Many thanks for your airgraph of Dec. 12 which reached me today when I was in the middle of my lunch. And therefore add to the flavour of my sardines! Mail has been very erratic recently, but there is consolation in the thought that any delay is caused by the necessity of other things, that are needed to complete the job of sweeping the hun out of North Africa, anyway I'm not grumbling. I had a letter from Robin last night, posted on Dec. 27, and very full of beans and 'made up with the life as we call it, he especially asked me to tell you all when I wrote that he is really getting along fine, and his letter certainly bore him out. At the time he was evidently just outside Tobruk, all of Christmas dinner, to quote his own words - 'lashings of roast pork, turkey (just a little, but turkey all the same) plum pudding and even Christmas Cake for ten certainly a big improvement on last year!' He also makes the same kind of remarks about the mail as I do, and again begs me to ask you to pass on to Peggy the news that he is alive and flourishing.
I hope you don't mind me using this machine, a blasted Jerry abortion, but I do find it a lot easier as my right hand is still rather painful following the dropping of about three tons of motor engine on it a week ago by the stooge who was supposed to be instructing me on something or other. Nowt to worry over, I can assure you that I'm not!
Now then, what about you? What's this about you having to have given up working for a bit and now expecting reinstatement? Probably you have written a letter which I have not yet received which explains things nice and gently so as not to put the wind up me. Lady, it wont wash. You've got to look after yourself very carefully or otherwise incur my severe displeasure.
Daddy too. Here am I throwing flankers and heaven knows what beside in the effort to keep myself out of serious trouble and you go and pull this on me, shame on you!
I said that I'd tell you about Christmas, so here goes. Out first Christmas out of the blue. Naturally we decided to do something about it, and on the 23rd. The 104 held the dinner, the idea being to give the cooks Xmas Day off. We we able to invite guests, so whipped in several old members into a bar for the occasion. We had assembled a certain amount of beer by means of great self sacrifice over a long period and also by raiding outer units Naffis, and though a little co-operation of Canadian Club. After a snifter or two we adjourned to the mess and sat down to be served by the sergeants and officers, turkey, chicken, sausages, pork, spuds, cauliflower, pudding, mince pies, oranges, and of course unlimited beer. Following a sing-song, and a mild riot during which I was given a shampoo with a couple of oranges. We collected our party and went back to the tent where we waded into the rest of the drinks and began singing, mainly if I remember alright a dirge about robins singing in December which poor Frankie Vincent sang with hardly a pause till he was loaded on to a truck two hours later to return to his camp. We were a sorry sight at reveille next morning and only four of us, one of them me dared to breakfast, boiled Nile fish!
On Christmas Eve most of us bowled into town, but as I didn't feel much like a binge I tooled off on my own to the Regent, a very decent bar-restaurant with high prices which keeps out the mob. There I got into conversation with an elderly Englishman, civilian in W.O employed to be in Aden with ... .. .
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Tommy Wills, remember Tony Fisher's uncle? Later he went off and I had dinner with a very pleasant New Zealander, and then we returned to the bar to drink Depth Charges, a combination of rum and Cherry brandy and were joined by a chap out of the Eagle Squadron, the Col. of a very famous former cavalry unit, an earl who is private in the Rhodesian forces, a chap from the Herald-Tribune and a couple of privates from the IRRs. In all quite a merry party. Eventually I had to catch transport back to camp, and when I got back found a few choice souls in out tent, so we got a bottle of rum and after a few spots decided that we ought to go and give a drink to everyone else in the section and wish them a merry Christmas, maleesh if they were asleep, that would be too bad for then, so we set out and did so, meeting with a very varied reception. Freddie woke us when he crawled in at five a.m. - he'd gone spare from the party he had been with at a local cafe and had asked some RCAF fellows for a lift to Kilo 4. Whether he had been a bit canned and his speech was indistinct or whether they were ditto, is just one of the unsolved mysteries of the war, anyway after some time in the back of their wagon he decided that something was stinking in Denmark, and hammered on the roof till they stopped, when he found out that they were going to Kilo 40 ! Well, they were ferrying the beer for their mess, so around about 3 ack emma Christmas Morn our Freddie and this crowd were sitting by the roadside twenty miles out in the miden smilling someone else's wallop. Finally they delivered him back to us.
For dinner on the 25th. we had been invited over to an M.Y. reunion at Brigade, so after the Carol Service we wandered across and some reunion it was. Forgotten friends bailed us and ligged us off to their tents to partake of hospitality, and after the night before it was just the job.I was with some of my friends the Don Rs and we thought it would be a good idea to drive their jeep into someone elses tent and did so, they were wrath and joined impartially over the heaps writhing on the floor, and many a man departed with his head date stamped! We reorganised and reformed and went over to the mess where we sat down the long tables hammering with our spoons and yelling, 'We want wallop, we want wallop!' and we got it! The dinner was suberb, the apple sauce was second only to yours, and the rest of the cocking was up to the same high standard. 'Stopper Knott was dressed as an Arab bint in blanket and strips of towel with two Jaffe oranges for boson, rapidly wrecked, and came in for much lewd banter, eventually losing his skirt and nearly his virtue! The walls were decorated with various slogans.
Extra blanket freeze a jolly good fellow. Hot stuff this Currie. (Currie is the Brigadier) Get used to Turkey now. (Wishful thinking ?) Last chance to be soused of the border.
Currie put in an appearance and made a really good speech, pulled our legs and bummed us up to the sky. 'Finest armoured brigage in the world (I should think so, we've loads of decorations in this last do.) and thenproposed The King, which we drank with the usual honours. The Nicky Pease, the Squadron Leader came in and we let him know how we admire him, and he read us a letter from old Paddy O'Connor from a POW camp in Italy, commencing, 'Sir, I am ashamed to have to write to you from the above address....!' Nicky finally ended up by saying that now we could write home and say that we would definitely be in Blighty for next Christmas...I wonder? After dinner a gang of got on the roof of a truck and beetled off into town, on the way Len Goody sat on me and poured a bottle of beer inside my battle blouse, and I gave him a black eye, all in a spirit of great friendship! On reaching town we played rugger down side streets withoranges, and fetched up a service garden club for tea with buckshee iced cake. Later I went off to the Regent again and met mist of the crowd who had been there the previous night, everyone was very gay, and for the last hour we all clung to our stools and sang merrily. I said it was an exclusive place, didn't I? Boxing day found us lying on our beds, but I suddenly got landed for a rush repair job ... .. .
Take a short break with our 1 minute survey, simple questions that are an enjoyable distraction.
went into town and saw a punk film and then spent the evening with the Escejidos, where we talked a good deal and I succeeded in making myself thoroughly homesick!
So taking things by and large Christmas wasn't so bad but still I would have been more satisfied if I had been with the crowd that walked into Sirte that same day, this Base life gets one down, theres plenty of work, but the bloody Base wallah mentality prevails, and it makes me sick to think that there are some people who have been down here for three years doing damn all except sit in soft office jobs while better men have been going through hell to keep them there. I'm not bitter about it, only disgusted. This war's got to be won, and its going to be won, but not by people who haven't a thought beyond the revellings of red tape and their own selfish comfort. There are people whom I know at Base whom I do like and respect, but there are others who really are the limit. The last week or two I've spent a good deal of time drawing stores and the stupidity that I've encountered and the apathy of some of the people I've had to deal with has made me flaming wild. Maleesh.
On the morning of the new Year's Eve we had news that Lt. Col. The Hon. Somerset A. Maxwell, O.C. Middlesex Yeomanry, sometime Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for War, and M.P. for kings Lynn had died at 2030 hrs. the previous night following wounds sustained in action. The funeral was to be the same afternoon and as the cemetery was nearby we old originals turned out. When we arrived our party brought the M.Y. contingent up to 30 exclusive of bearer party and officers. The plain coffin was slid off the ambulance on to the shoulders of 8 NCOs and OCTU cadets and preceded by the chaplain passed through the ranks of the firing party who stood at the Present. Behind followed General Penney, CSO.ME., COl. Messel, former C.O. of the unit and several other officers of ours, after them came ourselves who have served under him for so long, the journey was short but at the slow march it seemed a long way, nut at the length we formed up round the coffin on which the flag trembled in the wind. The service was almost inaudible as planes taking off nearby drowned everthing, except the words of the 23rd. Psalm. They lowered the coffin into the grave, and the escort fired three rounds into the air and the bugler's sobbing notes ran from Last Post to Reveille. The wreaths were placed and one by one we stepped up to the grave and made our last salutes. Freddie was rather cut up, they were in the same firm on the Stock Exchange and Fred had been at his wedding. We both got a bit tight that night. Funny, its the first ceremonial funeral that I've attended. I'm glad that so many of us were able to be present. He was a fine man, and its stinking rotten luck that he should have got so near to recovery and then packed in. Anyway, maybe its as well, he'd never have been able to walk again.
I hope to get into town again tomorrow, Sunday, and have lunch with Millies and then go to the Escijidos. I'm expecting to go away on an M.T. course within a short while don't know how long, but it should be useful. Sorry this typing is pretty duff, but its been a long time since I've handled one of these things, and its a lousy machine. Look after yourselves, won't you, and thank you all so much for everything.
Even and always, Your own Tyler
7.1.43 Posting delayed owing to t.s.d. Happy birthday Darling your present to me was letter & letter card
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