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Letter No 78. Monday Oct 20th
Major J.H. Massey 6, Palestinian Coy, The Buffs M.E.F.
My own darling Barbara
This has been a big day for me - your pcs of Sept 21st & 26th & Oct 6th all arrived together & also your letters 57 & 58 What a day - I have been reading & re-reading all afternoon & evening & it is now 10.30. I really think pcs are better than A.G.s The quickest A.G.s are no quicker than the slowest p.c.s & no A.G. ever reaches here in 2 weeks, which pcs do from time to time. You also sent a snap of Maxie lying on his back & you bending over him & fixing him a kiss - the lively little sod. He really does look sweet & such a manly little chap. If only I could see him. I cannot see much of you sweetest, except that you have got your hair in an enormous great bag! How frightful though I suppose you have a cast iron excuse, in not being able to get to a hairdresser on account of feeding Maxie. And you sent Patricia's letter - & you told me in a p.c. that she had just been to stay with you for a few days. This C.O. business is really rather revolting, isn't it? One by one they are bad enough, but a collection of them is really too much. I don't really blame Dorothy at all, she probably only went there in order to be rude to them & out of curiosity. And I wish Patricia would not stress the O'Neill side of the family - much as I love Aunt Sarah - & also not forgetting our financial possibilities from that part of the family. Possibly her bosom prevents her from forgetting it. And you say she now has a boy friend. I can hardly believe it & will anxiously await further details in your letter.
In spite of my luck today, I feel in no mood for writing, my darling, I have just come by a new book which I am going to look at & then go to bed. The good Ben gave this book to me & it is "The Handbook of Palestine & Trans Jordan" by Sir Harry Luke &
Edward Keith Roach & tune to 549 pages. I hope I shall find the time to do it justice. XXXXX Harry
Wednesday Oct 22nd - I'm afraid I'm in a most awful mood, darling, & as in that doctor's evidence in the final scene of "Mr Deeds goes to Town", at the bottom of a curve. I tried hard to write to you last night & starting in good time at 8.15 but I just could not snap out of it at all. I then began to write off some of my Christmas Airgraphs & waded through about 20 of those. They are really quite good things, with a drawing of a camel, with a V on its side & Father Christmas up running across a desert - & there is very little room for writing. So I am sending off a large number of them to all our friends & customers & people in the B.C. I then picked up a detective story: which Burstein had given me, saying he knew I did not like such things but this one was very good. It was absolute tripe of course, & it was only the fact that we have a Coy library which prevented me from tearing it up. Ben then called in to see me & we had a whiskey & a good grumble - & I went to bed at 11.0
I am feeling a little, but not very much, better today. But I must get down to this & see if writing to you will not pull me up the other side of the curve. As I have told you before, sweetheart - if I can get on with writing to you, I begin to feel much nearer to you & much more contented & less hopeless.
I think that the one main reason for my being so particularly downhearted, & in spite of having 2 letters & 3 pcs of mail from you all in one day - was that for the last 2-3 weeks I have been thinking so continually & frantically about how to join you & later
for you to join me - & now I seem to have come to a full stop, so far as action is concerned. There is nothing I can do about being posted home, until applications for the next batch are called for & of course I am also waiting for your news about this. And about you coming out here - I am now waiting for a reply to my letter to Edwin Samuel. I have been making inquiries about the journey & have so far learned that the all air route is purely a matter of military priority & so that sounds pretty hopeless. On the other hand, I am informed that the sea route to Capetown or Durban is fairly straightforward - then you would either fly or continue by sea for the remainder of the journey. And the cost would be around £200 - by sea & air. You said in your cable should you try for a passage to Africa - & so obviously you have considered it as a possibility. But darling, now, I am beginning to think more & more of the difficulties & dangers. The dangers are naturally bound up with the sea passage from England to South Africa & about these I hardly know what to say. As you know, I had a completely uneventful trip out here - & I have talked to many people who have had exactly the same experience - & I have never heard of anybody who has had any other kind of experience. But on the other hand, ships do get sunk. It is really a matter of odds & chances & the law of averages & one has to weigh them up & come to a decision. In any case, you will probably have your own views about this - & if you are booking a passage in London, it should be possible, probably by paying a bit extra, to get passage in a fast & well convoyed ship. Another two difficulties which we have to find out about, are whether you can get an
exit permit from England - & then if I can get you an entry permit into Palestine. But darling, I am also beginning to think about how things would be when once you were here. In the last place, it would have been pretty good, & we could have had a small flat or rooms within only a few minutes of the barracks. I could have been out every evening until the following morning & you could have been quite busy during the day - canteen work & so on & a large town & people to know.
But here, we are in the country, & my next move can quite esily be the same. If you were to get rooms in a Jewish colony nearby, you might find it very dull, even more so than Moss Mayo. And if you were to live in Tel Aviv, I should find it very difficult to get in very often. But, I suppose we could go at the weekends & you would be able to leave Maxie in good hands & go yourself during the day.
About invasion here, of course one just has no idea at all - but even if the war were to come seriously near to here, you & Maxie would be bundled unceremoniously off to S. Africa.
Oh darling sweetheart, it is difficult - I feel that we must not do any thing rash - & yet, I also feel that unless we are rash & bold about the whole affair, we shall never achieve anything. Other peoples' advice is of so very little use, if it is critical, because nobody except you & I understand how much & how deeply we long to be together - what a ghastly waste of our time this separation is - & how miserable we are away from each other. Unless I can get myself sent home, I can hardly see how the war will end & I be sent home before
another year has passed. And though we want to save money for our new home, the thought of another year away from you & perhaps longer, is almost more than I can bear to think of & the spending of £200 or £250 on the journey does not seem too much to pay. Especially when you remember my argument about major's & captain's pay & how I should go down to the captain's rate if I were posted home. And neither you nor I would dream of my staying out here for the one & only reason of remaining a major & drawing the pay. And then again, I have been quite lucky to be a major at all - & we never counted on the extra money. I wonder if the B.C & W are guaranteed to go on paying my 1/2 salary - I think they are really & that things will not get so bad with them that they have to stop doing that for their people.
And another "pro", darling is the fact that you would see something of this part of the world - Palestine, Syria & Egypt, at least. And then when the war did end, there would not be such a frantic rush to get home. & we might be able to see more of it - even Greece & Italy. I wonder would we be able to go home together & what a thrill that would be. And how awful if I was demobilised quickly & had to leave you here.
Another awful thought, darling, is that while you were here, & the war still on, that I might be sent off to some other country to which you could not come. Or even that I might & am the Bn & the Bn be sent home. Oh God, but