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Date: May 20th 1945
Wanda Gill - (wife)
Leslie Gill

letter #101 (continued)

HMCS Iroquois
c/o GPO London
May 20/45


I’ve left off the Norwegian accent, you’ll notice. Do you like me better that way? I thought so! Give the credit to the Laussens, I had to put on my best English there! That’s a funny thing now, Dr Laussen has lived on the continent all his life, mostly in Denmark, and has only been in England a couple of times, yet he speaks flawless English! Just like the BBC announcers. Mrs Laussen lived in London for the first thirty years of her life, yet she speaks with a distinct Danish accent. I kidded her about it, and I dont think she appreciated it! They are fiftyish, two nippers, 11 and 14. The girl, Benedict, can not speak a word of English, but Nils has had a year of it at school. Quite understandable, but slow and peculiar.

They gave me tea (priceless in Copenhagen!) and smørbørde. Dont be alarmed! That means “bread and butter”, but consists of quite a large meal, at which no bread or butter makes its appearance! There is an abundance of Norwegian “bread” which is exactly like Ryecrisp. And they put bits of stuff on small sections of this “bread”, and serve them on a platter as we do sandwiches. No tops on them, of course, like we do. The housewife or cook, who prides herself on her smørbørde, strives for variety and decorative effect on the plattes. Mrs Laussens were very good. Some examples, shrimps, cheese, minced ham with raw yolk of egg on top, eel fillet kippered, various kinds of fish etc. You know my weakness for queer flavors! I thoroughly enjoyed it all. We also had a bottle of rare Italian wine which had lain hidden in their cellar since 1938, and the inevitable “snaps”.

We talked of every subject under the sun, including the war. By the way, were your ears burning? Mrs Laussen was particularly interested in your picture (the best one) and remarked that you were a “typical English beauty”. Quite right darling! She didn’t have to be very smart to see that, did she? She has your address and will probably write as soon as the Postal Service abroad is organized again. They’ve had no direct mail from outside in five years, you know, and she had no idea if her friends in England were living or dead. She had heard of the “utter destruction” of London by the Luftwaffe, denied by BBC and underground sources of information, yet corroborated by fake Nazi BBC programs. She had a very garbled and exaggeretted picture of the damage done by the V bombs, which I was pleased to correct as far as I knew. I’ve been in London three or four times, but its impossible to see much in so short atime. After I’ve invented that mouse trap (?) you and I must explore London properly, and a bit of England, then hurry over to Oslo! Norway is really marvellous, not only because the topography is so much like B.C., but Oslo itself is the most fascinating place I’ve ever been to. You’ll be along to fight off the blondes, but I am to be allowed to drink a moderate amount of aquavit and øl!

Miss Benedict Laussen (11 yrs old) insisted that she escort me back to the ship. That was a skylark! Ever been escorted by a person who couldnt speak English? We got along famously, with my Norwegian (very much the same as Danish), a few German words and plenty of gestures. I think shes in love with me. Can you blame her? Your husband is such a handsome man you know! No. I think the bar of chocolate I gave her had something to do with it. I’m sorry I couldn’t get her any more, but our canteen is just about sold out. Very few fags left, and no sweets at all. They have tons of food here in Denmark, but no tobacco or sugar or clothes. No souvenirs worth having, Im sorry to say, but I’d like to get something. I’ll see what I can do next time Im ashore. The Jerries pinched every blessed thing they could years ago. The shops are stripped, practically; except for cheap trinkets. I covet a few pieces of this Danish porcelain, but theres none available except at black market prices. Hundreds of kroner!

War has been over for two weeks now and I want to go home! Please tell me I am forgiven and can come home! I’ll never roam no more, I promise, unless youre along with me. I’ve no idea what happens to our letters these days. They disappear out of the mailbox and I presume they find their way to England someday. Good joke if I get home before they do! Well darling, in plain English, I love you I love you I love you! 99% for you and 1% to Mum and Evelyn


Original Scans

Original Scans