I’m taking advantage of ANZAC holiday to catch up on a few letters. (The day on which we remember our ‘finest hour’ when thousands of NZ soldiers were killed on the hills of Gallipoli in the 1st War – we humans must have the brains of peas!)
X rang and [partner] talked with him – I was quite glad to miss him actually. He was a young Lieutenant when Y and I were in Algiers – i/c a ‘small boat’ and whilst waiting for the invasion of Sicily he and some 8 others helped collate the Operation Orders for some 2 weeks.
Yes, X was the Art Director there and… when he went to Woburn Abbey in the war I joined them as soon as I could get away. There were some 10 people from [the company] there, oddly. X must be getting on now, when I was 18 I thought him pretty aged!!
It’s always nice to have a good excuse to ring you. I was talking this morning about the miserableness of lack of communication for people overseas during the war – it would have been wonderful in those days if one had been given a ration of one call every three months, or something! It is quite a different sort of communication to hear a voice as against reading writing (let alone typescript – though that does mean more on the page).
He was for a time on the Queen Elizabeth at a time during the war when she was used carrying 15,000 troops at a time from USA to Britain, and about 1,200 sick or prisoners on the way back. She apparently did not usually have an escort, but relied on her speed (something like 36 knots flat-out, if I remember rightly). He told me of an occasion when she was to rendezvous off Milford Haven with two cruisers who would look after her. Before long there was a radio warning of submarines and an order to adopt ‘Zigzag R’ (which involved full speed). No sooner had she worked up to that than one of the cruisers flashed a plaintive message, ‘Wait for me’!