Jack on Leave; D Day and Flying Bombs

Jack was due home for his first leave April 1944 and then a short time in England at the War Office. He wrote:
Jack Donaldson in World War II16/3/44   Reggie came back after lunch and he came up and said “I think I’ve fixed you up alright — I should say about the 1st of April”.

22/3/44   Well, darling, it’s happened. I was in the office late last night at 7.30, when the duty officer brought in a signal from the Brigadier N.A. saying the War Office had asked for me and in view of his conversation with Reggie he had agreed, so please be prepared to release me on receipt of authority from the Military Secretary.

Letter QM Main HQ 21 Army Gp 1 APDC London W1                                                                                 26/4/44

12/6/44   So far all very well. I’m sitting in the sun on deck off the invasion coast, very peaceful and happy. More shipping around us than I’ve ever seen in one place in my life, and than anyone else has, I expect. We spent two days in a marshalling camp and finally got on board Sunday morning. It’s unbelievable to sit here all day in this mass of shipping and never hear a gun fired. I think Monty has got his “firm base” alright. Our last two months have been a very wonderful foretaste of what is to come.

D Day was approaching. Jack had a short leave before posting back to Europe.
On 16/05/44  Frankie’s great friend Leonora Cazalet died. There is a gap in letters.  (D Day 6/6/1944)

Frankie resumes:
Frances Donaldson in World War Two8/6/44   I was a shade gloomy coming down in the train. The main point is that this is such a heavenly place because even when you arrive back feeling thoroughly gloomy and anxious you are nearly always plunged into such activity and excitement that your mind is completely occupied. And it’s much better than the sort of superficial occupation which people or a less enthralling job provides. And that of course makes for independence. You think I’m dependent but you’ve really no idea what a compliment it is that I’m dependent on you. There isn’t anyone else and never could be that I would give up G.H. for. Haymaking is a most awful time  – full of anxiety and I hate it. But I can never describe the satisfaction each time one knows one has got one field safely in. It was lovely in London. Darling please write as soon as you can and as often for a week or two. When the thing settles a bit I shall stop worrying about you but just at first it is rather a beastly one. Darling be good and careful and write when you can.

10/6/44   I haven’t much news and the wind is high so if by chance you are leaving today you will probably at the best be sick. So I’m thinking of you.

The other thing is there’s quite a run on “advance extracts” from the book. You remember Scott Robertson. Well now the Farmers’ Weekly have written saying they’ve heard about it and can they have exclusive rights on advance extracts and will send to take photographs.

11/6/44   I wonder where and how you are. I think when I know I shall leave off fussing – not that I am really fussing badly now, just a faint undertone of unrest.

14/6/44    Two rather nice things. Pat brought two old farmers here yesterday. One was called Davis and Pat said “Do you know Mrs Donaldson?” and he said “Well yes we heard her speak the other day.” The use of the word we instead of I was friendly somehow. Then Pat has a farmhand called Perce. He read it in the Leamington Courier and thinks it the most wonderful thing that ever happened. He made Hans the refugee go through it paragraph by paragraph and kept saying “Fancy her saying that” “Fancy her knowing that.” I think it’s absolutely sweet and I’m really pleased about it in a way I never am when quite good people like my books etc.

18/6/44   I haven’t heard a word from you yet which I’m disappointed about. Also I want to know about the French. What about these girl snipers who are in love with Germans and damn the British? Is the whole occupied story untrue propaganda? Or is it only in this province do you think? Or isn’t it really true at all except in isolated cases? Any way don’t trust any women until you’re sure they haven’t a gun hidden anywhere.



Flying Bomb, WWII, 1944
Flying Bomb, 1944

03/07/44    London and the South, by the way, dislike the flying bomb a whole lot more than you would ever guess from the news. I’ve now met at least 6 people, some of them like Barbara Kenyon and Mab who slept peacefully through the blitz, and everyone agrees that this is unbearably horrid.  It’s the 24 hrs out of 24 that gets them down plus the inhumanity of the thing.  They don’t sleep much and they are getting thoroughly strained.  I don’t mean by that that anyone regards it as a serious weapon – just very nasty.


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A Woman's War