The transcript which follows may include abbreviations or spelling inconsistencies and errors. We have chosen to transcribe the letters as they appear so that they are an accurate reflection of John Oldfield’s style and personality. We have also included his original page numbering. Where language is used that we would deem offensive, those words have been replaced with XXX.
On active service
February. 19th. 40.
Me dear Mum, Daddy & Jum-
Thank you so much for the parcel which I got last night with the knee-caps, gloves and pipes. The knee-caps – I’m wearing them at the moment – are really very good and I’m not just saying so for the sake of it, and keep one very warm indeed. I tried them on both ways up and think I’ve got them on the right way. The gloves too are grand and are in reserve at the moment as I’m still using Esme’s which I wear on top of another pair, and which I have written to thank the Kippingilles for. I wrote at the beginning of the month – a page and a half of real good stuff. As for as I can remember, so I hope they have got it by now. I had a letter from Frank asking if I had the cigarettes they had sent me – the ones I didn’t know who they were from – and I wrote to him over 10 days ago explaining why I hadn’t written before, so I also hope he has got that. Very nice to have your letter Mum, and to know the canteen is going well – I’m very pleased and am sure you’ll be packed out when the news gets round amongst the Signals.
no news about my leave – I’m afraid – I wish I could give your something to work on but just do not know myself. I shouldn’t count on it too much in case it doesn’t come off though as you know I am hoping against hope it still will, and as far as I know it’s still even money on it, though I don’t like the delay in it very much. I know H. will do his damndest and if he can’t fix it then it’s almost impossible . Still lets hope for the best – I’m sorry – (to be really conceited !) that I raised your hopes at the beginning but it was all more or less laid on then, and I didn’t think there were going to be any hitches. To think – it would have been to-morrow ! However, it’s no good moping about it I suppose and if we do get it – well that’ll be grand, – If we don’t – isn’t a good thought at all ! I saw Ronnie last night and we had a drink together – he’s off to Ireland in about three days, I’m awfully glad for him that he’s able to get home and of course, Point – to – Points etc. are all in full swing there regardless of this B.war. We visited the regiment this a.m. and I had a word with Derry who was most indignant that he’d heard from Jum that I might be getting leave and thought it a ramp of the first water. I told him I thought he might not have to worry.
I think the poor little chat is a bit browned off with things and certainly wasn’t at his best. I also saw John Jarrad last night but don’t know whether he saw me or not – in any case he didn’t come over, and I didn’t go over – so didn’t speak to him.
Yesterday afternoon I saw the Bt. Football match which was a damn good game, though I think the French deserve the equaliser as they had all the second half and a bit of good and bad luck. Some very find goal keeping too. In the first five minutes the French goal keeper stopped a fizzer and all the crowd behind the goal leaped with him in sympathy – you know how one does at uppin’ at Horse Shows – However, they – about a hundred of em – all made the save but unfortunately the fence round the ground couldn’t take it, gave way and they all went flat on their faces on the ground behind and at the back of the net ! Really very funny, Macbeth he tells me was one of the front ones, but I haven’t noticed that he’s any flatter, but he probably bounced out of harms way ! Anyway it was a good match and because the ground was so boney was very fast indeed in the first half. Both teams seemed a bit tired the second half, I thought.
Devlin Stanley came round out line the
other day and seemed an awful nice fellow. I was responsible for the route and lunch etc., so had quite a busy day.
I’m glad Lambe got his leave and hope he’s enjoying it, I hope I shall see him soon and get all the local gossip from him – if I’m not lucky enough to get it myself.
By the way Mum, we could use another of those excellent cakes you make very well, they are greatly appreciated and the French cakes are quite bloody – so if you could ?
I heard from Sister M. last night – she seems in very good heart and very pleased with their new home which I expect she will have made very nice. Richard is very lucky in many ways. I wonder what he thinks about the Altmark – I must say I think did absolutely the right thing ( of course I should know! ) and Norway can’t have made a very thorough search from all accounts.
Well, I don’t know how I’ve wandered on to four pages – you mustn’t let Margaret Lewis know or she’d never forgive me. Incidentally Jum tell the ruddy woman to write !
Well, my dears, I really must run along as it’s getting late and I can never get up – still ! Again many many thanks for the warmers.
My love to you –
P.S. Tell Badger to cross her puds for my leave !