I'm really writing this letter from the Felix Hotel - Felixstowe - Suffolk - I am here - having my summer holiday in combination with my work - it seems - you remember I told you I had to nurse an Australian woman in Sutton - having an operation - well - we had 2 weeks in the Nursing Home - I hadn't a moment to write whilst we were there - it was an awful spot & I had to work like a black - but we got away just the moment we could & have come to a heavenly spot - it's a banned area really - because it's the East coast - Holland is just cross the way - but Commander Fildes is stationed nearby & comes across most days - in a Naval cutter-thing & the Navy abound here - naturally - very few of anything else - it's so quiet & peaceful & if the weather stays this way all will be perfect. I'm only staying about 10 days with Mrs Fildes 'cause she is amazingly well - then Mrs Neal Green will be due to come down again for another implantation - so I'll take her home after - won't stay long at Holbeck tho' there is so much work to do in town - acute cases & I like short ones.
It's so intriguing here one looks out & sees the gallant wee mine-sweepers dashing in & out - destroyers & etc. all busily dashing around - whatever they do I don't know - but they are all so busy - the Navy are wonderful - & these wee things are more than heroic.
I had a long letter from Ned - ordinary mail - telling me all your news - heavens what an awful thing to happen to Dick - I was shocked when I read the letter - I do hope alls well now - poor Alma - she must have been frantically worried - I'm glad she's so fit - especially as she is about to produce another good robust Australian - AND Wal & Joyce - do they want a boy I guess - do let me know when the good news arrives. Did you get the cable I sent you for your birthday Mummy dear? I sent one to you & one to Earle - I've been sending cables to the boys on & off for ages now but their letters are so infrequent & so long coming - they never mention cables & I know they never get them - & I know now they are in Tobruk - at least Neddy tells me Earle is & in Ces' letter to me he says Earle gets down to him occasionally - from his unit for a spell - so they must both be in Tobruk. Conditions must be pretty grim - the flies, fleas, heat & etc., but at least it is a wonderful thing to be in - the whole world here thrills with the wonderful way Tobruk holds out & the gallant sorties they are having & keeping the Nazis busy - I hope they get caught out there & their cutthroat bunch can't get supplies to them - perhaps that's how Rommel's men will end in the Libyan Desert - Neddy what wretched luck about Harry Lovett - how they must hate to be prisoners of war - especially Australians - they have just given out in the House of Parliament today that about 25,000 men in Greece & Crete are not yet accounted for. I hate to think of the darlings - prisoners - these darned Nazi swine - I hope Russia mops the whole bunch up - I want to be frantically optimistic about the situation now - but feel perhaps it is little soon - time will tell.
I had a letter from Vi Neesham saying she had met you & Mum in town one day - Mue is still away with her baby case - Janet Johnston - our wee flat is deserted - I hope the winter is not going to be too cold - with the coal shortage, milk registration & etc. - ugh how I dread the winter's approach. Ira Wilson Hamilton sent me over a great parcel of nice things in tins - even tinned butter - we found them very useful - especially the concentrated orange juice - not as nice as the real thing - but they contain all the vitamins so we are much more fortunate than many people - bless him - I think it was a very practical & useful gift - more so than gold these days - isn't it strange how values change when war descends!!
August 8th - Today is my birthday - perhaps the quietest one I've had - but somehow I don't mind - we had such a rush getting away from Sutton yesterday - I am almost flat out today - the sea air has made me gloriously lazy - it's cold tho' even tho' this is supposed to be summer - I am writing this on my knee out in the lovely garden - over the seafront - the sun shines in bits, but the wind is biting & I've a suit & woolly sweater on - doesn't it sound soft for summer at the seaside!! We never know such a situation in Australia.
Of course one can't get onto the beach it's all barbwire & land mines & tank traps - everywhere the coast is such - my - I've forgotten what England in peacetime is like! There is a Scottish battalion stationed at Felixstowe - they all speak with lovely rolling Scots voices & look very dashing in a kilt - quite a contrast to the Canadians one sees down south - I miss them, really - the Canadians I mean - to me, they are so like Australians - I am homesick without them - you know even after so long in England - I still find most English quite strange & different - just as they find Australians & Canadians different I spose - AND think us queer!
Have you had any news of Reg? I've not had any for ages - I had a letter from Johnny winter's family - thanking me for all I did for him & Mrs Winter was sending me a small present - wasn't she sweet? Johnny & Reg are together wherever they are - the last letter I had was one from Johnny from Egypt & they expected to go places from there - that was in April - letters are so scarce & infrequent now - Ces says he hasn't seen John Mills since they landed but hoped to contact him later.
I've had no letters from the Bridles or Nelly for ages - one mustn't complain - the Navy are working like blacks - but tell them to write as often as they can - Ned dear - I was intrigued to hear about the silk stockings - wool restrictions & etc. - heaven alone knows what will happen if the war goes on long - I've no coupons left now - we get 20 for 3 months & I had to give 18 for a suit & 5 for a pair of shoes - so bang went my first 26 we were issued with - now I can get nothing else only a brassie & 1 pr stockings - OR - a pair of panties with the 3 left - doesn't it sound confusing - fortunately I wasn't too badly off to begin with - but as time goes on it will be very awkward & even skeins of wool take up coupons so I can't buy that! But at least it can't go on always!
I haven't any news, pets - we have as you probably know - had no air raids for an age thank heaven - the summer has been foul & I work all the time - `cause it's heaven not to have to trail about in the ice & cold & eternal blackout.
Good luck Alma, dear - hope you have an easy time - also Joyce - do let me know how things go - send me some snaps & tell Patsy to write - how were all the Coffs folk, Pat? Where is Joan & Molly Seccombe? Do tell me all the news - How is Dad - still at Ingleburn?
All my best love & write me any news - I'm sending one of Ces' letters on to you - bless you all.
My love to everyone Ned,