worried about.
George was going to chuck his in, but he's got some sick leave, so I don't know much about it.
I went to the Coliseum at Portsmouth, yesterday, and saw a Strip-Tease Act. The compere said “The more you applaud, the more she takes off.”! Did the boys give her a hand! I went with John and Ted Rendall, - we nearly killed ourselves laughing.
Later The only good thing at this place is the showers. They're hot almost always. I've just had one, after dinner, and do I feel ‘in the pink’! I could kill an ox.
Well, Darling I must close here, with all my love. Please write and tell me you still think of me now & then.
Bye, bye, Darling
Your own loving hubby,
*M.T. = Mechanical Transport
© Chotie Darling