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Parade Antiques Blog

Southgate’s Diary, Part 14 – 6th December – 7th December 1941

6th December 1941

How I would like to disembark in France with the boys and to go and hug you. But courage and patience, that day will come – I have received via the Red Cross, an answer to one of my messages. You tell me that you have given notice on our flat and that Gerard has slip up with Robert. Both bits of news are hard. I wonder, were you able to save any of the furniture. I hope so, but I understand that you had to get rid of it. What is Gerard up to? Still a decorator? Angry with Robert, may be for political reasons or maybe there wasn’t enough work for two. During the holidays, I went to see Jack Starr, his wife Mimi and their daughter in Oxford. All three are well, but his wife has had no news from her parents for 18 months.

Just finished a letter to Miss Regnier de Pau, with the hope that she will receive it. Yesterday, I went back to work and felt proud, as everyone, officers included looked happy to see me and the typists and PA’s gave me a real welcome. “It’s grand to see you again Sgt”. At the moment I am listening to Radio Lyon and The Mascot.

We have been unable to find out what The Mascot (Le Mascote) was.

We captured Bardia and are throwing the Italyos and boches (sic) out the door. I have stuck precious pages, some photos of Scotland and Hereford. Souvenirs of a stay, but nothing compare to the Capital and the smell of the bus fumes. With your permission, little girl, I’m going to the kitchen to get a bite to eat. Until later, maybe. I’m on duty (Firewatcher) from 3am to 6am tomorrow.

The Battle for Bardia was an important event in World history. Bardia, in modern-day Libya and was the site of an important battle at the beginning of 1941. A British and Australian force defeated an Italian force in Bardia, taking 36,000 prisoners. This created an Allied foothold in Libya and changed the dynamics of the North African conflict, leading to German intervention. It was also a needed confidence-boost, which encouraged the wider world that an Allied Victory was possible and even lead to the Lend-Lease act being passed in the USA – an act which would reinvigorate the allied struggle with much needed American materials.

7th December 1941

Sunday morning 9:40. I don’t have much time to write to you at the moment. However said that you don’t work in a Ministry. From morning till night without stop, under pressure and in the evening after dinner it is about 9:15 and I go to bed. Today, a lazy day. Last Sunday I went to the Club in London, for lunch, and hired to play the piano all afternoon. Tea and then dinner. In the evening we went out and had lots of fun at “Chez Yvonne”, where we met Jean. The Russians are hitting back and the Boches (sic) are in retreat in the South. I would not be surprised if the Americans and the Japs (sic) don’t declare war on each other at any moment.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour happened in the morning of this exact day. Fascinatingly, Southgate although prophetic about Japan and America’s inevitable clash, seems unaware of this event. Presumably the news hadn’t filtered through to Europe?

Maurice Southgate’s words
Translated by Parade Antiques

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