At the beginning of June 1943 Dick was at the Royal Armoured Corps Officer Cadet Training Unit (Sandhurst) near Camberley in Surrey. He went to battle camp in Snowdonia from Sunday 13th June to Saturday 19th (or 26th?) June
Chotie had moved with her Anti-Aircraft battery - 462 Hy (M) – to the Plymouth area at Millbrook on the Cornish side of the Tamar. Co-incidentally (or predicted by British Intelligence eg through code intercepts?) since on Monday 14th June Plymouth suffered a heavy attack by the Luftwaffe with more than 70 high explosive bombs dropped on the city in just half an hour, hundreds of incendiary bombs falling on Saltash (just north of Millbrook) and phosphorous bombs falling on Mount Edgecombe Park (just south of Millbrook). Chotie was already having ‘a lively war’.
Luftwaffe aerial photo and map of the approaches to Plymouth and defences including Millbrook, January 1942
Dick wrote to her on a Tuesday earlier in the month (presumably 1st or 8th June ):
5731671 Officer Cadet Williams RK
77 Troop ‘B’ Sqdn
100 (Sandhurst) Octu RAC
R.M.C. Camberley, Surrey
Thanks very much for your letter and photo*. It’s quite good don’t you think? I’ve got a God awful photo of my troop taken the first day we had here. (Actually I haven’t yet got one – it’s on the way). We had one taken at Blackdown and that was so horrible that everyone refused to buy one. I paid for mine and am still hoping to get my money back….
I’ll send you one of the Sandhurst ones when they arrive.
I’m writing this during a Gas lecture under pretence of writing notes so I have to keep stopping and pretending to look interested. I don’t think I’m kidding this bloke, though.
Well, how do you like Plymouth**? You appear to have struck it lucky in getting such frequent changes of location. I always seemed to stick for months in really horrible places. Brinner had ten months at Basingstoke and I can’t think of much worse than that. Mind you move Eastwards next time. Somewhere about Lilliput*** would be rather handy or even Chichester or somewhere like that.
(It’s a murderous job trying to write on one knee watching the lecturer with one eye and trying to appear reasonably attentive.)
I get quite a nice time here on Sundays as all O/D’s**** draw cycles to go to church in Camberley. Needless to say no one goes to church. For my part, I repair to a certain YOCH I wot of and there drink gallons of tea (no sugar ….), smoke a pipe or two, and read ‘Country Life’ ‘Tatler’ and ‘Field’ until about noon when I lazily mount the crate and trundle back to my present abode at approx... 2mph. However, we make up for it during the week, especially in PT which consists of pretty bloody runs of about 3-4 miles over obstacle courses in battle order. Quite fun when you get used to it. I shall have to use pencil from here as I’ve run out of ink.
Life here, however, is quite pleasant on the whole though I hope to get transferred to an Infantry OCTU before I finish here. Recce’s all right but I prefer the old infantry.
Diller as you know I expect went to Leicester for initial training. I bet it’s shaking her. I went to Leicester once from Branksome***** if you remember but wasn’t impressed. Good huntin’ country.
Read Rose Macaulay’s ‘And no man’s wit’******, also Noel Langley’s 'There’s a porpoise close behind us’ (re-read).
Plenty of swimming here, nearly every day in fact – I’ve got quite brown (-ed off…)
I’m supposed to be going home this weekend for a few hrs. Only wish I could get to Plymouth but it’s really too much. I could have made Bristol I think. However you may move this way soon.
I was slung on a charge last week! Late on parade – but spun the Squadron Commander a yarn and got admonishment – cushy. I’ll never make it again though, at any rate not with the same bloke – a Grenadier Guards major. All the officers here are either Grenadier, Irish or Welsh Gds. No Scots or Coldstreams.
It’s now Tuesday evening and as I have a few minutes before dinner I’ll round this letter off. We’re on parade again at 9 o’clock for a night march….
It’s been alternate sun and rain here all today, which is a good thing, for this place gets pretty dusty, also the rain helps to fill the swimming-pool.
The library here contains the Encyclopedia Britannica and Oxford so I’m quite happy to spend a few weeks there every now and then.
Our troop officer goes by the name of Brixey – Battle-mad Brixey – who’s really very decent and very cushy. The Guards Officers here nearly all wear long puttees, the old style, that is with service dress slacks. Very comic appearance until you get used to it.
I’m afraid this letter’s rambling on in my usual inimitable style (?) ….
(I’ve put your photo on my chest, furniture not anatomical – looks very good).
I’m very lucky in having Brian & Chunky as room-mates as we never seem to fight although we argue incessantly of course. Chunky being a Londoner hates the country period houses, beer, smoking, in fact all the luxuries of life. Brian being Irish and a pianist in the bargain is often moody and sometimes says hardly a word all day. He’s over six feet, about fourteen stone and will make a brilliant soldier. Plans to stay in the army after this show.
Chunky’s married but being ultra-modern has no children. Brian says he’s going to get married on his next leave. I believe I told you he was a ham before joining-up, and was a Captain in the IRA for two years. Nice people…..
Warrant Officers here call us Sir and we call them Sir so everyone’s happy. Occasionally the Sqdn Cmdr or someone dines with the troop which means about an hour and a half in the mess making conversation over really horrible coffee. Happily I smoke and get rid of the coffee to Brian who eats like a horse.
Well, Darling I’ll close here as I’ll have to post this before Dinner and the stunt tonight.
Hope to see you soon, Chotie Darling
All my love
PS. Sorry half is in pencil but no-one has any ink at the moment I want it.
**This letter was addressed to W/242328 Pte Chalkley B.E.
ATS OFC ‘B’ Tp, 462 Hy (M) AA Bty RA, c/o GPO. Millbrook, NR Plymouth
***a little village by the Harbour in Poole
****Officers of the Day or Officer Developers?
*****Dick was stationed in Branksome from September 1941. See To Branksome
****** Rose Macaulay’s ‘And no man’s wit’ is a novel based on the Spanish Civil War. Noel Langley’s ‘There’s a porpoise close behind us’ is set in the backstage world of London theatre.
© Chotie Darling
On 11th June 1943 Allied planes prepared for their first invasion in Europe, Operation Husky with the bombing of Sicily but also bombed Greece, Sardinia and northern Italy to continue the deception of Operation Mincemeat. On 20th June the RAF adopted the tactic of ‘shuttle bombing’, with planes leaving England to bomb Germany, reloading in North Africa and bombing Italian territory on return. The Allied airforces also implemented the Pointblank Directive of co-ordinated bombing – the Americans flying ‘precision’ bombing by day and the RAF ‘saturation’ bombing at night. The German city of Cologne was ‘saturated’ on 29th June leaving almost 5,000 dead.
‘Radar' was officially adopted as the term for ‘radiolocation’ but remained very secret until the end of the war. The Admiralty at last changed their communications code – Naval Cipher 3 had been decrypted by the Germans in March 1942 leading to tragedy for the Allies in the Atlantic.
De Gaulle trumped Giraud by forming a French government-in-waiting (le Comité Français de la Libération Nationale) to avoid occupation by the other Allies or a communist take-over in the event of an Allied victory. However, his Conseil National de la Résistance leaders were captured, including Jean Moulin on 21st June (he died from torture without revealing information) and the communists began to increase their influence in the resistance.
Leaders of the Polish government in exile, including General Sikorski, were killed in a plane crash on 4th June – a convenience following the discovery of the Katyn massacre that led to many conspiracy theories. Following the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto Heidrich Himmler decreed that all Polish and Soviet ghettos were to be liquidated.
On the other side of the world the Allies, led by General MacArthur, began Operation Cartwheel – an attack on the strong Japanese base of Rabaul on New Britain Island, New Guinea, through capture of the surrounding islands and bases – on 30th June 1943.