August 8, 1940
Received four letters from you yesterday, the first in six weeks. Shirley’s was written on July 3d, Mom’s on July 5th, Lorna’s on the 5th and there was one written by someone who failed to sign their name or finish the letter, though they started three different times, Jun 2, Jun 9 and June 30. Judging from the hand, I would say this absent-minded person was Phyllis. At any rate, I was very glad to hear from you again and know you are all well. I imagine you had a very exciting time with Bill’s fire and I can just see poor old Bill running around like a hen without a head. I am glad he managed to save his car and that the kids were able to help him.
When you see him again, you can tell him he has my sympathy and good wishes. I am glad that Dad was able to unload the Plym and hope the new car proves more satisfactory. I am quite sure you did the right thing, in trading the car when you did, as I feel sure the whole automobile industry will come completely under the control of the government before long, just as it is here, in which event, it will be impossible to buy a new car. Even if the car is new and more precious than ever, don’t be afraid to let Alan drive it, as I feel sure that he has enough sense to drive carefully, being by far the most level-headed of the Swinton boys. I hope you won’t feel that this is just “apple sauce,” because I really mean it.
I have written two long letters describing the camp here, so will not mention it this time. I have been here just seventeen days and have had a wonderful time. My skull injury doesn’t bother me unless I swing my head violently or jar it from landing too heavily on my feet. So you see, it doesn’t bother me in the least. I still have a daily swim in the sea, which I find leaves me feeling invigorated and refreshed. If you go in at low tide, you have to wade out quite a distance, much the same as Beaver Lake. However, at high tide, three steps carries you up to your depth, which is much better. I went for a swim the other day when the sea was running fairly high. You really get quite a thrill out of it, as you are lifted eight or ten feet straight up on the curl of the wave. The trick is to swim hard on the crest, then rest in the trough and you can come in with next to no effort. The sea is really lovely on a sunny day, as it takes on some wonderful hues, from deep blue to light with stripes of dark green and grey intermingled.
I had a visit from Aunt Margaret and Madeline who are both living at Bamford Speke now. They seemed very glad to see me and a little surprised too, as I imagine they expected to see an invalid rather than a sun-tanned husky. I was glad to see them too, as they brought a lovely basket of fruit and cakes, plus a bouquet of beautiful sweet peas picked in Madeline’s garden. Civilians are not allowed inside the camp, so I took them for a stroll along the cliffs which surround the beach. After a long stroll, we walked into town and had a nice Devonshire tea, including the famous cream. I kissed them goodbye at five o’clock and saw them started on their way to Exeter. I know I could get sick leave to visit them, but on ten shillings a week, it is out of the question, as my train fare would take almost that amount. I got a letter from Auntie May the other day in which she stated that Bobby had left for, presumably for the Middle East. I know she must feel pretty baldly as I cannot but draw a parallel to the situation, much the same in the last war. However, Auntie always seems so cheerful, that you just have to admire her courage.
Dad asks my views on the French capitulation and conditions in general which are very difficult to answer, owing to the rigid censorship being enforced. However, I can give my personal views on the French collapse, as it is now general knowledge. The chief trouble seemed to lie in the fact that the French high command were still using the tactics employed in the last war, while the Germans on the other hand, were fighting an ultra-modern war. When the push came, the German superiority in aeroplanes and heavy tanks was immediately felt and the French were compelled to withdraw. The Germans advanced so rapidly that the refugees were taken by surprise and, as a result, the roads were all blocked, making army movements extremely difficult.
To add to the general disorder, the Nazi’s bombed and machine-gunned these people whenever the opportunity presented itself, completing the rout. While Leopold’s action undoubtedly added to the Allies’ woe, I don’t think it can be blamed for the loss of France.
The situation is much as Dad suggests and will most likely be decided in the air. I expect to see an attempted invasion of this country, probably Ireland will be attacked first. However, I feel quite confident that Hitler will find it is one thing to harass the British Lion on foreign soil and yet another thing to tackle him in his lair. I only hope I will be with the boys when he makes the attempt. While I don’t think he has much chance of taking the country, still I feel that the British people are in for some of the most trying days of their history.
I would like to tell of my travels, but will just have to save my stories until my return sometime around 1945. When I say this, it is without a trace of pessimism, but I can’t see how we can win a quick victory and time is our strongest ally. I hear from Liulf quite often and he was very concerned about my welfare when he heard of my accident. He too is having mail trouble and is wondering where the trouble lies. I hope our letters reach you more promptly than yours to us; the waiting is pretty awful at times.
Well, I have to fall in for pay parade so will close for now, to conclude this effort later.