March 7, 1945
Hope my long silence hasn’t worried you too much. Anyway, it couldn’t be avoided and I’m fit as a fiddle. On top of this, I’m in the best billet since I left England and Cobham. The lady of the house has three very nice kiddies, seven months, three years, and seven years, respectively. Yvette, the seven-year-old is my pet shadow. I don’t know if it’s the beard or the chocolate bars, but she has chosen me out of twenty sergeants. She really is a sweet little kid. The mother is a very kind woman and I feel very sorry for her. Her husband is a prisoner of war in Germany and she hasn’t heard from him in six months. The town itself has escaped any physical damage apart from military targets bombed by the R.A.F.
However, practically every family has suffered at Gerry’s hands. It is certainly a treat to be among such people after all these months of mud and filth. The weather here is very much like Old England, bitter one day and mild the next. Many of the boys have managed a leave to England and, at the moment, there are twenty ahead of me. The whole scheme of leave seems very unfair to me as I haven’t had a leave since I left England and I have much more to go back to than most. However, I can’t do anything about it, so will just have to wait. It’s awfully hard though, Mom, to be so close to Kay, yet so far away. At the moment, Kay is staying with friends on a farm near Norwich, Norfolk. She reports that she likes the country very much, which is good news to me. Little Val is growing like a weed and has developed a temper already. I told Kay it must be from her side of the family because I never lost my temper.
Well, Mom, the war news is certainly good these days. I fail to see how it can last beyond the end of May. I’m looking forward to smashing German property for a change, believe me. So much for my end of the story and so to my distant relatives in Canada. It certainly has been ages since I saw you all. -----
(I am of the opinion that this letter was written from France, where Alastair’s regiment was transferred from Italy. W.F.H. Swinton) (In fact, he was in Comines, Belgium, which he revisited in his eighties and met Yvette again. V.C.M. Swinton)