By June 1941 the Allies were on the attack again – bombers from Dorset Warmwell aerodrome raided German held Cherbourg in France. America (still not yet in the war) froze all German, Italian and Japanese assets in the US and evicted all the Axis consulates. Hitler, however, was looking in another direction. On 22nd June 1941 he launched Germany’s surprise attack on Russia, Operation Barbarossa.
Meanwhile Dick, now a Private once more, was in the Mechanical Transport Section of HQ Company at Fort Brockhurst, Gosport. On 19th June he narrowly missed seeing Chotie during a brief visit to Bournemouth and Poole. He was restless and keen to volunteer for a new elite corps - the parachutists (the Special Air Service was founded on 1st July 1941 and the Parachute Regiment on 1st August 1942).
Dick seems to have been granted his seven days leave at the end of June and, thanks to Operation Barbarossa, which had removed some fear of an imminent German invasion, may have been able to go bathing with Chotie again on the re-opened section of beach at Sandbanks. The West Dorset coast, though, was far from peaceful with air attacks on Chideock and West Bay and, on 9th July, the Battle of Lyme Bay. German schnellboots attacked an Allied convoy sinking a tanker, four freighters and an armed trawler that was acting as escort in the Bay.
Dick didn’t join the SAS or the Paras - at least there is not record of this. By 7th July he had moved to the Intelligence section:
Saturday 12th July
FAREHAM SERVICES INSTITUTE
My Darling Chotie,
Having just been to the flicks and finding myself at the above address, I thought I’d write you to let you know what news there is and that I arrived back safely but very late. The trains were all over the show at So-ton and I had to go all the way to Romsey, from Totton, and then back on the same train to So-ton. When I got to Fareham the last bus had just gone, and consequently in the company of several others I had to walk (!) to Brockhurst - about six miles!
And not one car passed me all the way.
In the interests of National Economy I am using both sides of this note paper.
This Intelligence game is proving to be a cinch, ---- all to do and plenty of time to do it in. It is in fact, just my vocation.
We've just been to see ‘ Honeymoon for Three’ - quite amusing. I was going to see ‘Rebecca’ again but it was on in some vague suburb of Pompey*, and consequently I changed my mind.
I went to the Coliseum again last night. Annette was there again – strip-tease. I regret to say I got hopelessly tight afterwards. There were four of us, and I've no idea how we got back again and believe it or not, I was by far the most sober of us all. After an hour's steady drinking, it developed into a competition, and we started on Brandy and Chablis. Gertie (Kirkwood) was crawling about under the table before long, and Welsh, a bloke from Plymouth Grammar, looked decidedly ill. Billy Ede has lived most of his life in France & Germany and is consequently rather hardened. After that we got split up and Bill and I later found the others in Gosport trying to climb a pile of sandbags. I managed to get to bed, but got up again about midnight and had a cold shower which sobered me up considerably.
I'll never forget that night. We're all on Intelligence. What a crew. I had the devil of a hangover this morning, but luckily it's Saturday so there's ---- all to do.
Well, Darling, there's no news as usual. I hope you managed to get back all right.
I've written with some pens in my time, but I've never seen the likes of this one. The ---- nib keeps getting crossed.
I must say bye bye now Darling as I have to get a bus back to Brockhurst.
All my love,
Je t’aime encore de tout mon coeur**.
**French - "I love you always with all of my heart"
© Chotie Darling