A transcription of a letter my grandfather Ashley Smith (author)wrote my grandmother on 27 April 1945. I believe he is based close to Rome, Italy, and writing to her in England (Olive Avenue, Leigh-On-Sea, SS9 3QE).
WO I A Smith 10673705 34 Special Training Barracks CMF 27 April 45
Dearest sweetheart in all the world,
I have just received your letter of the 22nd and an answering, it immediately as I am determined not to get behind with my correspondence again. It makes me realise more than ever what you mean to me when I get such letters as this. Here am I all bound up with silly little worries of all kinds and your letters come like a breath of fresh air like the beautiful clean wind of England out to this sultry place. Do you realise what magic there is in all your descriptions for me. Perhaps it would not be for someone else but to me all the time there are such vivid pictures that 47 Olive Avenue (Olive Avenue, Leigh-On-Sea, SS9 3QE) seems to recreate itself right here in the middle of these square angular barracks.
We will soon be ‘together’ sweetheart. I am sure of that and like you it is doing all the ordinary things ‘together’ that I look forward to — yes — walking along the front — walking along the main road — strolling along together in the moonlight — and waking up in the morning together! What a little thing that may have seemed in the past at some times although to me there was always a certain amount of wonder about it because you are to me always a temple of tradition and heredity and breeding and will never cease to be a marvel to me — but as I was saying all those things we may have taken at times for granted in the past — now my heart almost turns over at times if I think of some little movement like that — you just curling into the curve of me do you remember that — do you remember how I used to keep you warm? But — once more — even though it is for the thousandth time I say this — I mustn’t go on — or it becomes too disturbing. But you do manage to draw such provoking little pictures that you cannot blame your dear old husband from writhing in his seat with little shivers of joy running through him. Yes, I do look forward to the greenhouse coat and still more do I look forward to what is underneath. I will do my best to see about the atmosphere. It will be like a hot house.
You are still writing about the atrocities. I have had a letter too from Sidney abou them. As you say it is rather surprising that people have just discovered them. I feel absolute horror at the sight of some of the pictures that we are seeing but at the same time I am reserving my energies of indignation until they can be used effectively. At the moment there is little to be done.
What do you mean by calling my snake story a tall story, I know it did not result in a handbag but it was true nevertheless — about four foot long. As a matter of fact we are all like fishermen here over this snake hunting business. The place is full of people stretching out their arms to show how long it was — and like mine it always got away. Did I tell you I went on a route march (Note: a style of marching in which troops maintain prescribed intervals but are not required to keep in step or to maintain silence) recently and very much enjoyed myself? I am making a practice of doing this — as I want to be a superman by the time I get home!
Yes — I have a peaked cap — all that I want is the same brown belt to complete my outfit when I get back but I am afraid that that will have to wait till I return. Although I am able now to visit the officer shops and buy whatever I please — I’ll get some nice brown shoes for after the war at any rate.
The christmas presents are coming — tell the children not to worry about them The only thing is yourself — I have decided not to send anything valuable — so don’t be disappointed. I am keeping your beautiful bracelet till I come home and then I want to fasten it on myself. I think of all ways of doing that — some of them would surprise you!
Oh sweetheart how I long and long and long for you.
Your loving husband