On 13th July 1941 Britain and the USSR pledged to assist one another against Hitler.
Dick was still at Fort Brockhurst in Gosport, training for Intelligence work. Diversions included the cinema, heavy drinking with his pals in Pompey (Portsmouth) and a painful attempt at horse-riding. He was giving lectures, practising the laying and disconnection of minefields and studying Spanish, German and French (Dick was fluent in French and found Spanish easy but thought German ‘a swinish language’).
The 11th August 1941 found him writing to Chotie during a German class :
Monday 11th August 1941
It's not often that I begin an epistle to you at this hour in the morning - it's now only 8.30 - but as I have some time to spare, I thought I'd start anyway.
It's been raining hard since réveillé and looks like going on all day. I suppose it will stop by about eleven or so. I'm meant to demonstrate sniping to the Company Commanders at nine o'clock but with this rain I suppose it will be postponed - at any rate I hope so.
Thanks for your last letter. I've passed on best wishes to Eric (I'm too jealous to give him your love...) who returns same. I haven't seen Pete lately and JP is on leave.
Incidentally my leave is down for the 22nd of this month but we have been warned that all leave will probably be a month late, so it's not a bit of good to back on it. It would be marvellous if I could get it, as it's only about ten days time.
Eric and I went to the flicks yesterday and saw ‘Typhoon’ (Lamour & Preston). It's a bit ancient but very good. I don't know whether you saw it or not. Don't miss it if you get the chance. Eric & I also joined the Gosport Library - which is an excellent one in every way.
We have just started a German class, but I hope to carry on with my letter. The Education Sergeant is very ancient and could easily overlook this writing. At the moment he’s chalking up lines and lines of German on the blackboard - I've no idea what - I never do.
Well, I just had a break for lunch so am once again at it.
Hell! I wish I could get my Seven Days... and don't you start talking about going Russian either*, or I'll start…
We are now having a lecture on mopping-up paratroops - a lot of bloody rubbish… They are under the impression that a section (one Lance Corporal & nine men) could easily finish off 18 paratroops, which is ridiculous as a British Army section has only one Bren Gun, possibly a Tommy gun and seven or eight rifles, whereas paratroops have each a light machine-gun, and bristle with Mills bombs**, grenades etc. That's the Army all over - mass slaughter.
I'm just going to dinner, so I'll probably feel better after that.
Well, Darling I've had dinner and do feel considerably better for it. Excuse the ink (unusual for me) but as there appears to be a pen here I thought I may as well use it, perhaps it helps to make my writing legible.
It has cleared up and the sun is shining once again - think of the time when it will always be shining, Sweetheart, when there shall be ‘no wars nor rumours of wars***’ ... That little cottage with the thatched roof and glorious roses...And a Queen Anne bed... (?)
This nightmare of separation will soon be over Darling, and then we'll start to live again. That's if you'll still love me then. All I ever do is hope & pray that you will. Please tell me you will, Darling, and I'll get some sleep at night...
Well, Precious I must close here as I have to go on parade at 2 o'clock.
All my love, Darling,
* Dick and Chotie appear to have used ‘Russian’ as a euphemism for intimate matters.
** kinds of hand grenade
*** Mark Chapter 13 Verse 7 “And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet…” from Authorized King James version of the Holy Bible (Matthew Chapter 24 Verse 7 is very similar).
© Chotie Darling