28th October 1941
18 days since I wrote to you. I am now in a new building. Turnstill House, High Holborn. The building was damaged last winter, but has been repaired. I am on the 6th floor with long views. All around us are ruins, houses destroyed by fire and bombs.
[News cutout: “Germany does not intend France to rise again”]
30th October 1941
Dear love, just a few lines to tell you that I’m always thinking of you. I am trying to get a letter to you by a semi direct route. But it is impossible to tell you how. Am in the office with P/o Hardy and Miss Sherwood. Cold outside, but not as cold as the Russian Steppe. They’re still holding out, our allies, and are really pounding the Germans. About 4 million casualties up to now.
3rd November 1941
Yesterday evening I took Ray to the cinema andt to “Chez Yvonne” a nightclub in a basement off Regents Street. Lots of French in the club and unsurprisingly, lots of young woman. Had lunch with Jean in a Milk Bar. This evening I am going out again with Jean to swap ideas. There are a lot of rumblings.
22nd November 1941
Just came back from a few days holiday. I apologise it has been 3 weeks since I wrote.
23rd November 1941
Last week we beat an Italian Convoy and sunk 10 large ships, 3 cruisers and damaged others, and this with only 4 small British Naval Boats, without any losses on our side. A really good victory – as you probably know, we have begun a large assault in Africa. I am hopeful of this campaign and if we manage to kick out the huns (sic) and macaronis (sic) from Libya, we will have achieved a great military and moral victory. The Russians are holding out admirably and the Germans have their work cut out. Between 4-5 million boches (sic) have been put out of action in 6 months. If the Russians can do the same in the next 5-6 months, The War cannot last much longer.
At this point in the war, with the date approaching 1942, things were delicately poised. The Eastern front was swiftly cementing its place as the most destructive war in the history of the world, whilst the battle for the Mediterranean, though less horrendous was of similar historic importance. Up to this point the war had been a collection of Axis victories, the Battle of Britain being the exception. Invading Russia proved there were limits to Germany’s power, the troubles in the Mediterranean likewise. From here it was Allied ascendancy up until 1945, with a few desperate gambles hindering it here and there.
Maurice Southgate’s words
Translated by Parade Antiques