By the end of July 1943 Chotie’s Royal Artillery Anti-Aircraft unit
had moved back to the Bristol area, this time to the north of the city
- her address was
W/242328 Pte Chalkley
O’s FC ATS ‘B’ Tp
462 Hy (M) RA AA
Letter written on Saturday 31st July 1943:
My Darling Chotie,
Sorry, this will have to be in pencil but Chunky has pinched our only table and chair and is very inauspiciously writing to his wife.
Received your two letters, for which many thanks. I was surprised to see you are once again in the Bristol area. If you remember, Eric was convalescent at Westbury for some months. At any rate you’re a little nearer home, which I suppose is something, if not very much.
As regards next week-end I’m afraid I won’t be able to get down before Saturday Evening, as our leave doesn’t start until the afternoon, and it’s a fair journey.
I shall have to leave again on Monday afternoon as we change squadrons on that day and I’ll have about six months accumulation of kit to move to the New Buildings, which are some half mile or so.
Been swimming all the afternoon at the ‘Blue Pool’, the nearest baths (apart from the college baths) and am now beginning to get brown. I’m already pretty browned off as they’re chucking out Recce cadets right and left as the corps is already too full. The trouble is that in most cases they’re not even giving infantry commissions! So I’ll probably be RtU’d* in the near future.
These things run in cycles – one minute they’re clamouring for officers and the next they’re full up.
Read Linklater’s short stories entitled “God likes them plain”, which are very good. Haven’t had time to read anything else. Heard from Diller (still browned off) but haven’t heard from Brinner, needless to say.
Swam in an inter-squadron competition and managed to win my event the net result being we won the whole show easily. Rather funny really, and that’s the first swimming event I’ve been in. On the 28th** too! Hell of a fluke – the other 3 were U.S.***
I’ll close here Darling, as I’ve exhausted my mediocre letter-writing talents.
All my love, Darling
*RTU – Returned to Unit
**Dick’s 22nd birthday on 28th July.
***Slang for useless?
© Chotie Darling
Dick's future comrades in 61st Reconnaissance Regiment were still in the Chilterns:
“Every Saturday morning we had a 10 mile run/march/route march after which we could go out. I sometimes went down to London, Tring or Berkhamsted to see a film. We did troop exercises on the Common and Ashridge Golf Course.” (Extracts from ‘My War Years’ by John Eric Postles ISO used by kind permission of the author.)
This photo of B Squadron's Assault Troop, including Anthony Rampling, was taken in August 1943 (Tony is third from the left at the back):
Eric Brewer joined the Assault Troop soon after this photo was taken and continued to fight in the Assault Troop until December 1944.
1st August 1943 – Japan proclaims an independent State of Burma, led by Ba Maw. He declares war on Britain and United States while Aung San, head of the Burma Defence Army, begins negotiations with the communist and socialist parties. By November 1943 Aung San is making plans with the British to turn his forces against the Japanese occupants. (From Chronology of World War II and Wikipedia.)
1st August 1943 - American bombers attack the Ploesti oilfields of Romania from North Africa in Operation Tidal Wave but suffer devastating losses. The Germans had broken their codes and were ready for them. (From ‘The Second World War’ by Antony Beevor, published by Weidenfield and Nicolson 2012)
2nd August 1943 – more than 300 prisoners escape from the Treblinka extermination camp in Poland in a break out organised by the Jewish inmates - although two thirds were eventually captured and killed. The bodies of the thousands who had been gassed or shot at Treblinka were being exhumed from the mass graves and burnt, removing the evidence of genocide. Deportation of Jews from the ghettos to Treblinka had ceased in May 1943 and the camp was to be dismantled. All the remaining prisoners in the camp were killed. (From United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and WW2-net Timelines.)
2nd August 1943 – a Japanese destroyer in the Solomon Islands rams a US Torpedo boat, which catches fire. The commander, J F Kennedy dives in to rescues his crew from the burning oil. Abandoning ship after 12 hours clinging to the upturned hull he helps them reach the isolated Plum Pudding Island and then Olasana Island, which has coconuts but no water. On 8th August they were found and rescued with the assistance of local islanders who were coast watchers and a message written on coconut shell. JFK kept the shell on his desk in the Oval Office when he became President of the Unites States.
3rd August 1943 – the Russians launch Operation Rumyantsev, a vast offensive south of Kursk taking Belgorad on 5th August. North of Kursk Soviet forces reclaim Orel, following the German retreat. (From ‘The Second World War’ by Antony Beevor, published by Weidenfield and Nicolson 2012)
5th August 1943 – US troops at last take the airfield of Munda on New Georgia, in the Solomon Islands, from the Japanese.
6th August 1943 – American destroyers in the Solomon Islands sink 3 Japanese destroyers carrying 900 troops in a night-time ambush.
6th August 1943 – German troops pour into Italy as Italian and German government leaders meet near Venice.